December 1996 – February 1997

Iowa was admitted to the Union as the twenty-ninth state, December 28, 1846. The University Libraries celebrate the sesquicentennial of that event with an exhibition on Iowa, before and during its statehood. The exhibition draws upon holdings from the University Libraries, the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Office of the State Archaeologist, and other sources on Iowa’s natural setting, people, politics, economy, and culture.

The Black Hawk War of 1832, along with ensuing treaties, opened the land of Iowa to white settlement. After American Indian tribes were pushed westward, settlers from the Upper South, older Midwest states, other regions, and Europe created farms and towns. A small number of African-Americans were among the settlers. Mesquakies purchased land in Tama County to return to a familiar home. Rapid population growth led to territorial status in 1838 and statehood in 1846.

The fertile prairies, along with eventually extensive railroad and county road networks, were major factors in economic development. Coal mining and, especially, manufacturing also achieved importance.

The Civil War, 1861-1865, was a central event in the state’s history. Along with religious differences and attitudes toward such reforms as railroad regulation and liquor legislation, the war years helped to shape Iowa politics for a century or more. Agricultural depressions led to farm protest movements, from the Grangers of the 1870s to the farm crisis of the 1980s.

Iowa’s fields of achievement include education, literature, and the arts. Near the end of the twentieth century, Iowa’s population is much more urban and diverse. The economy and society continue to change.

The University of Iowa was created by legislation signed into law February 25, 1847, only two months after statehood. A display on the University’s sesquicentennial points to a separate exhibition, “University of Iowa 1847-1997,” mounted by the University of Iowa Archives at the Special Collections Department, third floor, Main Library.

A short reading list:

Andrews, Clarence A. A Literary History of Iowa (1972).
Bergman, Marvin, ed. Iowa History Reader (1996).
Bogue, Allan G. From Prairie to Corn Belt: Farming on the Illinois and Iowa Prairies in the Nineteenth Century (1963).
Bums, E. Bradford. Kinship with the Land Regionalist Thought in Iowa, 1894-1942 (1996).
Dawson, Patricia, and David Hudson. Iowa History and Culture: A Bibliography of Materials Published between 1952 and 1986 (1989).
Dykstra, Robert R. Bright Radical Star: Black Freedom and White Supremacy on the Hawkeye Frontier (1993).
Noun, Louise R. Strong-Minded Women: The Emergence of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Iowa (1969).
Ross, Earle D. Iowa Agriculture: An Historical Survey (195 1).
Sage, Leland L. A History ofIowa (1974).
Schwieder, Dorothy. Iowa: The Middle Land (1996).
Stromquist, Shelton. Solidarity & Survival: An Oral History of Iowa Labor in the Twentieth Century (1993).
Wall, Joseph Frazier. Iowa: A Bicentennial History (1978).

This exhibition was prepared by Joyce Barker, Jeffrey B. Dawson, Ann Ford, Robert McCown, Cynthea Mosier, Earl Rogers, Helen Ryan and John Schacht.