About Us

The West Des Moines Historical Society is a 501(c)3 volunteer-based organization dedicated to community enrichment through education, preservation, and celebration of the history and the heritage of the greater West Des Moines area and its environs.

The idea of establishing a historical society for the City of West Des Moines was conceived in 1968 as plans were made for the city’s Diamond Jubilee. Two years later, in 1970, the West Des Moines Historical Society was formed.

The mission of the Society is to educate, to preserve, and to promote the heritage and history of West Des Moines.

To this end, the Society purchased the Jordan House in 1978. Through the efforts of the Society, the business community and the volunteer organizations of West Des Moines, the dream of transforming Jordan house into a museum became a reality. The major initial restoration was completed in 1993, the centennial year of West Des Moines.

Since that time the West Des Moines Historical Society has also acquired and restored the Bennett School, the last one room school houses built and used in West Des Moines. These two facilities together with the growing collections of memorabilia and historical information form the core of the West Des Moines Historical Society’s collection.

If you have knowledge of significant events in West Des Moines, pictures from the past, or historical items relating to West Des Moines we would love to hear from you. If you have only time, we are always looking for volunteers and can help you with that too – and you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it. In either event please contact us using the information below.


E-mail: info@wdmhs.org


Volunteers for special events, ongoing projects and committee membership are always needed and welcome. In addition, as we look to expand our hours, we’ll need more tour guides/docents. This is an on-call position and pays a stipend. If interested in any volunteering opportunities, please email info@wdmhs.org or fill out our volunteer application online. If you prefer to print off an application, click here)


The minimum fee for family membership in the West Des Moines Historical Society is $25 per year. Sign up through our online membership application.

If you have photos (even recent ones if they are of a significant event in the history of W.D.M.), furniture, or memorabilia relating to the history of West Des Moines, the underground railroad, or the ‘regular’ railroads we need to hear from you. Too much that is illustrative of our history gets thrown out or given to children living elsewhere to whom it may just be “old stuff”. We’d like to know of its existence and perhaps get a picture even if you don’t want to consider a donation. Click here to let us know what you have.

If you have a historical question or special interest (e.g. the underground railroad, one room schools, a period in the history of West Des Moines, the railroad) please let us know. We may have or be able to connect you with information that may be of interest. To ask your question or indicate your interest click here.