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SHSI Des Moines. Iowa Association of Colored Women's Clubs records.

Beginning in the early 1900s, African American Iowans worked for suffrage mainly through women’s clubs. Founded in 1902, the Iowa Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (IACWC - later known as the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs) provided an umbrella organization for the activism of clubwomen.

By the 1910s, suffrage clubs in IACWC included the Suffragette Club of Des Moines and various Mary Church Terrell clubs. The IACWC established a standing suffrage committee in 1914 headed by Teresa Adams of Davenport.

In 1916, African American women in Buxton, Iowa marched for suffrage in a family parade.




Organizations such as IACWC focused on many inequalities facing African American women in areas such as education, working wages and property rights.

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IWA. Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler papers.

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IWA. Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler papers.

Officers of the Des Moines Suffrage Club, an African American women’s club, wrote this sympathy note (above) to Fannie Wilson on the death of her husband.

African American obituaries saved by Wilson's daughter, Gwendolyn Wilson Fowler, show that African American women in the 1900s were involved in suffrage clubs and, later, the League of Women Voters.