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Iowa Time Machine: Iowa Local History Conference - May 9, 1941

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On May 9, 1941, the first Iowa Conference on Local History took place in Des Moines. Hosted by the Iowa State Department of History and Archives, the event sought to take on the important task of bringing best practices to local historical societies across the state.

Under the careful guidance of Curator of the Iowa State Department of History and Archives Ora Williams, the conference attracted more than a hundred attendees from all corners of the state. The first presentations focused on how cities or counties could form local historical societies, and how those groups might help preserve Iowa’s past.

Other topics for the day included how to gain membership in the State Historical Society of Iowa and how a local organization might set up a small collection of pictures and objects as an exhibit. One presentation even focused on making lists of potential people and organizations already in local communities who might prove willing to help get historical projects accomplished. 

The event also hosted presentations from established academics and museum professionals on methodologies for archival and curatorial work. One of the final pieces of business focused on “a survey of the leading local or county newspapers with a view of making a concerted effort to discover missing issues and to complete the files in so far as possible.” The effort served as the forerunner to today’s Iowa Historical Newspaper Database, found online at:


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