"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN
Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
Welcome to the history of Dubuque, Iowa--Iowa's oldest city! Dedicated to the history of this "Masterpiece on the Mississippi," this website is believed to be the oldest community of historians operating within the United States.
The basis of this website was Dubuque: The Encyclopedia. Written in 1991 by Randolph W. Lyon for FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE (now U.S. Bank), Dubuque: The Encyclopedia was designed as a table-top reference of Dubuque's history. Exhaustive research and interviews over five years provided the material. Organized in alphabetical order, the entries were quick to locate and easy to read. Editing the size of the entries and the number of photographs, however, was necessary to keep the book of reasonable size and price. Many entries offered related subjects. To indicate such sub-topics, bold face type was used. Categories of entries included academic institutions, anthropology, biography, cultural institutions, economy, geography, government, history, and tourism.
Sales of the Encyclopedia were brisk. Copies at the CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY had to be rebound from frequent use. Over the years, the Encyclopedia has frequently been cited in the local newspaper, the Telegraph Herald, as a source of information.
As Dubuque reached its sesquicentennial, the Dubuque City Council announced that it would fund ten applications from local historical societies or groups with projects involving Dubuque history. The Carnegie-Stout Library Foundation chose to apply for a grant to convert Dubuque: The Encyclopedia to an online format.
This grant application was approved.
I would like to thank the Carnegie-Stout Library Foundation for its encouragement and support of this innovative project. Encyclopedia Dubuque established the threshold for a new and exciting approach to history--a nation-wide community of historians. These people possessing valuable information and vintage photographs became able at any moment to contribute to the history of this fascinating city. Restrictions imposed by the cost of publishing disappeared. Finding an interested publisher was no longer an obstacle. History was no longer "frozen" within the pages of a book unable to be expanded. Donating materials no longer carried with it the concern that they might be buried in filing cabinets and not seen. Fact-checking and on-going revision, important elements once limited to pre-publication, became continuous operations ensuring a better product. Elements that made the printed Encyclopedia so successful remained.
I have especially appreciated the support given to this project by Michael May of the Carnegie-Stout Library. His foresight in realizing the potential of the grant, writing the application, and then guiding it through to its approval earns him my highest respect. He has always been open to suggestions and has offered encouragement and insights at every phase of this work.
My technical support came from Angela and Ransom Briggs of Iowa City. Their knowledge of the Wiki and issues related to computers was unmatched. In addition to all the people who provided pictures and information for the book, I would like to add my deep appreciation to Bob Reding. Always willing to answer questions or provide material for pictures, he has been a treasure.
I dedicate this project to my wife, Ruth, who has enjoyed with me our life in this wonderful community and encouraged me at every moment to record its fascinating history.
Randolph W. Lyon