History Camp Iowa 2016: From the Iowa Territory to the 21st Century

Oct 25, 2016

See Iowa in 1919 through the eyes of a 28-year-old stenographer, celebrate the contributions of the Hollywood elite in World War II, find out how the railroads revolutionized mail delivery: You can do all of that and more at the 2016 History Camp Iowa.   This hour, we get a preview of what you can learn at the event next month in Des Moines, featuring professional and amateur historians as they speak on Iowa as well as national and international history topics.

Rebecca Stoeker, a teacher at Winterset High School, previewed her presentation about how Hollywood aided in the war effort during the Second World War. 

"The sacrifices of these stars were immense," she says. "Many were overseas fighting.  James Stewart and Clark Gable were both bomber pilots, for example.  Director John Ford was actually in the Battle of Midway while filming his documentary 'The Battle of Midway,' which won the Oscar in 1942." 

While overseas, Katherine Grayson found out that African American soldiers were not allowed to watch her performance, and she refused to go on until they were let in.

While many starts went overseas, some stayed at home to help gather funds for the war effort, Stoeker said.  "They created the Hollywood Caravan," she told Charity.  "It was a train that took stars across the nation, stopping at towns that pledged to raise over one million dollars in war bonds."

Phil Borleske, a retired minister in Vinton, Iowa, will be speaking about the evolution of Mail by Rail in the U.S. and in Iowa. 

"Railroads started carrying mail around 1835--it became a national trend as we started expanding west.  There was a time where every town or village in Iowa was served by train, with every passenger train carrying mail." 

As well as having a wide network, the Mail by Rail system was incredibly efficient, he says. 

"If you mailed a letter from Des Moines, it would get to New York in two days.  Some trains dropped off mail in stations where they didn't even stop."  Borleske continues. "Stations would have a 'V' shaped crane, and someone on the train would open the mail-hatch and hook the mailbag on the crane while the train was going 75-miles-an-hour in order to make a delivery."

Also during the hour, Charity spoke with Jerome Thompson, former State Curator of Iowa, about a 28-year-old stenographer with the Iowa Historical Department, Sadie Rae Scott.  Her motor trip in 1919 was to scout new state parks.   Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, professor of history at Iowa State University, discussed "Iowa in the 1980s: Teen Edition," Alyssa Yanni, graduate student in history at Iowa State talked about colonial kitchens in Virginia, and Dirk Ringgenberg, U.S. Army Major (retired) and a PdD. student in history at Iowa State, told us about "The Battle of Bulac Kalay" in Afghanistan in 2005.