Davenport Fire Department: The Seagrave Hose Truck 1913

We would like to celebrate with the Davenport Fire Department. On June 20, 2020, the Fire Department announced the addition of a new Truck 1 into their fleet. This new fire truck replaces one purchased in 1996.

This, of course, started us thinking about the first motorized fire truck owned by the Davenport Fire Department. We were excited to start our research on the topic.

We learned that the first motorized vehicle owned by the City of Davenport was purchased in 1911 for use by Fire Chief Peter Denger. This four seat auto was to be used as the Chief’s car and emergency fire vehicle. It was produced in the Buick Auto factory of Flint, Michigan. Upon completion in June of that year, it was shipped to Chicago where Chief Denger drove the vehicle back to Davenport with a Buick representative. The drive taking eight hours with speeds reaching 22 mph. Very impressive for a 39 horsepower vehicle.

The Daily Times, June 22, 1911. Pg. 13.

The experiment with an auto was so successful, Chief Denger insisted that the City purchase new motorized fire trucks and wagons. He insisted that motorized vehicles were going to stay in use while horse-drawn vehicles would become obsolete.

The Davenport City Council listened and purchased a motorized tractor to pull the aerial wagon stationed at Central Fire Station (this station is still in use at 331 Scott Street) and a motorized hose wagon for use at Hose Co. #4. In earlier years, #4 was known as the Mt. Ida Department.

Hose Co. #4 was located at 1502 Fulton Avenue in 1913. The address was changed to 1502 E. 12th Street in 1919. In 1931, Hose Co. #4 moved to its new station on East 11th Street and Jersey Ridge Road. *

The new equipment was purchased from the Seagrave Company of Columbus, Ohio. The tractor to pull the aerial wagon cost $4,725 and the hose wagon $5,025. By February 1913, the new equipment was in possession of the Fire Department.

The Daily Times, February 15, 1913. Pg. 39.

We believe we have an image of the Seagrave hose wagon in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center. This truck matches the style of the Seagrave truck produced between 1912-1913 and has the No. 4 of the Mt. Ida station painted on. The small brass plate under the seat is that of the Seagrave Company. Though undated, we believe this is a photograph of the original truck.

DFDNo4.8262.v6. Image of the Seagrave Hose Truck c. 1913. First motorized hose truck in the City of Davenport Fire Department.

The Davenport Fire Department moved forward quickly with new equipment. By 1916, all horses were phased out of the department and replaced by motorized automobiles.

Congratulations once again to the Davenport Fire Department and thank you for your continued service!

* This station in the Village of East Davenport is now home to the International Fire Museum.

Posted by Amy D.

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“Juneteenth” in Davenport and the Quad Cities

Today is Juneteenth. The increased interest in the experience of African Americans since the abolition of slavery, occasioned by the renewed call for racial justice in these times, means that many of this year’s celebrations are focused on educating the public about the nation’s past, including the history of the holiday itself.

While Iowa and Illinois would not make Juneteenth a state holiday until 2002 and 2003, respectively, Davenport and other communities throughout the country began holding festivities once Texas declared it in 1980. The first Juneteenth celebration in Davenport was held in 1989. The nonprofit United Neighbors, Inc. organized celebrations through the 1990s and first decades of the 2000s; the Friends of MLK took over in 2017.

Quad-City Times, June 16, 1989, p. 23

Although the 1989 celebration was the first to be called “Juneteenth,” Davenporters had commemorated the end of slavery in the United States since the end of the Civil War. On the evening of January 1st, 1866 an “Emancipation Festival” was held in LeClaire Hall. According to that morning’s Davenport Daily Gazette, an event like this, “conducted under the auspices of colored people” was “a novelty;” the editor had encouraged white citizens to “go to the Festival and show that you are in earnest about desiring the weal of all humanity…” In fact, the African American community had picniced in celebration at Mitchell’s Grove the August before:

Davenport Daily Gazette, August 1, 1865, p. 4.

While we must investigate our local newspapers further to be certain (with thanks to local historian Craig Klein for starting us on this project), it appears either or both January and August-September emancipation celebrations continued up through First World War. Attendees and participants often came from Moline, Rock Island, Muscatine, Clinton and elsewhere in the region. Speeches, singing, brass bands, and dinners were all typical of these celebrations. A report in the August 2, 1891 Davenport Democrat lovingly describes the barbecued meats that were served. That year ‘s event also featured a baseball game between two “colored” teams, the just-formed Davenport Blues and the Molines; there was dancing into the evening, both before and after supper.

More research should yield more details about how Juneteenth and its predecessor holidays were celebrated in Davenport and the Quad-Cities area. Stay tuned for updates, and please share with us any memories or memorabilia you might have!

(posted by Katie)

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Happy 150th Birthday, Schuetzen Park!

Schuetzen Park grounds and buildings, photographed by J.B. Hostetler, ca. 1915
Schuetzen Park grounds and buildings, photographed by J.B. Hostetler, ca. 1915

Today celebrates 150 years since the dedication and grand opening of Schuetzen Park, primarily used by Davenport Schützen Gesellschaft. On June 12, 1870, a public festival beginning with a parade at 9:00 a.m. from the old Turner Hall located at Third and Scott Streets with Major Gustave Schnitger as Marshall of the day. He had two aids to support his work, Fritz Quickenstedt and Louis Hanssen (Davenport Schuetzenpark Gilde, 2). The parade’s route found its way to the park whereupon its arrival salutes were fired from “an Army cannon procured from the Rock Island Arsenal by August F. Schmidt, an active member” ( (Davenport Schuetzenpark Gilde, 2).

To help celebrate this momentous anniversary, we would like to feature vignettes about a few of the first members of the Davenport Schützen Gesellschaft later the Schuetzen Verein.

Henry Berg

Heinrich Jacob Christian Berg was born on October 6, 1827, in Schleswig. As a young man, he was apprenticed to the royal gun-making trade at Schleswig. He was a veteran of the Schleswig-Holstein war of 1848. He came to American in 1850 and spent some time in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, before settling in Davenport in 1852.

Henry married Louisa Maria Henrietta Rusch on November 13, 1854. The couple had 9 children: Julius, Emil, Adolph, Harry, Frank, Ed, Ella (Mrs. William) Sindt, Minnie (Mrs. Ernst) Wenzel, and Katherine (Mrs. Fred) Nabstedt.

Mr. Berg had a gunsmith business on the northeast corner of Third and Harrison. He was a member of German Pioneers, Kamopfgenossen Verein, and was president and shooting master of the Davenport Shooting Association.

Henry Berg died on October 20, 1906, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

Louis Hanssen

Johann Nicolaus Ludwig Hanssen Sr. was born on January 27, 1821, in Itzehoe, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany to H.F. and Margaret (Strum) Hanssen. He apprenticed under his uncle at his art store in Kiel then worked at a wholesale glove and hosiery store in Hamburg. When war broke out in Schleswig-Holstein in 1848, he was named Secretary of the ordnance enlisting bureau at Rensburg.

Louis came to Davenport in 1849 to look after his sister. The steamer Helen Sloman was wrecked at sea and the passengers, including Hanssen, were picked up by the British sailing ship Devonshire, which landed in America on December 31, 1849.

Louis Hanssen married Marie Sophie Hanemann on April 15, 1854. The couple had 10 children: Wilhelmina (Mrs. Gustav) Schumacher, Emma (Mrs. J.H.) Hass, Clara (Mrs. John) Albus, Alma (Mrs. Emil) Palm, Helene, Dora, Louis Jr., Charles E., Gustav A., and Bernard C.

Hanssen was one of the organizers of the Davenport Turner Society and the Schuetzen Gesellschaft. He and Christian Mueller were members of the same Turning class in Kiel.

A few years after his arrival in Davenport, Hanssen founded a hardware store bearing his name. Hansson’s Son’s Store grew as a family business becoming “one of the largest hardware establishments in the entire west” (“3 Generations in Family Build Up Immense Business for Louis Hanssen’s Sons,” 52).

Louis Hanssen died on January 22, 1908, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

Jens Lorenzen

Jens Lorenzen was born on April 6, 1833, in Leugumkloster, Schleswig, Germany. He settled in Davenport in 1856 and worked as a clerk in a store before starting the Jens Lorenzen Crockery Company.

Jens married Agnes Kaack on April 15, 1868. The couple had 9 children: Elise (Mrs. Ed) Berger, Martha Brandt, Elsie (Dr. F.H.) Dueser, Theodore, Marie, Laura, Herle, Hilda, and Paul. Their residence was 629 West Sixth Street.

He opened his first retail crockery store on September 1, 1857, on the east side of Harrison Street between Second and Third streets, built a new store in 1871 on Third Street between Main and Harrison streets and added the Lorenzen Block in 1890 on the southeast corner of Third and Harrison streets.

He was an organizer and board member of the German Saving Bank, Director of the Davenport Water Company, Founder and first President of the Mutual Insurance Company, and Treasurer of the School District.

Lorenzen purchased the land for Schuetzen Park, was a member of the German-American Pioneer Association, the Davenport Turngemeinde, and Davenport Shooting Association

Jens Lorenzen died on October 10, 1909, and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

Christian Mueller

Christian L.H. Mueller was born on March 1, 1823, in Heiligenhafen, Holstein, Germany. At the age of 16, he started a 5-year apprenticeship as a merchant. In 1844, he started his own business in Kiel.

In March 1848, he participated in an attack and capture of a fortified post at Rendsburg, Holstein. He was wounded in several battles during the rebellion and was taken prisoner in July 1840. He spent 9 months in a hospital in Denmark.

Mueller arrived in Davenport in July 1852. He first worked in a vinegar factory which was destroyed by fire in 1854 and lost everything. He worked in sawmills in Davenport and Lyons, Iowa, and became manager of the French & Davis sawmill and lumber business. In 1868, he purchased interests in Dessaint and Schricker and became sole owner in July 1883. He associated with his sons Frank, Edward, and William in January 1895.

He married Elfreda J. A. F. Claussen in July 14, 1854. The couple had 5 children: Hilda (Mrs. Henry) Matthey, Frank W., Edward C., William L., and Alfred C. The family residence was 530 Ripley Street.

He was an instructor in the Kiel Turner Society. He was a founder and the first president of Davenport Turngemeinde, and founding member of the Davenport Schuetzen Gesellschaft.

Christian Mueller died September 10, 1901, at his home and is buried at Oakdale Cemetery.

Composite photo of shooting club and bowling club members, ca. 1907
Composite of officers of the Schuetzen Gesellschaft, in honor of the opening of the music Pavillion at Schuetzen Park, June 9, 1895
Portraits of members of the Davenport Schuetzen Gesellschaft, organized December 16, 1868. They wore gray uniforms trimmed in green and green feather caps.

Schuetzen Park is planning a Sesquicentennial Celebration this autumn on September 26, 12 – 4 p.m. Visit the beautiful wooded park and pavilion to learn more about this historical landmark a part of Davenport’s history.

  • “Death closes a long career: Henry Berg, veteran gun dealer, called away Saturday.” Davenport Democrat and Leader. Sunday, October 21, 1906 : 12.
  • “Sudden death of Louis Hanssen, Sr.: ends a short illness, just before 87th birthday observance.” Davenport Democrat and Leader. Wednesday, January 22, 1908 : 9.
  • “Jens Lorenzen answers summons: death calls one of Davenport’s most beloved citizens.” The Daily Times. Monday, October 11, 1909 : 6.
  • “A noble life ended: sudden death last evening of Christian Mueller”. Davenport Daily Leader. September 11, 1901 : 6.
  • “3 Generations in Family Build Up Immense Business for Louis Hanssen’s Sons”. The Davenport Democrat and Leader. December 31, 1929 : 52.

(posted by Cristina and Kathryn)

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Mayflower Families: Richard Warren

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. Commemorative publications, programs, and tours are planned in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands by various organizations, including the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Plymouth 400, Inc.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This month we’ll explore the family of the Mayflower passenger with the most ancestors, Richard Warren! 

Richard Warren was born ca. 1585 in County Hertford, England, and died in 1628 in Plymouth. He married Elizabeth Walker on April 14, 1610 in Hertfordshire. 

Mr. Warren was not part of the church in Leiden and may have joined the Pilgrims as a Merchant Adventurer from London. He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact and was part of the early expedition to Cape Cod.

His wife and 5 daughters did not come on the Mayflower with him. He waited 3 years until he felt conditions were safe before sending for his family aboard the Anne in 1623. All 7 of his children lived to adulthood and had large families, making him one of the most common Mayflower ancestors with over 14 million descendants.

The first generation of Richard Warren descendants:

  1. Mary, born ca. 1610, married Robert Bartlett in 1629 in Plymouth.
  2. Ann, born ca. 1612, married Thomas Little on April 19, 1633 Plymouth.
  3. Sarah, born ca. 1613, married John Cooke on March 28, 1634  in Plymouth.
  4. Elizabeth, born ca. 1615, married Richard Church on March 7, 1636 In Plymouth.
  5. Abigail, born ca. 1619, married Anthony Snow on November 8, 1639 in Plymouth. 
  6. Nathaniel, born ca. 1624 in Plymouth, married Sarah Walker on November 19, 1645 in Plymouth. 
  7. Joseph, born ca. 1627 in Plymouth, married Priscilla Faunce ca. 1653 in Plymouth.

Want to learn more about Richard Warren’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through volume 18 of Mayflower Families through five generations (SC 929.2 May)


(posted by Cristina)

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A Tale of Two Members from the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26

American Legion Auxiliary Drill Corps photograph. American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, 2004-07, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa.

Over this past Memorial Day, we have been reflecting on people who served and supported their country during peace and war times. In our Archive and Manuscript Collections, we have many collections that recall and record personal and organizational accounts of service. In this blog, we would like to spotlight a specific group that started in 1919 and two of its members.

The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is an auxiliary organization of The American Legion composed of women who served and supported the nation and spouses of American war veterans who wanted to continue to support their country and community as they did during times of conflict. Founded in 1919, the ALA is dedicated to supporting “The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad” (“History“). This 100-year-old organization is founded on a spirit of service, not self. Over the course of their history, they have advocated for veterans, educated our citizens, mentored youth, and promoted patriotism, good citizenship, peace, and security (“History“).

Davenport was no different than many American cities that had citizens wishing they could show support for their country and armed forces. The local unit of The American Legion Auxiliary were an active group within the community and abroad. They presented plays, coordinated veterans’ funerals, developed a drill team of some renown, and more.

Zella Cox and Edith Lucier were early members of The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26 who served at home and aboard to share patriotism and support of the United States Armed Forces. Even though we are only sharing stories about two women, there are many more who helped develop this organization into a flourishing asset in the Quad Cities community.

Zella Dee (Edwards) Cox was born on August 2, 1902 in Belle Plaine, Iowa to Lambourne A. and Abigail Jane (Webb) Edwards. She was married to Charles H. Cox on February 18, 1922. Zella was an active member of the local unit of the American Legion Auxiliary where she served in many different capacities and assisted with a multitude of events throughout her sixty years of service. She was at one time appointed the chairman of a committee.

Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940, Records from 1922 for Zella Cox.
“Heads Champion Drill Team of the Legion Auxiliary.” The Democrat and Leader. October 11, 1928, page 7.

Edith R. Lucier was born September 15, 1903 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin to Henry and Bertha (Vogt/Voight) Lucier. She married Martin D. Leir on May 29, 1937. Edith was a graduate of the Immaculate Conception Academy in Davenport. She was a bookkeeper at Samuels Jewelry Office for 45 years. She had one child with Martin named Charles M.

Zella and Edith demonstrated the perseverance and skill to serve on various committees and groups within the local unit. They were also active members who were able to travel abroad with the Drill Team.

The documents below show Zella and Edith’s names on the passenger lists from the Cedric, a sister ship to the Celtic and was 685 feet long, documenting their travel overseas.

In 1927, the Drill Corps or the “singing legionaires” attended the opening session of the American Legion Convention in Paris, France. In our collection, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, we have a scrapbook created by Zella detailing the young women’s adventures across the United States and Europe and many photographs taken of the notable group. There were many articles and photographs taken of the Drill Corps from Davenport, Iowa. Here are a few images from the collection.

During their lives these women dedicated themselves to many causes where the American Legion Auxiliary was only one of them. Zella Cox and Edith (Lucier) Leir lives were celebrated with obituaries published respectfully in the Quad-City Times on May 10, 1984, and May 19, 1998.


American Legion Auxiliary Unit 26, 2004-07, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center, Davenport Public Library, Davenport, Iowa.

(posted by Kathryn)

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Mayflower Families: Edward Doty

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. Commemorative publications, programs, and tours are planned in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands by various organizations, including the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Plymouth 400, Inc.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This week we’ll explore the descendants of Plymouth Colony’s resident troublemaker, Edward Doty!

Edward Doty is believed to have been born sometime between 1597-1602. He married Faith Clarke on 06 January 1635 in Plymouth. Edward died on 23 August 1655.

Doty arrived at Plymouth as a servant to Stephen Hopkins. He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. Edward participated in Plymouth Colony’s first duel against fellow Hopkins servant Edward Leister in June 1621. His name appears in several court records for disagreements with his neighbors. 

The first generation of Edward Doty descendants:

  1. Edward, born ca. 1636 in Plymouth, married Sarah Faunce on 25 February 1662 in Plymouth.
  2. John, born ca. 1638 in Plymouth, married Elizabeth Cooke ca. 1668 in Plymouth, married Sarah Jones on 22 November 1694 in Plymouth.
  3. Thomas, born ca. 1640 in Plymouth, married Mary Churchill ca. 1675 in Plymouth.
  4. Samuel, born ca. 1642 in Plymouth, married Jeane Harman on 13 November 1678, in Piscataway, New Jersey.
  5. Desire, born ca. 1645 in Plymouth, married William Sherman on 25 December 1667 in Marshfield, married Israel Holmes on 24 November 1681 in Marshfield, married Alexander Standish ca. 1689.
  6. Elizabeth, born ca. 1646 in Plymouth, married John Rowse on 13 January 1674 in Marshfield, married William Carver on 28 January 1718 in Marshfield. 
  7. Isaac, born 08 February 1648 in Plymouth, married Elizabeth England ca. 1673 
  8. Joseph, b. 30 April 1651 in Plymouth, married Deborah Ellis ca. 1674, married Sarah (Woodin) Edwards on 05 March 1711 in Rochester. 
  9. Mary, born ca. 1653 in Plymouth, married Samuel Hatch on 10 July 1677

Want to learn more about Edward Doty’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through volume 11 of Mayflower Families through five generations (SC 929.2 May).


(posted by Cristina)

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Mayflower Families: William Brewster

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. Commemorative publications, programs, and tours are planned in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands by various organizations, including the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Plymouth 400, Inc.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This week we’ll explore the descendants of William Brewster!

William Brewster was born ca. 1566 near Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England. He married Mary [surname unknown] ca. 1592 near Scrooby. Brewster died on April 10, 1644, in Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Brewster was one of the church elders, leaving England for Amsterdam in 1608 and settling in Leiden, Holland in 1609. While in Holland he operated a printing press and published religious books and pamphlets which were illegally distributed in England.

The first generation of William Brewster descendants:

  1. Jonathan, born 12 August 1593 near Scrooby, married Lucretia Oldman of Darby on 10 April 1624 in Plymouth.
  2. Patience, born ca. 1603 near Scrooby, married Thomas Prence on 05 August 1624 in Plymouth, the 9th marriage at New Plymouth.
  3. Fear, born ca. 1605 near Scrooby, married Isaac Allerton ca. 1627 in Plymouth.
  4. Love, born ca. 1607 near Scrooby, married Sarah Collier on May 15, 1634, in Plymouth.
  5. [unknown], died 20 June 1609, buried in St. Pancras, Leiden, Holland.
  6. Wrestling, born ca. 1611 in Leiden, Holland; died between 1627-1651.

Want to learn more about William Brewster’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through SC 929.2 May


(posted by Cristina)

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Mayflower Families: William Bradford

Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. Commemorative publications, programs, and tours are planned in the US, the UK, and the Netherlands by various organizations, including the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Plymouth 400, Inc.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about our resources for different Mayflower families throughout the year. This week we’ll explore the descendants of William Bradford!

William Bradford was born 19 March 1590 in Austerfield, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. He married Dorothy May of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire on 10 December 1613 in Amsterdam, Holland. Dorothy died on 07 December 1620. Bradford then married Alice (Carpenter) Southworth on 16 August 1623 in Plymouth. William Bradford died on 08 May 1657 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

Bradford was governor of Plymouth Colony from 1621-1657. He was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact. His journal, “Of Plymouth Plantation”, is considered the most authoritative account of the pilgrims and the early years of Plymouth Colony. 

The first generation of William Bradford descendants:

  1. John, born ca. 1617 in Holland, married Martha Bourne ca. 1650 in Plymouth.
  2. William, born 17 June 1624 in Plymouth, married Alice Richards ca. 1650 in Plymouth. Married Sarah Griswold ca. 1675. Married Mary (Wood) Holmes after 07 March 1676.
  3. Mercy, born ca. 1627 in Plymouth, married Benjamin Vermayes on 21 December 1648 in Plymouth.
  4. Joseph, born ca. 1630 in Plymouth, married Jael Hobart on 25 May 1664 in Plymouth.

Want to learn more about William Bradford’s descendants? Stop by the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center and browse through SC 929.2 May


(posted by Cristina)

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May Day, MayDay: Saving Our Archives

May 1st to some symbolizes the start of bright, sunny weather and flowers peeking their heads from their leaves. To others, it reminds them of the tradition of children surprising friends with special baskets with flowers, popcorn, and treats. The phrase MayDay is also recognized as a cry for help derived from the French term m’aidez, which is precisely the reason why the Society of American Archivists (SAA) dedicated this day as a call to action for librarians, archivists and other cultural heritage professionals to think about their emergency and disaster preparedness plans for their institutions and organizations.

Natural and man-made disasters have the potential to damage or destroy cultural and historical collections. Without an emergency plan in place many institutions, organizations, and even individuals may not be able to save as many of their collections as they may have liked. MayDay Initiative is a day when professionals and individuals must take time to review or take action in planning for emergencies. The awareness of risks (i.e., water, fire, pests, natural disasters) can help mitigate the potential damage affected by any type of emergency.

We can accomplish this in small ways such as examining where we store items, making a list of where all the materials are housed (both physical and digital), knowing were piping and fire suppression is located, making a list of local emergency responders, and more. There are several resources one can use when assembling an emergency plan, such as Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)’s Emergency Management: 3.3 Emergency Planning, SAA’s Annotated Resources and Ideas for MayDay Activities, and the Library of Congress’s Emergency Management documents.

In Iowa during times of emergencies, cultural repositories can call upon the expertise of Iowa Museums, Archives, and Libraries Emergency Response Team (IMALERT). Their mission is to “to respond to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state and local agencies, vendors, and the public.

In the summer of 2019, we had a water emergency on our public floor. A water fountain had started to leak water on a day that staff was off for a holiday. On the following day, one of our staff members found a not-so-fun surprise awaiting her. Here is a quote from the staff member who handled the emergency:

I arrived to find our custodian setting orange cones about and looking a bit bewildered. A quick look around the water fountain area and a short conversation later, I was looking for a shop vac and seeing where the water had migrated. I was able to ascertain the materials in the nearby map cases were not damaged as there was about a 4” base keeping the bottom drawer high and dry, and the water that had moved into the closed stack area was well below the raised flooring.

From then on it was just a matter of using the vacuum and figuring out how to empty it before it got too heavy for me to handle! By the time I did that, more help had arrived!

Know where your emergency equipment is stored! I couldn’t find the shop vac and lost some valuable minutes there. Keep calm and carry on!

Our disaster was a minor one which thankfully did not damage any materials. From this incident, we did get to rearrange our space to make a space for better access to our archives and manuscripts and for instruction.

Archives Alcove in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center


May Day! May Day!Primary Selections from Special Collections. The Davenport Public Library, May 1 2008.

(posted by Kathryn)

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“Find Your Place” in US Census Data!

Happy National Library Week! This year’s theme is “Find Your Place at the Library,” and we are taking the opportunity to highlight some of the resources available at the RSSC Center that can help you do just that! The special service that our department of the DPL provides in this regard is showing you how to locate “your place” at points of time in the past.  Is your place a home or a business property in Davenport? With city directories, newspaper articles, city building permits, maps, photographs, and even, in some cases, architectural drawings in our collection, we can help you trace its history.  Is your place as a member of a community organization? We have records of groups like the Tuesday Club going back to the 19th century.  Is your place on a family tree with roots in Scott County?  We have vital records, naturalization records, court records, and more to help you fill in your ancestry charts.

The current effort to encourage participation in the 2020 Census suggests you might also imagine your “place” in terms of one of the categories of information the US government collects about its population. Are you or one of your ancestors a member of a group of people defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, ancestry, citizenship status, income level, or level of educational attainment? Census resources in Special Collections can help you find out!

For example, you might use the US Census records available on our Ancestry Library database to find out more about an ancestor’s neighbors in the past. For a 2018 blog post in honor of Women’s History Month, I examined the 1910 Census via Ancestry to discover information about the lives of women of various ethnicities living in Davenport at that time. Perhaps one of the Hungarian women who kept a boarding house for her countrymen laboring in Davenport then was your great-grandmother?

With US Census Bureau publications from our Government Documents collection such as U.S. Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 1990 to 1997, you might discover more about the identity group in which you or one of your family members fit. How does your individual experience compare to the conditions reported about other black Hispanic children who grew up in the United States during the 1990’s?

Print publications that make use of federal census data like Iowa 2000 Summary Population and Housing Characteristics from the U.S. Department of Commerce includes maps showing areas in Iowa where Native Americans resided in 2000. Were you or one of your relatives among them?

Although the Ancestry database, the microfiche reader, and Special Collections reading room space are unavailable due to the DPL’s COVID-19 emergency closing, our staff is still poised to copy and deliver US Census and other information to you via email. Send us a message or give us a call with your request!

However, if you feel like striking out on your own to “find your place” within the world of US Census data from the comfort of your own home during quarantine, the Census Bureau has recently expanded its online offerings. You can search for the same publications you might find in Government Documents on topics such as education, employment, housing, income and poverty, as well as population by age, ancestry, ethnicity, race, and sex, in the Census.gov Library. Many of these provide insight into aspects of American society going further back into the past, such as Women in Gainful Occupations, 1870 to 1920 (1929) and the series of P23 reports on the Social and Economic Status of Negroes in the United States in the early 1970s.

Just last month, on March 25th, the Census Bureau released the P25 set of publications online. These are reports of population estimates and projections going back to the 1940’s. A downloadable index can be found here.

You can also find publications reviewing historical census data, such as this one:

The online Library also contains “Infographics and Visualizations” based on more recent data from programs like the American Community Survey, including this map showing different concentrations of people reporting Irish ancestry throughout the country:

Some of these are interactive: you can zoom in to Scott County, Iowa on this map to learn about the concentrations of poverty in our area between the years of 2014 and 2018.

Perhaps most exciting of all is the new (March 31st) platform, data.census.gov, which allows you direct access to Census Bureau data sets of all kinds for several different levels of geography. For example, to compare information about the foreign-born population in Scott County, Iowa, and Rock Island County, Illinois, in the 2018 ACS, you can search for the Geographic Profile of each place, limiting results to those in the “People and Population” section, and downloading the final visualization.

This table breaks down the 2018 ACS estimate of the people in Davenport reporting a single ancestry by specific nationalities/ethnicities. Not surprisingly, estimates of those with German (10,710) and Irish (4,002) ancestry are at the top.

The Census Bureau offers plenty of support for those who wish to explore data.census.gov, including “Census Academy” webinars such as “How to Access Race, Ethnicity, Foreign Born, and Ancestry Data.”

We hope you will check out these US Census data resources! Enjoy the journey to your or your family members’ “place” within our country’s past and present life!

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