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Blanca Vasquez Gaines papers

Identifier: IWA0899

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Scope and Contents

The Blanca Vasquez Gaines papers date from 1944 to 2009. The collection mainly consists of photographs of Vasquez and her fellow WACs at Fort Des Moines, taken during the winter of 1944 to 1945. Before donating the papers to the Iowa Women's Archives, Angela Gaines wrote captions for the majority of the photographs; the captions identify the subjects of each picture as well as the location and date, if known. The collection includes several newspaper clippings about Fort Des Moines and the Women's Army Corps.

Completing the collection is a Nazi flag belonging to Harold Gaines' brother, Donald Gaines, who served in the U.S. military and obtained the flag as salvage after the war while stationed in Italy.


  • Creation: 1944-2009


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

Blanca V. Vasquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1918. Vasquez joined the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II, and subsequently trained at Fort Des Moines, an army training school just south of Des Moines, Iowa. While stationed at Fort Des Moines, Vasquez met Harold Gaines of Buxton, Iowa, a predominately African-American coalmining town, which no longer exists today. The two married following the end of the war, and moved to Albia, Iowa; their daughter, Angela, was born in 1953.

Blanca Gaines returned to Puerto Rico with her daughter in 1956. There she taught English and American literature at the University of Puerto Rico and was regarded as an excellent teacher. Because Harold Gaines initially feared he would not be able to find work in Puerto Rico, he did not join the family until the 1960s. The three maintained a warm connection to Iowa, returning every summer to visit family in Albia and their Iowa farm.


2.50 linear inches

Language of Materials



Puerto Rican woman who served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II and trained at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1334) were donated by Angela Gaines in 2014.

Catherine Babikian, 2014.
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)