DES MOINES, Iowa – As Iowa commemorates its 175th anniversary of statehood this year, the State Historical Society of Iowa is taking a deeper dive into the state’s past during Iowa History Month, beginning March 1. Gov. Kim Reynolds kicked off the month with an official proclamation, noting key milestones dating back to Iowa’s entry into the Union in 1846.
Highlights of the month-long celebration include a new museum exhibition, a statewide book club, at-home activities for children and families, and an array of online presentations all about Iowa history.
“Iowa History Month is a time to learn more about the people, places and points of pride that helped define our state,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “Every Iowa family, community and county has contributed to our collective history, and Iowa History Month is a time to celebrate these connections.”
The new exhibition, “Iowa’s People & Places,” opens March 5 at the State Historical Museum of Iowa and explores more than 13,000 years of history with artifacts that cover a broad range of experiences. American Indian settlements, statehood, court rulings, legislation, immigration and elections set the course for Iowa and still affect Iowans today.
The exhibition’s statewide mix of artifacts represents a mosaic of Iowa’s cultural diversity, including stone tools made by some of the earliest inhabitants of the land that would become Iowa, handcrafted Meskwaki beadwork, an embroidered story cloth made by a Hmong immigrant, and several items from the life and high-flying career of astronaut Peggy Whitson.
The State Historical Society of Iowa also has organized a new Iowa History Book Club, which kicks off March 11 with a discussion about “Iowa: The Middle Land,” authored by the legendary historian Dorothy Schwieder. Additional book club discussions are scheduled quarterly throughout the year.
Here are some other ways Iowans and others can join the month-long celebration:
- Noon, March 2: Tune in online to preview the “Iowa’s People & Places” exhibition that opens March 5 at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. State Curator Leo Landis leads the presentation, which is part of the “Iowa History 101″ series.
- Noon, each Tuesday and Thursday: Watch more “Iowa History 101” programs online to learn about notable names from the past, including Inkpaduta, Emir Abd El-Kader and many others. Registration is free but required.
- Opening March 5: Visit a new exhibition called “Iowa’s People & Places” at the State Historical Museum of Iowa and explore more than 13,000 years of history with artifacts from across the state.
- 7 p.m. March 11: Participate in the inaugural discussion of the online Iowa History Book Club, featuring legendary historian Dorothy Schwieder’s Iowa: The Middle Land.
- Noon, March 17: Tune in to an “Iowa Stories” presentation from the State Historical Society’s Research Center in Iowa City, featuring “The Cherry Sisters: The Best Worst Act in the World.”
- Noon, March 25: Log in for “100 Years of Donna Reed,” another “Iowa History 101” presentation, when Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen of Iowa City, will share rarely seen family photos from her mother’s early days in Denison. Reed’s career includes her Academy Award-winning performance in “From Her to Eternity” (1953), “The Donna Reed Show” (1958-1966) and “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), which marks its 75th anniversary this year.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at iowaculture.gov.