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.
Statewide Toldot Iowa Project Oral Histories 1991-1993
Light One Candle was a locally-produced television program that was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines. It aired on TCI Cable Channel 17, the “Faith and Values” channel in Central Iowa. The program was primarily designed to serve the Jewish community but also to be of interest to non-Jews who were interested in religion and interfaith understanding.
Episodes of the program aired on Sundays and Mondays and each episode showed for a month. Dana Mintzer Leman hosted the show and the producer was Janice Rosenberg. Both are members of the Des Moines Jewish community.
There are more than 100 videotapes in the Light One Candle collection, including copies of the edited final programs as well as the unedited original footage. These are the first 28 tapes of this collection to be digitized. Please call us at 515-987-0899 ext. 216 to make an appointment to view any of these selections.
Light One Candle Television Programs 1996-1999
Iowa’s Jewish community has made a concerted effort since before the 1980s to record its history for future generations.
Below is a listing of a wide-ranging series of oral history interviews with members of Iowa’s Jewish communities, including Holocaust survivors and liberators. There are also recordings of special events, anniversaries, and synagogue services. The synopses for this oral history collection but hints at the breadth and depth of detail, humor and pathos within each recording. Hear the harrowing testimony of those who survived the Holocaust and those who liberated some of the concentration camps. Learn about the importance of the Jewish Community Center from one of its directors, Lou Williams, as well as from others who benefitted from its program.
Oral Histories and Recordings of Events 1981-2018
Please call 515-987-0899 ext. 216 to make an appointment to listen or view one or more of these personal stories from history.