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Jean Huffey papers

Identifier: IWA0303

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Scope and Contents

The Jean Huffey papers date from 1977 to 2019 and measure 7.5 linear feet in 18 containers. The papers are split into six series: General (1988-2006), Activism (1977-2019), Periodicals (1986-2013), and Photographs (1993-2014), Audiovisual (1993-2007), and Artifacts (1993-2008). The General series represents Huffey’s early donations to the Iowa Women’s Archives from 1997 to 2006. The next three series originate from a larger addition to Huffey’s papers, donated in the 2010s.

The General series covers Huffey’s activism broadly. The bulk of this series consists of materials related to Huffey's work to secure greater social and legal rights for LGBTQ people, and especially to raise awareness within the Lutheran church. The papers include brochures distributed by PFLAG, the American Psychological Association, and Lutherans Concerned; correspondence concerning gay issues between Jean Huffey and various people, including one folder of correspondence with elected officials; letters to the editor, many written by Huffey; and newspaper clippings concerning LGBTQ issues. Also included are the March 1995 issue of Lutheran Woman Today, which reprinted an article by columnist Deb Price about Jean Huffey's struggle to come to terms with her child's homosexuality, and the June issue, in which readers responded to the Price article.

The Personal series is brief and focuses mainly on Huffey’s high school years. It includes mainly yearbooks, reunion information, and some clippings about Huffey’s experiences playing basketball as a teenager. This series also includes her husband, George Huffey’s, obituary.

The Activism series covers an array of Huffey’s activities tied to her LGBTQ activism. The series starts with some short publications and brochures on related topics, correspondence with fellow activists and Huffey’s chronological files. Jean Huffey saved newspaper clippings and other notes and printed material related to her activism and about the progress of LGBTQ rights in the United States. They include commentary and articles on national issues such as the murder of Matthew Shepherd, and regional and local issues, like a 1998 newspaper profile of Deirdre McCloskey, a transwoman and professor at the University of Iowa. Huffey filed these items in chronological folders. Together they represent over twenty years of activism and progress for LGBTQ people on a national, state, and local level. Some of these materials overlap with the PFLAG and ELCA materials located later in the series.

The Activism series also contains two subseries: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The ELCA subseries includes official publications and correspondence from several organizations promoting LGBTQ inclusion in Christian denominations such Lutherans Concerned/North America, Soulforce, Good Soil, and Wingspan Ministry. This subseries also contains bulletins, schedules, and other materials from ELCA churchwide assemblies; official ELCA communications on homosexuality; and a number of sermons and articles that represent an array of beliefs about diverse sexualities within Christianity.

The PFLAG subseries focuses on Huffey’s involvement in the Waukon (later Northeast Iowa) chapter of PFLAG. It includes secretary binders with some meeting minutes, correspondence among members, and official PFLAG communications. This subseries includes folders with items related to PFLAG’s Safe Schools program that tackled anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools, and the divided response in Allamakee County, Iowa where Jean Huffey was active. An additional resource packet on being a lesbian or gay student in Iowa schools is housed within the chronological files, 2003. There is a small number of materials in the subseries related to the Northeast Iowa chapter’s program at the Allamakee County Women and Children’s Resource Center and about the chapter’s scholarship for LGBTQ youth. Additionally, this subseries includes pro-LGBTQ bumper stickers and like items in a folder labelled ephemera.

The Periodicals series is comprised of issues of a few regional and national publications focused on LGBTQ life and equality. The first and longest of these is ACCESSline, an LGBTQ newspaper founded in Iowa in 1986. Its content, which included news and opinion pieces aimed at LGBTQ and HIV+ people and their allies. Concord and The Mission are both regular newsletters of organizations promoting LGBTQ inclusion in the Lutheran church. The final periodical PFLAG Pole covers contemporary activities of PFLAG.

The Photograph series is split into two sub-series, Personal and Activism. The series contains a few photographs of one of Huffey’s children, Brad, and photographs from conferences and pride marches, including the 1993 March on Washington.

The Audiovisual series contains three items. One is a videocassette commemorating the 1993 March on Washington, and the two others contain resources for Lutherans Concerned/ North America.

The Artifacts series contains items that reflect Huffey’s activism on behalf of LGBTQ rights. This includes a selection of pins, name tags from conferences, and a hat and scarf that she wore to marches and church events. This series also contains images of other t-shirts and tote bags advertising conferences Huffey attended on LGBTQ rights.


  • Creation: 1977-2019


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Jean Boess Huffey, a school teacher, farm wife, and gay rights activist, was born to Delia and George Boess in rural Hawkeye, Iowa, in 1932. Jean Boess was raised on a farm and attended country schools. She graduated from Hawkeye High School in 1949 and then began attended the Iowa State Teacher's College (now the University of Northern Iowa.) She taught 4th and 5th grade on and off for several years in between marrying George Huffey in 1953, and having six children. She would continue to teach as a substitute until she was 65. The Huffey family lived on a Century Farm in northeast Iowa near Waterville, Iowa. Jean Huffey was active in many organizations, including her Lutheran church, Old East Paint Church.

After Huffey learned that one of her children was gay in the mid-1980s, she began to educate herself about LGBTQ issues. By the mid-1990s, her changing beliefs about homosexuality made it impossible for her and her husband to continue to attend the Old East Paint Creek Church where they had been members for years. Huffey became active in Lutherans Concerned and other groups that advocated for civil rights and social justice within the church. A major focus of Huffey's work became ending discrimination against gays and lesbians within the Lutheran (and other Protestant) churches. Later, she joined Soulforce, an interfaith group working to end discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgendered individuals within religious organizations. In 2001, Huffey attended the Lutheran Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis where she and other Soulforce members engaged in direct action protests against the Lutheran church's policy requiring gay clergy to take a vow of celibacy. Huffey attended the 2009 churchwide assembly that ultimately split the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) over the issue of ordaining clergy in same-sex partnerships.

Huffey also became active in Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). In 1996, she founded a chapter in Waukon, Iowa, PFLAG of Northeast Iowa. Her work there promoted LGBTQ rights and acceptance locally and regionally with a focus on anti-bullying initiatives in schools. She continued to advocate for LGBTQ rights through Lutheran organizations and PFLAG, eventually being recognized with an Allamakee Democratic Party Certificate of Recognition in 2015.


7.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Elementary schoolteacher and substitute teacher; active in PFLAG and groups promoting LGBTQ inclusion within the Lutheran Church.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 417) were donated by Jean Huffey in 1997 and subsequent years.

Sarah Freed, 1997; June Silliman and Sharon Lake, 2007.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)