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Sondra Smith papers

Identifier: IWA0874

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Scope and Contents

The Sondra Smith papers date from 1965-2010 and measure 5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, Women's Movement, Iowa Memorial Union Catering, Photographs, Artifacts, and Audiovisual.

The Biographical (1965-2005) series contains Smith's 1977 offer of employment with the Iowa Memorial Union food service and a Press-Citizen article on Smith and her catering team.

The Women's Movement series (1968-2004) consists of numerous independent periodicals related to feminism, the 1970s women's movement of the 1970s, and handbooks on women's health. It contains records on the Dum-Dum Co-Operative Day Care Center, founded by members of the Iowa City Women's Liberation Front under the B.O.S.S. (Bitches Out to Stomp Sexism) Manifesto, which advocated a radical feminist approach to class, race, and sexuality. The series includes manifestos, minutes, notes, and newspaper articles about Dum-Dum. It contains publications by independent press groups, Ain't I A Woman?, and The Birth Control Handbook, an independently published guide to sexual health and reproduction. Smith's papers related to the Emma Goldman Clinic are also included.

The Iowa Memorial Union Catering series (1970-2010) contains documents relating to the events Smith organized and supervised as Catering Manager. The materials are organized chronologically by event and range from major concerts to banquets, benefits, dedications, and celebrations. Also included are administrative documents such as department reviews, and professional correspondence. The Louis Szathmary subseries includes three books shelved in the printed works collection, which are personally inscribed to Sondra Smith from celebrity chef and University of Iowa patron Louis Szathmary: American Gastronomy: An Illustrated Portfolio of Recipes and Culinary History, The Bakery Restaurant Cookbook, and Magyar Poems.

The Photographs series (1965-2005) comprises photographs of Iowa Memorial Union events relating to Smith's catering work, including food displays, decorations, room arrangements, staff, and guests. Also included are personal photographs of Smith and her children, friends, and fellow women's rights activists.

The Artifacts series includes mugs, pins, and paperweights from the University of Iowa.


  • Creation: 1965-2010


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

Feminist and activist Sondra Smith (1948-) began her career with the Iowa Memorial Union Food Service in 1977 as a temporary employee under a job training program for low-income women. Smith worked with the IMU catering service for decades, eventually becoming catering manager. In her role as Catering Manager, Smith designed and oversaw university events, including dedications Pappajohn Pavilion and Pomerantz Center dedications, the Sesquicentennial and Millennium celebrations, and the 2003 visit by President Clinton. She oversaw catering for special events at the university, from weddings to concerts by celebrities including Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, and Bon Jovi.

As catering manager, Smith mentored female employees and advocated for flextime, pay equality, and greater benefits for working mothers. Smith served on the New Pioneer Co-Op's board of directors from 1992 to 1999, including two terms as president, and on the advisory board of the Emma Goldman Clinic. She was also a member of the Women's Liberation Front, as well as the Women's Resource and Action Center She was active in democratic politics and the women's movement. As a working mother of three in the 1970s, she became a staunch advocate for affordable daycare. In 1970, she helped found Dum-Dum day care, a feminist childcare cooperative in Iowa City.


5.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Iowa Memorial Union catering manager and women's rights activist.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1220, 1252) were donated by Sondra Smith in 2010 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

The Women's Resource and Action Center papers, Sondra Smith oral history.

Christina Jensen; Heidi Stofer, 2018.
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)