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8. Where can I find primary sources material for teaching Iowa History?

The American Memory Collection
American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.  Use the search function to find numerous Iowa related resources online.

Sponsored by Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, . CampSilos introduces students to the story of agriculture through the use of online primary source historical documents and oral history activities that rely upon a "voices from the past and present" orientation.  This is a unique resource if you are teaching units about biomes (the natural prairie), pioneers and Westward expansion, the story of corn from its early Indian origins to the present, or Iowa history.

CampSilos Excursions
CampSilos Excursions offers learning materials through virtual field trips to Iowa's historic and cultural resources in the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area   Fourth through eighth grade students become museum curators and explore historic photographs, letters, and artifacts depicting pioneer farm life and the development of agriculture. Web-based research activities and pre- and post-field trip lesson plans are linked to national standards in the areas of language arts, social studies and history. 

Explorations in Iowa History Project
The objective of this project is to collect, organize and disseminate primary sources materials for instructional use by elementary and secondary Iowa history teachers. The materials are organized around two periods of Iowa's history:
  • Frontier Life in Iowa ( 1830 - 1870 )
  • Social and Economic Development of Iowa (1870 - 1940)

Included are original diaries, letters, memoirs, maps, travel schedules, advertisements, government documents as well as lesson plan ideas for teachers. These supplemental materials not only engage students in the craft of the historian but also apply problem-based methodologies consistent with best teaching practices.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum:
Curriculum Guides for Education
Numerous primary source materials are available at this site including the following: 

  • Hoover Online--Digital Archives of important Hoover documents.
  • A Biographical Sketch of Herbert Hoover (Middle and High School Students)
  • Presidential Cartoons--How the artist portrays the President's accomplishments through illustration.
  • A Boyhood--In Iowa An excerpt taken from an informal address before the Iowa Society of Washington
  • Gram's Trunk--A story and activities to motivate students to investigate history (K-8th)

The Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
An online collection of Iowa history and culture created by bringing together documents, images, maps, finding aids, interpretive and educational materials, and other media from collections held by a wide range of organizations throughout Iowa. These organizations include colleges and universities, public libraries, schools, historical societies, museums, archives and other appropriate groups. Access to the Iowa Heritage Digital Collections will enable searching across these multiple collections while at the same time maintaining the identity of each individual organization.

Iowa History Project
The mission of the Iowa History Project is to place on-line all the out-of-copyright books that pertain to general Iowa History. Included is a vast collection of books, pamphlets, journals and news articles.

Letters from an Iowa Soldier in the Civil War
These letters are part of a collection written by Newton Robert Scott, Private, Company A, of the 36th Infantry, Iowa Volunteers. Most of the letters were written to Scott's neighborhood friend Hannah Cone, in their home town of Albia, Iowa, over the three year period that he served as Company A's clerk.   Lesson plans available. 

Treasures From the Iowa Archives-CD-ROM A first-of-its kind CD-ROM contains many hard to access book volumes and more that 104,000 pages of Iowa history of interest to teachers and students of Iowa.  This CD encompasses all Iowa history journals 1863-1965, the full text of 15 booklets, 120 Des Moines Register articles on the history of Iowa, and 43 books on Iowa.  Prices and more information available from O.J. Fargo, 1405 N. Lincoln , Creston IA 50801.  Email

Civil War and Iowa: Greyhounds and Hawkeyes-CD-ROM
The most complete, comprehensive Iowa Civil War archive ever.  All of this information can be accessed and printed in its entirety, by page or by volume.  Contains 54,000 pages of Iowa Civil War History.  Prices and more information available from O.J. Fargo, 1405 N. Lincoln , Creston IA 50801.  Email

From the Department of Transportation Library

Copyright 2008 Iowa History Online.
Malcolm Price Laboratory School
Lynn Nielsen, Project Director
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA