State History
Learn about the history of Iowa and find fun and interesting things to do and see all across Iowa. We've also found the best books, guides, websites, and other resources to make your study of Iowa fun and educational.
Things to See & Do in Iowa
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Led by Brigham Young, roughly 70,000 Mormons traveled along the Mormon Pioneer Trail from 1846 to 1869 in order to escape religious persecution. The general route is from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, covering about 1,300 miles. The Mormon Pioneer Trail travels through five states over both public and private land.
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch was established to commemorate the life of the 31st President of the United States. The Historic Site contains the cottage where Hoover was born, a blacksmith shop similar to the one owned by his father, West Branch’s first one room schoolhouse, the Friends Meetinghouse where the Hoover Family worshipped, and several homes of the era. Also located on the grounds are the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, the Hoover Presidential Library Association, the gravesites of the President and Mrs. Hoover, and an 81-acre tallgrass prairie.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Prehistoric mounds are common from the plains of the Midwest to the Atlantic seaboard, but only in this general area was there a culture that regularly constructed mounds in the shape of mammals, birds, or reptiles. The monument contains 2,526 acres with 195 mounds of which 31 are effigies. The others are conical, linear and compound. Eastern Woodland Indians built mounds from about 500 BC until the early European contact period. Natural features in the monument include forests, tallgrass prairies, wetlands and rivers. The visitor center, located at the park entrance, contains museum exhibits highlighting archaeological and natural specimens, an auditorium and book sales outlet. The park has eleven miles of hiking trails. No roads exist in the park. Rangers give guided hikes and prehistoric tool demonstrations, June 11 through Labor Day weekend. Educational programs are presented on- and off-site by appointment. There are no lodging or camping facilities in the park. Nearest camping is at Pikes Peak State Park and Yellow River State Forest in Iowa and Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin. Various primitive campgrounds exist in the area as well.
Wilder Memorial Museum
One of Northeast Iowa's greatest treasures is the Wilder Memorial Museum located in Strawberry Point, Iowa. Step back in time as you tour the Museum, discovering our extensive collections and fascinating exhibits. From an heirloom collection of over 800 dolls dating from the 1700's, Military artifacts from as early as the Revolutionary War, and an impressive collection of Victorian furniture and art glass. There is something for everyone!
Motor Mill Historic Site
Hidden in the Turkey River valley, the Motor Mill Historic Site is a peaceful natural area that features a six-story limestone flouring mill and four related stone buildings dating from the late 1860’s. The site's mission is to protect and preserve the architectural integrity, history, natural beauty and serenity of the Motor Mill site and its surroundings.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states. Most of the trail follows the Missouri & Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis & Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic & National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL & passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, & WA. Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis & Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis & Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.
Teaching Tips & Ideas
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: History
A look at teaching history across several grades using the classical method of education and a rotation of history every four years.
Knowledge Quest
Knowledge Quest offers historical outline maps and timelines designed for the interactive study of world history and geography.
Online Resources
The Iowa Civics Project
Public Interest Institute believes that Iowa youth need a course in the rights and duties of citizens, and hopes that the Iowa Civics Project will contribute to the development of civic pride and responsibility in our youth. In 1996, Public Interest Institute developed and started distributing free copies of their THE IOWA CIVICS PROJECT, a twelve-unit curriculum on Iowa state and local government, to government teachers across the state -- including homeschooling parents.

Goals: The students will gain an understanding of the role of government in Iowa by:
  • Understanding the constitutional foundation and structure of government in Iowa.
  • Recognizing the powers and processes of each of the branches of state government.
  • Recognizing the role of county, city, and school governments; and how they set policy.
  • Identifying the major services provided by state and local governments.
  • Identifying the major sources of revenue for state and local governments.
  • Understanding the role of the political process in electing public officials at each level of government.
  • Demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and leadership qualities necessary to become effective Iowa citizens.
  • Understanding and recognizing that freedoms are accompanied by responsibilities and that citizens in a free society are obliged to exercise their freedoms with respect to the freedoms of other.
The Iowa Civics Project textbook, IOWA GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, consists of twelve separate lessons, each designed to focus on one aspect of government in Iowa. Each chapter includes a list of Useful Websites, a Vocabulary list, a Review Quiz, and Suggestions for Additional Activities.

Featured Resources

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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and ...
Home Education: A Homeschooling Classic
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Serving Homeschooled Teens and Their Parents (Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series)
This guide for librarians addresses the needs of homeschooled teens and how a library can meet those needs. Includes ideas like developing a homeschool resource and book collection to creating special homeschool programs. While this book was written for library staff, it is also an insightful guide into how homeschoolers and libraries can work together. 
Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler
There can be no greater delight in parenting than passing on the Faith to the next generation. To help with that glorious responsibility comes Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler, a parents handbook to home-based religious instruction for the youngest members of the family. Filled with practical ideas, developmental guidelines, and a contagious enthusiasm for the treasures of the Catholic Faith, this exciting guide makes raising truly Catholic kids one of life s greatest pleasures. Recommended in ...
Choosing & Using Curriculum: For Your Special Child
Homeschooling a child with special needs can be challenging. This book lays out a discussion of different reading and math programs, how to adapt materials for special situations, resources for blind, deaf and speech/language, and curriculum types and styles. It will help you find the resource you need to make your homeschooling successful.