Publisher’s Perspective: Carrying the torch for Iowa History Journal

Michael Swanger Photo smallby Michael Swanger


Any Iowan who has been entrusted by a mentor to carry a torch, or who has a passion for our great state, its people and its history, or who has been buoyed by the unflappable love and support of their family, can begin to understand how grateful I feel in my exciting new role as publisher of Iowa History Journal.


Five years ago, our friends Mike and Bev Chapman rolled up their sleeves and founded IHJ. They did the heavy lifting that was required to launch and grow a niche publication that has filled a void in the statewide marketplace like no other, and they did it with skill, hard work, perseverance, pride and integrity.


Along the way, they have gained the trust and support of many of Iowa’s most prominent people and businesses, including Gov. Terry Branstad, former Gov. Robert Ray, Casey’s General Stores, Hy-Vee Food Stores, the Iowa State Fair, WHO Radio and others who embrace this Iowa owned and operated small business.


Most important, Mike and Bev have earned the loyal readership of thousands of Iowans (across the state and nation) who not only crave the content and concept of IHJ, but enjoy meeting the Chapmans at events, or talking to them when they call to subscribe to the magazine. That kind of personal touch, as you and I know, resonates with Iowans.


To say that my wife, Rebecca, and I admire and respect Mike and Bev and what they have accomplished with IHJ is an understatement. We are honored and humbled that they trust us to care for their “baby” and we truly appreciate the generosity and kindness that they have shown us. Rebecca and I look forward to continuing to work side-by-side with them, relying on their expertise and experience for guidance, and reading Mike’s columns and stories in the pages of IHJ for many more years.


Speaking of writers, IHJ features award-winning journalists who consistently produce engaging stories that readers enjoy. Like many of them, I began writing for IHJ since its inception in 2009 because the work was rewarding and I believed in Mike’s vision for the magazine.


As a reporter and editor with 21 years of experience working for Iowa newspapers and magazines, I also believe in the power of professional journalism in which informative and entertaining storytelling never goes out of style and trumps industry fads and trends.


With that said, our plan is to continue in the great tradition that Mike and Bev established for IHJ; from the wide appeal of its content in a printed format, to its presence at special events, to its relationships with readers, advertisers and distributors, to its hands-on customer service. The first words I often hear from those familiar with IHJ are “I love the magazine!”


There is one new addition to the magazine, which Mike and Bev endorse, that we think readers will enjoy. It’s entitled “Historical Happenings,” a roundup of historical news items, select events, obituaries and other features that remind us that Iowa’s history is ever-present.


We also encourage readers to visit our revamped website,, where you can learn more about IHJ as well as subscribe to the magazine, or purchase gift subscriptions and back issues (which are becoming collector’s items). For those on Facebook, be sure to “Like” our Iowa History Journal page and join our fast-growing legion of “Friends.” On Facebook, you can discuss Iowa history and participate in our new online Iowa History Journal Trivia Game.


Last, but not least, I want to thank my entire family for their support, especially during this busy and exciting transition.


Rebecca not only is my wife and best friend, but my business partner and the expertise that she brings to the table in the areas of marketing, advertising and office management is vital to IHJ’s success. In short, I could not do this without her, as she has made another one of my dreams come true.


I’m also thankful for our 11-year-old son, John, and his unconditional love, words of encouragement, patience, curiosity, character and voracious appetite for reading. He inspires me daily and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of documenting Iowa’s history for future generations.


Finally, without the love and moral support of my parents, Larry and Cathy, my life would not be possible. From the time when I was child putting pencil to paper on the pages of my Big Chief notebook, they encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I owe them everything.


Thanks for reading.