State Historical Society to celebrate sesquicentennial in Eldora

For immediate release September 24, 2007

 

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa will celebrate its sesquicentennial next month in Eldora.

SHSI Board of Trustees Chair Jason Follett, SHSI board members, staff, and local and county leaders will gather 1-4 p.m. Oct. 7, 2007 at the Hardin County Historical Society, 1603 Washington Street in Eldora.

The event includes a presentation, question and answer session, and informal conversations at 1 p.m.; a tour of Hardin County Historical Society properties at 2:30 p.m.; and a walking tour of National Register of Historic Places on and near the Hardin County Courthouse Square and several properties that could be targeted for historical restoration and adaptive reuse, including the recently downsized 1917 school, Sheriff’s residence and cell block, and YMCA at 3 p.m. The group also will see several previously completed historical restoration projects such as the Grand Theatre, Civil War Monument and Civil War Cannon.

SHSI launched its year-long statewide sesquicentennial celebration in February 2007 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 www.iowahistory.org to learn more about SHSI and the myriad programs and services it offers to the public.

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