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National Organization for Women. Iowa



The National Organization for Women (NOW) was a grassroots organization focused on women’s rights and equality established in 1966. The organization is generally considered one of the major political organs of the “second wave” of feminist activism in the United States.

In 1971, inspired by the demonstrations NOW had organized for its Women’s March for Equality action the previous year, a group of Cedar Rapids women including Sarah Hanley and Bev Mitchell organized a Women’s Caucus, which became a local NOW chapter in 1973. Chapters were founded around the same time in Des Moines (where Virginia Watkins was a key early organizer) and Ames (where Sally Hacker played a major role). A pre-existing feminist group in Dubuque affiliated with NOW in 1973 as well. While members of some early chapters communicated with one another and occasionally held meetings, there was no statewide organizational apparatus for several years. Irene Talbott became the first state coordinator for Iowa NOW in the mid-1970s and began publishing a newsletter. Local chapters advanced their feminist political agenda in a wide variety of ways, including organizing protests against advertising or events they saw as sexist, advocating for more athletic opportunities for young women in public schools, and compiling data on sex discrimination in the workplace. Most chapters took an active role in campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, including supporting ratification campaigns in nearby states and the 1980 and 1992 referenda which would have added an ERA to the Iowa constitution.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

National Organization for Women, Ames Chapter records

Identifier: IWA0658

Includes ERA campaign material.

Dates: 1973-1986

National Organization for Women, Dubuque Chapter records

Identifier: IWA0223

The group was formed in 1973. The purpose of the group was to improve and expand the role of women in society and it supported the Equal Rights Amendment, safe and legal abortion among other issues.

Dates: 1973-1995

National Organization for Women, Iowa records

Identifier: IWA0013

Feminist activist organization records.

Dates: 1976-1989

Additional filters:

Community education 2
Equal rights amendments 2
Feminism 2
1991-2000 1
Abortion 1