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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release June 12, 2012

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

State Historical Museum announces summer programs

Civil War highlights schedule; World War I exhibit visits Des Moines June 22

DES MOINES – Iowa’s historical connections to the Civil War and a traveling exhibit about World War I highlight the State Historical Museum of Iowa’s schedule of summer programs.

Civil War-related activities begin Friday with Civil War living historian Richard Fast offering a wood carving demonstration and Douglas Jones discussing the Underground Railroad in Iowa. Other activities this month include a presentation about Civil War cannons and “make-and-take” hard tack – a staple of every Civil War soldier’s daily rations – and medical compresses made entirely from lint.

In July, Dr. Kendall Reed will discuss medical advancements made during the Civil War; Lowell Sneller will explore Civil War submarines; and David Connon will talk about Iowans who fought against the Union. Laura Poresky’s one-woman show will provide a unique examination of proper attire for women during the Civil War era.

These activities and programs will be presented in conjunction with the Museum’s newest exhibition, “Iowa and the Civil War: Nothing But Victory,” which opened in April and has been seen by more than 11,000 people. The exhibition features more than 300 authentic artifacts and documents that tell the stories of Iowa and those who served during America’s bloodiest conflict.

The 10,000 square-foot exhibition recounts the first-hand experiences of Iowans at war and the communities that supported them, and showcases historic battle flags and the actual weaponry – cannons, guns and swords – used in some of the most important events and turning points of the Civil War.

In addition, the State Historical Museum is partnering with Waddell & Reed to present the “Honoring our History World War I” traveling gallery on Friday, June 22, 2012, from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., on Finkbine Drive on the Capitol Complex in Des Moines. “Honoring our History World War I” is a year-long national tour honoring the men and women who served in World War I.

Waddell & Reed, along with its affiliate Ivy Funds, marks its 75th anniversary with the Honoring Our History traveling gallery. The gallery’s year-long national tour honors the company’s founders and the men and women who served in World War I. Waddell & Reed produced the traveling gallery in partnership with the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. The traveling gallery, which is housed in a customized 18-wheel “big rig” truck, features weapons, equipment and uniforms along with a walk-through trench that simulates the war environment and other audio and visual elements.

Designed by historians and curators at the National World War I Museum, the gallery provides an informative, engaging overview of America’s participation in the war while not neglecting the circumstances that brought other nations into conflict. Admission is free and donations will be accepted. Proceeds will benefit the National World War I Museum in Kansas City and the State Historical Museum of Iowa.

The State Historical Museum is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. More information is available at www.iowahistory.org or 515-281-5111.

Following is the Museum’s June-July program schedule:

Friday, June 15, 10 a.m.-noon & 1-3 p.m.
Dressed in period clothing of a Civil War soldier, Richard Fast will demonstrate a popular camp activity of wood carving. Members of the Sons of Union Veterans and Sons of Confederate Veterans will also be on-site to interact with visitors.

Friday, June 15, noon-1 p.m.

Bring your own lunch and learn about the Underground Railroad in Iowa. Presentation by Douglas Jones, archaeologist.

Friday, June 22, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Explore the history of World War I in this traveling gallery produced by Waddell & Reed and designed by curators at the National World War I Museum. Weapons, tools and equipment, and a walk-through trench that simulates the war environment highlight this exhibition.

7th Iowa Cavalry
Saturday, June 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Members of the 7th Iowa Cavalry will have two horses on-site and interact with visitors.

“Lint Collection: It’s Not Your Dryer Lint!”
Saturday, June 23, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Lint was a common medical product which was used to dress wounds during the Civil War. U.S. Army regulations indicated that four pounds of patent lint and two pounds of scraped lint were standard in the properly equipped medical wagon. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to visit the demonstration cart to learn about the collection and use of lint in minor surgery. Children will make their own lint compressive dressing.

Friday, June 29, noon-1 p.m.
The importance of the artillery service during the Civil War cannot be overstated. Because artillery fire was apt to produce mass casualties when fired into an advancing line of enemy, it could also be used as a psychological weapon. Journey along with Dave Thompson, Living Historian of the 3rd Iowa Battery, and learn the process he used to create his own replica cannon carriage. Following the program, the audience is invited to join Thompson under the Portico (Locust Street entrance) to see the completed cannon and learn about its operation.  

Friday, June 29, 10 a.m.-noon & 1-3 p.m.
Hardtack is a hard, flat cracker, and it was often eaten by soldiers during the Civil War. By the time hard tack reached the soldiers in the field, it was infested by weevils, larva and grubs. However, if kept dry, it would be edible 150 years later! Learn about the inventive names and method of eating these crackers that soldiers developed and try your hand at making hard tack.


Friday, July 13, 12-1 p.m.

Discover 1860s dress from the undergarments up! Laura Poresky’s one-woman show will provide a unique examination of proper attire for women of the Civil War era. Starting with undergarments, Laura explains each layer of clothing. The final touches, including hairstyle, jewelry and accessories, also will be demonstrated. Don’t miss this unique and engaging opportunity.

Speaker Series: “Civil War Medicine” by Dr. Kendall Reed
Saturday, July 14, 2 p.m.
The Civil War presented many challenges to doctors, but out of the suffering of patients came many medical advances. Dr. Reed of Des Moines University will share his interest in the history of medicine and discuss surgical practices during the Civil War.

Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m.

Yes, there were submarines in the Civil War! In fact, there were probably more than 20 different subs. Even more surprising, there was even a submarine in the Revolutionary War (1776). Presenter Lowell Sneller will visually review what these early submarines did and how they worked (or didn’t work) in this fascinating discussion. Uncover the people behind three submarines: the 1776 “Bushnell’s Turtle,” the Confederate “CSS H.L. Hunley” and the Union “USN Alligator.” Special attention will be given to the Hunley – the first submarine to attack and destroy an enemy ship. Come and hear the amazing story of how the Hunley was found, recovered and restored.

Saturday, July 28, 2 p.m.

Presented by Humanities Iowa. Most Iowans think the state was solidly pro-Union during the Civil War. After all, some 75,000 residents fought for the North. In reality, many Iowa Democrats formed a spectrum of dissent. The majority of Democrats opposed abolishing slavery (and yet favored the Union war effort); the minority sympathized with the Confederacy. Of this group, at least 25 Iowa residents served the Confederacy. This talk will focus on five of them. Presented by Humanities Iowa by David Connon, this presentation will explore their motivations and describe their pre-war, war-time, and post-war experiences. Connon will also explore why their stories have been largely unknown for the past 150 years.



The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.


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