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Merle Ramirez papers

Identifier: IWA0809

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Scope and Contents

The Merle “Perry” Ramirez papers date from 1987 to 2016 and measure 3 linear inches. The majority of the papers are associated with Ramirez’s educational advocacy. Several folders relate to the American Institute of Commerce (now Kaplan University), and include program schedules, handouts, student feedback, correspondence, newspaper articles, and Ramirez’s daily notes from 1993 and 1997. Two folders contain documents relating to other local organizations concerned with Latino education, including:

Iowa Latino Education Association, National Hispanic Institute, University of Iowa, Davenport Community School District, Muscatine Community College, Illinois Council on Higher Education, Illinois State University, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 10, Hispanic Education Committee, Quad Cities Higher Education Committee, Quad-Cities World Affairs Conference, and Commission on Latino Affairs, Iowa Department of Human Rights.

The papers contain Ramirez’s resource files on Latino education, including handouts, pamphlets, journal articles, newspaper articles, and statistics about enrollment and retention in the Davenport, Muscatine, West Liberty, and Rock Island public schools. There is one folder of documents related to voter registration and William C. Velasquez. The “Miscellaneous” folder contains information about unidentified programs, contact information, and “New Start” checklists.


  • Creation: 1987 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research. Consult staff for restrictions on use.

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

Educator, activist, and musician, Merle “Perry” Ramirez was born in 1930 in the Mexican settlement of Cook’s Point in Davenport, Iowa, to Dionisio and Adelida Gutierrez Ramirez. One of fourteen children, Ramirez completed the tenth grade before leaving school to work and support his family. He worked in the welding department at J. I. Case Company in Bettendorf, Iowa, for thirty-nine years, from 1948 to 1987. Ramirez held several leadership positions in his local union, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 858, advocating for the rights of working people and becoming deeply committed to community service.

After he retired, Ramirez embarked on a second career to foster educational opportunities for Quad Cities Latino youth. In 1992, he began work as a Community Project Consultant for the American Institute of Commerce (now Kaplan University) in Davenport, Iowa. Through AIC he partnered with local school districts to encourage minority youth to pursue education beyond high school. His educational programs focused on racial bias in schools, teen pregnancy, and the importance of completing high school.

Ramirez was an active member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 10 in Davenport, Iowa. During the 1960s, he marched with Cesar Chavez to support the rights of grape pickers in Delano, California, and he broadened that support to advocate for the rights of migrant workers employed in Iowa agribusiness.

Merle Ramirez was also a professional musician. He formed the Latin musical group Los Reales and performed with them in venues across the Midwest for over thirty years. He was married to Carmella Ramirez for sixty-seven years with whom he raised four sons.


3.00 linear inches

Language of Materials



Educator, activist, and musician from Davenport, Iowa, who held leadership positions in UAW Local 858 and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1165) were donated by Merle Ramirez in 2008.

Related Materials

An interview with Merle and Carmella Ramirez is preserved in the Mujeres Latinas Oral Histories (IWA).

Mary Terronez papers (IWA): Mary Terronez is the older sister to Merle Ramirez.

League of United Latin American Citizens Council 10 records (Davenport, Iowa) (IWA).

Silliman, June; Weaver, Janet, 2015
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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)