What was student life like here at ISU years ago? Every once in awhile, the Special Collections Department will receive the papers of a former Iowa State student, and we recently received a small collection of papers of Marianne (Crow) Larsen. Marianne attended Iowa State from 1949-1952, studied applied art in the Division of Home Economics, and was a member of the Science Women’s Club. She later married a fellow high school and Iowa State student, Wesley Larsen.
Most of the materials in the collection are from her time here at Iowa State and include postcards, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, and dance cards. The materials are a wonderful but small glimpse into what life may have been like as a female student here at Iowa State during the middle of the 20th century. Some of the publications in the collection, such as the Freshman Handbook, are also available elsewhere in the University Archives, but were kept with the collection since they help reveal Crow’s interests and activities.
Included in the collection are two entire folders of dance cards – it is pretty clear that Marianne loved to dance! The cards are small but wonderful keepsakes from the dances, and often include the name of the dance, orchestra, and invited guests (which often included the president of the university – which up until 1959 was Iowa State College).
Included amongst the dance cards is one for Marianne’s first Iowa State homecoming dance in 1949, and probably one of her first dances at Iowa State.
The collection also includes cards and postcards written to Marianne from family and friends, including her future husband (Wesley Larsen). The desk calendar in her collection, from 1951, contains brief entries on what she did throughout the year. She often notes dances she will attend, and what she did with a friend named Bob. He often walked her home, studied with her in the library, and went to dances and basketball games. Marianne also often notes when it has been “terribly cold” in the weather report section at the top – something which current students and staff here, come January, will be able to relate to! Amongst the clippings, fliers, handouts and cards in her scrapbooks are similar jottings of what she did and with whom.
Marianne graduated as Valedictorian from her high school class and wrote the farewell address, which is included in the collection. In her farewell address, which she uses a theatrical theme, Marianne writes “With the arrival of new teachers we became acquainted with skilled artists in their respective fields. Just as the amateur actor in a summer colony must learn everything from the bottom up, so must pupils learn everything that goes to make up this complex drama of life.” Hopefully her time here at Iowa State both continued to inform her about the complexities of life and helped her navigate through it!
If you are interested in seeing what student life was like for Marianne Crow or other alumni, please take a look at her finding aid or the finding aids of other alumni in the University Archives. If you find something of interest, come on up to the Special Collections Department and request the materials you would like to view. Please note that not all of the alumni collections document student life here at ISU, although often they do to some extent. If you would like us to help you navigate through the sometimes complex spectacle of the archives, please do not hesitate to ask for help!