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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Iowa ERA Coalition records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1916-1980
Creator: Iowa ERA Coalition
Extent: 5.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0011
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Organization to promote passage of an Equal Rights Amendment to the Iowa and United States constitutions.

Access: The records are open for research.

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

Acquisition: The records were donated by the Iowa ERA Coalition (donor no. 12) in 1980 and 1987, and by Victoria Herring (donor no. 20) in 2002.

Preferred Citation: Iowa ERA Coalition records, 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
Email: lib-women@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa

The Iowa ERA Coalition was formed in November 1978 to seek voter approval of the state ERA. The Iowa ERA Coalition was comprised of approximately fifty member organizations. It disbanded in November 1980 when Iowa voters defeated the ERA initiative by a 56 to 44 percent margin.

The Iowa General Assembly ratified the national Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) within twenty-four hours of its passage by the United States Congress in 1972. In 1977, Iowa legislators considered the first state ERA initiative. Iowa's ERA bill was a bipartisan effort and passed both the 1978 and 1979 general assemblies. To amend the state constitution, this measure had to go through a two-step process. First, state law required bicameral passage in two consecutive legislatures. Second, state law required approval by a majority of Iowa voters. The ERA became a ballot initiative in the 1980 Iowa general elections. Iowa was the only state in the nation to vote on an equal rights amendment in the 1980 elections. Just three states short of the thirty-eight required by Congress to ratify the national ERA amendment, the vote in Iowa was pivotal. A victory in Iowa, ERA proponents hoped, would precipitate the same outcome in bordering states Illinois and Missouri. All possible influence by Iowa became moot, however, when Iowa voters rejected the state equal rights amendment. The election results shocked many ERA faithful, for poll results had consistently shown that a majority of Iowa voters favored the ERA. Ultimately, Illinois and Missouri ERA initiatives met the same fate. Iowa ERA supporters attributed their defeat to an effective, last minute and "last-ditch" negative campaign blitz orchestrated by ERA opponents. From beginning to end, the ERA Coalition was castigated as supporters of homosexual marriage and the passage of Iowa's ERA amendment was portrayed as tantamount to legalizing homosexual marriage in Iowa. Despite continuous denials by ERA proponents, they were unable to erase the fear and doubts in the minds of Iowa voters that their vote for the ERA would be a vote for "alternative" life styles.

Margaret "Peg" Anderson was the state chairperson and main spokesperson of the Iowa ERA Coalition. Her efforts were perhaps best summed up in a March 27, 1980 news article. The headline simply read: "This Woman Works." Anderson was a long-time Iowa resident who had had a varied political career.

The Iowa ERA Coalition records measure 5.5 linear feet and date from 1916 to 1980. They are arranged into seven series: Administrative, Campaign Files, Fundraising, Publicity, Strategies and Planning, Topical Files, and Audio Tapes. The bulk of this collection concerns Iowa's first ERA campaign in the years 1978 to 1980; however, there is some background material dating as far back as 1972. While this collection primarily chronicles one state's efforts to pass an equal rights amendment, it does provide some clues as to how an initiative, albeit controversial, that is generally favored by a majority of the populace can be undermined by opponents who are allowed to frame the debate concerning the initiative.

The Administrative series includes budget, minutes, and general correspondence. It also contains biographical information on Peg Anderson. The governing board minutes provide a good sense of the day-to-day logistics.

The bulk of material in the Campaign Files series concerns the caravan for era. Mainly use as a promotional tour, this motorcade was envisaged as a means to garner support for the state ERA and create a "band wagon" effect. The caravan traversed across Iowa, and made stops in all of its counties. It began on October 2, 1980 and ended on November 2, 1980. The caravan had four objectives: to disseminate information about the Iowa ERA, to gain local news coverage, and to bring out supportive local community leaders. The county folders contain correspondence and other material relating to caravan visits and speakers scheduling.

The Fundraising series includes information about some of the events used to raise money and voter awareness. One highlight event was the two-day, three-city visit that Erma Bombeck and Liz Carpenter made in June 1980 as an ERA campaign fundraiser. They appeared in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Waterloo. There is additional information about their visit in the news clippings folder (box 11), and the press release folder (box 7).

The Publicity series is divided into four subseries: General, Speakers, Media, and Printed Material. The Speakers subseries includes resource packets intended to help speakers with speech preparation. The Media subseries contains Iowa Coalition press releases from 1979-1980. Newsletters and other printed material produced by the coalition and other groups can be found in the Printed Material subseries.

The Strategies and Planning series is divided into four subseries: General, Candidates, Political parties, Polling information. The Candidates subseries includes completed endorsement forms by Iowa state representatives and senators, many of which contain statements by the legislators in support of the ERA. Peg Anderson's testimony before the Democratic State Platform on May 10, 1980. The Polling information subseries contain results of Iowa state polls from 1975-1980 as well as national poll results and sample questions used during ERA telephone surveys. The Topical files series is composed of sixty-four folders arranged alphabetically by folder title. The folder contents cover a variety of topics that related to the work of the Iowa ERA Coalition. There are two Anti-ERA folders which contains printed literature used by a number of organizations opposed to the ERA. Included also are organizational folders such as the Iowa Association of Libertarian Feminists and the Iowa Home Economics Association.

The Audio tapes series consists of three audiocassettes and two reel-to-reel recordings, including a speech given by Peg Anderson on February 14, 1980 (AC117), pro-ERA spots by Erma Bombeck and by the Iowa ERA Coalition (AC116), and four anti-ERA radio spots produced by the Right to Be a Woman Committee (AC115).
Margaret "Peg" Anderson papers (IWA)

ERA Iowa 1992 records (IWA)

Iowa Women Against the ERA records (IWA)

Browse by Series:
Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE
Series 2: CAMPAIGN FILES
Series 3: FUNDRAISING
Series 4: PRINTED MATERIAL
Series 5: STRATEGIES AND PLANNING
Series 6: TOPICAL FILES
Series 7: AUDIO TAPES
Series 8: OVERSIZE

  • Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE
  • Box 1:
  • Administrative Committee: Agendas, minutes, and notices - 1979-1980
  • Budget - 1979-1980
  • Employees and volunteers: General: Job description, organizational structure
  • Employees and volunteers: General: Staff applications - 1980
  • Employees and volunteers: General: Volunteer work: roster and correspondence - 1980
  • Anderson, Peg
  • McFadden, Monica
  • Governing Board: Correspondence - 1979-1980
  • Governing Board: Administrative committee - 1980
  • Governing Board: Articles: general information - 1979
  • Governing Board: Legal status of Iowa ERA
  • Governing Board: Coalition By-laws
  • Governing Board: Board Members: Completed membership applications - 1979-1980
  • Governing Board: Board Members: Information sheets - 1979
  • Governing Board: Board Members: Meeting minutes and agenda - 1978-1980
  • Governing Board: Board Members: Membership lists - 1979-1980
  • Governing Board: Member organizations not represented on governing board - 1979
  • Governing Board: Political Action Committee - 1979-1980
  • Series 2: CAMPAIGN FILES
  • Box 1:
  • Caravan for ERA: General
  • Caravan for ERA: Uncoordinated counties - 1980
  • Caravan for ERA: Campaign handbook, May- June - 1979-1980
  • Box 2:
  • Caravan for ERA: Campaign handbook, July-November - 1980
  • Caravan for ERA: Campaign handbook, undated
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Adair
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Adams
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Allamakee
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Appanoose
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Audubon
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Benton
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Black Hawk
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Boone
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Bremer
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Buchanan
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Buena Vista
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Butler
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Calhoun
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Carroll
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Cass
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Cherokee
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Chickasaw
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Cedar
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Cerro Gordo
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Clarke
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Clay
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Clayton
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Clinton
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Crawford
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Dallas
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Davis
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Decatur
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Delaware
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Dickinson
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Des Moines
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Dubuque
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Emmet
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Fayette
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Floyd
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Franklin
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Greene
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Grundy
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Guthrie
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Hamilton
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Hancock
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Hardin
  • Box 3:
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Harrison
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Henry
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Howard
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Humboldt
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Ida
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Iowa
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Jackson
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Jasper
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Jefferson
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Johnson
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Jones
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Keokuk
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Kossuth
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Lee
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Linn
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Louisa
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Lucas
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Lyon
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Madison
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Mahaska
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Marion
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Marshall
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Mills
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Mitchell
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Monona
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Monroe
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Montgomery
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Muscatine
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: O'Brien
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Osceola
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Page
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Palo Alto
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Plymouth
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Pocahontas
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Polk
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Pottawattamie
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Poweshiek
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Ringgold
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Sac
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Scott
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Shelby
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Sioux
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Story
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Tama
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Taylor
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Union
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Van Buren
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Wapello
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Warren
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Washington
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Wayne
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Webster
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Winnebago
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Winneshiek
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Woodbury
  • Box 4:
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Worth
  • Caravan for ERA: Counties: Wright
  • County Organizations: County Conventions: General - 1980
  • County Organizations: County Conventions: Survey of county convention platforms - 1980
  • County Organizations: County coordinators: Coordinators, correspondence, notes - 1979-1980
  • County organizations: County coordinators: Financial policy - 1979
  • County organizations: County coordinators: Maps - 1979-1980
  • County organizations: County coordinators: Roster - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: County coordinators: Workshops - 1979
  • County Organizations: Counties: Ada
  • County Organizations: Counties: Adams
  • County Organizations: Counties: Allamakee
  • County Organizations: Counties: Appanoose
  • County Organizations: Counties: Audubon
  • County Organizations: Counties: Benton
  • County Organizations: Counties: Black Hawk
  • County Organizations: Counties: Boone
  • County Organizations: Counties: Bremer
  • County Organizations: Counties: Buchanan
  • County Organizations: Counties: Buena Vista
  • County Organizations: Counties: Calhoun
  • County Organizations: Counties: Carroll
  • County Organizations: Counties: Cass
  • County Organizations: Counties: Cedar
  • County Organizations: Counties: Cerro Gordo
  • County Organizations: Counties: Cherokee
  • County Organizations: Counties: Chickasaw
  • County Organizations: Counties: Clarke
  • County Organizations: Counties: Clayton
  • County Organizations: Counties: Clinton
  • County Organizations: Counties: Council Bluffs
  • County Organizations: Counties: Crawford
  • County Organizations: Counties: Dallas
  • County Organizations: Counties: Decatur
  • County Organizations: Counties: Delaware
  • County Organizations: Counties: Des Moines
  • County Organizations: Counties: Dickinson
  • County Organizations: Counties: Dubuque
  • County Organizations: Counties: Emmet
  • County Organizations: Counties: Fayette
  • County Organizations: Counties: Fifth District Iowa ERA plans
  • County Organizations: Counties: Floyd
  • County Organizations: Counties: Fremont
  • County Organizations: Counties: Greene
  • County Organizations: Counties: Grundy
  • County Organizations: Counties: Hamilton
  • County Organizations: Counties: Hardin
  • County Organizations: Counties: Henry
  • County Organizations: Counties: Humboldt
  • County Organizations: Counties: Iowa
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jackson
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson: General - 1978-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson: Agendas and minutes - 1978-1980
  • Box 5:
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson: Meeting notes - 1978-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson: Miscellaneous (folder 1) - 1978-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Jefferson: Miscellaneous (folder 2) - 1978-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Kossuth
  • County Organizations: Counties: Lee - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Linn - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Lucas
  • County Organizations: Counties: Mahaska
  • County Organizations: Counties: Marion
  • County Organizations: Counties: Marshall - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Mills
  • County Organizations: Counties: Mitchell
  • County Organizations: Counties: Montgomery
  • County Organizations: Counties: Muscatine
  • County Organizations: Counties: O'Brien - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Osceola
  • County Organizations: Counties: Page
  • County Organizations: Counties: Plymouth - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Pocahontas
  • County Organizations: Counties: Polk: General - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Polk: Speakers Bureau - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Pottawattamie - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Poweshiek - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Sac - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Scott - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Shelby - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Sioux - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Story - 1979
  • County Organizations: Counties: Tama - 1979
  • County Organizations: Counties: Taylor
  • County Organizations: Counties: Union - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Wapello
  • County Organizations: Counties: Warren - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Washington
  • County Organizations: Counties: Webster - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Winneshiek - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Woodbury - 1979-1980
  • County Organizations: Counties: Wright - 1979
  • District Organizations: Conventions - 1980
  • District Organizations: Iowa ERA Coalition district meeting - 1980
  • Sub-Series:
  • Box 6:
  • Rowe, Barbara: 'Susan B. Anthony, A Dramatic Presentation,' - 1979-1980
  • Susan B. Anthony Parties [photos]
  • Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin concert - 1980
  • Series 3: FUNDRAISING
  • Sub-Series: General
  • Box 6:
  • Backroom Graphics fundraising proposal - 1979-1980
  • Correspondence - 1980
  • Johnson, Sonia: Mormons for ERA - 1980
  • Jones, Edward H.: Roast - 1979
  • Local events committee - 1979-1980
  • Mailing list - 1980
  • Mothers Day project - 1980
  • Salisbury House fund-raiser - 1980
  • Ad Services - 1979-1980
  • Advertising proposals - 1980
  • M.R. Enterprises-advertising and public relations (folder 1) - 1980
  • M.R. Enterprises-advertising and public relations (folder 2) - 1980
  • Bumper stickers and buttons
  • ERA original materials: 'What it is, What it is Not'
  • Equal rights amendment literature - 1974-1980
  • Box 7:
  • Sample ballot - 1978-1980
  • Sub-Series: Events
  • Box 6:
  • General
  • Entertainers - 1980
  • Bombeck, Erma and Liz Carpenter Tour - 1980
  • McGovern, Maureen, concert - 1980
  • Box 7:
  • Fiedler, Maureen - 1980
  • Iowa ERA resource packet I - 1979
  • Iowa ERA resource packet II - 1979-1980
  • Quotations - 1980
  • Resource packet - 1980
  • Speakers bureau information - 1979
  • Speaker requests - 1979-1980
  • Sub-Series: Media
  • Box 7:
  • Radio: Public service announcements - 1980
  • Radio: Radio spots - 1980
  • Newspapers: Letters to the editor campaign - 1980
  • Newspapers: Media relations information: Including a letter from Frank Nye - 1980
  • Newspapers:Press Relations - 1980
  • Newspapers: Press Releases - 1979-1980
  • Series 4: PRINTED MATERIAL
  • Box 7:
  • Iowa ERAdvocate, November- March - 1979-1980
  • Newsletters: Iowa ERA Today - 1979
  • Equal rights amendment literature: undated
  • Material produced by supporting groups - 1980
  • Material produced by the Iowa ERA Coalition - 1979-1980
  • Series 5: STRATEGIES AND PLANNING
  • Sub-Series: General
  • Box 7:
  • Campaign Strategy - 1980
  • Box 8:
  • Correspondence
  • ERA ballot wording
  • Legislative history of the ERA
  • Official pronouncements by Iowa ERA Coalition
  • Sub-Series: Candidates
  • Box 8:
  • Iowa State Candidate Endorsements - 1980
  • Iowa Candidate Endorsements Completed: Forms, A-Z (folder 1) - 1980
  • Iowa Candidate Endorsements Completed: Forms, A-Z (folder 2)
  • Iowa Candidate Endorsements Completed: Forms, K-Z
  • Iowa Candidate Endorsements Correspondence - 1980
  • Sub-Series: Political Parties - 1980
  • Box 8:
  • Democratic Party: county and state [includes Peg Anderson's testimony]
  • Iowa Democratic convention
  • Iowa Republican convention
  • Proposed platform plank (party unidentified) - 1980
  • Republican party [includes letters from Mary Louise Smith and Reid Crawford] - 1979-1980
  • Republican position on Iowa ERA - 1979-1980
  • Sub-Series: Polling Information
  • Box 8:
  • Iowa Equal Rights Amendment Coalition Iowa poll - 1980
  • Box 9:
  • National and states other than Iowa - 1975-1978
  • Correspondence, resumes - 1979-1980
  • Polls - 1979
  • Questions, answers and surveys - 1980
  • Survey of voter attitudes and opinions concerning ERA - 1975-1980
  • Series 6: TOPICAL FILES
  • Box 9:
  • Abortion - 1979-1981
  • American Association of University Women - 1979-1980
  • Anti-ERA - 1972-1980
  • Anti-ERA, undated
  • Business and Professional Women's Clubs - 1979-1980
  • Catholics Against the Iowa ERA - 1980
  • Church support for the Iowa ERA - 1975-1977
  • Churches - 1980
  • Common Cause of Iowa - 1979
  • ERA selected court cases - 1978, 1980
  • Ecumenical service - 1979-1980
  • Effects of ERA on education Friends of Iowa ERA - 1979
  • Homosexuals and the ERA
  • Inheritance tax - 1978, 1980
  • Iowa Association of Libertarian Feminists - 1979-1980
  • Box 10:
  • Iowa Attorney General's Opinion on the Iowa ERA - 1980
  • Iowa Children's and Family Services - 1980
  • Iowa Civil Liberties Union - 1979
  • Iowa Conference of Teamsters - 1980
  • Iowa Federation of Labor-AFL/CIO - 1979-1980
  • Iowa Home Economics Association - 1979-1980
  • Iowa Library Association - 1979
  • Iowa Nurses Association - 1980
  • Iowa Socialist Party - 1979
  • Iowa State Education Association - 1979-1980
  • Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) - 1979-1980
  • Iowa State Fair (2 folders) - 1980
  • Iowa Women's Political Caucus - 1979-1980
  • Junior League - 1980
  • Labor union positions on the ERA - 1979-1980
  • League of Women Voters - 1979-1980
  • "Legal Status of Homemakers in Iowa," by Roxanne Conlin
  • Libertarian party - 1979-1980
  • Massachusetts abortion case (Moe v. King) - 1980
  • Massachusetts ERA - 1976, 1980
  • Men and the ERA - 1980
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) - 1979
  • National Association of Bank Women - 1979
  • National Association of Social Workers - 1979-1980
  • National Organization for Women (NOW) - 1979-1981
  • Correspondence - 1980
  • Newsletters - 1978-1985
  • Box 11:
  • Newspaper clippings (2 folders) - 1978-1980
  • Presidential election:[includes a letter from Edward M. Kennedy] - 1979
  • Research papers re: ERA - 1976, 1980
  • Retirement systems - 1980
  • Rural women and Iowa ERA - 1980
  • Sports and the Iowa ERA - 1980
  • State ERA's - 1976, 1980
  • State ERA court cases
  • Students for ERA - 1979
  • U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau - 1980
  • United Methodist Church - 1979-1980
  • University Committee on Women - 1979
  • Washington State ERA - 1980
  • White House Conference on Families - 1980
  • Women Against the Draft - 1980
  • Women in Communications, Inc. - 1979
  • Women's Equality Day - 1979
  • Young Women's Christian Association - 1979
  • Series 7: AUDIO TAPES
  • Box 12:
  • [Reel-to-reel tape]: Erma Bombeck: paid radio announcement, October - 1980
  • AC115: Right to Be a Woman Committee [four 30-second anti-ERA announcements]
  • [two reel-to-reel tapes]: 'The Voice of Business', undated
  • AC116: Iowa ERA Coalition ' America': Pledge of Allegiance radio announcement
  • AC117: Speech by Peg Anderson, February 14 - 1980
  • Series 8: OVERSIZE
  • Box 13:
  • Banner
  • Posters C.L.A.S.S. (Citizens For Lighting And Safe Streets)
  • Women's Consciousness Raising