Interview with Kären M. Mason


Documenting Women at Iowa

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Oral History



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University of Iowa


Kären M. Mason is Curator of the Louise Noun--Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women's Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries, a position she has held since the founding of the archives in 1992. Prior to coming to Iowa, she received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her M.A. in history from the University of Minnesota, and her Ph.D. in American History with a cognate in archival administration from the University of Michigan, where she also worked as an archivist at the Bentley Historical Library. In addition to her pathbreaking work in preserving women’s voices, Mason and University Archivist David McCartney curated an online exhibit entitled “LGBT Life in Iowa City, Iowa: 1967-2010″ in 2010. Here Kären Mason discusses the founding of the Iowa Women’s Archives. Mason highlights how Louise Noun and Mary Louise Smith’s unending drive to uncover and document the experience of women led to the creation of the archives. Not only did Noun and Smith pioneer archiving women in Iowa, but also their story includes the sale of Frida Kahlo’s 1947 painting “Self-Portrait with Loose Hair” for the Iowa Women’s Archives endowment.

Interviewers Danielle Hoskins and Katherine Massoth


Archiving Women at Iowa


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