Iowa Women’s Archives, Part 4


“We’ve had very special projects to preserve the history of underrepresented groups. For example, in the mid-90’s, we did an African American Women in Iowa project. As part of that, we undertook our first oral history project called ‘Giving Voice to Their Memories,’ because this was a group that had very little preserved and written of their history. For our second project, the Rural Women’s project, the oral history component was titled ‘Voices from the Land.’ We had bookmarks for our Latinas in Iowa project that said ‘Every woman has a story. Tell us yours.’

So, I suppose my philosophy is that archives preserve our history, but they also preserve our personal stories. They give voice to people whose voices have been historically forgotten or invisible or ignored. That’s why it’s been such a great honor to be the caretaker of the Archives – I’ve been able to preserve this wide array of papers and stories of women from all walks of life in Iowa, women who no one knew about before. Now there have been articles and books written, and websites created that make their stories known to a much wider audience. But we also preserve these stories for the women themselves; those family stories that might have been thrown away are kept here for later generations to find.”

Kären Mason, Curator, Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries

(Pictured is Kären holding a photograph of her grandmother Malinda Huus’s Forest City High School basketball team, 1918.)


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