Press Releases

This project is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, exploring the human endeavor.
Project Manager:
Cyndi Sweet, Executive Director
Iowa Museum Association
319.239.2236 or
Mail: 4423 Wynnewood Drive, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Project Update April 20, 2018

Teaching Iowa History will use the historical assets held in trust for the public by Iowa’s museums, historical societies, archives, and other collecting organizations as primary sources in support of the development of lesson plans and text sets for use in classrooms grades K-12. In addition, the project will develop and facilitate professional development workshops that will model best practices for teaching with museum artifacts and connect classroom teachers with community museum professionals who can provide access to the primary resources.   

A significant aspect of the Teaching Iowa History project is the incredible partnership that has coalesced in support of the goals of the project.  In the Teaching Iowa History community of practice, each key partner brings content expertise and organizational resources that enhance the project.  Key partners invested in the development and facilitation of the project deliverables include the following organizations: The Iowa Museum Association, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Geographic Alliance, Simpson College, Graceland University, Iowa Public Television, Iowa Department of Education, and University of Iowa Museum Studies Program.  In addition, over sixty Iowa museum partners have contributed to the primary source database that will become the foundation for the lessons and text sets created.

During this first year of the project far more than just the database is being developed. 

The project has identified 120 Iowa historians, crowd sourced a 20-page bibliography of Iowa history resources, and developed templates for lesson plans, text sets, professional development, and best practices in local history projects.  See Teaching Iowa History Project / Products for more information.

Next steps will include research and writing of instructional materials, development of instructional videos on how to teach with artifacts, and a series that will focus on artifacts and the stories they tell.  Professional development offerings will begin Summer 2018, as will the design and development of a website where the products created by this project will live. will be an exciting landing place for educators upon completion in late 2018 or early 2019.

For more information please contact

February 26, 2018
Teaching Iowa History
Project Update


Teaching Iowa History is a statewide project led by the Iowa Museum Association (IMA).  The IMA's initial goal was to bring about a closer working relationship between museums and schools all across Iowa, through support of the new Social Studies Standards.  Iowa’s new Social Studies Standards include teaching Iowa history in grades K-12 for the first time in over a decade.  Previously, Iowa was one of only three states in the nation that did not teach its own history.


Teaching Iowa History will fulfill the IMA’s initial goal and more.  To support Iowa’s educators as they teach Iowa history, the Iowa Museum Association has brought together partners to create instructional resources and professional development.  Iowa’s museums, historical societies, archives and others have been asked to participate by sharing photographs of primary sources – authentic artifacts such as photographs, documents, artifacts – and their Iowa history story.  These primary sources will be used by project partners to develop instructional resources that will be available to teachers K-12 to assist them in meeting the new Social Studies standards.


Teaching Iowa History launched in September 2017 with a survey of Iowa historians.  Almost 120 individuals self-identified as Iowa historians and indicated their areas of expertise.  These individuals are being called upon as questions or needs arise during the creation of instructional resources.


The next step in the project was to invite the participation of Iowa’s museums, historical societies and archives by sharing primary sources associated with Iowa history.  Cataloging these resources began January 8, and to date over 200 objects have been cataloged and tagged with donor institution, object era, theme, county, and the social studies standards they relate to. Cataloging during Spring semester 2018 are UNI seniors Matthew Miller and Lauren Adams.  Lauren will also assist UNI’s history education students in understanding how to use the database and begin building instructional resources.


Working with Stefanie Wager, Iowa Department of Education, a project committee developed several templates for use by this project and by any other interested persons – professional development, lesson plan, and text set templates have been developed to date.  Products such as these created by the Teaching Iowa History project will be posted at until the project’s website is launched at a later date. 


The mission of the Iowa Museum Association is to work in the interests of Iowa museums to build organizational capacity, advocate to heighten awareness of the field, and foster community.


Iowa’s museums include art centers and art museums, botanical gardens, children's museums, historic sites, history museums, historical societies, living history sites, nature centers, natural history museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos.


For more information about the Iowa Museum Association, visit

Teaching Iowa History Project Update
October 16, 2017

Thank you to all the individuals and organizations who have already supported the Teaching Iowa History project with matching fund donations and by participating in the first step - a survey of Iowa historians.

Over 100 individuals have responded so far, indicating they can help with Iowa history stories and supporting artifacts.  Our matching fund gap has decreased from $24,000 to $19,000.  Both efforts will continue - the first survey is here and matching funds are still being sought from project supporters.

We are now kicking off the next step, collecting Iowa history stories from all four corners of Iowa - stories that are supported by primary sources (artifacts, documents, photographs) - stories that will be used as the basis for instructional resources for Iowa's teachers.

These instructional resources will be created by experts - the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa History Center at Simpson College.  When complete, they will be posted on multiple websites and available free for museum or classroom use.

This is an opportunity to raise awareness in classrooms statewide of the collections held in Iowa's museums and their importance to preserving the historical identity and fabric of our state.

We will collect stories and scans & jpgs through January 2018 through this survey or you may email responses to   Please do not U.S. mail responses to the Iowa Museum Association as we need everything in electronic format for following steps.

During Spring semester 2018 University of Northern Iowa Public History students will vet content, augment it as necessary with additional primary sources, and will curate a digital database.  They may reach out for more information or additional supporting sources.

Beginning in the Fall of 2018, classes at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa History Center at Simpson College will begin crafting instructional resources. 

Your participation will help ensure that events and individuals from all four corners of Iowa are represented in the instructional resources to be created.  If you have any questions, please contact

August 2017

Iowa Museum Association (IMA) Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant
IMA will be reaching out to Iowa museums to participate

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a "Creating Humanities Communities" grant to the Iowa Museum Association (IMA), a statewide organization serving all Iowa museums.   

The grant was awarded for the IMA's project entitled "Teaching Iowa History." The project will support the recommendations made by the Iowa History Advisory Council in "Recommendations to Create a Systemic Approach to Improving the Teaching and Learning of Iowa History in Iowa’s K12 Schools" (August 2016).

Teaching Iowa History will work with Iowa's museums to collect Iowa history stories and images of artifacts and primary resources.  The project will work with the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa History Center at Simpson College, and Graceland University to transform those resources into text sets and lesson plans to support teaching to the new Iowa Social Studies Standards.

Cyndi Sweet, Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association, said "We want Iowa teachers to have access to Iowa history content and primary resources and to know what resources are available at their local museum. We will reach out to Iowa museums, and to Iowa historians, local historians, and subject matter experts statewide to work with us on this project."

Teaching Iowa History brings into partnership the members of the Iowa Museum Association, and historians and educators at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa History Center at Simpson College to collect and vet historical content, and create teaching resources to assist teachers K-12 in meeting the new standards.  The project includes the development of a professional development template for teacher education.

Sweet said, "The University of Northern Iowa is Iowa's leading teacher education university.  They will bring institutional resources and expertise in content development, teacher preparation, and professional development that will be invaluable to the success of this project."

In addition to the University of Northern Iowa and the Iowa History Center at Simpson College, grant partners and supporters include Graceland University, the Geographic Alliance of Iowa, Iowa Public Television, The World Food Prize, Heartland Area Education Agency, the Iowa Department of Education, and a wide array of stakeholders.

Cynthia Sweet, Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association, said, “Teaching Iowa History” will make a difference for museums, teachers, and students, providing accessible history and professional development that connects stakeholders and supports Iowa Department of Education goals.  Creating connections between public school and museum educators will enhance lessons provided in both classrooms and active learning environments and build community across Iowa history related organizations for collaboration, partnership, and student benefits.”

For more information about “Teaching Iowa History”, visit or contact the Iowa Museum Association at email:  

The Iowa Museum Association's “Teaching Iowa History" project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by the project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.