Iowa Federation of Colored Women's Clubs

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The Iowa Federation of Colored Women's Clubs (IFCWC) was an umbrella organization serving African-American women's clubs in Iowa. The motto of IFCWC was "Sowing Seeds of Kindness," and the organization was affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women.[1] The club produced a journal called the Iowa Colored Woman.[2] IFCWC sent delegates to represent the state at national conventions and opportunities such as "Colored Women's day" at the 1939 New York World's Fair.[3] The IFCWC is also known for creating a black women's dormitory for the University of Iowa before the school was fully integrated.


The IFCWC was created in May 1902[4] and was at first known as the Iowa Association of Colored Women's Clubs.[5] The first convention met in Ottumwa with only a few women and their clubs attending.[6] The first president was Helen Downey.[7] By 1904, there were 300 women attending the annual conference and clubs from all cities large enough to support them sent representatives.[6] By 1914, the IFCWC represented 40 different African-American women's clubs in Iowa.[8] Also in that year, the IFCWC created a committee dedicated to women's suffrage, which was headed by Teresa Adams.[5]

In 1912, it was proposed by the president of IFCWC, Mrs. J.B. Rush, that a home for black working women be established.[9] In 1919, the IFCWC purchased a home, known later as the "Federation Home," at 942 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City.[10] White neighbors protested the sale of a house to African Americans, successfully demanding that the lot's price be reassessed, causing IFCWC to pay more money for their purchase.[11] In 1934, the home was renamed "Sue Brown Hall" after a prominent member of the IFCWC.[12] The home allowed black women who wanted to attend the University of Iowa to have a place to stay, since they were not allowed in the dorms until 1947.[13] The home closed in 1950.[10] The building is protected as a local landmark in Iowa City.[14]



  1. ^ Breaux 2002, p. 238.
  2. ^ "Afro-American Happenings". The Des Moines Register. 18 January 1910. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  3. ^ "Mason City Woman Elected Leader of Colored Group". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. 29 June 1939. Retrieved 16 May 2017 – via
  4. ^ "A Colored 'Fed'". The Minneapolis Journal. 26 April 1902. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  5. ^ a b "Women's Suffrage in Iowa: An Online Exhibit". Iowa Women's Archives. The University of Iowa Libraries. 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Honor Mrs. Horace Graves". The Des Moines Register. 3 June 1904. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  7. ^ "The Author". The Pittsburgh Courier. 27 April 1940. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  8. ^ "Iowa Women's Federation". The Bystander. 29 May 1914. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  9. ^ "Colored Girls' Home to Be Built". The Des Moines Register. 31 May 1912. Retrieved 15 May 2017 – via
  10. ^ a b "African American Women Students at the University of Iowa 1910-1960". The University of Iowa Libraries. 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  11. ^ Breaux 2002, p. 242.
  12. ^ Breaux 2002, p. 239.
  13. ^ Boylan, Peter (18 April 2001). "This Old House: An Isle of Pride, Acceptance". Daily Iowan. Retrieved 16 May 2017 – via University of Iowa Libraries.
  14. ^ Arnold, Madison (21 January 2017). "Two Historic University of Iowa Dorms Receive Civil Rights Grant". The Gazette. Retrieved 16 May 2017.


  • Breaux, Richard M. (Spring 2002). "'Maintaining a Home for Girls': The Iowa Federation of Colored Women's Clubs at the University of Iowa, 1919-1950". The Journal of African American History. 87: 236–255. doi:10.2307/1562465. JSTOR 1562465.

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