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Barbara Coffin papers

Identifier: IWA0045

Scope and Contents

The Barbara Coffin papers date from 1944 to 1999 and measure 12 linear inches. The bulk of the records relate to the lawsuit that Coffin filed along with fellow policewoman Karlene Piper against the city of Waterloo. These documents include exhibits presented by Coffin and Piper's attorney as well as transcripts of the testimony given by witnesses before the Civil Service Commission of Waterloo. Coffin and Piper wanted their civil service status to begin with their start date as city hostesses rather than their start date as policewomen because the start date affected their seniority, pay, and retirement eligibility dates. As a result of the lawsuit, the city of Waterloo agreed to backdate their start date to the date they applied and took the test to be policewomen, but not to the date they were hired as city hostesses. The miscellaneous folder contains Roxanne Conlin's closing arguments before the Civil Service Commission, the settlement agreement reached in district court, and the lawyer fee agreement.

The biographical information consists of certificates Coffin received for additional training relating to police work and a newspaper article on her work with ceramics after her retirement. The City hostess folder contains three images of Barbara Brucher in her city hostess uniform: two of Brucher and her fellow hostesses in their 'Hot Pink' summer uniforms from 1967, and one of Brucher writing tickets in a parking lot in 1968. The policewoman folder contains newspaper clippings which chronicle significant events in Coffin's career as a Waterloo police officer: assisting in the apprehension of James Michael 'T-bone' Taylor, filing a discrimination suit against the city of Waterloo, giving talks on safety to the community, and retiring in 1996. The folder also contains letters Coffin wrote to citizens commending them for speaking out when they saw a crime being committed.

Artifacts include the trophy Coffin (at the time Barbara Rogers) won for 2nd place in the women's class of a police sharp shooting contest. Barbara Coffin's police shirt, tailored at the waist to fit a woman, is navy blue with a patch on either sleeve that reads 'Waterloo Police and Vigilance.' Photographs of Coffin and coworkers as city hostesses and policewomen have been printed from two CD-ROMs, which are also part of the collection. The CD-ROMs can only be opened and printed on a Macintosh.


  • 1944-2006


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

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

Barbara Jane Rinker Coffin, city hostess and policewoman, was born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1941 to Ruth Davisson Rinker and J. Henry Rinker, who worked as a mechanical engineer at John Deere. Barbara Rinker married John Brucher when she was seventeen years old and had three sons with him. Barbara Brucher was hired as a city hostess in 1967 and held this job for seven years. As a city hostess, she wrote parking tickets, and assisted in transferring female witnesses and suspects to Des Moines. In April 1973 Barbara Brucher became the first female policewoman hired by the Waterloo Police Department. Brucher, then a single mother, wanted to become a policewoman because it meant doubling her salary from $3000 to $6000 per year. Barbara Brucher had a brief marriage in the early 1970s to Robert Rogers, before marrying fellow police officer Larry Coffin in 1979. Barbara Coffin worked in various positions during her twenty-three years with the Waterloo police department: dispatcher, patrol officer, liaison officer, and investigative officer. Barbara Coffin retired from the police force in February 1996.


12.00 linear inches

Artifacts in Box 4; Photographs in Box 3 and map case boxes

Language of Materials



City hostess and policewoman from Waterloo, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no.1073) were donated by Barbara Coffin in 2004 and succeeding years.

Related Materials

Oral Histories of Iowa Policewomen

This collection includes interviews with Barbara Coffin and Karlene Piper.

Fiona McDougall, 2006; Sharon M. Lake, 2007. [CoffinBarbara.doc]
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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)