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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Katy Gammack papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1976-2007
Creator: Gammack, Katy (1941-)
Extent: 2.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0749
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Multi-client lobbyist, co-publisher of "Money and Politics Iowa," and an advocate for women's rights.

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. 1069) were donated by Katy Gammack in 2006.

Preferred Citation: Katy Gammack 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

Kathryn "Katy" Elesa Gammack was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1941 to Gordon and Kathryn Gammack. Gordon Gammack was a long-time columnist for the Des Moines Tribune. Katy Gammack graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in 1959. Gammack studied political science at the University of Iowa from 1959 to 1961. Afterwards, she moved to New York, where she was an executive secretary at a bank.

In 1963, Katy Gammack married and moved to Liberia, where she lived for five years. During this period, she worked as an office manager for the J.G. White Engineering Company and founded the organization American Women in Liberia. From 1968 to 1971, she lived in South Africa, where she completed course work in French and psychology at the University of Port Elizabeth. Gammack later worked for a marriage counseling organization and sold maternity clothes to local stores. From 1971 to 1975, she lived in Australia, where she was employed by the Victoria National Gallery Society. In 1975, Katy Gammack and her daughter, Elesa, returned to the United States to live permanently in Des Moines. From 1976 to 1979, Gammack worked as a biofeedback facilitator for a clinical psychologist.

During the late 1970s, Katy Gammack's interests in politics, advocacy, and women's rights framed her professional life. In 1978, she ran as the Democratic nominee for State Representative in House District 59. After her defeat, Gammack began to work as a lobbyist and public affairs specialist for Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa. Gammack's personal experience with abortion fueled her advocacy for reproductive rights. In 1968, while living in South Africa with her husband, Gammack became pregnant. Three days after learning she was pregnant, Gammack learned that she had been exposed to German measles. She was unable to get a legal abortion because the South African government prohibited the procedure. The child was born three months premature and survived one day. Gammack's public support for reproductive rights later became a sticking point in her nomination for the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners. After she was appointed by Republican Governor Robert Ray to sit on the board in 1981, anti-abortion activists sought to block her nomination. Gammack's nomination was approved by the Iowa Senate and she served on the board for four years.

Gammack began to work as a contract lobbyist in Des Moines in 1982. Her clients included the Iowa Substance Abuse Program Directors, the Iowa Federation of Business and Professional Women, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Iowa. She taught clients how to develop legislative strategies, how to speak effectively to legislators, and how to form coalitions. During this period, she continued to serve as an advocate for women's rights, supporting efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Iowa and lobbying on behalf of abortion rights.

In 1996, Gammack began to co-publish a quarterly newspaper about the givers and recipients of political action committee money, PacFacts. In 1996, she co-founded and later served as the vice chair of Money & Politics in Iowa. The other co-founder, Joan Lucas, served as president of Money & Politics in Iowa. This non-profit organization collected, analyzed and disseminated information about the financial contributions to Iowa legislative candidates and executive department candidates from individuals, political action committees, and partisan groups. Money & Politics in Iowa published a quarterly newsletter. Gammack retired from the organization in 2001.

The Katy Gammack papers date from 1976 to 2007 and measure 2 linear feet. The papers are arranged in eight series: Biographical information, Campaigns, Iowa State Board of Medical Examiners, Iowa Freedom Foundation, Lobbying, Reproductive health, Money & Politics in Iowa, and Artifacts.

The Biographical information series (1976-2007) consists primarily of Gammack's professional records, including resumes, newspaper clippings about her work, and correspondence related to her employment.

The Campaigns series (1978-1984) includes photographs, brochures, and fundraising records from Gammack's 1978 campaign for the Iowa State House of Representatives and from other local, state, and national campaigns in the early 1980s.

The Iowa State Board of Medical Examiners series (1980-1984) includes the agendas and correspondence of the Board, which examined allegations of misconduct by Iowa physicians.

The Iowa Freedom Foundation series (1981-1983) consists of the administrative records and the newsletter of the Iowa Freedom Foundation, an organization that monitored the political activities of socially conservative groups in Iowa.

The Lobbying series (1981-1997) is comprised of newsletters, brochures, workshop handouts, and questionnaires distributed to Iowa legislators.  Notes from telephone conversations with lobbyists and legislators complete the series.

The Reproductive rights series (1977-2003) covers a range of women's health issues, including teenage pregnancy, abortion, and sexuality.  The records include workshop materials, literature on the potential harm of anti-abortion legislation, and organizational records from Iowa pro-choice organizations.

The Money & Politics in Iowa series (1996-2003) consists of administrative records and newsletters published by the organization.

The Artifacts series (ca. early 1980s) consists primarily of political campaign buttons.
Suzanne O'Dea papers

O'Dea's collection also includes materials from the Pro-Choice Political Action Committee.

Browse by Series:
Series 5: LOBBYING

  • Box 1:
  • Resumes and professional correspondence - 1979-1998
    [includes photograph]
  • Newspaper clippings - 1976-2007
  • Series 2: CAMPAIGNS
  • Box 1:
  • Gammack for State House (folder 1) - 1978
    [includes photographs]
  • Gammack for State House (folder 2) - 1978
  • Iowa campaign brochures - 1980
    [see also Box 6]
  • Iowa legislative candidates - 1984
  • Box 1:
  • Certificates - 1981, 1984
  • Box 2:
  • Agendas and correspondence - 1980-1981
  • Box 2:
  • Administrative records - 1981-1983
  • "Watch on the Right" newsletter - 1981-1983
  • New Right in Iowa - 1982
  • Series 5: LOBBYING
  • Box 2:
  • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) questionnaire - 1984
  • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) mailing lists - 1982, 1992
  • Iowa General Assembly lobbying lists - 1983-1985
  • Box 3:
  • "Iowa Political Hotline" newsletter - 1997-1998
  • Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center - 1984
  • Phone logs and Iowa General Assembly directories - 1981-1985
  • Political action committees (PACs) - 1981-1986
  • "Pac Facts" newsletter - 1996-1997
  • Workshop materials (folder 1) - 1981-1987
  • Workshop materials (folder 2) - 1981-1987
  • Box 4:
  • Workshop materials - 1984, 1992
  • Box 4:
  • Texas Association Concerned with School Age Parents and National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting - 1983-1990
  • Pro-choice literature - 1979-1992
  • Pro-choice Political Action Committee (PAC) - 1980-1985
  • Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa and Republicans for Choice - 1980-1985
  • Women's sexuality - 1977
  • Box 4:
  • Bylaws, board minutes, and grants - 1999-2000
    [removed from binder]
  • Administrative records (folder 1) - 1996-2002
    [removed from binder]
  • Administrative records (folder 2) - 1996-2002
  • Box 5:
  • Administrative records - 1998-2001
    [removed from binder]
  • The Joyce Foundation - 2000
    [removed from binder]
  • "Money & Politics in Iowa" newsletter - 1998-2003
  • Series 8: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 6:
  • Buttons
  • Anderson for President
  • Anderson-Lucey - 1980
  • Choice
  • Culver
  • Fitz
  • Garst, District Committeeman
  • I'm 4 Neal Smith
  • Immoral minority - 1980
  • Iowa Hawkeyes Rose Bowl - 1982
  • I Survived the 70th General Assembly
  • Kennedy - 1980
  • Let Dubuque Call Your Bluff
  • Mann for Senate
  • Marie Wilson for City Council
  • Min Lieutenant Governor
  • Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights
  • Szymoniak
  • Vote Yes ERA - 1980
  • Yes