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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release February 9, 2009

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

Explore international refugee issues, Underground Railroad Feb 14-15 at WHTC

(COUNCIL BLUFFS) – International refugee issues and Southwest Iowa’s role in the Underground Railroad take center stage this weekend at the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs.

 Marc Breslaw, executive director, United States Association for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will talk about international refugee issues at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009, at WHTC, 3434 Richard Downing Avenue in Council Bluffs. The presentation is free and open to the public.

 USA for UNHCR is an independent nonprofit organization that supports the UN Refugee Agency through fundraising and education. In more than five decades, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.

 Breslaw previously served as associate director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and director of development at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, both in Washington, D.C. Breslaw holds a Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

WHTC’s focus will shift Sunday to Council Bluffs author James Patrick Morgans, who will talk about Southwest Iowa’s history as the hub for one of the most exciting Freedom Trails on the legendary Underground Railroad.

Morgans’ discussion will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009, at WHTC. The event is free and open to the public.

Participants will learn how Southwest Iowa offered numerous sites providing aid and comfort to many who were escaping the horrors of human slavery prior to the Civil War.

 They will also discover how the people of Tabor helped to keep slavery out of the newly formed territories of Kansas and Nebraska; the importance of the Jim Lane Trail through Iowa; and how the ghost of John Brown can still be heard in the area.

 Morgans has written “John Todd and the Underground Railroad: Biography of an Iowa Abolitionist,” a book published by McFarland & Co. He is working on another book tentatively titled “The Underground Railroad on the Western Frontier,” also to be published by McFarland in 2010.

 Morgans will take audience questions following his presentation and sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase at the event.

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 The Western Historic Trails Center is operated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. SHSI 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. Please visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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