History Camp Iowa 2021

If you have a passion for history, History Camp is for you. It’s a unique opportunity to spend a day with others from all walks of life who have a passion for history, from authors, teachers, genealogists, and students, to park rangers, museum volunteers, librarians, and individuals from other professions and backgrounds.

History Camp Iowa 2020 marked the event’s fifth year in Des Moines. More than 100 people passionate about history came together to share their stories in two dozen sessions. History Camp started in Boston in 2014, and has grown larger every year. History Camp Iowa is a totally independent event, organized entirely by volunteers.

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Main Event Saturday, February 20, 2021, 8 a.m.

Virtual visit: Museum of Danish America Wednesday, February 17, 6 p.m.

Virtual visit: Amana Heritage Museum Thursday, February 18, 6 p.m.

Virtual Visit: State Historical Society of Iowa Friday, February 19, 6 p.m.

History Camp Iowa 2021—Schedule

8:00 a.m.

  • Welcome

8:40 a.m.

  • Historic Homes of Governors Lucas and Larrabee, Mike Plummer and Hannah Frederick
  • Iowa & The Civil War Homefront, Leo Landis
  • Rosie the Homemaker, Alyssa Yanni
  • In the Pioneer Kitchen with Laura, Sarah Uthoff

9:30 a.m.

  • Iowa Trivia, Jess Rundlett
  • The Muddied Backwaters of the Spirit Lake Conflict, Cheryl Tevis
  • Toward Universal Suffrage, Eric Morse
  • George Washington Carver in Iowa, Linda Griffith Smith

10:20 a.m.

  • Iowa’s Forgotten Black Champions, Reginald Green
  • Dancing More, Patricia Rose Ballard Coffie
  • A World War I Iowa Soldier in Siberia, Nick Erickson
  • Becoming Harriet Beecher Stowe, Kelly Rundle

11:10 a.m.

  • Arson and Murder in Walford, Kate Levasseur
  • Fort Des Moines: From Pioneer Protection to National Distinction, Paul F. Anderson
  • The Johnny Bright Incident, Hope Bibens

12:00 noon

  • Closing

History Camp Iowa 2021—Presentations

The Historic Homes of Governors Lucas and Larrabee

Hannah Frederick, Montauk Historic Site Coordinator and Michael Plummer, Historic Sites Manager

State Historical Society of IowaVisiting the homes of Iowa’s governors can offer a glimpse into their families and personal lives. The State Historical Society of Iowa operates two of these homes – Plum Grove, home of territorial governor Robert Lucas, and Montauk, home of the state’s 12th governor, William Larrabee. In this session, Hannah Frederick and Michael Plummer of the State Historical Society will introduce you to these sites and share what the homes reveal about the governors as people.

Iowa & The Civil War Homefront

Leo Landis

Learn about the experiences of Iowans in the 1850s and 1860s with a focus on 1861-1865. State Curator Leo Landis will discuss the shifts in political culture, technology, the role of women and the disruption caused by the war in the Hawkeye state.

Rosie the Homemaker

Alyssa Yanni

With both World War I and World War II, the government and advertisers along with newspapers and magazines published images and articles that reflected the nation at war and the crucial role women played at home in the war effort. In Iowa, both World War I and World War II were felt greatly by the populace as the wars transformed the industries present in the state. Munitions factories recruited women and farmland became a tool as farmers grew the crops most needed for the war effort. Most Iowans were patriotic for the cause and wanted to do their part to try and bring a swift end to the wars. The local newspapers published recipes and menu ideas along with Extension agents going to the rural communities to promote the purchasing of war bonds, the growing of Victory Gardens, and the importance of conservation.

In the Pioneer Kitchen with Laura

Sarah Uthoff

Laura Ingalls Wilder is the archetype of 19th century life in America. One of the things she’s known for is cooking from pancake men to ginger water to gingerbread. The 19th century brought big changes in American cooking. Follow along the story from fireplace cooking to woodstoves, tinware to glassware, home preserved food to canned goods.

Iowa Trivia

Jess Rundlett

On December 28, 2021, Iowa will mark a major milestone: 175 years of statehood. So throughout 2021, the State Historical Society of Iowa invites Iowans of all ages to learn more about the people and places that have shaped the state. This Iowa Trivia program is one of many programs being offered as part of the commemoration of Iowa 175th Anniversary of statehood.

The Muddied Backwaters of the Spirit Lake Conflict

Cheryl Tevis

I grew up in Woodbury County, feeling a strong personal connection to this historical Iowa event. Two decades later, I discovered my new home county of Boone had a different take on the back story leading up to it.

Toward A Universal Suffrage: African American Women in Iowa and the Vote for All

Eric Morse, Founder of the Central Iowa Community Museum

The Central Iowa Community Museum’s first exhibition is “Toward A Universal Suffrage: African American Women in Iowa and the Vote for All.”  The presentation will highlight the African American suffragists who were active in Iowa, suffrage history, and the diversity and difference that existed in the suffrage movement. I’ll also briefly discuss why I’ve formed this new museum.

George Washington Carver in Iowa

Linda Griffith Smith

Iowa was a turning point in George Washington Carver’s life. Happenstance brought him to Iowa with a here-and-there education, but he was a determined, educated young man when he left for Tuskegee University. This presentation looks at his formative years in the state.

Iowa’s Forgotten Black Champions

Reginald Green, Hidden Heritage Virtual Museum

From 1901 to 1903 a group of baseball enthusiast business men in the small Iowa town of Algona, built one of the best teams in the country. This is not a baseball story but a recounting of the lives of a talented all-Black team earning a living in the heart of white America. There was success, profits, rejection, violence, acceptance and admiration but unfortunately it was all short lived and forgotten.

Dancing More

Patricia Rose Ballard Coffie

Stories of Love and Laughter and sometimes Tears in adventures married and then as a single parent Iowan raised on summer Minnesota fishing vacations.

An Iowan in Vladivostok: Sgt. John Robinson and the Siberian Intervention

Nick Erickson

John Wallace Robinson of Osage, Iowa joined the US Army in 1917 to go and fight the Germans in France but found himself thrust into an intense political minefield among Bolsheviks, White Russians, Japanese, British, Chinese, Italians, Koreans, Czechs, Slovaks, and Cossacks on the other side of the world. We’ll use a collection recently donated to the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum of the Grout Museum District to explore the astounding adventure of the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War at the end of World War I.

Becoming Harriet Beecher-Stowe

Kelly Rundle

A discussion of the documentary by award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmakers Kelly & Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, that tells the story of the writer’s life in Cincinnati, Ohio and how these life-changing experiences contributed to her best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Beecher-Stowe lived in Cincinnati between 1832 and 1850, and just after her move to Maine, she adapted her Ohio experiences and anti-slavery sentiment into America’s most influential novel.

A Sensation Never Equaled: Arson and Murder in Walford

Kate Levasseur

In 1897, a store in Walford, Iowa burned to the ground overnight and charred human remains were found in the basement. Two men were missing, and when evidence from the inquest revealed that store owner Frank Novak had committed murder and disappeared with more than $500 and insurance policies totaling over $30,000, the hunt was on. The chase would lead investigators from Iowa to the Yukon and back, culminating in a sensational trial in Benton County.

Fort Des Moines: From Pioneer Protection to National Distinction

Paul F. Anderson

Iowa had more than 55 forts created between 1682 and 1901, including three forts with the same name: Ft. Des Moines. Ft. Des Moines #1 was built by Lt. Col. Stephen W. Kearny in 1834 on the west bank of the Mississippi River, at the head of the Des Moines Rapids and just 13 river miles upstream of the mouth of the Des Moines River. Ft. Des Moines #2 was built by Capt. James Allen in 1843 at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, within the present city limits of Des Moines. Both were built to protect Euro-American pioneers and members of the Sac & Fox tribes during a time of transition. Ft. Des Moines #3 was originally built in 1901 by the city of Des Moines as a patriotic gesture and economic stimulous. Over the next 50 years, it garnered four national distictions in peacetime and wartime: (1) largest cavalry post in the US, (2) first African-American officer training in the US Army, (3) national orthopedic hospital for treatment and research, and (4) first WAAC training center. In this presentation, you’ll learn what circumstances led to each of these four national distinctions and the legacy left by the women and men of Fort Des Moines #3.

The Johnny Bright Incident

Hope Bibens

The intentional slugging of Drake University football player Johnny Bright at a game at Oklahoma A&M in 1951 caused repercussions in the intercollegiate athletics world and brought changes in rules and equipment. Drake University archivist, Hope Bibens will share photographs and other items from the Bright Collection.