March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this Sunday (March 7) Ames Public Library will be hosting a panel discussion related to this year’s theme of women in the media. The panel will be exploring the historical, current and future role for women in the media (for a more detailed description of this event, visit here). I thought that this would be a good opportunity to highlight a collection the department holds which fits very well into this theme, the Women in Communications, Inc. Ames Professional Chapter (Iowa) Records. Women in Communications is a professional organization for women journalists, and includes university and college chapters across the country. Both Ames and ISU had chapters. The collection here at ISU is a small window into a professional women’s organization in the early part of the twentieth century, and how such an organization developed and eventually disappeared for various reasons.
Women in Communications, originally called Theta Sigma Phi, is a national organization for women in journalism and communications, now called The Association for Women in Communications. The Iowa State Omicron Chapter of Theta Sigma Phi was founded January 11, 1918. It was the first chapter in Iowa and the fifteenth in the nation. Members of the Omicron Chapter were writers for many of ISU’s publications. Later the Ames Professional Club was formed by alumni of the ISU organization. The Ames and ISU groups often collaborated together. Included in the collection are annual reports and news clippings which give summaries of the activities and issues the groups experienced. There is also a folder with correspondence and a brief survey from the 1940s with graduates of the Omicron Chapter. These reveal some of the writing and journalism activities of former members since graduation.
And now to get to a link, although a small one, between this collection and the international part of International Women’s Day. Although a quick perusal of the collection failed to reveal a direct link between women in the media on an international scale, there is a folder on a publicity clinic the Omicron Chapter put on in 1957 about public relations. Their luncheon theme was Let’s Get Oriented!, and the menu consisted of Asian cuisine. One kind of find I enjoy in looking through archival collections is finding items pictured in a photograph in the collection itself, and this collection has at least one example of this. Pictured above are attendees at the clinic, one of whom is holding the luncheon flier. Two of the fliers from this luncheon are also in the folder, including recipes for the lunch (some of which are pictured in the photograph above)!
To find out more about the contents of the collection or the history of the organizations, please see the online finding aid: MS-35.