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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Margaret Anderson papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1973-1978
Creator: Anderson, Margaret
Extent: 1.00 linear foot.
Collection Number: IWA0001
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Subject files, correspondence and clippings relating to women's rights.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 1) were received from Margaret Anderson in 1988.

Preferred Citation: Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Margaret "Peg" Stair was born in Chicago in 1928. She received a B.A. in government from Smith College in 1950 and then married Karl Anderson. The couple moved to Waterloo, Iowa in the early 1950s. They later moved to Cedar Falls where Peg Anderson was involved with the American Association of University Women. The couple had four children: Christy, Margaret, Bowen, and Kurt.

During the late 1960s Anderson worked as community coordinator for the Episcopal Churches of Black Hawk County, helping to respond to the needs of the low-income community. Her efforts culminated in the organization of the Logandale Low Income Housing Project.

In an interview with Louise Noun, Anderson identifies this work with the low-income housing project as the period when she recognized the importance of the women's movement. Anderson remembered that "I had a sense of wanting more freedom for myself, combined with this recognition that for the disadvantaged woman, the women's movement was absolutely essential."

In 1971, as a result of her growing frustration with her own achievements as well as the lack of representation by women in local politics, Anderson ran and was elected to the school board in Cedar Falls. She was the only woman on the board at that time. Anderson continued to be active in local political and civic organizations. During the early 1970s, Anderson was (at various times) chairperson of the State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, president of the United Way of Black Hawk County, and president of Planned Parenthood of Northeast Iowa. During the early 1970s, Anderson also helped found a Women's Center (connected to the University of Northern Iowa).

In 1973, Anderson and several other women formed the Black Hawk County Women's Political Caucus, an affiliate of the Iowa Women's Political Caucus (IWPC). Anderson was elected chair of the local caucus. In 1975, Anderson succeeded Roxanne Conlin as chair of the state-wide IWPC, serving in this position for two years. During this time Anderson also chaired the IWPC Republican Task Force.

During her tenure as chair of the IWPC, the organization continued to grow in membership. In 1976 and 1977, the IWPC conducted successful fundraisers with Gloria Steinem and Billie Jean King. In 1977, the Iowa Women's Caucus Research and Education Center sponsored its first Girls' Leadership Camp for Iowa high school girls. In 1976 the IWPC distributed $11,610 in campaign contributions and saw the number of women legislators in Iowa increase from fourteen to seventeen. The IWPC successfully lobbied for changes in laws governing marital rape and for elimination of height and weight requirements for police officers and fire fighters. In 1977, the National Women's Political Caucus Steering Committee meeting was held in Des Moines.

In 1977 Anderson ran for mayor of Cedar Falls and lost. After the election, Anderson and her husband (an employee of John Deere) moved to Bettendorf where he had been offered a new job. It was at this time that Anderson was asked to head the state-wide effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Iowa State Constitution. Anderson worked on this campaign for two years up until the amendment's appearance on the ballot in 1980. During this campaign, Anderson debated national anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly. The effort to pass the ERA (which was ultimately unsuccessful) involved organizing a large, bipartisan coalition of diverse groups with potentially conflicting views. In 1977 Anderson also served as an Iowa delegate to the National Women's Conference in Houston.

In 1981, Anderson was appointed by Governor Ray to serve on the Iowa Board of Regents. Anderson was a controversial appointee because of her affiliation with the women's movement. She served for six years.

In the late 1980s, Anderson and her husband moved to Tucson, Arizona.

Louise R. Noun, More Strong Minded Women: Iowa Feminists Tell Their Stories (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1992), p. 136.

The Margaret "Peg" Anderson papers date from 1973 to 1978 and measure 1 linear foot. There is very little material in this collection which relates to Anderson herself. Most of the collection pertains to the organizations with which she was affiliated. The collection is arranged in 5 series: Biographical; Iowa Women's Political Caucus; International Women's Year; National Women's Political Caucus; and Topical files.

The Biographical series consists of two items, Anderson's resume, which was compiled at the time that she was seeking election as chair of the IWPC, and a publicity photograph.

The Iowa Women's Political Caucus series consists of materials relating to a variety of IWPC activities, primarily during the years 1975 to 1977, when Anderson was chair. This material is of a similar nature to that found in the Iowa Women's Political Caucus records held by the Iowa Women's Archives, though the latter records date for the most part from 1973 to 1975. The Peg Anderson series of IWPC materials, however, is less extensive than the IWPC records. Included in this series are general informational material, membership lists, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and position papers. Correspondence files contain (in addition to correspondence) minutes, pamphlets, planning materials for state conventions, information on legislative races and Anderson's acceptance speeches when she was named state chair of the IWPC.

Material on the Black Hawk County chapter of the IWPC covers the years 1973 to 1977. Newsletters from other county chapters are also found in this series. In June of 1977, the Iowa Women's Caucus Research and Education Center (the tax-exempt branch of the IWPC) held its first Girls Leadership Camp which was attended by eighty high school girls. Organizational and printed material related to the camp are included in this series. In 1976, the IWPC held an exhibition tennis match to support the Equal Rights Amendment. The exhibition featured tennis pros Billie Jean King and Mona Schallau Guerrant (an Iowa native) and State Senator Minnette Doderer. Materials related to this event include correspondence and publicity materials.

In 1975, at the International Women's Year conference in Mexico City, leaders called for each member of the United Nation to focus on its own country's problems and gains in women's rights. In response to this mandate, President Gerald Ford appropriated funds for the organization of the National Women's Conference in Houston in 1977. Peg Anderson was a delegate to both the State Coordination Committee and to the Houston conference.

Materials in the International Women's Year series include those related to National Women's Agenda Day (December 2, 1977), to the Iowa Coordination Committee on IWY (the committee that organized the Iowa Women's Meeting at which delegates to the national conference were selected and the positions and priorities of Iowa women were negotiated) and to the National Women's Conference. This series also includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, national updates, a manual for planning the state women's meetings, and a copy of the official report (and dissenting opinions) from the Iowa Women's Meeting, held June 10-12, 1977.

The National Women's Political Caucus series includes newsletters, correspondence, and general printed material of this national organization with which the IWPC was affiliated. As chair of the IWPC, Anderson corresponded with NWPC leaders and attended national conventions. In 1975 former chair of the IWPC Roxanne Conlin ran for the position of national chair. She lost to Audrey Rowe Colom. Campaign materials from this election are filed with other materials related to the 1975 NWPC convention. This series also contains materials related to two steering committee meetings held in 1977 (one of which took place in Des Moines). The Topical files consist of two folders: information on spouse abuse legislation and materials related to women's centers.
Iowa ERA Coalition records.

This collection also contains additional material about Anderson.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: General
Series 2: Iowa Women's Political Caucus
Series 3: International Women's Year
Series 4: National Women's Political Caucus
Series 5: Topical files

  • Series 1: General
  • Box 1: Biographical (includes photograph)
  • Series 2: Iowa Women's Political Caucus
  • Box 1:
  • General information from notebook
  • General information from notebook - 1976-1977 (2 folders)
  • Correspondence
  • Correspondence - 1974-1975
  • Correspondence - 1976
  • Correspondence - 1977-1978
  • Undated Girls Leadership Camp - 6/10/1977
  • Humanities programs - 1976
  • Local chapters
  • Black Hawk County Women's Political Caucus
  • General - 1974-1977
  • Education Task Force - 1973-1974 and undated
  • Other chapters
  • Box 2:
  • Membership list - 1976-1977
  • Newsletter
  • October - 1973-November/December 1975
  • 'Caucus Comments,' January - 1976-September 1978
  • Newspaper clippings - 1975-1977
  • Press releases - 1974-1976
  • State conventions - 1974-1975 (2 folders)
  • State steering committee minutes - 1977
  • Tennis Fundraiser - 1976
  • Women - 2000, 1974 and 1976
  • Miscellaneous, undated
  • Series 3: International Women's Year
  • Box 2:
  • National Women's Agenda Day - 1974
  • Iowa Coordinating Committee on IWY
  • Correspondence - 1977-1978
  • Iowa Women's Meeting - 1977
  • Program committee - 1976-1977
  • National Commission on the Observance of IWY
  • Manual for Planning and Conducting Meetings for Women, November - 1976
  • Updates - 1977-1978
  • National Women's Conference General information, November 18-21 - 1977
  • Equal Rights Amendment status, November 18-21 - 1977
  • Box 3:
  • Meetings, November 18-21 - 1977
  • Newspaper clippings - 1977-1978 and undated
  • Resolutions adopted, November 18-21 - 1977
  • Series 4: National Women's Political Caucus
  • Box 3:
  • Conference on Structure, June 28-30 - 1974
  • Convention, September 9-11 - 1977
  • Correspondence - 1976-1977 and undated
  • Des Moines steering committee meeting - 1977
  • National convention - 1975, 1977 (2 folders)
  • Newsletter, May-September - 1975
  • Washington , D.C. steering committee meeting, January - 1977
  • Series 5: Topical files
  • Box 3:
  • Spouse abuse legislation - 1975, 1978, and undated
  • Women's Center Information - 1974