Iowa Archives

Iowa Public Radio’s historic audio project is the most accessible collection of Iowa voice and sound recordings that we know of. Since we launched Iowa Archives in 2007 we have broadcast hundreds of sound clips, including some that go back to the 19th century. We have discovered these sound treasures in libraries, museums, broadcast archives, on the Internet, and in private collections.

If you have unique old recordings or an idea you’d like to suggest, send an email to Iowa Archives producer Rick Fredericksen.

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Iowa Archives
11:38 am
Mon November 11, 2013

In Uniform

USA.gov

In war or in peace, thousands of Iowans have served in the armed forces.  With both archival audio and original interviews, "In Uniform" honors and remembers Iowa veterans who sacrificed and served the country since the Civil War all the way up to the War on Terror.

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Days Numbered for Iowa Penitentiary

The Fort Madison prison is older than the state of Iowa
kcrg.com

One of the oldest records that Iowa still holds will be lost soon. That is when the earliest operating prison west of the Mississippi will he replaced by an all-new Iowa State penitentiary. We explore the history of the Fort Madison prison, with rare audio from WOI-TV, Sky TV and MSNBC.

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Vietnamese Orphans and President Ford

Alan and Lorena Van Der Kamp hold pictures of son Mark. Photos on the wall are grandson Blake.
Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio

Grateful Americans are honoring former President Gerald Ford this weekend at a reunion in Dana Point, California.  They owe their citizenship, and perhaps their lives, to the man born in Omaha, 100 years ago this Sunday. Iowa Archives remembers “Operation Babylift,” and the epic rescue of several thousand Vietnamese orphans. 

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Two Highways; Two Centennials

Gas, food and lodging; the intact all-in-one stop in Colo.
Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio

As Iowans take to the road for family vacations, there is new appreciation for two of Iowa’s oldest highways. The Lincoln is 100 years old, and proud of it, but Iowa Public Radio has discovered a grassroots effort to revive the Jefferson Highway too. Rick Fredericksen produces Iowa Archives, our historic audio series.

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Fri May 17, 2013

For Sale: Historic Register Building

The Register's headquarters at 8th and Locust.
Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio

One of Iowa's most strategic pieces of of real estate is up for sale; The Des Moines Register is preparing to vacate its long time headquarters next month. Now, nearly a hundred years of history is making news again. We take a tour and listen to old recordings.

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Vietnam POWs Mark 40 Years of Freedom

Former Navy radar intercept officer Larry Spencer shares his experiences as a POW to a mens' club at the Edgewater Community.
Rick Fredericksen IPR

It was code-named Operation Homecoming, when the U.S. and North Vietnam signed a peace agreement and our prisoners of war started coming home.We remember the defining events of that time, with historic sound from our Iowa Archives project.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 am
Mon December 31, 2012

Best Music of Iowa Archives

The Everly Brothers
Credit last.fm

If you've new to the Iowa Archives project, this special broadcast is the best link to click; featuring more than 100 years of music with connections to Iowa. We've reached into our collection of historic sound treasures for old radio clips, rare recordings and cherished interviews. You will be astonished at the depth of Iowa's contributions to music, from composers, to vocalists and even places that have become music landmarks. It is like a variety show for the ages, with performances by Glenn Miller, Andy Williams, Superman and much more. Highly recommended!

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Army Band Prepares for Big Parade

Credit 34th Army Band

When Iowans gather in Des Moines tomorrow to thank veterans for their service, one of the National Guard's most decorated units will be among those leading the parade. Historic 1965 audio from the 34th Army Band in Burlington and the Val Air Ballroom in 1967.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri May 18, 2012

The Iowa Cornets

An Iowa Cornets Jacket, one of the items of memorabilia in the collection of Rich Cummins of Mitchellville.
Rick Fredericksen

The WNBA opens play this weekend and former University of Iowa player Tangela Smith will be in uniform for the San Antonio Silver Stars. It was here in Iowa, 34 years ago, where women's professional basketball was born. We look back at charter team and its biggest star. Historic audio from the Iowa Women's Archives.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Saving Ottumwa Naval Air Station

A post card showing the old Admin Building at the Ottumwa Naval Air Station.

As Iowa tries to retain its last jet fighter base in Des Moines, a non-profit group is hoping to save one of the last remnants of an air station that closed at the end of World War Two. Historic audio from Stearman training film and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

New Deal (Part Two)

Big Bill Broonzy was a Depression-era Blues singer who once worked at Iowa State University.
Credit www.broonzy.com

Mention the New Deal, and most Iowans would think of a bridge, state park or school gymnasium. But the arts also flourished during the Great Depression, thanks to federal programs that gave jobs to painters, sculptors, writers and performers. A museum director calls it, "the greatest art movement in Iowa in 100 years."

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Thu January 19, 2012

New Deal (Part One)

The stone shelter at Spirit Lake's Mini-Wakan State Park was a New Deal project.

Seventy-five years ago, the federal government bankrolled countless infrastructure programs that put tens of thousands of Iowans to work; many of the projects are enjoying a revival, of sorts. Some are being renovated, others are endangered, and many are just as vital as they were in the 1930s.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri September 9, 2011

Nine-Eleven Anniversary

Air Force One is part of Iowa's 9-11 history.
Credit The White House

One of the most tragic days in America's history comes flooding back this weekend, as we commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9-11. Citizens of Iowa were casualties, mourners, and heroes. Our historic sound project looks back at those terrifying days, using audio recordings gathered by IPR reporters.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Butter Cow Centennial

The late sculptor Duffy Lyon in 1960.
Credit Iowa State Fair

A birthday party, a secret, and something found in most refrigerators. That combination will surely entice visitors to an iconic exhibit at the State Fair next month. Sculpting has commenced for the centennial of the butter cow. But the celebration will be tempered by the passing of the tradition's most famous artist.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Sun June 26, 2011

Stepperettes

Credit Stepperettes on Facebook

Memories were flowing at a reunion of the Stepperettes, a legendary precision drill team that represented Iowa for two decades. Audio clip from 1967 sound track filmed at Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri May 27, 2011

Sullivan Brothers

Credit Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

On Memorial Day weekend 70 years ago, a large Irish family was at home in eastern Iowa enjoying its last spring together. No one knew that the five Sullivan brothers were bound for history, in a tragedy that would shake the nation in a time of war. Historic audio from 1943-1944.

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Iowa Archives
12:00 am
Tue May 3, 2011

WACS Train at Fort Des Moines

An old recruiting poster for the WACs

A new museum exhibit is coming together that will tell the story of how gender equality came to the U.S. Army. It all started at Fort Des Moines.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Classical and Classic (Des Moines Symphony)

Special guest Carlos Montoya performed with the Des Moines Symphony in 1965.

The Des Moines Symphony concludes its season next month with a classical Russian program. In 1965, the season ended with something entirely different and a recording of that performance has just surfaced. “Iowa Archives” looks back at the symphony’s early years.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Thu March 10, 2011

Scottish Highlanders

A nationwide search is underway for graduates of the largest pipe and drum band in the world. It is all in preparation for a reunion in Iowa City. Historic sound extends back to 1948.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon February 28, 2011

Mental Health Flashbacks

Cherokee Mental Health Institute
Credit Cherokee Chronicle Times

It was 150 years ago this week when the “Iowa Lunatic Asylum” opened in Mount Pleasant and the state’s first mental health patient was admitted. Just about everything has changed since then, but a series of old television documentaries reveals a glimpse of the dark days of mental health care in Iowa, including frightening treatments now abandoned. Original WOI-TV documentary was filmed in 1952.

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Talk of Iowa
11:00 am
Wed December 29, 2010

Best of Iowa Archives

Host Rick Fredericksen dives into archival material compiled from his Iowa Archives project. Among the audio documentaries explored- the story behind the voice of George Washington Carver; the centennials of Camp Dodge; a look back at the state's worst train crash disaster and audio letters from Vietnam.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Salute to Vet's Auditorium

Veterans Memorial Auditorium
Credit Iowa Events Center

This is the first time we've applied our historic sound project to a building. Iowa's largest memorial to war veterans is closed for renovation. Sometimes called the "barn," it will never be the same. Historic audio clips come from Iowa Public Television, the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting and IPR. Note: Vets reopened in 2012.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Tue November 9, 2010

Andy Williams (Part Two)

Credit Andy Williams Birthplace Museum

It has been 45 years since the Williams Brothers broke up. That’s when the youngest member launched his own act. Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen was in the audience recently, and concludes his profile on Iowa native Andy Williams, who passed away in 2012. (Part One is posted below) Historic audio courtesy of Iowa Public TV, Andy Williams, his birthplace museum and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon November 8, 2010

Andy Williams (Part One)

The Williams Brothers quartet, in Chicago.
Credit Andy Williams Birthplace Museum

It was just over 75 years ago when a young Iowa boy joined his brothers in a church choir in western Iowa. Until 2012, when Andy Williams passed away, he was one of the most productive octogenarians in entertainment. Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen traveled to Wall Lake and Branson, Missouri, for this 2-part, Iowa Archives special. Historic audio comes from Andy Williams, his birthplace museum, and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Thu September 30, 2010

Hoover Dam Turns 75

Still an engineering marvel today.
Credit US Department of Interior

It was the biggest shovel-ready, public works project of its time. 75-years ago today, a mammoth dam, named after Herbert Hoover, was dedicated on the Colorado River. It remains, perhaps, the biggest accomplishment in the former Iowan's presidency. Historic audio dates back to 1928.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Wed September 15, 2010

Jack Shelley 1912-2010

Jack Shelley (left) helps news reporter Rick Fredericksen with IPR awards won at the Iowa Broadcast News Association
Credit Rick Fredericksen

A beloved Iowa journalist is being remembered today. Jack Shelley passed away last night at the age of 98. Shelley was there in the early days of radio and television and sent home riveting stories from WWII. We look back at the career of this pioneer broadcaster. Sounds from 1945-1953 in Guam, Belgium, Tokyo Bay and the state of Nevada. Major events related to the atomic bomb are closely linked to Shelley's news coverage. Old audio is from WHO's original recordings, on fire at the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.

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Talk of Iowa
11:00 am
Mon June 21, 2010

Best of Iowa Archives III

In a special edition of Talk of Iowa, more highlights from our award-winning historic sound project. It's an audio museum on the air with Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen. Among the destinations, Clear Lake where three rock and roll pioneers died in a tragic plane crash, plus the birth places of baseball great Bob Feller and actor George Reeves.

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Talk of Iowa
11:00 am
Tue June 15, 2010

Best of Iowa Archives Part II

In a special edition of Talk of Iowa, more highlights from our award-winning historic sound project. It's an audio museum on the air with Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen. Among the destinations, an antique roller rink, the site of a nuclear explosion and the Amana Colonies.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Thu May 27, 2010

Winterset Remembers "The Alamo"

The 1960 movie is still widely available.
Credit John Wayne Birthplace Museum

They're remembering the Alamo this weekend in Madison County. Specifically, the epic film that was the first movie ever directed by John Wayne. Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen reports from the actor's home town of Winterset.

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Talk of Iowa
11:00 am
Tue May 25, 2010

Best of Iowa Archives, Part One

The original program in the series of Best of Iowa Archives. In Part One, Rick Fredericksen presents a collection of his features crafted with historic sound from Iowa's past, this hour with the voices of Nan Wood, Karl King, John Wayne and others.

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