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Edgerton Women's Health Center records

Identifier: MSS 399

Scope and Contents

The Edgerton Women's Health Center records, 1972-2016, contains administrative and financial records of the EWHC's board of directors, pamphlets and publications, newsletters, evaluations and patient surveys, educational materials, and other records related to the operation of the Edgerton Women's Health Center. The collection has been arranged into five series. There are no individual EWHC patient records in the collection.

Administrative records, 1972-2016, contains board member notebooks, meeting minutes, bylaws, reports, records of administrative audits, planning documents, fundraising documents, lease agreements, and other records related to the administration of the Edgerton Women's Health Center. Included in this series are records related to compliance with regional and national health care governing bodies, such as the Family Planning Council of Iowa and the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) program, and a folder of material on the dissolution of the EWHC in 2016.

Financial records, 1972-2014, includes financial reports, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms, grant documents, and proposals related to the financial operations and accounts of EWHC.

General records, 1972-2015, contains papers primarily relating to the general functions and operations of the clinic. Papers include correspondence, photographs, patient surveys, statistics, operating policies, newsclippings, and blueprints, wall hangings, and signage from the clinic's offices. Included are newsclippings related to the David McMenemeny terrorist attack in 2006, historical information on EWHC and Dow Edgerton, and materials from various events, anniversaries, and campaigns, including photographs of a dress and vest constructed of multicolored condoms for the center's teen pregnancy prevention campaign.

Community education and outreach, 1973-2014, contains materials related to the EWHC's various outreach and educational efforts. The bulk of these materials consists of pamphlets on various women's health concerns (such as childbirth, ovarian cancer, and nutrition) that were likely handed out to attendees at events or made available in the EWHC's offices for patients to reference. Also included are educational materials on Title X and the Affordable Care Act, presentation evaluations, pamphlets and brochures on EWHC services, training and planning materials created for clinic staff who presented community programming on women's health, and audiovisual materials. The audiovisual materials primarily include television commercials, advertisements, and informational segments about the EWHC, in addition to televised news reports and original commercial jingles.


  • Creation: 1972-2016


Language of Materials

English and Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

DM-0399/1 closed to researchers until 2166. Audiovisual materials may be inaccessible pending reformatting. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

The Edgerton Women's Health Center was founded largely through the efforts of Dr. W. Dow Edgerton in 1972. Originally called the Maternal Health Center, the clinic first operated out of a building called French Hall on the St. Luke's Hospital campus in Davenport, Iowa. This building had originally housed the hospital's nursing school. Edgerton founded the clinic with the goal that its patients "could go for healthcare and be treated as a complete person." Maternal Health Center primarily targeted low-income women and offered health care at reduced fees or on a sliding-scale basis, as these women had few options for reproductive and prenatal care unless they could travel to Iowa City, Iowa, approximately one hour away.

The Maternal Health Center offered basic family planning services, including insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs), pregnancy tests, and birth control counseling and prescriptions, as well as general gynecological care for women, such as pap smears, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and pelvic exams. Additionally, the center developed a strong community outreach program, offering programs on reproductive health topics (such as diaphragm insertion) to local women's groups as early as the 1970s. The clinic also partnered with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in 1974. This partnership was the first of its kind in Iowa. In 1975, Maternal Health Center began offering male and female sterilization services (primarily tubal ligation), and Edgerton himself performed approximately 8,000 of these procedures over the course of his career.

In 1985, St. Luke's Hospital decided to demolish French Hall, and the center moved to an office building in Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf, Iowa. By March 1993, both Maternal Health Center and the Scott County WIC program had outgrown their offices in Duck Creek Plaza, and the two clinics jointly opened second locations at Friendly House in West Davenport, Iowa. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Maternal Health Center struggled to keep enough obstetricians on staff to accommodate the number of women who requested prenatal care. The center often had to turn away patients due to a lack of doctors to handle deliveries. However, throughout this time, the center greatly increased its outreach to the community; in 1993 Maternal Health Center staff gave 302 presentations on women's health care to an audience of over 6,500 participants. Topics varied from lamaze classes to family planning and condom promotion. Outreach also began to target school children; the clinic partnered with Davenport Public Schools to teach sex education in the 1990s, and in 1997 the clinic launched an Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program, which used the slogan "don't let a hot date turn into a due date" and aimed to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in Scott County schools.

By January 2001, the Maternal Health Center board of directors decided to relocate the clinic again. The Duck Creek and Friendly House offices were consolidated to a newly constructed building on the campus of Genesis Hospital (which had subsumed St. Luke's Hospital in 1994) on East Rusholme Street in Davenport, Iowa, in July 2003. With the new move, the clinic was renamed Edgerton Women's Health Center (EWHC) in honor of Dr. Dow Edgerton.

Despite its growing popularity, in the 2000s the EWHC was confronted with various public misconceptions, such as a lack of "real" doctors on staff and an assumption that the clinic performed abortions (the EWHC had never performed abortions, but it did provide guidance for women who wanted information about seeking an abortion). EWHC attempted to overcome these misconception by mounting an intensive advertising campaign. In spite of this, on 11 September 2006, the clinic was the victim of a domestic terrorist attack. David Robert McMenemy of Wayne County, Michigan, drove his car into the central lobby of the clinic and set the car on fire, hoping to cause an explosion. Although the clinic's sprinkler system ultimately suppressed the fire, the attack caused $60,000 worth of damage, and recovery efforts took three months. McMenemy stated that he targeted EWHC because he thought it was an abortion clinic.

Following the terrorist attack, an anonymous foundation began funding EWHC's efforts, and because of this funding EWHC was able to subsidize the insertion of over 650 long acting reversible contraceptives (which were previously inaccessible to low-income women due to the devices' high costs) and reopen a small family planning clinic at its former Friendly House location in 2008.

After the Affordable Care Act of 2010 took effect in 2014, it became clear that the EWHC would struggle to find funding, as privately owned clinics were not favored over federally funded clinics under the new law. Since maintaining its mission would become prohibitively expensive, EWHC was sold to a larger federally funded medical organization, Community Health Care, Inc., in April 2016. From its patients' perspective, the clinic remained functionally unchanged, keeping the same providers, staff, services, and name; but the board of directors was disbanded following the sale.


6.4 Cubic Feet (/ 13 boxes, 1 AV box, 1 oversize box, and 1 oversize folder)


The Edgerton Women's Health Center, formerly the Maternal Health Center, was an obstetric and gynecological clinic in Davenport, Iowa, that provided women's health services, family planning advice, community education, and prenatal care from 1972 to 2016. The Edgerton Women's Health Center records, 1972-2016, contains administrative and financial records of the EWHC's board of directors, pamphlets and publications, newsletters, evaluations and patient surveys, educational materials, and other records related to the operation of the Edgerton Women's Health Center. The collection has been arranged into five series. There are no individual EWHC patient records in the collection.


Folders are arranged alphabetically within series. Most material within folders is arranged chronologically or according to the creator's original organization scheme. Original folder titles have been maintained when possible.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Annika O'Melia, May 2016.

Existence and Location of Originals

Award plaques in box 4 were photocopied and discarded due to preservation and space concerns. Original documents on DM-0399/1 Edgerton Women's Health Center flash drive containing personally identifiable patient information have been copied, redacted, printed, and added to relevant series within the collection.

Related Materials

Whalen, Kelly. Caring For Women: The Edgerton Women's Health Center. Rock Island, Ill. : East Hall Press, 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Samantha Crisp, May 2016.

Edgerton Women's Health Center records, 1972-2016.
Samantha Crisp
April 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States