Iowa’s frontier past topic of Thursday historical event


Noted historian Dr. Tom Morain will share insights into the life of a 19th century family at a presentation slated for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Marshalltown Public Library as part of the Historical Society of Marshall County’s History on Third Thursday program.

His presentation “Hymns and Herds” takes attendees on a journey, using music (including a live piano) and photographs of an Iowa pioneer family from the 1850 farm at Living History Farms in Urbandale. Adaptions of well-known 19th-century folk hymns will be played.

“We’re trying to reach a wider audience with our programs,” HSMC Administrator Michelle Roseburrough said. “He incorporates music into the fabric of the story of this family.”

The slideshow will demonstrate how Iowa families endured the state’s log cabin era. After the 20-minute show, he will lead an audience discussion explaining how the scenes from the past can offer new insights into the strengths and challenges of family life today.

The HSMC received funding from Humanities Iowa to host the presentation.

“Humanities Iowa presenters are well-vetted and always do superb programs,” Roseburrough said. “And while the program isn’t about Marshall County, it is still relevant information for our history.”

Morain served as director of history at Living History Farms and administrator of the State Historical Society from 1995-2001. He has written many books about small town history and Iowa life. He earned the State Historical Society’s Petersen-Harlan Award in 2009, the organization’s highest honor for distinguished service. Morain teaches at Graceland University, serves as Director of Government Relations and is assisting with the Iowa Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. In 2002, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Humanities Iowa.

For more information about the event, contact the HSMC at 641-752-6664.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

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