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 developed.
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 50 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.
Finding the transcripts and more...
The entire collection of oral histories (approximately 50), including the complete transcripts of those interviewed and the photographs they provided, is available at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City.
Search the State Historical Society of Iowa's Online Catalog for the stories. Use "polio" as a keyword to find descriptions.
Unfortunately, the collection has not been digitized, however copies of the transcripts can be purchased from the State Historical Library. For information about fees go to http://www.iowahistory.org/libraries/services-and-fees/index.html
For expert information, telephone (319) 335-3916, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.