This is the first post of my research blog, where I’ll chat about the latest developments in my research, especially those tidbits that are interesting but perhaps not relevant to the final published articles.
My biggest project I’m working on right now is my thesis, which I’m defending in December. I’m researching Iowa libraries during World War I, and talking about how libraries during this time changed policy/removed materials in order to better align themselves with the sentiment of the time (which was not so favorable toward German-Americans, of which there are many in Iowa). What I’m doing that I’m particularly excited about is looking at the administrative records from the libraries (board meeting minutes, finding lists, etc) so I can get the libraries’ view of what happened and try to determine a motive behind their decisions. So far I’ve visited Iowa City, Mt. Pleasant, Burlington, Davenport, Dubuque, and gotten records scanned and sent to me from Council Bluffs. I still have to visit Cedar Rapids, Wellman, Ottumwa, and Waverly. I was hoping to visit more, but time/money constraints mean that I probably will not get to!
I’ve noticed a couple trends that are not *at all* relevant to my thesis topic but that I’m really fascinated by. The first is that in most of these places, it seems like the librarian ends up leaving their job soon after the war (1919 or 1920). No idea why–a lot of the resignation letters don’t reveal much, but it’s an interesting trend.
The other thing I love looking at is how the libraries responded to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. Most were closed for at least a couple weeks, and in a couple cases they burned materials from infected households. This is eventually going to turn into a separate research project after I go through all the records, so keep your eyes peeled for more information as my work progresses.