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TRACES OF 400000

Cause Area

  • Arts & Culture
  • Education & Literacy
  • International


PO BOX 1127MASON CITY, IA 50402 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

MISSION Humans create and shape ways of living. In the process, we leave behind traces. In short: Humans make history. TRACES sees history as encounters between various ways of living, transcending borders or eras. We invite people to converse about their own history and origins, and about the history of their nations as well as their ancestors’ roles in that larger story. TRACES fulfills its role by actively advancing understanding among people through: • educational events (lectures, seminars, publications, films, etc.) • exhibits (e.g., about U.S. or German prisoners of war during WWII, history-sensitive sustainable ecology or tracing family history) • encounters between witnesses to history and people of other ages. Through such means we explore: • our own cultural roots and that, which sustains us • the biographies of people who have experienced war, ecological disaster, emigration, other life-changing events


TRACES Center for History and Culture sees history as encounters among various ways of living, which
transcend borders or eras. We invite people to converse about their history and origins, and the history of
their regions or nations as well as their families’ roles in that history.

Volunteers founded TRACES ( in 2001. We built a diverse project out of old letters, photos,
dusty journals, yellowed articles, art or other artifacts, and hundreds of recorded interviews. We preserved,
then popularized the last "traces" of encounters between Germans and Midwesterners from 1933 and up
until 1948.

Granted IRS 501(c)(3) status in 2001, TRACES built upon academic research, documentation,
and interpretation undertaken by Iowa-born, Ph.D.-historian, Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams.

TRACES has proven singularly successful in reaching its goals. We made a rich and precious legacy accessible
to people in all corners of the Midwest-over 4,000 communities in 12 states: all combined, more than a
third of a million people. We published 15 books, read by tens of thousands. The overall project reflects TRACES’
enduring mission as embodied in its logo "We bring history to life," in that we make history relevant to all audiences-
from students to educators, from youth to seniors,
hobby historians to academics, professionals to laborers, and from farmers to corporate executives.

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