Iowa Week

You’re a native Iowan, so you know everything there is to know about this state, right?  Well, maybe.

Whether you’re new to Iowa or a lifelong resident, you know there are a lot of things that make our state special.  Every year, Iowa Public Radio’s talk shows dedicate an entire week to a specific theme that focuses on things uniquely Iowan.  We call it “Iowa Week.”  It may be the famous and influential people who have called this state home, or the numerous ways in which our state has shaped history.  “Iowa Week” highlights the things you may not have known about Iowa.  We hope you’ll join us in celebrating “Iowa Week,” each September on Talk of Iowa (10:00 a.m.) and River to River (12:00 p.m.) on Iowa Public Radio.

Metal Chris / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Many decry the coarsening of our political discourse. History demonstrates that politics has always been a "contact sport." But over the years Iowa's social capital has allowed Iowans to disagree without being disagreeable.

Katherine Perkins / IPR

There was a time when Iowans knew their neighbors. They relied on each other to help with labor on the farm, or to keep an eye on children. And if you didn't see your neighbors during the week, you saw them on Sunday at church. But as church attendance declines and farms are fewer and farther between, Iowans are finding new ways to form community.

Doug McGr / Flickr

When the automobile became available to the larger population, it made major waves in how people spent their weekends. Iowa was no different, as both rural and urban areas saw the advent of drive-in movie theaters.

“We had over 80 drive-ins across the state at one time. You could be in a larger town, but towns like Pocahontas had drive-ins, Perry, Emmetsburg, and they would stay open late into the fall,” says Iowa State Historical Society state curator Leo Landis.

Photo Courtesy Daniel Moon

Twenty years ago in Iowa, the influx of latino workers and their families was a large topic of conversation. Today, refugee programs are working with more than 180 different languages and are helping migrants from all over the world navigate culture in Iowa, and starting to include ideas of sexual identity and socio-economic status in the conversation.

During this hour of River to River, we hear from Henny Ohr, Executive Director of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center, about the influx of refugees from Burma who have been relocating to Iowa.

Iowa Digital Library / Flickr

From one room country schools to high tech multi-million dollar facilities, schools in Iowa have changed a lot. What goes on inside the schools has changed a lot too.

“Every decade or two we see these large transformations in what the school is asked to do."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe kicks off "Iowa Week: Then and Now" with a look at education in Iowa over the years.

Mark Kortum / Flickr

Parenting in Iowa has changed a lot over the decades.

“We have the luxury of giving lots and lots of time and energy to kids that our great-grandparents didn’t,” says Pamela Riney-Kehrberg of Iowa State University.

kc7fys / Flickr

When the closure of two of Iowa's four mental health institutes was announced earlier this year, there was huge backlash from the mental health community. But Dr. Michael Flaum, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, says he's not overly concerned. 


The way we think about food has changed a lot over the last 30 years. Today, we see yogurt and brown rice on mainstream grocery store shelves, but that wasn't always the case. Theresa Carbery, one of the founders of New Pioneer Food Coop in Iowa City, says in the early 1970s, she was a part of a buyers' club to get foods that weren't available in grocery stores. 

Ben Kieffer

This edition of River to River kicks off Iowa Public Radio’s Iowa Week with the theme “then and now.”

Karen Blaha / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa and Georgia have one thing in common: they're known for their signature crop. But one man is blurring those lines. 

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

When we think of Iowa landscape, Iowa prairie and Iowa farm field immediately come to mind. But there's an unexpected gem of Iowa land that often gets overlooked: the fen. / Flickr

Iowa gained attention for the Supreme Court decision overturning a ban on same sex marriage. But the ruling was no surprise given the court's history.

Matchstick Marvels

Maybe your parents took you to the American Gothic House in Eldon when you were a kid. Or maybe you stopped by the Field of Dreams in Dyersville on a road trip. But have you been to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery in Traer?

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Today, there are four recognized strokes in competitive swimming. It wasn't always that way. 

Courtesy of Tenor Madness

Iowa’s music scene is known for names like Glenn Miller, Slipknot, and Greg Brown, but we don’t often don’t think of the people who make their careers possible: the instrument builders.

Iowa Caucus

Since 1972, the Iowa caucuses have been the first significant hurdle for presidential hopefuls from both parties.

Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a fan of electronica, you’ve got several Iowans to thank.

William R. Goodwin / Wikimedia Commons

Most of us have filled in those tiny rows of bubbles with a No. 2 pencil. But who creates standardized tests? Who tests them? And why do we have to use a No. 2 pencil in the first place?

Steev Hise

Iowa is a destination for many aspiring writers from around the world, but the state has also been the origin of many gifted authors.

Kepper66 / Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve spent any time in Iowa then you’ve heard the name ‘Amana’ thrown around. But what about ‘Icarian’?

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

In our collective imagination, Iowa is often depicted as nothing but a flatland covered in corn. But is it really?

Iowans In War

Sep 27, 2013
Christopher Ebdon / flickr

From the notable case of the Sullivan brothers in World War II, to the lesser known but significant involvement in the Civil War, Iowans have a long history of fighting for their country. Today on River To River, we close “Iowa Week” with an account of Iowa’s military history, from the Civil War, to current-day conflicts.

Iowa State University

Iowa’s rich soil has made it an ideal place to grow plants, it has also made our state an ideal place to grow and train horticulturists.  Host Charity Nebbe, wraps up Iowa week with profiles of some of the most gifted and influential horticulturists in Iowa history.  Their lasting contributions include apples, roses, peanuts and the formation of Iowa State Agricultural College.

One day in 1968, the day after the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, Jane Elliott, a teacher in the small town of Riceville, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups…and gave them a lesson in discrimination. 

Peter Zillmann / HPZ / Flickr

Iowa is home to a baseball fan who sees ghosts, one spunky librarian who owns all the books in River City's library and a cat with presidential aspirations.  It is also the future birthplace of legendary starship commander Capt. James T.

Gerry Chamberlin

In 1965, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker arrived at her Des Moines junior high wearing a black armband to protest the Vietnam War.  Little did she know that this simple act would lead to a historic and controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Iowa Musicians

Sep 25, 2013
François Péladeau

Meredith Willson left his home state of Iowa behind when he was 18 years old, but later as his career soared, he brought Iowa to Broadway and Hollywood with “The Music Man.”  Join host Charity Nebbe as Iowa Week continues to hear the stories of some of Iowa’s most famous musicians.  

Iowa Medicine

Sep 25, 2013
Colin Burnett

Nearly 200-thousand babies each year are born with congenital clubfoot. On this River to River, Iowa Week continues with a look at pioneering work in medicine.  Hear about the Iowa-based Ponseti International Association which treats clubfoot.  Dr. Herman Hein will tell us about Iowa's Statewide Perinatal Program, which has helped mothers and newborn babies receive needed medical care, and the remarkable story of how the University of Iowa's College of Medicine was funded almost one hundred years ago.

Steve Brower

Aldo Leopold once wrote, “I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” It is partly due to his work that today's children don’t yet face that future.  Today Charity Nebbe continues Iowa Week a discussion on Iowa’s most influential conservationists.  She looks into the lives and work of Earnest Oberholtzer, John Lacey, Ada Hayden, and Louis Pammel.

Iowa Inventors

Sep 23, 2013
Ray Krebs / flickr

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread,” but did you know the inventor of sliced bread is from Iowa? Today on River To River, we hear about the lives of some Iowa inventors that made an impact on their state, country, and even the world.

The Iowa inventors we cover on the show include: