ICPL introduces Historical Iowa City Newspapers website

If you think this summer’s road construction is bad, consider the detours locals had to take in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

By 1908, the City of Iowa City had laid down 12 miles of streets, 23 miles of sewage system, and 35 miles of permanent sidewalks; an investment of $580,520 or about $15 million in today’s dollars. One can only guess how many detours those horses and buggies had to endure, but one thing is certain: progress continues!

Iowa City Public Library Information Coordinator Maeve Clark discovered this fun fact from a 1908 article in the Iowa City Republican newspaper, which she stumbled upon while exploring the Library’s new Historical Iowa City Newspapers website (www.icpl.org/newspapers). The archive covers Iowa City area publications from 1840-1929, previously only available in-house on microfilm.

This new archive is open to online researchers everywhere — no login ID or subscription fee required. Even better, the publications are searchable so the curious merely have to type in what they are looking for and cross their fingers for the right hit.

This searchable archive has “… opened a window to things. You can uncover so much more, and so much more efficiently,” Collection Services Coordinator Anne Mangano said. “Historic research is hard, going through newspaper after newspaper on a microfilm machine — your eyes miss things. This archive is going to help immensely.”

Researchers and local historians can explore early issues of the Iowa City Press Citizen, the Iowa City Daily Press, and the Iowa City Daily Republican, among others. These papers help history investigators discover unexpected clues while digging for details on their unique subjects.

“Having a primary resource is an invaluable way to get details and day to day information from the time period,” Information Librarian Candice Smith said. “Using a resource published after the fact is more of a review. Plus, newspapers have so much more information that you end up finding things you weren’t looking for.”

Whether you want to read the charges against brewers Conrad Graf and John Englert for their role in the 1884 beer riots, investigate the history of tuberculosis pesthouses in Iowa City, or learn how a young Irving Weber got lost from his mama while shopping downtown in 1907, the Historical Iowa City Newspapers archive allows you to strike history gold.

To get help with researching this new archive, contact the Iowa City Public Library Info Desk at 319-356-5200 or online at www.icpl.org/ask.