Thursday, May 5, 2016

TRACES Exhibit - How Iowans Got To Be 'Us'

TRACES Center for History and Culture will bring its mobile exhibit “At Home in the Heartland: Forgotten Stories of How Iowans Got to be ‘Us’” to the Ottumwa Public Library on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. It is housed in a retrofitted school bus, the “BUS-eum.”

The Iowa that existed as little as 35 years ago is gone. Sweeping, long-term changes in the region’s agriculture, economy, technology, politics and its ethnic, age or other demographics have altered the ways we live. In the process we have lost old treasures even as we have gained new possibilities. All this can be examined, together.

Between now and Election Day, TRACES will take its exhibit to all 99 Iowa counties on three different tours, showing at diverse venues: schools, libraries, colleges, museums and other institutions. A public exhibit showing and workshop will begin in the morning at 10 am on W 3rd Street in front of the Ottumwa Public Library, then moves to a program, “At Home in the Heartland: Forgotten Stories of How Iowans Got to Be ‘Us’ at 11 am.

This is a history project housed in a rebuilt school bus, offering programming to libraries, museums, schools. It tells the story of who Iowans have been from state’s settlement ‘til today; it looks at who we are now and asks who we want to become. It is about change: What it is; what it costs; how we could steer it. It also collects Iowans’ family histories and individual stories, presents and preserves them for use by all.

Michael Luick-Thrams is a Ph.D. historian (Humboldt Universit├Ąt, Berlin), educator and speaker. While the overall tour focuses on Iowa history, his forty years of family research has yielded hundreds of photos, maps or other documentation that offer a narrative look into Iowa history. Docent Irving Kellman guides visitors through the BUS.

Luick-Thrams says, “TRACES gathers, preserves and presents stories of people’s lives, past and present–many of which have laid beneath dust left by time’s passage. By learning lessons from the past, we might rise above what otherwise could demean us and keeps us from moving forward as individuals, families, communities and a nation.”

Admission is free, in part with support from: Humanities Iowa, the John K. & Luise V. Hanson and the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundations, Chester P. Luick Memorial Trust, Vander Haags Inc. and local hosts. Details about both the tour and TRACES can be found at: or