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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release February 2, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Historical Museum marks Black History Month with display

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum marks Black History Month in February with a new display related to African American Iowans, issues and events.

“Celebrating Black History Month” is on display now through March at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.iowahistory.org for more information.

“Iowa has a long and rich history regarding African American issues and events, ranging from the Underground Railroad to President Obama’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “I encourage all Iowans to visit the museum and see this wonderful display.”

“Celebrating Black History Month” includes a wide variety of artifacts and information about:

  • An Honor Roll of African Americans who trained at Camp Dodge during World War I.
  • Henry H. Triplett, an early Iowa resident whose mother, Martha Triplett, and her five brothers were among the first African Americans to live in present-day Iowa in 1839. Henry became a blacksmith and three of his uncles served in the 60th U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War.
  • Dr. Edward A. Carter, who practice medicine in the early 1900s in Buxton, a coal-mining town in Monroe County.
  • The Colored Cowboys, a barnstorming, comedic softball team from Sioux City in the mid-1900s.
  • Local musical legend and Iowa Blues Hall of Fame member Jimmy “Midnight Cowboy” Pryor.
  • Local legend Isaac “Big Daddy” Seymour, a legendary Des Moines barbecue restaurant owner.
  • Louis Armstrong, who had an LP cut at the Val Air Ballroom in 1943.
  • Herbert Cox, Iowa’s first African American deejay.
  • Examples of negative racial stereotyping.
  • Quilts, dolls, political items and more.

In addition, the museum’s “Patten’s Neighborhood” permanent exhibit features materials from Robert E. Patten, who operated a Des Moines printing business serving the African American community from the 1920s through the 1960s.

The Patten exhibit’s business cards, restaurant menus, posters of community and church events, social clubs and calendars give another insight into African American life in Iowa.

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 The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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