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Marilyn O. Murphy papers

Identifier: IWA0547

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Scope and Contents

The Marilyn O. Murphy papers date from 1973 to 2010 and measure 12 linear feet. The papers are comprised mainly of materials related to Murphy’s political and peace activism through religious and local organizations. They are arranged in 4 series: Biographical, Activism, Topical Files, and Audiovisual.

The Biographical series (1983-2012) contains Murphy’s obituary, an Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame profile from 1988, and Murphy’s commentaries for The Globe, Sioux City diocese’s official newspaper, from 1983 and 84.

The Activism series (1967-2009) is comprised of 15 subseries: Iowa Church Leaders Peace Caravan, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa, Iowa Catholic Conference, Diocesan Peace and Justice Action Commission, Siouxland Women’s Political Caucus (SWPC), Siouxlanders Concerned About the Nuclear Arms Race (SCANAR), Community Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), Immigration Reform, Iowa Legal and Local Advisory Council, Missouri River Historical Development (MRHD), Prison Reform, Catholic Rural Life, Siouxland Coalition to End Homelessness (SCEH), and National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture (NCSA). Together they provide insight into the broad network of Catholic and community services and advocacy in the Sioux City area.

The Topical files series (1975-2009) concerns a variety of issues and organizations, including Women’s History Month, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, climate change, and a Woodbury County youth development program, and includes an Iowa affirmative action data book from 2001. It also contains two printed works from 2007, shelved in the printed works collection: “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer,” edited by Eve Ensler, and “Women Behind Bars” by Silja J.A. Talvi.

The Audiovisual series (2001-2008) consists of eight VHS tapes (shelved in videocassette collection), eight DVDs (shelved with audiovisual collection), and accompanying printed material. These materials relate to Murphy’s work with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Catholic Charities’ various ministries.


  • Creation: 1973-2010


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

Marilyn O. Delaney Murphy, homemaker and faith-based social activist, was born in 1921 in Ponca, Nebraska, to Raymond and Mary Frances Delaney. She served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945. In 1947 she graduated from Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa, and married Raymond William Murphy. They had three children: Timothy, Molly, and Margaret. Raymond Murphy died in 1976.

Marilyn Murphy remained a homemaker until 1972 when she became the Social Concerns Facilitator/Rural Life Contact for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa. In that capacity, she wrote commentaries for The Globe, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City. In the 1980s, she became actively involved with peace organizations such as the Iowa Church Leaders Peace Caravan and Siouxlanders Concerned About the Nuclear Arms Race (SCANAR), an ecumenical citizens’ group seeking the reduction of nuclear arms and the promotion of peaceful alternatives. Murphy also advocated women’s rights through her work with Justice for Women in the Church, Inc., and the Siouxland Women’s Political Caucus (SWPC), serving on its Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) committee. In 1988 Marilyn Murphy was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

During the 1990s, Marilyn Murphy served on the United Way of Siouxland’s women’s task force. She remained an activist, especially in Catholic social justice organizations, for a wide range of issues both in Siouxland and abroad, through at least 2010. Murphy passed away May 28, 2012, at the age of 91.


12.00 Linear Feet

8 videocassettes (8 videocassettes, [V632-V639], shelved in audiovisual collection.)

8 items (8 DVDs, [d0311-d0318], shelved in digital collection.)

Language of Materials



Social activist from Sioux City, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 961) were donated by Marilyn Murphy in 2005 and by Margaret Murphy in 2015.

Related Materials

Iowa Women's Hall of Fame records (IWA).

Iowa Women's Political Caucus records (IWA).

Elizabeth Engel, 2006; Carla DeWit, 2016.
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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)