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Muscatine Migrant Committee records

Identifier: IWA0745

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Scope and Contents

The Muscatine Migrant Committee (MMC)records date from 1962 to 2005 and are organized in the following series: Administration, Juan Cadena, Marta Cadena, Education, Health, Organizations: Iowa, Organizations: other states, Newsletters, Reports and writings, Slides, and Artifacts.

The Administration series includes a 1962 report detailing the origins of the Muscatine Migrant Agency in the 1950s. Board of director minutes and correspondence after 1970 reflect new directions of the Muscatine Migrant Committee under the leadership of Chicano activist Juan Cadena, the first Latino to hold the position of director.

The Juan Cadena series provides insight into Cadena's background and activism in Saginaw, Michigan, in the 1960s, including his involvement in the international grape boycott campaign led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, the Poverty People's Alliance and La Raza Unida.

The Marta Cadena series includes her employment with the Farmers Home Administration in the 1980s.


  • Creation: 1962-2005


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 Muscatine Migrant Committee (MMC) was established in 1958 to assist the approximately 1,000 agricultural laborers and their families who worked seasonally in the fields around Muscatine. Most of the migrant workers were U.S. citizens from Texas who cultivated tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons on local farms during the summer months and returned to Texas at the end of the growing season. University of Iowa (then the State University of Iowa) student Skip Andrews initiated the formation of a migrant ministry when he brought the needs of Muscatine migrant workers to the attention of the Iowa Council of Churches in 1957. Staffed by four college students, the migrant ministry's "Harvester Team" operated a day care center, educational programs for children, and a Spanish-language radio broadcast service.

During the late 1960s, the MMC increasingly turned its attention to the root causes of poverty. Bilingual nurses and activist nuns, Sister Irene Muñoz and Sister Molly Muñoz, provided heatlh care to migrant workers, documented living conditions in many Iowa migrant camps and worked to pass and enforce protective legislation for Iowa migrant workers and their children.

In 1970, Juan Cadena became the first Latino to head the Muscatine Migrant Committee. Raised in Saginaw, Michigan, the son of Tejano migrant workers, Cadena was active in the Brown Berets and the national grape boycott campaign before moving to Iowa with his wife, Marta Cadena, and their children. Under the leadership of the Cadenas, the Muscatine Migrant Committee expanded its services to encompass a dental clinic, health clinic, and a greater focus on bilingual education. Cadena served on the task force appointed by Governor Robert Ray that was instrumental in the creation of the Spanish Speaking Peoples Commission in 1976, the forerunner of the Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs.


5.00 Linear Feet

Artifacts in Box 13; Slides in Box 12 boxes

Language of Materials



Migrant agency that advocated for agricultural laborers employed temporarily on eastern Iowa farms.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 989) were donated by Juan and Marta Cadena in 2007 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

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June Silliman, Janet Weaver, 2013.
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)