Local Archives

Archives at the University of Iowa (Iowa City)

The UI has vast and diverse archives that include antique musical instruments, 31,000 mounted birds, 41,000 pinned insects, 1,100 personal letters and diaries of Iowa farm women, 5,000 medical and pharmaceutical artifacts (including the 1930s examining chair used in The Field of Dreams), 4 million objects from Iowa’s 27,000 archaeological sites, 90,000 music scores, 20,000 cookbooks, over 1 million fossil and rock specimens, and several time capsules.

Special Collections at the Main Library
The Special Collections Department houses rare books and manuscripts. The holdings are particularly strong in the areas of nineteenth and twentieth century American and English literature, nineteenth and twentieth century American history, children’s literature. the histories of printing, of hydraulics, and of gastronomy. Special Collections also houses the Guild of Bookworkers Library, which holds over 700 books and videos that concentrate on the arts of the book. Website

Museum of Natural History
The oldest university museum west of the Mississippi River, the UI Museum of Natural History is an outgrowth of the Cabinet of Natural History established by the Iowa State Assembly in 1858. Iowa Hall gallery illustrates Iowa’s geologic record, cultural prehistory, and ecology. The Museum also houses the largest ornithological display and repository collection in Iowa (12,300 North American birds), a mammal collection with 3,200 mounts, skins, and skulls, and diverse cultural materials including Philippine artifacts from the 1903-04 St. Louis World’s Fair, Northern Athabaska and Eskimo artifacts, and a series of Southwestern ceramics featuring outstanding examples of Cochiti effigy vessels. Website

Museum of Art
The Museum of Art offers particular strengths in twentieth-century painters such as Picasso, Matisse, Gris, Chagall, and Leger, as well as Chinese jades, American silver, and the graphic and decorative arts. The permanent collection includes representative works from major twentieth-century art movements. The museum’s collection of African art—including one of the country’s most important collections of African sculpture—delights visitors and serves as the centerpiece for the museum’s collections of Oceanic, pre-Columbian, Native American, and Near Eastern art. Website

Office of the State Archaeologist Collections
The OSA, established in 1959, maintains the state’s record of archaeological sites (now over 20,000) and is the repository for archaeological materials (over 4 million specimens) from over 12,000 separately accessioned archaeological site collections. The OSA archives maintain all records (e.g., reports, catalogs, field notes, amps, and photographs) associated with the accessioned archaeological collections. OSA also maintains several comparative study collections (paleobotanical, avian skeletal, and lithic raw material). Website

Iowa Women’s Archives
The Louise Noun-Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives, established in 1992, exists to collect, preserve, and make available primary source material such as letters, diaries, and photographs on the history of Iowa women. Collections date from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, and include the papers of legislators, political activists, farm women, and performing artists, as well as the records of social organizations, study clubs, and religious groups. Website

College of Pharmacy Collection
The College of Pharmacy houses a collection of pharmaceutical artifacts and College memorabilia that dates to the early 1900s. The collection consists of glassware, scales, pharmacy utensils, and examples of drug containers and remedies. The items in the collection were donated by faculty, alumni, and friends of the College. Website

Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research Collection
IIHR houses an extensive collection of cataloged professional publications including internal reports and archives that include correspondence, field notes, photographs, and other documents amassed from the Institute’s 75 year history of involvement in diverse fluid mechanics, hydraulic engineering, hydrometeorology, and water resources-related projects. Website

Paleontology Repository
Paleontological collections of the Department of Geology have been a focus for geologic, paleobiologic, and paleoecologic research since 1855 when the first natural history survey of the state was undertaken. Currently, the invertebrate, vertebrate, and paleobotany collections comprise over 1 million specimens. The invertebrate paleontology collection is the fifth-largest university collection in North America and is of major importance to taxonomy of Paleozoic invertebrates. Website

Medical Museum at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
The UIHC Medical Museum focuses on the progress of medicine and patient care, and emphasizes the major role of University Hospitals in these advances. The Museum’s collection of medical artifacts, historic photographs, and documents forms the basis for temporary exhibitions and satellite displays throughout the hospital, which demonstrate advances in patient care from the time of the ancients to the present day. Website

John Martin Rare Book Room at the Hardin Library for Health Sciences
The nearly 3,000 volumes in the John Martin Rare Book Room are devoted to the history of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and the allied and basic sciences. Books, reprints, and out-of-print journals dealing with the history of medicine at the University and in the State of Iowa are housed in the Rare Book Room. In addition to the printed materials, the collection contains nearly 1,000 slides illustrating the history of health sciences as well as selected audio-tapes of presentations given at meetings of the History of Medicine Society. Website

Iowa Hawkeyes Collection at the UI Athletics Hall of Fame
This collection houses artifacts documenting the UI’s rich history of intercollegiate athletic participation, including Nile Kinnick’s Heisman Trophy, sixteen N.C.A.A. Wrestling Championship trophies, and the National Iowa Varsity Club Hall of Fame plaques. Website

University of Iowa Archives
The University Archives collects and preserves information in all formats on the history of the University. The archives has the papers of many professors and important publications including alumni and student directories, budgets, catalogs, histories, literary and humor magazines, programs of athletic and cultural events, and yearbooks. Other holdings include the large Kent Collection of campus photographs and vertical files on buildings, departments, faculty, and student life. Website

Other Archives in the Corridor

Iowa City Public Library
The ICPL houses Johnson County census materials, maps and plat books, city directories public (and some private) school yearbooks, military records of Iowan Civil War soldiers, the complete collection of articles authored by local historian Irving Weber, and many online resources. The library also maintains the Digital History Project, a web-based archive highlighting historic Iowa City and Johnson County, featuring over 1,000 items. Website

Iowa City Genealogical Society
The Society’s objectives are to create and foster an interest in genealogy; to acquire, preserve, and disseminate genealogical information (see the IAGenWeb Project); to support the State Historical Society of Iowa Library and the Iowa Genealogical Society; to aid members in compiling family histories; and to maintain and increase their enjoyment of genealogy. Website

State Historical Society Research Center (Iowa City)
Whether you are an author, educator, student, reporter, curator, archeologist, preservationist, historian or genealogist, the State Historical Society Research Centers can help you achieve your research goals by providing access to 209 million documents, photographs, newspapers and more. The Iowa City Research Center is located at 402 Iowa Ave. Website

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
The CRMA has a collection of more than 7,200 works of art spanning many eras—from Roman antiquity to the present. The collection is particularly strong in American art, especially from the first half of the 20th century. There are a number of artists the Museum holds in great depth—including the world’s largest collection of works of art by Grant Wood. Website

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum (West Branch)
The library contains more than 300 collections, totaling more than 8 million pages relating to Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover, their associates, and American history from 1874 through 1964. Notable collections include the Laura Ingalls Wilder Papers and oral histories of Senator Barry Goldwater and author Lowell Thomas. Website

African American Museum of Iowa (Cedar Rapids)
The Museum’s library and archive are rich in materials related to African American history and culture on a local, state, national, and international level. The library focuses specifically on African American history and culture. The archives features documents, manuscripts, photographs, sheet music, scrapbooks, oral histories, and digital media. Website

National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (Cedar Rapids)
The Skala Bartizal Library’s collection includes books, periodicals, musical recordings and sheet music, videos, and archival materials relating to Czech and Slovak history and culture.The Library also collects materials about other ethnic groups that have had a presence in the Czech and Slovak lands, namely Germans, Jews, Hungarians, Carpatho-Rusyns and Roma (Gypsies). Website

Coralville Public Library
In addition to its 110,000 circulating items, the CPL maintains the Iowa Writers’ Library at the Coralville Marriott, which houses approximately 800 books written by former students, graduates, and faculty of the nationally renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Website

Amana Heritage Society (Amana)
The Society maintains the Amana Heritage Museum Collection, comprising objects and documents that pertain to the history of Amana and its associated religious group (The Community of True Inspiration) in Germany and America—as well as the Amana Heritage Society Library Collection, which contains works printed by the community and related volumes from the 18th century to the present. Manuscripts include thousands of letters by community members and by leader Christian Metz (1794-1867). Website

Grand Lodge of Iowa AF & AM Library and Museums (Cedar Rapids)
The Library houses over 150,000 volumes, including thousands of rare Masonic books and a circulating collection for the casual reader. The Iowa collection contains materials dealing with Iowa history, government, education, social history, and religion. The Library also has a number of volumes on spirituality, religion, philosophy, history, literature, and biography, including the following special collections: A.E. Waite Collection of esoteric and occult science, Dr. Arthur W. Erskine Collection of original papers and materials in the field of X-ray technology, Joseph A. Walkes Collection of Prince Hall Masonry, and the Harvey Collection of Landscape Architecture.

The Library’s Masonic Museum houses Masonic decorative arts, regalia, equipment, artifacts, medallions, and jewels from around the world, a collection of Lincoln memorabilia, and a civil war battle flag. There is also a three-paneled painting entitled, “The First Three Degrees of Freemasonry,” the only known Masonic painting of Iowa artist Grant Wood, a member of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 263 of Cedar Rapids. The General Museum houses thousands of artifacts dealing with general history, from Babylonian tablets and ancient Egyptian tomb art to historic military items and pioneer collections. Other highlights include Native American antiquities, Japanese samurai armor, decorative arts, and wood carvings by local Czech folk artist John J. Stodola. The Swab Room contains a collection of porcelains, statuettes, vases, jewelry, and other fine art from around the world. Website