Iowa History Timeline: Text Version


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

First High School

The idea of offering education beyond grammar school began to evolve in the early 1800s. In the 1820s the first high school was opened in Boston. The idea spread west and by the 1850s there were many high schools in the Midwest.

Find out about Iowa's first high schools.

Iowa Event

No Government Authority in Iowa

When Missouri was admitted to the Union, no territorial designation was made for the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase lying north-- including the area that became Iowa.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

U.S. Event

Waves of Immigrants Come to America

Between 1820-1840 700,000 immigrants entered the United States. Between 1840-1860 an additional 4 million immigrants arrived.

Find out about immigration in Iowa.

Iowa Event

Steamboat to Iowa

First steamboat on Mississippi River reaches Iowa.

Find out more about steamboats on Iowa rivers.

U.S. Event

Missouri Compromise

Missouri wanted to join the United States as a slave state. To make the representation in Congress equal between slave and free states, Maine was admitted as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. The Missouri Compromise stated that a line would be drawn on a map between Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. In the future any states north of the line would be free states and those south of the line would be slave states.

World Event

Mexican Independence

Mexico won its independence from Spain.

World Event

A Home for Slaves

The African nation of Liberia was formed as a homeland for freed slaves from America.

Find out about African immigrants in Iowa.

Iowa Event

Half Breed Tract Becomes Lee County

A treaty with the "Sac and Fox tribe" gave 119,000 acres in what would be Lee County to children of racially-mixed parentage and was known as the "Half Breed Tract." Guardians of these children were also allowed to move into the area, and many white settlers took advantage of the situation and made claims to land. A United States Supreme Court decision in 1850 held that the legal claims to land rested with the descendants of the children of racially-mixed parentage.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

World Event

Industrial Revolution in Europe

The Industrial Revolution spread throughout Germany, Belgium and France.

Find out about manufacturing in Iowa.

World Event

First Photos

The first photograph was taken by Frenchman Joseph Nicephore Niepce.

Find out about the arts in Iowa.


U.S. Event

Audubon Studies Birds of America

John Audubon began his book, Birds of America.

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?


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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