A Flood of Images: April 2019

We are beginning to wonder if we will be “weather challenged” in 2019. January started off with four new weather records as recorded by the National Weather Service in Moline, IL.*

January 30th gave us a new record daily low of -29 degrees Fahrenheit. That was followed by January 31st which presented us with not only a new daily low of -33 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also became the new minimum low recorded for the month of January.

The month was not done yet with records as January 2019 is now the snowiest January on record in Moline with 30.2 inches. It managed to dethrone January 1979’s grand total of 26.7 inches of snow.

February 23, 2019 presented us with a new daily maximum rainfall of 1.28 inches. It replaced 1.04 inches recorded on that date in 1925.

March snuck in one new daily record as well with a new daily maximum rainfall of 0.84 inch on March 10th. It replaced the daily record for that date of 0.82 inch set in 1882.

With all the snow our neighbors up north had accumulated, our snow levels, and the deep frost layer it came as very little surprise when April arrived with local rivers flooding.

Our weather record for April is the new #8 in the top ten floods at Lock and Dam 15, Rock Island, IL.

A crest of 20.63 (or possibly 20.64 or 20.65) feet* on April 8 pushed the previous #8 of 19.66 feet on April 20, 1997 to #9. The 19.40-foot flood of June 27, 1892 is now bumped to #10 while the flood of April 26, 1969 at 19.30 feet is now off the top ten list. 

We thought we would share some images taken in downtown Davenport on April 9, 2019 during the crest which lasted two days. We have added a few photographs taken at the same locations from the July 4, 2014 flood of 20.90 feet to show some areas have changed while others remained the same.

April 9, 2019 – 0421 – Taken from Arsenal Bridge. Looking west on River Drive. Changes in Hesco barrier layout has stopped River Drive from flooding in 2019.

July 2014 – 017 – Taken from Arsenal Bridge. Looking west on River Drive with Hesco barriers.

April 9, 2019 – 0549 – Taken from parking garage corner of Main Street and River Drive facing Dillon fountain and Levee Inn.

July 2014 – 080 – Taken from parking garage corner of Main Street and River Drive facing Dillon fountain. Water is only slightly higher on basin than the photo from April 2019.

April 9, 2019 – 0446 – Main Street facing south to Dillon Fountain with Figge Art Museum on right side. Hesco barriers holding back water.

April 9, 2019 – 0472 – Taken from upper deck of Skybridge facing west. Mississippi River on far left. Levee Inn in foreground. Rear of photo shows LeClaire Park band shell and Ferris wheel. Union station on right.

July 2014 – 104 – Taken from upper deck of Skybridge facing west. Mississippi River on far left. Levee Inn in foreground. Rear of photo shows LeClaire Park band shell and Ferris wheel. Union station on upper right.

April 9, 2019 – 0548 – Taken from Talbot Memorial Bridge (formerly Centennial Bridge) looking east. Modern Woodmen Park on right. Railroad tracks going down the middle of the picture. Parking lot on the left.

July 2014 – 153 – Taken from Centennial Bridge looking east. Modern Woodmen Park on right. Railroad tracks going down the middle of the picture. Parking lot on the left.

April 9, 2019 – 0566 – Davenport City Cemetery. New headstones marking the graves of Civil War soldiers are on the right. River Drive should be on the left.

July 2014 – 186 – Davenport City Cemetery.  Taken next to the large tree seen near new headstones in the April 9, 2019 photo. River Drive should be on the left.

April 9, 2019 – 0589 – Davenport City Cemetery corner of Sturdevant Street and River Drive. 

July 2014 – 203 – Davenport City Cemetery corner of Sturdevant Street and River Drive. Water appears a little higher than in 2019.

Our only hope is the winter cold of this past winter does not turn into intense heat this summer as it did in 1936. More than once, extremely cold winters have been followed by record-breaking heat in the summer. That is one group of records we do not wish to break.

(posted by Amy D.)

*Record keeping began in May 1871.

**This is still a pending record until all data is verified by the National Weather Service.

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“Libraries = Strong Communities”: DPL in April 1919

As our way of celebrating National Library Week (April 7-13) here at the RSSC Center, we are looking at examples of how the Davenport Public Library of one hundred years ago fits well into 2019’s theme: “Libraries = Strong Communities.”

In April of 1919, 5 months after the Armistice ended the Great War, our library was continuing to serve the larger community — the nation — by participating in the American Library Association’s war service. This was an effort to collect and send books to U.S. soldiers recovering from illness and injury in French hospitals.  The need for fiction books was so urgent that the library made a special appeal to Davenport school children to donate at least one each for an upcoming shipment. [1]

This action was perhaps taken in response to a letter sent to Grace Rose, Librarian (equivalent to today’s Library Director) from the ALA war service representative:  “We must all stand by till it’s over over here, which will not be till all the boys have been taken home. This will not be done for several months yet, anyway from six to ten months.” [2]

The Davenport Public Library was also the site for making scrapbooks for “the thousands of brave lads living through days of pain and suffering and convalescence in the big reconstruction hospital at Camp Upton, New York.”  The Times article called for magazine donations and described the project: “Pictures, cartoons, jokes, short stories, incidents and articles of a humorous nature are clipped from the magazines, pasted into these attractively bound booklets and make happy reading for our war worn heroes trying to rebuild their lives from the ravages of war.” [3]

The library’s “club rooms” on the second floor of the Carnegie building were in heavy use by many local women’s organizations. Miss Maude G. Smalley of the War Camp Community service used the space to gather representatives of the Davenport Woman’s Club, the Lend-a Hand Club, the Y.W.C.A, the Davenport Visiting Nurses’ Association, the home service section of the Red Cross, and the Ladies’ Industrial Relief Society to form the Davenport Council of Social Workers. [4]  The Catholic Woman’s League, the Tri-City Girls’ Community Council, and the many “departments” of the Davenport Woman’s Club regularly used the public library’s club rooms.

For children, the library provided not only reading materials, but the opportunity to play games with others.  This service was very popular and the games were well-loved, as noted by the members of the Woman’s Club (perhaps because they were often in the library themselves) who decided to hold a “games shower” to add new games to the childrens’ collection. [5]

Another way in which the Davenport Public Library worked to strengthen the community was to make sure materials were available in all parts of the city. Librarian Grace D. Rose established the branch library at West Intermediate School in April 1919, along with two other intermediate schools the same year. [6]  Jackson and Grant elementary schools were also DPL “stations,” as were the Lend-A-Hand Club, the Y.W.C.A, the Y.M.C.A., Friendly House, the Independent Baking Company, the Purity Oats Company, the Robert Krause Company, and the city’s fire stations. A member of Rose’s staff also made noontime visits to “seven of the cities foundries and machine shops” with books and magazines. [7]

It is hard to imagine what more the Davenport Public Library of 1919 could have done to contribute to the local community!


[1] “Each Child Is Asked to Bring Fiction Book.” Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), April 10, 1919, p. 9.

[2] Davenport Democrat and Leader, April 7, 1919, p. 8.

[3] “More Magazines For Scrap Books for Camp Upton.” Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), April 1, 1919, p. 7.

[4] Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), April 9, 1919, p. 6.

[5] Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), April 8, 1919, p. 7.

[6] Davenport Public Library Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, April 10, 1919.

[7] Davenport Public Library Seventeenth Annual Report, 1919, p. 10-13.

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A Flood of Images: A small sample from 1916, 1920, and 1993

Spring has once again brought rising waters for our local rivers. We are currently very fortunate to not have experienced the major flooding that the western part of our state has gone through in recent weeks.

As we wait for a new crest (and then new flood photos) on the Mississippi River; we thought we would share a few images from previous floods that have not been shown before on our blog.

Ice jams and snowmelt during late winter into spring of 1916 created two floods. One in February and the other in May. The May flood crested at 15.6 feet on May 5-6, 1916. The image below shows LeClaire Park with flood waters near the iron railing. The bare trees indicate the photo was most likely taken in early spring.

To learn more about the Flood of 1916, please click here and here.

1998-18 Levee Commission Photos 064

April 19, 1920, brought another flood crest from the Mississippi River. This time at 17.1 feet. We love the automobiles and people in this photo taken on April 8, 1920, near the ferry landing in downtown Davenport.

2008-28 Box 11. Crowds looking at water level near Main Street, Davenport, Iowa. April 8, 1920.

Our final image is unique in that the black and white image was put on a postcard. It is the interior of the Municipal Baseball Stadium (now called Modern Woodmen Park) during the flood of 1993. This flood remains the top flood stage of the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam 15. Coming in at 22.63 feet with a crest on July 9, 1993. To see more images of the flood of 1993, please click here.

Postcard Collection – Buildings – PC067.

We will be charging our camera batteries for a potential crest next week at Lock and Dam 15. In the meantime, if you would like to look through our previous blogs relating to flooding through the years, we invite you to type the word “floods” into our search box on the upper right side of our blog homepage. 

(Posted by Amy D.)

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Henry Farnam’s Life and Work Near the Mississippi

The name Henry Farnam is not unheard of in this area. Mr. Farnam’s legacy and his influence was felt in the world of railroads, particularly the ever-growing network of railway lines spreading from the East.

He was born in Scipio, Cayuga County in the Finger Lakes region of New York. His parents, Jeffery Amherst Farnam (1773-1842) and Mercy Tracy (1775-1873), nurtured the study of mathematics and poetry in their young son. He utilized his knowledge by becoming a surveyor.  Through his employment as a surveyor, he worked on projects such as the Erie Canal west of Rochester, New York and the New Haven and Northampton Canal. Soon this canal was replaced by a more efficient railroad line in the 1840s.

Henry Farnam

During this time, he married Ann Sophia Whitman on December 1, 1839, in Farmington, Connecticut. Their young family grew with the birth of their children: George Bronson (1841), William Whitman (1844), Charles Henry (1846), Sarah Sheffield (1850), and Henry Walcott (1853).

In 1850, his work led him to travel to Illinois with his business partner Joseph E. Sheffield, an eastern financier. During this period, residents of the Tri-Cities began to succumb to railroad fever that was sweeping the nation.

In June 1845, a group of notable men from Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline met at Colonel George Davenport’s home to discuss the future of railroads and their cities. Their first hope was to establish a rail line from Rock Island to LaSalle. Unfortunately, they encountered challenges of raising funds which inevitably slowed their plans. After the funds were secured, Mr. James Grant, a Davenport attorney and former member of the Iowa Legislature, read of the work of Henry Farnam. The group set up a meeting with Mr. Farnam to discuss their plans.

Farnam and his partner endeavored to build the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad, a direct railway line from Chicago to Rock Island. Later this line would be known as “The Rock.” They successfully raised the funds and local support for this project. Not only was this rail line going provide a route from Rock Island to Chicago, but it was also going to span the wide Mississippi River.

He visited Rock Island on February 22, 1854, to attend a gala dinner celebrating the completion of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad.  Farnam announced, “‘Today we witness the nuptials of the Atlantic with the Father of Waters. Tomorrow the people of Rock Island can go to New York'” entirely by railroad in a span of 42 hours (Willard, John. “Henry Farnam Builds a Railroad”). Farnam was the president of this organization from 1854-1863.

Another momentous cellebration of the bridge to the Mississippie occurred on June 5-10, 1854. This event is known as the Grand Excursion. More than 1,200 citizens, including politicians, artist, reporters, writers, and business leader traveled from Chicago to Rock Island by railroad and traveled by a small fleet of steamboats upt to St. Paul, the capital of the Minnesota Territory. On the Saturday June 10th when the excursion ended, Mr. Farnam young son, Henry Walcott was present with a golden cup to commemorate this event.

A selection of historical poetry featuring Mr. Farnam and the railroad by Dick Stahl, poet laureate of the Quad Cities from 2001-2003.

“Judge James Grant Recalls Catching Railroad Fever”

People around here call me Judge Grant. 
Born on a plantation
near Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina.
Chapel Hill University graduate.
School teacher. At twenty-one,
I moved west with a restless country
to Chicago.  As a circuit judge 
for the sixth district of Illinois,
I rode on horseback
about three thousand miles a year.
Then I moved to a farm near Davenport, Iowa,
in Scott County, and rode a circuit.
The law’s my life; 
the bench and bar, my first love.
I’m mayor of the city-
Democrat in politics.
Settlers are moving in-
houses going up faster
than I can count
my growing library of law books.

Caught with railroad fever
with Ebenezer Cook, lawyer and banker,
and with those other luminaries
who gathered at Colonel George Davenport’s house
in early June 1845 to weigh
the idea of a railroad.

Elected first president
of the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad,
heard a lot of arguments about construction, 
grumblings from stockholders for results,
moanings about merely linking the Mississippi
with the Illinois River.

That’s when I heard Henry Farnam,
railroad builder from New Haven, Connecticut,
was in Chicago. Wanted to build
another railroad, they said.
We urged him to make a horseback survey
of our line. He came back
like a circle, eager to connect Joseph E. Sheffield,
his partner, in the project
and proposed a new charter for a direct line
from Chicago to Rock Island.

So another circuit starts.
I saw the first spade turned
on October 1, 1851, at Twenty-Second Street,
the south limits of Chicago,
for the working
Chicago and Rock Island Rail-Road. (Stahl 6-7)

“George Bancroft Toasts Henry Farnam”

I’m writing my History of the United States
without having seen much
of this country beyond the Atlantic coast;
now I’m exploring
the New West. No prince or potentate
ever hosted a thousand guests
over three thousand miles
of land and water
with such gracious splendor
as Henry Farnam. He is my American Aeneas;
his Grand Excursion, my epic
of adventure. The man inspires the soul
of a company, the chapter
of an age. I honor
his western thinking, straight as his run
of iron track. He rides on line
with his Rocket
to Rock Island, steaming
a course, like the sun.
He spreads warm hospitality
with every word. His energy splashes
like water cascading
the paddle wheel around Winona
and Wabasha and Red Wing.
His spirit is wide as Lake Pepin, his flair
for friendship close
as four steamboats lashed together,
their bands rising on the same high notes.
He and his family step together
across the platform
from one boat
to another. My pen’s as excited
as my new American spirit.
So here’s my toast
to you, Mr. Henry Farnam,
a master soul, one
who stands alone
in the history of excursions.
I’m writing history;
you’re making it. (Stahl 91-92)

“Henry Walcott Farnam Honor His Father”

I, Henry W. Farnam, being young in years, and wholly unaccustomed to public speaking, feel incompetent to discharge in suitable terms the duty imposed upon me on this interesting occasion. When I came on board this boat, it was farthest from my expectation to make a speech. All my wants may be confined within this little cup which you propose to give me. Its contents are a baby’s world-his universe. I give you my best smile of thanks for your kindness.

– Professor Alexander Twining’s words on behalf of Henry Walcott Farnam, awarded a golden cup.

Only my infant heart remembers
the tenor of his words
on the GOLDEN ERA.

The first time I saw the cup
sitting on your mantle in this library
I thought it was yours, but when you read
the engraving, I heard my voice
on the Grand Excursion.

When you handed it to me,
I could hardly hold it. I whispered
my own name, and I’ve heard
its soft echo grow
these many years.

This cup large as a bowl
holds a link to the past
and the future for our family.
It celebrates a golden time
for mother and you and my brother George.
Let it be passed down
as a remembrance.

I raise my glass to you, father,
and offer my best smile
as a toast. Here’s to
the master spirit of the Grand Excursion
and to the family Shakespeare.
Whether you’re building railroads
or reading poetry, you’re always ready
with all the right lines. (Stahl 97-98)

As his time in Illinois neared an end, he and his family applied for U.S. Passports to travel and live abroad. They lived in Europe for 5 years and during that time they visited the Holy Lands. They returned settling in New Haven, Connecticut. Farnam and his wife, Ann, live there for the rest of their lives contributing their time and wealth to Yale University.

Mr. Farnam left a lasting impression on the Quad Cities. His forward thinking helped to encourage travel and entrepreneurial growth in the West.

Join us in celebrating the work of Henry Farnam at the 16th Annual Farnam Dinner on March 28th at the Radisson Hotel at 5 p.m.



Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Volume: Vol. II New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887, 410.

Beydler, John. “The Railroad Come to Town.”Archive.Today. accessed 18 March 2019.

Seeley, Mark. W. “The Grand Excursion of 1854.” Minnesota History (2004): 36-38.

Stahl, Dick. Mr. Farnam’s Guests. Midwest Writing Center, 2004.

U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Roll 116: 08 May 1863-17 Jun 1863, 1-4.

Willard, John. “All Aboard for Railroad History.” Quad-City Times. January 27, 2004.

Willard, John. “Henry Farnam Builds a Railroad.” Quad-City Times. January 27, 2004. page B1.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Women’s Entrepreneurial Spirit: The Home Cooking Company

On March 15, 1894 a unique business filed for incorporation in Scott County, Iowa. Named the Home Cooking Company its intentions were for the manufacturing and supplying of food and confectionery. Stocks were listed at $20,000 with $1,500 to start operations.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 15, 1894.

It opened at 221 Brady Street in Davenport as part bakery, part restaurant, and part take-out meals. A clever idea in the ever-growing city.

The unique part of the venture was the stockholders who developed the idea and put up the money. All were single never married women in their thirties.

These five women willing to chance their savings were:

Helen Mary Colville – Born November 1848 in Ohio. Died June 25, 1921 in Umatilla County, Oregon. Helen was also the president of the Home Cooking Company.

Elizabeth Lau – Born October 21, 1857 in Davenport, IA. Died September 20, 1930 in Davenport, IA. Elizabeth worked for the Javis & White Photography Company for many years along with the Home Cooking Company.

Kate V. Hooper – Born April 7, 1863 in Massachusetts. Died April 17, 1907 in Davenport, IA. She moved to the area as a small child, was educated in local schools, and became a schoolteacher until severe arthritis caused her to retire. It was about the time of her retirement she helped start the Home Cooking Company. Kate also helped start the Lend-A-Hand Club.

L. F. Bickford – Lile Frances Bickford was born in 1855 in New Hampshire. Died February 1932 in Deming, New Mexico. She moved to Davenport to become the first matron of the Clarissa Cook Home for Friendless Women. Lile also helped start the Lend-A-Hand Club before the Home Cooking Company. In the early 1900s, she moved to Deming to live with family. There, she helped start the local library.

Harriet (Hattie) P. Dalzell – Born May 3, 1863 in Davenport, IA. Died July 17, 1897 in Davenport, IA. Born and raised in Davenport; Harriet was a stockholder in the company. She never left her teaching job to run the business. She taught in the Davenport schools for over 20 years before her death.

The Home Cooking Company opened on May 12, 1894 with dinner served 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. was Ceylon tea, and from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. a New England supper.

By June 1894, the business appears to be doing successful trade as a notice was placed in the papers that due to high demand for service; any special dish orders needed to be made 24 hours in advance to allow time for them to be made and delivered.

The company seemed to consider all options for patrons. Bakery goods, restaurant meals geared towards local businessmen, picnic food in the summer, holiday dishes, and take home/deliver meals for a busy housewife.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, June 28, 1894.

The Daily Times, December 22, 1894.

By the January of 1895, a cooking teacher was hired from Cincinnati, Ohio. Miss Emily Colling was a Philadelphia cooking school graduate who would teach cooking classes in the newly expanded upstairs portion of the Home Cooking Company.

The Daily Times, January 29, 1895.

Even by expanding into the upstairs floors of 221 Brady Street, the business was forced to close the first floor restaurant portion on April 1, 1895. The demand for baked goods and take home meals was overwhelming the space. Newspaper accounts stated the women hoped to find a more suitable restaurant space soon.

Newspaper advertisements in October 1895 indicate the business was still expanding, as more help was needed in different departments.

Suddenly, in April 1896 a new wanted advertisement appeared in The Morning Democrat.

The Morning Democrat, April 16, 1896.

It would appear the restaurant portion of the business was for sale. 

Miss Julia Dillon decided to purchase the restaurant business in June of 1896. She moved the Home Cooking Company restaurant to 315 Brady Street. Advertisements indicated while the address had changed, the concept of the business had not.

The Daily Leader, June 28, 1896.

The baking and cooking portion of the business expanded again with the opening of a household science department in December 1896. It was also announced that the President of the company, Miss (Helen) Mary Colville, would be retiring.

The Daily Times, December 5, 1896.

The first sign of trouble began in the spring of 1897 when department heads began to leave for other positions. This probably seemed unusual as the business seemed as popular as ever.

The Daily Times, March 8, 1897.

In May of 1897, the Home Cooking Company was officially sold to new owners. All original stockholders had retired from the business.

The Davenport Morning Star, May 5, 1897.

On November 29, 1897, the Home Cooking Company bakery and take-out business closed its doors without warning. Newspaper accounts listed poor business practices by the new owners as the reason the business ended. Almost immediately, an auction was held to sell off pieces to pay debts.

The successful business venture of five enterprising ladies was no more. One can admire the entrepreneurial spirit these women had. The long hours of baking and cooking in pre-air conditioned kitchens for not only a restaurant, but also producing take home meals as well.

221 Brady Street still stands in Davenport. Drive or walk by sometime. One can almost imagine the bustle of activity, the long hours, and the spirit that created the Home Cooking Company.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Iowa History Month: Historical and Literary Map of Iowa

March has been declared Iowa History Month by Governor Kim Reynolds. Across the state of Iowans are encouraged to discover their state’s rich history through materials and stories collected by the many cultural and historical organizations.

In celebration of Iowa’s history, we are featuring the Historical and Literary Map of Iowa conceptualized and created by Davenport Public Library Staff. It is a colored map featuring “pictures of the old historical forts, early trails of the first settlers, the stage coach route of 1850, the first school and church, early railroads, settlements made by […] Iowa pioneers, the various explorations of Zebuon Pike, the Mormon trail, the Spirit Lake massacre, […] and the site of the three Iowa capitals” as well as two pictorial representations of legendary Native American figures (“Public Library Displays Iowa Map and Books, 28”). The minuscule drawings are dainty but show the diversity of life in Iowa from animals and plants to the people who lived here. 

This digital copy of the map is owned by the Geography & Map Division of the Library of Congress. Historical and Literary Map of Iowa. Vira E. Moran, Illustrator. Davenport: Davenport Public Library, 1934. Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress.

The map also indicates the birthplaces of eminent Iowa authors including Davenporters Arthur Davison Ficke and Susan Glaspell as well as birthplaces of other famous American such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

The map was first mentioned in The Davenport Democrat and Leader on August 16, 1931, as being the library’s featured display at the 1931 valley fair.  In addition, the map was accompanied by a collection of one hundred historical books of Iowa and literature written by Iowa authors. Library staff members would be posted by the display to answer any questions fair attendees had about the books or map.

The map was designed and sketched by Vira E. Morgan, an assistant in the extension department, with the assistance of Miss Grace Shellenberger, a librarian. It is also noted on the extant copies of the map that Miss Kathryn P. Mier suggested creating the map.

In the years following the fair, the Historical and Literary Map of Iowa made it into the local newspapers several more times. In many of the cases, Miss Mier was presenting about this map to various community groups including students of St. Katherine’s School.   An article published on April 18, 1933 in The Daily Times mentions Miss Mier’s presentation is to celebrate Iowa history week.

If you are interested in viewing this map, visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to view the copy of this map in their Map Collection.


“Public Library Displays Iowa Map and Books.” Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), August 16, 1931.

(posted by Kathryn)





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The History of the Book Travels to Davenport

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center offers the Traveling History of the Book Exhibit for Quad Citizens’ viewing and hands-on learning fun from March 1 to April 13.  The exhibit features materials capturing the history of the book throughout different periods of time. In the spirit of all things books, we have selected books from our collection which enhance the diversity of book history.

Here is a sampling of the materials we have on display to pique interest:

Picture Books

Exhibit Collection


Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown

This picture book was published in 1946. A unique feature of this book is that it was published with a fur cover as a sensory device for children to learn and feel comforted by something soft and cuddly.

Vellum Bound Books

2005-20 C.A. Ficke Collection

Phædri, Augusti Cæsaris liberti, Fabularum Æsopiarum libri quinque by Phaedrus

This book of Aesop’s fables was published in 1667 in Amsterdam. It is bound in vellum creating a more flexible binding. Throughout the book there are a number of engraved plates and artistic renderings.

Japanese books

2005-20 C.A. Ficke Collection

Buddhist Sacred Book


Over 400 years old and handwritten in Japanese, this book contains sacred Buddhist texts. The handwriting style is uniform and clean. The book was made in accordion binding style with paper boards.

Carousel Books

Exhibit Collections

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


This colorfully illustrated carousel, pop-up book has fanciful characters, shapes and landscape settings creating a 3-dimensional vision on Snow White and the seven dwarfs. The illustrator was Chris Conover, a native New Yorker. The book was published in New York by Platt & Munk Publishers in the 1980s.

The Traveling History of the Book Exhibit was created from the creative collaboration between the Iowa Center for the Book and the University of Iowa Center for the Book. The project is funded by a major grant from the Iowa Center for the Book Foundation. The people of Iowa can see this excellently crafted exhibit at any public libraries Iowa because any library can request this exhibit for their communities.

The University of Iowa Center for the Book began in 1986.  The Center for the book fosters “training in the technique and artistry of bookmaking with research into the history and culture of books”. This unit on the University of Iowa’s campus supports interdisciplinary studies relating to the book by offering a variety of degree options for graduate and undergraduate students.

The Iowa Center for the Book (ICB) is a program of the State Library of Iowa and an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Founded in 2002, ICB’s mission is to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. ICB supports innovative initiatives across the state of Iowa such as All Iowa Reads and Letters about Literature. To learn more, visit their informational website: Iowa Center for the Book.  

The organization supporting this project is the Iowa Center for the Book Foundation, who provides financial support for the Iowa Center for the Book and its important outreach, building literacy in Iowa through creative and wide-reaching programs. The ICB Foundation began with State Librarian Mary Wegner, who recognized the need for funding to build the ICB’s literacy programs throughout Iowa. To learn more about the programs they support at the Iowa Center for the Book Foundation, visit their website.

We are thrilled to have this book history exhibit at our library and to be a part of the mission of these organizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the book and handling the book models from the exhibit, visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and The Library’s Event Calendar.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Davenporters of Note: Herman J. Zeuch and the Indian River Farms Company


We made it through February 2019! Does the current weather have you dreaming of warmer climes?  Perhaps Davenport businessman Herman J. Zeuch felt the same in 1912 when he purchased 55,000 acres of land on the east coast of Florida. He and his partners in the Indian River Farms Company hoped “Tri-Cities” and other folks wanted to escape harsh winters–as well as make money as citrus-growers–a in a new agricultural community.  Advertisements in the Davenport newspapers invited prospective tract buyers on “Sunshine and Opportunity” excursions “….to spend a little time among the orange blossoms.” [2]

Ralph W. Cram visited the Indian River Farms settlement that by 1916 had developed into the town of Vero, Florida.  He reported on the drainage project that transformed “…section after section of marsh and saw grass land into the truck farms and citrus groves that were in Zeuch’s vision as he shooed away the ‘gators and tramped and waded the tract…” [3]

The promotional Indian River Farmermagazine, published at the company’s headquarters in the Putnam Building (W. 2nd Street, Davenport), was essential to the success of Zeuch’s efforts in Florida.

Masthead of the Indian River Farmer, Vol. 2, No. 5, April 1914

We have searched in vain for copies of this publication and other materials that might help us tell more of Herman J. Zeuch’s story. Please contact the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center if you have any further information!

(posted by Katie)


[1] A portfolio of cartoons as published by the Davenport Times 1912-13. Davenport, Iowa: Davenport Times, 1913.

[2] Davenport Daily Times, Dec. 21, 1912.

[3] Cram, Ralph W. “What Davenporters Are Doing in Florida.” Davenport Democrat and Leader, Feb. 27, 1916.

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Mayme A. Clayton’s Afro-American Rare Book Collection

In celebration of African American History Month 2019, we are highlighting one of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center’s microform holdings: the Afro-American Rare Book Collection.  It is comprised of 152 works — many first editions — written by or about African Americans in the 19th and early 20th century. The books were selected for reproduction in 1976 from the collections of the Western States Black Research Center by its founder and director, the remarkable Mayme A. Clayton (1923-2006).

Clayton began collecting in the 1960’s while working as an academic librarian in Southern California. Deeply committed to documenting the African American experience in the United States, she traveled widely to find materials of all sorts. In addition to rare and out-of-print books, she purchased documents, photographs, prints, films, sound recordings, artifacts, and artworks with her own funds.  Researchers of all ages were welcomed to view materials in the renovated garage behind her home in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles.  Thanks to the assistance of her son, Avery, Clayton’s collection was rescued from unstable conditions, relocated to the former Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in Culver City, California, and renamed the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum following her death in 2006.

The microfiche cards represent just a fraction of the estimated 30,000 rare books Clayton amassed over her 45-year collecting career.  Since the publication of the Afro-American Rare Book Collection in 1977, it grew to include such treasures as a signed first-edition copy of Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (1773). 

Interestingly, the microfiche collection itself has become quite rare.  The Davenport Public Library is the only repository in the state of Iowa, and one of very few in the country, to have preserved this resource.  Although many of these titles and editions have been digitized and made available online through other sources in recent years, the particular item from Clayton’s library may only be viewed on a microfilm reader such as those here at the Center.

Researchers can discover the individual titles included in the collection by searching the DPL catalog by the series “Afro-American Rare Book Collection.”  Better yet, we invite you to peruse the Index to the Afro-American Rare Book Collection by holding it in your own hands! Compiled by Clayton herself, it is organized into author, title, and subject indexes. The title index is an especially useful guide: the entry for each work includes a synopsis. Authors such as Charles Chesnutt, Frederick Douglass, Paul Dunbar, Soujourner Truth, and Booker T. Washington are represented; also included are many slave narratives, abolitionists’ writings, and works of fiction, poetry, history, religion, and philosophy.

The Afro-American Rare Book Collection is the featured resource on the RSSCC’s new LibGuide, “African American History Resources in Special Collections.”

Learn more about local African American history this Wednesday evening as the library presents “Black History: The Fight for Civil Rights in Davenport,” a lecture by Latrice Lacey, Director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission.

Interested in rare books? Special Collections hosts The Traveling History of the Book Exhibit beginning this Friday, March 1st.

(posted by Katie)

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Davenporters of Note: Leedon Hart

Leedon Hart was born on March 4, 1838 in Gallatin, Sumner County, Tennessee, to Anderson Hart and Parthena Jefferson. During the Civil War, he served in Company B, 60th Infantry of the U.S. Colored Troops. He married Juda Hart, his first wife, on April 14, 1866 in Sumner County, Tennessee. 

The Harts were one of the first African American families to settle in Davenport, first appearing in the Davenport City Directory in 1873. One of the reasons for selecting Davenport may have been because William, Leedon’s brother, had settled in Davenport around 1867. 

This City Directory page shows Leedon’s brother James’ employment and residency, Davenport, Iowa, City Directory, 1873

The couple had three children: William (1869 – 20 Sep 1927), Jenette/Genevieve/Mrs. James Christenia/Mrs. Bates (Feb 1874 – 16 May 1953), and Arthur (25 Dec 1875 – 03 Aug 1953). As the family was adjusting to their new life in Davenport, Juda died sometime between 1876 and 1880.

The census record below shows Leedon with his children after Juda passed away.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Davenport, Scott, Iowa; Roll: 364; Page: 562B; Enumeration District: 274

Leedon Hart married Katie Dodge on March 17, 1881 in Rock Island, Illinois. Catherine “Katie” Dodge was born in April 1866 in Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin, to Toby Dodge and Eliza Walters Jones. Mineral Point was the territorial capital of the Wisconsin Territory. The couple had 9 children:

Anna Belle/Mrs. Abraham Mitchell (17 Dec 1888 – 23 Nov 1967)
Eva/Mrs. Addison Wilson (05 Nov 1888 – 01 Jun 1967)
LeRoy (19 Mar 1893 – 11 Dec 1951)
Raymond (18 Dec 1894 – 11 Sep 1952)
Florence/Mrs. Walter Harvell/Mrs. Charles Scott/Mrs. Fred Acosta (02 Jun 1899 – 21 Feb 1968)
Dorothy/Myrtle/Mrs. Charles Robinson (13 Oct 1902 – 19 Jun 1932)
Albert (ca.1903 – 24 Mar 1951).

Leedon and his family remained residents of Davenport. On July 15, 1910, Leedon died in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa. Seven years later, Katie passed away on January 27, 1917 in Davenport. They are both buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

The Daily Times 24, no. 189 July 16, 1910): 6


The Daily Times 31, no. 36 January 27, 1917): 7

(posted by Cristina)

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