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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release July 18, 2013

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

Explore the art of the Henry Field Seeds catalogs

State Historical Society of Iowa program is Saturday in Iowa City

DES MOINES – If the Sears-Roebuck catalog was the “wish book” of children in a by-gone era, seed catalogs provided the same opportunities for wishful thinking for their parents.

Learn more when Kim Porter presents “The Art of the Catalog: Illustrations from Henry Field” at 10 a.m. Saturday at the State Historical Society of Iowa, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. Porter will present the program during the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Open House 9 a.m.-noon. Staff will also have a table at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-noon with a display of seed catalog images. The presentation is free and open to the public. Call 319-335-3926 for more information.

Porter’s presentation illustrates the “art of the catalog” as interpreted by Henry Field Seeds of Shenandoah, particularly with regard to brightly colored and highly personalized seed sales.

The State Historical Society of Iowa will display Iowa seed catalogs from its collection during the Open House and Porter will share from her personal collection of Field’s Company seed catalogs and original art work used in the publications. Seed Saver’s Exchange of Decorah, Iowa, has generously donated seeds for attendees.

A native of Poweshiek County, Iowa, Kim Porter earned her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Iowa. Porter teaches at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., where she works on matters related to rural and agricultural history and oral history. She is currently researching and writing a biography about Henry Field, an Iowa-based entrepreneur who sold everything from wallpaper to wedding rings, seed corn to spotted hogs, and garden seed to gasoline.

Field started one of the first privately held radio stations west of the Mississippi River, unsuccessfully ran for Congress, and urged Americans to consider what was being lost with the urbanization of the nation.

The State Historical Society of Iowa’s Library reading room is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The archives, photograph, and manuscript collections are available Tuesday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.


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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