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Jo Ann Zimmerman papers

Identifier: IWA0351

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Scope and Contents

The Jo Ann Zimmerman papers date from 1958 to 1995 and measure 9 linear feet, with additional artifacts, audiocassettes and videocassettes. The papers are arranged in eight series: Biographical, Education, Nursing Career, Political Career, Political Campaigns, Post-Political Career, Photographs, and Artifacts.

The papers consist of personal and professional records from Zimmerman's nursing career, campaign and career memorabilia and brochures, as well as numerous speeches and several articles by Zimmerman. There are also newspaper clippings and correspondence from supporters and other political figures, such as former U.S. President William J. Clinton, Richard Gephardt, Thomas Harkin, and Minnette Doderer, and resource files on the issues Zimmerman supported: environmental concerns, the farm crisis, healthcare, hunger and prison issues, patient's, worker's and women's rights.

The Biographical information series (1979-1991 and undated) consists of appointment books dating from 1979 to 1990, awards, curriculum vitae, early job and scholarship applications, and the transcript of an oral history interview with Zimmerman conducted by Suzanne Schenken. The interview is indexed; it focuses on Zimmerman's legislative career, but gives some attention to her nursing career as well.

The Education series (1958-1975) consists of Zimmerman's GRE scores, copies of her college transcripts, and school research papers.

The Nursing Career series (1970-1982) includes records of her work at Broadlawns and the Iowa Health Systems agency, including records of the Health Systems Agency's attempt to prevent her run for elected office. There are also research papers finished at Iowa Lutheran and records of her trip to Rome to visit nursing facilities in 1971.

The Political Career series (1983-1990) spans her service to the Iowa Democratic Party, tenure in the Iowa House of Representatives, service as Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, and three years on the Waukee School Board. The papers consist of correspondence with supporters and with other legislators and then-Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, as well as newspaper clippings, files on legislation supported or opposed by Zimmerman, committees on which she served, audits, speeches, trips overseas and conferences.

The Political Campaigns series (1982-1990) includes the ERA campaign of 1992, the Campaign for Governor in 1990, the campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 1986, and the campaign for the Iowa State Legislature starting in 1982. The files include strategic plans, lists of donors and volunteers, and financial and itinerary records for the campaigns as well as records of contact with the public, correspondence, newspaper clippings, publicity efforts and memorabilia. The records of the campaign for governor include county-by-county files that contain such information as itineraries, supporters, and local issues.

The Post-Political Career series (1991-1995) highlights a few of Zimmerman's activities since leaving office: there are files on AFSCME, the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Service, the Nurse's Advisory Committee with Tom Harkin, and the Roundtable for Women Legislators, as well as resource files indicating a continued concern for human rights, health issues, education and politics.

The Photographs series (approx. 1985-1990) chronicles Zimmerman's political career. Specific photographic clusters include the 1987 gubernatorial inauguration, campaign trail, 1986 truck trek and various fundraisers.

The Artifacts series comprises name tags, nameplates, a Rolodex, and pins from Zimmerman's political career and buttons, t-shirts, and promotional pens from her political campaigns.


  • Creation: 1958-1995


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

Jo Ann McIntosh Zimmerman, the first woman Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, was born on December 24, 1936, in a farmhouse in Van Buren Township of Van Buren County, Iowa. She was the oldest of three children born to Hazel and Russell McIntosh. The family lived on a subsistence farm, raising both produce and livestock. As a teenager, Jo Ann McIntosh participated in 4-H activities, helped start the first Girl Scout troop in Keosauqua, played in the band, was active in drama, and worked as a soda fountain jerk in Keosauqua. She graduated in 1954 as valedictorian of her class from Keosauqua High School, as did her mother years before. McIntosh entered the Broadlawns Hospital School of Nursing in Des Moines in 1954. She married Tom Zimmerman in 1956, and the couple had five children: Andy, Lisa, twins Don and Ron, and Beth.

Despite family demands, Zimmerman completed her nursing degree in 1958 and in the same year became assistant head nurse of the maternity department at Broadlawns. By 1966, she was supervisor of the maternity department and in 1968 she became a maternity nursing instructor. In the late 1960s she went back to school to earn a B.A. She moved through a series of jobs, teaching courses on marriage and family for the sociology department at Iowa State University, working as a health planner for the health policy corporation of Iowa, lobbying for health issues at the state legislature and serving on the Waukee Community School Board as Director, 1976-79, and as president, 1978-79. She also served on the Dallas County Democratic Central Committee.

In 1982, Zimmerman won the election to the Iowa House, where she was instrumental in securing passage of a bill to improve healthcare for indigent women, supported the clean air act , and was the lead sponsor of the living will act. In 1986, she ran for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa in an upset over Iowa City´s Art Small in the Democratic primary. She defeated Cedar Rapids Republican candidate Joan Lipsky by a margin of 436, 999 votes. She was the first woman in the state of Iowa to hold the position and only the second Democratic Lieutenant Governor in Iowa history to serve with a Republican governor.

As Lieutenant Governor, Zimmerman urged the removal of the figurehead Lieutenant Governor post, advocated alternative uses of agricultural products through research and development, government programs to assist the elderly, establishment of a statewide library system, improving the standardization of educational requirements and teacher training, increasing alternatives to healthcare for Iowans, and rights for women, including abortion rights and passage of the ERA.

Zimmerman ran for Governor of Iowa in 1989, attacking then-governor Terry Branstad for failing to meet with her even once in the four years of her tenure. Zimmerman withdrew her candidacy to avoid a floor fight at the Democratic convention, becoming the Lieutenant Governor candidate with Don Avenson, but the Avenson-Zimmerman team lost the election.

During the 1980s farm crisis, the Zimmermans narrowly escaped losing their family farm to foreclosure. Since then, Zimmerman has continued to advocate patients´, farmers´, and women´s rights, taking on many responsibilities for the 1992 ERA in Iowa campaign, serving as a public speaker and organizer, and continuing her work with the Democratic Party. She has also served on the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center Board of Directors, the Iowa Nurses Association Board, and has been involved in AFSCME, the FINE Educational Research Foundation and the nationwide Roundtable for Women Legislators. Her post-political career interests include education, healthcare, the elderly and human rights. Jo Ann Zimmerman passed away in 2019.


9.00 Linear Feet

7 audiocassettes [AC870-875, 884], 6 videocassettes [V265-V270], 1 CD [d0216], Artifacts in boxes 24-27, Photographs in Box 23. boxes

Language of Materials



Elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1982 and in 1986, she became the first woman Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 493) were donated by Jo Ann Zimmerman in 1998.

Suzanne Vesely and Emily Broeckling, 2002-2003; Sharon M. Lake, 2006.
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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)