Iowa History Daily: August 13 - Dorothy Schwieder

Iowa History Daily: On August 13, 2014, perhaps the most significant historian of Iowa’s past, Dr. Dorothy Schwieder, passed away. The first woman ever appointed as a professor in the Department of History at Iowa State, Schwieder researched and wrote prolifically about the history of the Hawkeye State.

Although born and raised in Presho, South Dakota, as the ninth child in a ten-child family, she eventually enrolled at Dakota Wesleyan and studied under eventual Presidential candidate George McGovern. In 1964, Schwieder arrived in Ames to study at Iowa State before obtaining a Master of Arts (1968). Starting to teach part-time at ISU in 1966, Schwieder represented the only female-faculty member in her department for two decades.

In 1974, Iowa State moved Schwieder to full-time status in the History Department, and she started working on PhD at the University of Iowa while teaching full-time. In 1981 she completed her PhD and moved to the rank of Professor at Iowa State.

Her work focused on a variety of topics related to Iowa, Midwestern, and Agricultural history including Iowa’s early coal industry, Old Order Amish communities in the state, the Cooperative Extension in Iowa, and a history of Iowa State University. Her 1996 book “Iowa: The Middle Land” represents one of the most significant histories written about the Hawkeye State.

Many awards and honors accumulated over the years for Schwieder’s meticulous and thoughtful scholarship, and today the Midwestern History Association recognizes her with the Dorothy Schwieder Prize for best article on Midwestern History. Additionally, generations of Cyclones remember her fondly as a caring instructor dedicated to historical study. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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