History

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

From pick-up games to organized leagues, every hometown team has its heroes. Hometown sports continue to shape and unite us in towns, cities, and states across the country.

In Mount Vernon, a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian’s "Museum on Main Street Program" is working to celebrate local sports heroes and the broader impact of athletics on our communities. “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” will be on display at the First Street Community Center from March 18 to April 29, 2018.

Harper Collins

Robert de la Rochefoucald was captured by the Nazis three times during World War II. He was an aristocrat, educated in Europe's finest schools, turned Special Operations Executive in the French resistance. The stories of his escapes sound like something straight from an Ian Fleming novel, except they're true.

Alessio Maffeis

There comes a time when every new generation has to learn about one of the greatest atrocities in world history: the Holocaust. This year's Holocaust Remembrance Day is on April 12, and how we learn about and remember the Holocaust as survivors pass away is evolving.

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Jeremy Best, assistant professor of history at Iowa State University, and Dan Reynolds, Seth Richards professor at Grinnell and author of Postcards from Auschwitz: Holocaust Tourism and the Meaning of Remembrance.

VALERIE MACON/GETTY IMAGES + ANONYMOUS/AP IMAGES

Just over sixty years ago in September of 1957, Terrence Roberts and eight other young people became the first African American students at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. These nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, faced mobs of angry protesters as they tried to enter the school.

After several weeks of resistance from both the state and the community, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to accompany the students to school for protection. However, the Little Rock Nine continued to face violence and discrimination once inside Central High.

Screenshot

The woman who taught Amelia Earhart how to fly was from Iowa. 

If you just read that and thought, "what?! I didn't know that!" you're not alone.

Photo Courtesy of Karen Forsling

Long time Iowa broadcaster and public radio pioneer Don Forsling passed away February 6th at the age of 80.  

He had a radio career that spanned more than 50 years. Nearly forty of those years were spent at WOI radio in Ames, now part of the Iowa Public Radio network. Forsling held a number of different positions at WOI including station manager, but he is best known as the original host of Talk of Iowa and a morning variety show called, The Morning Report.

Damon Taylor

In two out the past five presidential elections, the candidate who became president was not the one most Americans voted for. In this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer explores why our founding fathers created the Electoral College to elect presidents instead of relying on the popular vote.

Guests are presidential historian Tim Walch and University of Iowa political scientist Cary Covington. They examine the historical rationale behind the Electoral College and efforts to change its influence.

New York Times

Although it goes by the humble name "M.910," an ancient manuscript book knows as a "codex" at the Morgan Library in New York City is on its way to a high-tech adventure.  Written in Coptic script by monks somewhere between 400 and 600 A.D., scholars such as the University of Iowa's Paul Dilley are excited that it may soon become legible for the first time.

NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch and political scientist Rachel Caufield to mark one year of Trump in office.  They examine how he has defied convention when compared with other modern presidents.

They examine themes including: accomplishments and public approval at the one year mark, how presidents deal with criticism, their relationship to their cabinets, and how they have justified and spoken of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Tim Evanson/Flickr

On this edition of River to River, we listen back to conversations from 2017 about milestones.

2017 marked the 60th anniversary of the launch of the world’s first artificial satellite: Sputnik 1. In October, Ben Kieffer spoke with longtime space scientist Don Gurnett to talk about how that momentous event instilled fear in America and marked the start of the space race with the Soviet Union. 

Gurnett is a physics and astronomy professor at the University of Iowa.

Christopher Gannon / courtesy of ISU

An Iowa State University professor’s lecture on what people ate during the Great Depression will be getting an audience well beyond her classroom.

History professor Pamela Riney-Kehrberg teaches a class called America Eats, which she describes as a food history of the United States. It caught the attention of C-SPAN, which filmed her this fall giving a lecture on the Great Depression.

Riney-Kehrberg says both food and the Great Depression seem to be topics that interest a broad array of people, which is why it felt like a good fit for C-SPAN’s national audience.

Georgi Anatoliévitch Zelma (Cassowary Colorizations) / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

It was one of the defining moments of the 20th century with repercussions up to the present day. On this River to River program, we remember the Russian Revolution one hundred years ago. Drake University historian and native Russian Natalie Bayer and University of Iowa political scientist Bill Reisinger join the conversation.  They talk through the fall of the Tsarist autocracy and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.  It's a story that threads through to the present day in Putin’s Russia. 

Lucas Cranach the Elder - The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 13642 / Wikimedia Commons

Five hundred years ago, a rebellious German monk named Martin Luther, who was disgusted with what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church, started a movement that dramatically changed the face of Christianity. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Ray Mentzer, professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa, and Greg Prickman, who is head of special collections at the University of Iowa. 

Mentzer says that while Martin Luther did write letters to the Catholic Church, he did not nail them to the door to declare his grievances. 

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

The West Des Moines shopping district known as Valley Junction is officially joining the National Register of Historic Places. The designation makes buildings in the neighborhood eligible for various preservation tax credits.

Nodaway Valley Historical Museum

This weekend citizens from a southwest Iowa community’s past will come back to life for the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum seventh annual cemetery walk.

Reenactors will revive 11 people buried in the Clarinda Cemetery. This isn’t a spooky event, but rather one that allows people from in and around Page County to learn about local history. 

Nodaway Valley Historical Museum curator Trish Okamoto says researching each of the departed takes about a year.

IowaPolitics.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode (cropped, light and color adjustment from original)

During the writing his forthcoming book, Todd Pettys says he came across many interesting aspects of the process Iowans went through to make the state constitution. Pettys is a Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation. His book, The Iowa State Constitution, will be coming out next month and it's a walk-through of the provisions of the constitution.

Beverly & Pack / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

There has been controversy about what it means to respect or disrespect the American flag and the country itself. What does it mean to be patriotic in 2017, and how have our ideas about patriotism changed over time? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with historian and former Herbert Hoover Library and Museum Director Tim Walch. 

At the end of the program Walch sums up one aspect: that we are able to have such a discussion at all.

Silar

As a boy growing up in Czechoslovakia, Ivan Backer escaped the Holocaust. In this hour of River to River, Backer recounts how his family fled Europe during World War II.

Backer is the author of My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy’s Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism, in which he opens up about the day he fled Prague under Nazi occupation. He talks about Nicholas Winton, the man on who organized the Kindertransport trains that saved Backer and more than six-hundred other children.

photolibrarian / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Fort Atkinson in Northeast Iowa was built and operated in the 1840s.  After it was no longer used by the military, it deteriorated over many years.  In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Bill Whittaker, Research Director in the Office of the State Archeologist of Iowa.  

Whittaker says that his office did research at the site and was aided through a common archeological exploration of the bathroom.

Celina Karp Biniaz: From Auschwitz to Des Moines

Sep 11, 2017

In a boxcar headed to Switzerland,  13-year-old Celina Karpa "Schindler Jew"was shocked to instead find herself at the Auschwitz concentration camp when the train's doors opened. Soon after, along with hundreds of other women, she was marched into a shower.

"We were wondering, 'are we going to get gas, or are we going to get showers?' You can't imagine the relief, even though we were in Auschwitz, when the water came down."

W.W. Norton & Co.

This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks live with two Iowa writers, Inara Verzemnieks and Elizabeth Dinschel.

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

A new online collection of primary source materials from Iowa and U.S. history is up and running as of today. The Primary Source Sets contain 174 items, including photographs, maps, audio recordings and documents.

The online collection was created for K-12 educators who are now required to teach Iowa history as part of their curriculums, though anyone can access the materials.

NASA Public Domain

Iowa has a connection to the Apollo moon landing, which happened 48 years ago.  The communications equipment in the command module was designed by Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids.  In this portion of River to River, Mike Wilson joins the conversation. He is former VP of operations at Collins Radio and also worked for Rockwell-Collins once that company was formed.  Wilson says they had two sets of equipment in the case.

Ben Stanton/IPR

Farm toys can be toy tractors, harvesters, plows, and other equipment.  Some are meant to be played with, and others—the "precision models"—many people take great care to keep in good shape.  During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what farm toys mean to collectors. 

Guests include Kate Bossen of Bossen Implement in Lamont; Amanda Schwartz, the manager of the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville; and Chuck Steffens from Sherrill, who makes custom parts to add to the farm toy models.

Amy Mayer, IPR

Iowa’s state park system is turning 100 years old this year. The anniversary comes as state budget cuts threaten their upkeep.

It was 1917 when the act to establish Iowa’s state parks passed the Legislature. An associate professor of landscape architecture at Iowa State, Heidi Hohmann, is studying the history of the parks. She says there was growing interest at the time in preserving the scenic beauty of the land. As a result, she says, state parks became popular recreation areas.

Courtesy of Debby and Bill Marine

50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. Until this ruling, intermarriage was forbidden in many states.

Iowa became the second state to legalize interracial marriage a century before the rest of America, back in 1851.

When the Supreme Court finally banned laws against interracial marriage in all states, just three percent of newlyweds were intermarried. Since then, that number has increased fivefold. Today, one in six new marriages is mixed race.

Ben Kieffer/IPR

In this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer takes a tour of a new exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum that opens this weekend. Museum Director Tom Schwartz gives some insight into American Presidents as people.

Collier's New Encyclopedia, v. 10, 1921

On April 6th, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany and the U.S. joined World War I.  More than 114,000 Iowans served in the armed forces during WWI, and 3,576 Iowans lost their lives.

During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation looking back on this pivotal moment in world history and the role that Iowa played at home and abroad.

Lynn Smith is an audio visual archivist for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, and a few years ago, she made a discovery.

“I was looking at films that were supposed to be in black and white and on the side, I saw ‘kodacolor.’ So, I started doing some research,” says Smith. "Kodacolor film appears to be in black and white until it's run through a special projector." 

The color film she uncovered contains the earliest known color images of the White House and was shot by former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover.

Michael Bornstein (bottom right) with other children, showing their number tattoos / Courtesy of Pańtswowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau

Michael Bornstein was just four years old when his family was forced from their home in Poland and taken by train to Auschwitz. He survived seven months at the death camp before he was liberated.

After the war, Bornstein and his mother moved to the United States. In 1966 he graduated from the University of Iowa with his PhD.

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