Iowa History Reader

Marvin Bergman

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470 pages, 4 maps, 16 tables, 5 7/8 x 8 7/8 inches

"Marvin Bergman's reissued collection points to the strengths of Iowa history as well as to areas for further development. A new preface alerts readers to materials that have appeared since the publication of the original volume. The Iowa History Reader is a must reference book for anyone teaching the history of the state at either the high school or college level."—Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, professor of agricultural history and rural studies, Iowa State University

"This new edition of the Iowa History Reader is a welcome updating of an invaluable collection of essays first published in 1996. Encapsulating a wide range of the finest scholarship on Iowa's history, the Iowa History Reader illuminates the distinctive characteristics and issues in the state's development from its early settlement through the present. Longtime Annals of Iowa editor Marvin Bergman's selections for the volume include an extensive and perceptive array of important essays that squarely focus on key elements of Iowa's history, including Native American, agricultural, political, ethnic, cultural, and industrial themes. In a new preface for this edition, Bergman has brought each essay's bibliographical notes up to date. Scholars and a wide range of other interested readers will embrace and applaud this indispensable book."—Wilson J. Warren, author, Tied to the Great Packing Machine: The Midwest and Meatpacking

In 1978 historian Joseph Wall wrote that Iowa was "still seeking to assert its own identity. . . . It has no real center where the elite of either power, wealth, or culture may congregate. Iowa, in short, is middle America." In this collection of well-written and accessible essays, originally published in 1996, seventeen of the Hawkeye State's most accomplished historians reflect upon the dramatic and not-so-dramatic shifts in the middle land's history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Marvin Bergman has drawn upon his years of editing the Annals of Iowa to gather contributors who cross disciplines, model the craft of writing a historical essay, cover more than one significant topic, and above all interpret history rather than recite it. In his preface to this new printing, he calls attention to publications that begin to fill the gaps noted in the 1996 edition.

Rather than survey the basic facts, the essayists engage readers in the actual making of Iowa's history by trying to understand the meaning of its past. By providing comprehensive accounts of topics in Iowa history that embrace the broader historiographical issues in American history, such as the nature of Progressivism and Populism, the debate over whether women's expanded roles in wartime carried over to postwar periods, and the place of quantification in history, the essayists contribute substantially to debates at the national level at the same time that they interpret Iowa's distinctive culture.


Allan C. Bogue, Robert Cook, Robert R. Dykstra, Deborah Fink, Mark Freidberger, Michael D. Green, Richard Jensen, John Lauritz Larson, Elizabeth D. Leonard, James C. Mohr, Thomas J. Morain, Jeffrey Ostler, Glenda Riley, Dorothy Schwieder, Shelton Stromquist, Joseph F. Wall, and Hugh Winebrenner.

Table of contents: 

Preface to the University of Iowa Press Edition
1. Iowa: The Middle Land by Dorothy Schwieder
2. "We Dance in Opposite Directions": Mesquakie (Fox) Separatism from the Sac and Fox Tribe by Michael D. Green
3. The Frontier in Process: Iowa's Trail Women as a Paradigm by Glenda Riley
4. Farming in the Prairie Peninsula, 1820-1890 by Allan G. Bogue
5. The Political Culture of Antebellum Iowa: An Overview by Robert Cook
6. "Men Did Not Take to the Musket More Commonly than Women to the Needle": Annie Wittenmyer and Soldiers Aid by Elizabeth D. Leonard
7. Iowans and the Politics of Race in America, 1857-1880 by Robert R. Dykstra
8. Town Development, Social Structure, and Industrial Conflict by Shelton Stromquist
9. Iowa's Struggle for State Railroad Control by John Lauritz Larson
10. Why the Populist Party Was Strong in Kansas and Nebraska but Weak in Iowa by Jeffrey Ostler
11. Iowa, Wet or Dry? Prohibition and the Fall of the GOP by Richard Jensen
12. To Whom Much Is Given: The Social Identity of an Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth Century by Thomas J. Morain
13. Rural Iowa in the 1920s and1930s by Dorothy Schwieder and Joseph Frazier Wall
14. World War II and Rural Women by Deborah Fink
15. The Modernization of Iowa's Agricultural Structure in the Twentieth Century by Mark Friedberger
16. The Evolution of the Iowa Precinct Caucuses by Hugh Winebrenner
17. Iowa's Abortion Battles of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s: Long-term Perspectives and Shor-term Analyses by James C. Mohr