LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library

On Iowa’s Hottest Snail Mail

Today, we get to celebrate that our snail mail in the form of history-by-letters travels to over 100 individual readers from around the country and more than 20 organizations within Iowa and out!

What are the history-by-letters you ask? They are a monthly mailing that we send out from our home in Iowa City wide and far through the United States Postal Service. Each history-by-letter covers one single topic related to Iowa’s LGBTQ past – whether a biography, an organizational history, or a narrative of events and movements of our state. They offer a handwritten and legible, short, footnoted narrative to all of our readers inviting people to learn, know, and share Iowa’s queer history.

What is abundantly clear is that people are not keeping these letters to themselves and they are shared among households, friends, and organizations. We cannot fathom how many people are learning about the breadth and beauty of Iowa’s queer past through these letters!

Don’t worry, we’re always happy to send more mail and you can sign up any time to have Iowa’s LGBTQ history right at your door!. Most amazing is that these letters currently travel to 22 different cities in Iowa and to cities in 20 different states. The reach of these letters is wider than we had ever imagined, so we had to map it:

The reach of our history-by-letters sharing Iowa’s LGBTQ history across the U.S.

We footnote the letters to invite people to explore historical sources, relevant books, and offer avenues to engage our collection. Each book we cite can be found in our library catalog for people to learn more on the subject at hand. Central to our mission at the LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library is educating people about Iowa’s queer past and the history-by-letters are one accessible vehicle for us to do this work, especially during a pandemic.

Oh, and have we mentioned the vintage postage yet?

History-by-letters are free to our readership. We do not believe that our history should be barricaded behind a paywall and therefore inaccessible. We suggest a $2 monthly donation to cover postage, photocopies, and supplies – but the goal is simply to offset the production costs now that we mail out so many. We also sell full runs of our previous letters for $10 to cover supplies and support future mailings. Click here to sign-up for future mailings and/or buy our back issues package.

Know that these mailings are a celebration of Iowa’s past that has always included queer life and they are our love letters to all LGBTQ Iowans – past, present, and future.


120 N. Dubuque St.
Wesley Center – Lower Level
Iowa City, IA 52245

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PO Box 2779
Iowa City, IA 52244

(319) 512-5615

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