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Mark Your Calendar
A Day on the Prairie, 100 Years of Music will be
Saturday, September 15, 2018
10 AM to 3 PM
Come for Music, Games, Crafts, Food, Demonstrations and more.
Fun for the Whole Family!
Special One Time Only Program
Iowans’ Response to the Holocaust to be Commemorated in September 2018 at Several Sites
80 Years Ago This Month Iowa Quakers Initiated Project that Saved 185 Europeans from Nazi Terror
TIPTON, IOWA August 1938—on the Iowa prairies, a hot and humid month. On top of oppressive heat, in ‘38 the long shadow of the Great Depression continued to bear down on the backs of rural Americans.
Despite the weather, the youth of the Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (or “Quakers”) met in Clear Lake. There, they drafted a statement proposing that Iowa Quakers cooperate with Philadelphia’s American Friends Service Committee to do something for the those fleeing Nazi Germany. Little did they know, but their letter would grant 185 refugees a safe haven in Iowa.
Now, 80 years later, Quaker and other groups will commemorate both the fates of Jewish and other refugees, as well as the activism of a small number of Iowans who offered them a fresh start. As part of a larger history project in five states, the commemoration will begin in Tipton, Iowa—site of the world’s only permanent exhibit about the Scattergood Hostel the young Quakers’ letter proposed creating.
From 4-8PM on Saturday, 29 September 2018, Tipton’s Cedar County Historical Society will host two programs to provide a context for the local culture that the refugees discovered upon their arrival in the American Heartland. After a shared dinner, the audience will regroup at Scattergood School, the site of the hostel, in nearby West Branch. From 8:30-9:30PM, attendees will gather in the Hickory Grove Meetinghouse, on the campus of the Quaker boarding school (which opened in 1890), for a candlelight memorial. It will follow a brief introduction to the setting, including a 10-minute film about the hostel.
The public will have had a chance to view the Scattergood Hostel exhibit in Tipton during an hour-long break between the two programs on Saturday. A longer, in-depth program about Quaker responses to the Holocaust will be held the next morning, Sunday, the 30th, in Iowa City, at a site to be announced. Iowa historian Michael Luick-Thrams and local scholars will narrate the two programs in Tipton, as well as host the memorial at Scattergood and facilitate Sunday-morning program and discussion in Iowa City.
Issues around refugees, immigration and xenophobia are again current: The historical case studies examined over these two days in late September will conclude with a public discussion about such issues, both historically but also as seen in contemporary contexts. The event’s organizers believe that much of use for current issues can be learned from past experiences—if those histories are known.
What is the historical context that Luick-Thrams will present in Tipton? The first program, titled “Kickin’ the Kaiser”, examines anti-German hysteria during World War I. It begins with a survey of the vast size and scope of the pre-war German-American community in the Midwest (40-60% of the population, in some places), as well as historical tensions between Anglo (i.e., East and later West Coast) elites and "those Krauts out on the prairies". Then, it documents the "flip" that occurred in April 1917 when the US entered the war: Anti-German sentiment became socially acceptable and quite literally exploded overnight with, for some, literally deadly consequences. It ends by exposing connections between wartime anti-German sentiment and the subsequent enactment of Prohibition in 1920.
Before the mostly German and Austrian refugees arrived at Scattergood, Quakers agonized over how to most effectively prepare their neighbors for the predominantly Jewish newcomers about to arrive. In any event, local sentiment towards the refugees changed over time, to the point they became captive, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, no longer allowed to leave Cedar County without official permission.
Following an hour-long break for a shared dinner and for individual viewing of the Scattergood Hostel exhibit, the second program uses photos, documents, maps and realia to recreate the immediate social and political climate into which the refugees landed. "The Cow War: Farmer Rebellions in America’s Heartland during the Great Depression" illustrates related yet differing agrarian rebellions during the 1930s that mirrored rural Iowans’ desperate attempts to survive, for example: the “Farmers Holiday Association” (forerunner of the NFO) which strove to forcibly increase the price of farm commodities; the “Cow War,” when Eastern Iowa dairy farmers blocked Federal agents from TB-testing their herds; and loosely-organized “Penny Auctions,” which tried to keep bankrupt farmers on their farms through collective action. Many of the Quaker farmers who helped create and sustain the hostel over its four-year existence also suffered under the taxing conditions facing their non-Quaker neighbors at the time.
To learn more about Scattergood Hostel, see: http://usgerrelations.traces.org/scattergood.html or the Iowa Public TV video about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQP8CReO5x4&t=54s The entire speaking tour includes two more, dovetailing topics that complement this review of Iowa social history, 1914-34: www.TRACES.org. Send questions and corrections to: MichaelLuickThrams@gmail.com
This program is supported by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities: The views and opinions expressed by this program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities Iowa or the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding provided by Illinois Humanities, Center for Prairie Studies/Grinnell College, and Vander Haag’s Inc., as well as by local hosts and their supporters.
### For details, see http://usgerrelations.traces.org/shenarratives.html or call Tanya at 563.886.2899
It is time to renew your membership for 2018. Memberships are active for a calendar year (January 1 - December 31). To keep you membership active and to continue to receive your newsletters and the 2018 Annual Review please pay your dues by 01/01/2018. Dues are $22 or if you would like us to mail you your review $25. Please make checks payable to CCHS and mail to PO Box 254, Tipton, IA 52772 or pay with PayPal by clicking on the button below. We can also swipe most major credit and debit cards when you renew your membership in person at the Museum.