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Guests on Display

What's Going on in Scattergood

What's Going on at Scattergood, a weekly column about life at the hostel

After their initial distrust waned, many Iowans were excited to learn about the refugees. Eventually Scattergood's popularity grew to the point that guests would write a weekly column for the West Branch Times known as What's Going on in Scattergood. It was a weekly update of life at the hostel. The column started in March of 1940 and continued until 1943.

Not all guests appreciated the spotlight, however. The Hostel was constantly being approached by visitors who would disrupt the refugees' lives. Eventually the Des Moines Register published an article asking "curiosity seekers and visitors to temporarily refrain from coming to Scattergood." Early in the Hostel's life, one of the refugees noted that the presence of the visitors made them feel like "monkeys in a cage." Interaction with the local community was an important aspect of integration, but being the center of attention could ironically make the guests feel more isolated.