Iowa Celebrates Three Sesquicentennials.

Sesquicentennial. A big word that simply means 150th anniversary. Iowa celebrated three big Sesquicentennial events in the latter part of the 20th century – 1988, 1989 and 1996 – with each event marked with special USPS postal releases. Allow me here to share some of these beauties…

1988IowaTerrSesqPC
(P-0174) (P-0175) 1988 Iowa Territory Sesquicentennial Postcard. Issued in 1988 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Iowa Territory. In 1988, Burlington was the logical city chosen to celebrate the event since it was Iowa’s first territorial capital (1838). Read more about Burlington’s heritage here.
(L-0085) 1988 Iowa Territory Sesquicentennial – First Day of Issue Ceremony Presentation Card with Iowa Territorial postcard inside (below) – Postmarked July 2, 1988 in Burlington, Iowa.

(P-0258) (P-0261) 1989 Iowa City Sesquicentennial Celebration – On May 4-5-6, 1989, Iowa City celebrated its 150th birthday (1839-1989). The Iowa Territorial and America the Beautiful postcards (above), both issued in 1988, were used for the special Iowa City – 150th Anniversary postmark. Click here to read more about this special celebration.

(C-0165) 1996 Iowa Statehood Sesquicentennial  First Day of Issue: August 1, 1996  City: Dubuque, Iowa.

On December 28, 1995, the Iowa Statehood Sesquicentennial (1846-1996) celebration began with a debut program held in Iowa City. This kicked off a whole year of Sesquicentennial celebrations around the Hawkeye State, with Stamp Day being celebrated in Dubuque on August 1st, and everything concluding on Statehood Day – December 28, 1996 with a 150th birthday party in Des Moines.

(S-0049) (C-0171)

The Iowa Sesquicentennial commemorative stamp – issued in two formats – sheet and booklet – features a rendering of the painting, Young Corn, by Iowa native and renowned American artist, Grant Wood. The work, completed in 1931, depicts the countryside in the Amana Colonies area of Iowa, and the warm, rich colors reflect Wood’s respect for the American farmer. The painting was commissioned by the Cedar Rapids Public School District, where Wood had been both a student and a teacher.

(L-0086) This rare postal cover has Iowa history covered – being postmarked in Dubuque – Iowa’s oldest city, Burlington – Iowa’s first territorial capital, Iowa City – Iowa’s first state capital, Des Moines – Iowa’s state capital, and Anamosa – home of Grant Wood – the artist.
This postal cover includes Iowa’s Statehood (1946) & Territorial (1938) Centennial stamps along with the Iowa State Flag stamp from 1976.

(C-0166-C-0170) 1996 Sesquicentennial Cover featuring Iowa stamps from the past.

(C-0172-C-0176) 1996 First Day Covers featuring other Iowa-related stampsHerbert Hoover & The National Grange – honors the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Grange, a major farmer’s organization which has pioneered support for rural free delivery, and vocational agriculture, Father Marquette & the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Utah Centennial – the Mormon Trek trail, from Nauvoo, IL to Salt Lake City ran through Iowa City in 1846-1847, and the 4-H Clubs – Johnson County/Iowa City 4-H has a long history, dating back to 1918. 

(C-0282) On August 2nd, 1996, The Iowa Sesquicentennial Committee put together a limited number of Binder Sets – made up of 99 different covers – each one postmarked in one of Iowa’s 99 county seats. Quite a rare find!

We close this celebration with the two Sesquicentennial license plates issued by the State of Iowa in 1996.


Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Our One Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary, Iowa City Press Citizen, May 4, 1989, p 37-64, May 5, 1989, p 1


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