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United Sisters of Black Hawk County records

Identifier: IWA0315

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Scope and Contents

The United Sisters of Black Hawk County records date from 1984 to 1996 and measure 10 linear inches. These records were originally organized in scrapbooks, which have been disbound. Photocopies of the scrapbooks' original order may be found in the collection. The records are divided into five series: Administrative material, Events, Historical and biographical material, and Scrapbooks.

The Events series (1984-1996 and undated) includes material relating to the organization's production of two plays, For Colored Girls who have considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf and The Wiz. A folder of miscellaneous material includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, a certificate, programs, and photographs that chronicle events for which there is little directly related material throughout the rest of the series. This folder also contains newspaper clippings that describe United Sisters' members' activities or involvement in community issues. One folder of material relating to the 1988 Networking Together, Inc., Conference includes articles of incorporation, a draft of by-laws, and other documents that date from 1984.

The Historical and biographical material series (1987-1996 and undated) consists of background material pertaining to United Sisters, the YWCA of Black Hawk County, such as yearbooks, brochures, and newspaper articles. Material relating to two members of the organization, Ruth Bluford Anderson and Billie Lloyd may be found in this series. It includes a photograph dated 1990, which features then-Black Hawk County Supervisor Ruth Bluford Anderson participating in a parade.

Items in the Scrapbooks series (1987-1994 and undated) are arranged by the events which they document. Some of the individuals who participated in the 1989 "Hats Off to Iowa Men" fashion show are identified; their names may be found in the box list. Additional photographs of Ruth Bluford Anderson and Billie D. Lloyd may be found throughout the series. A photograph of Mary Dickens, several of Essie Johnson Buls, and photographs of Almo Hawkins are also included. The locations of these photographs may be found in the box list.


  • Creation: 1984-1996


Conditions Governing Access

The records 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

The United Sisters of Black Hawk County (United Sisters) is an Iowa women's networking organization for women of color that was established in 1987. Its charter members were five women of color: Clozelle Harris, Essie Johnson (now Buls), Rosalyn Middleton, Bonetta Culp, and Diana Fortenberry. As its mission, the organization seeks to uplift the status of women of color of all ages in the areas of economic, employment, educational, cultural, and networking development. Local and state issues are addressed through monthly business meetings, social projects, and an annual state conference. The United Sisters also organize weekly exercise classes, workshops, forums, and special events. Examples of events sponsored include an all-male fashion show, a Miss Black Hawk Scholarship Pageant, and an annual black history and cultural fair.

The headquarters for the organization is the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Black Hawk County. United Sisters also features a branch for girls, United Teens. The teen group's mission is to encourage girls of color to gather to discuss the prejudices they may hold and discrimination they may experience in their lives. United Sisters is the Iowa state affiliate of Networking Together, Inc., a non-profit coalition of state networks representing American Indian, Asian-American, African-American, and Hispanic women in seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The coalition actively addresses issues of common concern that affect the economic self-sufficiency of women of color. Networking Together organizes conferences annually, which are open to all members of the state affiliates.


10.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Iowa affiliate of Networking Together, Inc., an organization for women of color.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 431) were donated by Essie Buls in 1997.

Related Materials

Ruth Bluford Anderson papers (IWA)

Mary Dickens papers (IWA)

Billie Lloyd papers (IWA)

Melanie Jacobs, 1997; Kathryn M. Neal, 1998; Robert Jett, 1999.
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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)