The Iowa Files, an educational history lecture series, returns in 2019/2020. Free and open to the public, thanks to the generosity of West Des Moines Historical Society members, the Iowa Arts Council and the Friends Foundation of the West Des Moines Library, this 8 month series showcases interesting people and events in Iowa history.

Each program begins at 2:30 and runs for one hour in the Community Room of the West Des Moines Public Library, 4000 Mills Civic Parkway. Each presentation will be recorded and made available online.

Sunday, September 15, 2019
Brothers in War- the Littleton Brothers
Presented by Tom Woodruff & John Busbee

In the 1840s pioneer family James and Martha Littleton moved from Maryland to Iowa, via Ohio. They were able to buy 200 acres of land near Toolesboro in Louisa County. James and Martha had 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls. Both parents died before the six sons volunteered to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Thomas, George, Kendall, Noah, John and William all fought, but only George came home after being captured and imprisoned, and died soon after of disease. The other 5 died in battle and of disease and are buried near their battlefields. This is the largest loss of life known from any immediate family in any war fought by the United States.

To watch the video of the program, click on the WDMHS YouTube channel.

Sunday, October 20, 2019
How Iowa Met Baseball
Presented by John Liepa

Historian John Liepa presents a fascinating and fun program about the myths regarding the “invention” of baseball, the origins and evolution of the early game in the U.S., how the Civil War played a role in spreading the game, and much more. John brings to life some of the first Iowa players, and does his presentation dressed as Iowa’s first major Leaguer, Cal McVey of Montrose, who played for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. John also brings his extensive collection of memorabilia and cards for participants to see beginning at 2pm.

Watch the video of “How Iowa Met Baseball” by clicking here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019
Pursuit of a Dream; James Jordan
Presented by Louise Gately

Iowa pioneer James Cunningham Jordan was important in the development of the state and Central Iowa. Among many things Jordan was a family man, religious leader, stockman, politician, and railroad promoter, but most well known is his role as Chief Conductor for the Underground Railroad in Polk County. Author M. Louise Gately has created a well researched, fascinating and unique look into this family’s roots in West Des Moines. Copies of “Pursuit of a Dream” will be available for purchase from the West Des Moines Historical Society.

Watch the video of “Pursuit of a Dream; James Jordan” by clicking here

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Susan Clark & the End of Segregated School In Iowa
Presented by Leo Landis

State curator Leo Landis of the State Historical Society of Iowa will review the history of segregated schools in Iowa from the 1850s to the 1870s. Susan Clark, an 11-year old from Muscatine, was the plaintiff in the case that led to the end of segregated schools in Iowa in 1868, 86 years before Brown v. Board of Education. Even after the Clark case some towns including Des Moines maintained separate schools for African-Americans into the 1870s. The program will discuss Susan Clark, her father Alexander, and Iowa’s history of offering equal access to K-12 education.

Watch the presentation about Susan Clark on the WDMHS YouTube channel here.

Sunday, February 16, 2020
Buxton, A Black Utopia in Iowa?
Presented by Rachel Chase

Buxton was a small, unincorporated coal mining town bordering Mahaska and Monroe counties, was unusual for the 1900s in that African American and white residents lived and worked equally, side by side. With as many as 10,000 residents, it was the largest town in America where African-Americans were in the majority. Author Rachelle Chase listened to interviews of over 60 Buxton residents, combed through archives and documents to write her book, “Creating the Black Utopia of Buxton, Iowa.” Ms. Chase will share the stories she discovered and what the legacy of Buxton is today.

Watch “Buxton: A Black Utopia in Iowa?” on the WDMHS YouTube channel by clicking on this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POSTPONED
Bonnie & Clyde After Dexfield Park
Presented by Rod Stanley

CANCELED: WILL BE RESCHEDULED NEXT YEAR
Buffalo Bill Cody
Presented by Roy Behrens