Ongoing Coverage:

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
11:00 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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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon May 24, 2010

Buffalo Bill Speaks

William Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, was an early Pony Express rider.

Long before email, and even the Postal Service, the fastest way to get a letter from point-A to point-B, was on horseback. This is the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express, and an Iowan was one of these early mail carriers. Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen profiles the man, who would later become an icon of the Wild West. Historic audio clips go back to 1914.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri April 30, 2010

Audio Letters from Vietnam

Flares light up the night on the outskirts of Saigon, 1969.
Rick Fredericksen

An Iowa soldier took along a small tape recorder for his tour of duty in Vietnam and sent tapes home to his family in Burlington. We witness the Vietnam War through the voice recordings of Lt. Robert McKnight. John Pemble provided technical assistance. The 1968 recordings are held by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Tue April 6, 2010

The Voice of George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver

An author researching the life of famous agricultural scientist George Washington Carver has compiled a rare collection of his recordings. For a man who was educated in Iowa and contributed so much to mankind, Carver’s unusual voice was just as prominent as his vocation. Our oldest recording is about 1938.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon March 15, 2010

Iowa's Worst Train Crash

Passenger cars telescoped together near Green Mountain in 1910.
Credit Marshall County Historical Society

Railroad historians and several communities are remembering a grim anniversary; the worst train crash in Iowa history occurred 100 years ago on March 21st, 1910. More than 100 passengers were killed or injured. The story includes an original telegraph recording from the 1930s.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Wed February 10, 2010

A Man and a Truck

1918 Liberty Truck
Credit Gold Star Museum

Camp Dodge has one of the last, operating, Liberty trucks in the country. One story linked to the rare vehicle details one of the Iowa National Guard’s most difficult missions, enforcing martial law. Note: The new Gold Star Museum is now open for visitors.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Sat January 30, 2010

Frankie Sardo, Last Interview

The Surf Ballroom is holding its Winter Dance Party next week in Clear Lake. Among the rock and roll legends scheduled to attend is the man who performed the opening act at the tragic Winter Dance Party in 1959. This will be his first trip back.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon October 5, 2009

Norman Borlaug, 1914 to 2009

He is one of Iowa’s most famous native sons. Norman Borlaug is credited with averting widespread famine by introducing revolutionary agricultural techniques to farmers around the world. He was a distinguished professor at Texas A&M when he died at the age of 95. Historic audio comes from You Tube, Texas A&M and Iowa Public Radio News.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Wed September 30, 2009

Reflections on a Papal Visit

This weekend, Iowans are remembering the visit of Pope John Paul the Second during his first year as leader of the Catholic Church. It was 30 years ago when the Pope stopped at a country parish near Cumming. Later, Living History Farms was overwhelmed by more than 300,000 people who attended a Papal Mass. Original audio from the historic occasion was recorded on Oct. 4th, 1979.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Tue August 25, 2009

Remembering Khrushchev in Iowa (Part Two)

1959 photo shows Roswell Garst with Khrushchev and their wives.

The conclusion of our series marking the 50th anniversary of Nikita Khrushchev's visit to Iowa. (Part One is posted below) Additional historic audio comes from a Walter Cronkite documentary from CBS News.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon August 24, 2009

Remembering Khruschev in Iowa (Part One)

The Soviet premier with young Harry Bookey in 1959.

Fifty years after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the United States, we re-live the historic two day visit to Iowa with original audio. Recordings are from the ISU Library, University Archives, Jack Shelley's papers, and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Tue June 16, 2009

Fortnightly Club

Fortnightly Club officers in 1934.
Credit Fortnightly Club

Most of us listen to music on radio, CDs, iPods or smart phones. For one special audience, a club in central Iowa still performs live music, just as it has for a hundred years. Historic audio recorded in 1973 by Winifred Kelly.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri May 29, 2009

Flying Fortress Museum

The Liberty Belle museum in Des Moines.
Khun Ohm

She is named Liberty Belle, a proud B-17 bomber that was built in 1945. The aircraft brings back memories, good and bad, for the veterans who flew them. More than 40,000 men went down in B-17s. Iowa Public Radio strapped in for a ride, in this look back at the Flying Fortress. Historic newsreels are from You Tube, circa 1944. Note: Two years after we did this story, The Liberty Belle was destroyed when she made an emergency landing and burned in a cornfield near Chicago.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon May 18, 2009

Camp Dodge Centennial

Barracks at Camp Dodge
Credit Gold Star Museum

For its 100th birthday, we present oral histories from the people who worked and lived at Iowa’s largest military training facility near Des Moines. The recordings are held at the Gold Star Museum.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri May 8, 2009

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

Flu quarantine, 1918

As medical authorities closely monitor the world’s newest flu virus, memories are still vivid from the deadly strain that swept the country long ago. We look back at the pandemic of 1918, through the voices of Iowans who survived the calamity. The oral history interviews were recorded around Iowa between 1977 and 1995. Thanks to the Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri April 10, 2009

Big Band Museum

Credit Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum

A museum, opened in 2010, commemorates musical legend Glenn Miller at his birthplace in Clarinda. We visited the birthplace prior to the new museum's groundbreaking ceremony. Our story features historic audio from the Big Band era, recorded around the U.S. and in England. Courtesy of Cary Hahn and Marvin Negley, the sound clips date from 1939 to 1944.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Thu March 12, 2009

78s Galore

Credit www.claxtonola.com


An Iowa City man who has been collecting 78 rpm recordings most of his life, is now at 7,000 and counting. His phonograph collection is equally impressive. We sample the recordings from the record vault of Dan Daly. Sounds from early to mid 1900s, recorded across America.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Sun February 15, 2009

Lost Home Recordings

A trip to a garage sale leads to a mysterious batch of old private recordings. The plastic, metal and vinyl records are in terrible condition, but we were able to piece together a partial story of lost voices. The recordings were found in a box of cowboy folklore music at a garage sale in Ames. Sounds from circa 1940s, recorded at unknown locations.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Fri January 30, 2009

Fifty Winters Later (Part Two)

The massive dance floor at the Surf
Credit Surf Ballroom

We conclude our series from the Surf Ballroom and the corn field where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson were killed in a plane crash in 1959. Sounds from the late '50s in California, New York, and unknown recording studios. Historic audio is from YouTube. (Part One is posted below)

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Wed January 28, 2009

Fifty Winters Later (Part One)

Iconic glasses like those worn by rocker Buddy Holly

It was 50 winters ago when the fledgling rock and roll world was stunned by the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. We remember their last live performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Sounds from the late '50s in New York, Denver and unknown studios. Historic audio is from YouTube.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon January 5, 2009

Superman's House Doomed

The birthplace of George Reeves in Woolstock
Veronica Guyader

The Woolstock home where actor George Reeves was born has reached the point of no return. The owners plan to raze the building. We present the highlights of this legendary Iowan's career. Recordings from You Tube and a private collector. Sounds from 1939 to the 1950s, in California. Note: The birthplace house was torn down in 2011.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Sat November 22, 2008

Kennedy Assassination

Credit JFK Library

Sounds from the 1960s, recorded in Washington, Greenfield and Des Moines. Forty-five years after the slaying of President John F. Kennedy, we hear the voices of several Iowans whose professional lives were touched by the assassination. Recordings courtesy of WHO Radio and private collector Bill Sherman.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Thu September 4, 2008

The U.S.S. Iowa

Firing the 16 inch guns moves the ship sideways.
Credit USS Iowa Veterans Association

Sounds from 1945 to 1991, from around the world. The USS Iowa was the first of the mighty "Iowa Class" battleships that projected America's global military power for more than a half century. Their potent, 16-inch guns made them the greatest fighting ship of all time. She opened as a museum in 2012 at the Port of Los Angeles. Historic sound from the State Historical Society and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Wed August 20, 2008

Amana Colonies

Amana Community church, 1865.
Credit Amana Heritage Society

A Tri-Centennial is approaching for a breakaway sect of the Lutheran Church in Germany. Since its 1855 arrival, the religious settlement has evolved into one of the Iowa's most popular tourist attractions, but continues to honor its heritage every day. Sounds from 1934 to 1962, recorded around Amana.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Wed May 7, 2008

Wire Recordings

A typical wire recorder

Wire recorders were the hi-tech machines used to capture voice and sound recordings during, and immediately after, World War II. Listen to legendary Iowa jazz pianist Speck Redd on wire, as well as a field report from Germany with the sound of artillery in the background. Jazz recordings came from collector Don Moon and Herb Plambeck's war report is from the Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge. Sounds from 1954 and 1945 recorded in Des Moines and Nuremburg, Germany.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Sun February 10, 2008

Private Pepper's Story

Soon after V-E Day, Iowa G-I's were invited to say hi to mom, in a special Mother's Day radio broadcast back home. Sixty-three years later, an emotional Gerald Pepper of Ames hears his voice as a young Army PFC, for the first time. The original WHO Radio recording was found at the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting, at Wartburg College in Waverly. Sounds from May 1945, in Rosenheim, Germany. Note: Pepper passed away in 2011.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Mon December 24, 2007

Phil Everly: 1939-2014

Credit Everly family fan site

They lived in Iowa only about 8 years, but left behind a delightful recording from a Christmas broadcast in Shenandoah. We remember the Everly Brothers, on the passing of Phil, at the age of 74, on Jan. 3, 2014. This archival feature was first broadcast in 2007, when Phil was 7 and Donny was 9.  Sounds from 1946, 1957 and 1973, in Shenandoah and unknown concert locations. Recordings from KMA Radio and You Tube.

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Iowa Archives
5:00 am
Wed December 12, 2007

Iowa Oldies

Duane Ellett, Floppy and guests
Credit WHO-TV

Sounds from the 1930s to 1980s from various Iowa radio and television stations. A sampling of programs and personalities that were on the air long ago. Recordings provided by the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting, desmoinesbroadcasting.com, WHO-TV and a private collector.

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Iowa Archives
11:00 pm
Sun December 2, 2007

Iowa's Music Man

Credit The Music Man Square

It has been 50 years since Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" premiered on stage (Dec. 19th, 1957). Our sound portrait of this talented Iowan extends back to his early days in radio. Audio courtesy of The Music Man Square Museum, Mason City Foundation and KGLO Radio. Sounds from the 1930s to 1960s, primarily in Mason City and Los Angeles.

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