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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Arlene Jens papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1962-2006
Creator: Jens, Arlene (1926-)
Extent: 1.25 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0499
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Nurse, abortion rights activist and educator from Fairfield, Iowa.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 1.

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. 866) were donated by Arlene Jens in 2002.

Preferred Citation: Arlene Jens papers, 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

Arlene Johnson Jens, nurse, activist and educator, was born in 1926 to Elmer and Edith Edmund Johnson on a farm near Fairfield, Iowa. Johnson had two brothers and the family enjoyed discussing religion and politics. Some of Arlene Johnson's female relatives participated in the women's suffrage movement before she was born. As a child she enjoyed reading, writing, politics and taking care of animals. Johnson graduated from Fairfield High School in 1943 and attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Desiring to participate in the war effort, she transferred to the nursing cadet program at Moline Lutheran Hospital in 1944 and graduated in 1947.

In 1947 Johnson married Wayne Jens and the couple moved to Davenport. She briefly worked as a general duty nurse at St. Luke's hospital in Davenport before having two sons. In the 1950s and 1960s, Arlene Jens did not work full-time as a nurse, but she became active in her church and the Parent Teacher Association, taught First Aid for the American Red Cross and volunteered at a cerebral palsy school. In the summers of 1966 through 1969 she worked as a Campfire Girls summer camp nurse. In her spare time she wrote poetry.

Jens ran unsuccessfully for state legislator three times, in 1968, 1970 and 1976, and worked as a legislative assistant during 1970-1971. In the early 1970s (prior to Roe v. Wade ) she lobbied the state legislature on behalf of the Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion to repeal the state codes forbidding birth control and abortion. She became involved in the statewide debate concerning the plans of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to implement sex education programs in public schools in every state. In this time period, Jens was active in organizations such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood, where she was an advocate for birth control, sex education and abortion rights.

In 1972 Jens became the director for nursing at the Davenport Lutheran Home for the Aged, and later held several positions in nursing homes in eastern Iowa. Jens enrolled in the Nursing Home Administrator class at the Des Moines Area Community College in 1977 after a new law made this a required course for nursing administrators. She became an in-service and workshop provider in the area of nursing home policies and procedures for Eastern Iowa Community College. Jens retired in 1998.

The Arlene Jens papers date from 1962 to 2006 and measure 1.25 linear feet. The papers are arranged in three series: Biographical Information, Reproductive Rights, and Nursing Home In-services and Education.

The Biographical Information series (2002-2006) includes autobiographical writings and one photograph of Jens.

The Reproductive Rights (1966-1992) series contains topical files concerning Jens' activism for women's and reproductive rights, including materials from both sides of the abortion debate. The items in the series include newspaper clippings, pamphlets, booklets, flyers, and form letters from the following groups: the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion, the Iowa Abortion Rights Action League, National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (later the National Abortion Rights Action League), the Association for the Study of Abortion, the Christian Action Foundation, the Patriotic Women's Club of Iowa, Iowans for L.I.F.E., Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the National Right to Life Committee and Right to Life of Scott County.

The Nursing Home In-service and Education series (1966-1985) includes materials related to Jens' career. The topical files are in Jens' original order, and include her notes, outlines, handouts and related publications for the in-service sessions she conducted in nursing homes across eastern Iowa. Most of her in-services addressed the care of the elderly, nursing home policies, laws, and professional issues for nurses and aides. The series concludes with materials from a course Jens took in the late 1970s on nursing home administration that started her career as an educator in the field.
Edith Edmund Johnson papers (IWA): Mother of Arlene Jens.
 
NARAL of Iowa records (IWA): Jens was active in this organization originally called the Iowa Abortion Rights Action League.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Series 2: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Series 3: NURSING IN-HOME SERVICES AND EDUCATION

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
  • Box 1:
  • Biographical information - 2002-2006
  • Fancy Work Circle:
  • Fancy Work Circle: Minutes (folder 1) - 1922-1975
  • Fancy Work Circle: Minutes (folder 2) - 1922-1975
  • Fancy Work Circle: Minutes (folder 3) - 1922-1975
  • Fancy Work Circle: Minutes (folder 4) - 1922-1975
  • Fancy Work Circle: Yearbooks - 1929-1960
  • Good Cheer Society:
  • Good Cheer Society: Anniversary - 1976
  • Good Cheer Society: Newspaper articles - 1976 and 1978
  • Good Cheer Society: Photographs - 1967, 1971, 1976
  • Good Cheer Society: Scrapbook - 1967-1978
    [photocopy]
  • Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club:
  • Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club: Newspaper articles - 1976
  • Lutheran Church Women's Quilting Club: Photographs - 1971
  • Series 2: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
  • Box 1:
  • Abortion newspaper clippings - 1975-1976
  • Birth control and abortion - 1966-1970
  • Birth control and abortion - 1966-1970
  • Equal Rights Amendment - 1992
  • Fundamentalism and abortion - 1968-1969
  • Iowa Abortion Rights Action League (folder 1) - 1979-1982
  • Iowa Abortion Rights Action League (folder 2) - 1979-1982
  • Iowa Association for Medical Control of Abortion - 1969-1971
  • Iowa Commission on the Status of Women - 1976-1977
  • Right to Life - 1981
  • Sex education - 1966-1969
  • Series 3: NURSING IN-HOME SERVICES AND EDUCATION
  • Box 1:
  • Publications: Family Crisis! by Howard Whitman - 1966
  • Publications: How to Put Joy into Geriatric Care by Nancy Littell Fox - 1978
  • Publications: Residents' Rights, American Health Care Association - 1984
  • Publications: Sex Education and the Mentally Retarded, by Roger Blue - 1974
  • Letter to the editor - 1978
  • Death and dying - 1980
  • Activity talk - 1973
  • Health talk - 1974
  • Infection control - 1982
  • Burnout - 1982
  • Burnout, 1 hour - 1980
  • Box 2:
  • Burnout for inservice, distribution material, undated
  • Listening skills, undated
  • Legal aspects of nursing, undated
  • Nursing home law handbook - 1975
  • Patients' rights, undated
  • Residents' rights, undated
  • Care of confused resident, undated
  • Depression, undated
  • Embryology of human behavior - 1980
  • Attitudes: Kaleidoscope - 1980
  • Care of mentally handicapped - 1981
  • Care plan for the elderly - 1974
  • Employee attitudes, undated
  • Housekeeping - 1981
  • Physical aspects of aging - 1977
  • Checklist: nursing home priorities, undated
  • Nursing home consumer pays for what? undated
  • Human sexuality, undated
  • The senior citizen, undated
  • Insights into nursing homes - 1975
  • Analyses of Medicare - 1965
  • Sexuality, undated
  • Checklists, undated
  • Aide seminar - 1977
  • Resident and his care, undated
  • Care plan for elderly - 1974
  • Health care facilities, Bill Senate File 324
  • Crisis of old age - 1974
  • History of elderly, nursing home, undated
  • Nursing practice act and bills - 1976
  • Nursing home checklist - 1985
  • Positive and negative attitudes, undated
  • Workshop: insights, undated
  • Insights into nursing home workshop, - 1975
  • Communication skills - 1980
  • Kaleidoscope workshop - 1980
  • Nurse aide training - 1974
  • Documentation, charting - 1981
  • Care of mentally handicapped, undated
  • Box 3:
  • Legal aspects of residents' rights, undated
  • Intermediate care facility state rules and regulations, undated
  • Nursing home administration course, - 1977-1978