About the State Historical Society > News > 2011

State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release April 12, 2011

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

State Historical Museum launches traveling Civil War exhibit

Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds attend ribbon-cutting ceremony

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum launched a new traveling Civil War exhibit today during a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and EMC Insurance Companies’ Tanya Wentzel.

Presented by EMC, “The Fiery Trial: Iowa and the Civil War” is housed in a 32-foot trailer that will travel to local museums, libraries, schools and other venues across the state to serve Iowans in their communities.

“As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War today, we are reminded of Iowa’s strong connections to that conflict,” Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Tiffany Cownie said. “This exhibit will give Iowans a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of those who served and for those who remained at home.”

The exhibit is part of DCA’s “History on the Move” educational outreach program, which began two years ago in response to teachers, educators and other Iowans who said they do not have time or resources to travel to the State Historical Museum on a regular basis.

DCA kicked off “History on the Move” with an exhibit about President Abraham Lincoln’s ties to Iowa. That exhibit served more than 25,000 Iowans in their communities last year.

This year, with the support of EMC Insurance Companies, continued support from Union Pacific Foundation, and support from Qwest, the State Historical Museum transformed the trailer into “The Fiery Trial.”

The exhibit includes:

  • A visual timeline of Iowa’s participation in the Civil War.
  • Exhibits about Iowans and their Civil War experiences.
  • Information about Annie Wittenmyer, a Sanitation Agent for Iowa who oversaw the needs of Union Army soldiers.
  • The impact of the Civil War on Iowa.
  • The role Iowa played in the Civil Rights movement when it approved the right to vote for African-Americans.
  • A computer program that allows visitors to research Civil War ancestors by person, town, township or congressional district.

“The Fiery Trial” is available for bookings by contacting State Historical Museum Director Michael Smith at michael.smith@iowa.gov or 515-281-3859. Bookings include a $50 reservation fee and a $150 travel expense fee.

Schools, libraries, museums and others that book the exhibit will receive Web-based Civil War study guides through the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Prairie Voices curriculum, and from SHSI’s Battle Flag program. Links to those Web pages follow:

Host venues will also receive the books, “Profiles of Valor: Iowa’s Medal of Honor Recipients of the Civil War” by Sen. Dennis Black and “Outside In: African-American History in Iowa, 1838-2000,” published by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

More information about the State Historical Society of Iowa is available at www.iowahistory.org.


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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