DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The public library in Council Bluffs wants everyday people to look up in their attics or down in their basements for long forgotten items that could be keys to the city's past.
The "Council Bluffs: Proud Past... Bright Future" project is encouraging residents to look in those rooms and other corners of their homes for old pictures, letters and mementos that could be used to tell the community's history.
The project launched in 2010 with a resource website that encourages individuals, organizations and other groups to contribute information about the city that can be archived. Since then, it's been collecting historical information from local participating museums. Several entities have individual pages that they update.
Now it's turning to the public. Residents are being encouraged to bring in personal items to an upcoming event so volunteers can scan them onto the project's website.
"I think a majority of our history is probably still sitting in shoeboxes in the attic," said project director Chad Nation. "The city is over 150 years old. It's regrown itself and changed its identity five or six times in that span. I know there's pictures out there of early Council Bluffs that probably have never been seen."
That's because some of Council Bluffs' history is limited, said Patricia LaBounty, a member of the committee that helped launch the project. She is also collections and outreach manager at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, an organization participating in the project.
LaBounty said there are some books about Council Bluffs, but they had limited publication runs and are not widely available. The city's local paper, The Daily Nonpareil, has also published books that chronicled Council Bluffs, but they were locally produced and not many copies exist.
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