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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Ruby's Pearl (Iowa City, Iowa) records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 2001-2005
Creator: Ruby's Pearl (Iowa City, Iowa)
Extent: 10.00 linear inches.
Collection Number: IWA0549
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Ruby's Pearl, a feminist sex store, was a hub for feminist and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) activism.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Box 2.

Access: The papers are open for research. See donor file for photocopying restrictions.

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

Acquisition: The records (donor no. 974) were donated by Laura Crossley in 2005.

Preferred Citation: Ruby's Pearl (Iowa City, Iowa) 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

Ruby´s Pearl was a feminist sex store in Iowa City, Iowa, from 2001 to 2005. The store was co-founded by Laura Crossley and Kymbyrly Koester. Other co-owners included Heather Daggett and Gypsy Dolgos. According to Daggett, "The idea behind the store was to have a positive, clean, fun environment to buy sex toys. To have an alternative place for women to buy fun stuff in a shop that´s not creepy." In addition to selling sex toys, videos, alternative feminine hygiene products, clothing, zines, and feminist literature, the store served as a venue for art shows and workshops. The owners claimed it was one of only seven feminist sex shops in the United States.

Ruby´s Pearl was a hub for feminist and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) activism. The store held workshops on topics ranging from body image and tampon safety to hate crimes and safe sex education. Ruby´s Pearl frequently co-sponsored events with local non-profit and service organizations, such as the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, Emma Goldman Clinic, Women´s Resource and Action Center, I-CARE AIDS Coalition, and the UI GLBT Union.

Ruby´s Pearl closed on March 26, 2005, due to financial troubles. Crossley explained that the relocation of the store, the weak economy, and consumers´ preference for purchasing sex toys on-line contributed to the store´s demise.

The Ruby's Pearl records date from 2001 to 2005 and measure 10 linear inches. The records consist of advertisements, business records, newspaper clippings, personal letters, and photographs. These records also include "Ask Ruby," a sex advice column that ran in a local newspaper, Little Village, in 2004. This collection contains pamphlets, posters, and articles that are critical of the safety of tampons. Additionally, this collection includes rental lease agreements, store signs, props, and flyers for feminist and GLBT events.
Emma Goldman Clinic records (IWA).

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Administration
  • Advertisements
  • Artwork
  • "Ask Ruby"
  • Correspondence
  • Events, non-Ruby's Pearl
  • Events, Ruby's Pearl
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) materials
  • Health information
  • Litle Village - 2001-2002
  • Love Your Body event, October 15 - 2003
  • Newspaper and magazine clippings - 2001-2005
  • Poster and signs
    [shelved in map case]
  • Box 2:
  • Tampon safety
  • Volunteer training information
  • Volunteer training book
  • Zines
  • Photo album (folder 1)
    [removed from binder] [see donor file for photocopying restrictions]
  • Photo album (folder 2)
    [removed from binder] [see donor file for photocopying restrictions]
  • Photographs (folder 1)
    [folder 2 shelved in map case]
  • Photographs (folder 2)
  • Artifacts