Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1880:
U.S. Event

Fewer Farmers

Farmers made up 49% of the labor force in America. In 1790 farmers made up 90% of the work force.

Find out about farmers in Iowa.

1880:
Iowa Event

Iowa's Population: 1,624,615

Federal Census of Iowa's population: 1,624,615

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1880:
Iowa Event

Weaver Nominated by Greenback Party

James Baird Weaver of Bloomfield was nominated for president by the Greenback Party in 1880 and the Populist party in 1892. He was a Civil War general, congressman, historian, lawyer, and a leading temperance orator. He is also one of two Iowans to be twice nominated for president of the United States. Herbert Hoover was the other one.

Find out more about James Weaver and other Iowa Presidential hopefuls.

1880:
Iowa Event

John L. Lewis Born

John Llewellyn Lewis was born at Cleveland Coal Camp near Lucas in Lucas County. He would move from the coal mines of Iowa to become the national president of the United Mine Workers and one of the most influential individuals in the country's labor movement.

Find out more about John L. Lewis.

1880s:
U.S. Event

Electricity Comes to Homes

Electricity began to make its way into many American homes, but because it was expensive it first came to cities and towns and later farms. Many Iowa farms didn't have electricity until after World War II.

Find out more about the effect of electricity on Iowa.

1880:
Iowa Event

Railroads Rule

By 1880 there wasn't a town in Iowa that was more than 25 miles from a railroad depot.

Find out more about railroads in Iowa.

1880:
Iowa Event

Women Schoolteachers

More than two-thirds of all public schoolteachers in Iowa were women.

Find out more about working women in Iowa.

1880s:
Iowa Event

Wrestling in Iowa

Wrestling became popular in Iowa in the 1880s.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1880s:
U.S. Event

Scientists Learn About Germs

For years scientists and doctors believed that diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid and small pox were caused by "bad air." In the 1880s they discovered that diseases were caused and spread by germs.

Find out more about health in Iowa.

1880-1964:
U.S. Event

Jim Crow Laws

Even though segregation was not legal, "Jim Crow" laws were a way to keep races segregated.

Find out more about civil rights.

Top

1880:
U.S. Event

Pharmacy Laws Passed

The pharmacy profession in Iowa changed after the passage of the 1880 Pharmacy Law. Prior to this, few requirements were in place for a person to sell medicines.

Find out more about medicine in Iowa.

1880:
Iowa Event

More City People

Until 1880 the number of rural residents outnumbered city or urban residents in Iowa. From 1880 on, the number of rural residents began to drop.

Find out more about Iowa's cities.

Late 1800s:
Iowa Event

Technology in Cities

By the late 1880s there were electric lights, phones and electric street cars in most Iowa cities.

Find out more about Iowa's cities.

1882:
Iowa Event

College Required for Dentists

The State Dental Bill required that all new dentists were required to have college training and pass state tests for a dental license.

Find out more about medicine in Iowa.

1882:
Iowa Event

Mechanical Cream Separator

The first mechanical cream separator was brought to Iowa. This invention replaced the slow method of letting milk sit until the cream rose to the top. Larger amounts of milk could be separated by using this method.

Find out more about creameries in Iowa.

1882:
Iowa Event

Tornado Strikes Grinnell

A destructive tornado struck in Grinnell killing at least 39 people. Some accounts report as many as 100 deaths.

Find out more about natural disasters in Iowa.

1883:
U.S. Event

Time Zones Created

The American Railway Association divided the United States into four time zones.


1884:
Iowa Event

State Capitol Dedicated in Des Moines

The new capitol building was dedicated. The building was built on a grand scale because it was considered proper at that time for government buildings to be visually impressive. Many county court houses from this period were also grand buildings. It was thought that such architectural styles would bring about better obedience to the law.

Find about more about the Iowa State Capitol.

1884:
U.S. Event

Goods by Mail

Americans began using mail order catalogs to purchase merchandise for the first time. Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company were the first mail order companies.

Find out about mail order in Iowa.

1885:
Iowa Event

Larrabee Elected Governor

William Larrabee of Clermont was noted as the railroad reform governor of Iowa. During his two terms, limits were placed on the powers of the railroad companies to control economics and politics in the state. Larrabee's home, Clermont, is now operated as a museum.

Find out more about Iowa government.

Top

1885:
U.S. Event

Corn Picker is Invented

Iowa native Patrick J. Lawler invented the corn picker.

Find out more about the corn picker.

1885:
Iowa Event

Knights of Labor in Iowa

The Knights of Labor, a national organization that worked to get better working conditions for factory workers, started a chapter in Iowa.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1885:
Iowa Event

Courts and Labor Disputes

One of the first times the courts became involved in labor disputes in the United States was in 1885 in Boone County, Iowa, when striking coal miners were ordered to stop picketing.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1886:
Iowa Event

State Capitol Complete

Construction on the Iowa State Capitol building was completed at a total cost of $2,873,294.59 (in 1886 dollars).

Find about more about the Iowa State Capitol.

1886:
U.S. Event

American Federation of Labor Formed

The American Federation of Labor was formed when 20 different craft unions combined.

Find out about labor unions in Iowa.

1886:
U.S. Event

The First Coke

The first Coca-Cola was produced.

Find out about business and industry in Iowa.

1887:
Iowa Event

Corn Palace is Built

In Sioux City the citizens wanted to celebrate their hard work and their main crop--corn. They built a corn palace in October.

Find out more about the Corn Palace.

1888:
Iowa Event

Henry A. Wallace Born

Born on a farm near Orient, Iowa, Henry Agard Wallace was a member of a prominent family that included his grandfather, "Uncle Henry," and his father, Henry Cantwell Wallace. Uncle Henry was appointed by the Rural Life Commission by President Theodore Roosevelt and also began the publication of Wallace's Farmer, a leading agricultural magazine. Henry C. Wallace served as secretary of agriculture under President Warren G. Harding, as well as editor of Wallace's Farmer. Henry A. served as editor of the family paper, as secretary of agriculture under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as vice president of the U.S., secretary of commerce under Presidents Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, and was a candidate for president in 1948. Wallace is most noted for his work in developing hybrid corn.

Find out more about Henry A. Wallace.

1888:
Iowa Event

Iowa's Early Health Insurance

Residents of Muchakinock, Iowa, a coal mining town, created one of the state's earliest health insurances. The Society of Muchakinock Colony was formed to provide burial expenses and pre-paid medical care.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1888:
Iowa Event

Knights of Labor Spread

An early labor union that was started in Philadelphia, the Knights of Labor, had 30,000 members in Iowa.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

Top

1889:
Iowa Event

Fire in Grinnell

In less than three hours 41 buildings burned in downtown Grinnell, Iowa.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1889:
Iowa Event

Bluegrass Palace is Built

The first palace made of bluegrass was built on the Union County fairgrounds in Creston.

Find out more about the Bluegrass Palace.



Questions to Consider:
When viewing information in the timeline, consider the following questions:

  • What time in history did this event occur? What else was happening at that time?
  • What events led to this event? What events followed it? Does this event begin or end something? Is this event part of a sequence of other events?
  • How did this event influence the present? How might it influence our future?


 

Sources:
Several entries for this timeline were adapted from Prairie Voices Iowa Heritage Curriculum, Annotated Iowa History Timeline, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1995. Used with permission.

Additional Sources:

  • Agriculture in the Classroom: Growing a Nation: The Story of American Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Discovering Historic Iowa Transportation Milestones, Iowa Department of Transportation, 2000.
  • Downey, Mathew T. American History 1 and 2. Chicago: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
  • History and Life: The World and Its People. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1980.
  • Keenan, Sheila. Scholastic Encyclopedia of Women in the United States. New York: Scholastic Reference, 1996.
  • National Standards for History, UCLA National Center for History in the Schools, 1996.
  • Randy Lyon, This Month In Iowa History, State Historical Society of Iowa.
  • The Challenge of Freedom. River Forest, Illinois: Laidlaw Brothers, 1982.
  • William Kovarik, Ph.D., Environmental History Timeline, Radford University,
  • World Adventures in Time and Place. New York: Macmillan McGraw-Hill, 1997.

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