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Making History Come To Life

A.W. Warrington
State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines
Des Moines baseball team circa 1870. Today, many historic baseball teams play the game by rules from the 1800s and make uniforms similar to what the players would have worn.

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages.Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.

Iowa's Living History Farms, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a favorite spot for families, field trips and history buffs. Places like Living History Farms offer the unique opportunity to experience how people lived and the daily activities they would have performed at different periods in history. It is an exercise of the imagination and a form of learning that takes place outside the classroom.

During this episode of Talk of Iowa, historians Leo Landis, Tom Morain and Tova Brandt help listeners understand the value of living history, historical reenactments and how people can bring history into the home. Landis is the State Curator at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, Morain is the former director of the State Historical Society of Iowa and Brandt is the executive director of the Museum of Danish America.

Vocabulary & anachronisms:

  • Anachronism; a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.
  • Threshing; the process of separating grain from corn or other crops.
  • "Keep your powder dry" the allusion is to gunpowder which soldiers had to keep dry in order to be ready to fight when required.
  • "Loaded for bear" fully prepared for any eventuality, especially a confrontation or challenge.
  • "Sounds like a broken record" to be very tiresome or irritating in the way one continues to say or reiterate the same thing over and over again. Likened to vinyl records that, when severely scratched can loop endlessly over the same recorded segment. 

Discussion questions & activities:

  • Make a list of all the things in your home that didn't exist 100 years ago. What are some things you still use today that were used back then?
  • Click HEREto watch how meals from the past would have been prepared.
  • What time period in history would you like to experience at a living history museum and why?
  • Click HEREto learn how to make "Ma Ingall's" butter cookies. It's a simple old-fashioned recipe that would have been in common use in the mid to late part of the 19th century. 

Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa