Welcome to the Prairie Roots Research blog, a companion to the Prairie Roots Research website. This blog chronicles a journey of discovery, exploring the history of Iowa’s people and places. Join me in this adventure; together we’ll explore Iowa’s nooks & crannies, investigate historical & genealogical resources, and gain a greater understanding of our Iowa heritage.
If you have Civil War ancestors, or if you are interested in the history of the war, one of the best ways to understand this critical era of American history is to visit the sites of significant events and epic battles.
The National Park Service (NPS) has preserved many antebellum sites and Civil War battlefields, and the NPS website is your best first step for planning a visit. The NPS homepage “Discover History” tab introduces the many historical and cultural resources provided by NPS. The “Find A Park” tab provides the option of searching by name, location, activity or topic. Click “by location” for a state-by-state menu; then “by topic” for “Civil War” or “battlefield/military parks.” An interactive U.S. map also provides clickable links for each state.
Select a historical site of interest and click the link to view a website dedicated to that location. For example, the “Shiloh” website includes all the basics you need to plan your visit: directions, operating hours, etc., for both Shiloh and Corinth. The website also features pages for history and culture, nature and science, special helps for teachers, opportunities for children, and much more.
It has been 150 years since our ancestors waged war to determine the future and identity of our nation. Connect with history this summer: visit a national park or historic site and rediscover your ancestor’s American experience.
National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm
Saturday, June 8: Indian War Records. 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Iowa Genealogical Society, 628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines. Kerry McGrath, instructor. A brief discussion of Iowa’s 18th and 19th century Native American population; the conflicts between Native Americans and Euro-Americans; archaeological and historic sites in Iowa that commemorate the conflicts; types of records that are available and the locations where they can be found. Participants will receive a hand-out summarizing the presentation and listing sources and archives. Pre-registration required. Cost: $5 IGS members/$10 non-members. Contact: 515-276-0287; email@example.com. Website: www.iowagenealogy.org. Continue reading
May begins an exciting season of research and travel opportunities for family historians. The many smaller, local museums and historical sites that close for the winter come alive for you to explore and enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started–
Now through December 31: This Land We Call Home: Settling Clay County. Clay County Heritage Center, 7 Grand Avenue, Spencer. This new core exhibit highlights the county’s prehistory and takes the visitor through the challenges of the early settlers to establish farms and towns. Contact: 712-262-3304; firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.parkermuseum.org/ . Continue reading
Courthouse Research for Family Historians. By Christine Rose. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2004. Softcover, 219 pages. Source references, glossary.
The prospect of visiting a county courthouse to research your family history can be both exciting and daunting. Exciting, because you never know what genealogical treasures you’ll find; daunting, because the task of identifying what to look for and where to look for it may seem overwhelming. If you go unprepared, the entire trip can prove to be a waste of time.
You can ready yourself for this adventure by learning about the many types of records housed in county courthouses (and in some states, city or district offices), and by learning how to interpret what you find. Christine Rose takes the pain out of courthouse research with her wonderful book, Courthouse Research for Family Historians. Continue reading
Wednesday, April 10: History for Lunch: An Iowa Treasure– Preservation of Motor Mill on the Turkey River. 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., State Historical Society of Iowa, Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City. Despite being tucked away along the Turkey River in Clayton County, one of Iowa’s most picturesque sites continues to draw visitors for its history and natural surroundings. The event is free and open to the public and guests are welcome to bring their own lunch. Contact: 319- 335-3916 for more information. Website: http://www.iowahistory.org. Continue reading
If you have Scandinavian ancestors, here’s a great opportunity to sharpen your research skills. This two-day conference focuses on research and resources for the Nordic nations and genealogy skill-building.
Events start with a dessert reception on Friday evening and a media presentation by Doug Ohman. Meet the honorary consuls from several Nordic countries. Feel free to wear traditional dress!
Saturday is a full-day conference with presentations and breakout sessions focusing on Swedish, Sami, Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish, Danish, and general genealogy topics. Continue reading
Iowa Genealogical Society Spring Technology Workshop 2013
April 20, 2013
West Wing, IGS Library
628 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines
Join IGS for this skill-building full-day conference focusing on technology for the genealogist. Topics include:
- The Ins and Outs of Gedcom Files. What is a gedcom file and why do I need one? When would I use a gedcom? Why do I lose information when I convert from my genealogy program to another with a gedcom?
- Websites. Learn about the differences between commercial, personal and society websites, and how to create your own website.
- All About Scanners. Learn about the different types of scanners and which type is right for your. Learn how to use scanners interactively with your genealogy software.
- Publishing with Lulu.com. Byron Strom will show you how easy it is to turn your research notes and pictures into a published book. Continue reading
Thursday, March 7: History for Lunch, “Hard at Work: Women at the Amana Refrigeration Company, 1950 – 1970.” 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. State Historical Society of Iowa Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City. Explore the expansion of an Iowa company that began hiring women in the early 1950s, and the stories behind the women who struggled with their identities as rural women working in an industrial setting. The discussion will be led by historian Coreen Derifield, Ph.D., of Cedar Falls, who has researched the topic extensively. Space is limited – contact 319-335-3911 for more information. Continue reading
Special thanks to GAHC Executive Director Janet Brown-Lowe for generously contributing her time, background information and a guided tour for this profile.
Does your Iowa family tree include a German branch? In 1900 the U.S. census documented that over half the citizens of the upper Midwest were German immigrants or of German descent.
Many of those immigrants to Iowa entered the state at the river port city of Davenport, and although many continued westward, a substantial number remained to become leading lights in the city’s growth and development.
The German American Heritage Center was founded in 1994 to celebrate, preserve and share this unique heritage. Located in the old part of the city within view of the great Mississippi River, the Center is housed in what was once the “Germania House,” a bustling hotel built in the 1860s that catered to thousands of German immigrants. Continue reading
Choosing a selection of books about Abraham Lincoln is not easy: much has been written, from the time of his death 1865, to the latest offering by noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln inspired the current movie Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. At least a dozen new works were released in 2012, including studies on the lives of Mary Todd Lincoln and son Robert Todd Lincoln.
Here are my choices to get you started reading about our 16th president, followed by some thoughts on the merits of studying Lincoln’s life and the history of his times. Continue reading