Our archival collections focus on the history of Grinnell and the surrounding area. They include microfilm of area newspapers from 1871 to the present, city directories, records of many local organizations, Grinnell High School yearbooks, and various personal papers and photographs. All materials are kept in a secure, climate controlled room in the library.
Archive materials are only accessible with staff supervision. Our archivists, Dorrie Lalonde and Liz Cabelli, are available to help with your research needs. The best days to catch them are Tuesdays and Fridays. Other library staff can assist with basic archive questions as availability allows.
Historic Property Research
Often area residents are interested in learning the history of their property. While we don’t have details on every property, we do have some specific information on about 20% of residential properties. But nearly all properties will have records of former owners and similar information in general community publications like city directories. We’ve provided some of the most common material uses for that purpose on our Property Research Page.
You can also try searching by address (just house number and street) in Digital Grinnell to see if a historic photo of the property is included in that collection. Search Digital Grinnell here.
The Poweshiek History Preservation Project (PHPP) is a searchable digital archive of images and documents related to the Poweshiek County area. It includes materials contributed by individuals and items from the Drake Community Library and Grinnell College archives. See the PHPP webpage for information on this project. Search the PHPP database here.
Drake Community Library is a participant in the Iowa Heritage Digital Collections database project. Our contributions include photographs from the Billy Robinson and Spaulding Manufacturing collections.
Most obituaries from local area newspapers dating back to 1871 are indexed in a searchable online database. A pdf file of each obituary may be viewed and downloaded. This service is accessible in the library and online here.
A Grinnell oral history project recorded the experiences of residents as they lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Hear their memories through recorded interviews, video, transcripts, and photographs. These resources are available in the library and online here.
Read articles related to the history of the Grinnell area. Learn about how Grinnell was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Read stories of early African Americans in the community, as well as other non-white settlers. Articles written by local history enthusiast Dan Kaiser.