In 2007, library and private book discussion groups around Iowa gathered to talk about Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio by Jeffrey Kluger.
The selection was unique in that it was the first non-fiction book
the AIR committee had selected since the program began in 2003. It was
the impetuous for storytelling and story gathering among Iowans
affected by the epidemic. Photos were gathered from hospitals and
personal collections, people sent in their polio stories which were
added to a Web site, and an Iowa Polio Stories Oral History Project was
A grant from the Roy J.
Carver Charitable Trust and funding from the State Library of Iowa were used to hire Kate Scott who coordinated the
oral history project. Scott and volunteers were able to interview and
tape record the stories of 51 Iowans who were affected by polio
personally, who had a family member with polio, or who worked in the
medical field during the epidemics. In order to ensure broad
geographic scope across the state, several of the oral history
interviews in the collection were conducted via telephone. In these
cases, the "location of the interview" may not be listed in the
individual collection summaries. Others give the name of the town
where the actual interview occurred.
"By capturing their voices, this project made it possible to begin
documenting and preserving perhaps the most critical, yet overlooked
element in this historical narrative," said Scott.
The entire collection of oral histories, including the complete
stories of those interviewed and the photographs they provided, will be
available at the Iowa Historical Society in Iowa City. Contact
information includes their Web site, telephone (319) 335-3916, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.