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Hard Won, Not Done: an Oral History of Women in the Iowa Legislature

Identifier: IWA1278

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Scope and Contents

The Hard Won, Not Done Oral History Project dates from 2019-2023 and contains 10.6 GB of digital materials. This collection consists of oral history interviews with 63 women who have served or are currently serving in the Iowa legislature.

Series 1 consists of interviews from Phase 1 of the project. This initial phase was spearheaded by Jean Lloyd-Jones and the 50/50 in 2020 organization in collaboration with the University of Iowa Libraries, which agreed to archive and provide access to the resulting interviews. In this phase many interviews were conducted with sitting legislators at the Capitol on January 14-15, 2020. Jean Lloyd-Jones conducted these interviews herself, while interviews with retired legislators took place in a variety of locations across Iowa and were conducted by Lloyd-Jones and by other members of the 50/50 in 2020 board. Phase 1 interviews are typically between 5 and 25 minutes long and are structured around a standard set of questions, which included prompts about interviewees’ motivations for seeking public office, major achievements and issues of interest, and campaign experiences. Other questions in this phase explored themes of gender and power in legislative service, querying interviewees about their relationships with other women legislators, opinions on male legislators’ treatment of women colleagues, and reflections on the impact women’s representation has on policymaking.

Series 2 consists of interviews conducted during Phase 2 of the Hard Won, Not Done oral history project. Beginning in late 2022, the project gradually transitioned to a second phase with the inauguration of a new IWA staff position, the Jean Lloyd-Jones and Michal Eynon-Lynch Women in Politics Archivist, which was designed in part to steward this project into the future and collect interviews with each new cohort of women legislators. Phase 2 interviews were conducted beginning in 2022, though the interview protocol was not fully updated until 2023. Under that protocol, the Phase 2 interviews are generally longer than 25 minutes and structured by the individual biography of each interviewee rather than a questionnaire, though similar themes appear across both phases and some of the Phase 1 questions continue to appear in Phase 2 interviews.

Series 3 consists of tributes to prominent women legislators who passed away before the Hard Won, Not Done oral history project began. These tributes were organized by Hard Won, Not Done volunteers and written and narrated by other major figures in Iowa politics who had known the honorees personally. Only the audio of these tributes is retained in this collection, while video versions of these tributes are available on the Hard Won, Not Done website.

The Hard Won, Not Done Oral History of Iowa Women Legislators is an accumulating collection. IWA staff solicit interviews with each new cohort of women elected to the legislature. Complete interviews are available as both audio files and transcripts. Video interviews are also collected, though the complete video interviews are not retained as part of this collection. Topical clips from the videos can be accessed via the Hard Won, Not Done website, which also features a database of women legislators and a digital exhibit on the history of Iowa women in politics.


  • Creation: 2019-2023

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright 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

The Hard Won, Not Done Oral History of Iowa Women Legislators collection was initially created by members of the 50/50 in 2020 board as part of the Hard Won, Not Done campaign commemorating the centennial of the 19th amendment (which granted U.S. women the right to vote). 50/50 in 2020 was founded in 2010 by Jean Lloyd-Jones and Maggie Tinsman and sought to achieve equal representation of men and women in the Iowa legislature by the year 2020 by recruiting, training, and encouraging women candidates. The Hard Won, Not Done oral history project, which collected interviews with women who had served in the Iowa legislature, was conceived as 50/50 in 2020’s organizational contribution to the Hard Won, Not Done commemorative campaign. The overall Hard Won, Not Done commemorative campaign brought together many different institutions and stakeholders to celebrate and memorialize the 100th anniversary of votes for women. This oral history project was one of many projects that were part of the Hard Won, Not Done campaign, including the creation of a 19th amendment curriculum and a replica of a suffrage wagon for museum display. Other events planned to be a part of the Hard Won, Not Done campaign were postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hard Won, Not Done oral history of Iowa women legislators began collecting oral histories with former and current Iowa women legislators in 2019. As interviews proceeded, Jean Lloyd-Jones arranged for a partnership with the University of Iowa Libraries, in which library staff, particularly from the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, would assist with developing an online portal to provide public access to the interviews. The resulting Hard Won, Not Done website features excerpts and topical compilations of the video interviews, as well as the tribute videos to legislators who have passed away, data visualizations illustrating women’s progress through elected offices in Iowa, and a digital exhibit on the history of women in Iowa politics curated by Pam Stek. Library staff who participated in the development of this website included Nikki White, Janet Weaver, Leah Morlan, Ethan DeGross, Mark Anderson, Alyssa Varner, Jay Bowen, Abby Rinaldi, Ryan Kangail, Erik Henderson, and Dylan Davison. Pam Stek curated a digital exhibit on the history of women in Iowa politics to complement the interviews. This website can be viewed at

To ensure that the Libraries would be able to sustainably maintain that website and continue interviewing legislators in years to come, Jean Lloyd-Jones and her granddaughter Michal Eynon-Lynch generously endowed a staff position at the IWA (the Women in Politics Archivist) to steward the project into the future. The final transfer of stewardship of the project from Jean Lloyd-Jones and 50/50 in 2020 to the University of Iowa Libraries staff marks the boundary between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the oral history project.

During this Phase 1 of the project, interviewers were primarily drawn from the board of 50/50 in 2020 and consisted of Jean Lloyd-Jones, Maggie Tinsman, Doris Kelley, Courtney Greene, Christine Louscher, Melissa Gesing, Jane Teaford, and Sally Stutsman. Jean Lloyd-Jones was the primary organizer for 50/50 in 2020 and Nikki White played a lead role in developing the Hard Won, Not Done oral history website. In Phase 2, interviewers consisted of Iowa Women’s Archives staff (Laura Carpenter and Kate Orazem). Sara Tate was the videographer for most interviews in phases 1 and 2 of the project, though some interviews were recorded more informally, e.g. over Skype.


10.6 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Oral histories with women who served in the Iowa legislature.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Phase 1 interviews were donated by the interviewees (#1654) and compiled and transferred by videographer Sara Tate. Phase 2 interviews were donated by the individual interviewees and transferred by IWA staff.

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)