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Sarah Hanley papers

Identifier: IWA0076

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Scope and Contents

The Sarah Hanley papers date from 1900 to 2008 and measure 18.7 linear feet. The papers are arranged in ten series: Biographical, Women's Movement, Politics, Coe College, University of Iowa History Department, University of Iowa Women's Studies, University of Iowa Issues and Events, Paris Artists Community, Photographs and Artifacts.

Before donating the materials to the Iowa Women's Archives, Hanley separated and organized her papers, making notes on many of the original file folders. Her notes and organization have been preserved in this collection. Some letters and publications are written in French.

The Biographical series (1957-2007) includes family correspondence from Hanley's children, husband, mother and sisters. More biographical information can be found in an oral history interview with Hanley, located in the Publications subseries of the University of Iowa History Department series.

The Women's Movement series (1952-2008) consists of materials documenting the resurgence of feminism at mid-century through Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Speeches, newspaper clippings and radio and T.V. interviews detail Hanley's involvement with the Cedar Rapids Women's Caucus (forerunner to the local National Organization for Women chapter). Hanley also saved the first issue of Ms. magazine and other influential publications of the women's movement, including several books. A letter Hanley wrote to Pope Paul regarding his remarks on birth control in the Humanae Vitae encyclical can be found in the Articles and Letters folder. The oversized framed poster of a woman with a raised right arm is the one Sarah Hanley carried in the Boston Women's March in 1970.

The Politics series (1957-2008) contains correspondence, reflections and clippings on political issues ranging from social welfare to the Vietnam War. Hanley's FBI file, which documents her anti-Vietnam activism, is located in this subseries. Buttons from political candidates and causes Hanley supported can be found in the Artifacts series.

The Coe College series (1969-1970) includes course outlines and lectures from Hanley's Western Civilization II class as well as some administrative correspondence.

The University of Iowa History Department series (1959-2008) makes up the bulk of the collection and is divided into eight subseries: General, Professional Offices and Associations, Publications and Reviews, Awards and Grants, Interviews and Presentations, Correspondence, Courses, and Calendars.

The General subseries (1959-2008) consists of curriculum vitae, professional appointments, and department newsletters and policies. The Sarah Hanley-Malcolm Rohrbough timeline provides insight into how tenured professors balanced teaching and research duties with their personal lives. Information on appointing women faculty and ensuring fair tenure processes for women can be found scattered throughout the collection.

The Professional Offices and Associations subseries (1978-2004) contains information on Hanley's term as Dean for Faculty and her service on the Faculty Senate as well as her leadership positions for a myriad of professional associations.

The Publications and Reviews subseries (1974-2006) includes correspondence and reviews regarding Hanley's major scholarly works, including her book The Lit de Justice of the Kings of France: Constitutional Ideology in Legend, Ritual and Discourse (shelved in the IWA printed works collection). Hanley also reviewed history departments at other universities and potential publications for journals. A bound oral history interview with Hanley done by the University Archives is also in this subseries.

The Awards and Grants subseries (1979-2007) documents Hanley's numerous research trips and prizes she received for her scholarship.

The Interviews and Presentation subseries (1970-2007) includes speeches and lectures given by Hanley as well as conference programs from a variety of professional organizations.

The Correspondence subseries (1972-2008) consists of letters to and from history and women's studies faculty and members of professional associations and journals. Some personal correspondence is here, but the bulk of that is in the Biographical series.

The Courses subseries (1991-2007) involves syllabi and lectures developed and edited over time for a selection of Hanley's courses at the University of Iowa.

The Calendars subseries (1948-2007) details Hanley's day-to-day activities as a professor of history and law. Passports, ID cards and a collection of postcards provide insight into her travel and research activities.

The University of Iowa Women's Studies series (1973-2006) contains correspondence, curriculum and faculty information and lecture posters from the early years of the Women's Studies Program. Of note is a letter from May Brodbeck, Vice President of the university at the time, about the difficulties in starting a Women's Studies program. Several folders include resource files of women's issues both locally and globally.

The University of Iowa Issues and Events series (1950-2007) covers academic problems and scandals at the University of Iowa and in the national history community. Hanley called the Jean Jew sexual harassment case, "the worst scandal in my time here'', and she testified as Dean for Faculty at the trial. Of note is a report put out by the Women's Committee of the American Studies Association on the personal lives and professional careers of women in the mid-1980s found in the Women and the Academy folder.

The Paris Artists Community series (1975-2008) reflects Hanley's involvement with a ''singular group of friends in Paris from 1972 into 2008." Many of these individuals are renowned artists both in France and America.

The Photographs series (1999-2003) includes photographs of Hanley's trips to Paris and Jerusalem as well as a friend's visit to Iowa City.

The Artifacts series (1950s-2000) contains buttons, medallions and t-shirts from the women's movement and political campaigns. Many historical Democratic Party candidates are represented.


  • Creation: 1900-2008


Conditions Governing Access

Access is restricted.

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

Sarah Hanley, professor, historian, feminist and political activist, was born in 1931 near Boston, Massachusetts and married Henry Madden at age 21. Within four years, they had three kids. Until the late 1970s, Hanley was known as Sally Madden. She started her B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh at age 27 and moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her family in the late 1960s.

Hanley was one of the founding members of the Cedar Rapids Women's Caucus in 1971, which later became a chapter for the National Organization for Women (NOW). A chapter in Louise Noun's "More Strong Minded Women" provides details on Hanley's activism during the women's movement and her involvement in other civil and political issues.

Hanley received her M.A. in history from the University of Iowa in 1970 and her Ph.D. in 1975. She made several research trips to Paris to study women's and legal history, including one for her dissertation in 1972. Hanley taught at Coe College in Cedar Rapids starting in 1969 and at the University of Iowa from 1977 to 2008, becoming a full, tenured professor in 1987.

Hanley divorced Henry Madden in 1982-1983. She married University of Iowa American Studies professor Malcolm Rohrbough in 1986.

She served as the Assistant Chair of the department from 1984 to 1985 and was Dean for Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts from 1987 to 1990, where she worked to get more women appointed as faculty and to ensure women went through a fair tenure process. As Dean, she also testified in the widely publicized Jean Jew sexual harassment case in 1990. Hanley also served as chair for the relatively new Women's Studies program from 1977-1980 and from 1982-1983. She became the first female history faculty to win the faculty scholar award in 1982.

Hanley published several articles and book chapters including the monograph, "The Lit de Justice of the Kings of France: Constitutional Ideology in Legend, Ritual and Discourse" (Princeton University Press, 1983). She was also active in many professional organizations and as a peer-reviewer for several scholarly journals. She worked to get equal rights and privileges for women in the academy until her retirement in 2008.


18.70 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 41 boxes

Language of Materials



University of Iowa professor of history, feminist, and political activist.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 133) were donated by Sarah Hanley in 2008.

Related Materials

Malcolm J. Rohrbough papers (University of Iowa Archives). Hanley married Rohrbough in 1986.

Jean Jew Justice Committee papers (IWA). Hanley testified as Dean for Faculty in the Jean Jew case.

Christine Mastalio, 2010
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)