June 17, 2012
-- There was no room for whiners on the fringes of civilization--
which would certainly include Council Bluffs in its early days. There were no social services, but when needs arose fellow citizens came to the rescue creating a myriad of volunteer projects in the process.
The Historical Society of Pottawattamie County explores this volunteer spirit with “A Legacy of Service,” a project involving an exhibit at the Council Bluffs Public Library, an online display, and a feature story in the Society’s “Member Journal.”
The project was motivated by Council Bluffs’ selection as a site for the 2012 Governor’s Volunteer Awards June 27.
Many things the city takes for granted today started with volunteers. Jennie Edmundson Hospital can trace it’s roots to a women’s group that organized for charitable purposes. The General Dodge home, “Squirrel Cage” jail, and RailsWest Museums all owe their existence to spirited volunteers not afraid to counter those who would rather see these historic structures torn down. Many familiar Council Bluffs names like Amelia Bloomer, Grenville Dodge, and the family of Harry Langdon pop up on volunteer rosters of the past.
The library display holds artifacts and photos illustrating the spirit of volunteerism throughout the city’s history. It was arranged by Historical Society Museum Coordinator Carla Borgaila and Karen DeForest of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards local program committee.
The website provides a historical overview of a number of local organizations associated with volunteers including the Red Cross, YMCA, the hospitals, and preservation organizations. Information for the site was gathered by Dr. Richard Warner, a member of the Historical Society board of directors and chair of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards local program committee. The website can be found at