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Ila Plasencia papers

Identifier: IWA0979

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Scope and Contents

The Adelaita “Ila” Rodriguez de Plasencia date from 1930 to 1991 and measure 2.5 linear inches. The biographical folder contains a short paragraph telling the story of her birth and early life. A resume is also included that details her career, community volunteer experience, and honors she has received. The correspondence folder contains a letter written to Ila Plasencia’s father, Pablo Rodriguez, from a friend in Mexico. The LULAC Midwest Educational Resources folder contains legal information regarding the organization and its purpose. The photographs folder, 1930-1952, contains photographs of Ila Plasencia, her family, and her friends. Many of these photogaphs were taken at social and political events; several feature political figures, including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. The collection includes two digitized photograph albums. The white photo album includes photographs, correspondence and telegrams relating to Bernado Navallo’s military service during World War II and death in a Prisoner of War camp in Japan.

The bulk of the collection has been digitized by the Preservation Department of the University of Iowa Libraries and can be accessed through the Iowa Digital Library.


  • Creation: 1930-1991


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

Adelaita “Ila” Rodriguez de Plasencia was born in 1927 in Earlham, Iowa, to Pablo Rodriguez and Pilar Medina, Mexican immigrants who had moved to Iowa in the early-twentieth century in search of employment opportunities. Ila Rodriguez’s father lived on a farm and worked in a rock quarry in rural Iowa. Her mother died when she was five years old, leaving behind another daughter and two sons.

During World War II, Rodriguez’s three siblings died. Bernardo Navallo, 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army, died as a prisoner of war in Japan; Dolores Rodriguez died of a ruptured appendix; and Basilio Rodriguez, corporal in the US Air Force, died during an Air Force plane crash. After their deaths, her father sold the farm and moved to Valley Junction, Iowa, where he secured employment at the Hawkeye Cement Company.

After graduating from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Ila Rodriguez began a career with the United States government that would last 30 years. She held positions as Clerk with the Department of Agriculture; Administrative Assistant with the Department of Justice U.S. Marshall Office, Witness Protection Program; and Investigator with the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

She married Ralph Plasencia in 1949. In addition to raising their four children, Ila Plasencia continued to be deeply involved with the Latino community. She served as the first president of the women’s LULAC Council #308 of Des Moines, Iowa, and on commissions and task forces related to civil rights, women’s rights, and Latino rights. In 2017, Ila Plasencia was one of the first three Iowa Latina/os to be inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame.


2.50 linear inches

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian



First president of the women’s LULAC Council #306 in Des Moines, Iowa, served on state commissions, and advocated for civil rights for Iowa’s Latino community.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1004) were donated by Ila Plasencia in 2007 and 2017.

Ila Plasencia papers
Maritza Lopez-Campos
Language of description
Script of description
  • TypeCollection

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)