Walch receives lifetime achievement award


For The Catholic Messenger


The board of trustees of the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) presented the 2024 William J. Petersen and Edgar R. Harlan Award for Lifetime Achievement to Timothy Walch, the former director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library  Museum in West Branch.

The award recognizes significant and sustained contributions to Iowa history by an individual, organization or institution. It is named for two long-time leaders of the society.

“Walch has been a paragon of Iowa history, a powerful advocate and a skilled practitioner,” noted Andrew Klumpp, editor of “The Annals of Iowa.” “He exemplifies professionalism, excellence, service, and dedication and brought these qualities to bear on the Iowa history community for over three decades.” Klumpp was among those who nominated Walch for the honor.


Educated at the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, Walch held a variety of public history positions over the course of 50 years. He began his career with the Society of American Archivists and then spent more than 30 years with the National Archives and Records Administration.

In Iowa, he served as assistant director and then director of the Hoover Library from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, he welcomed more than a million visitors to the museum, added more than a million pages to the library’s collections, and directed a talented staff in creating dozens of exhibits, educational programs, and public conferences.

In addition to his work at the library, Walch also served for 20 years on the State Historical Records Advisory Board, as a member of the SHSI Board of Trustees, and as a member and president of the Iowa Historical Foundation.

He is also the author or editor of two dozen books and hundreds of articles and reviews. His work on Iowa history has appeared in The Annals of Iowa, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Iowa History Journal and The Des Moines Register, among other publications. His most recent book is Irish Iowa (2019).

In retirement, Walch volunteers at the SHSI center in Iowa City where he works on various publication projects and devotes considerable time to processing manuscript collections for use by researchers. He is a columnist for The Catholic Messenger and serves on The Catholic Messenger Board of Directors.

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