View on History

History, like truth, is multifaceted. Truth has a relative, collective, and an absolute side to it, as does history. Relative truth is based on personal experience and understanding. Collective truths are two or more relative or personal truths brought together, giving a bigger picture perspective of the whole truth related to a person or event in history. Absolute truth is based on all the information for all facets of a topic of truth, or history, under consideration and is in many cases difficult or impossible to obtain.

   Relative, collective, and absolute truths about our history may and often do seem to conflict with one another, making it the role of the historian to identify, sort out, and make sense of all the relative truths and newly discovered information regarding a topic and how they might interconnect. This is especially important since it is often hard to know the absolute truth when most of our history written in ages gone by was written strictly from the singular perspective of the writer. Those who win the battles, vanquish a people, or own all the publishing ink tend to write the history and do it from the relative truth they lived, understand, or wish to promote. Often, a relative truth may not resemble the relative truth of another participant with a different experience or perspective on the topic. And sometimes, the history we have been told has nothing to do with the truth at all.

   The role of the historian is also multifaceted. A historian may be a teacher of commonly accepted history, teaching their students how to interpret, critically analyze, or question our current understanding of history. A historian may focus on reinterpreting the history of times gone by, giving us a new understanding of historical events or people, as well as our own life and times and our relationships with one another. All in hopes of not repeating the mistakes of the past as we look towards a brighter future. A historian may research and write about new information impacting our current understanding of our history, bringing forth forgotten or overlooked people and events in our past that give us a new or better understanding of people, events, or of a time, or a place. This can and should force us to change the historical narrative to include, or at least consider the new information brought forth by the modern historian.” – John T. Pregler 

Meet the Historian

John T. Pregler is the independent historian, author, and proprietor of The Lens of History. John was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa where he resides with his wife and puppy dogs. John has been studying local, regional, and American history since he can remember and started conducting research and collecting information and artifacts on a variety of topics starting in the late 1970s.

Pregler’s curriculum vitae in historical research and presentations includes:

  1. Video. Personal Sketches of Dubuque and the Civil War. June 2012. (click here)
  2. Contributor. Encyclopedia Dubuque. Since 2012. (click here)
  3. Lecture Series. Biography of U.S. Senator William Boyd Allison (R-IA). August 2012. Carnegie-Stout Public Library, Dubuque.
  4. Lecture Series. Dubuque and the Civil War. 2012-present.
  5. Exhibit. Pregler worked with the Dubuque County Historical Society in preparation for their 2015 150th Civil War anniversary exhibits, loaning numerous items from the Library of John T. Pregler Archives for display.
  6. Mapping. Dubuque Civil War Veterans Graves Mapped. Pregler mapped over 340 Civil War veteran graves in Dubuque cemeteries. (click here)
  7. Mapping. Ancient Native American burial mounds. Pregler has mapped over 170 ancient burial mounds, effigy mounds, villages, conflicts, and forts along the Upper Mississippi River Between Davenport, Iowa and New Albin, Minnesota, and the Driftless Region. (not published)
  8. Article. Robert F. Kennedy campaigns in Dubuque. June 2017. (click here)
  9. Article. The National Military Encampment at Dubuque – 1884. August 2017. The first national military encamped to include multiple states National Guard and Federal troops after the Civil War occurred in Dubuque, Iowa in 1884. (click here)
  10. Article. Wild Elephants in Southwest Wisconsin. August 2017. The story of Mastodon bones found in the Lead Mining Region of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. (click here)
  11. Article. Frederick Douglass – Orations in Dubuque. August 2017. Pregler resolves the mystery behind a famous photograph of Frederick Douglass reported to have been taken in Dubuque, or eastern Iowa, between 1865 and 1890. (click here)
  12. Lecture Series: On the Trail of Histories Mysteries. March 2018. A discussion on unresolved folk lore and the historical investigative process.
  13. Radio. Pregler has appeared on over 30 episodes of Voices of the Tri-States on AM 1370 KDTH discussing Tri-State area history since March 2018.  (To view a list of episode, click here)
  14. Article. Mr. Lincoln for the Defense – Riding the Illinois Central – Dunleith and Dubuque Bound. July 2018. Pregler validates and documents a fourth and previously unknown Lincoln visit to the state of Iowa and makes a solid case for who Lincoln visited in Dubuque. (click here)
  15. Audio/Lecture Series. & Mrs. Lincoln Visit Dubuque. July 2018. (click here)
  16. Article. Captain Rathbone – On Duty in Dubuque. November 2018. Did the Army Major accompanying Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre serve the first part of the war in Dubuque? Pregler discuss. (click here)
  17. Lecture Series. Early Dubuque History – From Genesis to 1832 A.D. November 2018. A lecture on the rich and ancient history of America’s first inhabitants and their relationship prior to and with Europeans in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
  18. Video/Lecture Series. The Life & Times of George Wallace Jones. November 2019. Delivered at Sinsinawa (Sin-si-naw-a) Mound, Wisconsin. (click here)
  19. Article.  Tom Loftus: The American League’s Forgotten Founding Father. June 2020. Pregler brings focus to a forgotten founding father of Major League Baseball’s American League for the Baseball Research Journal and the Society for American Baseball Research. (click here)
  20. Exhibit. Pregler worked with the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium/Dubuque County Historical Society in the development of an exhibition on Dubuque County baseball – Hometown Home Runs – in preparation for the Major League Baseball game at the Field of Dreams movie site in 2020.
  21. Podcast. Sports’ Forgotten Heroes with Warren Rogan. August 2020. The podcast covers the story of Tom Loftus and the establishment of the American League. (click here)
  22. Article. Locating Lincoln: Research confirms rumored trip to Dubuque in 1859. Published as a two-part series in the IOWA HISTORY JOURNAL; March/April 2021 issue and May/June 2021. (click here)
  23. Radio. Locating Lincoln. March 1, 2021. Discussion with John Busbee on Des Moines’ KFMG 98.9 FM about the Locating Lincoln article in the Iowa History Journal. (click here)
  24. Radio. Hometown Home Runs. April 2, 2021. Discussion on Voices of the Tri-States about the Dubuque County Historical Society’s exhibit – Hometown Home Runs – on county baseball history and online virtual lecture conducted on April 6, 2021. (click here)
  25. Lecture. Hometown Home Runs. April 6, 2021. Online virtual presentation conducted in coordination with the Dubuque County Historical Society and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. (click here)
  26. Guest Speaker. Decoration Day. May 30, 2021. Guest speaker at the Upper Bay Settler’s Cemetery, Delhi, Iowa Decoration Day ceremonies honoring the local Civil War dead. (click here)
  27. Article. Frederick Douglass – His orations and photograph in Dubuque. Published in the IOWA HISTORY JOURNAL July/August 2021 issue. (click here)
  28. Article. Dubuque Plumpers – A ballpark staple. Published in the Telegraph-Herald’s A Perfect Game special issue, August 2022. (click here)
  29. Article. The Evolution of the American League. Fall 2022 Baseball Research Journal for the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR.) (click here)
  30. Book. Historic Tales of OLD DUBUQUE. Published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, October 2022. (click here)
  31. Article. Baseball’s Dubuque Packers. The score on John Petrakis and the Kansas City Royals’ first farm team. Published in the IOWA HISTORY JOURNAL May/June 2023 issue. (click here)
  32. Lecture. Dubuque – An early cradle of professional baseball. Presented to the 19th Century Baseball Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) on May 9, 2023.
  33. Lecture/Tour. Camp Union/Camp Franklin Walking Tour. Conducted lecture and walking tour of Dubuque’s Civil War Camp Union and Camp Franklin in conjunction with the Dubuque County Historical Society, the Ham House Museum, and the Sons of Veterans of the Civil War on September 17, 2022.
  34. Lecture. Frederick Douglass – Portrait by Samuel Root. Presentation at the Dubuque Carnegie-Stout Public Library on April 2, 2023.
  35. Lecture. William Boyd Allision – Father of the U.S. Senate. Presentation at the National Mississippi River Museum/Dubuque County Historical Society on April 23, 2023.
  36. Camp Commander. Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW.) Elected camp commander for 2023 for the Robert Mitchell Camp No. 206, Department of Iowa, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
  37. Advisory Member. City of Dubuque’s Black Heritage Survey. The Black Heritage Survey is a deep dive into Dubuque’s Black heritage which allows the history of Black Dubuquers to be braided into the history of all Dubuquers. 2022-23. (click here)
  38. Advisory Member. Amplifying Black Voices in Iowa. Advisory board member for the Iowa State University pool-fund study to document and preserve Iowa’s Black history. 2022-24.

If you wish to contact John T. Pregler, please submit your request to [email protected].