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Patricia Herring papers

Identifier: IWA0741

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Scope and Contents

The papers of Patricia Herring date from 1979 to 2008 and measure 10.5 linear feet.  The records are arranged into the following series: Biographical information, Newsletters, AIDS published materials, AIDS topical, People with AIDS, Politics and legislation, AIDS services, Social work, the University of Iowa, and Artifacts.

The Biographical information  series (1984-1999) includes resumes, a memoir written by Patricia Herring's mother, a program from a Monaghan family reunion, and a book of photographs taken by Herring's father, Ardis Herring, during the 1950s.

The Newsletters series (1987-1999) are comprised of state and national newsletters.  The majority of newsletters were published by AIDS organizations in Iowa.  Newsletters published by state and national AIDS and GLBT organizations complete the series.

The AIDS published materials series (1984-1997) consists of clippings from newspapers throughout Iowa, manuals for people with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers, and pamphlets. This series provides information about early AIDS treatments and advocacy.

The AIDS topical series (1984-1997) pertains to issues that affected people with HIV/AIDS, including healthcare, homophobia, sexism, and discrimination. Materials include popular magazine articles, correspondence, and reports.

The People with AIDS series (1987-1996) is comprised of letters, obituaries, newspaper clippings, and video cassette tapes created by or written about Iowans with HIV/AIDS. This series includes folders on Barbara Fassbinder, a nurse who contracted the HIV virus on the job; Rick Graf and Ron Kephart, openly gay HIV/AIDS activists from Iowa City; and Tony Bowser, a father of three from rural Iowa, who became an activist after he tested positive for the HIV virus.

The Politics and legislation series (1987-1997) includes legislative bills, correspondence, and position papers related to legislation affecting persons with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers. Several bills pertain to patient privacy, including efforts to require people who test positive for the HIV virus to report their results to health care providers. This series also contains records of the AIDS Taskforce, which was created by the Iowa General Assembly to provide recommendations to Iowa legislators. Newsletters, agendas, and newspaper clippings pertaining to AIDS and GLBT organizations that lobbied the Iowa General Assembly and the US Congress complete the series.

The AIDS services series (1979-2008) is the largest series of the collection, measuring over six linear feet. It consists of the minutes, agendas, reports, and correspondence of organizations that provided care to Iowans with HIV/AIDS or educated the public about the disease. The folders pertaining to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics trace the development of the Hospital's Virology Clinic, which opened in 1986. Grant materials located in the HIV Care Consortia and ICAP folders include data about a number of AIDS organizations located throughout the state.

The Social work series (1979-1993) includes reports and position papers that detail the work of social workers during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Patricia Herring's speeches and notes document her role in educating the public about HIV/AIDS.

The University of Iowa series (1990-1998) consists of agendas, flyers, and newspaper clippings for the University's faculty and staff GLBT organization. Publicity for a dance choreographed by Bill T. Jones at the University in 1994 completes the series.

Artifacts (1994-1996) include buttons, an ICARE t-shirt, and two safe sex kits.


  • Creation: 1979-2008


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

Patricia Herring, the oldest of eleven children, was born in 1944 in San Diego, California, to Ardis and Dorothy Herring; the family soon moved to Waterloo, Iowa. Ardis Herring worked as an engineer and administrator for John Deere Foundry and Dorothy Herring worked as a domestic engineer. In 1962, Patricia Herring graduated from Columbus High School in Waterloo; afterwards, she entered a convent. While residing with the Sisters of Mercy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she attended Mount Mercy College, where she graduated with a business degree in 1967. She left the convent in 1970.

In 1974, she enrolled in the University of Iowa School of Social Work to pursue a master's degree in social work (MSW). During this period, she worked at a clinic in Des Moines, Iowa. Herring was active in the feminist movement throughout the 1970s. While working in Des Moines from 1974 to 1976, Herring was a member of the Des Moines chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She also helped to found a feminist bookstore, A Mind of One's Own. In 1976, after receiving an MSW from the University of Iowa, Herring moved to Iowa City. In 1978, she began to work at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).

She became a social worker early in the AIDS epidemic, when it was unclear how the virus spread and tests to detect the virus had not been developed. Around 1983, Herring became an HIV/AIDS counselor at UIHC. She was an integral part of the UIHC's Virology Clinic, established in 1986. As an AIDS counselor at the only health care facility to provide comprehensive care to Iowans with HIV during the 1980s, Patricia Herring had personal contact with most Iowans who tested positive for HIV. Patricia Herring's advocacy for persons with HIV/AIDS extended beyond her paid work at the UIHC. During the 1980s, she volunteered at Iowa City's Free Medical Clinic, where she counseled patients who received HIV tests. She was a charter member of the Johnson County AIDS Coalition.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she was active in a number of regional and statewide AIDS organizations, including the Southeast Iowa HIV CARE Consortium, and the Iowa Community AIDS Partnership. Herring became a noted speaker and press contact statewide during the height of the epidemic. She wrote grants, lobbied state legislators, and educated health care professionals about the importance of protecting patients' privacy. Herring was also a member of a number of state and local gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) activist groups. Patricia Herring began to work part-time at the UIHC in 2004, and retired in 2006.


10.50 Linear Feet

Photographs in boxes 6 and 11; 9 videocassettes [V416-V424] boxes

Language of Materials



Feminist, social worker, and advocate for persons with HIV/AIDS.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 695) were donated by Patricia Herring in 2000.

Bridgett Williams-Searle, 2000; Karissa Haugeberg, 2009.
Language of description
Script of description

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)