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Patricia Harper papers

Identifier: IWA0510

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Scope and Contents

The Patricia Harper papers date from 1986 to 2003 and measure 10 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical, Campaigns, Legislative, and Photographs.

The Biographical series (1988-2002) contains a 1988 legislative profile on Harper, an oral history interview conducted by Suzanne Schenken in 1992, and correspondence related to her retirement from the Iowa State Senate in 2002.

The Campaigns series (1986-1998) holds material from all of Harper's campaigns, including her one unsuccessful run for Representative in 1990. Campaign fliers, fundraising material, correspondence, and newspaper articles are included.

The Legislative series (1988-2002) contains information regarding all the bills Harper sponsored while in office and newspaper clippings relating to her service with the Iowa State Legislature. Also included is correspondence concerning Duane Brant, a prisoner in Harper's district seeking to have his life sentence reduced.

The Photographs series (1987-2002) contains photos of Harper throughout her campaigns and work as State Representative and Senator. Included are photos of Harper with Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, Terry Branstad and other Iowa state legislators.


  • Creation: 1986-2003


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor 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

Former Iowa State Representative and Senator, Patricia Harper, was born December 4, 1932 in Cresco, Iowa to parents Martha Gossman Mullaney and Patrick Mullaney. Patricia Mullaney attended Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) and graduated in 1954. Also in that year, Patricia Harper married and divorced James Harper. Their daughter Susan was born in 1954.

Harper received her master's degree from Iowa State Teachers College in 1961. She later took graduate coursework at Iowa State University, The University of Northern Iowa, The University of Iowa, and Columbia University in New York. Before running for state office in 1986, Patricia Harper was a math and science high school teacher in Iowa and Minnesota. The majority of her teaching career was spent in Waterloo, Iowa. She also taught math at the University of Northern Iowa.

A Democrat, Harper served as State Representative for Iowa House District 26 from 1987 to 1990 and 1992 to 1996. She retired from politics in 1996, but when a Senate seat in her district was vacated in 1997, Harper ran and won the District 13 seat. In 2002, Harper retired from the Iowa State Senate. Throughout Harper's time as Iowa Representative and Senator, she was an advocate for human services and educational issues. Matters concerning the mentally ill, the elderly, and the poor were also of great importance to her during her state service.


10.00 linear inches

Photographs in Box 2. boxes

Language of Materials



Iowa State Representative and Senator who served in the legislature from 1987 to 2002.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 884) were donated by Patricia Harper in 2003.

Related Materials

Political Dialogue: Iowa's Women Legislators (IWA): Includes a copy of Suzanne Shencken's interview with Harper.

Britt Nelson, 2004.
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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)