Lions City Park Then Pentacrest Museums Now

Iowa City Park Zoo

City Park Zoo

Regular readers will know that I loved the City Park Zoo. It had fallen on hard times. You can read my prior posts about it.

One story I had heard was that the bear which had been the University of Iowa’s mascot before Herky the Hawk. I asked the people behind the Natural History Museum on campus about it and they thought maybe that story was mixed up with the fact that they DID have the City Park lions.

Iowa City Park Zoo Lions in the News

So I’m always excited when anything from the City Park makes the news and the lions from the zoo are in the news. These lions were brought to Iowa City by Harry Bremer who purchased them in South Africa. They lived in his carriage house for awhile and then moved over to the City Park. The lions were taxidermied when they died (in 1931 and 1939). 68 donors including a large gift from the family of former sociology professor George McCall funded a new spot for lions.
They raised money for a new permanent mural in 30 years by Thomas Agran. It will open later this year with an image of South Africa where the lions were born. I’m looking forward to see the stand out of a new display.

Pentacrest Museums eNewsletter

The Pentacrest Museums incorporates the multiple museums in the Pentacrest area of the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. They send out e-mail newsletters regularly here is their story about the lions.
Pentacrest Museum E-Newsletter from March 25, 2020:
Check out the latest IOWA Magazine for an article on the exhibit renovation and habitat installation for our lions, Harry and Josephine.
We’re proud to announce, there and here, our new partnership with Iowa City Downtown District’s public art director and adjunct assistant professor at the UI School of Art and Art History, Thomas Agran, “It’s exciting to take part in offering some context for the lions, helping to use their rather bizarre story as a broader opportunity to teach. Yay museums!”
Agran will install the exhibit mural in Mammal Hall soon, when it is deemed safe to work in the building again. Stay tuned for progress reports and grand opening dates. Click here to read the story in Iowa Magazine.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,   listen to her podcast,    look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,   Twitter ,   LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

Christmas at Hoover

Every year the historic campus (The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and The Herbert Hoover National Historic site) and the town of West Branch celebrate Christmas in a BIG way! The big Christmas event in person is always the first weekend of December. I’ve been several times and I recommend it. However, if you’re only able to visit West Branch online there are several videos to watch!

Sarah Uthoff in costume as Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sarah and the display she helped curate as part of the Hoover Christmas Tree exhibit.

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas

Back in 2010, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum did a special Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas exhibit. Their normal schedule is big summer exhibit through October, Christmas tree exhibit from November through the beginning of January and then a winter exhibit from January through April or May. Each year they try for a different theme. The 2010 exhibit was A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas. I consulted and loaned them some of my material, photographs, etc. for the display.

Take a look!

NOTE: I actually have more footage of this on an old computer and I may edit it and get it up someday. Also, be aware that the Christmas ornaments in the gift shop were a limited supply and when they’re gone they’re gone. The Laura ones are a long time gone. Check with them for this year’s holiday exhibit themed ornaments.

I put together a special program about Christmas. This is a shortened, original version of my Christmas with Laura program which I still present.

Readers Theater “A Christmas Carol”

Another non-Laura Christmas entry is their Readers Theater production of A Christmas Carol. Admittedly as they are reading it’s not the most exciting thing to watch, but this shortened edition is an excellent show to have on while wrapping presents or otherwise getting ready for the holiday.

Christmas in Iowa

Their third and final – for now – Christmas video is Michael Zahs, a popular Iowan historic speaker, presents historic tales of Christmas in Iowa.

Bonus!

And if you’re a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan be sure to check out my latest program video – again a special version of – A Long Way Home.

But an older Laura video is a tour of their Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit. It’s still their most visited winter exhibit ever.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos,  listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her on Facebook ,  Twitter ,  LinkedIn ,   SlideShare,   and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

Free Speech and Tinker v Des Moines

I know that Ted Talks are the more popular brand, but I prefer Big Think videos. I think they’re more interesting and don’t use that fake tone of voice which Ted Talks favor. I use them to get books suggestions and to get other people’s takes on what’s going on in the world and the political, scientific, and philosophical thought.

Mary Beth Tinker
Linked Image of Mary Beth Tinker Today

Free Speech

I wanted to share out this particular video for two reasons. The first is that it is on Free Speech, especially in regard to Free Speech on campus which is a hot button issue these days. Free Speech has always been an important part of American history. It was one of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The concept of Freedom of Speech became to be considered vital during the Age of Enlightenment. It is best expressed in this well known statement (although often misattributed quote click on it to find out more). I can’t say that I’ve shown this kind of devotion, but I do say it to myself and try to live by the spirit of it.

I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It

The second reason I want to share this video is historical. I must say that I don’t agree with some of Jonathan Zimmerman’s historical generalities at the beginning, but I think it’s worth watching the whole thing anyway. However, the main point I want to emphasize is his description of a guest speaker he had come to his class. He invited Mary Beth Tinker one of the plaintiffs in the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School DistrictFor those of you who don’t know this was an Iowa case who went to the Supreme Court.

To sum up the Des Moines school district attempted to stop students from wearing arm bands to protest the Vietnam War. The ACLU backed them in a lawsuit and won in a ruling since very broadly applied. It is the source for the quote you may have heard about from Justice Fortas that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Not Just the Chosen People

While this case is often cited I’m very impressed with the fact that Zimmerman had the inspiration to track down Tinker to get her story on what happened. Also that, according to Tinker, that she still continued to support free speech for all. She rightly points out that you have to be aware that ALL free speech will potentially negatively effect someone. There isn’t one side that is absolutely right and that is the only one who deserves to be heard. Even more so that it’s dangerous to censor speech because it is the only power many people have and once you start doing that, no matter who you think you are protecting, it will eventually hurt those without power. Frankly, I was kind of surprised that she seemed so reasoned about the whole experience, but it sounds like she has taken an almost accidental start into something with deeply held beliefs. I think she just might be someone who really would be willing to “defend to the death your right to say it.”

Iowa History

I also wanted to share this because so much general history stops with the important part, the big important change someone makes, and it never tells you what happened to the people afterward. I’m glad to know Tinker is still out there and still fighting the good fight. This important case is a landmark in Iowa History and Iowa’s role in national history. Here’s his “talk” about it.” My biggest complaint about the video is that it doesn’t actually have Tinker talking instead of just Zimmerman telling about her. But I’m really so glad the story is out there at all that I’ll overlook it.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on  Facebook , Twitter ,  LinkedIn , SlideShare, and  Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Iowa School Librarian Requirement Saved

Recently there was an effort in the Iowa General Assembly to remove the requirement that there be at least one librarian and nurse in every school district. This is being done under the ideal of local control. That is something that I also believe in to as an ideal, but there are certain times and places when the state government needs to step in to ensure something happens. There are times when people making the laws for the state may know things (through constituents reaching out) that the local school board isn’t aware of.  For example, study after study proves a student in a school with an active library program and a well supported library achieves more than a student without these things. Another example of this kind is requiring certified teachers which is done on a state level, not a local level. That’s the way to think of this requirement. There are times when the state should step in and I think having a librarian and more so an information literacy program is one of them.
I’ll note here that I worked as a school librarian in two K-12 school districts. However, I’m not employed in one now and I don’t really even know many K-12 librarians any more so this isn’t about me wanting to save anyone’s job. This is about what’s best for the state in creating an educated population.
I’m happy to say the amendment was killed. Below I’m reposting with permission the statement from the Iowa Library Association about this attempt to remove librarians from our schools.
If you want to know more about this instance or about efforts to support libraries and information literacy in schools, or for support for libraries across the board a good place to start is EveryLibrary’s post and then on to the rest of their page.

This from Dan Chibnall, ILA President:

Last evening [Ed. Note: February 28, 2019], the [Iowa General Assembly] Senate Education Committee met to discuss SSB 1190, the bill that contained language striking the requirements for teacher librarians and nurses in Iowa schools. As of last night, that threat no longer exists.

During the committee meeting, Sen. Mark Lofgren proposed an amendment striking the teacher librarian and nurse language from the bill. It passed by voice vote with no opposition. The bill now goes to the full Senate but our teacher librarian colleagues are safe.

Katy Kauffman, the 2019 Iowa Association of School Librarians President, wrote a great email last night to her IASL members and I’m going to borrow a little from that here so you know who was all involved in leading these efforts. The IASL Board, Lisa Beal (IASL Advocacy Chair), Karla Krueger, Joan Taylor, Mike Wright, Zach Stier, Shannon Miller, Cara Stone, Dara Schmidt, and Amanda Vazquez. There were others too, on listservs and social media, in email threads and at the Capitol. Thank you all for your hard work.

I want to give a special shout-out to our incredible lobbyists, Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell. Without them I don’t know where we would be. Thank you so much. Also, another special shout out to EveryLibrary, who came in at the 11th hour to help us in our time of need. If you’re not familiar with them, visit their site and get to know them. Patrick “P.C.” Sweeney and John Chrastka were so helpful with language and for helping us setup on their site to get the emails rolling. They also put together this website telling the story of our victory last night. I recommend you all take a look and share it with others: https://www.saveschoollibrarians.org/a_win_in_iowa.

I cannot thank all of you enough for your incredible efforts to help make this win a reality. When I ran for ILA President years ago, I talked quite a bit about the importance of communication between librarians, libraries, and our legislators. Last night those communication efforts paid off and I was so impressed by the sheer volume of your voices, telling your stories and sticking together with your colleagues across the state. Bravo to all of you. Let’s keep those voices loud and clear for our Legislative Day on March 13th at the [Iowa] Capitol.

If you have a few minutes today, please consider emailing or calling the senators who helped us last night and thank them for their tireless work and their votes.

Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

My great-grandparents and me

Posting this as a service to the Iowa Genealogical Society, but if you’re interested in Genealogy and Trundlebed Tales. Here’s where to start. I haven’t gone, but I hear it’s a great event. It’s on my life goals list. – SSU

Posted on behalf of the Iowa Genealogical Society—please send questions to Kevin Spire at kdspire.genealogy@gmail.com

Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

The Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) will hold their Fall Conference on October 12-13, 2018 at the State Historical Society of Iowa Resource Center, 600 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa. Registration is from 8:00 to 8:45 AM.

Lisa Louise Cooke will present six programs over the two-day event:

  • How to Organize all this Genealogy Stuff
  • Reconstruct Your Ancestor’s Life with Google
  • How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
  • How to Reopen and Work a Genealogy Cold Case
  • Google Earth for Genealogy
  • Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-genealogist in Your Family.
Cooke, is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show. She is the author of The Genealogist Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies as well as the Google Earth for Genealogy video. She is a writer, instructor and podcaster for Family Tree Magazine. She has been featured as a keynote speaker and presenter at conferences and seminars such as Who Do You Think You Are?, Live in London, Roots Tech and the National Genealogical Society Conference.
In addition, Tony Jahn, State of Iowa Archivist will present an update on events and changes at the State Historical Library and Archives. Attendees can choose one from the following topics during a Breakout Session: Open House Tour of the State Historical library and Archives; Census and Squirrels by Linda Greenhurst; or International Round Tables covering English, German, Irish, Italian and Scandinavian research.
Conference fee, which includes lunch, is due by September 29, 2018. Fees will increase after that date. Non-members may purchase a one-year membership and be eligible to attend this conference at the reduced rate. The membership also provides reduced rates on other conferences and classes held at the IGS library as well as additional benefits. For more information, call 515.276.0287 or to register for the conference, go to www.iowagenealogy.org

Take Your Class to a Day in a One-Room School

19th century teacher sitting at desk
Sarah at Teacher Desk in Stone Academy – Solon, Iowa

Every spring and fall I work with the Johnson County (IA) Historical Society to put together an opportunity for schools in the area to step back in time. Classes come on a field trip to take their students back to 1876.

One-Room School in Coralville, Iowa

Coralville’s one-room school is actually a two story brick structure. Coralville thought they were going to boom and so built a bigger two story building thinking they’d soon need more than one class. Unfortunately for them, instead Coralville faced several setbacks. It was decades before they needed to use the second floor as a classroom. By the time they built a graded elementary school – Coralville Central – in 1950, they were running one class on each floor plus one in the town hall (recently moved across the street from the school) and one in the old fire department.

Experience for Students

The elementary classes study the time period before they come and each is assigned a character. Most of these characters are based on actual students who attended the school that year, but some have been added to support current large class sizes.

Students dress up and act out their role as I lead them through a taste of what life was like in a late 19th century one-room school. I serve as a historical interpreter helping the students understand the what and the why as we go through some of the classes they’d have in a one-room school.

Learn more about the program, including the lesson plans and preparation handouts.

Whether You Live Close or Farther Away

Do you live locally? Suggest to your school they come.

Do you live some place else? Look for a one-room museum near you. Most have a school program of some kind.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Mary Ingalls Society Report Fall 2017

A report from the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School for Fall 2017. The future of the School for the Blind building and artifacts is in doubt, but if you want to do your part to encourage continued activities in Vinton please consider a membership. If visiting the blind school is important to you, do it as soon as you can – Sarah S. Uthoff

IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society Member Sheet

Blind School from hospital
Blind School from hospital

Dear Members and Friends:

October 2017 marks the 5th year the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society has been working with the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.  It is also time to renew memberships.  With that in mind we thought we would share some highlights from this past year.

  • It has been a busy year that has brought over 600 people, from many other states as well as Iowa, through the front doors of Old Main. The number includes 6 bus tours and at our October 15 “Prairie Fiddle” show in the Auditorium.
  • In October 2016, through our “Lot 31 Project”, we dedicated a monument and headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton. They now mark the graves of students from the School who had been laid to rest there in the late 1800s and early 1900s without permenant monuments.
  • October 2016 also saw us making a presentation to the Iowa Board of Regents outlining our position on the disposition of historical artifacts and records for the School in light of the Board’s decision to sell the campus property. Our focus centered on the preservation of Old Main and maintaining the historically significant items there.
  • Throughout the year we continued the work of cataloguing and preserving historic records and photos. We used grant money obtained through the Benton County Community Foundation and your generous membership gifts on the following projects.  60 VCR tapes were digitized for easier viewing and use.  Newspaper and scrap book articles dating from the 1950s through the 1980s were moved from folders in file drawers to acid free clear protective sleeves and stored in acid free boxes making them easy to view and available for use in displays and programs.  Some of these articles  accompanied us to a presentation at the State Lions Meeting in Cedar Rapids in June.  Acid free sheets for photos are now being filled to further enhance their preservation and ease of use in displays.  Additional storage boxes have also been purchased and filled with various archival materials.
  • In May 2017 we marked our second year for the Vinton-Shellsburg 6th graders to visit the campus. We are excited to tell you there are plans for the next group to visit in May 2018.  The School also hosted a group of secondary students belonging to a group called, Future Leaders of America.  Making this school connection has been a goal of ours since the beginning, and we continue to look at ways to expand our outreach to other schools in Benton County and beyond.
  • We participated in and had a display for the Rare Book event held at the Cedar Rapids Library.
  • This year has also marked a continuation of a great working relationship between the Mary Ingalls Society and the School’s alumni. They have been valuable allies in working on preservation of artifacts and have proven to be the highlights for many of our tour groups.

None of this work would have been possible without the participation of the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society’s  members/supporters.  We sincerely thank you and invite you to renew your membership/support.  If you are not a member, we invite you to join us in this work.

Sincerely

Mary Ingalls Society