Voices of City Government Past and Present

Since 2004, libraries across the world have organized events about freedom and issues that matter to their communities during the month of September. This grassroots project favors free over fee, public over private, and voices over silence.   Throughout the week of September 21, the blogs of the Davenport Public Library will be featuring posts relating to freedom and democracy, as well as hosting displays about these topics.  For more information about the September Project, visit www.theseptemberproject.org.


In Special Collections we focus not only on the voices of today, but those of the past as well.  We are fortunate to be able to “hear” the voices of former citizens in the fine collection of City Council documents that range from 1843 through 1914, with a few later years existing as well.  These documents go beyond our traditional City Council Proceedings books.  These are the voices of the everyday clerks, aldermen, and citizens speaking to us.  From petitions to resolutions we are able to trace what citizens felt were important issues in their lives and hear them work within their government to achieve the Davenport of their dreams. Who wanted a fire box in their neighborhood?  Should wild dogs be shot in the street in front of ladies and children? Who wanted there to be a Davenport City Artillery (similar to the National Guard of today) to protect and defend local citizens?  Answers to these and other questions may be found in Davenport City Council paperwork that resides in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

Another way to track city government is through Council Proceedings.  These books and binders are available for the public to read in Special Collections.  From 1839 through the present, these items help patrons explore the development of Davenport.  We also have Ordinances from 1902 through 1975, Council Notebooks from 1979 through 2000 and Council Proceedings from 1970 through 1999 on microfilm for additional convenience.

Special Collections also wants to help patrons connect with current public information.  Did you miss a city council meeting and want to know what happened?  We maintain current city council packets and minutes in paper form as a resource.  In addition the Center is able to provide VHS tapes of city council meetings from June 1999 through the present which may be viewed in Special Collections.  Do you feel curious about other Davenport city committees and meetings?  Feel free to ask us for these items as we are always working to collect agendas, packets, and minutes for the various committees that are a part of city government. 

Yes, Special Collections involves not only documents from our past, but also information that is needed today for inquiring citizens.  Just think, one day we too will be part of this wonderful history!

(Amy D.)

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