PAPERS, DATES:サ1964-2006

9.2 QUANTITY:サlinear feet




The papers (donor no. 228) were donated by Denise O'Brien in 1994, 1997, and subsequent years.


The papers are open for research.


In box 22.


In box 22.


Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


Your name, yearサRachel Bohlmann, 1996; Lisa Peperkorn, 1997; Doris Malkmus, 2001. [O達rien.doc]



Begin text here:サDenise O'Brien, organic farmer, political activist, and lobbyist, was born to Joe and Doris O達rien on December 6, 1949 in Omaha, Nebraska and grew up in Atlantic, Iowa. O達rien attended Atlantic High School and lived as an exchange student in Japan, an experience she credits with politicizing her. After graduating from Atlantic High School in 1968, she attended the University of Iowa one semester and Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, the following year. After one year at Creighton, she moved to the San Francisco area, where she became involved in anti-war protests and the whole foods movement. She then moved to Vermont, where she lived in a rural setting for six years before returning to Atlantic in 1976. In Atlantic, she met and married Larry Harris; they had three children, Briana, Trevor, and Caia. O達rien and Harris began an organic fruit and dairy farm on the Harris' family farm north of Atlantic, experimenting with various organic crops and livestock.


As low commodity prices and escalating interest rates led to widespread farm foreclosures, they became involved with the Prairie Progressive group from Adair County that included Daniel Levitas and David Ostendorf of Rural America, Inc. Denise O達rien and Larry Harris hosted the first Iowa Farm Unity Coalition meeting in 1982, launching O'Brien痴 career as an activist with the Coalition. In addition, O達rien joined the Farmers Union and other groups. She was a board member of PrairieFire Rural Action, initiating and directing its Women痴 Leadership Development Project. Recognizing the need for women in leadership roles, she served as president of the National Family Farm Coalition from 1993 to 1995. At that time, the Coalition represented thirty-nine family farm and rural advocacy organizations across the country. In 1990 she ran for Cass County Supervisor and in 1996 ran for a seat on the school board in the Atlantic district.


In 1995, O達rien and her daughter Briana Harris attended the United Nation痴 International Conference on Women in Beijing, China. In June 1997, O達rien spoke to the United Nations General Assembly at the Earth Summit Plus Five on behalf of the world痴 farmers, as one of the ten non-governmental speakers and the only United States citizen. Out of these experiences, O達rien recognized the importance of developing a network of farm women to speak for and organize around the needs of women in agriculture. These efforts led her to create the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN) in 1997; she served as its director from its inception. O達rien has received numerous awards for her activism.


Scope and Content Note


Begin text here:The Denise O'Brien papers date from 1964 to 2006 and measure 9.2 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series, Biographical and family, Community involvement, Conferences, Correspondence, Organizational involvement, Resource files, Writings, Photographs, and Artifacts.


The Biographical and family series contains biographies, awards, resum駸, an appointment book, and passports. In addition to O達rien痴 schoolwork, English papers, a class reunion booklet, and newspaper clippings, the series includes sporadic farm records and correspondence with Briana Harris, who attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Community Involvement series concerns O達rien痴 activities with the United Methodist Church, the Atlantic School District, the PTA, her work with the Family Crisis Support Network in Atlantic, and files from her unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Atlantic School Board. It also includes materials concerning school children痴 tours of the Harris-O達rien farm.

The Conferences series consists of notes, programs, and other materials that O達rien collected at local, national and international events such as conferences, campaigns, forums, and summits.

The Correspondence series contains both personal and organizational correspondence. Electronic mail and paper mail items are intermixed. Items of interest include letters from Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Correspondence to and from Briana Harris is located in the Biographical and family series.

The Organizational Involvement series consists of records and papers from organizations in which O達rien has been a member, officer, or observer.


The Resource Files series contains books, magazines, newspaper articles, pamphlets, and memos maintained by O達rien for informational purposes. These files concern agricultural organizations, agribusiness and environmental issues, Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and Bovine somatotropin (BST), the farm crisis and farm bills, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), health care and insurance, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sustainable agriculture, and women痴 organizations.

The Writings series contains notebooks in which O達rien recorded her thoughts and reactions during the many meetings and conferences that she attended, as well as professional writings and speeches. It also includes texts of testimony she presented at various public hearings.


The Photographs series contains photographs of O達rien, members of her family, friends, and the farmstead.

The Artifacts series consists of name tags and pins from numerous conferences, as well as bumper stickers. It also includes a plaque for the Dixon Terry Leadership Award she received in 1992 from the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition.

Related Collections

Women Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN)

Postings from the WFAN electronic listserve have been printed out by Iowa Women痴 Archives staff.

Box no. Description

Box 1

Biographical and Family

General, 1995-1999

Appointment books and passport, 1985, 1989, 1990

Appointment books, 1993-1995

Education, 1964-1988 and undated

Medical report, 1991

Children痴 school projects, undated

Briana Harris痴 e-mail

Aug. 27-Nov. 17, 1996

Nov. 18, 1996-Dec. 19, 1997

Jan. 2, 1998-Feb. 14, 1999

Larry Harris, Delegate to Democratic caucus, 1986


Financial records, 1976-1997


Box 2

Beefalo, 1975-1978

Organic beef market, 1977-1985 and undated

Pest control, 1981

Newspaper clippings, 1992-1997 and undated

[one article from 1994 in oversized: filed in map case, drawer 6]


Community involvement


Newspaper clippings, 1996

Supervisor, 1990

Campaign sign, undated [oversize: filed in map case]

Secretary of Agriculture, 2006

Atlantic Community School District and PTA, 1992-1993 and undated

Atlantic High School commencement address, 1998

Atlantic Women痴 Health Conference, 1999, 2000

Family Crisis Support Network, 2000 and undated

Farm tours for school children, undated

United Methodist Church, 1997 and undated

Volunteering, 1986-1999 and undated



鄭gricultural Policy Conference, Des Moines, Aug. 12, 1984

Association for Women in Development

Fifth International Forum, Washington D. C., November 21-24,1991

Sixth International Forum, Washington D. C., October 21-24, 1993

釘eyond Rio: Earth Charter Iowa, Part I and II, Sept. 1992, Mar. 1993

釘eing a Good Steward of our Resources: Living a Quality Life, September 5-7, 1992


Box 3

釘ringing Beijing Back: Local Actions and Global Strategies, Davenport, Iowa, Nov. 10-12, 1995

釘ringing Rio Home: Using Agenda 21 to Promote Sustainable Agriculture, Mlheim and Ruhr, Germany,

August 31-September 3, 1993

Campaign for Human Development, Fifteenth Anniversary, Collegeville, MN, Aug. 11-14, 1985

Earth Summit

Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 3-14, 1992

Earth Summit +5, Washington D. C., June 23-27, 1997

Farmers Disaster Assistance Conference, 鉄urviving the Disaster of 1993, Bloomington, MN,

November 18-20, 1993

Federacion Nacional de la Mujer Rural, First International meeting, Segovia, Spain, Sept. 3-6, 1998

擢ocus on Tomorrow痴 Leaders: Making a Difference in Public Policy Issues, Ames, IA,

July 30-August 2, 1997

Fourth Annual Institute on Women and Economic Development, Ms. Foundation 1991 Conference,

Peachtree City, Georgia, September 5-8, 1991

滴arvesting Our Potential, 1986-1996

Iowa Caf, Lewis IA, May 24, 2001

Iowa Women痴 Hall of Fame, Aug. 26, 2000

Manila People痴 Forum on APEC 96, Manila, Philippines, November 18-24, 1996

National Campaign for Family Farms and Environment meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman,

Washington D. C., June 12,1995


Box 4

National Consultation on Food Security, Ames, IA, May 21, 1997

National Dairy Summit, York, PA, June 21, 1993

National Dialogue for a Sustainable Agriculture, Washington, D.C.,

Feb. 25-27, 1994

National Network of Grantmakers, Zion, IL, Nov. 12-14, 1986

National Rural Conference, Ames, IA, April 25, 1995

North American Farmer痴 Alliance Tour of Nicaragua, 1985

撤riorities 95, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, Oct. 14-15, 1994

Briana Harris papers, 1995 and undated

Public Forum on Agriculture and Food, Niigata, Japan, Feb. 28, 1998

Rural Development Forum, April 6-7, 1992

迭ural and Farm Women in Historical Perspective,

Fifth Conference, Chevy Chase, MD, December 1-4, 1994

Sixth Conference, Waco TX, Sept. 18-21, 1997

Rural Women痴 Workshop on Food Security, Rome, Italy, November 6-8, 1996 (3 folders)

Second National Conference on Organic/Sustainable Agriculture Policies, March 23-24, 1990


Box 5

Second World Conference on Women in Agriculture, Washington, D. C., June 28-July 7, 1998

Sixtieth Annual Meeting of Rural Sociological Society, Toronto, Ontario, Aug. 13-17, 1997

Small Flock Growers and Wool Crafters, First National Conference, June. 23-26, 1985

鄭 Social Agenda for the 21st Century, Des Moines, IA, Sept. 27, 1997

鉄trategic Planning Meeting for a National Women痴 Organizing Body, Lake Bluff, IL, Oct. 3-5, 1997

United Nations Association, Midwest Public Hearing on Environment and Development, Sept. 22, 1991

United Nations Earth Summit Intersessional Meeting of Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, Feb. 24-Mar.7, 1997

United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China, September 4-15, 1995

Briana Harris notes

Brochures and handouts

Globalization of agriculture workshop


Box 6

MS delegate profiles

National Family Farm Coalition position

News coverage

Speeches and papers

United States delegation preparation

Women痴 organizations publications

Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Forum on Women, Beijing, China, Aug. 30-Sept 8, 1995

United Nations General Assembly hearing on Agenda 21, June 23-27, 1997 (folder 1)

Box 7

United Nations General Assembly hearing on Agenda 21, June 23-27, 1997 (folder 2)

United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture Public Hearing, Sept. 23, 1992

Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, Sinsinawa, WI, Mar. 4-6, 1999

Via Campesina,

Philippines, Dec. 1-10, 1995

Second International Conference, La Trinidad, Mexico, April 18-20, 1996

展omen, Empowerment, and Sustainable Futures, Racine, WI, July 9-12, 1998

展omen Hold up Half the Sky, Des Moines, IA, May 3-5, 1990 (2 folders)

Women痴 History Month presentation, Southwest Iowa Community College, Creston, IA, Mar.14, 2001

Workshop on Women and the Environment, Green Bay, WI, November 9-11, 1990

World Food Summit, Rome, Italy, November 13-17, 1996

Non-governmental organization input, Nov. 13-17 and 23-27, 1996


Box 8

World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 6-12, 1995

World Trade Organization

Food and Agriculture Day, Seattle, WA, Dec. 2, 1999

Listening session, Des Moines, IA, July 12, 1999

World Women痴 Congress for a Healthy Planet, Miami, FL, November 8-12, 1991


1982-2001 and undated

Conferences at which Denise O達rien was a presenter, 1983-1999








Box 9








Box 10



Organizational involvement

Alternative Women in Development, 1991 and undated

Association for Women in Development (AWID)

General, 1990-1996

Newsletters and bylaws, 1990-1995 and undated

Bill Bradley for President, 2000

Educational Center for Community Organizing, 1987-1989

Farm Aid, 1993-1994

Farmers Union

Iowa, 1989

National, 1989-1995

South Dakota, 1990 and undated

HandsNet, 1994

Homestead Pride Poultry Cooperative, 1993-1994


Box 11

Industrial Cooperative Association, 1987

Iowa Farm Unity Coalition


1986-1995 and undated

Published resources, 1981-1986

Iowa Peace Makers, 1991 and undated

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, 1995

Legal Services Corporation, 1990-1991 and undated

Ms. Foundation for Women

General, 1985-1992 and undated

Field network, 1988

Dockets and grant lists, 1989-1991 and undated

National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC)


1989-1991 and undated

1994 (folder 1)


Box 12

1994 (folder 2)


Bovine Growth Hormone campaign, 1994-1995

Case study and book proposal, 1991 and undated

Concept papers, 1995 and undated

Correspondence, 1990-1997 (2 folders)

Dairy, Nutrition, and Conservation Act Campaign, 1995

Farm bill, 1995

Grants, 1991-1996

Informational newspaper clippings, 1993-1995


Box 13

Minutes and agendas, 1991-1995 and undated [scattered]

Newsletters, 1990-1994 [scattered]

Questionnaires, 1995

Summary materials, 1989-1991 and undated

Trade agreements, 1994-1995 (2 folders)

National Save the Family Farm Coalition, 1986-1987

National Sustainable Agriculture Coordinating Council, 1993-1995

New Party, 1992

Practical Farmers of Iowa, 1994-1999


Box 14

Prairie Fire Rural Action

1985-1996 (2 folders)

Women痴 Leadership Development Project, 1987-1988

Progressive Prairie Alliance, 1981-1982

Rural America, 1981-1984

Rural America, Inc., 1981-1982

Trees Forever, undated

Rural Caucus, 1985

Shared Vision, 1994

United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, 1994-1995

United Nations Association of Iowa, 1991-1995

Via Campesina, 1995-1996

Women痴 Alternative Economic Network (WAEN) and related organizations

General, 1989-1991 and undated

Related, 1988-1991 and undated (folder 1)

Box 15

Related, 1988-1991 and undated (folder 2)

Women, July/August, 1990 [oversized: shelved in map case]

Women痴 Alternative Economic Summit, 1988

Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, 1994-1999

Women痴 Foreign Policy Council, 1989-1990


Resource Files

Agriculture organizations, 1991-1996 and undated

Agribusiness and environmental issues, 1981-1997 and undated

Assisting Beginning Farmers, 1980

Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and Bovine Somatotropin (BST), 1990-1994 and undated

Carrie Chapman Catt Hall controversy, 1996


Box 16

Copenhagen Declaration for Social Development, 1995

Dairy, 1991

The ERA: Facts and Action Guide, 1986

Farm bills, farm crisis, 1985

Country, 1985

Newspaper articles


鉄hattered Dreams: The Rural Crisis Des Moines Register, December 7, 1986 [filed in map case, drawer 6]

Printed materials, 1981-1985 and undated (2 folders)

Farm bill, 1995

Farm issues, Newspaper clippings, 1995

Farming, Chicken cooperatives, 1993

Box 17

Foundation pour le progr鑚 de l辿omme, The GATT in Practice (1996) and Alliance for a Responsible and United World (1996). And Program, 1992-1995

Foundation Fredrich Ebert, El Futuro del Campo (1994) and Documentos de Trabajo (1993)

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1991-1994

Genetically Modified Organisms, 2000

Health care and insurance, 1983-1994 and undated

Healthy Harvest: A Directory of Sustainable Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations, 1987-1988

Integrated Farm Management Program, 1990

Iowa League of Rural Voters, Presidential Race Report #4, 1987

Iowa Poultry Cooperative Feasibility Study Planning Phase Report, 1990

KU Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, 鼎risis in Global Agriculture, 1986-1987

Magazines/journals, 1981-1993 [scattered]


Box 18

Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies, New Directions in Farm, Land, and Food Policies, c. 1978



Clergy and Laity Concerned, 1980-1982

Newspaper, clippings, 1991-1999 and undated

North American Farm Alliance, 認arm Women in Action, c. 1984

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 1992-1996 and undated

Organizing and organization building, 1983-1994

PrairieFire Rural Action, Resisting Foreclosure, c. 1986

Resources for Feminist Research, Women and Agricultural Production, vol. 2, March 1982

Rural Sociology, Seventh World Congress preparatory materials, 1988

Presbyterian Church, Rural Community in Crisis, 1985

Small farm energy project, 1981

鉄ustainable Agriculture: People, Products, and Profits, Leopold Center . . Conference Proceedings, 1994

Sustainable/organic agriculture, 1990-1997


Box 19

United Nations Earth Summit Agenda 21, 1997

United Nations Association, 鄭 Social Agenda for Iowa for the 21st Century, 1997

United States Farmers Association, AMMO, 1983

Women痴 issues


Beijing and Beyond, 1995 (2 folders)

Women痴 Organizations, 1985-1991 and undated


Box 20

Miscellaneous, 1983-1996



Letters to the Editor, 1992-1999


1987 and 1989




1995 (folder 1 of 2)

Box 21

1995 (folder 2 of 2)



Undated (folder 1 and 2 of 3)


Box 22

Undated (folder 3 of 3)

Professional, 1986-2000

Speeches, 1994, 1997, 1998, and undated

Testimony, 1984-1993




Japanese visitors, 1998

Color slides, 1997and undated



Bumper stickers, 1986 and undated

Conference tags, 1994-1997 and undated

Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, Dixon Terry Leadership Award, 1992


Box 23

T-shirt, O達rien for Secretary of Agriculture, 2006



Oversized: shelved in map case, drawer 6

Biographical newspaper clipping, 1994

Campaign sign, undated

National Assembly of Religious Women newspaper, 1990

Farm crisis newspaper articles, 1983-1985

Farm crisis newspaper insert, 1986