State Historical Society to celebrate its sesquicentennial in Gladbrook

For immediate release July 13, 2007


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

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa will celebrate its sesquicentennial 2-4 p.m. July 21, 2007 at the Gladbrook City Center.

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. SHSI is planning similar celebrations throughout the state during the year.

For 150 years, the SHSI has had a dual mission of preservation and education. As a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy, the Society identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages, and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. As an advocate of understanding Iowa's past, the Society 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 January 30, 1857, Iowa’s pioneer lawmakers had the foresight to establish an institution dedicated to preserving the history of our state. When the constitution for the organization was adopted on February 7, the State Historical Society of Iowa became the permanent home of the state’s treasures. The Society 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 reach out to citizens and communities across the state.

Notable individuals have been associated with the State Historical Society of Iowa such as Benjamin F. Shambaugh, who launched The Iowa Journal of History and Politics and our 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, the State Historical Society of Iowa has always been closely affiliated with The University of Iowa. Shambaugh and his colleagues like 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, where under the leadership of Edgar R. Harlan and Jack Musgrove, 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 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, the modern State Historical Society of Iowa is a complex organization serving a much broader constituency than originally envisioned by the founders who thought of the Society as more of a curio cabinet. Visit to learn more about the Society and the myriad programs and services it offers to the public.


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