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Celebrate Moments & Cultures

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Celebrate Moments & Cultures

History in Iowa, like anywhere else, is a complex mix of moments, milestones, memorable stories and points of view. This particular Days of Learning collection, "Celebrate Moments & Cultures," features a few of Iowa's high points in arts, film and history. Curated by experts from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with cultural and humanities organizations from across the state, these dynamic digital selections, videos and more help Iowans understand the state's rich history and offer a few reasons to celebrate. 

Navigate the Curated Collection
Click a link below to view the content for each section.
For Adult Learners For Children and Families For Educators

Featured Art, Film and History Resources

Spotlight on the 2020 Iowa Artist Fellows
Recommended for Adult Learners
Watch this video that celebrates the work of the 2020 Iowa Artist Fellows. The Iowa Artist Fellowship Program supports artists who demonstrate exceptional creativity and the capacity to contribute to the innovation and elevation of the arts in Iowa. 

Explore Produce Iowa's Film Festival Road Map
Recommended for Adult Learners, Children & Families
Discover unforgettable films on a big screen near you. From Siouxland to Snake Alley, Iowa film festivals stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Use this interactive road map to find film festivals throughout the state.


Experience Czech and Slovak History and Culture
Courtesy of National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Recommended for Adult Learners
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) preserves, presents and transcends unique stories of Czech and Slovak history and culture through innovative experiences. Explore featured past and present exhibit tours from the museum to find stories of freedom, identity, family and community. Look below for more Czech and Slovak resources. 

Celebrate Jewish Cultural Traditions
Courtesy of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society, Recommended for Adult Learners, Children & Families, Educators
Learn about cultural traditions within Iowa's Jewish communities with this historical handout. Look below for exclusive resources from the Iowa Jewish Historical Society, including fun facts about the holiday known as Purim and oral history videos and audio recordings of Celina Karp Biniaz, one of the last living survivors from Schindler's List, and Manny Soodhalter, a Jewish World War II veteran. 


Adult Learners

Whether you're a poet, filmmaker, historian or just someone who just likes to learn new things, the following resources are a starter kit to celebrate diverse moments and cultures in Iowa. 

Inspire Creativity with Iowa Artists Grant Wood and Marvin Cone

Watch a video presentation from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in which executive director Sean Ulmer focuses on the Iowa artist Marvin Cone's 1920 diary of his trip to Paris with fellow Iowan Grant Wood. In the video, Ulmer reads from that diary and illustrates it with artwork the two artists created during their trip. View more videos from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art here

Learn about Czech and Slovak Cultural Celebrations

View several videos and photos that look at the origin and purpose of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) and showcase diverse cultural celebrations. The selected videos also highlight Czech and Slovak food, fun festivals such as BrewNost and the past, present and future of the national museum. For more Czech and Slovak history and culture, you can visit the NCSML in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as explore their exhibits and artifact collection online. 

Honor Stories of Survival and Liberation

One way to capture important stories for future generations is to collect oral histories from members of your community. The Iowa Jewish Historical Society's oral history collection includes more than 400 recordings on a broad range of topics that honor and celebrate Iowa’s Jewish history and culture. View audio recordings, videos and text that feature the stories of two individuals with connections to Iowa's Jewish community: Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz and Manny Soodhalter, a Jewish veteran of World War II.

See Photographs from Iowa's Past

Browse Flickr albums that celebrate significant moments in Iowa history. The two selected albums are from the State Historical Society of Iowa's special collections, which contain nearly half a million photographs representing a wide range of Iowa subject matter and communities. The albums also show how photography evolved, from daguerreotype to digital.

Explore the State Historical Society of Iowa's Newspaper Collection

Discover how Iowans celebrated significant events in Iowa's history by reading the news on those days from throughout the state. Check out select digitized newspapers, explore how Iowans celebrated the end of WWI on November 11, 1918, the nation's bicentennial in 1976, the Hawkeyes' 1958 Rose Bowl win or any number of other moments in Iowa history.

Enjoy a Few Staff Favorites

View curated lists of podcasts, books and academic articles about Iowa's people and places recommended by staff from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, including the Annals of Iowa editor. 

Watch Featured Videos

Winter Holidays
Iowa History 101 Series
State Curator Leo Landis will discuss the history of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa in Iowa.

100 Years of Donna Reed
Iowa History 101 Series
This presentation honors the actress Donna Reed, who was born in Denison a century ago – on Jan. 27, 1921. Learn more about her from photos of her early days in Iowa, stories of her Oscar-winning career, and her enduring impact on a new generation of performing artists through the development of the Donna Reed Foundation.

Emir Abd el-Kader’s Life, Legacy and Connection to Elkader, Iowa
Iowa History 101 Series
This program focused on Elkader and its fascinating namesake Emir Abd el-Kader, the so-called "George Washington of Algeria." Watch to learn more about el-Kader's life, his legacy and his impact on Iowa.


For Children and Families

The interactive activities and videos below were designed to connect children and families to Iowa's rich heritage of arts, history and film. 

Tour State Capitol Monuments

The State of Iowa Capitol Complex has a diverse group of more than 50 monuments, memorials and works of art. The monuments help Iowans recognize historic moments from the state's past. Follow this online monument guide from Iowa State Capitol staff for a self-guided tour of the grounds. Or travel outdoors this summer with Goldie's Kids Club for free guided tours of the Iowa State Capitol grounds.

Take a Swing at Film History with Field of Dreams 

The Field of Dreams movie site near Dyersville, Iowa, still attracts tourists more than 30 years after the film's release. A story about baseball and passion, this 1989 film was an important moment in Iowa film history. In 2017, Field of Dreams was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Revisit the movie with this 2014 documentary from The Des Moines Register. And then learn how Iowans played conflicting roles to integrate – and also segregate – the game. 

Spark Learning with Goldie's Kids Club Activities

Goldie's Kids Club activities were selected for this curated collection to introduce young historians to Iowa's notable people and places. These activities include easy-to-follow instructions and require few materials. Goldie's Kids Club, an Iowa history program for children aged 12 and under, offers exclusive online activities to bring history alive. 

Celebrate Purim, a Festival of Joy 

Download this Iowa Jewish Historical Society handout about the Jewish holiday Purim, a festival of joy. Learn about its origins and how Jewish people celebrate it from photographs from the society's collections. The handout also includes an exclusive hamantaschen recipe from the society's cookbook, Beyond Matzo Balls: Celebrating 100 Years of Jewish Cooking in Iowa.

Decorate Eggs with a Master Czech Folk Artist 

Learn about egg decorating with this video featuring Master Czech Folk Artist Marj Nejdl. This National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library video shows how to decorate eggs, which is a long-lasting tradition in the Czech and Slovak Republics. The traditional wax resist process involves several stages of tracing designs with wax and dipping the egg in different colored dyes. 


For Educators

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs promotes access to educational resources in arts, history, humanities and film to meet the needs of Iowa educators and students.

Tour the Sioux City Art Center

Recommended for Grades K-5
Watch a recorded ARTworks tour through the Sioux City Art Center and Gilchrist Learning Center. This guided activity for elementary students is designed to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the creative process. Cultivating creativity, learning and participation in the arts is important to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities.

Celebrate Young Iowa Performers

Recommended for Grades 9-12
View performance videos below from two recipients of the 2021 Scholarship for the Arts. This Iowa Arts Council scholarship provides support to Iowa high school seniors who excel and demonstrate a commitment to pursuing an arts-related major at an Iowa college or university.

Performed by Mio Legaspi, 2021 Iowa Scholarship for the Arts Recipient

Carl Maria Von Weber's Clarinet Concertino
Performed by Ruby Hummel, Iowa Scholarship for the Arts Recipient

Discover Digital History Resources

The State Historical Society of Iowa has created a variety of history resources for educators. Through free and accessible digital resources, students can learn about Iowa history by examining thousands of authentic objects, images and records. 

Primary Source Sets
Recommended for Grades K-12
The Primary Source Sets are free and downloadable digital collections that address state, national and international history. The sets were created for K-12 educators, align with the Iowa Core social studies standards. Below are four selected digital collections that celebrate historic moments and cultures in Iowa.

Read Iowa History
Recommended for Grades K-5
Use the Right to Vote: African-American Suffrage module to celebrate the individuals and organizations that fought for universal suffrage in Iowa and the United States. Read Iowa History resources offer free, downloadable and easy-to-follow lessons to help educators integrate primary sources and the Iowa Core standards for social studies and literacy.

Goldie's History Kits
Recommended for Grades K-5
Use Goldie's History Kit: Buxton: A Lost Utopia to help students learn about the once-vibrant cultural community of Buxton. The early 20th century mining town in southeastern Iowa had a thriving population where a majority of residents were African American. Goldie's History Kits provide educators access to the State Historical Museum of Iowa's collections, and these digital kits – which align with Iowa Core Standards for Social Studies and Literacy – encourage students to develop deeper connections to Iowa's history.

The Goldfinch
Recommended for Grades 3-8
Read a selected collection of The Goldfinch magazines that celebrate Iowa's many cultural communities. The Goldfinch was an Iowa history magazine for children published quarterly by the State Historical Society of Iowa from 1975-2000. Each issue focuses on a theme and includes articles, games, photos and fiction.

National History Day in Iowa
Recommended for Grades 5-12
National History Day in Iowa offers year-long academic programs that engage middle- and high-school students in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. This documentaries below were created by students for the National History Day in Iowa program. 

From Rural RN to Healthcare Hero: Barbara Fassbinder’s Passionate Plea for PPE
Paige Franzen, Kadence Huck, Callahan Levi and Cameron Cleveland
8th Grade, Nashua-Plainfield Middle School
This 2021 National History Day video focuses on Barbara Fassbinder, one of the first health care professionals to be infected with H.I.V. while on the job.  

Collins Radio: the Key to Success in a Radio Revolution
Camryn Meyer
8th Grade, Harding Middle School
This 2021 National History Day video focuses on the life and legacy of Iowan Arthur A. Collins, who was a radio engineer and entrepreneur. He founded his own radio engineering and manufacturing company in 1933, Collins Radio Co., which was significant to World War II and space exploration.


Thank you to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs' Days of Learning Sponsors MidAmerican Energy and Musco Lighting