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Finding Aid

DALE McCORMICK (1947-  )
PAPERS, 1958-1997
QUANTITY: 4.5 linear feet and audiovisual materials

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 890) were donated by Dale McCormick in 2003.

The papers are open for research.
Copyright: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Preferred Citation:
Box #, Dale McCormick Papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Photographs: Slides in Box 4.
Audiovisual: Six audiocassettes (AC1237-1242) shelved in audiocassette collection.  One videotape shelved with non-standard formats

Processed by: Sharon M. Lake, 2008.

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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


Dale McCormick—carpenter, author, teacher, activist, and politician—was born in 1947 in New York City. Her mother, Elizabeth Tibbetts McCormick Kramer, was a teacher and her father, Kenneth Dale McCormick, was editor-in-chief at Doubleday. McCormick's parents divorced and her mother remarried Dale Kramer, author of numerous books.  Dale McCormick's family moved to Sigourney, Iowa, in 1955; she graduated from Sigourney High School in 1965, and earned a BA and a teaching certificate from the University of Iowa in 1970.

After graduation, McCormick remained in Iowa City, where she participated in the anti-war, women’s, and lesbian movements in the early 1970s. She apprenticed as a carpenter in 1971 with the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, and in 1975, Dale McCormick became the first journeywoman carpenter in the nation. McCormick wrote and illustrated Against the Grain: A Carpentry Manual for Women, published by the Iowa City Women’s Press in 1977. (A copy of this book is shelved in the printed works collection of the Iowa Women’s Archives.) McCormick ran her own company, McCormick Construction & Cabinetry, in Iowa City from 1977 to 1980.

In the early 1980s, McCormick moved to Maine, where she founded Women Unlimited, a job training program for women in trade and technical occupations. McCormick served as executive director of Women Unlimited until 1995. She taught classes, attended conferences, held workshops, wrote grants, and initiated partnerships with governmental agencies and educational institutions. In 1987, McCormick published her second book, Housemending: Home Repair for the Rest of Us.

McCormick worked on many issues as a political activist in the 1980s, including gay and lesbian issues, healthcare, welfare reform, women in non-traditional work, and housing. She was a founder and past president of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance, and a delegate to the 1984 and 1988 Democratic National Conventions. In 1990, she ousted an incumbent in an upset election for the Hallowell seat in the Maine Senate. In 1996, McCormick was elected state treasurer of Maine, the first woman to hold that position. She served as treasurer for eight years, when Maine’s term limits forced her to give up her post. In 2005, Maine’s governor appointed McCormick as director of the Maine State Housing Authority, a quasi-governmental organization that finances affordable housing, weatherizes homes, and assists low-income Mainers purchase their first home. McCormick has received many honors including the Maryann Hartman Award for political leadership and for training women in non-traditional careers (1997) and the Crystal Vision Award from the National Association of Women in Construction (2006). In 2007, McCormick was inducted into the Maine Women Hall of Fame. McCormick and her partner have three children.

Scope and Content Note

The Dale McCormick papers date from 1958 to 1997 and measure 4.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, Women Unlimited, and Electoral Politics. The bulk of the collection relates to women’s work in non-traditional careers, including documents related to McCormick’s own experiences as a carpenter and those that relate to the organization she founded, Women Unlimited. Much of the collection remains in its original order with original folder titles.

The Biographical series consists of a folder containing resumes and other information on Dale McCormick’s life and work. Most of the materials in the 1960s series (1958-1969) relate to McCormick’s formal education. The series includes a workbook on the history of Iowa for elementary students and research papers, notes, and tests from McCormick’s high school and college courses. Miscellaneous personal and official correspondence, two University of Iowa photo IDs, and a 4-H record book complete the series.

The 1970s series (1969-1981) includes documents related to McCormick’s political, personal, and professional activities. The student teaching folder includes a description of McCormick’s philosophy of education and her lesson plans for units on McCarthyism and the American judicial system. The folder on the military draft includes a 1969 issue of The New Prairie Primer, an alternative newspaper published in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The folder on women’s poetry includes several small self-published booklets of original poetry, none by McCormick. The items in the business documents folder were removed from an accordion file that was arranged in alphabetical order. McCormick’s union documents (Carpenter’s Local 1260) include her dues book, pay stubs, and receipts for dues.

The 1970s series also contains documents related to a sexual harassment complaint that McCormick filed with the Iowa City Human Relations Commission in 1974, including the reports written by the commission’s investigator after interviewing the concerned parties and McCormick’s notes citing specific incidents of harassment. The notebook in this series contains many entries, often rather cryptic, related to the production of Ain’t I a Woman?, a local women’s liberation newsletter that was nationally distributed. The notebook also includes several loose documents such as a handwritten history of Sparky Daycare, a controversial project within the Iowa City women’s community, and notes about class conflicts within the women’s and lesbian communities of Iowa City. A videotape featuring McCormick on an unnamed television program completes the series. (Note: The videotape was recorded on a Sony-AV-860 solid state video recorder and must be played on same; the IWA does not own such a recorder.)

The 1980s series (1980-1987) contains notes, invoices, and blueprints related to McCormick Construction & Cabinetry. It includes notes McCormick took at workshops for women in the construction trades. McCormick’s notebooks contain many technical drawings and blueprints. A letter from Sue Buckley, former director of the Women’s Resource and Action Center at the University of Iowa and later a university administrator, describes the successful campaign waged at the University to include sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination policy. This series includes materials related to a television series on homebuilding that McCormick worked on in the early 1980s, including an audiocassette of McCormick and a friend brainstorming ideas for the show. A handbook on vapor barriers written by McCormick includes many early drafts and slides. Two more audiocassettes complete the series: a radio interview with McCormick and a Christian leader debating Maine’s proposed gay rights ordinance, and a 1985 interview by an unnamed woman with a young man diagnosed with ARC (AIDS-Related Complex).

The Women Unlimited series (1987-1995), the largest series in the collection, includes administrative files and information on workshops, conferences, policies, programs, clients, grants, trade organizations, and the government agencies with which Women Unlimited partnered. The papers are in their original files and order. Some contain resource materials such as data on jobs and wages in Maine. The series includes three audiocassettes of workshops McCormick attended. Additional notes about the audiocassettes in McCormick’s collection complete the series.

The Electoral Politics series (1984-1997) includes memorabilia and newspaper articles related to the 1984 and 1988 national Democratic Party conventions that McCormick attended. McCormick’s delegate badges, a ribbon with a button declaring her a member of the Gay and Lesbian Caucus, and coverage of the 1984 convention in the gay and lesbian press are included. The series also contains a small amount of information on McCormick’s 1990 campaign for the Maine senate and newspaper articles reporting on her victory. The series includes information on two issues McCormick worked on in the legislature—welfare reform and health care. Telephone logs show the wide range of issues McCormick dealt with on a regular basis.

Related Collections

Ain’t I a Woman?
McCormick belonged to the collective that published Ain’t I a Woman?

Dale McCormick Papers at the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity at the University of Southern Maine

Box List

Box 1
Resumes and general materials, undated

"Text and Workbook in the History of Iowa," 1958-59
4-H Club record, 1962-63
High school
English, 1962-1965
Typing, 1963-1964
Biology, 1962-1963
Government, 1964
University of Iowa
Debate, 1966 and undated
History of Ideas, 1965
American History, 1969
Education, 1969
Correspondence, 1966-1969
Writings, 1968-1969

Student teaching, 1970
The draft, 1969-1970 and undated

Box 2
Women's poetry, 1972-1978
Welfare, 1970
Herbs, undated
Carpenter's union documents, 1972-1977
Business documents, 1971-1976
Sexual harassment complaint, 1974-1975 (2 folders)
Gay lit info, 1974-1975
Notebook, 1971-1973
Videotape, 1979 (McCormick appears as a guest on a television show; tape must be played on a
Sony-AV-860 solid state video recorder, which is not available at the IWA) [shelved with non-standard formats]
Women in trades, 1978
Shelter Institute, Bath, Maine, 1979
Notebooks (two)

Box 3
Shelter Institute, Bath, Maine, 1979
Folder of handouts
First women's class journal, 1979
Housebuilding for women, 1981
McCormick Construction & Cabinetry, 1980-1981
"Iowa Nuclear Bulletin," ca. 1980
St. Clements, 1981-1982 (2 folders)
Memo book
Mitchell, 1981
Penobscot Indian Nation, 1982
Housebuilding for women, 1986
My house Granite Rd., Yarmouth, Maine, 1983

Box 4
Letter from Sue Buckley re: UI anti-discrimination policy, 1985
Miscellaneous papers, 1982-1986
"Dale's Turning 40" skit, 1987
"Vapor Barriers: Definition and Detail," by Dale McCormick, 1983  [includes slides]
TV show
Notebook, 1982-1984
Dale and Chateau Chapin on "Housemending" pilot, ca. 1982 [AC1241: shelved in audiocassette collection]
Gay rights radio program with Dale and Kasper Wyman [AC1242:shelved in audiocassette collection]
ACR/AIDS tape: Sean and Janice, 1985 [AC1240: shelved in audiocassette collection]

Aspire training, 1988
Work force/personnel conference, 1989
Bangot Hydro home repair workshop, 1988
Iowa City pre-voc, 1991
UI physical plant
Building housing into the '90s
Racism workshop
NE regional tradewsomen, 1987
Women in management, 1987
Business and Professional Women, 1990
Women in medicine P-town, 1990
Summer training management, 1988
All in a days work, 1987
Business workshop--women in trades
Gay pride, 1991
Cab & Gaby Howard

Box 5

Women Unlimited, 1989
Financing aids
Tradeswomen Association Maine
NTO public policy, 1987
Sex equity in education
Networking LA area
Maine Teacher's Association, 1988
Central Maine Vocational Tech Institute
Rowe camp
Time management
Racism conference, 1988-89
DOR conference, 1989
Building Tomorrow conference (2 folders)
Planning, 1989
Mailing list--agencies
Miscellaneous, 1989
Fall program clients, 1989
NTO legislation
Katodin area project
Anybody's construction
Program ideas--NTO
Belanger project
PR documents
Press releases
Personnel policies
Ms. Foundation grant

Box 6

Grants, 1990-1991
Carl Perkins, 1990
Women's Bureau RFP 91-11
Women's Unlimited taxes, 1990
MDOT grant, 1991
York Co. shelter grant
Grants, 1991
Pre-appreticeship program
Apprenticeship policy
Wage statistics

Box 7

NJ pre-voc
Wider Opportunities for Women
Non-traditional Employment for Women
Women's trade center
NTO statistics
Non-traditional women
Women contractors and carpenters
Clipboard lists

Box 8
Tests, 1988
Building for Tomorrow conference, 1990
Frayer eval, 1989
Lesbians, 1989
Results masters, 1988-1992
Clients fall '89
Clients fall '90
Pre-apprenticeship class, 1990
Class spring '90
Class fall '88
Clients spring '90
Client contract current
Client contracts past
Client resumes
Clients Oct '88
Clients Summer '89
Womankind, 1988-1989
WU student resources
Fall '89 CMVTI
Profile NTO
Impact analysis
CMTC admission data
Fall '89 planning
Mother truckers
Carl Perkins Grants
Dale--DHS contract, 1990
Pre/post evaluations
My proposal, 1988-1989

Box 9
Clients Feb '80
Telephone counseling
Calls Sept-Oct '89
Step-Up, 1989
Vocational education for women
NMVTI, 1987
Trade women
Media list
Welfare reform articles by Dale (2 folders)
WBDC article by Dale
Tax and welfare savings worksheet
Janice Goldfrank
Fundraising ideas
NTO future conference, 1995
1990 census--NTO
Carl Perkins letters students
Gateway Project Cleveland
Graduates info

Box 10
Video project (2 folders)
Memo of agreement
USA Today article on affirmative action, 1995
Notebook of Dale's, 1993-94
Notes from Tradeswomen's summit, 1994
Staff meeting
Correspondence, 1993-1995 (3 folders)
Panel on women in non-traditional work [AC1237: shelved in audiocassette collection]
Non traditional NYU Conference [AC1238: shelved in audiocassette collection]
ACRA Conference [AC1239: shelved in audiocassette collection]
1984 National Democratic Party convention (3 folders)
1988 National Democratic Party convention
My campaign
Dale's correspondence, 1992

Box 11

Dale's telephone logs, 1995-1997 (2 books)
Phone calls answered
Welfare reform (2 folders)
Dale's notebook on health care, 1992-1993
Econ growth council
Dal info/articles (newspaper clippings)
Dale bio current and historical
Signs: "Vote No Maine Won't Discriminate" and "Thanks for Making the Gay Vote Heard" [shelved in map case]


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

Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City IA 52242.
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Page created: Jan 15, 2008