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Joan Hemm papers

Identifier: IWA0509

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Scope and Contents

The Joan Hemm papers date from 1998 to 2004 and measure 1 linear inch. The papers consist of meeting records, newspaper clippings, club letters, and photographs of the Shady Ladies of the Central City Motherlode. This collection also includes the script and other records of "Parlour House," a play written and performed by the Shady Ladies. Photographs of Shady Ladies performers in their costumes complete the collection.


  • Creation: 1998-2004


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor will be transferred to the University of Iowa in 2048.

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

Joan A. Hemm was born in Strawberry Point, Iowa, in 1957. She was adopted as an infant by Marie Andersen, a registered nurse, and Dean Andersen, a researcher at the University of Iowa Department of Pediatrics. She was raised in Iowa City, Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in journalism and mass communication.

She married Tom Hemm in 1986. Hemm worked for various telecommunications, marketing, and advertising companies, including the Bell telecommunications system. In Boulder, Colorado, she worked for a greeting card manufacturer and later, an advertising agency. She next worked at the University of Colorado as an advertising coordinator for the environmental engineering program.

Hemm was inspired by a high school drama teacher to pursue her interests in theater. In 1992, Hemm created a women's historical performance organization, The Shady Ladies of the Central City Motherlode, in Boulder, Colorado. The Shady Ladies study the history of the western United States, present book reports, and write and perform plays about women in the nineteenth-century West. According to Hemm, "We talk about birth control, which piques everyone's interest. We talk about how options for women were very limited during Victorian times, that a woman was the property of her husband, that she didn't have the right to vote. It's exciting that we can make history interesting."


1.00 linear inch

Language of Materials



Records of the Shady Ladies, a Colorado based historical performance organization founded by Hemm.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 883) were donated by Joan Hemm in 2003.

Related Materials

Janie Yates-Glandorf papers (IWA): Yates-Glandorf was one of Joan Hemm's teachers at City High School in Iowa City. The Yates-Glandorf collection includes correspondence between Hemm and Yates-Glandorf, along with photographs and a scrapbook of Hemm's wedding and work with the Shady Ladies.

Karissa Haugeberg, 2007.
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Script of description
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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)