Migration is Beautiful

Migration is Beautiful is an initiative of the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries. It speaks to the centrality of migration in understanding and interpreting Iowa history, a history shaped first by Native Americans and later by the migration paths of immigrants from around the world. Despite their significant presence in Iowa, Latina/os have remained invisible in mainstream narratives of Iowa history.  This website seeks to illuminate their contributions to Iowa’s economic, social, and cultural history, beginning with the settlement of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Iowa over a hundred years ago and extending to Puerto Rican Americans and Central Americans.

In its title and imagery the Migration is Beautiful website echoes the spirit and work of American artist Favianna Rodriguez. The monarch butterfly is a symbol of migration as a natural occurrence and of the importance of migration to the human experience, connecting us through an intricate web that persists through time and space. Each year, the monarch butterfly begins its journey in the Michoacán region of central Mexico, a key point of departure for many early twentieth century Mexican immigrants to Iowa and the Midwest. Like the monarch butterfly, their migration al norte was often circular and multi-generational.

This website is being developed from the Mujeres Latinas Project, which began in 2005 at the Iowa Women’s Archives to collect and preserve primary source materials relating to Latina/o history in Iowa.  University of Iowa archivists, librarians, graduate students, and community members conducted over a hundred oral history interviews while many Latino families generously donated their personal letters, memoirs, and photographs along with records of their organizations.  As the Mujeres Latinas collections grew, a clearer understanding of Iowa Latina/o history emerged. Today, the collections preserved in the Iowa Women’s Archives provide an important resource used by members of the public, faculty, teachers, and students across many academic disciplines.

To make this history accessible to a larger audience, a portion of the original documents from the Mujeres Latinas collection has been digitized for the Migration is Beautiful website.  Through life stories, interconnecting themes, and maps, visitors can explore the site in many ways. Migration is Beautiful is a work in progress with additional narratives and documents added as new collections become available for research.


We gratefully acknowledge Favianna Rodriguez for granting permission to use her “Migration is Beautiful” poster for the title and logo of this website.

Special thanks to the many families and individuals who have generously donated the rich documents that bring Iowa Latina/o history to light. We especially acknowledge the Iowa councils of the League of United Latin American Citizens and Davenport LULAC Council 10 for their ongoing collaboration and commitment to the work of the Mujeres Latinas project over the past ten years. With their support we can begin to tell a more inclusive narrative of Iowa history.

The Mujeres Latinas oral history interviews were conducted between 2005 and 2007 by UI graduate students Teresa García, and Iskra Núñez; educational liaison Georgina Buendía Cruz; UI librarian Rachel Garza Carreón, and the curators of the Iowa Women’s Archives, Kären Mason and Janet Weaver.

Janet Weaver and Hannah Scates Kettler developed the Migration is Beautiful website with funding from a Creth technology development grant from the University of Iowa Libraries. Undergraduate students Catherine Babikian and Alysse Burnside and Mariana Ramirez, a graduate student in the UI History Department, contributed much of the website’s content.

The website was designed by Creative 512 and produced by the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio and the Preservation Department at the University of Iowa Libraries.