13.5 linear feet and audiovisual material and artifacts
The records (donor no. 20) were donated by Roxanne Barton Conlin in 1975 and 1976, and by Victoria Herring in 1998 and 1999.
The records are open for research.
Twenty-eight audiocassettes shelved in audiocassette collection (AC002-AC013, AC506-AC519). Two videocassettes shelved in videocassette collection (V215-V216).
Copyright has not been transferred to the
Special Collections staff;
Catherine E. Rymph, 1993; Daniel Goldstein, 1998-99; and
In February 1973, Roxanne
Barton Conlin, then assistant to the Iowa Attorney General, attended the first
national convention of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) in
The IWPC was founded as a bipartisan organization,
with the goal of providing women with a political education and increasing
women's political participation and representation. In 1973 the IWPC released a report showing
that women held only 6.7 percent of all elected offices in
The structure of the IWPC was as follows: A state chairwoman presided over the organization. Statewide committees (such as Structure and bylaws, Legislation, Priorities, and Publicity) were composed of IWPC members from across the state. Administrative decisions were made by the Steering Committee which was composed of delegates from each local caucus, "at-large" delegates from across the state, and a black and a Chicano representative.
In the early 1970s, the IWPC was composed of approximately thirteen local caucuses; by the late 1970s, there were over thirty-five local caucuses. These local chapters had their own officers and bylaws and worked on local as well as state and national issues. Local caucuses encouraged women to serve on local boards and commissions and to run for city and county offices. These chapters provided women with the political education and information needed to make them qualified and confident to run for public office. Several local caucuses published their own newsletter.
Initial enthusiasm for the IWPC was pronounced. During its first year, the IWPC reported a membership of around 1,000 and a mailing list of approximately 2,000. In 1974, Conlin estimated caucus membership to be around 5,000. State and local meetings consistently reported having twice the expected attendance.
The annual legislative goals of the caucus were a major focus, and the IWPC was instrumental in the passage of significant changes in the state’s inheritance tax laws (which previously required housewives and farmwives to pay taxes on joint property inherited from their husbands because they were not viewed as contributors to the estate); changes in the state's rape and sexual abuse statutes (to eliminate the provision which required corroborative testimony in rape trials, to eliminate references to victims of sexual assault in the code as “she,” to protect rape victims from being questioned about their past sexual histories, and to include marital rape as a crime); the state Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) by the legislature in 1979; and legislation requiring gender balance in the composition of state commissions.
In 1973, the Iowa Women's Caucus Research and Education Center (IWCREC) was founded as a tax exempt branch of the IWPC. As its name implies, the IWCREC focused on educational and research (rather than political) work. The IWCREC was involved in grant-funded projects relating to welfare and the public schools. In the late 1970s, it began a summer leadership camp for high school girls, and sponsored an ambitious series of conferences entitled “Women 2000”in nearly twenty communities around the state.
In 1974, the Win With Women Campaign Support Committee was established to raise money to contribute to women candidates. It was separated from the IWPC in order to comply with legal requirements governing organizations that make financial contributions to political candidates; in addition, this step made contributions to the fund eligible, as political contributions, for tax credit. Although the Committee meetings and minutes were separate from the IWPC, Win With Women was governed by the Executive Committee of the IWPC, and their meetings were held on the same day in the same location—one following the other. At these meetings, the committee decided which candidates should receive contributions, and how much each should receive, in accordance with the policies established by the IWPC membership. In later years, a lobbyist was also paid from this fund.
Although the IWPC advocated the inclusion of women of all races and backgrounds within the organization, the precise meaning and application of this goal was a subject of continued controversy. Some members advocated explicit affirmative action programs and the selection of delegates to represent various "special interests" within the organization. Others felt that an open membership policy was adequate and feared the diffusion of the organization's goals. The IWPC's efforts were criticized by some African-American women who felt that their concerns and participation were not central to the work of the IWPC.
Another ongoing controversy centered on the criteria for endorsing candidates and for contributing to their campaign funds. During the early days, IWPC campaign contributions were limited by scarce funds. Members debated whether the IWPC should endorse and fund any woman running for office or only those women who promoted certain women's issues. They also considered the issue of whether or not male candidates who supported women's issues and had female employees as paid members of their campaign staffs should be eligible for IWPC endorsement and/or funds. It was decided that male candidates could be endorsed by the IWPC but that the distribution of scarce funds would be limited to women candidates. Later, when funds increased, male candidates were also financially supported by the IWPC. Co-endorsements were made at times when the caucus believed that both candidates running would support their agenda. This policy was also controversial at times, as Republican women charged that the caucus was inclined to favor Democrats. The records reveal a great deal of discussion and concern over the issue of candidate endorsement.
The IWPC steadily declined in membership throughout
the 1980s and 1990s, although its influence at the legislative level continued to
be significant, and the annual auction was a successful fundraising event
through 1990. The caucus continued to
sponsor workshops, lobby in
Elections for chair were held in the fall; hence for each calendar year, there were two chairs. Chairing the state-wide organization have been: Conlin (1973-1975); Margaret "Peg" Anderson (1975-1977); Nancy Norman-Uhl (1977-1979); Nancy Sweetman (1979-1981); Alice Claypool (1981-1983); Linda Kirkman (1983-1984); Katherine Ella (1984-1985); Betty Baird (1985-1987); Chris Michalek (1987-1989); Anne Webber (1989-1991); Nancylee Ziese (1991-1993); Janet Fife (1993-1995); Victoria Herring (1995-1997); and Christine (Tina) Manbeck (1998-1999).
A more detailed chronological history of the caucus
can be found in the 1996 Member Handbook, in
Scope and Content Note
The Iowa Women's Political
Caucus records contain materials dating from 1972 to 1999 and measure 13.5
linear feet. The bulk of the material
dates from June 1973 (when the first IWPC meeting was held) until 1984 (when a
strong campaign was mounted to mobilize women voters to turn out for the
precinct caucuses and elections). The
records from the 1970s depict an organization bursting forth with a vision and
engaged in many activities designed to realize it; the 1980s records are of an
organization reaping the benefits of those earlier activities, reflecting on
its successes, and considering its future.
The 1990s records show an organization in decline—there are few records
beyond Steering Committee minutes, annual convention minutes, and occasional
newsletters; in other words, established mechanisms continued to operate, but
nothing new was being generated. The
IWPC collection is strong in its documentation of the second wave women's
movement; the issues confronted by middle class women; the priorities, goals,
and rhetoric of the movement; and the successes as well as divisions and
controversies within it. It demonstrates
the vibrancy, energy, and vision of these women, and documents the networks
they established as they strove to accomplish their goals. The collection includes a series of studies,
questionnaires and surveys that document the condition of
The IWPC collection is arranged in the following series: Administrative files, Committees, Conventions and conferences, Correspondence, Elections and political activities, Events and activities, Fundraisers, Local caucuses, Membership, Newsletter, Newspaper clippings, Position papers, Topical files, Iowa Women’s Caucus Research and Education Center (IWCREC), National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), Other organizations, Photographs, and Artifacts.
The original bylaws, as well as subsequently amended versions, can be found in the Administrative files.
The Committee series has a fairly complete record of Steering Committee meetings from 1973-1995 including agendas, minutes, attachments, and attendance lists for many, but not all, of the meetings. The legislative priorities are also of interest, especially in the mid-1970s where they document not only the priorities but the activities and progress being made towards the passage of the desired legislation.
The IWPC held annual conventions and sponsored numerous conferences. The Conventions and conferences series contains material pertaining to these events including organizational materials, brochures, and the minutes of the state conventions where general business (such as officer elections, committee reports, and discussion of caucus priorities) was discussed by the membership. The Conventions series includes typed transcripts of the 1973 and 1974 convention business meetings. In addition, the collection contains twelve audiocassette recordings of the 1973 convention. Seven of these tapes are recordings of the Sunday business meeting (a transcript of which is located in the Convention series noted above). Other tapes include the keynote address by Sissy Farenthold and tapes of several of the workshops.
Conlin's correspondence with legislators
and individual members of the IWPC, and various requests for information from
Statistics on women candidates and office
holders in statewide offices in
Most of the material in the Events and activities series is from the 1980s. Of particular interest is the women’s concerns poll in “A Day with Dee Jepsen,” and the founder’s questionnaire in “A Decade of Action.”
The main fundraising activity of the IWPC was an annual auction held from 1980 to 1990. The Fundraising series includes extensive materials relating to this high profile and successful event.
caucus series includes an organizing manual as well as a practices and
procedures manual written by Conlin. It
also contains material on thirty-four local caucuses. This material varies in size and scope from
caucus to caucus, but the materials on the
Of particular interest in the Membership series is the “1985 Penultimate Iowa Women’s Political Caucus Membership Questionnaire” and the membership handbooks which include the history of the caucus as well as lists of the officers and active members.
The Newsletter series contains issues from 1973 to 1995 of the IWPC newsletter which was eventually (although not initially) called "Caucus Comments." While some issues are missing, it is a fairly comprehensive collection.
Newspaper clippings are sorted by date. Many are from the Des Moines Register, but other
Position Papers were generated by the IWPC to assist in the passage of legislation. They are a rich source of the views and priorities of the caucus. Additional position papers can be found scattered throughout the collection in Steering Committee meeting packets, topical files, and legislative priorities.
The Topical files contain materials primarily related to issues with which the IWPC was associated. This series is arranged alphabetically by topic. It includes questionnaires related to rape and physical abuse, and a number of hard to find academic papers and analyses on sexism in education, employment, and women’s history. Also included are nine folders of Conlin's longhand drafts of letters, newsletter articles, and brochures.
The Iowa Women's Caucus Research and Education Center series consists of the bylaws, articles of incorporation, minutes, and tax materials of this organization. This series also contains materials assembled for grant proposals to the Iowa Humanities Board for several projects, as well as materials relating to the IWCREC's association with a television project on education. There are extensive records relating to “Women 2000,” IWCREC’s most ambitious conference, including some evaluations from attendees and correspondence with the Iowa Humanities Board. An educational program complete with slides and audiocassette entitled Recovering our Past: The Struggle for Woman’s Suffrage, developed by the Feminist History Research Project in 1974, is also part of this series.
The IWPC was an affiliate caucus of the National Women's Political Caucus (founded in 1971). This series consists of one linear foot of material relating to the NWPC and the IWPC's association with it. Materials relating to their conventions (1973-1985), mailings, newsletters, and steering committee are part of this series. Also included is material relating to a challenge by Betty Friedan to the selection of national steering committee delegates at the 1973 convention. The Credentials Committee folders are the most unusual and important of the NWPC materials. They date from the years that Peg Anderson served on the committee and reveal the internal workings of the NWPC and some of the conflicts among its members. Speeches given at the 1977 convention as well as public service announcements for the NWPC are catalogued with the audiocassettes.
organizations series gives an insight into only a few of the many
organizations with which the IWPC collaborated and was associated. Of particular interest are a questionnaire
from the Criminal Justice Minority Employment Research Project of the
The Photographs contain some national as well as many state and local leaders of the women’s movement. Many were taken at conferences and events sponsored by the IWPC.
The Artifacts collection has a large selection of buttons with political and feminist slogans such as “Uppity Women Unite” and “Every Mother is a Working Mother,” T-shirts and sweatshirts, and a large IWPC banner that can be seen in the video footage of workshops.
It is important to recognize that materials on any given topic may be found in widely separated folders. For example, information on the Girls Leadership Camp is located in a folder in the Events and Activities series of the collection; but it is also found in many of the financial, state convention, and steering committee folders in the Organization section.
Polk County Women’s Political Caucus
Box no. Description
**PRESS <control v>1 to return to level 1.**
Disbursement of funds to candidates, 1976
Employment tax forms, 1977
Taxes (contributions), 1973
Originals of copied materials, 1983-1984 (2 folders)
Resumes of workshop presenters and speakers, undated
Telephone tree, 1977
Elections and rules, 1973
Goals and objectives, 1983
Day care task force, 1974-75
Education programs bill, 1973
Legislation pending, 1973-74 (2 folders)
Legislation proposed, 1974
Omnibus Bill on Legal Treatment, 1974
1977-1994 (18 folders)
Priorities, 1973-1974 (2 folders)
Organizational meeting, June 3, 1973
November 1974-November 1975 and 1997
General, 1973-1974 (2 folders)
Correspondence with elected officials
Mailings (2 folders)
Saturday evening session [shelved in audiocassette collection AC004]
Sissy Farenthold address [shelves in audiocassette collection AC002]
Sunday business meeting [shelved in audiocassette collection AC005-011]
Transcript of proceedings
Child care [shelved in audiocassette collection AC003]
How to run and win [shelved in audiocassette collection AC012]
How to Lobby [shelved in audiocassette collection AC013]
Miscellaneous (2 folders)
Brochures and handouts
Transcript of proceedings
Conference packet and information on workshops
Minutes and other business
1976-1984 (8 folders, lacking 1980)
Mary Louise Smith keynote speech, “The National Outlook
for Women” [shelved in the videocassette collection: V215]
(VHS, 33 minutes)
Panel Discussions/Presentations [shelved in the videocassette collection: V216]
“Running for Office,” Rhonda Menke and Joe Shannahan (VHS, 25 minutes)
“Campaign Finance, ”Peggy Huppert (VHS, 25 minutes)
“Marital Rape,” Roxanne Ward and Rep. Johnie Hammond (VHS, 45 minutes)
1987-1997 (five folders)
“So You Want to Be in Politics,” January, 1974
“I’m Not a Woman’s Libber but…,” April 1975
Handouts for “Women in Continuing Education,” October 1975
“We the People: A Look at Out Parties,” October 1981
Rothchild; panel 1 Carpenter, Corderman, David; panel 2 Binnie,
Doderer, Kramer [1985?] (2 ½ hours) [shelved in audiocassette
(see also Photographs,
Miscellaneous conferences and workshops, 1976-1993
Establishment of fund, 1974
Financial disclosure reports
Citizen lobbying workshop, 1981
A Day with Dee Jepsen, 1983
Women’s concerns poll
Decade of Action, 1983
Iowa Women’s Political Caucus founders’ questionnaire
Predictions for 1993
Retreat, July 23-24, 1983 (see
Meeting held at retreat)
“Feminist Forum” television show, 1974-1975
Girls Leadership Camp, 1983-1984 and 1987 and undated
“Good Guys Awards,” 1987
Phyllis Fry Memorial Fund, 1984
Coloring book, 1981
Merchandise reports, 1978-1979
Miscellaneous, 1976-1997 and undated
Plan sent, 1973
Application for affiliate caucus approval, undated
Ballots concerning delegates 
Correspondence, 1973, 1989
“How to” organizing manual for caucus leaders, undated
Officer lists, 1974-1978 (2 folders)
Practices and procedures manual, undated [1973-1974]
Black Hawk County, 1974-1975
Buena Vista County, 1976-1977
Lakes Caucus for Informed Women, 1975, 1977, 1980 [northwest counties
of Emmet, Clay, and Dickinson]
Committee volunteers, undated
Convention attendance, 1974
Convention pre-registration, 1973
Delegates to state steering committee, 1974-1975
Sent to NWPC
Newspaper clippings, originals, 1973-1976
Campaign finance reform, 1989
October 14, 1973
Original practices and procedures manual [1973-1974]
June to October 28, 1973
1973-1974 (4 folders)
States, 1975, 1977
in Vocational Education in
M. McCue, 1973
Organization for Women
Education Task Force,
Moines,” K. Schilling [late 1970s]
and their Implications for Social Work,”
Testimony of Louise Noun before Iowa General Assembly, 1979 or 1980
“Legislative Highlights, 1884-1983,” undated
Newspaper clippings, 1973, 1976, 1984
Roxanne Conlin, “The Legal
Status of Homemakers in
Inequality of Sacrifice: the Impact of the Reagan Budget on Women, 1982
International Women’s Year, 1975
Introduction to the Women’s Movement, 1973
“A Plan for
Ruth Harkin testimony, 1975
S. M. Buttrick and V. S. Lies, undated
Iowa Women's Caucus Research and
Articles of Incorporation, 1974
“An Answer to a Man’s Question” [script for skit], undated
“Changing Lives: Options and Opportunities” conference, 1976-1977
Grant proposals and correspondence with Iowa Board for Public
Programs in the Humanities
Planning and correspondence with participants
NWPC Women’s Appointments Project, 1978
Grant proposals, 1973-1975
Hoenk, Paul--television project (public schools), 1974
“Impact of Religion on Public Policy Issues” grant proposal, 1978
Position paper project, 1978
Pre-activation training by Iowa Board for Public Programs in the
Primer for school board members and administrators on sexism, undated
Recovering our Past: The Struggle for Woman’s Suffrage, Feminist History
Research Project, 1974 (see also slides and audiocassette that accompany
text; slides in
“Shaping the Workplace: 2000 Conference,” 1988
Friedan, Betty, challenge to delegate selection
"Putting on a Convention"
State and local caucus leaders, 1973-1975
Iowa National Organization for Women, undated
1976-1980 (7 folders)
1984 (Katherine Ella, Linda Kirkman, Monica McFadden, JeanWilliams)
Celebrities for Auction, 1987 (Barbara Boxer, Geraldine Ferraro, Barbara
Mikulski, Pat Schroeder)
National Women’s Political Caucus Convention, 1985 (negatives only)
National Women’s Political Caucus Steering Committee with Peg Anderson
Pay equity in the marketplace conference, 1985? (photos and negatives)
(See audiocassette collection AC510-511 for tapes of conference)
State Convention, 1974 (Bella Abzug, Mary Louise Smith, Gloria Steinem:
Women legislators, 1984 and undated (Joy Corning, Jane Teaford, Johnnie
Hammond, Linda Beatty, Janet Metcalf)
Unidentified, undated (slides)