Friedricks receives first ever Iowa History prize

Two years ago, Professor of History Bill Friedricks created the Iowa History Center at Simpson. Two weeks ago, he was rewarded for that work and received the first Iowa History prize from Humanities Iowa in the form of a $90,000 award.

The award, which was originated this year to promote the history of Iowa and the public discussion of it, also designates Friedricks as Iowa’s public historian for a two-year span.

Rebecca Livingstone, assistant professor of history, said the award will benefit the entire Simpson community.

“I think it (the award) is a fabulous thing for Simpson,” she said. “It will shed more light on Simpson and show what we do goes beyond the walls of Simpson.”

To receive the award, Friedricks proposed programming in the form of events, programs and speakers throughout the next two years. The programming is broken down into three parts and includes Online history courses, a grant program for K-6 teachers, and an Iowa History Speakers Series.

The future programming will impact Simpson students as well, as a variety of new opportunities will be available for those in the major, including an internship for Simpson students and an Online history course.

Friedricks said the award was also based on his previous writings, including three books about Iowa.

“We were lucky in one major respect,” he said. “When they announced the prize, it really was a natural fit with the history center.”

Nicholas Proctor, assistant professor of history, said that the award will help Friedricks make an impact on campus with opportunities through the Iowa History Center.

“This award will give him more time for the Iowa History Center,” he said. “When I’m in my office, I see him on the phone doing things for the history center, trying to work with students and having to run to class. This will give more time to dedicate to the center.”

While the award will give Friedricks more time to spend on the future projects through the center, it also means that he will spend less time at Simpson, Proctor said. He said that although the change will mean that Friedricks will teach fewer classes, the impact he will make on the department will outweigh the negatives.

“Through the history center, he’s making contacts for internships and help with oral projects,” Proctor said. “What we lose in classroom time will be more than made up for in opportunities.”

Friedricks said that the award will allow him to capitalize on the assistance he already receives from Simpson.

“The Simpson community has been really supportive,” he said. “Most schools don’t focus on history that happens in their own backyard.”

As those who will be directly impacted by the programs the award will fund, history majors are excited about the prospect of the plans.

“Professor Friedricks is one of Simpson’s finest teachers,” Senior history major Ted McNichol said. “Winning this award only attests to his dedication and commitment to the pursuit of history.”