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Linda Kinney Neuman papers

Identifier: IWA0532

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Scope and Contents

The Linda Kinney Neuman papers date from 1975 to 2018 and measure 10.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series: Biographical, Judicial nominations, Judicial opinions, Correspondence, Speech materials, Speeches, Professional associations and activities, Photographs, and Artifacts. Neuman's papers focus on her professional career, but aspects of her private life are intertwined in them and appear from time to time.

Neuman's papers highlight her interest in women and the law. She was active in the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ); she studied the issue of women and the law; and she supported women in their efforts to make a career in the field of law. Papers related to this topic are sprinkled throughout the collection. Neuman, a Republican, believed that sexism was mainly a matter of habit, and she was confident that women would be accepted as they proved themselves. Her approach to sexism, therefore, was to "educate"-not to be defensive; she worked for change in a non-confrontational way. Neuman emphasized the universal rights and responsibilities of citizenship. When she was sworn in to the Iowa Supreme Court, she noted that "the work that we are about is neither women's work nor men's work...but a solemn responsibility."

Neuman's papers show her involvement in education. She mentored and supported many young people, both male and female, in their careers. She wrote letters of recommendation, took an active interest in many individuals, participated in programs on career development at elementary, secondary, and law schools, and served on continuing education committees and commissions for lawyers and judges.

The Biographical series includes an oral history conducted by Iowa State University political science student Andrew Peterson under the direction of Professor Mary Ann Tétreault in 1996 as part of a study on the role of gender in judicial decisions. An article written by Tétreault in 2000 that uses data from the interview is also included in this series. The newspaper articles include interviews with Neuman and give a feel for her character and personality. Her daily calendars include both professional and personal appointments. The General biographical sub-series is made up of materials surrounding her experiences as a judge, such as newspapers articles and plebiscites, as well as family letters and various profiles of Neuman.

The Judicial nominations series is comprised of the papers related to the judicial nominations Neuman sought to the Seventh District Court of Iowa, the Iowa Supreme Court, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This series provides a fascinating look at the process of judicial nomination, and underscores its political nature. These papers show the research Neuman did, the people she called on for support, and the strategies she used to pursue the nominations. The most extensive files are for the U.S. Circuit Court nomination. Although Neuman did not get the nod, she put in a lot of work. Papers include research on the factors the president might consider in his decision, lists of women on the federal bench, lists of federal judges and which president appointed them, and scholarly articles on jurisprudential issues. This series also contains letters of recommendation written on Neuman's behalf as well as many congratulatory notes including one from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor following Neuman's 1982 district judge appointment.

The Judicial opinions series includes two types of opinions: those written by either the Iowa Supreme Court or the Iowa Court of Appeals in which they reviewed decisions originally made by Neuman at the trial (district) level, and opinions Neuman wrote for the Iowa Supreme Court, which comprise the bulk of the series. Neuman's Supreme Court opinions are arranged by year, and the first folder for each year begins with a list of all the opinions she wrote that year. Although this list does not include the dissents she filed, the dissents themselves are included. Many of the high profile decisions include newspaper clippings about the case. These include decisions on topics such as compulsory school attendance (1987); the Cedar Rapids Jaycees' male-only policy (1988); compensation to former spouses who had financially supported the educational advancement of their spouse (1989); parental kidnapping in the highly-publicized case of Tracey Simmons of Des Moines (1990); domestic violence (State v Torres) in which Neuman stated that the court neglected to define "reckless" in its proper context (1993); the role of cultural factors in awarding child custody (1995); the violation of a no contact order by the woman on whose behalf it was issued (1995); Fourth Amendment issues in State v Doran (1997); grandparents' rights in Santi v Santi (2001); and legislation taxing race tracks and riverboats at different rates (2002). Neuman's opinions were noted for their thoroughness, strong writing, and insightful grasp of the issues.

The Correspondence series is arranged by date and includes both professional and personal communication. The bulk is professional although the two categories often commingle. For example, warm and personal notes of thanks and appreciation are often included with correspondence from colleagues on professional matters. Neuma's correspondence covers a broad range of topics including requests to speak, comments from attorneys on the Court's opinions, and direct appeals from parties who felt unfairly treated by the legal system. Neuman's papers often include a copy of her response along with the letter to which she is responding. Neuman maintained relationships with women judges and lawyers in Iowa and many other states, including Tennessee, Missouri, Wisconsin, Utah, and Rhode Island. This informal network was an important communication channel. For example, Joan Lipsky wrote to Neuman in 1994 complaining that the continuing legal education committee of the Iowa Bar Association had to be persuaded to allow credits for a course on sexual harassment. In her sympathetic reply, Neuman thanked Lipsky and assured her that she shared her concerns and would always be willing to be helpful.

The bulk of the papers in the Speech materials series relate to the topics of women, feminism, and the law, and are comprised of scholarly papers, articles from legal publications, newspaper articles, and speech transcripts on topics such as gender bias in the courts, the impact of women on the judiciary, and the history of women and the law. They include articles by University of Iowa law professor Patricia Cain, University of Iowa history professor Linda Kerber, and Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court; the proceedings of a 1982 symposium for women judges (with a bibliography); and transcripts of speeches by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mary Robinson, president of Ireland. An audiocassette of Robinson's speech is also included in the audiocassette collection.

The Speeches series includes the transcripts or notes from speeches Neuman delivered arranged chronologically by date and location or event; some include titles. Many folders also include background or preparation materials about both the topic of the speech as well as the organization or occasion of the speech. Neuman was much in demand as a public speaker. She laced her scholarly and legal presentations with personal stories that touched her audiences and received many letters of appreciation and praise following her speeches. Neuman was the keynote speaker at a wide range of functions such as a library opening, a meeting of women police officers, religious services, law school commencement exercises, and a Girl Scouts' meeting. She addressed audiences in legal, civic, business, and educational settings. Many of her speeches teach a great deal about Iowa's legal history and judicial system, and most reflect Neuman's values: family connections, civic responsibility, and the rule of law.

The Professional associations and activities series includes the papers from the Iowa Supreme Court Commission on Planning for the 21st Century, which Neuman chaired. The Commission consisting of over seventy-five leaders from Iowa's legal, business, political, and service sectors was charged with making recommendations on how Iowa's judicial system should address its increasing workload.

Neuman's interest and expertise in the intersection of Science, medicine, ethics, and the law is documented in this subseries. She was a faculty member at numerous conferences designed to educate judges about issues such as biomedical ethics, reproductive technologies, surrogate motherhood, and end of life or quality of life issues including the withholding of medical treatment or nutrition. This subseries includes correspondence and notes related to conferences at which Neuman was a speaker or faculty member. It also includes scholarly articles on bioethics and surrogate motherhood (including the Baby M case), remarks made by Neuman at conferences, and notes made by Neuman in preparation for conferences.

The largest folder in the Women subseries documents Neuman's year as chair of the Honoree of the Year Committee of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). In an unprecedented decision, the committee chose to honor retired Justice William Brennan of the U.S. Supreme Court. Neuman's papers include the remarks she made at the award ceremony as well as Brennan's thank-you note. Because of ill health, Brennan was unable to attend the ceremony. This subseries also has a folder with biographical information on many women judges and lawyers in Iowa, including Frances Plath, the first woman to practice law in Scott County, and Rosemary Sackett, appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1983.

The Professional Associations and Activities series also contains work Neuman did with organizations after her retirement from the Iowa Supreme Court in 2003. The Miscellaneous subseries includes her admission into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015 and her work as a lecturer at University of Iowa’s College of Law from 2004 to 2014. Neuman’s 1998 master’s thesis from the University of Virginia can also be found in this subseries.

The Photographs series includes personal photos from family vacations as well as professional photos. The professional photos include a photo of women who gathered to celebrate Neuman's district judge appointment; photos of Neuman with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia; and official portraits of the Iowa Supreme Court. This series also includes oversized photographs shelved in the oversized folder collections.

The Artifacts series includes numerous plaques and awards Neuman received, as well as some audiovisual materials.


  • Creation: 1975-2018


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

Linda Kinney Neuman, the first woman to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court, was born in Chicago in 1948. She was the oldest of three children; her father was a lawyer and her mother was a homemaker. Neuman's aunt, Circuit Judge Helen C. Kinney, was the first woman to serve on the bench in DuPage County, Illinois. Neuman's family moved to Denver in 1956 because her father took a position as a trustee at the Colorado National Bank.

Neuman earned a BA from the University of Colorado in 1970, and a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1973. She met Henry Neuman of Davenport, Iowa, in law school, and they were married in 1973. The Neumans moved to the Quad Cities so Henry Neuman could work in his father's law firm, and the couple settled in LeClaire, Iowa. They had two daughters: Emily, born in 1977, and Lindsey, born in 1981.

Neuman's first job was with her father-in-law's firm, and she and her husband were both named partners in 1977. After the birth of her first daughter, Neuman worked for a brief time as a trust officer at the Bettendorf Bank and Trust Company, and as an instructor at the University of Iowa. In 1980, she was appointed judicial magistrate for Scott County, a part-time position that dovetailed well with her parental responsibilities. (See "Court Structure" at the end of this section.) Neuman had found her calling. She enjoyed being a judge, preferring the role of mediator to that of advocate. In 1982, she applied for an opening for district judge in Iowa's 7th district, and was appointed by Governor Robert Ray. She served with distinction and was encouraged to apply for an opening on the Iowa Supreme Court following the death of Justice Harvey Uhlenhopp in 1986.

Neuman had strong support from the legal community, but she did not have much experience in politics; with assistance from Peg Anderson, however, Neuman quickly learned the political ropes. Neuman was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court by Governor Terry Branstad in 1986. She sought a newly-created seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8 th Circuit in 1991, but President George H.W. Bush did not appoint her. Neuman served on the Iowa Supreme Court until her retirement in 2003. Neuman was highly respected in the legal community for her well-crafted and researched opinions, her application of the law, and her dedication to the judicial system.

She was also active in many professional, civic, and church organizations including the American, Iowa, and Scott County Bar Associations, the National Association of Women Judges, the Iowa Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education, the Quad Cities United Way, the Marriage and Family Counseling Service of Scott and Rock Island Counties, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Neuman received the Award for Distinguished Achievement from the University of Colorado in 1989, and the Exceptional Achievement Award from the Mississippi Valley Girl Scout Council in 1988. When she retired from the Iowa Supreme Court, Neuman taught courses on professional ethics at the University of Iowa from 2004 to 2014. After her time as a lecturer, Linda Kinney Neuman continued to be an advocate for young women and the law. She has worked with various Iowan and international organizations, giving speeches and interviews about her experiences as Iowa’s first woman Supreme Court judge, as well as enjoying retirement and travelling around the world with her husband.


10.5 Linear Feet

Artifacts in boxes 21 and 22; 2 videocassettes [V318] and [V1004]; 2 audiocassettes [AC1008] and [AC1967]; 8 CDs [d0565] - [d0571]; Photographs in boxes 16, 19, 20, and 28; Oversized photographs in oversized folder items

Language of Materials



Served for over twenty years in the Iowa judiciary and was the first woman to be appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 932) were donated by Linda K. Neuman in 2004 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

Iowa Women Judges (IWA): Oral histories of five Iowa women judges (including Neuman) conducted under the direction of Mary Ann Tétreault, political science professor at Iowa State University. Neuman's oral history is also in her collection.

Sharon M. Lake, 2005. Emma Barton-Norris, 2021.
Language of description
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)