The Tess Catalano papers date from 1959 to 2002 and measure 1.75 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, Education, Activism, Music, Photographs, and Artifacts.
The Biographical series (1959-2002) contains Catalano's obituary and programs from her memorial services; newspaper articles about her mother and father; notes about friends including Rick Graf, a local gay activist who died of AIDS, with a copy of Graf's speech accepting the Stonewall Award in which he mentions Catalano; and an article from the Emma Goldman Clinic's newsletter with an update on the Catalano Fund, which was established following Catalano's death. Childhood items include Catalano's birth record, baby bracelet from the hospital, confirmation and baptism records, and an unidentified photo of three children.
An essay written by Catalano gives an autobiographical account of an encounter between Catalano and a young man who harassed her in Iowa City in 1993. A note from Laurie Haag, the donor of this item, provides context and additional information on the piece. Correspondence consists of letters from Catalano's friends over the years, including former West High School teacher Carol Bowman. Several letters thank Catalano for participating in events or helping a friend in need, such as the letter from Rick Graf's partner written as Graf was dying of AIDS. Sports awards include ribbons for participating in track events sponsored by Iowa City Recreation Department and three awards from Frisbee competitions.
The Education series (1965-1985) is organized by school. Grade school records often refer to Catalano as Terry and Teri, names she used when she was young. Catalano's participation in music and drama groups is reflected in the programs, posters, and reviews of her musical and dramatic performances. Floor plans for "The Little Foxes," drawn up by Catalano for a course in stage production at Allegheny College, are included. A general folder containing items from first grade through college such as progress reports and evaluations, Iowa basic skills scores, and health records, completes the series.
Most of the materials in the Activism series (1980-1993) relate to the 1982 Take Back the Night rally, including a complaint filed by a male student who was asked to leave the event. Catalano's assessment of the event discusses her anger over the complaint and the issues raised by the group's decision to exclude men. Anti-apartheid materials include statements issued by University of Iowa President James O. Freedman and information gathered by a group preparing to participate in civil disobedience. Ladies Against Women, a farcical organization started in California that spoofed Phyllis Schlafly and the Stop-ERA campaign, includes items sent to Iowa from the California group. Also included are legal documents pertaining to Catalano's two arrests while protesting, and an incident in which she was harassed by University of Iowa students. A guest opinion co-authored by Catalano entitled, "The fight against 'heterosexism'," and an article about a lawsuit involving Common Lives/Lesbian Lives, which Catalano participated in, complete the series.
The Music seriesÂ includes lyrics to songs written by Catalano and flyers for her performances. It also contains a CD that features women artists who performed at the Iowa Women's Music Festival in the mid-1990s. It includes one song written and performed by Tess Catalano, and another song written by Catalano and performed by Barbara Boyle. Rusty Barcelo, Gayla Drake Paul, Bejae Fleming, and Black Sheep also perform songs on this CD.
The Photographs series (c. 1951-1977 and undated) includes a photo of Catalano's high school class at the US Capitol with Representative Jim Leach in 1977, a photo of the choir group Catalano sang with in 1973, a photo of Cosmo Catalano, Tess's father, and several unidentified shots of a dramatic performance.
The Artifacts series (undated) includes letters Catalano earned through her participation in sports events, a T-shirt from the University of Iowa Drama Department, and a small leather box with Catalano's initials on the top.