A high school classmate I haven’t seen since high school (i.e. 41 years ago) who lives in Iowa City introduced me to a restaurant there – Crepes DeLuxe. It’s a charming little hole in the wall just east of the PedMall (and the public library). I recommend the salmon crepe. I also did a little shopping, finding a very warm hat/scarf at White Rabbit and some great clothes (Simpli brand!) on sale (albeit still pricey) at Textiles.
I also toured the U of Iowa Women’s Archives, on the third floor of the main library, which has a remarkable collection of papers, journals and memorabilia from Iowa women dating back to the 1800’s. Wandering through library shelves with archival boxes, glancing at the neat labels, I found everything from prominent politicians and philanthropists to rural/farm women, African-American women, Jewish women and Latinas in Iowa. Proud to say that someday, it will also include my journals, 73 and counting, which I’ve kept daily since I was 13. I really enjoyed looking at a farm woman’s journal from the 1880’s – with yellowed pages and faded ink. Her family wisely took it upon themselves to transcribe the journal for posterity onto crisp typed sheets. (Although I won’t be asking my family to follow suit…)
Opened in 1992 by Des Moines philanthropist/activist/feminist/art collector Louise Noun and Mary Chase Smith (an Iowan who chaired the Republican National Committee in the 1970s), the Women’s Archives is one of only a few in the country, I gather. Noun, a major art collector, sold one of her Frida Kahlo paintings for $1.65 million to endow the archive.
More from Wikipedia:
The idea was conceived by Noun in the 1960s while researching Strong-Minded Women: The Emergence of the Woman-Suffrage Movement in Iowa. To fund the archives, Noun sold Frida Kahlo‘s 1947 painting “Self-Portrait with Loose Hair” at Christie’s New York for 1.65 million dollars. The sale set a record for the most expensive work by a Latin American artist ever sold at auction. The painting was originally purchased by Noun for $85,000 in 1983. The University of Iowa Foundation undertook fundraising to contribute half a million dollars for the archives, which opened in 1992. The Louise Noun-Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives is open to the public and currently contains over 1100 manuscript collections of personal papers and records which record women’s history in Iowa and other communities.