Iowa’s campaign to celebrate its 175th statehood anniversary is being honored beyond its borders.
The Midwestern History Association recognized the State Historical Society of Iowa’s “Iowa Statehood 175 Commemoration Project” with its Alice Smith Prize in Public History award, calling the campaign a “truly inclusive and well-coordinated public history project (that) brought together people and technology from across the state.”
“We are delighted the Midwestern History Association has chosen our 175th anniversary project for the Alice Smith Prize,” said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “We thank them for this recognition along with the thousands of Iowans and organizations that joined us to make this campaign an overwhelming success.”
The Midwestern History Association announced the award Friday during its annual Midwestern History Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, citing the campaign’s 3D virtual tour of the State Historical Museum of Iowa as “accessible, inviting, and fun.” It also said the museum’s historical tool kits and pop-up exhibits, which were available to historical societies and other educational institutions, provided an impressive range of resources that helped remove financial barriers while creating partnerships to encourage other historical projects and intellectual growth across the state.
In addition, online book clubs, film viewings, children’s programs, and webinars (Iowa History 101 and Iowa Stories) “offered multiple ways for the public to interact with an impressive range of Iowa scholars whose work covered a diverse array of perspective(s) on Iowa history,” the award citation noted. “In sum, we believe this project exemplifies how a commitment to highlight multiple voices and contributions empowers the larger community to succeed.”
For several components of the campaign, the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council teamed up to publish a special art-filled edition of the state’s leading history journal, The Annals of Iowa, which first rolled off the press in 1863. Individual copies and subscriptions of the quarterly journal can be purchased at iowaculture.gov. Articles from previous editions are freely accessible online.
The campaign also offered opportunities for the public to browse online resources through the Days of Learning collection, explore the new Iowa History Collections Catalog, join Goldie’s Kids Club, create a self-portrait, join the new Iowa History Book Club, and create and install permanent State Historical Marker in their communities.
The State Historical Society of Iowa launched the year-long, statewide campaign in January 2021 to help Iowans of all ages learn more about the people and places that have shaped the land for more than 13,000 years. The campaign culminated on Dec. 28, 2021, the 175th anniversary of Iowa joining the Union.
The Alice Smith Prize is named after the director of research at the Wisconsin Historical Society, from 1947 to 1965. The prize honors a public history project completed in the previous calendar year that contributes to broader public reflection and appreciation of the region’s past. For purposes of the award, “the Midwest” covers Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state.