One of the greatest things about writing historical fiction for me is the research, which often takes me to several museums. I love museums anyway, but since I’m using the information I gain for my books, it’s working – and I get to take the travel expenses off of my taxes.
In researching for my next book taking place in the early 1900s when people in Camanche camped along the Mississippi River to harvest clams for pearls and the button industry, I’ve been concentrating on that era and topic.
In case you’re interested, I thought I’d share about them so maybe you can check them out. Hands down, the best museum for learning about the button industry is the Muscatine History and Industry Center. The bottom floor’s entire display is about clamming and the button industry. Upstairs, they also have good exhibits about the history of local companies; not too far away is a great new brewery, Contrary Brewing, you could check out while you’re there, too (and, in case you’re wondering, I can’t take beer off on my taxes.)
The Fort Crawford Museum in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, has a small clamming exhibit. Since clamming was so common in Camanche, Iowa, its historical museum has a nice, larger clamming/button industry display as does the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Iowa.
I got a lot of good early 1900s information when visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum a couple of Saturdays ago, including from a great display on early 1900s clothing. This is a large museum complete with a real boat, the Lone Star Stern Wheeler, and tons of artifacts. You can likely learn about any era pertaining to life on the Mississippi River here. And, if you’re thirsty when you’re done, you can visit the new Green Tree Brewery, tour the Mississippi River Distillery, or visit the Wide River Winery tasting room.
As you can see, I love museums and local beverages. It’s an especially great way to spend a Saturday that is too hot or too cold to spend outside.
Do you know of any museums, historical villages, or exhibits covering early 1900s America, especially everyday life in the Midwest, clamming/button industry, or the Mississippi River? I’d love to visit them. Please comment below.