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)





This entry was posted in Library, Local History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *