The University of Northern Iowa's history department was recently awarded a $15,000 grant for a digital project to help preserve and share Iowa's history.

The awarded grant is part of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ recent announcement of more than $1.5 million in grants for the return of the state’s arts, culture, history and creative sector by supporting arts and cultural jobs and programming in the humanities.

This particular project will fund a new digital resource called EncyclopedIA that will explore the history of Iowa using chronological, thematic and geographic lenses while also thoughtfully considering the diversity of Iowans and embedding the voices, history and perspectives of those who have been traditionally underrepresented. 

"We are delighted to receive $15,000 in Iowa Arts Council American Rescue Plan grant funding,” said Cheryl Dong, director of public history at UNI. “The EncyclopedIA project has been years in the making and we look forward to making our official debut in 2022."

EncyclopedIA entries will be accessible to the general public as well as educators responsible for integrating Iowa history into their elementary and secondary school classrooms. The state encyclopedia is an outgrowth of Teaching Iowa History, an award-winning, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant-funded project under the leadership of the Iowa Museum Association that supports K-12 educators teaching Iowa history using primary sources.

In total, 236 individuals and organizations – representing 70 communities across 56 Iowa counties – will benefit from $1,527,814 in one-time grant funding, made possible through the agency’s state/federal partnerships with Arts Midwest, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities with federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.


Jennifer McNabb, Department Head and Professor of History, 319-273-2097,

Steve Schmadeke, UNI public relations manager, 319-273-6120,