The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs invites Iowans of all ages to learn more about our state’s past throughout Iowa History Month in March. Every year, this statewide tradition offers new opportunities to learn more about Iowa’s past and the remarkable Iowans from all walks of life who have influenced their communities, their state, their country and, in many cases, the entire world.
“Iowa history is more complex and more fascinating than many lifelong Iowans realize,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “There is always more to learn and never a better time to do it than Iowa History Month. We encourage Iowans of all ages across the state to discover and share some of the stories that have shaped who we are today.”
Starting with a proclamation from Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa History Month continues with an array of in-person and online programs organized by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Iowans and others can tune in to online presentations, take part in activities designed for families and children, discover materials in the new Iowa History Collection Catalog and take guided tours at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St. in Des Moines. Across the state, schools, libraries, museums and other organizations are also hosting their own history events to add to the month-long celebration.
Here are just a few highlights:
Tune in online at noon every Thursday during March for a new presentation in the Iowa History 101 series, which examines history through a cultural lens. Learn about the pork industry (March 3), the political and social influence of Louise Noun and Mary Louise Smith (March 10), Irish Iowa (March 17), discriminatory “redlining” in housing policies (March 24), and the World Food Prize (March 31). Advanced registration is free but required for each session.
Guided Museum Tours
Join State Curator Leo Landis for a 45-minute guided tour through any of three exhibits at the State Historical Museum of Iowa: “Iowa’s People & Places” (2 p.m. March 15), “Iowa and the Civil War” (2 p.m. March 16) and “Iowa History 101” (2 p.m. March 17). The free tours are open to children and adults alike, but children must be accompanied by an adult, and advanced registration is required.
See one of the temporary “Iowa’s People & Places” displays the State Historical Museum of Iowa recently sent to all 99 counties to commemorate Iowa’s 175th statehood anniversary. A list of locations can be found online, but visitors are encouraged to call ahead to confirm.
Goldie’s Kids Club Activities
Join Goldie the Goldfinch, the state bird, for a full slate of educational programs and hands-on activities for all ages. The month’s lineup includes free, mail-order Spring Break Kits that families can request online by March 6 and a new Innovative Iowans Day Camp on March 16, when students in grades 4-6 can engage in activities connected to STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).
Local History Network Events
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.
Iowans are encouraged to post their #IowaHistoryMonth stories, events and discoveries throughout the month on social media.
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.