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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release August 5, 2009

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

History for Lunch: William William’s sketches of 1849

Alan Nelson discusses mid-19th century culture Aug. 19

(IOWA CITY) – The State Historical Society of Iowa’s popular History for Lunch lecture continues this month with a presentation about William Williams’ sketches of mid-19th century culture along the Mississippi River.

Alan Nelson will present “Sketches: William Williams’ Journal of 1849” at noon, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009, at SHSI’s Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. The lecture is free and the public is encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call 319-335-3911 for more information.

In 1849, Williams traveled up the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Fort Snelling, Minn., sketching as many as 80 detailed, artistic illustrations of towns, flora and American Indians in a bound journal book.

Nelson’s fast-paced visual presentation includes a discussion of the intriguing circumstances surrounding Williams’ excursion. This chronicle of frontier life in 1849 is from the private collection of Dick and John Atwell, and the Atwell family.

Nelson, born and raised in Fort Doge, received a Bachelor of Science in Distributed Studies in 1967 from Iowa State University. After serving 16 years with the IBM Corporation in Michigan, Nelson spent 16 years in Arizona pursuing patent interests in the golf industry.

Nelson returned to Fort Dodge in 2005 as executive director of the Fort Museum and has spent the past four years traveling and researching more than 90 locations for material related to the history of the city.


The State Historical Society of Iowa 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.


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