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In 1978 historian Joseph Wall wrote that Iowa was “still seeking to assert its own identity. . . . It has no real center where the elite of either power, wealth, or culture may congregate. Iowa, in short, is middle America.” In this collection of well-written and accessible essays, originally published in 1996, seventeen of the Hawkeye State’s most accomplished historians reflect upon the dramatic and not-so-dramatic shifts in the middle land’s history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Marvin Bergman has drawn upon his years of editing the Annals of Iowa to gather contributors who cross disciplines, model the craft of writing a historical essay, cover more than one significant topic, and above all interpret history rather than recite it. In his preface to this new printing, he calls attention to publications that begin to fill the gaps noted in the 1996 edition.

Rather than survey the basic facts, the essayists engage readers in the actual making of Iowa’s history by trying to understand the meaning of its past. By providing comprehensive accounts of topics in Iowa history that embrace the broader historiographical issues in American history, such as the nature of Progressivism and Populism, the debate over whether women’s expanded roles in wartime carried over to postwar periods, and the place of quantification in history, the essayists contribute substantially to debates at the national level at the same time that they interpret Iowa’s distinctive culture.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587296345
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Publication date: 03/15/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 470
Sales rank: 1,136,397
Product dimensions: 5.88(w) x 8.88(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Marvin Bergman received his Ph.D. in American religious history from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has edited the Annals of Iowa for the State Historical Society of Iowa since 1987. With Shelton Stromquist he is the coeditor of Unionizing the Jungles: Labor and Community in the Twentieth-Century Meatpacking Industry (Iowa, 1997).

Table of Contents

Preface to the University of Iowa Press Edition
1. Iowa: The Middle Land by Dorothy Schwieder
2. "We Dance in Opposite Directions": Mesquakie (Fox) Separatism from the Sac and Fox Tribe by Michael D. Green
3. The Frontier in Process: Iowa's Trail Women as a Paradigm by Glenda Riley
4. Farming in the Prairie Peninsula, 1820-1890 by Allan G. Bouge
5. The Political Culture of Antebellum Iowa: An Overview by Robert Cook
6. "Men Did Not Take to the Musket More Commonly than Women to the Needle": Annie Wittenmyer and Soldiers Aid by Elizabeth D. Leonard
7. Iowans and the Politics of Race in America, 1857-1880 by Robert R. Dykstra
8. Town Development, Social Structure, and Industrial Conflict by Shelton Stromquist
9. Iowa's Struggle for State Railroad Control by John Lauritz Larson
10. Why the Populist Party Was Strong in Kansas and Nebraska but Weak in Iowa by Jeffrey Ostler
11. Iowa, Wet or Dry? Prohibition and the Fall of the GOP by Richard Jensen
12. To Whom Much Is Given: The Social Identity of an Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth Century by Thomas J. Morain
13. Rural Iowa in the 1920s and1930s by Dorothy Schwieder and Joseph Frazier Wall
14. World War II and Rural Women by Deborah Fink
15. The Modernization of Iowa's Agricultural Structure in the Twentieth Century by Mark Friedberger
16. The Evolution of the Iowa Precinct Caucuses by Hugh Winebrenner
17. Iowa's Abortion Battles of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s: Long-term Perspectives and Shor-term Analyses by James C. Mohr

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