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The Scottish Heritage Society of Iowa

Scottish-Americans have a saying, "Scratch most any American and you'll find a Scottish grandmother just about skin deep!"

Few North Americans have observed a Scottish piper, a young kilted dancer, or an elegantly clad male in formal Highland apparel without identifying him or her as “Scottish.” The attire, the music and instruments, even the carriage of the individuals is distinctive.

These folk are the representatives of a culture as rich and as old as any of the native strains brought into the Americas. During these ‘olden days,’ their surnames dominated any grouping in which they were numbered, familiar today as “Dallas,” “Houston,” “Albany,” or “Cooperstown” and yes, definitely “Scottsdale.” But, after naming the countryside they also assimilated, blending in so successfully into the infant American society they became almost un-distinctive. The kilt that belonged to Grandpa was consumed by dust and moths, bagpipes forgotten in the attic until beyond restoration, and the tunes no longer familiar.

Estimates vary, but given the preponderance of Scottish surnames, including those carried by individuals whose family origins are vague or totally forgotten, a good 25 million of the North American populace owes some genetic influence to that smallish country to the north of England.

The Scottish Heritage Society of Iowa is comprised of Scottish-Americans dedicated to preserving the hallmarks of their ancestral inheritance. Some play the pipes, others have preserved and resurrected the dance forms of the Scottish country dances, a few have hand-carved and strung the old Gaelic or Celtic harp with the familiar ‘Highland hump’, several have learned the songs or have mastered the Scottish fiddle style. They want to preserve all this for the many Scottish-Americans. They want to be a gathering place for themselves and the sprinkling of native born Scots now in the Americas. They want to be connected with where they came from and “who they really are.”

We invite all to join us. Those who are fractional-Scottish or no part at all, but interested in the many things we do—cooking, dancing, studying history and culture. We have Norwegian-Scots, Iranian-Scots, German-Scots, and everything in-between! We have some wonderfully special “adopted Scots” who chose us, not knowing from whom they were descended. They like our style, or appreciate the good malt whisky from the Highlands and thought we might be up to some good.

All groups have a maturation cycle of infancy, maturity, and old age. The Greater Iowa chapter is the longest standing in Iowa, founded in Des Moines in 1975. This nucleus included the children and grandchildren of one of the predecessor groups of the “Robert Burns Club” or the “St. Andrew’s Society” dating back to the early days of Des Moines. This latter assembly lost members and momentum as the country was swept into World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam conflicts.

We welcome your interest in our organization as a symbol of on-going Scottish strength.   

The Scottish Heritage Society of Greater Iowa meets at 2:30 p.m. on the 3rd Sunday of the month during February, March, April, September, and October at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 3424 Forest Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. Additional special events include the Robert Burns Supper in January, participation in the Salisbury May Festival, June Picnic, St. Andrew's Banquet in November, and a Christmas Celebration.

Click here to go to The Scottish Heritage Society of Iowa web site



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