Jeff Morgan, Marketing/Public Relations, State Historical Society of Iowa, 515-281-3858
John Liepa, The Des Moines
Civil War Roundtable, 515-961-8539 or 515-964-6886
Meeting of the Des Moines Civil War Roundtable & Check Presentation
p.m., Wednesday, March 30, 2005
State Historical Society of Iowa, 600 E. Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50319
is invited and encouraged to cover the check presentation.
Members of the Des Moines
Civil War Roundtable will be joined by the the 2nd Iowa Battery and the Army of
the Southwest to present checks to the State Historical Society of Iowa’s
Battle Flag Project as part of its meeting and banquet Wednesday, March 30, 2005
at the State Historical Building. The funds will be used to help the Battle Flag
Project, which is responsible for the assessment, stabilization and preservation
of about 260 Iowa Civil War battle flags. Several participants will be dressed
in Civil War-period uniforms and other apparel.
The meeting will also include
a State Historical Museum Curator presentation about the Civil War exhibit, “Honor
the Colors: Iowa’s Civil War Battle Flags,” and a presentation about
the Iowa Battle Flag project’s progress.
More than half of the male population
of Iowa served in the Civil War (1860-1865). In the Honor the Colors exhibit,
they tell who they were, how they were equipped and how they felt about the flags
they followed into battle. Featured in the exhibit are the original battle flags
from the Society’s collection. Original equipment, period prints, paintings
and uniforms are also on display.
In January 2000, Fonda Thomsen,
a leading flag conservation specialist, conducted a survey of flags in the capitol,
state historical museum, the State Historical Society of Iowa's Centennial Building,
and the Iowa Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge. The results of her survey and recommendations
were reported to Governor Vilsack and members of the General Assembly. She recommended
a strategy to study and stabilize the flags, retrofit exhibit cases in the capitol
for rotational display, and to provide for on-going care. This plan will take
about four years and cost about $1.2 million.
The 78th General Assembly appropriated
$150,000 in 2000 to begin work. It was determined the first phase of work should
focus on 85 flags in the collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Flags
from the Centennial Building were transported to the museum in September 2000,
specialized textile storage cabinets were obtained, and project staff was hired.
Actual work on the flag collection began in January 2001. The stabilization treatment
and physical documentation are completed on-site by the Collections Manager/Flag
In 2001 the responsibility for the
battle flag collection in the capitol was assigned to the State Historical Society
of Iowa by the Iowa legislature. Additional funds for the first phase of work
on the collection in the capitol were recommended by Governor Vilsack and approved
by the legislature in April 2001. This phase of work commenced in January 2002.
Due to the State of Iowa budget crisis, funding for the project was reduced to
$100,000 and the position of Project Historian was eliminated.
In October 2002, the State Historical
Society of Iowa received a $144,000 Save America's Treasures grant to help fund
the Iowa Battle Flag Preservation Project. Save America's Treasures is a national
effort to protect America's threatened cultural treasures, including historic
structures, collections, works of art, and maps and journals that document and
illuminate the history and culture of the United States.
"I am pleased by the national
recognition and support for this important effort to preserve these historical
flags," said Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. "We are sending an important
message by preserving these valued treasures, which are part of our heritage because
they represent what is great about our state and our country."
The funding sought from the State
of Iowa will be used to stabilize the collection. Additional funding will be needed
to conduct more extensive preservation treatments on specific flags. The Iowa
Historical Foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the State Historical Society
of Iowa, has established a restricted account to receive contributions for the
flag project. Individuals, veteran's organizations, and many Civil War living
historians have already made contributions to the project.
For information on making
a contribution to the Civil War Battle Flag project, please contact the Iowa Historical
Foundation, 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, Iowa 50319 or 515-281-5111.
to What's New Section