Our success depends on the generosity of those who share our belief that Des Moines history should be preserved. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,  your contribution may be  tax-deductible. 

The Des Moines (Iowa) Historical Society is a 501c3 organization with the mission to promote the preservation and study of the history and heritage of Des Moines, Iowa. 

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Des Moines History - 


The origin of the name "Des Moines" is uncertain. The French des moines literally translates to "of the monks." Some people believe it refers to French Trappist monks who lived in huts at the mouth of the Des Moines River, while others think it could be referring to the Moingona natives of the area. Another theory is that Des Moines was corrupted from the French de moyen ("middle") because of its location between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. 

​ Get your Des Moines Historical Society Gear Now!!!

  • NEW 2017 Calendars are here!!!

  • DMHS Pennants ​

  • DMHS Polo Shirts available for $22.00

Order items through Paypal below, many of these can also be picked up at:

 Ameriprise Financial Services

 2716 Grand Avenue   

 Des Moines, IA 50312

 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Des Moines Historical Gear

Contact Us


Des Moines Historical Society

P.O. Box 8038

Des Moines, IA  50301


Photos courtesy Lost Des Moines

We are a growing organization with many special tours, events and programs throughout the year. Join today!


Give Local Des Moines - May 3, 2016 - we are joining more than 100 communities across the country to raise millions of dollars for our individual communities.  See Events page for more details.


May 14, 2016 - Quarterly Meeting and St. Johns Lutheran Church Tour


​​Iowa Architectural Foundation 2016 Lectures
​Thursday, April 28th– 6:30 Pm – Des Moines Art Center

​NEW 2017 Calendar 

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Mentzer Family Optical History

Tuesday, June 20th at 6:30 PM - 8 PM at Franklin Avenue Library located at 5000 Franklin Ave.  

The Mentzer Family has been one of the longest optical business histories in Des Moines. Russ Mentzer began his optical career in 1951. His family members have carried the business forward. Join us June 20th at 6:30 pm in the Franklin Avenue Library meeting room, 5000 Franklin Avenue to hear about their long standing tradition and the secret to their success.


Urbandale Centennial Celebration Historical Lecture and Power Point

Thursday, June 22 at 1:30 PM - Urbandale Public Library 3520 86th St, Urbandale, Iowa 50322

The City of Urbandale is celebrating their Centennial Celebration 1917-2017 all year. In honor of that event, the Urbandale Historical Society and Virginia Gee have invited our good friend Earl Short to present a power point history on the impact of the Trolley in Urbandale's development. The event will be held at the Urbandale Library, (3520-86th St.) June 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm



​​​Des Moines Historical Society