While time keeps marching into the future, March is a time to reflect on the past.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs invites Iowans to celebrate Iowa History Month in March with a series of guided tours, film screenings, presentations, spring break programs and other activities for all ages at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. The department is also inviting leaders at other museums, schools, libraries and organizations to submit their own March events to add to the celebration.
"There are many ways Iowans can celebrate Iowa History Month this March, whether they are at the State Historical Museum of Iowa or in their own hometowns," said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. "Iowa is full of rich stories and remarkable Iowans who achieved extraordinary things. To celebrate our shared heritage, I encourage people in every corner of Iowa to dig deeper into our past and learn something new about our great state."
The State Historical Society of Iowa has created a series of free programs throughout the month. Unless otherwise noted, all of the following programs will take place at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St., in Des Moines.
Lunch & Learn Programs – March 3, 10, 26 and 31
Iowa history experts will discuss a wide array of topics, including a sweeping new interpretation of Iowa history dating back to 1673 (March 3), the life of women’s suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt (March 10), a violent conflict at Spirit Lake in 1857 (March 26) and a round-up of historic Iowa “firsts” (March 31). Each hour-long program starts at noon. Admission is free but advanced registration is required for each session, and pre-ordered boxed lunches are available through Café Baratta’s. Check iowaculture.gov for details.
Guided Tours & Documentaries – March 7 and 28
Take a tour about the history of technology and inventions before a special screening of “Uranium Derby,” about the Manhattan Project’s ties to Ames (March 7). Later, see highlights of the museum’s art collection before a screening of “Stout Hearted,” about Winterset native George Stout, who helped save priceless European art and artifacts during World War II (March 28). No registration required.
Featured Presentation – March 11 in Iowa City
Learn about some of the African-Americans who played a role in the history of Grinnell during a noon presentation in the ongoing “Iowa Stories” lunch-and-learn series at the State Historical Society’s Research Center, 402 Iowa Ave. in Iowa City.
Goldie’s Kids Club Spring Break – March 13-21
Join Goldie the Goldfinch, the state bird, for a full slate of educational programs and hands-on activities for all ages. Times vary; check iowaculture.gov for details.
Featured Presentation – March 14
Attend a 1:30 p.m. lecture about a baseball team that barnstormed Iowa’s so-called Negro Leagues in the 1930s.
Special Program – March 15 in Council Bluffs
A program called “Crusading Pioneers: Women and the Underground Railroad in the Midwest” will include several presentations and a panel discussion about the role women played in the Underground Railroad and their larger role in reforming society during the decades that followed the Civil War. The program is free, and lunches will be available for purchase before the event. Check iowaculture.gov for details.
Featured Presentation – March 27 in Wapello
Learn about the history of prairie fires during a lecture near Toolesboro Mounds, an ancient burial site the state manages several miles south of Muscatine. The 6 p.m. event at 6568 Toolesboro Road in Wapello, is co-presented with the Louisa County Conservation Board.
Concert – March 29 in Clermont
The Mike Conrad Trio – piano, saxophone, cello – from Cedar Falls will take the first turn in this year’s “Music at Montauk” series at the state-owned Montauk Historic Site, the former home of the late Gov. William Larrabee and his family. The concert starts at 2 p.m. at 26223 Harding Road in Clermont.
Featured Exhibit – ongoing in Okoboji
The Dickinson County Nature Center, 22785 Nature Center Road in Okoboji, offers an exhibit about Abbie Gardner Sharp, who survived the Spirit Lake Massacre in 1857. The state owns and operates her family’s cabin, which will re-open for tours on Memorial Day weekend.
Local History Network Events – ongoing statewide
The Local History Network, which is organized by the State Historical Society of Iowa, includes local and county historical museums, genealogical societies, libraries and other organizations across the state. Many of these partners plan to host special programs throughout Iowa History Month. For road-trip ideas, Iowans can find more than 3,500 cultural landmarks on the Iowa Culture app, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store and Google Play.
Iowans are encouraged to post their #IowaHistory stories, events and discoveries throughout the month on social media.
More information about Iowa History Month and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is available at iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.
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. iowaculture.gov