State Historical Society to hold board meeting in Keokuk
Sesquicentennial celebration and tour also scheduled

For immediate release September 14, 2007


Contact: Jeff Morgan,, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa will celebrate its sesquicentennial and hold a board of trustees meeting next week in Keokuk.

SHSI board members and staff will gather Wednesday at the Hotel Iowa, 401 Main Street in Keokuk for a tour of area projects and to celebrate the organization’s 150th birthday, which is free and open to the public. The SHSI Board of Trustees meeting will be at 9 a.m. Thursday at Luckys, 528 Blondeau St. in Keokuk.

SHSI launched its year-long statewide sesquicentennial celebration in February at the Old Capitol Building in Iowa City, where the Iowa Legislature created the State Historical Society as the organization to preserve and protect the history of Iowa.

For 150 years, the SHSI has had a dual mission of preservation and education. As a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy, SHSI identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages, and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. As an advocate of understanding Iowa’s past, SHSI educates Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.

On Jan. 30, 1857, Iowa’s pioneer lawmakers established an institution dedicated to preserving the history of our state. When the constitution for the organization was adopted on Feb. 7, 1857, the State Historical Society of Iowa became the permanent home of the state’s treasures.

SHSI has grown and changed tremendously in the last 150 years but it continues to support humanities scholars with rich historical collections, publications, exhibits, and public programming. Connecting generations and celebrating Iowa’s cultural heritage is its mission as it reaches out to citizens and communities across the state.

Notable individuals have been associated with SHSI, including Benjamin F. Shambaugh, who launched The Iowa Journal of History and Politics and the popular journal, The Palimpsest (now called Iowa Heritage Illustrated).

Located on the third floor of Schaeffer Hall in Iowa City from 1900 until 1957, when the Centennial Building was built at 402 Iowa Avenue, SHSI has been closely affiliated with The University of Iowa. Shambaugh and Ruth Gallaher, Jacob Swisher and Mildred Throne set high standards for research and scholarship, and were among the first generation of public historians in the nation.

The Department of History and Archives was established in Des Moines at the end of the 19th century under the leadership of Edgar R. Harlan and Jack Musgrove, and a major historical museum and research collections were developed.

The growth of the historic preservation movement in the late 1960s led to the creation of the Office of Historic Preservation, formerly housed at Old Brick before moving to Des Moines in the mid-1980s. All three historical organizations were merged in 1974 and all became known as the State Historical Society of Iowa under the administrative unit of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Today, SHSI is a complex organization serving a much broader constituency than originally envisioned by the founders who thought of it as more of a curio cabinet. Visit to learn more about SHSI and the myriad programs and services it offers to the public.

Following is the draft agenda for Thursday’s board of trustees meeting:

September 20, 2007
Keokuk, IA

Meeting convenes at 9 a.m.

Call to Order
Roll Call
Approve Agenda
Approve Minutes

New Business
Election of Chair and Vice-chair
Committee Appointments

Advisory Discussion
Iowa Historical Foundation

Old Business
2008 Iowa Studies Focused Symposium/FORUM

Chair’s Report
Director’s Report


Additional Reports
Financial Report
Public Trust Division Report
Legislative Report
Iowa Historical Foundation Report
Reports from Our Partners

Comments for the Good of the Order


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


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