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Iowa History Book Club

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Iowa History Book Club

Join the State Historical Society and Annals of Iowa editor, Andrew Klumpp, to explore Iowa’s past. Each quarter a book related to a different aspect of Iowa history will be selected and at the online book club meeting Klumpp will be joined by the book’s author or a current Iowa historian to discuss it. Book Club attendees are encouraged to submit questions to the during our meeting and the State Historical Society will provide discussion questions and resources so attendees can convene their own local book clubs to discuss the books.

Questions may be submitted when registering or during the event. Participants are encouraged but not required to read the book prior to our meeting. Most books can be found from online booksellers or libraries. Registration is required for each event

7 p.m. Thursday, March 30
The Good Country by Jon Lauck
Hosted by Andrew Klumpp and John Lauck

A first-ever chronicle of the Midwest’s formative century, “The Good Country” restores the American heartland to its central place in the nation’s history. The American Midwest was the most democratically advanced place in the world during the nineteenth century. “The Good Country” describes a rich civic culture that prized education, literature, libraries, and the arts; developed a stable social order grounded in Victorian norms, republican virtues, and Christian teachings; and generally put democratic ideals into practice to a greater extent than any nation to date.


7 p.m. Thursday, May 11
Saved by Schindler: The Life of Celina Karp Biniaz, by William B. Friedricks
Hosted by Andrew Klumpp and William B. Friedricks

Celina Karp Biniaz was just eight years old when the Germans invaded her homeland of Poland in 1939. Over the next six years, the child from Krakow endured the Holocaust as the Nazis took away her schooling and civil rights, then herded her and her family into a ghetto. Life grew worse when the ghetto was liquidated, and the family was sent to Plaszów, a slave labor/concentration camp where they lived in constant fear, witnessing unspeakable horrors. Ultimately, Celina and her parents landed on Schindler's list, but before being sent to safety at Schindler's factory, Celina spent several terrifying weeks at Auschwitz where she faced down the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. When the war ended, she and her family eventually made their way to the United States and Iowa, where Celina got on with her life. With great strength and resilience, she moved forward and embraced the American dream.

7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7
A Woman of Adventure: The Life and Times of First Lady Lou Henry Hoover by Annette Dunlap
Hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Annette Dunlap

When Iowa-native Lou Henry married Herbert Hoover in February 1899, she looked forward to a partnership of equality and a life of adventure. For the first fifteen years of married life, Lou globe-trotted with her husband as he pursued a lucrative career in mining engineering and consulting. World War I not only changed the map of the world, it changed the map of the Hoovers’ marriage. Herbert Hoover’s Commission for the Relief of Belgium launched him into a political career that led to the White House. However, Lou Henry Hoover’s powerful legacy endures in the ongoing success of the Girl Scouts, the music and physical therapy degree programs at Stanford University, athletic opportunities for women, and the countless unknown men and women who received an education thanks to Lou’s anonymous financial support.

7 p.m. Thursday, November 30
Woman Suffrage and Citizenship in the Midwest, 1870-1920 by Sara Egge
Hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Sara Egge

Examining grassroots activism offers a new approach that uncovers the sophisticated ways midwestern suffragists understood citizenship as an obligation. These suffragists, mostly Yankees who migrated from the Northeast after the Civil War, participated enthusiastically in settling the region and developing communal institutions such as libraries, schools, churches, and parks. Meanwhile, the efforts of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association did not always succeed in promoting the movement’s goals. Instead, it gained support among midwesterners only when local rural women claimed the right to vote on the basis of their well-established civic roles and public service.

Past Programs

Iowa History Book Club Recordings 

American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace” by John C. Culver and John Hyde, hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Tim Walch

Dakota in Exile: The Untold Stories of Captives in the Aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War” by Linda Clemmons, hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Linda Clemmons

Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852” by Richard Bennett, hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Richard Bennett

Storm Lake: Change, Resilience and Hope in America’s Heartland” by Art Cullen, hosted by Andrew Klumpp and Art Cullen