Our Iowa Heritage: 1946 – Iowa Celebrates 100 Years Of Statehood.

Iowa’s Road to Statehood.

Robert Lucas, Iowa’s first Territorial Governor proposed statehood as early as 1839. However, many Iowans opposed statehood, as they were not anxious to place their new-found freedoms at risk by quickly aligning with the same governmental tax system they desired to be freed from when they moved westward. In 1844, a constitutional convention was held to pursue statehood. But disagreement over the state’s boundaries ultimately defeated that attempt. In 1846, another convention was held which adopted the state’s present boundaries. On August 3, 1846, Iowa approved a State Constitution, and on December 28, 1846, President James K. Polk signed a bill admitting Iowa as America’s 29th state.

Click here to read more about Iowa Statehood in 1846.

(C-0263) When Iowa joined the Union on December 28, 1846, the U.S. Flag “officially” added a 29th star on July 4, 1847. In 2000, the USPS issued a series of flag stamps and this is the version of the 29-star flag used. Prior to the 48-star flag designed in 1912, there was no set pattern for arranging stars on the American flag.

1846 – 1946 Celebrating Iowa’s Statehood.


(C-0141) Iowa Statehood Centennial.  This stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s addition to the Union. The release date of August 3rd (instead of Dec. 28) was picked for two reasons. First, the Iowa Centennial Commission believed that there would be a bigger statewide celebration associated with a Summer 1946 release vs. waiting until the end of the year. Secondly, they reasoned that since Iowans had adopted their new constitution on August 3, 1846, the date did have some historical significance. As it turned out, the Centennial committee was right, for when it was all said and done, the U.S. Postmaster announced that the First Day of Issue ceremony in Iowa City sold more commemorative stamps than any previous U.S. release, outside of the commemorative produced for the 1939 New York World’s Fair!

1946 Iowa Centennial Half Dollar.


(M-0017) The Iowa Centennial Half Dollar was authorized on August 7, 1946, with a maximum mintage of 100,000 pieces, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood. The obverse design of the coins would feature the Old Stone Capitol in Iowa City. The inscriptions read “United States of America”, “Half Dollar”, “In God We Trust”, “Liberty”, and in small print beneath the building “Old Stone Capitol Iowa City.”


(M-0060) On the reverse of the coin was the image of an eagle adapted from the Iowa State Seal. The eagle holds a ribbon in its beak which reads, “‘Our Liberties Our Rights We Prize and Will Maintain”. The remaining inscriptions include “Iowa Statehood Centennial”, “1846”, “1946”, and “E Pluribus Unum.”


(M-0058) 1946 – Old Capitol Silver Round, (M-0059) Silver Spoon, and (M-0060) Commemorative Half-Dollar.

The coins were distributed by the Iowa Centennial Commission for $2.50 to state residents and $3 to others. The entire authorized mintage sold out, with more than 90,000 distributed to residents. An amount of 500 pieces was set aside for distribution in 1996, and 500 more pieces for distribution in 2046. In 1996, the coins were offered for $500 each in special holders. Sales were slow since the offering price was far above the market price for uncirculated pieces.

(S-0042) (S-0064) (C-0140) (C-0138) Iowa Centennial Celebration: U.S. Plate Block,  U.S. Sheet, and two First Day Covers.

(C-0252) The Steamboat Iowa and Steamboat Bill (William J.) Petersen celebrated Iowa Statehood with this special postal cover.

(M-0018) (M-0020) (M-0019) Iowa Centennial commemorative button, coin, and sticker.

942 OldStoneCapitolFDC

(C-0139) Iowa Statehood Centennial Stamp. This is a beautiful First Day Cover featuring the special cachet developed by the Iowa City Stamp Club.

(P-0280) Here’s an “official” public announcement post card from the Post Office Department in Washington DC announcing the August 3, 1946 stamp release in Iowa City. A rare find!


(P-0190) Here’s an interesting promotional postcard from the Washington Stamp Exchange pre-selling their Artcraft etched First Day postal covers as designed for the upcoming release of U.S. #942 Iowa Statehood stamp in Iowa City on August 3, 1946.


(P-0002) This show card is a beautiful souvenir of that special stamp day in Iowa City – August 3, 1946.

On December 28, 2021 – Iowans celebrate our 175th Anniversary of Statehood! Happy Birthday Iowa!

Click here to visit our 175th Statehood Anniversary page.

Click here to look at more December 28th celebrations over the years.

Now, here are some other special Iowa City memories from the 1940’s…

(P-0137) A view of the S.U.I campus during the war years.


(M-0021) September 1947 – Arriving on the Corn Belt Rocket at the Rock Island Depot in Iowa City. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad named its post-depression passenger trains “Rockets” not just for speed, but after the first American steam passenger locomotive of 1852. The Corn Belt Rocket started service in 1947 and connected Chicago with Omaha across Illinois and Iowa. It was a day train (no sleepers). Here is a one-way ticket from Philadelphia to Iowa City, dated September, 1947 This passenger would have taken the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) from Philadelphia to Chicago, and then change trains to the Corn Belt Rocket  – Seat 29 in Car C. Click here to read more about the Iowa City depot.

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