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National Organization for Women, Iowa records

Identifier: IWA0013

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Scope and Contents

The National Organization for Women (NOW) Iowa records date from 1976-1997 and measure approximately 6 linear feet. The materials consist of subject files arranged in alphabetical order. The files generally contain a mix of administrative records, such as minutes, financial records, and correspondence, as well as collected publications and clippings and ephemera including event flyers, invitations, and brochures.

Topical strengths of the collection include NOW’s organizing in support of both the Iowa state and federal Equal Rights Amendments (ERAs), chapter resources and forms, and material on various forms of sex discrimination, including in literature, sports, finances, vocational education, and insurance. The ERA files also include collected materials from individuals and organizations who opposed the amendment. The chapter resources files contain information about creating and maintaining strong local NOW chapters of NOW and forms of support available from the state and national organizations. The collection also includes a number of files documenting LGBTQ+ organizing in Iowa in the 1980s and 1990s, including materials from "Freedom Weeks" similar to contemporary Pride celebrations, records of NOW's active lesbian rights committee, and local LGBTQ+ publications.


  • Creation: 1976-1989


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 National Organization for Women (NOW) was a grassroots organization focused on women’s rights and equality established in 1966. The organization is generally considered one of the major political organs of the “second wave” of feminist activism in the United States.

In 1971, inspired by the demonstrations NOW had organized for its Women’s March for Equality action the previous year, a group of Cedar Rapids women including Sarah Hanley and Bev Mitchell organized a Women’s Caucus, which became a local NOW chapter in 1973. Chapters were founded around the same time in Des Moines (where Virginia Watkins was a key early organizer) and Ames (where Sally Hacker played a major role). A pre-existing feminist group in Dubuque affiliated with NOW in 1973 as well. While members of some early chapters communicated with one another and occasionally held meetings, there was no statewide organizational apparatus for several years. Irene Talbott became the first state coordinator for Iowa NOW in the mid-1970s and began publishing a newsletter. Local chapters advanced their feminist political agenda in a wide variety of ways, including organizing protests against advertising or events they saw as sexist, advocating for more athletic opportunities for young women in public schools, and compiling data on sex discrimination in the workplace. Most chapters took an active role in campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, including supporting ratification campaigns in nearby states and the 1980 and 1992 referenda which would have added an ERA to the Iowa constitution.


6.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Feminist activist organization records.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 14) were donated by the Iowa National Organization for Women in 1990.

Related Materials

National Organization for Women, Ames Chapter records (IWA) National Organization for Women, Dubuque Chapter records (IWA) National Organization for Women, Des Moines Chapter records (IWA) National Organization for Women, Johnson County-Iowa City Chapter records (IWA)

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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)