Continuing the series of discovering hidden genealogy resources:
Iowa Women’s Archives
100 Main Library, 3rd Floor
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Open Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 a.m. to Noon; 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
I happened upon this gem as I was surfing the internet. Since we were going to be in Iowa City recently, I wanted to investigate this resource. We met Janet Weaver, the Assistant Curator, who graciously guided us through their facility.
The Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA) was founded in 1992 by Louise Rosenfield Noun and Mary Louise Smith, both well-known Iowa women. The archives now includes more than 1,100 manuscript collections which chronicle the lives of ordinary Iowa women and place them in context with their families and communities. Included are photos, scrapbooks, letters, diaries, speeches, club minutes, newspaper clippings, memoirs, and other materials, some dating to Civil War and 1880s. Topics of special interest involve preserving the Iowa history of Mujeres Latinas, African-American women, and women’s suffrage. However, all topics and all walks of life are represented: artists, legislators, judges, writers, farm wives, young girls, film producers, to list a few.
Collection topics can be found at: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/CollTop/#o
Many oral histories are among the original source materials: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/topical-holdings-lists/oralhistories/
IWA is privately funded, but is located in the university library, uses student interns to help process the collections and is able to access library conservation staff expertise and resources. However, this creates some confusion because the listings for the collection’s online catalog appear to be intermingled with the university collections.
The repository is constantly receiving new materials and we saw quite a number of boxes waiting to be processed.
During our tour, Janet pulled a variety of items off the shelves for us to see. We were impressed that many very precious, irreplaceable items are now safe and will be accessible for many years to come thanks to the generosity and vision of the founders, supporters and staff.
The archives welcomes visitors and researchers, high school and college students, scholars, and even family genealogists!
Thank you, Janet!