State Historical Society Plans Sesquicentennial Celebration

For immediate release January 26, 2007


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

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa will launch a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary with events in Iowa City on February 7, the day the Society’s constitution was signed in 1857.

The public is invited to an open house 9 a.m.-6 p.m. February 7 at the Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue. Guests may tour the building and view historical materials in the SHSI collections, view an exhibition of photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Don Ultang and learn about the Iowa Labor Collection. In addition, the following activities are planned:

  • 9-10 a.m. – World War II clipping project showcased by volunteer workers

  • 10-11 a.m. – National History Day student, Kiona Rolfes, from Harding Middle School in Cedar Rapids will perform her play based on Annie Wittenmyer, who worked with Sanitary Commissions during the Civil War

  • 11 a.m.-Noon – Historic Preservation Award winners in Iowa City will be featured and resource books from the library relating to architecture and historic preservation will be on display. Helen Burford from the Friends of Historic Preservation will be available to speak to with the public

  • 1:30-3 p.m. – Stereo slide show presented by Ernie Rairdin will feature historical 3-D images of Iowa

  • 3:30-5:30 p.m. – Book signing by Marybeth Slonneger, author of Wetherby’s Gallery: Paintings, Daguerrotypes & Ambrotypes of an Artist

  • 7 p.m. – Historian Robert R. Dykstra will give a free public lecture in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol titled “Race, Courage, and Discipline in Iowa’s Heroic Age.” Derived from his book, Bright Radical Star: Black Freedom and White Supremacy on the Hawkeye Frontier, the lecture will focus on debates about black suffrage in Iowa. February is Black History Month.

  • 8-9 p.m. – a public reception at Old Capitol with a musical performance by Bob and Kristie Black and the Banjoys.

    All activities are free and open to the public. Call 319-335-3911 for more information.

These sesquicentennial activities were made possible through the generous support of Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; the Center for Recent United States History; Heritage Microfilm, Inc., and Hills Bank and Trust Company; Technigraphics, Inc.; Pleasant Valley Flower Shoppe; Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center; and Friends of Historic Preservation among others.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and serves as a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and as an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. Its dual mission of preservation and education involves identifying, recording, collecting, preserving, managing and providing 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.


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