Student-faculty research tandem produces translated account of Iowa’s experiment with Prohibition in the late 19th century

Friday, February 1, 2019

German major Lucas Gibbs and Professor Glenn Ehrstine of the Department of German have produced a translated chapter of The Germans of Iowa that was featured in the Winter 2019 issue of Annals of Iowa.

Die Deutschen von Iowa (The Germans of Iowa) was written in 1900 by the editor of the Iowa Staats-Anzeiger, the German-language newspaper of Des Moines. The translation is a part of the “German Iowa and the Global Midwest” public humanities project based at the University of Iowa, which explores the state’s long tradition of immigration.

Cartoon
“The End of the Prohibition Party in Iowa”: Editorial cartoon
from the Iowa Staats-Anzeiger following the hotly contested
state elections of 1889, in which dissatisfaction over
Republican support for Prohibition led to the election of
Horace Boies, the only Iowa governor from the Democratic
party between 1857 and 1932.

The translated chapter is titled, “‘Iowa’s Prohibition Plague’: Joseph Eiboeck’s Account of the Battle over Prohibition, 1846-1900.” Iowans lived under Prohibition from 1884 to 1894, and Eiboeck’s memoire highlights the violent clashes over the law, its negative effects for the state’s economy and the frequent anti-immigrant bias that colored perceptions of alcohol consumption in the 1800s.

group of men
Deputized “searchers” were authorized to seek out and arrest
violators of the state’s Prohibition law, if need be by force.

The “German Iowa and the Global Midwest”” project seeks to educate the general public on Iowa’s immigrant past and provide perspective on present-day issues, including pro- and anti-immigration sentiment; the value and challenges of bilingualism; the hurdles and rewards of multiculturalism; and questions of belonging and exclusion in times of international and domestic conflict.

The project's organizers include, in addition to Ehrstine, Elizabeth Heineman and H. Glenn Penny, both professors in the Department of History.

Katie Ehlers


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.