I am actually surprised that I didn’t know more about Vinnie Ream growing up. I’m normally a reliable source on local history and Ream lived just a block away from my Uthoff grandparents (which makes it especially odd I didn’t know about her because my Grandma (Hazel Jones) Uthoff was a painter and I’d have thought she’d have connected with the fact a famous artist used to live down the street), but for some reason I didn’t.
Sadly not knowing about Vinnie Ream doesn’t seem to be an uncommon condition in Iowa, in comparison to the generous information on her on the websites for the Missouri and Wisconsin state historical societies (both of which have a connection of much shorter duration with Ream than Iowa did) there wasn’t a single hit on the State Historical Society of Iowa website, despite the fact that they do have a Ream collection. So I was delighted when Iowa historian Paul C. Juhl produced a booklet spreading the word of this remarkable woman. Vinnie Ream was the artist behind the statue of Lincoln in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, the Farragut statue in Farragut Square in Washington, D.C., and two statues for Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, including Iowa’s own Samuel Kirkwood. As a teenager, Ream became the first woman artist to receive a federal commission. I’m very proud that the work of such a gifted artist and someone who is a model in pursuing what she wanted and standing up for herself represents Iowa in Statuary Hall.
See the duplicate of her Statuary Hall Samuel Kirkwood (cast from the original mold) at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids in the center of the Roundabout at the main entrance to the college.
Listen to our interview:
Juhl, Paul C. A Curious Iowa Connection: Vinnie Ream and the Statue of Samuel Kirkwood. Iowa City: Brushy Creek
For more information:
U.S. Capitol Historical Society (click on the names of her statues in the article to bring up more information and photos of each one):
Architect of the Capitol:
State Historical Society of Missouri (See especially the second scan of Missouri Historical Review under Resources near the bottom):
State Historical Society of Wisconsin (in addition to the page link, put Ream into the website search box to find much more):
State Historical Society of Iowa:
Information on Admiral David Farragut (of “Damn the torpedoes!” fame), including an image of Ream’s statue in Farragut Square:
UPDATE August 29 2015: I confirmed all addresses and changed one sentence up above. Then I added my signature block. I hope you’ll learn a little about Iowa’s Vinnie Ream.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.