Skip to main content

National Organization for Women, Johnson County-Iowa City Chapter records

Identifier: IWA0017

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Johnson County-Iowa City National Organization for Women records measure 6 linear feet and date from 1977 to 1988 They are arranged into seven series: Administrative, Financial Records, Fundraising, Political Activities, Topical Files, Photographs, and Scrapbook. The bulk of the collection concerns NOW's efforts to ratify the state and the national Equal Rights Amendment in the period 1978 and 1980. Additional subjects covered include lesbian rights, abortion rights, and sex discrimination.

The Administrative series (1978-1988) consists of general business and organizational materials including bylaws, budgets, board meetings minutes, and committee oversight. The correspondence folder features letters by Jean Lloyd Jones, Minnette Dodderer, and Lily Tomlin. The History subseries two events scrapbooks highlighting some of NOW's most celebrated campaigns such as their 1981 UI Bijou protest against DePalma's "Dressed to Kill" at the Bijou Theatre on the University of Iowa campus. NOW argued that the movie should not be shown at the campus cinema because it portrayed gratuitous acts of violence against women.

The Financial Records (1978-1988) series includes ledgers, budgets, treasurer's reports, as well as ancillary material such as receipts for the Linda Eaton Litigation Fund.

The Fundraising (1978-1984) series provides a glimpse into the types of activities use by NOW to raise funds at the same time as women's consciousness. Prominent among them were the Linda Eaton litigation drives, the ERA runs, and the 1980 Alternative Inaugural spoof, presenting a woman president and vice president as alternatives to 1980 president-elect Ronald Reagan and vice-president-elect George Bush.

The Political Activities (1979-1985) series contains a plethora of material concerning NOW's many political campaigns and canvassing. These documents dovetail with other series in this collection in that they mostly pertain to NOW's state and national ERA efforts. Similarly, this series contains information about NOW's political endorsements and its efforts to elect Walter Mondale president of the United States.

The Topical Files (1978-1997) document some of NOW's less sustained political and fundraising activities such as the 1980 Iowa City streetlight campaign which lobbied Iowa City's city council for better lit residential neighborhoods. Other folders include the organizations newsletter and newspaper clippings about Linda Eaton's sex bias case and the 1978 NOW effort resulting in an ERA travel ban. This ban enjoined Iowa City from spending city funds for travel by municipal employees to states that had not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Photographs series includes Roxanne Conlin, Linda Eaton, Geraldine Ferraro, and the ERA Countdown Rally.

Scrapbook (1980-1983) consists of four scrapbooks entitled "ERA Task Force;" "Johnson County/Iowa City NOW," 1981-1983; Johnson County/Iowa City NOW, 1978-1980; and Linda Eaton, 1979-1981.  They are comprised of newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia.


  • Creation: 1977-1997


Conditions Governing Access

The records 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

The Johnson County-Iowa City National Organization for Women chapter organized in Iowa City on May 3, 1978. It became an addition to several already existing Iowa state NOW chapters. There were chapters in Davenport, Des Moines, and Waterloo and by 1980, there were over 1,100 members state-wide. NOW's raison d'etre was to ensure that women in Johnson County could fully participate in society without fear, without capricious encumbrances, and without malicious retributions. NOW sought equal educational, financial, and social opportunities for women. Therefore, women deserved the right, NOW argued, to work in any field that their education qualified them, to be financially independent, and to be spouses, partners, based on their preference not society's. In its rather short tenure, the Johnson County-IowaCity NOW became involved with a couple of events of major nationalsignificance. The first was its 1980 work to obtain voter approval of the Iowa state equal rightsamendment and the national ratification of ERA. The Johnson County-Iowa CityNOW held runs in 1978, 1979, and 1980 to raise monies and public awareness forthe national NOW's ERA efforts. Another important matter was the Linda Eatonsexual discrimination case. In February 1979, Ms. Eaton, then a firefighter forIowa City, wassuspended twice without pay because of alleged insubordination. Her offense wasthat she refused to discontinue breastfeeding her son during her work breaks.In response, Ms. Eaton filed a sex discrimination complaint against Iowa City before the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. On March 20, 1980, the Commission ruled unanimously inMs. Eaton's favor, awarding her compensatory damages, back pay, and attorney'sfees. And although she lost her subsequent civil suit against several city administrators, Ms. Eaton's case became a cause celebre.


6.00 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 8. boxes

Language of Materials



Feminist activist organization records.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 118) were donated by Elizabeth Kay Moon in 1992.

Derryn E. Moten, 1993; Sharon M. Lake, 2005.
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)