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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release June 28, 2012

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

Civil War medicine, clothing highlight Historical Museum programs in July

Tours of Battle Flag Laboratory and Civil War exhibit offered July 14

DES MOINES – The State Historical Museum of Iowa program schedule for July covers a wide variety of Civil War-related topics, including medical practices, women’s clothing, submarines and Iowans who fought against the Union.

In addition, the Museum will offer behind-the-scenes tours of its Battle Flag Laboratory and a curatorial-led tour of the “Iowa and the Civil War: Nothing But Victory” exhibition that has drawn nearly 12,000 people since opening in April.

“Our programming in July provides families, groups, parents and children with engaging opportunities to experience the Historical Museum and learn more about Iowa’s connections to the Civil War,” said Susan Kloewer, director of the State Historical Museum of Iowa. “I encourage all Iowans with an interest in the Civil War and Iowa history to visit and enjoy these dynamic programs.”

On July 13, Laura Poresky will perform a one-woman show about the proper attire for women during the Civil War era. She will explain layers of clothing, hairstyle, jewelry and accessories.

On July 14, Dr. Kendall Reed of Des Moines University will discuss the surgical practices and advancements made in medicine during the Civil War.

Also on July 14, the public is invited to tour the State Historical Museum’s Battle Flag Laboratory, where more than 300 battle flags from the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I are preserved and prepared for display. Openings are limited and reservations are strongly encouraged by calling 515-281-8304.

The Museum is offering the programs in conjunction with the “Iowa and the Civil War” exhibition, which 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.

Following is more information about the Museum’s July program schedule:

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.

Saturday, July 14, 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
Public tour of Battle Flag lab with Battle Flag Conservator Sheila Hanke and “Iowa and the Civil War” exhibit with Museum Curator Jack Lufkin. See Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags up close (limit 15 people per tour), 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Or, learn about the process to develop and create the “Iowa and the Civil War” exhibition from Museum Curator Jack Lufkin, 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. (limit 10 people per tour). Both tours will last 30 minutes and are free and open to the public. Call 515-281-8304.

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.

In addition, the Museum will offer the following speaker programs on July 28:

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. 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.
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 speaker 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 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.


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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