Skip to main content

Jo Futrell papers

Identifier: IWA1305

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

The Jo Futrell papers date from 1973 to 1997 and measure 1.5 linear feet in 3 boxes. The records are arranged in four series: Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (CL/LL) Administrative (1973-1997), CL/LL Correspondence (1981-1996), Cl/LL Other Women’s Publications (1981, 1986), and CL/LL Photographs (undated).

The CL/LL Administrative series (1973-1997) includes journals and meeting notes detailing administrative meetings for the Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (CL/LL) journal, as well as drafted working statements and a publicity packet for the magazine’s first submission launch. Reviews and criticisms illustrate the magazine’s popularity and some of its faults. Records of lawsuits include a censorship complaint with the University of Iowa and a complaint issued by Shauna Grimm on the basis of discrimination. Financial records and press bills from the birth of the publication show the financial timeline of CL/LL all the way to its bankruptcy in 1997. Original copies of drawings and artwork used in the magazine, as well as the planned layout for the first issue of CL/LL are included.

The CL/LL Correspondence series (1981-1996) consists of correspondence between the CL/LL magazine administration and their subscribers, such as fan mail and other miscellaneous topics. Notable correspondence is the CL/LL response to a racist printing of an author bio and correspondence between CL/LL and incarcerated men asking for subscriptions.

The Other Women’s Publications series (1981, 1986) includes several women’s newspapers and magazines used as inspirational models for CL/LL. The series also includes the Descent to the Roses of the Family chapbook by Judy Grahn, as well as the Sinister Wisdom magazine’s office manual.

The CL/LL Photographs series (undated) contains multiple photographed portraits of women sent into CL/LL.


  • Creation: 1973 - 1997

Conditions Governing Access

The records 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

Jo Futrell was born in 1957. She attended the University of Iowa where she attained two M.A.’s in Journalism and Mass Communication and Expository Writing/English. It was at the University of Iowa that Futrell came out as a lesbian, after which she was invited to join the Common Lives/Lesbian Lives (CL/LL) editorial collective in the spring of 1992. Her first task was to write the beginning “Notes to the Readers” letter for issue #42 of CL/LL.

As part of the editorial collective, Futrell aided in accepting and declining writing submissions, deciding on art pieces and graphics to use in the magazine, as well as participating in local activities such as softball games along with the rest of the collective. Before each editorial meeting, Futrell and the collective would share personal stories relating to what was going on in their lives, creating a strong bond between them.

In the fall of 1994, Futrell left CL/LL to move to Wisconsin; however, Futrell returned to CL/LL when the collective’s publisher went bankrupt. The bankruptcy would officially end CL/LL magazine, and Futrell aided in tying up ends for the magazine. To preserve the work of CL/LL, the editorial collective sent full sets of the magazine to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York and to the Iowa Women’s Archives.

In 2007, Futrell attended Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, earning a J.D. Futrell would use this degree to conduct legal research into disability rights and legislation, as well as employment law and special education law. While residing in Rio, Wisconsin, Futrell worked as an Equity and Inclusion Officer and Medical Issues Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.


1.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers, letters, journals, and photographs from the Common Lives/Lesbian Lives journal administrative board.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1528) were donated by Jo Futrell in 2017.

Abbie Steuhm, 2022
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)