This is a collection of 50 mounted black and white photographs of rural and small town Iowa by photographer David Plowden. Dating from the mid-1980s, they document the disappearing face of the rural Iowa landscape. The photographs were jointly contracted and are held by the State Historical Society of Iowa and Humanities Iowa. A book by the same title was published in 1988 by the State Historical Society of Iowa in association with W. W. Norton & Company, New York/London. These photographs have also been shown at the State Historical Building in Des Moines with text written by Dorothy Schwieder, Professor Emerita of History at Iowa State University and recognized expert on Midwestern history.

For four decades, the award-winning photographer has documented our country’s vanishing landscapes and artifacts. His iconic black and white photographs of landscapes, buildings, and individuals collectively define life in 20th-century urban and rural America. Since 1952, when he began to photograph steam locomotives, David Plowden has studied, documented, and commented upon the transformation of America. He has described himself as “an archeologist with a camera” who has spent his life “one step ahead of the wrecking ball.” “I have been beset,” Plowden says, “with a sense of urgency to record those parts of our heritage which seem to be receding as quickly as the view from the rear of a speeding train. I fear that we are eradicating the evidence of our past accomplishments so quickly that in time we may well lost the sense of who we are.”

Please consult with the Humanities Iowa office for transportation and set-up of this exhibit. The photographs are 16×20 inches each. Approximately 1,200 square feet of exhibit space is needed. This exhibit must be picked up and returned by private vehicle to the HI office.

Also available for loan: A Place of Sense: Essays in Search of the Midwest, edited by Michael Martone.