Migration is Beautiful is a digital humanities project drawn from the holdings of the Mujeres Latinas collections preserved in the Iowa Women’s Archives in the University of Iowa Libraries. The Migration is Beautiful website highlights the journeys Latinas and Latinos made to Iowa and situates the contributions of Latino communities within a broader understanding of Iowa’s history of migration and civil rights activism.
In its title and imagery Migration is Beautiful echoes the spirit and work of American artist Favianna Rodriguez. In Rodriguez's art, the monarch butterfly symbolizes migration as a natural occurrence of central importance to the human experience through time and space. Each year, the monarch butterfly begins its journey in the Michoacán region of central Mexico, a key point of departure for many early twentieth-century Mexican immigrants to Iowa and the Midwest. Like the monarch butterfly, their migration al norte was often circular and multi-generational.
Migration is Beautiful developed from the Mujeres Latinas Project, which started in 2005 at the Iowa Women’s Archives to collect and preserve primary source materials about the history of Latinas and their families in Iowa. Between 2005 and 2007, UI students and staff recorded over 100 oral history interviews for the Mujeres Latinas Project. In addition to donating their oral histories, many Latino families generously donated letters, memoirs, and photographs to the Iowa Women’s Archives. By combining these materials with historical sources, we can begin to fill gaps in the historical record. A new narrative emerges that integrates the contributions of Latinas and their families into Iowa history.
In 2015, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Roger Rocha Jr., visited the Iowa Women's Archives and invited IWA staff to bring a display of Iowa Latina history to the national LULAC convention in Washington, D.C. The Migration is Beautiful website was launched at the convention in July 2016.