Spurred by the City of Boone’s 1965 centennial celebration, the Boone County Historical Society was organized in 1966. Mrs. Bertram P. (Lillian) Holst was the Society’s first president.
Active from the start, the society was operating two museums by the early 1970’s. The Kate Shelley Memorial Park in Moingona, is dedicated to the memory of Boone’s brave heroine and is located on the site of the original Moingona depot. The Hickory Grove School, first at Don Williams Park and now at the Battin Chapel site between Boone and Ogden, is dedicated to Boone County’s rural school heritage. In 1990 the society purchased the Champlin Memorial Masonic Temple and opened its third museum, the Boone County Historical Center, which depicts the history of Boone County. Exhibits tell the county’s story from its natural history, its participation in major wars from the Civil War to the Desert Storm, its coal mining past and its celebration of local heroine Kate Shelley. A second floor gallery contains ten decade-by decade views of life in Boone County between 1900 and 1999. The Historical Center also houses the society’s offices, archives, and library, and provides a public meeting room with a kitchen. In 2006, the society added a fourth museum when it took over the operation of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace in Boone, which opened independently in1980. Mrs. Eisenhower was born in Boone on November 14, 1896.
Over the years, the Historical Society has published a number of documents significant to the history of the county, including reprints of the 1880 History of Boone County and the 1910 21st Anniversary Supplement to the Boone News Republican. The Society also has published a journal of Boone County history, Trail Tales, since 1969; and publishes a newsletter, The History Page, that details the activities of the society.
Each month, January through October, the society offers a free heritage program on an aspect of the county’s history at the Historical Center. Community dinners and social events as well as an annual quilt show are also sponsored every year by the society. In recent years the society has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of major public events. Most recently, in October of 2008, the society in conjunction with a number of statewide organizations, reenacted the 1908 Boone Suffrage Parade, one of the first such parades in the nation. The society also spearheaded the erection of a monument to the Boone and Iowa women involved in the suffrage movement which was dedicated at Blair Park on the High School grounds during the suffrage parade festivities.