Archives > Holdings

Non-State Government Archives

Special Collections

Internal finding aids are available in the State Historical Society of Iowa's reading rooms, at both Iowa City and Des Moines. 

There are some distinctions between the Iowa City and Des Moines manuscript and audio-visual collections. Examples of those distinctions include:

  • Iowa City has taken the lead in collecting oral histories. Labor and progressive social and political movements are two areas Iowa City is cultivating at present. 
  • Des Moines manuscripts are strong on Iowa political figures and state officials.  However, generally speaking there is a lot of overlap in the special collections, and we haven't officially identified specific collecting areas. It often comes down to the donor's preference on where the material is located.
  • Iowa City maintains a specific file of Iowa City images. There is a stronger representation of eastern Iowa imagery in the Iowa City collections
  • Des Moines has a similar file for Des Moines images. There is stronger representation of central and western Iowa imagery in the Des Moines collection.
  • Iowa City has more processed motion picture film and AV materials like CDs.

Manuscripts & Ephemera

The manuscript collection contains original source materials that document Iowa's development and the experiences of its citizens. Included are personal papers, and records of organizations such as businesses, clubs, schools, churches and civic groups. These are found in unpublished formats such as diaries, letters, account books, minute books and personal reminiscences. Ephemera such as event programs, advertisements, product brochures and campaign literature are organized by subject.

Manuscripts Collection-Des Moines Center

To aid in research included here is a partial listing of personal and organizational collections at the State Historical Society of Iowa's Des Moines Center

Des Moines Center Manuscript Collection 

(major collections are listed here-additional materials are available) 

Des Moines Center Ephemera Subject Listing

Manuscript Collections - Iowa City

The manuscript collection contains original source materials that document Iowa's development and the experiences of its citizens. Included are:

  • personal papers and records of organizations such as schools, churches, clubs, businesses, and labor unions; these are found in unpublished formats such as diaries, letters, account books, minute books, and personal reminiscences.
  • collections of broadsides, programs, sheet music, and advertisements.

Iowa City Records Collection 

(major collections are listed here-additional materials are available)

Iowa City Manuscript Collections 

(major collections are listed here-additional materials are available)

Audio-Visual Collection

Audio-Visual Collection-Des Moines Center

The audio-visual collection contains Iowa images dating from the 1840's to present day and illustrating a wide range of subject matter which includes businesses, schools, farms, churches, community main streets, landmarks and natural topography, recreational and domestic activities, political and social events. A portrait file, containing photos of notable Iowans and a special file on the city of Des Moines are two special features of the collection.

In addition to traditional black and white prints, the collection contains samples of many photographic formats and processes such as daguerreotypes (the first successful photographic process), tintypes, glass plate and film-based negatives, lantern slides, albumen prints, stereographs, photographic and lithographic postcards, 35mm color slides, motion picture film, and videocassettes.

The audio-visual archives in Des Moines have five major divisions, which can be researched through available collection guides:

General Subject File: Iowa photos arranged by subject.

Des Moines Subject File: Photos specific to the Des Moines community, arranged by subject.

Portrait File: Portraits of notable Iowans arranged alphabetically by name.

Personal and Organizational Collections

Cities File: Main street views, aerial views and cross-references to images contained in other divisions of the audio-visual collection pertaining to the specific community.

Copyright Notice 

Conditions for Image Reproduction

Photo Fees

Audio-Visual Collection-Iowa City Center

The photograph collections contain images reflecting the history of the state of Iowa, and the experiences of other Midwesterners. Photographic materials are arranged by standard subject headings, with cross-indexing to geographic location. Also available:

Maps

This collection includes maps showing land ownership, pioneer trails, railroad routes, coal mines, roads and highways, and plats of various communities. In addition, there is a large collection of fire insurance maps, 1874-1970, showing commercial, industrial and limited residential layouts of more than 700 Iowa communities. These maps have been filmed and the microfiche is available in the State Historical Society's reading rooms and in other Iowa libraries.

Maps which are 11"x17" or smaller can be photocopied for patrons in the reading rooms of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Larger maps can be reproduced through a commercial vendor for a fee which is dependant on the size, color and complexity of the map.

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