In 1990, Grinnell College’s Dr. Michael Bell, Chair of the American Studies Department, began a multi-year research project on the Jewish experience in Iowa—the Iowa Jewish Heritage Project. The project was supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines and by a grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Historical Resources Development Project grant program.
Toldot Iowa was the oral history component of the larger research project. Hanna Griff, a lecturer at Grinnell, directed the Toldot Iowa oral history project. In her words, she “organized a team of Grinnell students, trained them in oral history and documentation, and sent them out around the state collecting stories” from the different Jewish communities. The results of the research and interviews were to be made accessible to scholars, members of the Jewish communities, and the general public.
Below is a list of the first 50 tapes that are now available to share with a wider audience. Come to the museum to hear these personal stories of Jewish life and heritage in Iowa. Please call us at 515-987-0899 ext. 216 to make an appointment.