UI alum’s exhibit tells stories of migration in Iowa, beyond

Micaela Terronez, who recently graduated from the library and information sciences program at the UI, was inspired by her family’s history in the Mexican communities in the Quad Cities to create the exhibit exploring the different reasons people choose to leave home.

A+book+is+displayed+on+July+19%2C+2019+as+part+of+the+Moving+Stories+exhibit+in+the+UI+Special+Collections+located+in+the+Main+Library.+The+exhibit%2C+curated+by+Micaela+Terronez%2C+uses+a+variety+of+sources+to+tell+the+stories+of+people+who+have+immigrated+to+America+and+the+impact+they+have+had+on+their+communities.+%28Emily+Wangen%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29

Emily Wangen

A book is displayed on July 19, 2019 as part of the Moving Stories exhibit in the UI Special Collections located in the Main Library. The exhibit, curated by Micaela Terronez, uses a variety of sources to tell the stories of people who have immigrated to America and the impact they have had on their communities. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

Growing up, Micaela Terronez was fascinated with the photographs, objects, and stories her grandparents told about the family’s history in central Mexico.

Years later, her interest in the study of history and artifacts led her to pursue a degree in library and information sciences at the University of Iowa. In her time at the UI, Terronez worked as a graduate assistant in the UI Libraries Special Collections, spending her time developing an exhibit to explore the history of migration in her hometown of the Quad Cities and stories of migration across the globe.

The exhibit, Moving Stories: Experiences and Remnants of Migration, is on display in the Special Collections through August.

Her family migrated from Mexico in the early 1900s. Terronez said the stories she heard growing up sparked her curiosity about migration.

“I took that and I decided: What are these other migration stories that exist beyond my own family?” she said. “So I went into the archives, went into Special Collections to find things that would highlight migrant experiences. I narrowed it down to a couple that stood out to me the most; there’s a nice variety of different backgrounds. It’s faculty form Iowa, it’s students, it’s community members. It was a lot of work, but I was really happy with the end product.”

Terronez grew up in the Quad Cities, which she said possesses a unique history of migration. Sections of her exhibit focus on two historically Mexican barrios, Cook’s Point in Davenport and Holy City in Bettendorf.

“That is primarily where my family derived from,” she said. “Just like I connected to those materials from those areas, I hope that other people connect across the exhibit.”

Emily Wangen
Photos and other items are displayed on July 19, 2019 as part of the Moving Stories exhibit in the UI Special Collections located in the Main Library. The exhibit, curated by Micaela Terronez, uses a variety of sources to tell the stories of people who have immigrated to America and the impact they have had on their communities. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

Terronez hoped to be able to explore in her exhibit the varied reasons people choose to migrate. She designed a color-coded map on which visitors can display the reasons their families chose to migrate to the U.S.

“I wanted to go back to that to see the broad structure of migration and how inherent it is to the United States: who we are,” she said. “It’s very inherent to being human as well. People have to move for different reasons, and it’s just part of life.”

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Maria Ceballos, a UI graduate student from Colombia, designed the artwork to promote Terronez’s exhibit. Cerballos said she wanted the images she created to reflect the human experience of migration.

“We decided that it would be good to show immigration as something that brings more than passports to the place people get to,” she said. “[It brings] more cultural knowledge, and diversity, and language.”

After graduating from the UI in May, Terronez started working for Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

Terronez says she plans to continue to work in archives, and she hopes to be able to connect the resources in Special Collections beyond the academic community.

“That can be a challenge in academic libraries, whether it’s the UI or Knox College,” she said. “There’s always a pressure or a challenge to get past the academic community or even to get to the academic community in sharing those stories. My goal as a librarian is to first get out to the academic community and give accessible resources but also beyond that to the broader community and let everyone know that special collections and archives are for everyone. They’re not just for the academic community.”

Terronez still resides in the Quad Cities, maintaining her connection to her home community and family. A note from her displayed in the exhibit dedicates her work to her ancestors who migrated to Iowa and Illinois. “I hope that this exhibit inspires you to explore and engage with your own migration stories, however distant or near. As my grandmother often told me as a child: Remember where you came from,” the note reads.

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