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Maggie Tinsman papers

Identifier: IWA0348

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Scope and Contents

The Maggie Tinsman papers date from 1971-2015 and measure 39.3 linear feet in 98 boxes. The papers are arranged in seven series: Biographical Information, Scott County Board of Supervisors, Organizations of County Officials, Organizational Involvement, Iowa General Assembly, Commission on the Aging, and Artifacts. The collection focuses on the activities of a regional woman politician of the late twentieth century and her interest in social welfare. Much of the collection consists of topical files relating to Tinsman's career as a Scott County Supervisor, as well as a large selection of Senate and House Files including correspondence from when Tinsman was a State Senator and organizational information from her nonprofit Braking Traffik.

The Biographical information (1971-2006) series consists of awards, resumes, newspaper clippings, political campaign brochures, photographs, and personal letters of recommendation.

The Scott County Board of Supervisors (1978-1993) series consists primarily of topical files relating to Maggie Tinsman's position as County Supervisor. Also included in this series are several plans and reports produced and/or used by the Scott County Board of Supervisors. Items acquired in the 2007 accession include the minutes and correspondence of the Committee of the Whole.

The Organizations of County Officials (1977-1988) series consists of three subseries: the Iowa Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (Iowa ACIR), the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC), and the National Association of Counties (NACO). The Iowa ACIR subseries is made up of topical files and reports issued by Iowa ACIR. The ISAC subseries include chronological files, topical files, Board of Directors' agendas, and manuals created by ISAC. The NACO subseries includes chronological files, general information on the organization, and a series of printed works entitled Local Elected Officials Handbook Series. This subseries also includes the records of Women Officials in the National Association of Counties (WON). The WON materials consist of chronological files, general information, and newsletters.

The Organizational Involvement series (1970-2015) is composed of materials from a variety of political and community organizations that Tinsman was affiliated with outside of her official positions, such as the Women in Government roundtable, National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), Republican Party and National Convention, and NCSL’s Women’s Network. The series consists of three subseries: the Episcopal Church of Iowa Standing Committee, Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa, and Human Trafficking. The Episcopal Church and Goodwill Industries subseries primarily contain records and correspondence. Materials also include conference agendas and pamphlets, among other organizational information. Tinsman worked with human trafficking advocacy groups during and after her time as a state senator, drafting various bills in the general assembly that proposed harsher punishments for people convicted of human trafficking as well as more funding for law enforcement. The Human Trafficking subseries covers her role as the founder and Chair of Braking Traffik, an organization dedicated to the eradication of sex trafficking in the Midwest. The subseries is kept in original order.

The Iowa General Assembly (1990-2011) series consists of five subseries: Topical Files, Advisory Groups & Task Forces, Boards & Committees, Bills & Amendments, Conferences & Meetings, and Correspondence. The series also contains the Iowa Legislature Survey, a 1990 survey sent out by State Senator Maggie Tinsman in February 1990. The ten-question survey was designed to elicit residents' feeling on many budget-related issues. The Topical Files cover a range of topics, including information on redistricting in Iowa and the State Children Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Correspondence, minutes, records, and notes of the Advisory Groups & Task Forces, Boards & Committees, and Conferences & Meetings subseries are also included. The Bills and Amendments subseries contains copies of Senate Files and House Files that Tinsman voted on as a member of the General Assembly. They are arranged numerically. This subseries consists of a portion of amendments Tinsman personally wrote and sponsored as well as a selection of bills put through the assembly when she was the floor manager as well as annual summaries of Senate Files and bills. This subseries also incorporates general assembly special sessions and Tinsman’s voting record. The Correspondence sub-series is made up of letters between then State Senator Tinsman and colleagues, lobbyists, and constituents. This subseries is broken down chronologically, alphabetically, and topically, maintaining original order.

The Commission on the Aging (1981-1984) series contains Commission records from that period.

The Artifacts series includes four items: a political campaign pin which reads, "Maggie Tinsman Republican," a plaque, a file box lid with “Senator Tinsman” written decoratively in marker, and a poster which reads "Elect Maggie Tinsman Iowa Senate." The poster is housed in the map case, the plaque is kept in the plaque case, and the lid is held in the oversized flat files.

Maggie Tinsman's thesis for her Master of Arts degree in social work from the University of Iowa is entitled, The Changing Role of the Middle Class Volunteer. It has been separately catalogued and is shelved in the Iowa Women's Archives printed works collection.


  • Creation: 1971-2015


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research. Because this collection is housed at an offsite location, please allow at least two business days for retrieval and arrival to the main library.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

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

Margaret Bruce Neir, the daughter of Francis E. and Elizabeth Lourie Neir, was born on July 14, 1936, in Moline, Illinois. She attended Moline public schools and then earned her B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1958. Following her graduation, Margaret Neir lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, and worked as an airline steward for four months until her engagement, when company rules required her to quit. On February 21, 1959, she married Robert Hovey Tinsman, Jr.

The Tinsmans, known to everyone as Maggie and Hovey, began their life together in eastern Iowa, in the area known as the Quad Cities. Hovey Tinsman, trained as a chemical engineer, founded the Twin-State Engineering and Chemical Company. The couple had three children, Hovey III, Heidi, and Bruce. During this period, Maggie Tinsman became very involved in volunteering.

In 1974, Maggie Tinsman earned a Master of Arts degree in social work from the University of Iowa. She began doing more community service, working for the next three years with the Children and Youth Project, a division of the Scott County Department of Health. The majority of her work was related closely with social service agencies and nursing and hospital services. She also worked with United Way, and she originated the Women’s Community Leadership Institute Project, which trained women as potential board members for government agencies. In 1979, Maggie Tinsman was named Iowa Social Worker of the Year.

In addition to her interest in social work, Maggie Tinsman was also active in politics. A loyal Republican, Maggie Tinsman acted as precinct Committee Person in Bettendorf, Iowa, as well as a delegate to several county and state conventions. In 1978, she was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Scott County Board of Supervisors and was elected that same year to a four-year term. She kept her seat for more than ten years, relinquishing it only when she became a State Senator in 1989.

As a County Supervisor, Maggie Tinsman was involved in several organizations of county officials. These included the Iowa Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the National Association of Counties, Women Officials in the National Association of Counties, and the Iowa State Association of Counties. In 1983, the German Marshall Plan, a project spearheaded by Maggie Tinsman, was selected by the Reagan administration as the United States county government representative to the German-American Federalism Symposium.

As a State Senator, Maggie Tinsman served on committees dealing with education, human resources, appropriations, the judiciary system, health and human rights, and local government. She became an active leader in Medicaid and welfare reform. In 1996, Maggie Tinsman, a pro-choice Republican who labeled herself a “fiscal conservative and a social centrist,” lost a bid for a seat in the United States Senate. Tinsman served as a State Senator until 2006.

In 2007-2008 Maggie Tinsman initiated a policy and consulting business, Maggie Tinsman, LLC. She speaks on “The Importance of Women as Leaders, Why Your Voice Counts, Advocating for Your Issues and Human Trafficking. Her involvement is still strong in volunteering, such as serving on the Iowa Board of Health, Iowa Prevention of Disabilities Council, and the National Advisory Commission on Rural Health and Human Services.

In 2010, Tinsman and Democratic state legislator Jean Lloyd-Jones founded the organization 50/50 in 2020, which sought to equalize gender representation in elected offices in Iowa by the year 2020. Though the organization did not meet all of its goals at the state level, the period of its operation did see several women elected to federal political offices from Iowa for the first time. As part of the Hard Won, Not Done commemoration campaign celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020, 50/50 in 2020 leaders organized an oral history project to interview Iowa women who had served as state legislators. This project led to an ongoing collaboration with the University of Iowa Libraries and the oral histories are now preserved in the Iowa Women's Archives (IWA 1278). Tinsman served as one of the interviewers for that project.

(Biographical data taken chiefly from Maggie Tinsman’s resume dated 8/97 and from “Margaret Neir Tinsman.” Baraks, Gloria et al. Profiles in Leadership: Dynamic Men and Women of the Quad Cities. Rock Island, Illinois: Quest Publishing, 1981. 220-225.)


39.3 Linear Feet (Photographs in Boxes 6, 57, and 58; 6 videocassettes [V1028 – V1033]; and 4 DVDs (d0059-d0062) shelved in digital collections.)

Language of Materials



Bettendorf Republican who served on the Scott County Board of Supervisors and the Iowa State Senate.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 476) were donated by Maggie Tinsman in 1997 and subsequent years.

Processing Information

This collection contains materials related to the Handicapped Development Center. Because the Center is still functioning under the same name, this finding aid will continue to describe it as such.

Mira Dougherty-Johnson, 2000; Lisa Mott, 2003. Emma Barton-Norris, 2022.
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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)