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Iowa History Daily: August 31 - Iowa City Research Center

Iowa History Daily: On August 31, 1960, the State Historical Society of Iowa dedicated the Centennial Building in Iowa City. The eastern Iowa home of collections, the center continues to welcome eager Iowans hoping to conduct historical research in Iowa City today.

Two early Iowa governors, Samuel Kirkwood and James Grimes helped found the State Historical Society of Iowa in February of 1857 in Iowa City. The State Historical Society of Iowa started collecting important documents and objects almost immediately, and eventually moved into the Old Capitol on the University of Iowa’s by 1865. Later the collections moved to the Schaeffer Hall until the opening of the Centennial Building in 1960.

Friends of the State Historical Society of Iowa contributed 40% of the $500,000 required for construction, while the rest of the balance came from funds approved in the 56th and 58th meetings of the Iowa General Assembly. At the time of dedication, the State Historical Society of Iowa boasted a membership of over 6,000 individuals, good for second nationally.

The initial building specs allowed for storage of 160,000 books and 27,000 bound newspaper volumes, doubling the archival storage of state facilities at the time. By 1976, the state housed 86,000 books, 30,000 pamphlets, 11,000 bound newspapers, 2,000 rolls of microfilm at the ready for research by eager Iowans. Today, the center pairs with the State Historical Society of Iowa research center at the State Historical Building in Des Moines to continue offering access to Iowa’s past. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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