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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the United Sisters of Black Hawk County records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1984-1996
Creator: United Sisters of Black Hawk County
Extent: 10.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0315
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Iowa affiliate of Networking Together, Inc., an organization for women of color.

Access: The records are open for research.

Use: Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The records (donor no. 431) were donated by Essie Buls in 1997.

Preferred Citation: United Sisters of Black Hawk County 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 United Sisters of Black Hawk County (United Sisters) is an Iowa women's networking organization for women of color that was established in 1987. Its charter members were five women of color: Clozelle Harris, Essie Johnson (now Buls), Rosalyn Middleton, Bonetta Culp, and Diana Fortenberry. As its mission, the organization seeks to uplift the status of women of color of all ages in the areas of economic, employment, educational, cultural, and networking development. Local and state issues are addressed through monthly business meetings, social projects, and an annual state conference. The United Sisters also organize weekly exercise classes, workshops, forums, and special events. Examples of events sponsored include an all-male fashion show, a Miss Black Hawk Scholarship Pageant, and an annual black history and cultural fair. The headquarters for the organization is the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Black Hawk County. United Sisters also features a branch for girls, United Teens. The teen group's mission is to encourage girls of color to gather to discuss the prejudices they may hold and discrimination they may experience in their lives.

United Sisters is the Iowa state affiliate of Networking Together, Inc., a non-profit coalition of state networks representing American Indian, Asian-American, African-American, and Hispanic women in seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The coalition actively addresses issues of common concern that affect the economic self-sufficiency of women of color. Networking Together organizes conferences annually, which are open to all members of the state affiliates.

The United Sisters of Black Hawk County records date from 1984 to 1996 and measure 10 linear inches. These records were originally organized in scrapbooks, which have been disbound.  Photocopies of the scrapbooks' original order may be found in the collection.  The records are divided into five series:  Administrative material, Events, Historical and biographical material, and Scrapbooks.

The Events series (1984-1996 and undated) includes material relating to the organization's production of two plays, For Colored Girls who have considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf and The Wiz.  A folder of miscellaneous material includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, a certificate, programs, and photographs that chronicle events for which there is little directly related material throughout the rest of the series.  This folder also contains newspaper clippings that describe United Sisters' members' activities or involvement in community issues.  One folder of material relating to the 1988 Networking Together, Inc., Conference includes articles of incorporation, a draft of by-laws, and other documents that date from 1984.                                   

The Historical and biographical material  series (1987-1996 and undated) consists of background material pertaining to United Sisters, the YWCA of Black Hawk County, such as yearbooks, brochures, and newspaper articles.  Material relating to two members of the organization, Ruth Bluford Anderson and Billie Lloyd may be found in this series.  It includes a photograph dated 1990, which features then-Black Hawk County Supervisor Ruth Bluford Anderson participating in a parade.

Items in the Scrapbooks series (1987-1994 and undated) are arranged by the events which they document.  Some of the individuals who participated in the 1989 "Hats Off to Iowa Men" fashion show are identified; their names may be found in the box list.   Additional photographs of Ruth Bluford Anderson and Billie D. Lloyd may be found throughout the series.  A photograph of Mary Dickens, several of Essie Johnson Buls, and photographs of Almo Hawkins are also included.  The locations of these photographs may be found in the box list.
Ruth Bluford Anderson papers (IWA)
Mary Dickens papers (IWA)
Billie Lloyd papers (IWA)

Browse by Series:
Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE MATERIAL
Series 2: EVENTS
Series 3: HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL
Series 4: SCRAPBOOKS (photocopies)

  • Series 1: ADMINISTRATIVE MATERIAL
  • Box 1:
  • Correspondence - 1988-1989
  • Financial records - 1988-1989
  • Minutes and related material - 1987-1988
  • Minutes and related material - 1989-1990
  • Networking Together, Inc. - 1988-1989
  • United Teens of Black Hawk County - 1988-1991
  • Series 2: EVENTS
  • Box 1:
  • Black History and Cultural Fair - 1991 and 1993
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1989
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1990
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1991
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1992-1993
  • Iowa Women of Color Conference - 1988
  • Iowa Women of Color Conference - 1989
  • Iowa Women of Color Conference - 1990
  • Iowa Women of Color Conference - 1992-1993
  • Miscellaneous activities - 1986-1993 and undated
  • Miss Black Iowa Scholarship Pageant - 1988-1989
  • Miss Black Iowa Scholarship Pageant - 1988-1989
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1984-1988
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1989-1990
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1991
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1993
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1994
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference - 1996
  • Plays - 1989-1990
  • Series 3: HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 2:
  • United Sisters - 1987-1996 and undated
  • YWCA of Black Hawk County - 1990-1992 and undated
  • Ruth Bluford Anderson and Billie Lloyd - 1988-1990 and undated
  • Series 4: SCRAPBOOKS (photocopies)
  • Box 2:
  • 1986-1988
  • 1989-1990
  • Black History and Cultural Fair - 1991-1992
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1989
    Includes photographs of:

    Carver, Don

    Elliot, Mitch

    Garza, Rudy

    Lowe, Russell

    Prideaux, Mike

    Pugh, Charles

    Shipman, Bob

    Shook, Roger

    Shoultz, Don
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1990
    Includes photographs of Ruth Bluford Anderson
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1990
  • Fashion show, "Hats Off to Iowa Men" - 1992
  • Iowa Women of Color Conference - 1989
    Includes photos of Ruth Bluford Anderson, Buls, Esie Johnson

    Dickens, Mary

    Hawkins, Elmo

    Lloyd, Bille

    Middleton, Rosalyn

    Smith, Robert

  • Miscellaneous activities - 1989-1994 and undated
    Includes photographs of:

    Anderson, Ruth Bluford

    Buls, Esie Johnson

    Dickens, Mary

    Hawkins, Elmo

    Lloyd, Bille

    Middleton, Rosalyn

    Smith, Robert

  • Miss Black Iowa Scholarship Pageant - 1988-1989
  • Networking Together, Inc. Conference (regional) - 1991-1994
  • Plays - 1989-1990
    Includes photographs of Essie Johnson Buls