A statewide project equipping K-12 educators to teach Iowa history using primary sources

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Jeff Bremer is an Associate Professor and Co-Coordinator, Social Studies Education Program, Iowa State University Department of History.  Bremer is a specialist in the early American republic, with an interest in the social and economic history of the American Midwest. In 2014 the University of Iowa Press published his book A Store Almost in Sight: The Economic Transformation of Missouri From the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War.  In 2019, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China, one of the most important American studies programs in the PRC, where he taught U.S. history and the history of capitalism.

Bremer's current research project is a new history of the American conquest of this state, with the unoriginal title of Frontier Iowa. This would be the first synthesis of this topic in almost a century. Frontier Iowa will take advantage of hundreds of new sources on women’s history in the Iowa Women’s Archive, as well as many other memoirs, diaries, journals, and autobiographies in the State Historical Society of Iowa. These sources, and many others that have been overlooked by previous historians, will broaden and diversify the story of the state’s early decades and include stories of runaway slaves, immigrant farmwomen, and others.

He is also working on a narrative survey of the state, A New History of Iowa, 1673-2020. This new history of the first free state from the Louisiana Purchase will use new and overlooked sources to tell a fresh and inclusive story of a neglected part of the United States. Iowa sent a regiment of African-American troops to fight in the Civil War and desegregated its schools in the 1860s. In World War Two it sent dozens of Meskwaki Code Talkers and Tuskegee Airmen to fight fascism in Europe. In the 1960s, Des Moines had a Black Panther chapter. These stories—and many others—will be part of this new narrative history of Iowa.It will use new and overlooked sources to tell a fresh and inclusive story of the first free state from the Louisiana Purchase.

Bremer has published articles in Kansas History, The Annals of Iowa, The Missouri Historical Review, and The Southern California Quarterly and contributed chapters to The Routledge History of Rural America, as well as Southern Society and Its Transformations.