1.25 linear feet and audiovisual





The tapes and transcripts (donor no. 829) were donated by Jane Robinette in 2001.


The tapes and transcripts are open for research.


Copyright retained by Jane Robinette will be transferred to the University of Iowa 11/26/06.  Copyright to the accompanying materials, such as artwork images, artist statements, and other materials from the artists, is retained by the artists/authors. 


One compact disk (CD1); 144 audiocassettes (AC669 – AC812 ).


Emily Broeckling, 2003 [IowaWomenArtists.doc]




            Jane Robinette launched the Iowa Women Artists Oral History Project in the first half of 1998.  Names for the original mailing were gathered from several sources, including the Iowa Arts Council artists’ directory, recommendations from artist friends and relatives, lists from galleries, and art exhibits.  This letter, sent to over 100 women, stated general criteria for the interviewees, namely women visual artists who were age 30 or older, who had lived in Iowa for at least the past five years (or who previously lived in Iowa for several years and recently returned), and who considered art their major activity or vocation (including the teaching of art).

            As the interviewing progressed, many of the artists also suggested more names, which resulted in further mailings.  While the initial hope was to interview nearly all women visual artists in Iowa, it quickly became clear that this would be impossible—even when limiting the types of artwork included.  In the end, seventy-nine women were interviewed.  Two artists later withdrew from the project after receiving copies of their transcripts.

Those interviewed represent a fair cross-section of artwork, location, and age, but regrettably racial and ethnic diversity is limited.  Some of this is inherent in the makeup of Iowa’s population; some is due to interviewee self-selection (not responding to or declining the invitation to participate); some is due to the project’s limited resources, time, and ability to locate artists.


Jane Robinette


            Jane Robinette was born and raised in Des Moines, living most of her life in Iowa.  She grew up surrounded by art and art-making, as her mother and aunt were visual artists.  She began writing poetry and prose and enjoying visual creative activities as a young child.

            After earning a B.A. in social work from the University of Northern Iowa, Robinette was coordinator of two community-based organizations in Iowa, and was an editorial assistant and copy editor at a small press in Michigan.  She received her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, and in 1990, she began her employment as a law clerk, and later staff attorney, for the federal district court in Des Moines.  She left her law job in April 1998 to begin the Iowa Women Artists Oral History Project and to do more creative work on her own.

            In the 1990s, Robinette began creating “poem-paintings”—works on paper combining watercolor or acrylic paint and her poetry.  In her travels, she saw first-hand the gender gap still present in the collections of many museums—this reinforced her belief in the need for projects like the Iowa Women Artists Oral History Project.  She has a long-time interest in oral history, believing that the telling and recording of life stories can be a meaningful and illuminating experience for both the narrator and the interviewer.



Scope and Content Note


            The Iowa Women Artists Oral Histories date from mid-1998» to September 1999, and measure 1.25» linear feet.  The »interviews cover childhood, education, development as an artist, artwork, creative process, and influences.  They vary in length, but the average interview was one and one-half hours.  The interviews usually took place in the artist’s home or studio.  The interviewer, Jane Robinette, traveled over 5,800 miles to thirty-three towns and cities, collecting seventy-nine interviews on 148 tapes, resulting in 1,830 transcript pages.  The transcripts »are arranged alphabetically, preceded by individual biographical abstracts and Jane Robinette’s notes about the interview.

An additional impetus of the Iowa Women Artists Oral History Project was the construction of a website,, which features sound bytes from the interviews, text clippings from the transcripts, updates of recent exhibits, short biographical sketches of each artist, and a small sampling of each artist’s work.


Related Collections


The Iowa Women’s Archives holds the papers of:

Berry, Jean

Coy, Gretchen

Myers, Virginia

Steinbach, Robbie


Box no.           Description                                                                 Audiocassette #


Box 1


Adams, Vicki (Urbandale)                                       AC671-672

Annin, Marilyn (Ames)                                             AC690-691

Berry, Jean (Des Moines)                                        AC782-783

Bloom, Isabel (Davenport)                                       AC794

Briggs, Nancy (Des Moines)                                    AC688-689

Brown, Sara Slee (Iowa City)                                  AC707-708

Bruene, Barbara (Ames)                                          AC741-742

Burns-Knutson, Sharon (Cedar Rapids)                   AC697-698

Chavenelle, Gail (Dubuque)                          AC775-776

Coleman, Susan (Mt. Vernon)                                  AC699-700

Cook, Marie (Cedar Falls)                                       AC781

Cox, Marvel Kohlhoff (Sioux City)               AC718

Coy, Gretchen Greta (Ames)                                   AC754

Dennis, Pam (Ogden)                                               AC745-746

Ekstrand, Rebecca (Des Moines)                             AC738-739

Ellinwood, Sheryl (Lake Red Rock)             AC694-695

Fitzsimmons, Betty (Des Moines)                             AC734-735

Gilmor, Jane (Cedar Rapids)                                    AC701-702

Grant-Hutchison, Sarah (Iowa City)             AC729-730

Hall, Laurie Elizabeth Talbot (Council Bluffs)            AC763-764

Heinicke, Janet (Indianola)                           AC736-737

Herdman, Susan (Davenport)                                   AC790-791

Hettermansperger, Sue (Iowa City)              AC705-706

Hovey, Anne (Des Moines)                          AC809-810

Ingham, Vicki (Des Moines)                         AC731

Jensen, Jill (Royal)                                                   AC761-762

Jester, Peggy (Des Moines)                          AC676-677

Joffe-Bouska, Marcia (Dubuque)                             AC805-806

Johnson, Lynn (Sioux City)                          AC757-758

Johnston, Peggy (Des Moines)                                 AC732-733

Jones, Brenda (Ames)                                              AC692-693

Kabel, Melinda (Des Moines)                                  AC801-802


         Box 2

Kames, Louise (Dubuque)                                       AC777-778    

Lacina, Alesia (Grinnell)                                           AC674-675

Lilligren, Ingrid (Ames)                                             AC811-812

Lohr, Christine Elena Kelly (Churdan)                      AC799-800

Macomber, Carol (Cedar Falls)                               AC779-780

Martin, Emily (Iowa City)                                         AC721-722

Mast, Loret (Iowa City)                                           AC678-679

Merkel-Hess, Mary (Iowa City)                               AC767-768

Miller, Elizabeth (Des Moines)                                 AC673

Momberg, Lilly (Des Moines)                                  AC740

Morales, Concetta (Des Moines)                             AC703-704

Moss, Barbara Robinette (Iowa City)                       AC680-681

Muller, Mary (Des Moines)                          AC719-720

Myers, Virginia A. (Solon)                           AC788-789

Myers-Walker, Jo (Ames)                                       AC750-751

Nilausen-K, Barbara (Iowa City)                             AC765-766

Pate, Monika (Ames)                                               AC743-744

Prusa, Carol (Ames)                                                AC714-715

Purington, Nancy Lee (Iowa City)                            AC725-726

Quinn, Kristin (Davenport)                           AC792-793

Robinette, Laurayne (Urbandale)                              AC669-670

Robinson, Ellen (Des Moines)                                  AC807-808

Rohrer, Lila  (Victor)                                               AC711

Rolfe, Wendy S. (Monmouth)                                  AC682-683


         Box 3

Sage, Priscilla Kepner (Ames)                                  AC748-749    

Schedl, Naomi Kark (Iowa City)                             AC709-710

Seamonds, Maureen A. (Webster City)                    AC716-717

Shotwell, Jan (Des Moines)                          AC686-687

Siddens, Jo (Waterloo)                                            AC771-772

Steele, Priscilla (Marion)                                          AC795-796

Steinbach, Robbie (Bettendorf)                                AC727-728

Stewart, Mari (Arnolds Park)                                   AC752-753

Streed, Crit (Cedar Falls)                                         AC712-713

Thomas, Sheena (Des Moines)                                 AC803-804

Thompson, Dolie (Westfield)                                    AC755-756

Vaske, Barbara (Des Moines)                                  AC684-685

Verna, Gelsy (Iowa City)                                         AC786-787

Vitale, Joan (Indianola)                                            AC797-798

Wagener, Ellen (DeWitt)                                          AC723-724

Waldo-Semken, Laura (North Liberty)                    AC759-760

Ward, Nina de Creeft (Cedar Falls)             AC773-774

Weber, Gretchen (Ames)                                         AC747

Whipple, Judith (Des Moines)                                  AC784-785

Wormhoudt, Sarah (Pella)                                        AC696

Zirkle, Merle (Grinnell)                                             AC769-770

Release Forms

Newspaper clippings, 2002-2005