Master’s Thesis Award


The Iowa History Center at Simpson College is pleased to congratulate Seth Hedquist as the 2016 recipient of our prize for the outstanding master’s thesis in Iowa history.  His award-winning thesis, “The Chronicles of Agrimusic,” was completed at Iowa State University.

The Center now seeks nominations for the outstanding master’s thesis in Iowa history for 2017.  Selection will be based on contribution to the knowledge of Iowa history; originality of the subject matter or methodology; use of sources; and written expression.  Nominees must have completed their master’s degree between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. 

The winner will be announced in the fall of 2017 and will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an award plaque.  Three copies of the thesis and a brief letter of nomination from the thesis advisor, which must include contact information for the nominee, should be submitted to Bill Friedricks, Director, Iowa History Center, Simpson College, 701 North C Street, Indianola, IA 50125.  Application deadline is June 30, 2017.

For further information, please contact Linda Sinclair, (515) 961-1528 or

Past Recipients:

Seth Hedquist 2016: Seth Hedquist, Iowa State University
The IHC 2016 Master’s Award winner was Seth Hedquist for his thesis " The Chronicles of Agrimusic". Seth is a musician and historian from Des Moines, Iowa. Both his BA and MA are from Iowa State University. His historical work places local musicians in a larger historical context. In his thesis, he specifically looks at rural Iowa in the twentieth century and how the music produced there was influenced by the state’s agricultural economy and culture. Seth currently teaches guitar lessons and plays in local bands.

You can read Seth’s thesis here.
You can watch the presentation of the award and Seth's speech about his thesis here.
Hope Mitchell 2014: Hope Mitchell, Iowa State University
Ankeny native Hope Mitchell was the 2014 recipient of the Iowa History Center’s annual award for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis in Iowa History. Mitchell received her MA in history from Iowa State University in the spring of 2014 and was recognized for her thesis, “Sacrificing our Daughters: Changing Perceptions of Prostitution in Iowa, 1880-1915.” Not only was she honored by the Center with a plaque and $1,000 prize, she was also featured in a front-page article in the Des Moines Register. Mitchell’s study focused on prostitution in Des Moines and examined the city’s changing attitudes and approaches to the issue. “We are thrilled to recognize Hope’s work,” said Bill Friedricks, director of the Iowa History Center. “She pieced together an intriguing story through an array of unique and under-utilized sources. Her thesis is an important contribution to Iowa’s social history.”
You can read Hope's thesis here
Eric Zimmer 2013: Eric Zimmer, University of Iowa
The IHC 2013 Master’s Award winner was Eric Zimmer for his thesis "Settlement Sovereignty: Land and Meskwaki Self-Governance 1856-1937". Eric's focus is on 20th century America, especially relating to Native Americans, politics, and federal/state Indian policy. He is also deeply interested in public history and connecting academic historians' work with a broader audience.

You can read Eric's thesis
Garret Wilson with Bill friedricks 2012: Garret Wilson, Iowa State University
Garret Wilson received the 2012 IHC prize for his thesis, “The Collapse of the Iowa Democratic Party: Iowa and the Lecompton Constitution.” Wilson reexamines the collapse of the Iowa Democratic Party, and challenges the view that its general demise was connected to the effects of Kansas-Nebraska Act. Instead, Wilson focuses specifically on the Lecompton Constitution, which he argues led to divisions within the party. This allowed Republicans to take political control of the state by the end of the 1850s.

Read Garret's thesis. Watch Garret discuss his research.