Professors make history for society

Abbie Moeller

Experts in any field may be called upon unexpectedly to share their knowledge about a specific topic. And Jerome Thompson, bureau chief for the museum and archives of the State Historical Society of Iowa, looks to Iowa State faculty members.

Two historical society exhibits this past spring have included contributions from ISU faculty, and another exhibit from ISU is touring at the State Historical Society Museum.

“Hay Days: the Horse in Iowa History,” is a collaboration of information from professors Richard Willham, Allen Packer, Don Draper, Peggy Miller and the museum staff, said Miller, associate professor of animal science. “It’s an exhibit on the history of the horse in Iowa.”

In addition to helping the museum, Miller is also the state horse specialist for ISU Extension.

Miller also advises the 4-H program and meets with horse groups in Iowa. For the exhibit, she worked with the Iowa Horse Console and provided a saddle so the children could have hands-on interaction with the horses.

Don Draper, professor of veterinary medicine for 27 years, assisted with the preparation of the horse history exhibit.

Draper said he was contacted to help with the project because the College of Veterinary Medicine has early 20th century photographs of horses and historical documents of interest to the museum.

The College of Veterinary Medicine has been at ISU since 1876.

“I’ve been involved in maintaining specimens over the years,” Draper said.

The State Historical Society of Iowa has a complete horse skeleton and a horse’s large intestine on display from ISU.

Draper said the digestive system of the horse is unique to domestic animals and will be of interest to the public. Also on loan are dental and surgery equipment from the beginning of the century.

The Hay Days exhibit is Draper’s and Miller’s first time working with the State Historical Society of Iowa, but both said they would be willing to help again.

“Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in Iowa” is another exhibit that was modified from an exhibit that focused on the Midwest.

David Gradwohl, professor emeritus of anthropology, was the guest curator for the exhibit. He helped with display selections, set-up and the verification of information.

Thompson said Gradwohl was in charge of “conceptually organizing the story with artifacts, photographs and words.”

Thompson said that many of the items on display are family heirlooms borrowed from members of the Iowa Jewish Community.

Like Unpacking on the Prairie, the replica of the original Atanasoff-Berry computer also is on display as a traveling exhibit from ISU.

The Hay Days exhibit will be on display through April 2001, but the Atanasoff-Berry computer will only be at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines until Sept. 26. Unpacking on the Prairie will be on display there until December.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.