Associated Women Students Records
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Scope and Contents
The Records of the Associated Women Students consist of correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, and pamphlets. These materials document the activities of female students involved in this organization. The records cover three decades of the organization's more than 50-year presence on the University of Iowa campus, from 1916 to the early 1970s. One file includes the records of the Intercollegiate Association of Women Students (IAWS). Helen Reich, associate director of Student Affairs, was appointed to the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women for 1969-1970. Her research file for these years is included.
- Creation: 1924-1970
- Associated Women Students (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.
Biographical / Historical
Associated Women Students is a national organization that existed on college and university campuses. On some campuses, all enrolled female students were automatically designated as members and the organizations were self-governing. The organization provided support and social functions for female students, as well as a voice in such policies as curfew for women. The AWS was organized at varying times on campuses, from the 1910s through the 1950s. From these earliest years, there was an intercollegiate collaboration of AWS organizations. The first conference of the Midwest Intercollegiate Association of Women's Self Government was held at the University of Wisconsin in May 1913. A national constitution was adopted at the 1914 conference held at the University of Illinois, Bloomington. The first national IAWS meeting was held at Ohio State University, Columbus, in 1923. Declining membership forced many campuses to dissolve their AWS organization during the late 1960s and early 1970s. On some campuses, AWS was merged with general student government groups during this period of decline. The organization remains active on some campuses.
On the State University of Iowa campus, the Women's League was established in 1916 for the edification of female students in areas such as politics and leadership and to generate an awareness of world events. Activities at that time included holding tea social gatherings and knitting scarves for the service members of World War I.
The organization was renamed the Women's Association in 1923, with such benefits as vocational guidance, a sponsor system, and a point system (points were earned for participation in various activities). The association established an orientation program in 1927, which grew to include all University students by 1933. Entertainment included Saturday afternoon dances.
A new name, University Women's Association, and new activities were introduced in 1935, such as the Spinsters Spree fund-raising event for AWS activities, which was open to all students. During the 1960s, funding for such activities was primarily financed through the Student Activity Fee. The Information First series was established in 1942 to keep women informed about war effort contributions. The Double V Program (Victory in War for Victory in Peace) was established during World War II for women to assist in numerous ways, from rolling bandages to selling bonds and entertaining service members. The Code for Coeds campus guide for women was published beginning in 1937, the same year the University Sing was revived and held on the Art Building steps on Mother's Day. A judiciary board was born in 1944, which set policies that eventually included women's curfew hours. In 1965, Student Senate joined the Judiciary Program in an advisory capacity, with AWS receiving direction from the Counselor to Women and the Committee on Student Life. During the late 1960s, the Central Judiciary Committee included boards from three areas of housing for female students: dormitories, sororities, and off-campus residences.
The Blue Book Regulations for Undergraduate Women was first published in spring 1943. Prior to this guide, regulations for women were handled in the Office of the Dean of Women. In 1935, the assistant to the Dean of Women was Helen E. Focht, who was promoted to assistant director of the new Office of Student Affairs in 1942. Focht was adviser to AWS and advocated for the empowerment of female students by suggesting they be allowed to request changes in policies governing their curfew. Women's hours were progressively relaxed in 1945, in 1961, in 1963, and again in 1965.
A new Freshman Council was in place by 1947. The Hour of Charm program of 1944 blossomed into the Profile Preview tradition during 1949, an event which selected a Miss Perfect Profile from among style show participants. Organizing international dinners began in 1949, which were held at the Foreign Student Center. By 1968, the Foreign Student Dinner was held every month. During the 1960s, AWS worked with the International Center to establish an International Festival.
The organizational moniker changed once again in 1956 to the Associated Women Students. A student advisor program was established in 1966. During the 1965/1966 academic year, 400 female students were involved in AWS programs.
While negotiating the details of the Code of Student Life document, President Howard R. Bowen wrote to the Committee on Student Life on July 31, 1969, reminding them of the January 1968 agreement that the AWS recommendations would be the controlling factor on women's hours, subject to the approval of the President. AWS had reviewed the policy and supplied all undergraduate women with a questionnaire. The opinions of the respondents were reflected in the final recommendation of AWS to retain restrictions for freshmen women, which Bowen approved for the 1969-1970 academic year. Discussion continued until December 1969, when President Willard L. Boyd decentralized the rule-making to allow housing units to govern. During the early 1970s, the Associated Women Students organization was dissolved on the University of Iowa campus.
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Method of Acquisition
These papers were donated to University Archives from the Office of Student Activities in August 1977. Guide posted to the Internet in May 2011.
- Denise Anderson, May 2011
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