“Iowa's Cultural Kaleidoscope" at the German American Heritage Center -- April 14.

Sunday, April 14, 2 p.m.

German American Heritage Center, 712 West Second Street, Davenport IA

Presented by Phil Webber, a Professor Emeritus of German and Linguistics at Pella, Iowa's Central College, Iowa's Cultural Kaleidoscope continues the popular "Kaffee und Kuchen" series at Davenport's German American Heritage Center, the April 14 program highlighting the diverse roles played by the Germans in the state and particularly in the greater Davenport area.

As explained in Iowa Pathways at IowaPBS.org, "German immigrants historically were the second largest immigrant group (behind people from the British Isles) to settle in Iowa. Immigrants from Germany settled in every Iowa county. No other immigrant group was that widely spread across the state. By 1920 half of all Iowa farmers were of German descent. As late as 1970 German immigrants were still the largest group of foreign born people in Iowa, although this is no longer the case in the early 21st century.

"Germans began arriving in Iowa during the 1840s. Like many other immigrant groups, Germans came for a variety of reasons. Before 1871 what we today know as Germany was really a collection of small kingdoms and duchies (territory belonging to a duke or duchess). Around 1848 people in some of the German states began revolutions against their rulers. When these revolutions failed, the people who had supported them, known as “forty-eighters” immigrated to the United States.

"The Germans who settled in Iowa were both farmers and city dwellers. The city of Davenport was particularly well known for its large German population. Davenport Germans formed Turnvereins (turner halls), organizations that promoted physical education for young people. They also enjoyed going to parks for picnics, where they would listen to band music and drink beer. This practice of the “Continental Sunday,” bothered some Protestant religious groups. These groups wanted Sunday to be a “day of rest” devoted to meditation or other quiet activities, not public recreation and socializing. These churches supported “Blue Laws” that banned playing baseball, having businesses open on Sunday and other activities."

Iowa's Cultural Kaleidoscope will be presented at the German American Heritage Center on April 14, with the 2 p.m. “Kaffee und Kuchen” program preceded by coffee and cake at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free for Heritage Center members and $5 for non-members, and more information and reservations are available by calling (563)322-8844 and visiting GAHC.org.

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