DES MOINES – A book about Iowans in the U.S. Civil War rose to the top of this year's Shambaugh Shortlist to claim one of the state's highest history awards today.
Gov. Terry E. Branstad presented the 2017 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award to author Thomas R. Baker for "The Sacred Cause of Union: Iowa in the Civil War," which focuses on Iowans and their service in battle and at home. Written for a broad audience, the 293-page-turner includes stirring details about Iowans in all major theaters, a thorough chronology and stories of personal sacrifices borne by six particular Iowans.
"I am a proud advocate of Iowa and passionate about our state's history," Branstad said during an awards ceremony today in his formal office at the statehouse. "So it gives me great pleasure to recognize Thomas Baker as this year's Shambaugh Award winner, as well as the other authors and editors who made this year's shortlist."
The award's late namesake served as the superintendent of the State Historical Society of Iowa for more than 40 years and, as it turned out, wrote some of the material that informed this year's award-winner.
"I'm honored to receive an award named for Benjamin Shambaugh," author Baker said. "I relied on his books, and I also utilized the archives at the State Historical Society libraries. The historical society flourished under his leadership, as he directed much of his energy toward establishing a world-class system of local library archives."
The award was established 30 years ago to "recognize the very best new books about Iowa history," said Tova Brandt of Harlan, chair of the State Historical Society of Iowa's Board of Trustees. "On behalf of the board of trustees, I congratulate all of our authors and editors and thank them for their contribution to the rich history of our state."
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.