Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1910:
Iowa Event

Iowa's population: 2,224,771

This was the first federal census in Iowa's history to show a decline in population. There were no further declines until the census of 1990.

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1910:
Iowa Event

Polio in Iowa

There were 186 reported cases of polio in Iowa in 1910.

Find out more about polio in Iowa.

1910:
Iowa Event

The Majestic Theatre Built

The Majestic Theatre was built in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1910. It was scheduled for demolition in the 1960s when a group of citizens saved it. It has been restored and is called the Five Flags Theater.

Find out more about opera houses in Iowa.

1910s:
Iowa Event

Coal Mining Popular in Iowa

There were over 400 coal mines in Iowa in the 1910s. Close to 18,000 miners worked to produce nine million tons of coal.

Find out more about the industries in Iowa.

1910:
Iowa Event

Colby Motor Company

The Colby Motor Company produced several thousand vehicles in Iowa before it went out of business in 1914.

Find out more about automobile manufacturing in Iowa.

1910:
Iowa Event

Annual Wages

The average annual wage for an Iowa worker in manufacturing was $549.

Find out more about Iowa workers.

1910-1913:
Iowa Event

Keokuk Dam Built

A dam was built at Keokuk. The generators had a capacity of 310,000 electrical horsepower. Keokuk became known as "Power City."

Find out more about Iowa communities.

1911:
Iowa Event

John L. Lewis Organizes AFL

Iowa native John L. Lewis organized the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the largest labor federation in the world.

Find out more about John L. Lewis.

1911:
Iowa Event

Wrestling at University of Iowa

The University of Iowa started a wrestling program.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1911:
Iowa Event

The Song of Iowa Becomes Official State Song.

The tune for "The Song of Iowa" is taken from the German Christmas song "O Tannenbaum," which translates as "Oh Christmas Tree."

Find out more about the arts in Iowa.

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1912:
Iowa Event

First Rural Public Hospital Created in Washington

Rural health came to be recognized as an issue that needed attention. This is still one of the tenets of the medical school at the University of Iowa, and the problem of finding doctors to serve in small towns in Iowa is an ongoing problem.

Find out more about health in Iowa.

1912:
Iowa Event

Iowa's First High Shool Basketball

The first Iowa boys' high school basketball competition was played. The first tournament was held in Iowa City with teams from Ottumwa, Sioux City, Grundy Center and Wilton Junction.

Find out more about Iowa high school basketball.

1912:
Iowa Event

First NCAA Wrestling Championships were held in Ames

The first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Wrestling Championships were held in Ames.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1913:
Iowa Event

Workers' Compensation Laws

Iowa joined a nationwide trend when it passed workers' compensation laws. These laws made employers responsible for injuries caused by defective machinery or negligence by the company's management.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1913:
Iowa Event

First Hydroelectric Dam

Keokuk Dam was the first hydroelectric dam to be constructed on the Mississippi River. It was the beginning of the lock-and-dam system that maintains a constantly navigable channel in the river.

Find out about Iowa's river transportation.

1914-1919:
U.S. Event

World War I

Germany and Austria-Hungary (Central Powers) fought against France, Russia, Great Britain and Italy (Allies). The United States joined the Allies in 1917. More than 10 million soldiers were killed. Another 20 million were wounded. About 10 million civilians died.

Find out about Iowa's World War I experience.

1915:
Iowa Event

Laws for Child Workers Passed

Laws made it illegal for children to skip school to work. Children under 16 were no longer allowed to work at dangerous occupations. The children working in street trades or agriculture were not protected under this law.

Find out more about child labor in Iowa.

1915:
Iowa Event

NAACP Organized in Iowa

The Iowa chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was organized in Des Moines. S. Joe Brown was the first president.

Find out more about the Iowan who helped establish the first Iowa Chapter of the NAACP.

1916:
Iowa Event

Wrestling at Iowa State University

Iowa State organized a wrestling team.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1916:
Iowa Event

NAACP Protests

In 1916 the movie The Birth of a Nation played in Des Moines. The movie portrayed the Ku Klux Klan organizing to defend white people against blacks. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested.

Find out more about the protest against The Birth of a Nation

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1916:
Iowa Event

Prohibition Closes Iowa Breweries

Prohibition made the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages illegal in the early 1900s. It was a very controversial policy. Iowa had statewide prohibition from 1916 to 1933.

Find out more about prohibition in Iowa.

1916:
U.S. Event

National Park Service Formed

President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service.


1916:
U.S. Event

First Woman Elected to Congress

Jeanette Rankin from Montana was the first woman elected to Congress.


1917:
Iowa Event

United States Enters World War I

The United States was not involved directly in the early years of the European conflict. The sinking of the Lusitania and Germany's continued attacks on English and American ships made America change its mind about going to war. In April 1917 the United States declared war on the Central Powers and began the drafting of young men for the army.

Find out more about Iowa and WWI.

1917:
Iowa Event

Camp Dodge Built Near Des Moines

Camp Dodge served as the major training center for African-American officers during World War I.

Find out more about Iowa and WWI.

1917:
Iowa Event

Iowan is First American Casualty of WW I

Pvt. Merle Hay was one of the first American soldiers killed in combat in World War I. He was one of three soldiers killed simultaneously in France by a shell explosion. There is a monument for him in the cemetery at Glidden, Iowa, which includes a replication in stone of the Ding Darling cartoon showing Uncle Sam wading back across the Atlantic Ocean bearing the dead body of Hay.

Find out more about Private Merle Hay.

1917:
Iowa Event

Des Moines Art Group Forms

The Des Moines Association of Fine Arts was formed and later gave its collection to the Des Moines Art Center.

Find out more about art in Iowa.

1917:
Iowa Event

Junior Red Cross Forms

The Junior Red Cross had started in the early 1880s but was not officially formed until 1917. In 1918 about 41 percent of schoolage children in Iowa were members.

Find out more about the Junior Red Cross in Iowa.

1918-1919:
U.S. Event

Spanish Influenza

Over 500,000 people died of the influenza. The flu caused almost as many deaths worldwide as the First World War.

Find out more about the influenza in Iowa.

1918:
Iowa Event

First Public Two-year College Established

Mason City Junior College (MCJC) was founded in Mason City. In 1969 the name was changed to North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC), it has the distinction of being the very first public two-year college in Iowa and one of the first such institutions in the country.

Find out more about Iowa higher education.

Top

1918:
Iowa Event

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Organizes

At a meeting in Marshalltown, the Farm Bureau was formed to rival the Farmers' Union, which many people feared might be subversive. It grew to become a major voice for farmers in Iowa and a major political force in the state.

Find out about farm life in Iowa.

1918:
Iowa Event

English Only Allowed in Iowa

Governor William Harding issued a proclamation which forbade the use of any language but English in public gatherings of two or more people. This was nicknamed the "Babel Proclamation," and in speeches the governor consistently referred to the "American" language. This was spurred by the war against Germany, but misuse of the proclamation by County Councils of Defense led to persecution of innocent people. People who spoke Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Czech were targeted as well as those who spoke German. Elderly women in Scott County were jailed for speaking German over the telephone. A Lutheran pastor was jailed for preaching part of a funeral service for a soldier killed in the war in Swedish because the young man's grandparents did not speak English. Governor Harding even made the point in a public speech that God did not hear prayers that were spoken in any language but English. There was no restitution after the war for any of those unjustly prosecuted.

Find out more about this time in Iowa's history.

1918:
Iowa Event

Iowa Woman Killed in France

Marian Crandell, a teacher of French at St. Katharine's School in Davenport, volunteered for service with the French Canteen service. She was killed in the war zone by an exploding shell, the first American woman to die in the combat zone during World War I. There is an historical marker in her honor on the grounds of the former Annie Wittenmyer Home in Davenport.

Find out more about Iowa and WWI.

1918:
Iowa Event

John Deere in Waterloo

John Deere Company opened a factory in Waterloo, Iowa.

Find out more about the industries in Iowa.

1919:
Iowa Event

Iowan Helps Create League of Women Voters

When the women's vote was attained in 1920, Carrie Lane Chapman Catt encouraged the formation of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan educational group. Catt was honorary president of the group for the rest of her life.

Find out more about voting rights in Iowa.

1919:
U.S. Event

18th Amendment Passed

The 18th Amendment outlawed the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquors.

Find out more about Prohibition.

1919:
Iowa Event

Iowa's First Radio Station

Iowa's first radio station, WSUI, at the University of Iowa (then called State University of Iowa), began broadcasting in Iowa City in 1919, and the first commercial station began broadcasting in 1922 in Davenport. Radio changed the lives of Iowans by bringing news, culture and entertainment into their homes. Iowa had many commercial and public radio stations early on. Two stations in Shenandoah, KFNF and KMA, became nationally famous for their programming, particularly the radio homemakers.

Find out more about the communications industry in Iowa.



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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