Humanities Iowa Workshop—September 24

To register for the German Iowa from Town to Town workshop and/or the traveling exhibit, click here.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

8:45–9:30 am: “German Iowa 101”
9:30–10:15 am: Turning Community Stories into Theater
10:30 am–12:00 pm: Tour of German Iowa and the Global Midwest in Old Capitol Museum
12:00–1:30 pm: Lunch
1:30–2:45 pm: Afternoon Sessions
2:45 pm: Break
3:00–4:15 pm: Afternoon Sessions
4:45 pm: Beer Cave Tour

German Iowa 101: Getting Started

From the creation of the State of Iowa through the 1960s, Germans were Iowa’s single largest immigrant group. This session will give an overview of the history of Germans in Iowa, considering such issues as economic activity, community building, interactions with other immigrant and native groups, religious life, and political engagement. We’ll identify themes that have particular resonance today, and we’ll refresh our memories about parts of this history that have been largely forgotten.


German Iowa and the Global Midwest Tour

The Old Capitol Museum highlights local German Iowa history with a number of artifacts on loan from local historical societies and archives in the exhibit, “German Iowa and the Global Midwest.” Banners within outline major points such as immigration, communities, brewing and politics, in German Iowa history with telling photographs and interpretation.  iPad stations featuring a closer look at historic documents and a special computer station will allow visitors to search documents found by the UI faculty and students in collections across Iowa.

One third of Iowans claim German heritage, far more than any other ethnic group.  Drawing on research by UI faculty and students, this new exhibit examines the lasting influence of German culture in Iowa.  Discover why German immigrants flocked to our state and explore the influence they’ve had on our history.  Re-examine current issues such as pro- and anti-immigration sentiment, bilingualism, and multiculturalism through a historical lens as you experience the triumphs and tragedies of the German people who chose to call our state home.

For this session, we’ll take a walk through the exhibit and focus on how pieces of the exhibit came together from the planning stages to implementation.

Presenter: Kathrine Moermond

Kathrine Moermond is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Old Capitol Museum where she has planned and implemented educational programming and assisted with exhibits since 2006.  She has served on the Iowa Museum Association board since 2009.  At the Old Capitol Museum, Moermond also coordinates opportunities for University of Iowa Museum Studies students interested in gaining hands-on museum experience.  Moermond received her BFA in Art and Design from Iowa State University in 2004.

Turning Community Stories into Theatre: German Iowa

In this session, participants will first watch a fifty minute play and then have an opportunity to discuss how to turn their own community history into drama.

Presenter: Janet Schlapkohl

Janet is a playwright, actress, director and teacher. Her commissions include the UI Labor Center, the UI Iowa Women’s Archives, the UI Human Rights Center, the Center for Worker Justice, Theatre Masters, and the AFL-CIO. Her work has been performed in L.A., Colorado, New York, Tennessee, and across Iowa. She performs monologues and travels a solo show, which premiered at Riverside Theatre, Iowa City. Her play My Sister was featured in the LA Times, the Huffington post, and the Israeli Times. In 2002, she founded Combined Efforts Theatre, a non-profit organization purposefully inclusive of actors with physical and mental challenges.  She has an MFA in Playwriting and an MS in education from the University of Iowa. She has been the recipient of the Theatre Master’s award, the Visionary Playwright’s award, the Isabelle Turner Human Rights Award, the Richard Maibaum Award, the Human Rights graduate student award, the Finkbine Award for Human Rights, and the 6 Women Playwriting Festival.

Afternoon Sessions 

Finding the Evidence to Tell the Story: Records and Where and How to Find Them

Participants will learn how to find a variety of sources documenting the experiences of Germans in Iowa and the Midwest.  Drawing on their expertise as historians and genealogists, Mary Bennett and Scharlott Goettsch Blevins will explain how researchers use historical narratives, census records, newspapers, maps, photographs, courthouse documents, church records, genealogies, and travel to uncover stories about our ancestors and local communities.  The emphasis will be primarily on materials available for research in Iowa and on finding similar materials in other areas to assist in comprehensive research throughout the U.S. and Germany.

Presenters: Mary Bennett and Scharlott Goettsch Blevins

Mary Bennett is the Special Collections Coordinator at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City, where she has assisted researchers for the past four decades.  Mary is the author of An Iowa Album: A Photographic History, 1860-1920 (University of Iowa Press, 1990) and co-author of Iowa Stereographs: Three-Dimensional Visions of the Past (University of Iowa Press, 1997). She helped develop the Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum in Tama County and won an AASLH Award of Merit for an interactive CD, Meskwaki History.

Scharlott Goettsch Blevins is an avid genealogist and historian. She has been lecturing on and teaching genealogy for 43 years. She is a founder & first president of the German American Heritage Center, Davenport, IA; former president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies; former Chair of the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees; former president Iowa Genealogical Societies; served on Commission on Soviet American Archival Cooperation; and served on committee for the “Independence of the National Archives and selection of the Archivist of the United States”. Her genealogical expertise includes German transliteration and research.

Stepping Through History: Walking Tours

Participants will learn how to plan, develop, and implement a walking tour. They will have the opportunity to discuss how this method applies to local resources in their own communities.

Presenter: Alicia Trimble

Alicia Trimble is the Executive Director of Friends of Historic Preservation (FHP), an Iowa City nonprofit organization, where she advocates for historic buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes; develops educational programing; oversees the organization’s hands-on efforts to move and rehabilitate historic buildings; and administers an architectural rescue business, the Salvage Barn.  Trained in a number of fields, including archeology and public administration, she has held a vast array of occupations, including working in a tribal historic preservation office, as ceramic assistant on the island of Crete, and as a Congressional aide.   After many years of serving as chair of the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission and the President of Friends of Historic Preservation, Alicia accepted the position of Executive Director in 2012.

Teaching Iowa History with Local Resources

Representatives of the Iowa Museum Association will present a professional development program, Teaching Iowa History with Local Resources, that has been successful in several contexts. The goals of the project are to provide public school educators with Iowa-specific historical information, inspire educators to teach history with Iowa stories and cultural resources, and to connect educators to local museum educators and museum collections to illustrate curricular themes. The theme of immigration is currently a particular focus of the program.

Presenters: Joshua Waddle and Cynthia Sweet

Joshua Waddle received a BA and MA from the University of Northern Iowa. He has researched and installed exhibits for the Cedar Falls Historical Society, the Grout Museum, and Livingston Aviation at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Municipal Airport.  Since May 2011, Joshua has worked at the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, first as a member of the concept design team and historical research team and later as curator. Since 2004, Joshua has taught U.S. History at Hawkeye Community College.  He has also assisted faculty at the University of Northern Iowa in teaching the Introduction to Museum Studies.  Joshua Waddle has been a member of the Iowa Museum Association since 2011 and has served on the Board of Directors since January 2015.

Cynthia Sweet has served as the Executive Director of the Iowa Museums Association since 2007. Since 1986, she has published as an independent historian specializing in genealogical research and local history.  She is the author of multiple genealogies and most recently solved the 200 year old mystery surrounding the ancestry of Robert Logan of Red River Settlement.  Sweet received her MA from the University of Northern Iowa.

Beer Cave Tour

The beer caves of Iowa City are subterranean rooms and tunnels that several breweries built in the nineteenth century.  These caves are closely associated with the city’s German heritage and are rarely accessible, so a tour is an unusual treat.