People of Earth! We have taken over this blog post to give you a very important message. There is something lurking in Iowa State University’s Special Collections Department, something strange and sometimes sinister. If you are not careful, you may be pulled into another world, one perhaps more wonderful or more terrible than the one in which you now live! It goes by the name Science Fiction…

A sample of the science fiction novels on our bookshelves.

A sample of the science fiction novels on our bookshelves.

Okay, so aliens aren’t actually taking over the blog, but the message is true! As today is Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight one of our most unexpected collections and one that fits in quite well with this holiday. The Margaret Young Science Fiction Collection comprises 397 books and 35 serial titles in editions from the early and mid-20th century, all with their original cover art. The collection includes anthologies and several Ace Double Novels, as well as Galaxy Science Fiction Novels. Notable authors in the collection include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Kurt Vonnegut, and H.G. Wells.

We have quite a few novels by Robert A. Heinlein as well!

We have quite a few novels by Robert A. Heinlein as well!

You might be wondering just how and why we came to own these volumes. Science fiction, after all, isn’t one of our primary collecting areas. We first received the collection in the 1970s from Margaret Young, an avid science fiction reader and mother of an ISU employee. Young wanted to place the collection in a repository where it would be kept all together, and Dr. Yates (head archivist at the time) wanted to keep the cover art on the books intact. As these editions have become rarer and rarer, it was a good thing they were taken in by Special Collections and not circulated in the General Collection. While it’s a fun collection to have, it should be noted that we do not actively collect science fiction anymore.

A little teaser of some the cover art in the collection.

A teaser of some the cover art in the collection.

Want to see more? Stop in to Special Collections sometime! Just beware of the monsters that lurk within the book covers. Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Posted by: Whitney | October 28, 2014

CyPix: Gravesend Manor

Here’s a Halloween treat for those of you who stayed up late watching TV in the 1960s: a photo of the cast of WOI’s Saturday night horror movie show Gravesend Manor.

A signed photo of The Duke of Desmodas (Jim "Red" Varnum), Malcom the Butler (Ed Weiss), and Esmerelda (actor unknown) of Gravesend Manor, undated. (RS #?)

A signed photo of The Duke of Desmodas (Jim “Red” Varnum), Malcom the Butler (Ed Weiss), and Esmerelda (John Voigt) of Gravesend Manor, undated. (RS 5/6/D,E,M Box 432)

Gravesend Manor, or Grave’s End Manor as it was sometimes printed in programming schedules and notes, aired on Saturday nights at 11:00 in the 1960s and possibly the late 1950s. Our information on the program is limited, but programming notes and programming schedules indicate the show ran for certain in 1960, and then from 1964 through 1968. The program was one of those classic horror movie showcase shows in which a spooky host – such as Malcom the Butler, above – presented old, often B-movie quality, horror movies and would add in their own bit of humor. A current example is Svengoolie, whose show is broadcast on MeTV (channel 8.2 in the Des Moines broadcasting area) on Saturday nights. A couple of older examples include Vampira in the 1950s and Elvira in the 1980s. Some information on Gravesend Manor can be found online at DesMoinesBroadcasting.com and on a few websites dedicated to these types of shows, which can be found by conducting a Google search of Gravesend Manor. The only known remaining footage of the show consists of outtakes, which is featured on this YouTube video.

Curious researchers are more than welcome to stop in and research the WOI Radio and Television Records, RS 5/6/3, to see what else we might have on this program! Additional photos can be found in WOI Radio and Television Photographs, RS 5/6/6 in Box 1.

Posted by: Stephanie | October 27, 2014

#AskAnArchivist at Iowa State

As American Archives Month comes to a close at the end of October, the Special Collections Department here at Iowa State University, aka @ISU_Archives will be participating in a Twitter chat on Thursday, October 30, using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

If you have a Twitter handle, you can join in discussions about archives and special collections. Just send a tweet using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist to @ISU_Archives with your question and we will respond – even if it takes some time to go digging through the collections! If you prefer to use another medium, send your question via email to archives (at) iastate.edu.

No question is too silly, strange, or spooky (it is almost Halloween, after all) – the most eccentric or oldest or smallest bits of our collections, a specific question about the University that you have always wondered, or even what to do with your own historical objects, papers, or digital files. As folks who come into the reading room with reference questions can attest, we are always up to brainstorm ways to find a thorough answer.

Throughout the day, a number of Special Collections staff will be answering your questions – we’ll introduce ourselves as we pop onto Twitter.

  • Laura Sullivan, Assistant Head and Collections Archivist
  • Brad Kuennen, Assistant Archivist and resident audiovisual wrangler
  • Kim Anderson, Digital Archivist and electronic records wrangler
  • Stephanie Bennett, Project Archivist who has worked with ISU’s politics-related collections
  • Amy Bishop, Project Archivist with training in rare books
  • Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist and Iowa State alum

So let us know what questions you have about the work that we do here or the collections that we preserve and provide access to here at Iowa State. Looking forward to hearing from some Cyclones (or anyone, really!) via @ISU_Archives and #AskAnArchivist on Thursday!

Posted by: andrewfackler | October 24, 2014

Philip McConnell Scrapbook: A Retrospective on WWI

“We’ve been given a glimpse of the ensuing years,
And these are a few of our hopes and our fears.”

It’s hard to imagine how Philip McConnell, an Iowa State College (University) student in Agricultural Engineering 1914-1917, felt when writing these lines – part of a poem he composed in 1915 – and whether he could have predicted just how large of a ‘glimpse’ it really was. With the recent centenary of the Great War, it’s interesting to look at just how much the young people of the early 20th century – Iowa State alums included – would end up going through over the course of their lives.

My name is Andrew Fackler and I am a freshman at Iowa State University who recently began working as a Student Assistant here in the Special Collections Department. One of the first pieces I was tasked with processing is a scrapbook (circa 1914-1922) created by a former student named Philip Cecil McConnell. McConnell arrived at Iowa State in the autumn of 1914 – right after the onset of World War I (WWI) in Europe. The collection, RS 21/7/260, documents his life from arrival at Iowa State through his eventual draft into the Armed Forces and into his post-war acceptance to the University of California. The ability to view what an Iowa State student’s life was like 100 years ago is truly inspirational, and the scrapbook that McConnell produced captures this time in history beautifully.

Cover of Philip McConnell's scrapbook containing his college seal. Circling text reads "Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts." Center text reads "Science with Practice." RS 21/7/260, box 1.

Cover of Philip McConnell’s scrapbook featuring the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts seal. (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

McConnell was a student in the former College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and a member of the Dramatic Club and the Glee Club. His scrapbook documents many of the fun times he had with friends during his Iowa State years, not unlike the students of today. Though he would only attend Iowa State for a couple years before America entered WWI, when McConnell was drafted into the military and sent for training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

An entry in Philip McConnell's scrapbook highlighting his new journey from Ames to Fort Snelling. RS 21/7/260, box 1.

An entry in Philip McConnell’s scrapbook highlighting his sudden journey from Ames to Fort Snelling. Text reads “The rookie goes from [ISC] to [Fort Snelling].” (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

McConnell’s adventure at Iowa State ended there, but his journey was far from over. Soon after basic training at Fort Snelling, Philip was sent to Nice, France, and spent about a year of training and working there as the war wore to an eventual end. McConnell survived the conflict, but surely the effect of being part of something so large and foreign at such a young age stuck with him.

Training for the Reserve Corps at a school in Nice, France. Philip is pointed out by the blue arrow. Note the bikes that student soldiers used. RS 21/7/260, box 1.

Training for the Reserve Corps at a school in Nice, France. Philip is pointed out by the blue arrow. Note the bikes that students used to get around. (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

The war eventually came to an end when an armistice was signed in November, 1918, and McConnell was honorably discharged from the Reserve Corps in France in February, 1919. Philip returned to Iowa but would not return to Iowa State. In 1920, McConnell was admitted to the University of California, where he finished his education in 1922. He stayed in California until his passing at the age of 99 in 1995.

McConnell’s life is one of hundreds of millions directly affected by the destructive events of the early 1900s, though not all were documented so well. Philip would go on to see the world ravaged by many more foreign conflicts over the years, as well as other dramatic changes in American culture. Although Philip’s story may not be unfamiliar, it comes to us in the form of a tactile document that concretely connects Iowa State to one of the greatest events in world history, and one that should be remembered.

In his scrapbook, McConnell included his letters of both draft and honorable discharge. Much of the collection includes notes about the images and McConnell’s feelings about them, but he wrote very little of the war itself. The only comment he included about the war is the haunting message:

“Censorship makes the war look pleasant.”

I believe this quote to be disquieting, but it also shows a complex side of humanity. There’s much to be learned from the people of the past, and part of what makes the archives wonderful is its commitment to ensuring those voices will still be heard another hundred years from now.

Posted by: Stephanie | October 21, 2014

World Audiovisual Heritage Day is October 27

Although we are a bit early, we’re celebrating World Audiovisual Heritage Day on the blog. One of the most notable features of the Special Collections and University Archives department is the number of films to which we provide access. Many were created by Iowa State or WOI and provide visual and sometimes sound-filled evidence of the days of yore.

Here are two selections from our nearly 10,000-item films:

First, a video of landscape architecture professor Philip H. Elwood’s trip, with three students, from California to Ames in 1927. Below is the second of the two-part silent film. Even without sound, there is so much to take in. Not just the landscapes – which appear quite different than they do today – but the people, the clothes, the automobiles, other cues as to the time and place.

Another film available through our YouTube channel comes from WOI’s “Expedition” series. This episode on Christian Peterson discusses his work and includes many of the sculptures that are still on display around ISU’s campus today. All three parts are available online; below is the first part.

To browse more of our film collection – which covers agriculture, campus, social events, historical moments, and small towns around Iowa – check out our YouTube channel or our online film listings. Happy World Audiovisual Heritage Day from our corner of the University Library!

Special Collections would like to announce the recent acquisition and cataloging of an additional resource related to the Robert Harvey Rare Book Collection of rare landscape architecture publications. Robert R. Harvey, Professor Emeritus of the Landscape Architecture Department at Iowa State University, donated nearly 100 volumes from his library to Special Collections in 2010.

Title page of Harvey's book.

Title page of Harvey’s book.

Earlier this year, Special Collections received Robert Harvey’s self-published essay Collection Development: How the Library of Robert R. Harvey Was Assembled, giving background on Harvey’s work in landscape architecture and the experiences that influenced his book collecting. Many of the books were purchased while living and working in England and cannot be easily found in the United States. Harvey developed his book collection for personal research and teaching needs, and as his career developed, so did the subject matter in his library. Throughout the essay he describes the influences and experiences that led to his purchase of specific titles.

Scattered through Harvey’s essay are personal anecdotes, which make it an amusing, as well as informative, read. For example, he describes a time when he was teaching at Thames Polytechnic School of Architecture, Hammersmith, London, during the 1970s. His daughter Suzanne was two years old, and he would often carry her on his back in a baby carrier while he was shopping in London book stores. One day, the family was “headed for the entrance to the Tube at Tottenham Court [when] I felt a sharp bump on the back of my head. Suzanne had thumped me with a book. When [wife] Ann and [daughter] Beth examined the baby carrier on my back she had about three books in the pack…. It turned out that when I leaned over to examine books on a lower shelf she probably had helped herself to books on the shelf above me. They were books on architecture and art. At least she had the right subjects in mind” (22). They returned the books to the bookseller and had a good laugh about it.

Some books of note from the Harvey Collection include…

One of the engravings from Venturini.

One of the engravings from Venturini.

Le Fontane ne’Palazzi e ne’Giardini di Roma, con li loro prospetti et ornamenti (1675) by Giovanni Venturini.

Harvey was offered the Venturini book by the descendants of a friend, Professor Phillip Elwood, which “contained engraved pages that an unscrupulous dealer could break up and sell as individual prints for framing,” in order to make more money (36).

 

Plate XXXII from McCormick's Landscape Architecture, Past and Present, show the pergola feature of the Walden estate.

Plate XXXII from McCormick’s Landscape Architecture, Past and Present, show the pergola feature of the Walden estate.

Landscape Art, Past and Present by Harriet Hammond McCormick.

Harriet Hammond McCormick was married to Cyrus McCormick, Jr., a wealthy businessman and president of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, who owned a large estate called Walden in Lake Forest, Illinois. Walden was designed by the renowned landscape architect Warren Manning, whose papers reside here in Special Collections. The copy of McCormick’s Landscape Art, Past and Present donated by Harvey appears to be Cyrus McCormick’s own copy, with his calling card inserted into the front endpaper of the book.

Calling card inserted into front endpaper of McCormick's book. Reads, "Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, 50 East Huron Street"

Calling card inserted into front endpaper of McCormick’s book. Reads, “Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, 50 East Huron Street”

For a complete listing of books in the collections, see the Robert Harvey Rare Book Collection webpage.

For more information on the collection and the conservation work done on many of its volumes, see the Parks Library Preservation blog post on the Robert R. Harvey Rare Book Open House.

For more information on landscape architecture, check out the following collections: Warren H. Manning Papers (MS 218), Landscape Architecture Photographs (MS 392), the American Society of Landscape Architects, Source File, Women in Landscape Architecture Printed Materials (MS 598), the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation Records (MS 618), and the Department of Landscape Architecture record series (RS 26/5) in the College of Design.

Posted by: Kim | October 16, 2014

Cy’s Birthday!

October 16th, 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of Cy’s debut.

Cy in front of Hilton Coliseum

Here’s Cy at age 21 (1975)

Cy, a large cardinal, is the mascot for Iowa State University. If you’ve been in Ames recently you may have seen some of the 30 unique Cy statues placed throughout the city. CyclONE City, running through December 5th, is a community art project celebrating the town-gown relationship between Iowa State University and the city of Ames. Read more at the Iowa State Daily and the Ames Tribune.

We’ve got a brand new Cy exhibit on display in the Special Collections reading room. We hope you’ll stop by! In the meantime you can read about him through the virtual exhibit we made ten years ago in honor of his 50th birthday: Fifty Years of Cy: Our Mascot

Four women performing folklorico in front of a Panama heritage tent.

Folklorico – Iowa State University students at the Iowa Latino Heritage Festival, 2007. (RS 7/5/1)

October 15th marks the end of a month-long celebration of the many contributions Latino Americans have made to American culture and society. Hispanic Heritage Month (the federally designated name) is celebrated at Iowa State as Latino Heritage Month and recognizes the many people who trace their heritage to the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America. Founded in 1992, the ISU Latino Heritage Committee organizes campus Heritage Month events every fall. The festivities usually conclude with Noche De Cultura – an event that offers food, music, speakers, and sometimes dancing. This year’s festivities included Marcha de las Banderas, Latino Game Night, and Top Chef Latino. The full array of events for 2014 are available at Iowa State Daily.

This photograph, and others from the same event, can be seen in the records of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (RS 7/5/1).

Posted by: Kim | October 10, 2014

Happy “Electronic Records Day”

October 10th is officially electronic records day!

Electronic records are things we make all the time – our emails, our texts, our computer files, our banking transactions, our digital photos, and so on. You’ve probably generated a variety of electronic records today alone. On an average day I make a bunch of emails, a text or two, possibly a digital photograph, and lots of general office computer files (word-processed documents, spreadsheets, charts, etc.). Social media posts count too!

So, what is Electronic Records Day all about? It’s a day sponsored by the Council of State Archivists to raise awareness about digital records and the crucial need to preserve them. With paper materials (or photographs) you can file them away. Provided they don’t get water, heat, insect, or fire damage they’re likely to last quite a long time. With digital materials you might lose access to them immediately (file corruption), several years from now, or a decade or two from now.  Archivists have to work quickly and relatively frequently to make sure digital materials are saved.

Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care in order to remain accessible. – Council of State Archivists, “10 Reasons Why Electronic Records Need Special Attention” (2014).

Digital Decay and Obsolescence

Computing technologies change much faster than photograph and paper forms. The University of Klagenfurt in Austria has prepared a timeline showing the history of information storage. Things didn’t change very rapidly at all until the 1960s! If you’d prefer a more visual timeline, Dell has created an infogaphic of data storage history.

There is a Flickr pool where you can see what digital decay (also called “bit rot”) looks like: The Atlas of Digital Damages. You may have already noticed this with some of your files. I know that I have, unfortunately.

Personal Digital Recordkeeping

You can be a “citizen archivist” and take care of your own digital files. Here’s a video from the Library of Congress explaining why digital preservation is important and how to get started in preserving your own materials:

Digital preservation at home takes the following basic steps:

  1. Identify (figure out what you’ve got and in what format)
  2. Decide (how much do you want to keep?)
  3. Organize (make sure everything you’re keeping is named, described, and organized on your computer)
  4. Backup (make copies and store them in more than one place)
  5. Check (at least once a year try to make sure you can still access the files)
  6. Migrate (move files to the newest version of the software as it becomes available)

The Council of State Archivists has prepared a tip sheet to help people preserve their own digital records. It includes some of the same information in the video, but also gives suggestions on specific file formats: Survival Strategies for Personal Digital Records (pdf)

While they may seem commonplace now, electronic records will form the backbone of the historical record for researchers of the future. – Council of State Archivists, “10 Reasons Why Electronic Records Need Special Attention” (2014).

Records, now frequently in digital form, will be a large part of what the future knows about us. If we’d like to ensure that our own future (grandkids, friends, ourselves in 20 years, etc.) has access to our personal records, we need to take steps now. The six steps above are a great basic level of preservation using tools you may already have or can get easily. If you don’t have access to newer software (step 6) or won’t be able to keep up with a regular checking schedule (step 5), then doing steps 1 – 4 will still be very helpful in making sure that your most important records remain accessible.

Posted by: bishopae | October 9, 2014

CyPix: ISU Alumni Band

In honor of Homecoming, today’s image features the ISU Alumni Band, performing during the 1985 homecoming half-time show.

Iowa State University Alumni Band, where gold and black uniforms, create an "ISU" formation on the football field during the half-time show.

Alumni Band performing during the 1985 Homecoming football game half-time show. RS 21/2/G Box 1501.

The ISU Alumni Band Association was formed in 1981 by Kirk Hartung, a 1979 ISU alum. In collaboration with the marching band directors, he brought together 165 former marching band members from the graduating classes of 1927 to 1981. The band first performed together at the 1981 Homecoming football game, and has performed there every year since. Watch for them during this year’s game against Toledo on October 11!

More information on the ISU Alumni Band Association can be found in the organization’s Records (RS 21/2/4). Be sure to check out our Homecoming photo album on Flickr.

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