May 24, 2021 - News

New interactive videos keep history alive at Des Moines cemetery

An interactive video exhibit at Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.

Henry Tolliver served in the United States Colored Infantry and is buried at Woodland Cemetery. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Visitors at Des Moines' Woodland Cemetery may now use their phones to watch short videos about some of the people whose names are memorialized on headstones.

  • So far there are about 70 QR codes that link to videos recounting the lives of DSM pioneers.

Why it matters: The project helps document and preserve history.

Details: DSM filmmaker Kristine Bartley launched the Woodland History Quest project last year with a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

  • Each video is between 20 seconds and 3 1/2 minutes.
  • DSM Parks and Recreation will also add the videos to their YouTube channel in coming weeks.

One example is the history of George Hanawalt, a doctor who treated some of the hundreds injured in DSM in "the great train wreck of 1877."

  • Many of those injured were circus performers en route to a show, and Barnum & Bailey Circus later hosted a benefit performance to thank Hanawalt for his help.
  • The proceeds built a medical center that later became Methodist Hospital.

Thought bubble: This innovative way to educate and remember our dead transforms the cemetery into an interactive, outdoor museum-like attraction.

What's next: A celebration for the opening of the Woodland History Quest is being held at 9:30am Saturday, at 2019 Woodland Ave.

  • Bartley continues to work on the project and told Jason she welcomes contributors. If you're interested, you can reach her at [email protected] or 515-720-5361.

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