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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Sondra Smith papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1965-2010
Creator: Sondra Smith (1948-)
Extent: 5.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0874
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Iowa Memorial Union catering manager and women's rights activist.

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. 1252) were donated by Sondra Smith in 2010.

Preferred Citation: Sondra Smith 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

Feminist and activist Sondra Smith (1948- ) began her career with the Iowa Memorial Union Food Service in 1977 as a temporary employee under a job training program for low-income women. Smith worked with the IMU catering service for decades, eventually becoming catering manager. In her role as Catering Manager, Smith designed and oversaw university events, including dedications Pappajohn Pavilion and Pomerantz Center dedications, the Sesquicentennial and Millennium celebrations, and the 2003 visit by President Clinton. She oversaw catering for special events at the university, from weddings to concerts by celebrities including Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, and Bon Jovi. As catering manager, Smith mentored female employees and advocated for flextime, pay equality, and greater benefits for working mothers. Smith served on the New Pioneer Co-Op's board of directors from 1992 to 1999, including two terms as president, and on the advisory board of the Emma Goldman Clinic. She was also a member of the Women's Liberation Front, as well as the Women's Resource and Action Center


She was active in democratic politics and the women's movement. As a working mother of three in the 1970s, she became a staunch advocate for affordable daycare. In 1970, she helped found Dum-Dum day care, a feminist childcare cooperative in Iowa City.

The Sondra Smith papers date from 1965-2010 and measure 5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, Women's Movement, Iowa Memorial Union Catering, Photographs, Artifacts, and Audiovisual.

The Biographical (1965-2005) series contains Smith's 1977 offer of employment with the Iowa Memorial Union food service, a letter from celebrity chef and University of Iowa patron Louis Szathmary, and a Press-Citizen article on Smith and her catering team.

The Women's Movement series (1968-1994) consists of numerous independent periodicals related to feminism, the 1970s women's movement of the 1970s, and handbooks on women's health. It contains records on the Dum-Dum Co-Operative Day Care Center, founded by members of the Iowa City Women's Liberation Front under the B.O.S.S. (Bitches Out to Stomp Sexism) Manifesto, which advocated a radical feminist approach to class, race, and sexuality. B.O.S.S. required full participation and stressed that daycare for women and children must be controlled by women and children. Under constant government scrutiny, Dun-Dum conflicted with local and state authorities. It began in the basement of St. Paul's Church, and later occupied the University's Romance Language house, which led to the arrest of 17 people. The series includes manifestos, minutes, notes, and newspaper articles about Dum-Dum. It contains publications by independent press groups, Ain't I A Woman?, and The Birth Control Handbook, an independently published guide to sexual health and reproduction.

The Iowa Memorial Union Catering series (1970-2010) contains documents relating to the events Smith organized and supervised as Catering Manager. The materials are organized chronologically by event and range from major concerts to banquets, benefits, dedications, and celebrations. Also included are administrative documents such as department reviews, and professional correspondence.

The Photographs series (1965-2005) comprises photographs of Iowa Memorial Union events relating to Smith's catering work, including food displays, decorations, room arrangements, staff, and guests. Also included are personal photographs of Smith and her children, friends, and fellow women's rights activists.

The Artifacts series includes mugs, pins, and paperweights from the University of Iowa.
The Women's Resource and Action Center papers, Sondra Smith oral history.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
Series 2: WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
Series 3: IOWA MEMORIAL UNION CATERING
Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
Series 5: ARTIFACTS
Series 6: AUDIOVISUAL

  • Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 1:
  • General - 1965-2000
  • Series 2: WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
  • Box 1:
  • Dum-Dum Day Care (folder 1) - 1970-1972
  • Dum-Dum Day Care (folder 2) - 1970-1972
  • Dum-Dum Day Care press - 1970-1971
  • "The Iowa City Oppressed Citizen" - 1970
  • "Brother" - 1972
  • "Sweet 16 to Saggy 36"
  • "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"
  • "The Birth Control Handbook" - 1969
  • "The Feminist Women's Health Center Report" - 1977
  • "Ain't I A Woman?" - 1971-1973
  • Box 2:
  • Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC)
  • "Lesbians Speak Out"
  • "A Women's Poetry Reading"
  • "Middle Earth" and "Wheat Dreams"
  • "Welfare Rights Handbook for Aid to Dependent Children"
  • Miscellaneous Political and Social Issues - 1970-1994
  • Series 3: IOWA MEMORIAL UNION CATERING
  • Sub-Series: Administrative
  • Box 3:
  • Department review - 1970
  • Annual review - 1978-1979
  • Food service 1979-1980 - 1979-1980
  • Memos - 1979-1986
  • Department review - 1980
  • Hospitality & management programs - 1980-1981
  • Cornell professional development program - 1981-1983
  • Brochures - 1982
  • Annual review - 1987-1988
  • Box 4:
  • Big Ten food directors meeting - 1990
  • Sexual harassment policy - 1991-1994
  • Big Ten food directors meeting - 1993
  • "Board Job" essay - 1996
  • Big Ten managers meeting - 1996-1997
  • Staff excellence - 1999
  • Self-study - 1990-2000
  • IMU local food project - 2000
  • On-campus alcohol sales - 2000-2001
  • Iowa Memorial Union Catering graphics
  • Sub-Series: Events
  • Box 4:
  • Christmas buffet - 1966-1972
  • Iowa Memorial Union Stateroom - 1979-1987
  • Box 5:
  • Concerts - 1983-1986
  • Concerts - 1986-1987
  • Concerts - 1987
  • Concerts - 1990-1994
  • Box 6:
  • Scandinavian dinner - 1985
  • Food show - 1985-1989
  • Joffrey Ballet picnic - 1987
  • Kickoff - 1987
  • Women Against Racism - 1987
  • Onyx and Gold ball - 1989
  • Women's Resource and Action Center - 1989-1991
  • Picnic on the Plaza - 1990
  • Alchon Foundation - 1991
  • Emma Goldman Clinic benefit - 1991-1995
  • President's Club - 1992
  • Pappajohn dedication - 1993
  • Box 7:
  • Ivy awards - 1993-1994
    Includes photographs
  • University of Iowa foundation - 1994-1995
  • Sesquicentennial - 1995
  • Pomerantz - 1996
  • Levitt banquet - 1996-1998
  • Alumni Levitt center - 1998
  • Titanic dinner - 1998
  • Box 8:
  • Millennium event - 1999
  • Carver dinner - 2002
  • Levitt lecture--Thomas Friedman - 2002
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sub-Series: Correspondence
  • Box 9:
  • Correspondence (folder 1) - 1979-1989
  • Correspondence (folder 2) - 1990-1994
  • Correspondence (folder 3) - 1995-1999
  • Correspondence (folder 4) - 2000-2010
  • Menus and Services
  • Series 4: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 10:
  • Personal
  • Professional (folder 1)
  • Professional (folder 2)
  • Box 11:
  • Professional (folder 3)
  • Box 12:
  • Professional (folder 4)
    Also located in Map Case
  • Box 13:
  • IMU Catering scrapbook
  • Box 14:
  • Framed photographs
  • Series 5: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 15:
  • 04-05 Iowa Football glass
  • Iowa Memorial Union Mug
  • University of Iowa Health Care paperweight
  • University of Iowa College of Business Mug
  • Kinnick Society Mug
  • Pins
  • Iowa Law School Foundation Napkin Rings
  • Series 6: AUDIOVISUAL
  • Box 16:
  • Videotape-'Billboard Prince'
  • Videotape-'Wine and Food'
  • Slides-IMU Food Service
  • Floppy disk

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.