How Iowa Cared for Orphans of her Soldiers of the Civil War, by George Gallarno

Archives record series: 00/03/07

George Gallarno's account of the history of the Soldiers' Orphans' Home in Cedar Falls, Iowa, c. 1925, .1 linear foot.

Description of the Material

These papers are photocopies of typescripts of correspondence and a manuscript narrative.  The ten letters in the correspondence were probably originally written by hand and then later typed.  The 28-page typescript of the narrative was written in about 1925.  The location and exact provenance of the original correspondence and narrative are unknown.  Mark Albright donated the photocopies to the University Archives in about 2004.

Description of Record Series

This series consists of two related parts.  The first part consists of photocopies of typed correspondence between George Gallarno and his wife, Nancy O'Roke Gallarno.  The Gallarno family was living in Big Creek Township near La Porte City, Iowa, when George Gallarno enlisted in the US Army on January 13, 1864.  He served in the 3rd Iowa Light Artillery Battery until his death of typhoid fever in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 22, 1864.  This correspondence covers military life and family business matters.  There are also two letters from a fellow soldier concerning George Gallarno's death and back pay.  And there is an undated obituary for Nancy Gallarno.

The second part of this series consists of a history of the Iowa Soldiers' Orphans' Home written by a son of George Gallarno, also named George.  After the senior George Gallarno died, his widow, Nancy, attempted to keep the family of five children together.  But she could not.  When the Orphans' Home opened in Cedar Falls, initially in a building downtown on Main Street, the children were enrolled there.  The younger George Gallarno was seven years old when he entered the Orphans' Home in 1866.  He stayed there until he was sixteen.  In about 1925 he wrote an account of his life in the Home.  He begins with a brief history of the Civil War orphans' home movement in Iowa.  But most of his account is a detailed explanation of life in the Cedar Falls Home, especially after operations moved to the building later known as Central Hall on what would eventually become the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.  He describes the food, clothing, and school curriculum in great detail.  He talks about outstanding teachers and administrators.  He recounts adventures with classmates and the lessons learned from them.

This is one of the very best accounts of life in the Orphans' Home in Cedar Falls.


Collection processed and finding aid prepared by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, October 2005; last modified, June 18, 2013 (GP).


Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu