Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa


ARLENE JENS (1926- )

PAPERS, 1962-2006
1.25 linear feet


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Please cite materials from this collection as follows:
Arlene Jens Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 866) were donated by Arlene Jens in 2002.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa. 
In Box 1.
Processed by:
Kate Stewart, 2006. [JensArlene.doc]


Arlene Johnson Jens, nurse, activist and educator, was born in 1926 to Elmer and Edith Edmund Johnson on a farm near Fairfield, Iowa. Johnson had two brothers and the family enjoyed discussing religion and politics. Some of Arlene Johnson’s female relatives participated in the women’s suffrage movement before she was born. As a child she enjoyed reading, writing, politics and taking care of animals. Johnson graduated from Fairfield High School in 1943 and attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Desiring to participate in the war effort, she transferred to the nursing cadet program at Moline Lutheran Hospital in 1944 and graduated in 1947.

In 1947 Johnson married Wayne Jens and the couple moved to Davenport. She briefly worked as a general duty nurse at St. Luke’s hospital in Davenport before having two sons. In the 1950s and 1960s, Arlene Jens did not work full-time as a nurse, but she became active in her church and the Parent Teacher Association, taught First Aid for the American Red Cross and volunteered at a cerebral palsy school. In the summers of 1966 through 1969 she worked as a Campfire Girls summer camp nurse. In her spare time she wrote poetry.

Jens ran unsuccessfully for state legislator three times, in 1968, 1970 and 1976, and worked as a legislative assistant during 1970-1971. In the early 1970s (prior to Roe v. Wade) she lobbied the state legislature on behalf of the Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion to repeal the state codes forbidding birth control and abortion. She became involved in the statewide debate concerning the plans of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to implement sex education programs in public schools in every state. In this time period, Jens was active in organizations such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood, where she was an advocate for birth control, sex education and abortion rights.
In 1972 Jens became the director for nursing at the Davenport Lutheran Home for the Aged, and later held several positions in nursing homes in eastern Iowa. Jens enrolled in the Nursing Home Administrator class at the Des Moines Area Community College in 1977 after a new law made this a required course for nursing administrators. She became an in-service and workshop provider in the area of nursing home policies and procedures for Eastern Iowa Community College. Jens retired in 1998.

Scope and Content Note

The Arlene Jens papers date from 1962 to 2006 and measure 1.25 linear feet.  The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical Information, Reproductive Rights and Nursing Home In-services and Education.

The Biographical Information series (2002-2006) includes autobiographical writings and one photograph of Jens. The Reproductive Rights (1966-1992) series contains topical files concerning Jens’ activism for women’s and reproductive rights, including materials from both sides of the abortion debate. The items in the series include newspaper clippings, pamphlets, booklets, flyers, and form letters from the following groups: the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion, the Iowa Abortion Rights Action League, National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (later the National Abortion Rights Action League), the Association for the Study of Abortion, the Christian Action Foundation, the Patriotic Women’s Club of Iowa, Iowans for L.I.F.E., Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the National Right to Life Committee and Right to Life of Scott County.

The Nursing Home In-service and Education series (1966-1985) includes materials related to Jens’ career. The topical files are in Jens’ original order, and include her notes, outlines, handouts and related publications for the in-service sessions she conducted in nursing homes across eastern Iowa. Most of her in-services addressed the care of the elderly, nursing home policies, laws, and professional issues for nurses and aides. The series concludes with materials from a course Jens took in the late 1970s on nursing home administration that started her career as an educator in the field.

Related Collections

Edith Edmund Johnson papers
            Mother of Arlene Jens.

NARAL of Iowa records
Jens was active in this organization originally called the Iowa Abortion Rights Action League.


Box List

Box 1                  
  Biographical information        
    2002-2006 [includes photograph]        
  Reproductive rights        
    Abortion newspaper clippings, 1975-1976
Birth control and abortion, 1966-1970 and undated (2 folders)
Equal Rights Amendment, 1992
Fundamentalism and abortion, 1968-1969 and undated
Iowa Abortion Rights Action League, 1979-1982 (2 folders)
Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion, 1969-1971 and undated
Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, 1976-1977 and undated
Right to Life, 1981 and undated
Sex education, 1966-1969 and undated
  Nursing home in-services and education        
      Family Crisis! by Howard Whitman, 1966
How to Put Joy into Geriatric Care by Nancy Littell Fox, 1978
Residents’ Rights, American Health Care Association, 1984      
Sex Education and the Mentally Retarded, by Roger Blue, 1974
    Letter to the editor, 1978
Death and dying, 1980
Activity talk, 1973
Health talk, 1974
Infection control, 1982
Burnout, 1982
Burnout, 1 hour, 1980
Box 2                  
    Burnout for inservice, distribution material, undated
Listening skills, undated
Legal aspects of nursing, undated
Nursing home law handbook, 1975
Patients’ rights, undated
Residents’ rights, undated
Care of confused resident, undated
Depression, undated
Embryology of human behavior, 1980
Attitudes: Kaleidoscope, 1980
Care of mentally handicapped, 1981
Care plan for the elderly, 1974
Employee attitudes, undated
Housekeeping, 1981
Physical aspects of aging, 1977
Checklist: nursing home priorities, undated
Nursing home consumer pays for what? undated
Human sexuality, undated
The senior citizen, undated
Insights into nursing homes, 1975
Analyses of Medicare, 1965
Sexuality, undated
Checklists, undated
Aide seminar, 1977
Resident and his care, undated
Care plan for elderly, 1974
Health care facilities, Bill Senate File 324
Crisis of old age, 1974
History of elderly, nursing home, undated
Nursing practice act and bills, 1976
Nursing home checklist, 1985
Positive and negative attitudes, undated
Workshop: insights, undated
Insights into nursing home workshop, 1975
Communication skills, 1980
Kaleidoscope workshop, 1980
Nurse aide training, 1974
Documentation, charting, 1981
Care of mentally handicapped, undated
Box 3                  
    Legal aspects of residents’ rights, undated
Intermediate care facility state rules and regulations, undated
Nursing home administration course, 1977-1978


general information | history and mission | collections | reference services | news and events | home

For more information about this collection contact the Iowa Women's Archives.

Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City IA 52242.
Copyright © 2005. The University of Iowa. All rights reserved.
Please send comments to:

Page created February 2007.