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Women Against Racism Committee (Iowa City, Iowa) records

Identifier: IWA0364

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Scope and Contents

The Women Against Racism Committee records date from 1981 to 1998 and measure 4 linear feet. The records are arranged in five series: Administration, Readings, Parallels and Intersections, Conferences and Workshops, and Photographs.

The Administration series (1985-1998) includes handouts on the committee's guidelines and philosophies. The Correspondence folder includes a 1985 letter from Christine Grant, director of women's athletics, defending the University of Iowa's decision to offer a scholarship to a white female student-athlete from South Africa. (See the packet on anti-apartheid readings in the Readings series put together by the Committee as a response to Grant.) This series also includes an essay by former WAR member Papusa Molina, written in response to a request from another former WAR member, Gloria Aldalzua, for an anthology that Aldalzua was editing. In her essay, Molina describes the evolution of WAR and her own evolution as a WAR member.

The Readings series (1981-1994) includes photocopies of the articles that WAR members read, made available to the public, and used for their workshops and conferences. These readings--essays, scholarly studies, memoirs, poems, and reports--address white racism, feminism, sexism, anti-Semitism, lesbian and gay issues, disability, racial and ethnic identity, domestic violence, and environmental issues. The authors include African-American, Latina, Asian American, Native American, Jewish, and white women.

The Parallels and Intersections series (1988-1990) documents WAR's four-day national conference at the University of Iowa in 1989. WAR put together a national advisory board and spent two years planning this conference, which had no registration fee and was attended by over 1500 people, mostly women. All conference activities were accessible to people with disabilities; this series includes conference information written in Braille that was available at the registration table. The Evaluations folder includes over one hundred responses with many comments about the conference. WAR videotaped most of the conference sessions, but ran into technical and administrative difficulties that prevented them from distributing the tapes. This series includes four conference tapes and a folder with details of the tapes' contents.

The Conferences and workshops series (1982-1998), arranged chronologically, contains brochures, posters, correspondence, and promotional material for WAR's annual conferences and intermittent workshops. The Photographs series (1985-1987) includes photographs and slides of the 1985 and 1987 annual conferences. Most of the photographs are not labeled.


  • Creation: 1981-1998


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 multi-racial and multi-ethnic Women Against Racism Committee (WAR) was formed in Iowa City, Iowa, in the early 1980s. Its membership consisted primarily of women who used the facilities and services provided by the Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) at the University of Iowa. The original purpose of the Committee was to critique the racism its members perceived at WRAC. The members also intended to raise their own consciousnesses about the harmful effects of internalized racism. WAR members were committed to personal and political transformation. Their focus was primarily intellectual; members met to discuss joint readings and work through their own positions on racial issues.

In addition to racism, they studied other forms of oppression such as sexism, homophobia, disability-related discrimination, and the challenges facing lesbians of color. WAR also had a public presence through its workshops and annual conferences, which brought speakers such as Winona LaDuke, Gloria Anzaldua, and Nellie Wong to the University of Iowa campus. WAR's most ambitious undertaking was its 1989 national conference, "Parallels and Intersections: Racism and Other Forms of Oppression". Participation in WAR ebbed in the late 1990s and the committee ceased to function in mid-1998.


4.00 Linear Feet

5 videocassettes [V373-377], Photographs in Box 8 boxes

Language of Materials



Multiethnic group founded in 1981 by women from the University of Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The records were donated by Junko Kobayashi (donor no. 515) in 1998 and by the Women's Resource and Action Center (donor no. 222) in 2003.

Related Materials

Rusty Barcel papers (IWA): Barcel was a member of Women Against Racism Committee.

Women's Resource and Action Center records (IWA).

Bridgett Williams-Searle, 2000; Sharon M. Lake, 2007.
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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)