Renovations completed at Historical Society Museum of Marshall Co.

New donations have been added to the exhibits

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The Historical Society of Marshall County receives lots of donations. Pictured on this table is just the latest installment. These various items were all donated by Barb Mathews and Pauline Smith, and include old photo albums, sports memorabilia and medical paraphernalia. The small lamp from 1910 (far right) was used to treat whooping cough.

At the Historical Society of Marshall County Museum, located at 202 E. Church St. in Marshalltown, shelves, tables and bookcases are filled with Marshall County antiquity. But those items are just the tip of the iceberg.

Staff at the HSMC receive regular donations, ranging from old yearbooks to city directories, family photos, books, clothes and various paraphernalia. Many of these things are housed in the Frances Rhoades Williams Research Library, located on the museum’s main level. With funds secured from donors and by grant money from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, the HSMC was able to renovate its research library and General Store, efforts which were recently completed.

Both the research library and General Store saw major updating to its walls, where in some places, the original brick was showing. New curtains were also installed. Because shelves had to be pulled away from the walls for work to be done, staff used the opportunity to re-organize the books and artifacts.

“It was a big job,” said Miriam Bryant, administrator at the HSMC. “We stayed open during the renovations and had tours come through. Now things are better organized.”

The HSMC accepts donations of items with any type of connection to Marshall County or its inhabitants. Each donated piece is catalogued, and tax-deductible. Staff then determine whether or not an item can be incorporated into an existing display, or will be put in storage. Rarely if ever, are donated pieces thrown away.

“We recently had a large donation of photos, Anson baseball stuff, and Mercy Hospital items, donated by Barb Mathews,” said Michelle Roseburrough, administrator at the HSMC. “There were also two new donations of courthouse memorabilia we are displaying on our fireplace — a pewter plate, from Karl and Nancy Swessinger, and a medallion made by Dunham-Bush, from Mary Foley.”

Not all items displayed in the museum are part of its permanent collection, but rather, are on loan from HSMC board members. For instance, the antique toys on display in the museum’s fireplace room are on loan from board member Scott Mason. Mason also loaned out pieces from his riverboat glass collection, viewable inside the museum’s large display case in its foyer.

Both Bryant and Roseburrough said they enjoy going through the boxes and bags of donated items that land at the museum’s door. After the renovating was completed, they decided to hang a large donated painting on one of the walls in the research library.

“The painting is of the Baptist Temple, which was located on the corner of 2nd Street and State Street,” Bryant said. “It was donated by Lennox Industries — it had been in someone’s office for a while. We don’t know who painted it though, but it was a local artist.”

Medical pieces, such as a small lamp from 1910 used to treat whooping cough, will be added to the museum’s upstairs medical room. The lamp was recently donated by Pauline Smith.

“There’s a lot to see here. People don’t always realize that,” Bryant said.

The Historical Society of Marshall County is now conducting its membership drive. For information about membership, ways to give and to tour the facility, contact the museum at 641-752-6664. It is recommended to call ahead of time before bringing in items to donate.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or