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Kathleen Wood Laurila papers

Identifier: IWA0458

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Scope and Contents

The Kathleen Wood Laurila papers date from 1956 to 1999 and measure 34.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eight series: Biographical material, Business and professional material, Energy and Environment, Miscellaneous Volunteer Projects, Peace and National Security, Women's Issues/Advocacy, American Association of University Women, and Artifacts. These series follow the original order of materials as organized by Laurila.

The Biographical material series consists of sorority materials from Laurila's years as a student at the University of Minnesota. Included are articles relating to the first interracial sorority at the University. Also included in the series are the various honors and awards presented to Laurila for her business acumen and attention to women in business.

The Business and professional material series focuses on the activities of Laurila's two businesses: Interior Planning and Creative Enterprises. Several projects comprise these two sub-series, including the Iowa Veterans Home, Security Bank, Hotel Pattee, the Iowa Caucus Project '88, Neighbors for Good Government, and the G.W. Carver Center for Pioneer Hi-Bred International. Design projects consist of floor plans, correspondence, and numerous files for every décor decision, including carpeting, furnishings, moldings, draperies, light fixtures, and art work.

Public affairs services such as the Iowa Caucus Project '88 and Neighbors for Good Government (the 1994 campaign to change Des Moines and other Polk County communities in Iowa to a commonwealth form of government) include brochures, mailings, slides, audio and videocassettes, editorials and articles, presentations, strategies and correspondence.

The Energy and Environment series represents Laurila's environmental activism and includes information on several organizations and conferences. This series also includes research materials regarding synthetic fuel, solar energy and nuclear energy.

The Miscellaneous Volunteer Projects series includes many of Laurila's political activities along with leadership conferences and workshops.

The Peace and National Security series pertains to Laurila's peace activities, including international outreach programs. This series is divided into several sub-series including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Iowa International Council, the Iowa Peace Institute, the National Peace Institute and the Iowa Sister State Program. Materials include conferences, workshops, board meetings, and presentations. There is also a set of audiocassette tapes from the National Security Conference Laurila attended.

The Women's Issues/Advocacy series includes Laurila's activities with the International Federation of University Women, Planned Parenthood and several other groups focused on women's issues and advocacy. Laurila attended several conferences dealing with women and international development; included are materials from the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in 1995 (also known as the Beijing Conference), and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 (also known as Earth Summit).

The largest series in the collection is the American Association of University Women. This series is sub-divided into the Des Moines Branch, Iowa State Division and National and follows Laurila's organization and filing system. Materials include conferences and conventions, newsletters, directories, board minutes, projects, and research files. The General files contain a mixture of correspondence, memos and notes.

The Artifacts series contains buttons, tote-bags, tee-shirts, and posters relating to Laurila's wide range of activism, including the American Association of University Women, Planned Parenthood, Anita Hill, Iowa Caucus Project '88 and the Des Moines Commonwealth campaign.


  • Creation: 1956-1999


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

The collection is stored at an off-site location. Please allow two to three business days for retrieval.

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

J. Kathleen Ulku was born on November 28, 1940. In high school, Ulku broke the "male only" barrier in the school's drafting class. During high school she was also active in leadership roles for Future Homemakers of America (FHA). Ulku earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in design and journalism. While attending the University of Minnesota, she became a charter member of the first interracial sorority at the school.

Ulku moved from Minneapolis to Des Moines, Iowa in 1965 after marrying Robert Wood, Jr. They raised their three children in Des Moines. Kathleen Ulku Wood earned her M.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications -- Media and Public Policy, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. In addition to her academic degrees, Wood received training in grant writing and fund raising, conflict resolution, and leadership. She also became a Certified Contract Interior Designer (CCID). In 1969 Wood began her own design business, Interior Planning; adding public affairs services in 1984 she changed the business name to Creative Enterprises.

Wood's long history of activism included involvement locally, nationally and internationally in environmental causes, women's equity, peace initiatives and national security issues. Wood participated on, chaired, and organized many task forces representing her wide range of political activism. A lifetime member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Wood held numerous local and national leadership roles for the organization, including president of the Des Moines branch (1978-1980), president of the Iowa State Division (1982-1984), and International Affairs Director (For more on Wood's paid and voluntary positions see the appendix at the end of the finding aid).

Wood received numerous awards and honors for her activism and leadership. In 1982, she received the first Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) award as "Des Moines Woman of Achievement." In 1985, Wood received the "Women in Business Advocate Award, Des Moines" from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and in 1992, Wood was named the "Des Moines Business Woman of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women. Following her divorce, Kathleen Wood chose the surname Laurila, a maternal family name.


34.50 Linear Feet

6 videocassettes [V302-V307], 19 audiocassettes [AC942-AC960] boxes

Language of Materials



Iowa activist involved in the peace movement as well energy conservation and environmental protection coalitions.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 672) were donated by Kathleen Wood Laurila in 1999.

Related Materials

AAUW National Archives, AAUW Educational Center, 2401 Virginia Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

Lisa Mott, 2004.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)