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19 December 2018

CGS Library Collections: Iowa

Cherokee County Biographical History
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.

One of the things I’ve figured out while writing this blog series is our physical state collections typically start with a set of journals – if we have one for that state, and we do for most states. The Iowa shelf begins with Hawkeye Heritage by the Iowa Genealogical Society. We have copies starting in 1966 continuing to 2001. Those are followed by four volumes of a Surname Index that looks very useful. Our Iowa books occupy three and a half shelves – of those two and a half are devoted to Iowa counties. For some counties, we have good collections of naturalization, marriage and cemetery records.
One of many beautiful illustrations

The elaborately gilded black leather cover of Cherokee County Biographical History Illustrated appealed to me. It was written in 1889. It is a well-worn volume and feels fragile. The pages have pulled away from the binding, so when I am finished I will tie a blue ribbon around the book to alert our wonderful book repair team, led by Bill O’Neil, that it needs some of their TLC. The book starts with a seventeen-chapter history of the county followed by individual biographical sketches. It is nicely illustrated throughout with richly detailed sketches and portraits. This is just one of at least 19 county histories we have for Iowa.

A hefty tome with a rather crusty cover is the History of Des Moines and Polk County Iowa – a book the library purchased in 1960, according to the bookplate glued to the inside cover. We have Volume II, published in 1911. The book dives right into a biography of Jefferson Scott Polk, without benefit of a table of contents. As in many of its type, most biographies are accompanied by a photograph of the profiled individual. There is an index at the back.
Illustration from an Iowa county history book

Another small book in need of repair is An Illustrated History of Monroe County, Iowa by Frank Hickenlooper, published in 1896. The introduction says this book includes “sketches of pioneer life, anecdotes, biography, and long-drawn reminiscences spun out by the 'oldest inhabitant.'” The table of contents is found at the back. This small book is packed with a great range of interesting background information.

Women who led the effort to research and
publish cemetery records of Linn County
The last volume I chose for this post was Iowa Linn County Cemetery Records 1956- 1958. This is a carbon copy of a typed manuscript. Glued to the front page is a black-and-white snapshot of the three women who chaired the committee that did the work. Sixteen of Linn County's seventy-seven cemeteries are included. The records consist of alphabetically listed names and a transcription of all of the information recorded on each headstone for each cemetery – a true labor of love. The book has 198 pages including a good index.

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