Congratulations to our new friend, the U.S. Poet Laureate!

We had so much fun when Natasha Trethewey visited, we thought it couldn’t get any better. Then she became the U.S. Poet Laureate.


UIowa ArtShare

This program is entitled to helping children to become aware of art. It offers schooling to children wishing to excel in art and also to children of the community. Also, during the summer, the University of Iowa is offering a program for children to learn art during the summer months. This program is supposed to give back to the community and provide for a better understanding in the artistic community. Not only is visual art present, but emotional art such as dancing and poetry reading. Children of Iowa are entitled to learn that art is not only something they view on a canvas or screen but in movement and dance also. Uiowa ArtShare helps to broaden the minds of young people everywhere.

The Staff at Uiowa Artshare

Civil War Letters

Upon a visit to the Special Collections Department in the University of Iowa’s Main Library, I was able to uncover a marvelous book of Civil War letters (Call #: MSC 541 Box #1 and #2) authored by Mr. Charles Thomas Ackley, a Union soldier from Iowa. Reading Ackley’s letters gave me a very realistic look into the life of a typical Union soldier from the rural Midwest.

Ackley was born in Pittsfield, New York on July 23, 1833. In 1855 he moved to Iowa and started a farm near Marble Rock. He was married in 1863 to Elizabeth Thayer (The recipient of his Civil War letters). Later that year Ackley enlisted in Company B of the Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army. The letters that he sent home to his family in Marble Rock date from January 17, 1864 to July 5, 1865. While he served, Ackley saw intense action and fought in many battles during the war. Although he was not injured, he did contract diseases that hindered him for the rest of his life. He was discharged in July 1865.

While reading Ackley’s letters I found many things to be very interesting. One such aspect I found particularly stunning was his “quite comfortable” living conditions. Through his letters he explained he lived in makeshift barracks with 50 other men. They had a coal stove to keep them warm in the winter months. He slept on bunks with 3 beds on each, spanning about 4 feet wide that had “plenty of straw on them.” I found these conditions to be a little appalling; however, during the time period Ackley seemed very impressed.

Ackley’s personal relationship to his wife and children is another fascinating detail that can be observed. Times of love, distrust, guilt, and even undeserving feelings are scattered bountifully through his many letters. This was a very captivating trail to follow, in my opinion.

Annotated Poems: Miscegenation by Natasha Trethewey


In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong – mis in Mississippi.

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name
for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.
I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year – you’re the same
age he was when he died.
 It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name –
though I’m not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.

Digital Studio for Public Humanities

The Digital Studio for Public Humanities is a service provided by The University of Iowa that encourages digital humanities research. You can learn more about The Digital Studio for Public Humanities here. The Digital Studio for Public Humanities is located in the Main Library on the University of Iowa campus but they partner with Public Humanities in a Digital World. You can read all about The Digital Studio for Public Humanities and what they do for the University at both of these links.