2018 Presentations

Please note: presentations are subject to change.

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Title Description Presenter(s)
Grant Wood and Other Iowans in WWI Camouflage Military camouflage “as we know it” began with World War I, when advances in surveillance called for equal advances in deception and concealment. In 1917, as the US rushed to mobilize, men of fighting age looked for war-related roles that would complement their civilian occupations. For artists, designers and architects, the number one desired choice was camouflage. Few people realize the extent to which Iowans contributed to camouflage: For example, the co-founder of US Army camouflage was sculptor Sherry Fry from Creston (creator of the statue of Chief Mahaska in the Oskaloosa), while the artist who oversaw US Navy camouflage was Everett Warner from Vinton. Grant Wood from Anamosa was an army camoufleur, and set designer Carol Sax from Ottumwa designed dazzle ship camouflage. Two of the government’s top camouflage advisors were physicists Matthew Luckiesh and Robert Millikan, both from Maquoketa. This is a fast-paced illustrated talk about how Iowans fooled an enemy at a critical time in world history. Roy R. Behrens, Professor of Art and Distinguished Scholar, University of Northern Iowa
Lincoln: A Legacy in Iowa When you think of Iowa do you think of Abraham Lincoln? Iowa has a rich history of encounters with this President. From being an attorney in a legal case to his last living descendant that, and many other stories will be told. Michael Adams
In Search of the Missing: One Soldier’s Story Robert T. Smith, a native of Des Moines, Iowa spent World War II and years following up to the Korean War in the Graves Registration branch of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps. His duty took him from the 113th Cavalry’s Red Horse Armory in Des Moines in 1941 to the South Pacific from 1943 until 1949. He spent his service searching for the remains of downed airmen and ground troops killed in action or declared missing. His discoveries, while often fragmentary, could provide closure to the families of American servicemen lost in the war. His story is found in the archives at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum and in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of Anthropology. Smith left three years of journals, letters, papers and ephemera that document his time working in the jungles of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Jerome Thompson, State Curator, Retired
Face of the Country: Iowa Through the Eyes of General Land Office Surveyors 1832-1859 From 1832 to 1859, 187 deputy surveyors from the US General Land Office (GLO) surveyed Iowa to prepare for Euro-American settlers moving in from eastern states. GLO surveyors encountered a variety of obstacles, both natural and cultural, which made their survey work quite challenging. They recorded their official land measurements and descriptions both on plat maps and in field books. In their field books, surveyors wrote field notes for each mile–distance measurements, features of economic interest, and locations of bearing posts and trees. For each of the 1,667 townships surveyed, they also described “the face of the country, its soil and geological features, timber, minerals, water, etc.” In addition, some surveyors commented about working conditions, “pre-emptors” and their “improvements,” Native Americans, weather, wildlife, vegetation, agricultural potential, and politics of the time. Some displayed humor; others showed their wonder, disbelief, concern, distain, or eloquent musings. Together, these quotations from GLO field notes tell a fascinating story of those who surveyed Iowa’s landscape one mile at a time. Professor Paul F. Anderson
Health and Wealth: A History of Public Health along the Urbanized Missouri River Two competing definitions of the Missouri River emerged in the early twentieth century. One saw the river as a conduit of commerce and industrial development, growing the financial wealth of the region. The second saw the river as pivotal to the public health of the region, especially for cities who relied on the river for both drinking water and waste carriage. These two visions have been in competition, the former arguing that wealth brings about health, and the latter arguing that good health leads to wealth. Each vision sees an important role for the federal government to play—one in economic development and the other in the protection of human and environmental health. This presentation will explore how these visions developed, and how they impacted the Missouri River and the cities of the lower basin with an emphasis on Kansas City. Dr. Amahia Mallea
Stories from an Iowa Family Dad and the Mules, Gleaning Corn, and Uncle Kenny and Aunt Helen—some of the Iowans that make me proud to be Iowan as well. Come listen to these stories of family from the family farm era. These stories are filled with love and laughter and sometimes tears. Patricia Coffie
Creating a Regional Rural School Improvement Newsletter Sometime during the 1920 the Meredith Corporation through their Successful Farming magazine created a school improvement targeted to teachers working one and two-room schools across America. More than 35,000 rural school teachers requested to be placed on the mailing list for this publication. Contents of this publication will be reviewed to illustrate the problems and issues concern to rural teachers during the 1920s and 1930s. William Sherman, Country School Preservationist
Hitting close to home: Three Iowa Confederates and their families Wartime is emotional for families and their neighbors, especially if a family member is on the “wrong” side. David Connon shares stories of an Iowa-trained doctor and his prominent uncle; an Iowa Confederate’s trip home for burial; and a triangle between an Iowa Confederate, his Union brother, and their father. David Connon
A Look Back at Soda Fountains Relive the glory days of the soda fountain where chemist-produced tonics rooted in promised curatives evolved into enticing refreshments served by a jerk. Cindy Higgins
Dinners to Die At (or a Little After) During the Gilden Age This presentation will highlight ways people could die at the dinner table in the late 1800s. Cindy Higgins
Iowa at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: The Takeaway from a 15-year-old Farm Girl The World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago World’s Fair, was the ultimate tourist destination in 1893. An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 Iowans traveled there. Many of them made their journey by train, including a 15-year-old farm girl who wrote her takeaway in a journal entry. Cheryl Tevis
Streamliners Across Iowa By the early 1930s the devastating effects of the Great Depression and affording automobiles and expanding bus systems on ever-improving highways left many railroad passenger coaches all but empty. Responding, railroads developed fast, lightweight, state-of-the-art sleek “steam-lined” passenger cars and trains. Soon fleets of these streamliners connected cities and towns across the country. Many of them rolled across Iowa. What were they like? Where are they now? Ride along! All aboard! Phil Borleske
The Underground Railroad in Iowa: Overview and Examples I plan to:
1. Present context of Iowa’s part in the later years of the Underground Railroad.
2. Give examples of what Madison County Research uncovered.
3. Emphasize the Network to Freedom sights in Iowa and the John Brown Trail.
4. Cover the Underground Railroad resources available at iowaculture.gov.
Linda Smith
The Fairfield History Series: A Placed-Based Community Project “At age 60, Dick DeAngelis committed to do something totally different with his life. He began to produce and direct a series of deeply-researched, interesting documentary films that tell the stories of his home town of Fairfield, Iowa – one of the most talked about small towns in America. Dick will discuss how he brought together over 100 local volunteers to help produce the first two films in the Fairfield History Series and he even brought some film clips from “”Life Before Fairfield”” and “Heroes of Fairfield”.

“”Every place on Earth has its own story about what happened here before today…before we got here. That knowledge, once uncovered and shared, conveys a sense of place, of belonging. By delving deep into our local history and presenting it in this accessible and entertaining format, we reveal to our friends and neighbors the soul of our town -and establish a more intimate connection with the place we call home.”” – Dick DeAngelis”

Dick DeAngelis