The Denise O'Brien papers date from 1964 to 2006 and measure 9.2 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series, Biographical and family, Community involvement, Conferences, Correspondence, Organizational involvement,Resource files, Writings, Photographs, and Artifacts.
The Biographical and family series contains biographies, awards, resumés, an appointment book, and passports.In addition to O'Brien's schoolwork, English papers, a class reunion booklet, and newspaper clippings, the series includes sporadic farm records andcorrespondence with Briana Harris, who attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The Community Involvement series concerns O'Brien's activities with the United Methodist Church, the Atlantic School District, the PTA, her work with the Family Crisis Support Network in Atlantic, and files from her unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Atlantic School Board. It also includes materials concerning school children's tours of the Harris-O'Brien farm.
The Conferences series consists of notes, programs, and other materials that O'Brien collected at local, national and international events such as conferences, campaigns, forums, and summits.
The Correspondence series contains both personal and organizational correspondence. Electronic mail and paper mail items are intermixed. Items of interest include letters from Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Correspondence to and from Briana Harris is located in the Biographical and family series.
The Organizational Involvement series consists of records and papers from organizations in which O'Brien has been a member, officer, or observer.
The Resource Files series contains books, magazines, newspaper articles, pamphlets, and memos maintained by O'Brien for informational purposes. These files concern agricultural organizations, agribusiness andenvironmental issues, Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and Bovine somatotropin(BST), the farm crisis and farm bills, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT), health care and insurance, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),sustainable agriculture, and women's organizations.
The Writings series contains notebooks in which O'Brien recorded her thoughts and reactions during the many meetings and conferences that she attended, as well as professional writings and speeches. It also includes texts of testimony she presented at various public hearings.
The Photographs series contains photographs of O'Brien, members of her family, friends, and the farmstead.
The Artifacts series consists of nametags and pins from numerous conferences, as well as bumper stickers. It also includes a plaque for the Dixon Terry Leadership Award she received in 1992 from the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition.