SAVE IOWA HISTORY! Restore Funding for the State Historical Society of Iowa Libraries and Archives. Keep physical records of Iowa history accessible to all.

Reorganization plans for the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) endanger the preservation of Iowa history contained in diaries, letters, photographs, maps, oral histories and other materials housed at the Society's two libraries in Des Moines and Iowa City.  

Drastic reductions in operating hours and staff, the diversion of resources to unrelated activities, and recommendations to "streamline" the SHSI libraries threaten public access to the state's history.  Iowans risk being severed from their past. 

On behalf of all Iowans and others interested in the history of the greater Midwest, the Save Iowa History Alliance makes the following requests of the governor, legislature, and Department of Cultural Affairs, which oversees SHSI: 

1) PROVIDE sufficient and transparent funding to enable library and archive staff to conserve, process, and manage the SHSI’s valuable collections and acquire new ones.  Ensure that the research centers remain open to the public during regular business hours at least five days per week.

 2) PROTECT the precious SHSI collections of Iowa history against degradation, dispersion, and de-accessioning.  The DCA’s plans to renovate and reduce the size of the Des Moines Historical Building, and its woeful neglect of its Iowa City research center, present an immediate threat to the survival and accessibility of collections.  Give top priority to safeguarding the contents of the state’s history before allocating tax dollars that put them in jeopardy.

3) PRESERVE the institutional integrity of the SHSI by allowing the research centers, historic preservation office, museum, historic sites, and educational programs to interact together to serve Iowans.  

Thank you for signing the petition.  If you wish to make your voice more widely heard, write or call the Governor of Iowa, your Iowa state legislators, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and/or the State Historical Society of Iowa. Tell them to restore the cuts to staff and hours of the SHSI libraries that have longed served the state so well. Insist that the DCA abide by the Mission Statement of the State Historical Society of Iowa under Iowa Code: 

"The State Historical Society of Iowa has a dual mission of preservation and education.  As a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy, the SHSI identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages, and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources.  As an advocate of understanding Iowa’s past, the SHSI educates Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the State."

Here are the key contacts:

Governor Terry Branstad, https://governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-opinion/ 515-281-5211, @terrybranstad

Mary Cownie, Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, mary.cownie@iowa.gov, 515-281-8741 

Chris Kramer, Deputy Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, chris.kramer@iowa.gov, 319-281-3223

Anthony Jahn, Iowa State Archivist, anthony.jahn@iowa.gov, 515-281-4895

Susan Kloewer, Administrator, State Historical Society of Iowa, susan.kloewer@iowa.gov, 319-281-8749 

Senator Jeff Danielson, Senate Chair, State Government Committee, jeffdanielson@gmail.com, 319-231-7192 

Representative Guy Vander Linden, House Chair, State Government Committee, guy.vander.linden@legis.iowa.gov, 515-281-3221
 

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Click on the following for news stories and editorials on latest developments:

Mitchell Schmidt, "Iowa State Historical Society Reduces Hours for Assessment, Some Fear Much Worse," The Gazette (March 18, 2015) 

Mitchell Schmidt, "State Historical Society Has Extensive History of Its Own," The Gazette (March 19, 2015) 

Josh O’Leary, “Historical Society’s Waning Staff, Hours Raise Concern,” Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 10, 2015)

Marybeth Slonneger, “State Historical Society Fading Away in Iowa City,” Iowa City Press-Citizen (February 26, 2015) 

Eric Zimmer, “State Historical Society Vital Investment for UI, City, State,” Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 8, 2015)

Carol Kirsch, “Putting Iowa’s Heritage at Risk,” Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 19, 2015)

“The Register’s Editorial: Capturing Iowa History,” Des Moines Register (March 21, 2015)

Rox Laird, “The Register’s Editorial: Now is the Time to Focus on History,” Des Moines Register (March 21, 2015)

Tyler Priest, “Don’t Cut People Off from Iowa History,” Des Moines Register (March 21, 2015)

Shelton Stromquist, "Iowa Is at Precipice of 'Historic" Proportions," Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 23, 2015)

Lauren Mills, "Newspapers Piling Up Since 2009 While State Historical Society Decides How to Preserve Them," IowaWatch.org (March 12, 2015)

Daniel Lee Daily, "Restoring Funding so SHSI Can Stay Open," Iowa City Press-Citizen" (March 5, 2015)

Mitchell Schmidt, "History Advocates Left with Questions After Meeting," The Gazette (March 25, 2015) 

Jan Olive Full, "History More Than Simple Nostalgia," Iowa City Press Citizen (March 25, 2015)

Carol Kirsch, "State's Moves Hint at Loss of Historical Records," Des Moines Register (March 24, 2015)

James Beranek, "Don't Be Fooled by DCA about State Historical Society," Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 26, 2015)

Lauren Mills, "Huge Concern Over Iowa's Historic Task of Preserving Its Historical Collections," IowaWatch.org (March 24, 2015)

Kendrew Panyanouvong, "History Society Faces Cuts," Daily Iowan (March 27, 2015)

CBS 2/FOX 28 News, "Concern Over Future State History" (March 27, 2015)

Linda Kerber, "If We Truly Value History, We Must Preserve It," Iowa City Press-Citizen (March 31, 2015)

ABC KCRG TV-9 News, "Iowa City Historians Concerned About State Changes to Historic Preservation" (April 3, 2015) 

Lynda Waddington, "Lack of Openness Has led to 'Save Iowa History' Concerns," The Gazette (April 5, 2015)

James Beranek, "DCA Responsible for Library's Troubles," The Gazette (April 9, 2015)

Letter from Chairs of History Departments and Directors of History Centers Across Iowa, April 14, 2015

Josh O'Leary, "Academics Concerned About Historical Society's Future," Iowa City Press-Citizen (April 15, 2015)

Bill Haglund, An Open Letter Regarding Iowa History, Ames Tribune (April 20, 2015)

John Miller, Cultural Affairs Officials in Iowa Struggle to Find Balance Between Access and Preservation, Little Village (May 6, 2015)  

Shelton Stromquist, "Restore Cuts to Historical Society," Iowa City Press Citizen (May 6, 2015)

"Our View: State Must Preserve Historical Documents, Access," Iowa City Press Citizen (May 8, 2015) 

"State Historical Society - Home to Iowa Labor History and Interview Collections - Is In Danger," Iowa AFL-CIO News (May 2015)

American Historical Association (AHA) Letter of Concern Regarding Funding Cuts for the State Historical Society of Iowa (June 17, 2015)

Mitchell Schmidt, "Future of Iowa Historic Records Raises National Alarm," The Gazette (June 19, 2015)

Iowa History Chairs' Letter Regarding SHSI Online Survey (June 23, 2015) 

"Iowa Historians Renew Concerns About Future of State Society," Iowa City Press-Citizen (June 23, 2015)

Tyler Priest, "Iowa's History is at Risk," Des Moines Register (March 6, 2016)

Tim Meinich and Joel Aschbrenner, "$80 Million Historical Building Faces Statehouse Critics," Des Moines Register (March 9, 2016)

Joel Aschbrenner, "Why Officials Want to Spend $80 Million to Fix State History Museum," Des Moines Register (March 9, 2016)

Iowa Public Radio, Talk of Iowa, "State Historical Building Renovations Draw Criticism," March 10, 2016

Randy Evans, "Gov. Branstad"s $80 Million Boondoggle," The Iowa Democrat (March 18, 2016)

David Crosson, "History Requires Investment," Des Moines Register (March 22, 2016)

Barbara Rodriguez, "Iowa Museum Spat Shows Conflict Over Historical Preservation," Associated Press, March 23, 2016

Iowa NPR, Talk of Iowa, with Tyler Priest, Tim Walch, and John Liepa, March 24, 2016

Chairs of Iowa History Departments, "Iowa Historians Say: Save Iowa History" (April 3, 2016)

Barbara Rodriguez, "Agency Used History Museum Renovation Money for Salaries," Associated Press, April 5, 2016

Barbara Rodriguez, "Lawmakers Challenges Iowa Agency's Work on Battle Flags," Associated Press (April 11, 2016)

Jamie Beranek, "Welcome to Cownie-land," Des Moines Register (May 8, 2016)

David Gradwohl, "Hire Cultural Affairs Director Based on Qualifications," Des Moines Register (May 8, 2016)

Aaron Young, "This Plan is Designed to Preserve Iowa's Newspapers from More than 100 Years Ago," Des Moines Register (February 15, 2017)

 

Kyle Munson, "Saving 12 Million Pages of Newspaper Iowa History is Hard. Seeing it Online May be Harder," Des Moines Register (February 17)

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Deputy Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
    Chris Kramer (Deputy Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs)
  • Governor
    Terry Branstad (Governor)
  • Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
    Mary Cownie
  • Iowa State Archivist
    Anthony Jahn
  • State Senator
    William Dotzler


Tyler Priest started this petition with a single signature, and now has 3,460 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.