Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1950s:
U.S. Event

Farmers Use Trucks

Trucks began to replace rails as the major form of transportation for farm products. With the passage of the Interstate Highway Act in 1956, it became easier for trucks to travel across the country on good roads.

Find out about transportation in Iowa.

1950s:
U.S. Event

Population Shifts

During the late 1940s the population of the United States began to shift as people moved from rural areas into cities. Fewer people farmed. More people moved into manufacturing jobs.


1950-53:
U.S. Event

Korean War

The United States was involved in the Korean War. Over 30,000 American service personnel were killed.


1950s:
U.S. Event

Air Conditioning

People started using air conditioners in their homes.

Find out more about what was changed by electricity.

1950:
Iowa Event

Iowa's population: 2,621,073

Federal Census of Iowa's population: 2,621,073

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1951:
Iowa Event

Blind Wrestlers Win

The MAASB (Midwest Athletic Association of Schools for the Blind) held their first wrestling championship--where the Iowa team took first place.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1952:
Iowa Event

Polio Reaches Peak

By 1952 polio had peaked at 3,500 reported cases in Iowa.

Find out more about polio in Iowa.

1954:
U.S. Event

A Vaccine for Polio

A vaccine for polio was tested successfully on 13,000 children in Woodbury, Linn and Scott counties in Iowa. The next year the Salk vaccine was available to the public.

Find out more about polio in Iowa.

1954:
U.S. Event

Segregation Outlawed

The Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that segregation in public schools was illegal.

Find out about civil rights in Iowa.

1955:
Iowa Event

National Farmers Organization Formed

The National Farmers Organization (NFO) was founded in Corning, Iowa, to combat low prices for farmers.

Find out more about the economics of agriculture.

Top

1956:
U.S. Event

Soil Bank Program Began

The U.S. Department of Agriculture entered into conservation contracts with landowners to share the cost of converting cropland from production to protective vegetation to help prevent erosion.

Find out more about environmental issues in Iowa.

1956:
U.S. Event

Federal Highway Act Passed

Over 40,000 miles of highway were built throughout the United States.


1956:
Iowa Event

Iowa Federation of Labor Forms

In 1956 the Iowa State Federation of Labor and the Iowa State Industrial Union Council met in a convention in Des Moines and merged to form the Iowa Federation of Labor.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1957:
Iowa Event

First NCASB Wrestling Championship

The first wrestling championship for the North Central Association of Schools for the Blind (NCASB) was held in Vinton.

Find out more about wrestling in Iowa.

1957:
Iowa Event

The Music Man Opens on Broadway

Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" opened on Broadway in December 1957 and went on for a 1,375 performance run. The cast album won the very first Grammy Award ever presented. The "Music Man" won eight Tony Awards with Willson winning for Best Musical Author and Best Composer and Lyricist. The movie version won the Academy Award for Best Musical Score.

Find out more about Meredith Willson.

1958:
U.S. Event

First U.S. Space Satellite Launched

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed by Congress. Explorer I was launched. It was the first satellite launched by the United States.

Find out about Iowa's space industry.

1958:
Iowa Event

Iowan Discovers Radiation Belt Around Earth

Dr. James Van Allen, as a professor of astronomy and space science at the University of Iowa, led the nation in experiments related to the "space race." Scientific instruments designed at the university under the leadership of Van Allen were carried on missions to the Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (on the Pioneer program, Mariner program, Voyager program, Galileo spacecraft). The discoveries contributed vital segments to the world's knowledge of energetic particles, plasmas and radio waves throughout the solar system.

Find out more about Iowa innovators.

1959:
Iowa Event

Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Renamed

In 1959 the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in Ames was officially renamed Iowa State University of Science and Technology. The name would eventually be changed to Iowa State University.

Find out more about higher education in Iowa.

1959:
U.S. Event

Hula Hoop Craze

The hula hoop was invented.

Find out about Iowa's inventors.

1959:
Iowa Event

The Day the Music Died

Early in the morning of February 3, 1959, an airplane carrying Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the "Big Bopper" crashed outside Mason City. The popular rock and roll singers had just completed a concert at the nearby Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. A 1971 song by Don McLean, "American Pie," contains many references to this day, including the phrase "The Day the Music Died."

Find out about the arts in Iowa.

Top

1959:
U.S. Event

Revolution in Cuba

Communist Fidel Castro overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The United States tried to help overthrow the Castro government in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.




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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