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.

Historian Tom Morain started working at Living History Farms in 1981. That was the beginning of a career dedicated to researching, teaching and sharing Iowa history.

"Iowa history is one of the few subjects that you're walking around surrounded by primary resources... People who know Iowa history because they've lived it," says Morain. "If [teachers] have materials on what happened locally, how local towns responded to that, our experience has been they love it and students love it."

S Pakhrin

History is written by the victors, and for hundreds of years, that has meant that the history of indigenous people in the U.S. has been simplified, twisted, or simply ignored.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

The roaring 20s are oft-idealized in modern media, but a dark side persisted. To fuel the parties, the booze, and the fun, an elaborate system of bootlegging, grifting, prostitution and gambling was created by a few prominent mobsters.

In this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Jonathan Eig, author of Get Capone, and Markus Eckhart, curator of Ain't Misbehavin? The World of the Gangster at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Davenport Public Library

History doesn't have to be pretty to be worth preserving.  As the Preserve Iowa Summit gets underway in Davenport, Charity Nebbe speaks with four unique guests about historic preservation in Iowa: Paula Mohr, Dustin Oliver, Rosemary Thornton and Duane Timm.

William Anderson

Hundreds of millions of people, young and old, have read the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the beloved Little House on the Prairie series.

Courtesy of Jim Peters

Dogs have always had a knack for finding bones. Trained dogs can sniff out explosives, drugs, victims of disasters.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the owners of some canine archeologists who put their bone finding skills to good use. The founders of Samaritan Detection Dogs use trained dogs to help in some unusual ways with archaeological research, conservation work, and human remains cases.

The History Press

Murders were uncommon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the 1940s, and especially a murder at the very high-end Roosevelt Hotel, sometimes called the Ritz-Carlton of Eastern Iowa.   On Dec. 15, 1948, a hotel chambermaid found aircraft engineer Byron Hattman dead in room 729.  

Pete Zarria

Even before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the founders of the United States established the post office as the circulatory system of America’s body politic.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with New York Times best-selling author Winifred Gallagher, author of How the Post Office Created America.

On Thanksgiving night in 1858, two women left their Nebraska City home, and, with the help from abolitionists, Celia and Eliza traveled more than 500 miles to Chicago in search of freedom. 

Arlington Nebraska High School History Teacher Barry Jurgensen learned about them when he read the book Necessary Courage by Lowell Soike in 2013, and now he has set out on foot to recreate the Journey that Celia and Eliza took. He’s walking 527 miles across Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois with three of his students in an attempt to raise awareness about modern day slavery.

WIKICOMMONS / Farragutful

An eastern Iowa town of 2,800 people is investing in its future by reviving the past.

Wilton was recently awarded a $500,000 federal grant to restore its downtown.

That's money it plans to match through tax increment financing and funds from local businesses. 

Becky Allgood of the Wilton Development Corporation says she hopes that renovating the facades of 18 downtown buildings to their original 19th century aesthetic will draw new businesses to the community. Soon, structures will display features like original brickwork and iron columns. 

ACE Foundation / Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Hall of Fame has a new inductee - Roger Maxwell. Maxwell is a talented trombone player, in addition to a teacher and composer. He's also a trailblazer and advocate for the African-American community in Iowa. 

During his childhood in Marshalltown, segregation was very real. He couldn't go to the pool, except for a two hour period on Sunday mornings, and blacks weren't allowed to stay in local hotels. 

"We just accepted the conditions. We knew where we could not go, and we just accepted that," he says. 

Victor Daly / Ft. Des Moines Museum

Nearly 100 years after the Army's first black officers' training program debuted in Iowa, dozens of old photographs have been discovered showing what life was like when Fort Des Moines was gearing up for World War I. 

The country's oldest African American fraternity returned to its early roots this month when the Fort Des Moines Museum welcomed members of Alpha Phi Alpha in remembering their brothers from generations ago. In 1917, the national fraternity helped recruit black college students to become officers, and a racial barrier was broken. 

Iowa Governor's Office

A restoration project honoring a former governor and Civil War veteran will receive the first grant from the Iowa History Fund, which was set up as part of Governor Branstad’s longest serving governor observance.  

The $6500 grant will complete fundraising to restore the mausoleum at Woodland Cemetery of Samuel Merrill. 


The Bible is the most read book of all time. For billions of people around the world, it provides answers, and it also leaves many questions.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with archaeologist and biblical scholar Robert Cargill, who has worked long, hard, and traveled far to find an answer to the question of - Where did the Bible come from?

He's written about what he has found in his new book, The Cities that Built the Bible.

Louis / Flickr

In the spring of 1916 war raged in Europe and tensions rose in the United States. In response, some far-sighted Iowans decided it was time to bring the Red Cross to Iowa.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on the history of the American Red Cross, the work of its volunteers, and the mission of the Red Cross in Iowa today. Volunteer Nancy Kintner remembers an experience she had in Cedar Rapids during the 2008 flood recovery.

Lee Wright / Flickr

In January, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced a plan to renovate and modernize the state historical building of Iowa. That comes after the department scaled back hours and made staffing changes at the historical building in Iowa City. The new plan has some Iowa historians very worried.

Dianne Dillon Ridgley

Two events put Henry Hampton on the path to creating an award-winning documentary series about the Civil Rights movement. That's according to his friend, human rights and environmental activist Dianne Dillon Ridgley.

Photo by John Pemble.

Fifty years ago this week, students in the Des Moines school district were suspended for wearing black armbands to silently protest the Vietnam War. They sued the district and lost, but eventually a Supreme Court decision ruled in their favor in a case considered a landmark for first amendment rights. This week those students are visiting Des Moines schools to share their history-making experience with a new generation. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad met wellwishers in his formal office this morning on his 7,640th day in office.   That makes him the longest-serving governor in U.S. history.  

Childhood friends and longtime supporters came to the open house to congratulate Branstad on the milestone.  

Branstad explains his longevity this way.

"Growing up on a farm and learning to work hard at an early age," Branstad says.  "I had great teachers who encouraged me to go into public service."

Principia School / Flickr

There's more than a century between the candidacies of William Jennings Bryan and Bernie Sanders, but history is still repeating itself when it comes to the elections of 1900 and 2016.

"The Industrial Revolution was creating that same gap that the technological revolution has expanded. There was a sense of dizzying inventions that were being made, that the pace of life was speeding up. People were moving from the farm to the city, so it was a disorienting age much like our own. So that was really the spur for the populist movement."

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

In Iowa, state-specific history is taught in fourth grade. For most Iowans, that's the last they'll learn about their state's past. Tom Morain, Director of Government Relations at Graceland University and former head of State Historical Society of Iowa, is working to change that. He's developed a curriculum, an online course he's dubbed Iowa 101, that anyone, anywhere in or out of state, can access and participate in.

What makes Iowa, Iowa?  How did we get to be ‘us?’ These are questions that Michael Luick-Thrams, of the TRACES Center for History and Culture based in Mason City, set out to answer. 

"I grew up in a very different Iowa. Iowa has changed," he says. "Moving forward, there will be more changes, and the questions is 'how thoughtful will it be?'" 

Fourth Wall Films

U.S. Highway 6 runs from California to Massachusetts, the longest of all highways.  It has traversed Iowa in one form or another since about 1910, when parts of it were made from wooden planks.  We don't sing songs about Route 6 and it doesn't carry the historical mystique of the Lincoln Highway, but it's a road with a fascinating history and many associated stories from over the decades.

Photo by John Pemble

Small science fiction booklets created by amateurs in the 1930s gave birth to the independent publication known as zines or fanzines. The University of Iowa special collections department is storing thousands of rare zines, which are now are in the process of being digitized for the first time.  They are stored in a secure area of the University of Iowa libraries where the ceiling lights have special filters to prevent damage to priceless documents.

John Pemble

Forty years ago, the U.S. withdrew its last troops from Vietnam, marking the end of what was then America’s longest and most wrenching war.

On this edition of River to River, four Iowa veterans reflect on their time in Vietnam.

Dan Gannon, Roger Elliott, Ron Langel, and Caesar Smith join the program to share their experiences as medics, repairmen, career soldiers, and draftees. Host Ben Kieffer talks with them about post-traumatic stress disorder, what it was like to come home to those not in support of the war, and how they have viewed military conflicts since.

PaulAdamsPhotography / flickr

The history of Iowa isn't flashy, but the state is home to many fascinating stories and hidden treasures.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with Jessica Rundlett of the Iowa State Historical Society to learn about some of Iowa's most interesting hidden gems. Rundlett helped create the new Iowa Culture Mobile App, that can act as your guide on a road trip or reveal some of the historical treasures around at any given time.

Iowa Public Radio / Clay Masters

CLAY MASTERS: Last October we brought you the story of $3 million worth of illegal construction productions at one of the nation’s most sacred Native American burial grounds. And it happened under the watch of the National Park Service.

Now this we’re talking about is Effigy Mounds. It’s up in northeast Iowa. And new evidence shows that the National Park Service has covered up a report on the Effigy Mounds scandal.

Ryan Foley is with me. He’s a reporter with the Associated Press here in Iowa. Hello Ryan.

RYAN FOLEY: Hello Clay.

Jasperdo / Flickr

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government incarcerated 110,000 Japanese Americans in interment camps. When the war ended and those Americans were allowed to go home, the thousands of barracks that they called home were left behind. The government sold them to any one who could move them, often for just a dollar a piece.

Guimir / Wikimedia Commons

There's more to Madison County than covered bridges, and some significant historical preservation work will be on display at the Preserve Iowa Summit later this month.