Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures Friends Newsletter, Vo. 1, No. 2, Fall 2003

Iowa Roots continued

Photo: Dominic Rizzuti, born and reared in southern Italy, learned his craft by handing around the blacksmith’s shop, where they shoed horses and donkeys and sharpened tools for farmers.
Dominic Rizzuti, born and reared in southern Italy, learned his craft by hanging around the blacksmith’s shop, where they shoed horses and donkeys and sharpened tools for farmers.

Once the editing was done, it was our turn again. Jill Hermann, the web designer for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs developed the Iowa Roots website. Photos needed to be added, and years of archiving slides paid off, as did those seemingly thankless hours of writing artists’ bios for NEA grants, festival programs, and the like. Interns, volunteers, and support staff did the first round of transcripts, and all interviewees were sent their bios and transcripts for final approval before we put them on the website.

DCA and WOI staff also met before the website was developed to determine the best time to launch the series and the website. A group of very kind colleagues graciously provided critiques on the website before it was launched. Finally, everything was done. The press releases were sent out, and information also appeared in the Iowa Arts Council's newsletter and WOI’s newsletter.

Feedback from the interviewees and their communities has been totally positive. Those who’ve been documented have had a positive experience, and they are thrilled to have the publicity. In some ways, this experience has been like a miniature version of Iowa’s sesquicentennial folklife festival. But I also believe the radio project has been positive because we have not rushed the process, and because everyone involved in it, including the tradition bearers, has been involved in the planning and implementation. We’ve taken care to make sure we have permission to include contact information (and note that some bios do not include it).

We are now done recording the interviews for the second series, and Curt is busily editing. I’ve started compiling the biographies and lining up transcribers. I continue to select photos, and I’m still rounding up language translations for several of the first series. This is definitely a work in progress, and we’re hoping to add curriculum material sometime in the next several months—an idea we stole shamelessly from the Wisconsin Folks website.

The next set of thirteen interviews and the companion website will be ready the second week in October. On our play list schedule are BBQ restaurant owner George Battle of Ames, several members of the Amana Colonies, rug weaver Dorothy Trumpold, quilter Caroline Trumpold, teacher and artist Gordon Kellenberger, tinsmith Bill Metz, broom maker Joanna Schanz, the African-American gospel group Psalms of Cedar Rapids, Eastern Iowa old-time fiddler Guy Drollinger, father-daughter folklorico dancers and teachers Arnulfo & Karina Camarillo, Norwegian cook Eunice Stoen of Decorah and her farmer/hunter husband Wilbur Stoen, and Norwegian wood carver Harley Refsal, also of Decorah.

Rachelle H. Saltzman, Ph.D., is the Folklife Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

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Last updated: August 11, 2003