Iowa history program to expand at Simpson


by Noel TreibelStaff Writer

Following many months of discussion, Simpson’s History Department recently approved a new Iowa history progam.

Some of the elements of the program will be classes, internships and grants.

“The class is part of it, but not all of it,” Professor of History Owen Duncan said.

The new program has many different aspects to it that will shine a whole new light on Iowa.

“It is an attempt to move academic history to hands-on history,” Duncan said.

Simpson will be awarding grants to schools to help promote Iowa history in local towns and schools. Simpson would like to become a knowledge base for Iowa history.

“We thought we could encourage teachers to bring in a unit of Iowa history,” said Professor of History Bill Friedricks.

Few people are aware of Iowa’s heritage during certain periods of U.S. history. Simpson hopes to broaden the knowledge about Iowa.

“Our greatest hope is to set up a small press to publish books on Iowa history,” Friedricks said.

Simpson will be encouraging other students to engage in Iowa history by giving out a prize of $500 for the best master’s thesis in Iowa history. This will hopefully recruit graduate students to become interested in the history of Iowa.

Friedricks has been aiding current Simpson students with internships and directed studies. He also taught an Iowa history class, in which students researched their hometowns.

Senior Megan Shields took the class last spring and enjoyed the challenges of the project.

“It was a really good class,” Shields said. “The best part was he grouped us into four different groups for a project, and that kind of made it competitive, which made our projects better.”

Some history students in the past have done directed studies or internships relating to Iowa’s past. Friedricks hopes the new program will expand on these opportunities.

“Our new program has a lot for Simpson students,” Friedricks said. “Besides an Iowa history course, students will have internships available at local historical societies, the state historical society, and other venues such as Living History Farms.”

Friedricks taught the Iowa history program last year for the first time. In that class, students looked at the history in their own backyards. Friedricks hopes students can continue this pursuit with the new program.

“They (students) will have hands-on opportunities to pursue local history projects and see how events they have heard about and read about impacted Iowans. Finally, we will be working to have students’ history research published in both Simpson and non-Simpson publications.”