Phone: (641) 784-5053
Email: tmorain(at)

Dr. Tom Morain was director of history at Living History Farms and administrator of the State Historical Society from 1995-2001. He has authored several books on small town history and Iowa life. A popular public speaker, Morain received the State Historical Society’s Petersen-Harlan Award in 2009, the organization’s highest honor for distinguished service. He currently teaches at Graceland University, serves as Director of Government Relations and is assisting with the Iowa Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. In 2002, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Humanities Iowa.

Dr. William Juhnke is professor emeritus of American History at Graceland University, retiring in 2010 after a teaching career of 35 years. Drawing on his pacifist Mennonite background, Juhnke developed and headed the Peace Studies program at Graceland in addition to his specializations in the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

Point/Counterpoint: Was the Civil War Necessary?
Juhnke and Morain take opposing positions to explore several of the contentious issues leading up to the first shots of the Civil War fired on Fort Sumter in 1861. They ask hard questions: Was it really an “irrepressible conflict” or could bolder political proposals have averted the bloodshed that cost 600,000 Americans their lives? What options did Lincoln have as President-elect when South Carolina voted to secede from the Union? Why did each side underestimate their opponents’ determination to fight? Why didn’t the North let the South go its way and avoid the incredible bloodshed? Juhnke and Morain invite the public into the debate as they explore the tense political climate of 1860-61 and demonstrate how historians can disagree without being disagreeable.

Hymns and Herds
Dr. Morain combines two of his passions—piano and Iowa history—in this intriguing window into Iowa’s frontier past. “Hymns and Herds” takes the audience through a year in the life of an Iowa pioneer family through photographs from the 1850 Farm at Living History Farms. While the slides show how Iowa families divided the heavy workloads necessary for survival in the state’s log cabin era, Morain plays lively adaptations of well-known 19th-Century folk hymns. After the 20-minute show, Morain leads an audience discussion of how the scenes from the past give us new insights into the strengths and challenges of family life today. The program requires a piano (preferably not an electronic one) and a room that can be darkened sufficiently for a slide show.