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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Patricia Harper papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1986-2003
Creator: Harper, Patricia (1932-)
Extent: 10.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0510
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Iowa State Representative and Senator who served in the legislature from 1987 to 2002.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 2.

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. 884) were donated by Patricia Harper in 2003.

Preferred Citation: Patricia Harper 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

Former Iowa State Representative and Senator, Patricia Harper, was born December 4, 1932 in Cresco, Iowa to parents Martha Gossman Mullaney and Patrick Mullaney. Patricia Mullaney attended Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) and graduated in 1954. Also in that year, Patricia Harper married and divorced James Harper. Their daughter Susan was born in 1954. Harper received her master's degree from Iowa State Teachers College in 1961. She later took graduate coursework at Iowa State University, The University of Northern Iowa, The University of Iowa, and Columbia University in New York.

Before running for state office in 1986, Patricia Harper was a math and science high school teacher in Iowa and Minnesota. The majority of her teaching career was spent in Waterloo, Iowa. She also taught math at the University of Northern Iowa. A Democrat, Harper served as State Representative for Iowa House District 26 from 1987 to 1990 and 1992 to 1996. She retired from politics in 1996, but when a Senate seat in her district was vacated in 1997, Harper ran and won the District 13 seat. In 2002, Harper retired from the Iowa State Senate. Throughout Harper's time as Iowa Representative and Senator, she was an advocate for human services and educational issues. Matters concerning the mentally ill, the elderly, and the poor were also of great importance to her during her state service.

The Patricia Harper papers date from 1986 to 2003 and measure 10 linear inches. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical, Campaigns, Legislative, and Photographs.

The Biographical series (1988-2002) contains a 1988 legislative profile on Harper, an oral history interview conducted by Suzanne Schenken in 1992, and correspondence related to her retirement from the Iowa State Senate in 2002.

The Campaigns series (1986-1998) holds material from all of Harper's campaigns, including her one unsuccessful run for Representative in 1990. Campaign fliers, fundraising material, correspondence, and newspaper articles are included.

The Legislative series (1988-2002) contains information regarding all the bills Harper sponsored while in office and newspaper clippings relating to her service with the Iowa State Legislature. Also included is correspondence concerning Duane Brant, a prisoner in Harper's district seeking to have his life sentence reduced.

The Photographs series (1987-2002) contains photos of Harper throughout her campaigns and work as State Representative and Senator. Included are photos of Harper with Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, Terry Branstad and other Iowa state legislators.
Political Dialogue: Iowa's Women Legislators (IWA):  Includes a copy of Suzanne Shencken's interview with Harper.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Resume - 1992
  • Interviews - 1988, 1992
  • Retirement - 2002
  • Series 2: CAMPAIGNS
  • Box 1:
  • Iowa House District 26 (six folders) - 1986-1998
  • Series 3: LEGISLATIVE
  • Box 2:
  • Bills: "My First" (five folders) - 1989-2002
  • Correspondence with Duane Brant (two folders) - 1995-2003
  • Newspaper clippings (two folders) - 1987-2002
  • Miscellaneous, undated
  • Related publications - 1997-2003
  • Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 2:
  • General - 1988-2000