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Our Rightful Place: Iowa Women in Politics oral history collection

Identifier: IWA1278

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Scope and Contents

The Our Rightful Place: Iowa Women in Politics oral history collection dates from 2019-2023 and contains 10.6 GB of digital materials. This collection consists of oral history interviews with 63 women who have served or are currently serving in the Iowa legislature.

Series 1 consists of interviews from Phase 1 of the project, which was spearheaded by Jean Lloyd-Jones and the 50/50 in 2020 organization in collaboration with the University of Iowa Libraries. In this phase, many interviews were conducted with sitting legislators at the Capitol on January 14-15, 2020. Jean Lloyd-Jones conducted these interviews herself, while interviews with retired legislators took place in a variety of locations across Iowa and were conducted by Lloyd-Jones and by other members of the 50/50 in 2020 board, Maggie Tinsman, Doris Kelley, Courtney Greene, Christine Louscher, Melissa Gesing, Jane Teaford, and Sally Stutsman. Sara Tate was the videographer for most interviews in phases 1 and 2 of the project; other interviews were recorded informally via video chat.

Phase 1 interviews are typically between 5 and 25 minutes long and are structured around a standard set of questions, which included prompts about interviewees’ motivations for seeking public office, major achievements and issues of interest, and campaign experiences. Other questions in this phase explored themes of gender and power in legislative service, querying interviewees about their relationships with other women legislators, opinions on male legislators’ treatment of women colleagues, and reflections on the impact women’s representation has on policymaking.

Series 2 consists of interviews conducted during Phase 2 of the oral history project. Beginning in late 2022, the project gradually transitioned the creation of a new IWA staff position, the Jean Lloyd-Jones and Michal Eynon-Lynch Women in Politics Archivist, a role intended to steward this project into the future and collect interviews with new women legislators. Phase 2 interviews were conducted beginning in 2022, though the interview protocol was not fully updated until 2023. Under that protocol, the Phase 2 interviews are generally longer than 25 minutes and structured by the individual biography of each interviewee rather than a questionnaire, though similar themes appear across both phases and some of the Phase 1 questions continue to appear in Phase 2 interviews. All Phase 2 interviews were conducted by Iowa Women's Archives staff.

Series 3 consists of tributes to prominent women legislators who passed away before Phase 1 of the oral history project began. These tributes were organized by Hard Won, Not Done project volunteers and written and narrated by other major figures in Iowa politics who had known the honorees personally. This series contains the audio recordings of these tributes, while video versions of these tributes are available on the project website.

The Our Rightful Place: Iowa Women in Politics oral history collection will continue to grow over time as IWA staff solicit interviews with each new cohort of women elected to the legislature. Complete interviews are available as both audio files and transcripts. Video interviews are also collected, though the complete video interviews are not retained as part of this collection. Topical clips from the videos can be accessed via the project website, which also features a database of women in statewide and federal elected office.


  • Creation: 2019 - 2024

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright 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 Our Rightful Place: Iowa Women in Politics oral history collection began in 2019, when it was called the Hard Won, Not Done oral history of Iowa women legislators. The project was conceived by Jean Lloyd-Jones, a former Iowa legislator and co-founder, with fellow legislator Maggie Tinsman, of the organization 50-50 in 2020. The oral history project originally represented 50-50 in 2020's organizational contribution to the Hard Won, Not Done campaign to commemorate the 2020 centennial of the 19th amendment, which granted U.S. women the right to vote.

The overall Hard Won, Not Done commemorations brought together different institutions and stakeholders to celebrate and memorialize the 100th anniversary of votes for women. These commemorative activities included, in addition to the oral history project, the creation of curriculum resources about the history of the 19th amendment and a replica of a suffrage wagon for museum display. Some events that had been planned as a part of the Hard Won, Not Done commemorative campaign were postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

50-50 in 2020 was founded in 2010 by Lloyd-Jones and Tinsman with the aim of achieving equal representation of men and women in the Iowa legislature by the year 2020. The organization engaged in a variety of activities, including recruiting, training, and supporting women candidates.

In 2019, the 50-50 in 2020 board, led by Lloyd-Jones, began collecting oral histories with former and current Iowa women legislators. As interviews proceeded, Lloyd-Jones arranged for a partnership with the University of Iowa Libraries, in which library staff would develop an online portal to provide public access to the interviews. Digital Humanities Research and Instruction Librarian Nikki White played a lead role in developing the website, which was originally called Hard Won, Not Done: A Salute to Iowa Women Politicians. It featured a variety of excerpts from the video interviews, as well as other resources on the history of women in Iowa politics.

To ensure that the Libraries would be able to sustainably maintain that website and continue interviewing legislators in years to come, Jean Lloyd-Jones and her granddaughter Michal Eynon-Lynch endowed a staff position at the IWA (the Women in Politics Archivist) to steward the project into the future. The final transfer of stewardship of the project from Jean Lloyd-Jones and 50-50 in 2020 to the University of Iowa Libraries staff marks the boundary between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the oral history project.

In 2024, the oral history project website was redesigned to acknowledge that interviews are ongoing and the project has evolved beyond its initial concept. As part of this work, the oral history project and website was renamed Our Rightful Place: Iowa Women in Politics to more accurately convey the project's current scope.


11.3 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Oral histories with women who have served in statewide or federal elected office representing residents of the state of Iowa.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Phase 1 interviews were donated by the interviewees (#1654) and compiled and transferred by videographer Sara Tate. Phase 2 interviews were donated by the individual interviewees and transferred by IWA staff.

Existence and Location of Copies

Material from this collection is available in the Iowa Digital Library.

Kate Orazem, 2024
Language of description
Script of description

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)