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Primary Source Sets

This guide contains primary sources from UNI Museum and Special Collections & University Archives at Rod Library. This guide is intended to provide information about using primary sources in the PK-12 classroom for teachers and students alike.

Black Experiences in Iowa

Black history in Iowa dates back to before Iowa was officially a state. Many landmark civil rights issues such as school segregation and the rights of formerly enslaved people were addressed early in the state's history, dating back to the 1830s, though not universally enforced until a century later. Many Iowans are unaware of the rich history of Blacks in the state, from the integrated mining town of Buxton to the work of abolitionist Alexander Clark.

Many items below come from various collections within Special Collections & University Archives. Finding aids to specific collections are linked below.

A curated sample of the UNI Museum materials related to elections can be found at the tag set linked below. More materials may be found by searching the online database available on our website. 

Primary Sources

Confederate currency, $100, Virginia

Currency

Confederate currency, $100.00 Virginia Treasury note. UNIM 1974.56.1.1.

Confederate currency, $5.00, South Carolina

Currency

Confederate currency, $5.00 South Carolina Cotton Growers. UNIM 1974.56.1.3.

Confederate currency, $1 Arkansas

Currency

Confederate currency. $1.00 State of Arkansas. UNIM 1974.56.1.5.

Confederate currency, $100 Mississippi

Currency

Confederate currency. $100.00 State of Mississippi. UNIM 1974.56.1.2.

Confederate currency, $100 Georgia

Currency

Confederate currency. $100.00 State of Georgia. UNIM 1974.56.1.6.

Confederate currency, $10 Virginia

Currency

Confederate States of America $10 bill. Located in the center is a picture of South Carolina General Francis Marion inviting British General Tarleton to share sweet potatoes during the Revolutionary War. A portrait of R.M.T. Hunter, the Confederate Secretary of State, is located at the lower left corner. UNIM 1978.51.5.8.

Confederate currency, $5

Currency

Confederate States of America $5 bill. The capitol building of Richmond, Virginia is located at the center, while a portrait of Christopher Memminger, the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, is located at the bottom right corner. UNIM 1978.51.5.13.

handwritten letter, 2 pages

Letter

Letter from a Civil War soldier to his uncle in Cedar Falls concerning conditions and the state of the war. UNIM 1997.20.21. 

Envelope for a letter from a civil war soldier

Letter

Envelope and letter from a Civil War soldier about his life and opinions of the "Seceshes" (successionists) and blacks. Addressed to Mr. James Q. Rownd, of Cedar Falls. UNIM 1997.20.21.

Pamphlet about a black woman's experience in the 1800s.

Booklet

A personal account by Mrs. Minnie London about her life as a Black school teacher living in Buxton, IA in the late 1800s. From the Explorations in Iowa History Project in the Price Laboratory School collection, 21/01/01, box 6, folder "As I Remember."

Booklet about Mr. Cliff Smith.

Booklet

A summary of an interview with Mr. Cliff Smith about his experience as black concert organist during the Great Depression. From the Explorations in Iowa History Project in thePrice Laboratory School collection, 21/01/01, box 6, folder "The Great Depression in Waterloo: The Black Experience."

Booklet about Mrs. Valetta Fields

Booklet

An account from Mrs. Valetta Fields about her experience with segregation during the Great Depression. From the Explorations in Iowa History Project in t he Price Laboratory School collection, 21/01/01, box 6, folder "The Great Depression in Waterloo: The Black Experience."

Pamphlet about Mrs. Marjorie Brown

Booklet

A summary of an interview with Mrs. Marjorie Brown about her childhood in Buxton, IA and later in Waterloo during the Great Depression. From the Explorations in Iowa History Project in the Price Laboratory School collection, 21/01/01, box 6, folder "The Great Depression in Waterloo: The Black Experience."

Article from 1969 written by a Black UNI student.

Newspaper Article

An editorial written in 1969 by a Palmer Byrd, a Black student expressing his own views on freedom. It is written as a conversation between himself and a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. From the The Northern Iowan collection, 17/01/01/04.

List of demands made by Black UNI students.

Document

A list of demands made by Black UNI students in 1969. The list includes Black representation in the college administration and the creation of a culture house for Black students to use. From the James William Maucker Papers, 02/05/01.

Image of article about UNI 7 from the UNI Quarterly.

Article

An article, "Speak Out: Insight into the Seven" by Jan Johnson, printed in the 1970 UNI Quarterly about the 1969 sit-in demonstration at the UNI president's house led by Black students. From the UNI Quarterly, Vol. 1 No. 4, Student Publications collection, 17/01/02/04

Interview

Video recording of an interview with Anna Mae Weams, a Waterloo native with a long history of civil rights activism and leadership. She was the first Black woman to be employed as the Director of the Iowa Workforce Center. This interview is part of the African American Voices of the Cedar Valley project and was conducted in 2006.

Interview

Video recording of an interview with Elra Johnson, who grew up in Mississippi and was active in the fight for civil rights for many years. She later moved to Waterloo and was politically active in Iowa. This interview is part of the African American Voices of the Cedar Valley project and was conducted in 2006.

Interview

Video recording of an interview with James Esters, who grew up in Mississippi in a sharecropping family. He later moved to Waterloo and began work at Rath Packing, where he was one of the first Black men promoted to an all-white department and worked as a supervisor. This interview is part of the African American Voices of the Cedar Valley project and was conducted in 2009.

Interview

Video recording of an interview with Dr. Ruth Anderson, who grew up in Iowa and pursued a professional career as an educator. She taught at Wartburg College and at UNI. She also became politically active, serving as the first Black person on the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors. This interview is part of the African American Voices of the Cedar Valley project and was conducted in 2006.

handwritten letter, 2 pages

Letter

Letter of George W. Rownd, a Union soldier, written to his parents during the American Civil War. UNIM 1978.33.1.4.

handwritten letter, 2 pages

Letter

Letter from George W. Rownd, a Union solider, written to his parents during the American Civil War. "June 12, 1862, camp near Batesville, Arkansas." UNIM 1978.33.1.7.

handwritten letter, 2 pages

Letter

Letter from George W. Rownd, a Union Soldier, written to his parents during the American Civil War. "May 26, 1862, camp near Little Red River, Arkansas." UNIM 1978.33.1.6.