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Iowa History

By Jane Whitmore - | Mar 4, 2021

Iowa History Month is being observed during March in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of statehood this year. The State Historical Society of Iowa has invited Iowans to engage with history.

Have you ever been to the State Historical Museum of Iowa? For no particular reason, I haven’t been there. But this could be a time to consider going to Des Moines.

A new exhibition, “Iowa’s People & Places,” opens Friday, March 5. A description of the exhibition says: The new exhibition “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 offers a few more intriguing ways to celebrate Iowa’s history this month:

Noon, each Tuesday and Thursday: Tune in to watch “Iowa History 101” programs online to learn about notable names from the past, including Inkpaduta, Emir Abd El-Kader and many others. The first online presentation was a preview on Tuesday of “Iowa’s People & Places” exhibition, with State Curator Leo Landis leading the presentation. The news release says registration for the online “Iowa History 101” programs is free but required. There was no link listed, but perhaps more information is available at iowaculture.gov.

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.” Additional book club discussions are scheduled quarterly throughout the year.

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.

Are any of these events of interest to you? No doubt we learned a lot about Iowa’s history in school (at least we did way back when in my school days), so this month will be a refresher course for many of us.