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Des Moines Historical Society

P.O. Box 8038

Des Moines, IA  50301

Photos courtesy Lost Des Moines

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. 

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

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. 


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

​ 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.
 *Make checks payable to Des Moines Historical Society...

Des Moines Historical Gear

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​​​Des Moines Historical Society

​NEW 2017 Calendar 


The Des Moines Streetcar Era by Earl Short - April 8th at 1pm at the Franklin Avenue Library

The Des Moines Historical Society in co-sponsorship with the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) will host an event on the early history of Mass Transit in Des Moines. This scheduled event should not be missed by those who love the history of Des Moines and have experienced the enjoyment and value of public transportation in Des Moines. At 1:00 pm, Saturday, April 8th at the Franklin Avenue Library (5000 Franklin Ave. DM), Earl Short, a Des Moines historian, will give an overview of the history of the trolley car and the identified routes in Des Moines. During this one and a half hour presentation Earl will offer a power point presentation that will show the basics on what is a Trolley and a chart showing the time frame, along with pictures from several of the streetcar lines around the DM area. Many of the photographs he offers are the "then & now" type photos showing what the old picture looks like today. Earl Short has an extensive collection of photos that focus primarily on the multiple streetcar routes of Des Moines which includes many rare photos of our fair city. This glimpse of the early transportation history of Des Moines will offer a sense of pride for staff and passengers and historians as we transform to the modern form of transportation we now appreciate. 

We have invited DART to collaborate with us on this presentation. Timothy Sanderson, Chief Operating Officer of DART will be on hand to offer us some insight and comparison to what mass transportation is like in Des Moines today.


History of River Bend Neighborhood by Jon Royal - May 16th, time TBD, Trinity United Methodist Church

Program by Jon Royal about the River Bend Neighborhood, and the house his grandparents bought there and he was raised in.  



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.