Skip to Main Content

American Folklife Center Collections: Iowa

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of Iowa at the Library of Congress.


Mary Jo McCabe, artist. 1994 Iowa State Winner. Sampler quilt. Land's End All-American Quilt Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

American Folklife Center collections from Iowa document the diversity of its expressive culture. Among its unique recordings are hammered dulcimer music; German festival music; fiddle tunes; cylinder recordings of Mesquakie songs collected in the 1910s; Amish and Mennonite music; tapes of the 1976 Iowa Folk Festival; and duck calls. In 1982, the Center's Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools Project documented a Czech school in Cedar Rapids and a Dutch school in Pella. The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project includes interviews with Iowans. Recent Immigrant Workers in Iowa’s Meatpacking Industry is a collection of nineteen interviews including sound recordings, photographs, and interview logs and transcriptions documenting the occupational folklore and work-related experiences of recent immigrants and refugees employed in Iowa meatpacking plants and meat processing industry. It includes interviews with immigrants and refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, many of whom also reflect on their lives as new Americans and how their presence is reshaping local and regional culture in Iowa and Illinois and is part of the American Folklife Center's Occupational Folklife Project.

September 11, 2001, Documentary Project

The September 11, 2001 Documentary Project captures the reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Patriotism and unity mixed with sadness, anger, and insecurity are common themes expressed in this online presentation of almost 200 audio and video interviews, 45 graphic items, and 21 written narratives. The project includes 16 interviews with people in Iowa.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Podcasts and Blog Posts

Public Programming

The Lao Natasinh Dance Troupe of Iowa, based in Des Moines, is a group of Lao dancers and musicians trained in the Natasinh style of performance--the traditional forms, techniques and character of performing arts taught at the Ecole National de Musique et Danse Laotien (founded in Vientiane in 1956 to preserve Lao music and dance traditions). The genre includes court music for royal ceremonies and the classical dance-drama based on the Ramayana, the Hindu epic that depicts the life and struggles of the Buddha, as well as music and dance performed for social and ritual occasions. In the early 1980s, the Natasinh Dancers and Musicians resettled in Des Moines, Iowa, thanks to Iowa's Refugee Resettlement Program and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts