The Iowa Jewish Historical Society received a grant of $21,430 in July 2015 from the REAP/Historical Resources Development Program (HRDP) administered by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The funds are being used to preserve hundreds of interviews done with members of the statewide Jewish community from the 1970s to 2006 along with original TV shows produced by the Federation and tapes of special occasions in the history of the Jewish community in Iowa. These interviews are on audio and video tapes that are too old to pop into a cassette player or VCR. Each tape has to be carefully digitized by a professional with specialized equipment before we can listen to the tapes and provide access to these personal, community, and world histories.

Some of the 500+ oral history interviews, Light One Candle television programs, and tapes of community events that need to be digitized.
The tapes contain a wealth of untapped information. All are one-of-a-kind interviews that provide personal perspectives and insight into Jewish life—i.e., religious beliefs and practices, “outside” events that had an impact on the Jewish community, personal accounts of anti-Semitism, life in Nazi Germany, World War II, the Holocaust, immigration to the U.S, and daily life.

But these descriptions of the materials on the tapes are just the tip of the iceberg! Most of these tapes originated before the Historical Society was formed and, most likely, contain information about Iowa’s Jewish heritage that does not exist in any other format!

The grant covers a two-year period and requires the Historical Society to raise more than $12,500 as the cash match it pledged as part of the grant.

The grant funds will be used for the first phase of the project—digitizing hundreds of the taped interviews, creating summaries of the information on each tape, and making a list of the tapes and summaries available on the web. Later phases, which will have to be funded separately, will complete the digitization of all the tapes and make excerpts and full copies of the tapes available to the public.

Screen shot of interview with Rose Lee and Marvin Pomerantz that has been digitized as part of this project.
So far, the IJHS has digitized more than 90 oral history interviews from 1979 through 2006. Excerpts from the tapes have been used for presentations to students studying the Holocaust, for research for current exhibits, and for articles for the Jewish Press.

Donations to help with the required match are needed. Please mail your gift to IJHS, 33158 Ute Ave., Waukee, IA 50263 with a notation that the funds are to be used for this project. Thank you!

If you have questions about the project, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 515-987-0899 ext. 216.

Join Now!

Your annual membership to the Iowa Jewish Historical Society will help preserve the history and irreplaceable treasures of the Jewish people of Iowa!

As we celebrate nearly 200 years of Jewish life in Iowa, your support of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society can make a very real difference. Without your help and financial support, the stories of Jewish life in Iowa and the documents and artifacts that we preserve could be lost to future generations. Your tax-deductible membership enables us to continue this important work. Members are crucial to the Iowa Jewish Historical Society’s success.

Use our convenient on-line form to get an annual membership with a credit card or mail your check today to: IJHS 33158 Ute Ave. Waukee, IA 50263-7538

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