2017 Presentations

Please note: presentations are subject to change.

Register for History Camp Iowa 2017.

Sign up to present at History Camp Iowa 2017.

Title Description Presenter(s)
A President to a Posse: How Truman, Bonnie and Clyde, and Dallas County Changed American History No Iowa county has influenced American history more than Dallas County. It propelled Harry Truman to an unlikely victory in the 1948 presidential campaign, following a fiery speech he delivered to 100,000 farmers on a sweltering September day at the National Plowing Match near Dexter. Just 15 years earlier, a shoot-out near Dexfield Park marked the beginning of the end for infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde and the notorious Barrow gang. Dallas County, located just west of Des Moines, is a study in contrasts, from its key role on the Underground Railroad in the 1850s to the revival of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in the 1920s. Dallas County has also produced several Major League Baseball players (including cousins Bob Feller and Hal Manders), a US congressman (David Young), and Nile Kinnick, the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Iowa football legend whose grandfather, George Clarke of Adel, served as Iowa’s governor from 1913 to 1917. Discover the fascinating stories of Dallas County, which is one of the fastest-growing counties in America and remains a region of opportunity with a rich heritage of small-town living, farming, coal mining, and the immigrant experience. Darcy Maulsby
Capt JD Brown, Soldiers’ Advocate The bio for John D. Brown in the Decatur County History Book hints at a full and exciting life. He arrived in Garden Grove as a boy, served in the cavalry during the Civil War, was a successful farmer and served in many jobs as a public servant including state senator. In particular, he was a known advocate for the Civil War veterans and their families. And if this meant moving the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, then he would do his part. Denise Franck
Honoring World War I in Des Moines This presentation will cover the Polk County Gold Star Memorial and the well-known names of soldiers from Des Moines for which streets and parks in town are named. It will also include Merle Hay, Camp Dodge and Fort Des Moines III. Patricia (Pat) Meiners
Angels and Butterflies Stories of my Mother and Father—lifelong Iowans. I tell stories about my family, both sides of which have been Iowan since 1840. These are not “famous” Iowans. They are the heart and soul of Iowa. Patricia Rose Ballard Coffie
We Are Now in Indian Territory This presentation explores the complex and at times divergent manners in which the different genders viewed Indians while they migrated west along the Overland trail system. How these attitudes changed over time is also discussed. Kassie Nelson, MA
Robert Ray’s Vietnam War Era Refugee Program After the Americans withdrew from the Vietnam War, their Indochinese allies faced imprisonment, torture, and death under communist regimes. The Tai Dam, an ethnic group from northern Vietnam, campaigned for sanctuary, writing letters to 30 U.S. governors in 1975. Only Robert D. Ray of Iowa agreed to help. Ray created his own agency to relocate the Tai Dam, advocated for the greater admission of “boat people” fleeing Vietnam, launched a Cambodian relief program that generated $540,000, and lobbied for the Refugee Act of 1980. The presentation covers how the Tai Dam adapted to life in the Midwest, and the Iowans’ divided response. Professor Matthew Walsh
Iowa State College and the Coming of WW II (September 1939-June 1942) My paper covers the late 1930s and the first six months of the war after Pearl Harbor at Iowa State College. Before the big military programs took over the campus from mid-1942 on, the students, faculty and administration struggled with suddenly being thrust into a World War. My paper looks at how these three components of the university community met their fears and concerns through things like: food drives, black out drills, knitting circles, special evening courses on the war, student volunteerism, and the problem of how to deal with students of Japanese-American ancestry. Dr. Douglas Biggs
Bert Allen: Iowa Coal Miner This is the story of Bert Allen, a coal miner in Iowa in the early 20th century. The stories of his experiences were recorded by his son Walter Allen include the beginning of his career as a trapper boy at 14 in 1910 and include his work in some of the largest mines in Iowa throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. Bill Allen
The Prince of the Upper Missouri: Captain James McGarry Come learn about the extraordinary life of James McGarry, one of the most successful steamboat captains of the Upper Missouri whose story has largely been overlooked by historians. Kassie Nelson, MA
Building A Capitol City This presentation highlights the people and events leading to the capitol being located in Des Moines. Focus is on people and places in Lee Township. Michael Adams
The Center Street Story: An Urban Renewal Retrospective Preview & Discussion of the Upcoming Documentary “The Center Street Story: An Urban Renewal Retrospective”. Through the voices of former business owners and residents, the documentary tells the history of the rise and fall of the historic “Center Street” community & African American business district that existed for more than five decades prior to being destroyed as a result of the 1950s Oakridge Urban Renewal Project. Madison DeShay-Duncan
The Farm Crisis in Three Documents What was the Farm Crisis of the 1980s? Find out through the lens of three historical documents, chosen to illustrate the depth and scope of the crisis. Take a look at some artifacts of the era that will make you go “hmmm.” Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
Iowa’s African-American Company M in the Spanish-American War During the Spanish-American War the United States formed four volunteer regiments of soldiers presumed to “immune” from tropical diseases. Company M, 7th Regiment was organized in Des Moines. The presentation will examine the politics and traditions that gave the unit a unique mix of black and white officers during its service. Michael Vogt
Using Oil in Iowa I will cover the early history of U.S. oil discovery in 1859 to current use of products made from oil. A wide range of products are made from oil, not just the gas and diesel fuel available at the gas station. Early uses of oil were kerosene for lamps, grease for wagon axles, and wax for candles and wax paper. I will use objects and an interactive discussion with the audience to make this an engaging topic. Sharon Tinker
Iowa’s Borders: 104 Years of Evolution and Controversy Iowa’s state borders–we take them for granted. They’ve been the same since Iowa became a state in 1846–right?

Wrong! Iowa’s state borders evolved over more than 104 years, beginning in 1816–that’s 22 years before Iowa became a territory and 30 years before Iowa became a state Even our major border rivers, Missouri and Mississippi, caused controversies with surrounding states when flooding events caused the main channel to move laterally. At the time, legal documentation was uncommon and definitions were vague. Survey technology was less accurate and less precise than today.

A brief skirmish in 1839, called the “”Honey War,”” occurred primarily due to local disagreements about border locations and property taxes. Long and expensive surveys attempted to quell the controversies. Even resurveys did not yield the desired results. Special border commissions sought solutions to border disagreements. Territorial and state legislatures passed numerous reolutions and laws to address specific issues. Even the US Supreme Court was involved, ruling on multiple legal cases over a 123 year period.

Paul F. Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture and Agronomy, Iowa State University
How World War 1 impacted Iowa Country Schools This presentation will review how Iowa Country Schools were changed as a result of World War 1. Bill Sherman, country school preservationist
Wilder Thanksgiving: From Pioneer to Pilgrim Pioneers and Victorians have more to do with starting Thanksgiving than the Pilgrims. Using examples from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, this is about how people in the second half of the 19th century, rather than the Pilgrims, created the Thanksgiving holiday that we know today. Myths and legends have given credit to the Puritans for more modern traditions. This throughline focused on America’s founding and history on Puritan New England instead of other earlier settlements and helped shape her values. This is the real story. Sarah S. Uthoff