DES MOINES – Even as time marches forward, March is a time to look back. Governor Kim Reynolds proclaimed March as Iowa History Month during a ceremony today at the State Capitol.
“From Chief Black Hawk to Carrie Chapman Catt to Norman Borlaug, everyday Iowans have shaped the world in extraordinary ways,” the governor said. “Iowa History Month reminds us how previous generations have paved the way for us and how we might, in turn, blaze a trail for those to come. I invite Iowans in every corner of the state to join in this uniquely Iowan celebration.”
At the governor’s request, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Department of Education and Iowa History Advisory Council are rolling out a full month of programs and special events to promote Iowa history. Organizers at the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, also encourage individuals, schools, museums, libraries and other organizations to share their own stories and events on social media, with the hashtag #IowaHistory.
“The State Historical Society of Iowa has collected, preserved and provided access to Iowa history for more than 160 years,” the society’s administrator, Susan Kloewer, said. “As stewards of our state’s history, we’re excited to celebrate Iowa History Month and invite all Iowans to discover our state’s remarkable heritage, which connects us to Iowans past, present and future.”
In addition to today’s proclamation, the month-long celebration includes:
World War I Honor Roll
March 7 through April 4, West Point
The State Historical Museum of Iowa’s traveling tribute to the Iowans who lost their lives a century ago, during World War I, will be on display at the West Point Public Library at 317 Fifth St. Free admission.
March 14, Iowa City
Marian Wilson Kimber, who teaches musicology at the University of Iowa, will take a turn in the State Historical Society of Iowa’s new “Iowa Stories” lecture series with a presentation called “Musical Iowana: Iowa Women’s Clubs and the Promotion of Iowa Composers” at noon at the State Historical Society of Iowa Research Center at 402 Iowa Ave. Free admission.
Music at Montauk
March 17, Clermont
Enjoy one of the freshest musical acts to emerge from the upper Midwest when vocalist Kristen Eggen and keyboardist Ben Hippen perform as Eggen & Hippen as part of the Music at Montauk concert series at the Montauk Historic Site, 26223 Harding Road, near Clermont. Free admission.
National Agriculture Day
March 19, Urbandale
Celebrate Iowa’s past and present role in agriculture with activities, talks and demonstrations about how farmers raise the food and fuel people around the world use every day. The event is set for noon-4 p.m. at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road.
Spring Break at the State Historical Museum of Iowa
March 15-22, Des Moines
Historians of all ages can explore the museum, participate in Goldie’s Kids Club activities (hosted by the state bird), and watch movies Iowa-themed such as “Little House on the Prairie” (March 20), based on the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well as “Rio” (March 21) and “Ferdinand” (March 22), which feature the animation of Iowa artist Adam Van Wyk. Visit iowaculture.gov for a full schedule of events at the museum at 600 E. Locust St. Free admission.
From Simpson to Saigon
March 20, Indianola
Simpson alumnus Gerry Berry '67 will discuss his experience as a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam, including his evacuation of the US ambassador in the spring of 1975, just before Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. The program is set for 7:00 p.m. on March 20, with a reception at 6:00 p.m., at Hubbell Hall, Kent Campus Center at Simpson College in Indianola. Free and open to the public.
Iowa Documentary Showcase
March 23, Des Moines
“Saving Brinton” tells the true story of a Washington, Iowa, history teacher named Michael Zahs, who uncovered century-old showreels of one of America’s first movie impresarios and screened them at the world’s oldest continuously operating movie theater. Meet Zahs and the three Iowa City filmmakers whose documentary has been screened worldwide and was on the long list for last month's Academy Awards.
March 23, Des Moines
“Heroes of Fairfield” brings to life stories of ordinary Fairfielders who did extraordinary things to make a difference in this small Iowa community and the world.
Both movies will be screened at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St. Free admission.
Norman Borlaug’s Birthday
March 25, Des Moines
The World Food Prize Foundation invites Iowans to celebrate the birthday of Cresco native and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) – 10 years after his death and five years after his statue was installed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The open house is set for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, 100 Locust St. Free admission.
Local History Network
Organized by the State Historical Society of Iowa, this statewide network of local and county historical museums, genealogical societies, libraries and other organizations will be offering various programs throughout the month. So no matter where they live, Iowans are encouraged to visit a historical organization or historic site nearby. For ideas, Iowans can find more than 3,500 cultural landmarks on the Iowa Culture app, which they can download for free from the Apple and Google Play.
“All of the Iowa History Month programs highlight the people and places that define who we are as Iowans, which is central to the mission of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs,” the department’s director, Chris Kramer said. “By investing in history and culture, communities find common ground and guideposts for the future.”
Over the last few years, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Education have developed new social studies standards for the Iowa Core Curriculum, which now require K-12 students to learn about Iowa history in each grade. The state agencies have worked with the Iowa History Advisory Council to provide an array of new teaching tools, including an online collection of Primary Source Sets and lesson plans at iowaculture.gov.
“History is foundational to a quality education and provides authentic opportunities for students to sharpen their critical-thinking skills,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “Iowa History Month helps us encourage students of all ages to learn not just about world and national history, but also the important history that happened closer to home.”
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.