Items linked to Iowa’s history now available to view online

DES MOINES — Iowans can now use the internet to access dozens of unique items from Iowa and U.S. history.

The collection contains 174 items — including rare photographs, maps, audio recordings and documents. Jennifer Cooley, the education and outreach manager for the State Historical Museum of Iowa, says the items are considered “primary sources” which help researchers to answer questions about history.

“A primary source is from that time period. So, for instance, if you’re looking for at a photo or a newspaper article, you are looking at something that happened at that exact same time,” Cooley says. “Oftentimes it’s from a first-person perspective, someone who has gone through that experience.”

The list of items includes the script President Herbert Hoover, a West Branch native, used during his 1929 inaugural address, slightly wrinkled by the rain that doused the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol that day. The online collection was created for K-12 educators, who are required to teach Iowa history as part of their curriculums, though anyone can access the materials. Cooley says primary sources help students to be more active in their learning.

“Whether it’s looking more closely at a photograph and noticing all the small details and then relating that back to what they already know about that time period,” she says, “or a teacher can use that to introduce what he or she is going to be talking about in the classroom.”

The virtual collection was created through a $100,000 grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program. Pending Congressional action, the project will eventually receive a total of $300,000.

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