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State Historical Society of Iowa wins two prestigious AASLH Awards of Excellence

Jun 16, 2022

The State Historical Society of Iowa’s campaign to commemorate Iowa’s 175th statehood anniversary continues to receive accolades from across the country.

The American Association for State and Local History honored the historical society, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, for its overall anniversary campaign as well as a special anniversary edition of The Annals of Iowa, the society’s quarterly journal. Both Awards of Excellence are part of the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, the association’s highest recognition for achievement in the preservation of state and local history.

The two national awards follow regional recognition from the Midwestern History Association, which last month honored the 175th anniversary campaign with the Alice Smith Prize in Public History.

“Our campaign to celebrate Iowa’s 175th statehood anniversary was a major success, and we are grateful to earn recognition from the American Association for State and Local History,” State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. “We also appreciate the thousands of Iowans who joined us by encouraging their communities to get involved in so many engaging and insightful ways.”

The year-long commemoration project involved the entire state, offering Iowans numerous opportunities to experience and celebrate Iowa history through “Iowa People & Places” museum and traveling exhibits, a related 3D virtual exhibit tour, pop-up exhibits, a book club, Goldie's Kids Club activities, and online presentations such as Iowa History 101 and Iowa Stories.

The campaign also encouraged the public to explore online resources through the specially curated Days of Learning collection and the new Iowa History Collections Catalog. Communities had the opportunity to create and install permanent historical markers, and Iowans of all ages contributed colorful self-portraits for an online gallery.

The State Historical Society of Iowa also collaborated with fellow DCA team members from the Iowa Arts Council to publish a special art-filled edition of The Annals of Iowa, with an accompanying video series to showcase its content. The 175th anniversary edition includes two featured articles about the enduring value and ever-shifting evolution of Iowa history itself; nine additional essays on specific topics such as agriculture, education and politics; and 17 original works of art created by artists from across the state. Individual copies and subscriptions of the journal can be purchased at iowaculture.gov.

AASLH established its awards program in 1945 to encourage excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The awards honor significant achievement in history while also promoting opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions and programs to make future contributions of their own.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its divisions – the State Historical Society of Iowa, including the State Historic Preservation Office; the Iowa Arts Council; the interim Iowa Humanities Council; and Produce Iowa, the state office of media production – empower Iowans to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. For more information, visit iowaculture.gov.

The American Association for State and Local History, a national nonprofit association, provides leadership and resources to help the history community thrive and make the past more meaningful for all people. AASLH serves the tens of thousands of history organizations, professionals, and volunteers around the country who help people of all ages develop critical thinking skills and understand how learning history helps society make progress toward justice. Through research, advocacy, and field-leading professional development program, AASLH advances public history practice and connects history practitioners to critical issues in the field and to one another. For more information, visit aaslh.org.