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Ayako "A. Mori" Costantino papers

Identifier: IWA0905

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Scope and Contents

The Ayako "A. Mori" Mori Costantino Papers date from 1944 to 2012 and measure 20 linear feet. They are arranged in 11 series: Biographical, Personal, Japanese American Issues, Correspondence, Activism, General, Printed Materials, Books, Photographs, Audiotapes, and Artifacts.


  • Creation: 1944-2012
  • Other: Date acquired: 2012-12-06


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

Ayako "A. Mori" Mori Costantino (1924-2020) was born in Sacramento, California on December 11, 1924. Her mother, Yoshio Takeda Mori, and father, Wasaburo Mori, both natives of Oyama Ken, Japan, immigrated to the United States in 1922 and 1917, respectively. Costantino had four siblings, Ichiro Mori, Torao Mori, Pat Umeka Mori, and Kazuo Mori. As mandated by the United States government in 1942, the entire Mori family was relocated to Tule Lake, a War Relocation Authority center.

Ayako Mori Costantino attended the Tri-State High School in Tule Lake and in 1943, when students were permitted to leave relocation centers to attend college, she moved to Chicago to attend the Gregg Business College. In January 1945 Costantino began working for the U.S. Civil Service in St. Louis, Missouri. In October 1946 after the end of World War II, Costantino, working with occupation forces, travelled to Japan for a stenography job. While in Japan she met and married a military serviceman, Anthony "Tony" Costantino, in 1948. Costantino and her husband had two children, son Mori, and daughter Toni.

In 1950, the Costantino family returned to the United States and resided in California where Anthony Costantino taught at the University of California. In 1956, he was offered a professorial position in the Economics Department at the University of Iowa and the family moved to Iowa City. It was in Iowa City that Mori Costantino became a deeply involved and enduring activist and defender of civil rights, women's rights, and minority rights.

Integral to the creation of the Iowa City Human Relations Commission in 1963, Mori Costantino opened her house for countless meetings, recruited supporters, and assisted in drafting the Human Rights Ordinance that passed the Iowa City City Council. Costantino served the Human Relations Commission in multiple capacities, including chairwoman and vice chairwoman. While serving on the Commission, Costantino led investigations into employment discrimination and affirmative action. She also spearheaded a project to investigate housing discrimination with a League of Women Voters volunteer task force of 47 women. The housing investigation led to the passage of a fair housing law in 1964 mandating non-discriminatory housing practices and establishing enforcement procedures.

Costantino was deeply committed to the League of Women Voters and briefly chaired to the Johnson County organization. From the 1960s until today, Costantino has served in multiple advocacy, equality, and educational organizations both on the local and the national level including the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Women's Political Caucus, the Education Equality Advisory Committee, and the Civil Liberties Union.

In 1977, Costantino was elected to represent Iowa at the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas. In addition to her service to multiple organizations, Mori Costantino has also helped campaign for multiple Democratic candidates and volunteered her time and efforts to the Johnson County Democrats. Costantino was able to take advantage of the University of Iowa through auditing classes and attending symposia on topics ranging from sex discrimination to women's leadership. In addition to volunteering her time to many organizations, Costantino also occasionally took part-time jobs in multiple departments across campus.


20.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Japanese American activist who, after being interned in a War Relocation Center during World War II, travelled extensively and was heavily involved in human and civil rights campaigns in Iowa City and beyond.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1294) were donated by A. Mori Costantino in 2012.

June Silliman and Andrea Kohashi
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)