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Mary T. O'Halloran Papers

Identifier: MsC-85

Scope and Contents

The Mary O'Halloran papers consist primarily of files from her time as a state legislator in the Iowa General Assembly from 1973 to 1978.


  • 1954-1978


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions. Materials are open for research.

Technical Access

Some content is recorded on media that requires special playback equipment for access and use. It may require the production of a listening or viewing copy. SC&UA staff will determine options for use on a case by case basis.

General Use, Reproduction, and Copyright Policies

Many items housed in the Rod Library Special Collections & University Archives, including unpublished images and manuscripts, may be protected by copyright, publication rights, trademarks, or model release rights which the library does not own and for which the library cannot grant permission or licensing. Materials currently under copyright are usually still available for research and limited reproduction under Fair Use laws. However, it is the sole responsibility of the patron to determine whether or not their use of a given material falls within Fair Use guidelines and to obtain permission for said use from the rightful copyright owner. If you are unsure where to begin, please consult the Copyright LibGuide. Please note that it is not the library's responsibility to locate or contact copyright holders for a patron, and neither the library nor library employees are responsible for copyright violations of the materials to which they facilitate research access.

Please see our full General Use and Service Policies for more information.

Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Mary O'Halloran was born on May 1, 1943, in Norfolk Nebraska, to James O'Halloran (1903-1960) and Leone Eby O'Halloran (1906-2001). She had four siblings, James Patrick (1926-1982), Joan Pettibone (b. 1928), Peggy Huntzinger (b. 1931), and Maureen McCormick (b. 1941). O'Halloran graduated from Ord Public High School in Ord, Nebraska, in 1961. That same year, the American Legion honored her with its Outstanding Young Woman Award. She began her college career at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1961. She then transferred to Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1962, where she received her bachelor's degree in history in 1966. She later did graduate work at Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa) and the University of Northern Iowa. During this same timeframe (1962-1970), O'Halloran was a nun in the order of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; she left the order before taking her final religious vows.

Following her college graduation, O'Halloran was parochial school teacher in Dubuque, Mason City, and Waukon (all in Iowa), teaching government and history. She also taught public school at Logan Junior High and Hoover Junior High, in Waterloo, Iowa. She also was the Catholic Student Cetner advisor at the University of Northern Iowa, where she also taught the course, "Theology of Women of the Church."

In 1972, O'Halloran took a leave of absence from the Waterloo School District to run for the Iowa General Assembly as a Democrat. She was elected State Representative for District 36 and was the first woman to be elected from that district. She was reelected in 1974 and 1976. While in the General Assembly, she served on the Iowa House's standing committee on Education, Natural Resources, and County Government. She was also on the Interim Land Use Study Committee, chaired the Democratic Caucus Task Force Committee on Education, and was assistant Democratic minority whip. She was elected to represent Iowa at the National Women's Political Caucus steering committee. She championed women’s rights, working on laws concerning credit discrimination, tax inequities, and rape, as well as discrimination in educational institutions, athletic programs, and curricula. O’Halloran was also an advocate for the environment and a leader in land use and energy legislation. She was instrumental in getting Iowa’s “bottle bill” passed, which established a deposit on bottles and cans. In 1978 she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to head the Midwest region of the Department of Energy, a position she held until Mr. Carter left office in 1981. She also was a member of the National Education Association, the Iowa State Education Association, the Waterloo Education Association, and the League of Women Voters. She organized the Black Hawk County Women's Political Caucus and was its first co-chairperson.


17.50 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Mary O’Halloran donated her papers to Special Collections and University Archives around 1979.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Library Associate David Hoing, July-September 2015; updated, September 8, 2015 (GP); last update, September 27, 2017 (dh). Linear feet count updated on August 7, 2017.

Mary T. O'Halloran Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collection Repository