Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


May 17, 2007

UI Press Publishes 'A Dictionary Of Iowa Place-Names'

Lourdes and Churchtown, Woden and Clio, Emerson and Sigourney, Tripoli and Waterloo, Prairie City and Prairieburg, Tama and Swedesburg, What Cheer and Coin: Iowa's place-names reflect the religions, myths, cultures, families, heroes, whimsies and misspellings of the Hawkeye State's inhabitants.

Tom Savage spent four years corresponding with librarians, city and county officials, and local historians; reading newspaper archives; and exploring local Web sites in an effort to find out why these communities received their particular names, when they were established and when they were incorporated. The result, "A Dictionary of Iowa Place-Names," will be released by the University of Iowa Press on June 1.

In addition to availability from bookstores and online book retailers, the books may be ordered directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, contact Eurospan, 3 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8LU, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 1767 604972, or online at

Savage includes information on the place-names of all 1,188 incorporated and unincorporated communities in Iowa that meet at least two of the following qualifications: 25 or more residents; a retail business; an annual celebration or festival; a school, church, or cemetery; a building on the National Register of Historic Places; a zip-coded post office; or an association with a public recreation site.

If a town's name has changed over the years, he provides information about each name, and if a name's provenance is unclear, he provides possible explanations. He also includes information about the state's name and about each of its 99 counties as well as a list of ghost towns.

The entries range from the counties of Adair to Wright and from the towns of Abingdon to Zwingle; from Iowa's oldest town, Dubuque, starting as a mining camp in the 1780s and incorporated in 1841, to its newest, Maharishi Vedic City, incorporated in 2001.

Savage was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in 1945. He received his bachelor's degree in psychology and his master's degree in college student personnel from the UI. He was a counselor for Muscatine Community College from 1978 until retirement in 2004, and he currently is co-owner of Muscatine Books and More.

Loren Horton, who recently retired as senior historian after 24 years of working for the State Historical Society of Iowa, wrote the book's introduction. He continues to research, teach and write in the area of 19th-century social history.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013;