A reflection on small town life in Rembrandt by graduates from its high school between 1925 and 1979 has won the top local history award presented by the State Historical Society of Iowa.
In an awards ceremony Monday at the State Historical Building in Des Moines, Project Editor Helene Ducas Viall accepted the 2003 Loren Horton Community History Award. Only one such award is presented annually.
"Rembrandt Remembers: 80 Years of Small Town Life," collects the memories of 158 different people representing graduates of Rembrandt High School over 54 years, until the school closed its doors in 1979.
Viall worked with fellow alumnus and teacher Betty Foval Hoskins to encourage other alumni and teachers to write about growing up in Rembrandt or on a nearby farm and attending the small school. The result is 327 pages representing the views of at least one graduate from each class, with the exception of the Class of 1926, of which there were no surviving members.
"This book is an intriguing history that reflects small town Iowa life over almost a century," said Kathy Gourley, field historian with the State Historical Society of Iowa. "It is a snapshot of the students who, after going out to discover the world, remember that their roots are in Rembrandt."
State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Anita Walker and State Historical Society Board Chair Robert Neymeyer presented the award to Viall.
"Today, people need and want to be reminded of the struggles and the achievements of a small community like Rembrandt," Viall said.
"Many contributors were surprised that their fond memories were mirrored and shared by others a generation removed whom they otherwise might not have known. Old friendships have been renewed, and new acquaintances have been established because of the common bonds that this effort exposed."
The book is an "extended community effort," with 158 natives of Rembrandt sharing their memories, she said. "The reward isn't so much for Betty and I, but should be for the whole community."
The book debuted at the community centennial a year ago. A limited number of copies remain available, and can be purchased at the bank or at this season's community-wide reunion event. Call 712-286-5491 for more information on the book.
The Loren Horton Community History Award is presented in conjunction with National Historic Preservation Week, May 5-12. The award recognizes the best project that increases awareness and participation in Iowa history on a local level. Loren Horton was a longtime field historian with the State Historical Society of Iowa.