“Currently, I’m processing the collection of a woman named Ortha Harstad. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Ortha and her husband, of Cedar Rapids, were quite the philanthropists. In the 1960’s, they were sent by their church to Chicago to learn about black rights and they returned to the Cedar Rapids area to conduct trainings and educate others. Ortha was co-founder of a local non-profit, served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations, and was a champion of women’s reproductive rights.
I believe that the reason I have enjoyed processing Ortha’s papers so much is because I personally relate to her values, her spirit for volunteering, and her commitment to making her local community a better place. In the archives, we get the chance to read about the adventures and interests of a number of women. Although many of them have already left this world, the presence of their papers in the archives create an opportunity for myself, and endless numbers of people, to be inspired by their life work and pursuits.”
Katie Gandhi, Graduate Assistant, Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries