African American/Black@Iowa

Historical scholarly records and collections




  • Sexing the Colorlines: Black Sexualities, Popular Culture, and Cultural Production

    A special issue of Poroi with selected papers presented at the symposium “Sexing the Colorlines,” which took place on November 16, 2009 at the University of Iowa.

  • Edna Griffin Papers

    The Iowa Women's Archives contains thousands of documents related to the lives of African American Women in Iowa. Among those documents are the Edna Griffin Papers - a collection of photographs, interviews, newspaper clippings related to the life of this remarkable Iowan and civil rights activist. The collection also includes her FBI file from 1948 to 1951, which you can help transcribe at DIY History.

  • Iowans Return to Freedom Summer, Patti Miller

    Patti Miller's engrossing 2015 documentary Iowans Return to Freedom Summer, looks at a group of Iowan students who participated in 1964's Freedom Summer. Ms. Miller was a student at Drake University at the time and was joined in her efforts by notable University of Iowa student Stephen Smith and professor emeritus Shelton Stromquist.

  • “Another layer of blackness,” Patrick B. Oray

    Patrick B. Oray's 2013 dissertation, "Another layer blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, identity in U.S. black public sphere," takes a more granular look at the construction of race in America with particular emphasis on migration and immigration.

  • Adam Matthew Digital Collections

    The UI Libraries has purchased an array of Adam Matthew digital scholarly collections for use by its patrons. The collections' materials (letters, newspapers, government files, journals, oral histories, and more) help give voice to the historical record of race relations in region and global contexts.

  • “Queen of the Campus,” Dora Martin Berry Interview

    In the winter of 1955, 17-year-old Dora Lee Martin won the title Miss State University of Iowa (as the UI was then called). While winning this contest, based on female nominations and male votes, was uncommon enough for a freshman, Martin's status as the first African American student to be awarded such an honor gained media attention all over Iowa, across the country and around the world.

  • “Crossover narratives,” Eric David Johnson

    Eric David Johnson's 2012 dissertation examines the idea of "authenticity" in various kinds of musical genres. He looks to the years between 1935 and 1965 and jazz, Afro-Carribbean musical forms, and blues revivalism to gain an understanding of how the stories we tell ourselves socially and culturally about what is and is not real African American music get told.

  • “The hip-hopsploitation film cycle,” Aaron Dickinson Sachs

    Aaron Dickinson Sachs's 2009 dissertation looks at mid-1980s hip-hop and its entrance into the landscape of national popular culture and the complications of appropriation and representation.

  • “Tending to the past” by Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza

    In the 2014 dissertation “Tending to the past: the historical poetics of Joy Harjo and Natasha Trethewey” the author Eloisa Valenzuela-Mendoza compares two historical poets to help show the importance of the lived experience in establishing the cultural history of the United States of America. Both Joy Harjo and Natasha Trethewey engage in individual projects

  • “Spike Lee’s Phantasmagoric Fantasy and the Black Female Sexual Imaginary in She Hate Me,” Deborah Whaley

    Deborah Whaley’s 2011 article, “Spike Lee’s Phantasmagoric Fantasy and the Black Female Sexual Imaginary in She Hate Me,” explores the sexual politics in the 2004 film, asserting that while Lee purports to challenge normative assumptions of black female sexuality, he actually reinforces and reifies conservative sexual and family values.   On the surface, this film

  • Patrobus Cassius Robinson college scrapbook, 1923-1928

    Patrobus Cassius Robinson was an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa from 1923-1928. His memory book of college life depicts his life through snapshots with classmates and thoughts from his friends and acquaintances.

  • Tight Spaces, Kesho Scott et al.

    A tri-autobiography, Tight Spaces shares the remarkable stories of three women (and UI students): Kesho Scott, Cherry Muhanji, and Egyirba High. Their stories and essays examine the social and physical geographies of the Midwest and the place of race, class, age, gender, and sexuality within them. These "tight spaces" are opened and explored, fleshed out and felt, in the sensitive, wry, and determined voices of the book.

  • “Muchakinock: African Americans and the Making of an Iowa Coal Town,” Pam Stek

    In the early 1880s, recruitment of African American miners to Mahaska County led to the development of a community that would become a thriving settlement, home to black miners, merchants, and professionals. The coal camp of Muchakinock, Iowa, which flourished for about 20 year s during the late nineteenth century, was an unusual community for that time in the state’s history.

  • “End the Autocracy of Color,” Keisha N. Blain

    In her ongoing exploration of black internationalism, Professor Keisha N. Blain profiles African American journalist John Q. Adams for the University of Exeter's Centre for Imperial and Global History blog.

  • Morris Family Papers Archival Collection & James Morris Digital Collection

    The Morris Family Papers collection in the University of Iowa Libraries – University Archives follows the academic and professional lives of two generations of Iowans.

  • A study of the experiences of Black college female student athletes at a predominantly White institution

    The purpose of this study was to gather descriptive data on the experiences of Black female student athletes. A better understanding of the experiences of Black female student athletes as students, as athletes, and as developing young women may help student affairs practitioners better understand their collegiate experience; provide them with information to make decisions

  • Althea Beatrice Moore Smith scrapbook, 1924-1928

    Althea "Bee" Moore was an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa (then known as the State University of Iowa) from 1924 to 1928. Very active socially, the scrapbook's collection of photographs, clippings, invitations and concert programs reflect Moore's wide acquaintance among the African American community of Iowa in the 1920s.

  • “Shades of an urban frontier,” Robert Arthur Gillespie

    Robert Arthur Gillespie's 2015 dissertation looks at cities, science fiction literature and the place of race within them. Looking at urban expanses like Frank Herbert’s Arrakeen in Dune, Gillespie uses “two city typologies the ‘imperial city’ that reigns at the heart of sf’s many empires, and the empty metropolis of the ‘dead city’ or ‘ghost city.'"

  • Back to Buxton

    Eula Biss's creative essay explores efforts towards racial integration in an Iowa mining town and in an Iowa college town a hundred years later.

  • “Who do you think you are?”

    Dr. André Brock's 2009 POROI essay looks at Black identity in personal and online contexts. As he explores its impact on our understanding of identity, Brock also discusses ways in which the Internet facilitates the circulation and visibility of "formerly private spaces to non-Blacks."

  • Should Writers Use They Own English?

    Vershawn Young responds to an article in the New York Times by Stanley Fish which asserts there only one way to speak and write to get ahead in the world.

  • “Exodus of champions,” Daniel Lawrence Taradash

    Daniel Lawrence Taradash's 2015 dissertation looks at how popular heavyweight champions were shaped by the political and social environments of their time. Focusing on Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman, he explores the differences in opinion each man had regarding issues such as segregation and how they defined themselves against Ali’s largely ignored, hardline segregationist stance.

  • Sociocultural Influences on Undergraduate Students’ Conversations on Race at a Predominantly White Institution

    Dr. Sherri Edvalson's 2013 dissertation explores how students talk about race and what influences their views. Her focus on students from various racial backgrounds attending a small, private Midwestern university yields interesting results.

  • “Mediated constructions and lived experiences of place,” Robert Edward Gutsche Jr.

    This dissertation advances previous research on the journalistic interpretive community by placing news at the center of a community’s construction of place. By focusing on the construction of Iowa City, Iowa’s “Southeast Side” – neighborhoods home to predominantly newly arrived black residents from Chicago and other urban areas – this study identifies dominant news characterizations