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Iowa Women’s Lives: Letters and Diaries

One of the largest collections in DIY History, Iowa Women’s Lives brings together diaries, letters, and other documents connected to Iowa women. The collection spans two centuries and a range of interests and concerns. Among the materials featured are the papers of Ellen Mowrer Miller (1848-1922), wife of a Civil War veteran and farmer, who recorded her thoughts on a variety of topics including women’s suffrage:

“[A neighbor] is very hard against woman voting, ‘because, because’ was the only argument he could put forth. Was a little tickled at him in the evening, when it was a raining he said, ‘Well, Miss Mowrer, now how would you like to be out in the rain at a woman’s rights convention.’ ‘O,’ I said, ‘the rain is pure, it comes down from heaven you know, refreshes and serves all things.’” — Ellen Mowrer diary entry, 1869

Elsewhere you’ll find a trove of papers related to Eve Drewelowe, who in 1923 became the first person to receive an MA in art from the University of Iowa, earning the degree in Graphic and Plastic Arts by studying painting; and was one of the first people to receive such a degree in the nation. Her papers reveal a life spent inventing and reinventing her artistry and always in contact with creative energies nearly beyond the reach of words.

“From the very beginning I was going to be an artist. This knowledge is the very first recollection of the awareness I have of myself. It has ever been an inspiration! The germ of the idea apparently came into being with the lean, lanky infant on that April day, for as far as I know there has never been a beginning or an end to this desire that has permeated my whole being and coloured my whole existence.” – Eve Drewelowe’s journals volumes II and III, 1950s

From a Susan B. Anthony letter addressing the place of Iowa in the history of the Women’s Suffrage movement to quiet observations by Iowa Byington Reed. You’ll find personal struggles and public triumphs throughout the collection as it invites you to connect with the stories of these women.