Posted by: Stephanie | September 26, 2014

55 Years Ago, A Moment of Détente

Détente, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. Fifty-five years ago on September 23, 1959, then-Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev and his wife Nina spent a day on the Garst family farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa, slightly west of Des Moines. The appearance of the head of the Soviet Russian government in America during a long period of strained relations between the US and USSR looks a lot like détente – and we have the collections to prove it.

What aspects of this visit can Iowa State’s Special Collections department shed light on? In fact, Iowa State is home to a swath of materials that uncover the stories relating to the Garsts and of course this momentous visit. They include the Garst Family Papers (MS 579), the Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company (MS 173), the Garst Company (MS 642), and the Khrushchev Committee 50th Anniversary Event Records (MS 615). More collections that provide evidence of U.S.-Soviet relations are listed on this page of resources.

Khrushchevs and Garsts on the farm

Elizabeth and Roswell Garst, pictured center, on their farm with Nina and Nikita Khrushchev (RS 579)

The Garst Family Papers currently covers the period from 1860s up to 2012; we are still receiving donations from the Garst relatives. It documents the extended family and its history through photographs, letters, scrapbooks, and drawings related to various activities. These relate to the farm itself and the business that Roswell and Elizabeth co-owned with Charlie and Bertha Thomas, the Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company. Included in this are a number of photographs and photo albums that portray the Khrushchevs’ day on the farm, as well.

Iowa State also holds records from that Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company as well as the Garst Company. The hybrid corn company was founded in 1931 and eventually became ICI Seeds, Inc., in 1991. The records cover much of this history, dating from 1933 to 1973, and contains advertising materials, business records such as invoices and audits, and correspondence with banks, other companies, and customers. While they may seem a bit dry, these records do manage to convey some of what made Roswell Garst the man that he was in the 1950s when he became a known figure in the international agriculture arena. The Garst Company was a farming company that Roswell and Elizabeth’s three eldest children, Jane, Stephen, and David, started in 1941. The collection materials, which date from 1941 to 2004, document through correspondence and photographs the business, mainly its large beef cattle operation. Again, another window into the Garst family that provides evidence of their interests and work around the time of the Khrushchevs’ visit.

Red Boss eats first hot dog

A scrapbook page displays a clipping regarding the Khrushchevs’ visit to a meat packing plant in Des Moines, Iowa (MS 579)

A third related collection is the Khrushchev Committee 50th Anniversary Event Records, which document the work of a statewide committee that celebrated – as you can guess – the 50th anniversary of the visit in 2009. Thirty different organizations were involved in the commemoration, which also boasted involvement from Khrushchev’s son Sergei and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (and former Iowa governor) Tom Vilsack. The collection documents the events with a number of different items, including materials for the attendees and press, schedules, news clippings, and event footage.

Our collections also boast audio and film related to the Garst family, on aspects of agriculture and business as well as this historic visit. See a list of these by searching ISU’s online library catalog for Garst film.

At this point in time when tensions between the United States and Russia are rising, I find it interesting to look back and see what events have affected international relations in the past. Let us know if you have any questions regarding the plethora of materials on this topic.

Posted by: Whitney | September 23, 2014

CyPix: Autumn on the Farm

Today marks the first full day of autumn – the equinox actually occurred last night. Some may be sad to see summer go, but I for one am more than ready for fall weather and all of the wonderful things that go along with it (pumpkin everything comes to mind). One of autumn’s most notable sights here in Iowa is that of combines plowing through golden fields of corn and soybeans.

Harvest is a busy time for farmers, full of long days and short nights. It’s also dangerous, with lots of large machinery and massive amounts of grain to work with. As it happens, this first week of autumn is also National Farm Safety and Health Week! Farm safety is an important issue to farmers and their families, and we farm kids had it instilled in us at a young age. Below is a great example of a child doing something he shouldn’t.

A child climbs up a crop conveyor belt that leads into the corn crib on the Irving Sorenson family farm - an example of what not to do during harvest time, 1953, RS 9/7/F.

A child climbs up a crop conveyor belt that leads into the corn crib on the Irving Sorenson family farm in Kelley, Iowa – an example of what not to do during harvest time, 1953, RS 9/7/F.

This and four other photos taken on the Irving Sorenson farm are mounted on a card labeled “Farm Safety,” so these photos were presumably used for farm safety education. The Sorenson farm photos are available on our Flickr page. We have several collections regarding farm safety, including the Norval J. Wardle Papers, the Wesley Fisher Buchele Papers, the Dale O. Hull Papers, the Iowa Farm Safety Council Records, and the Herbert Plambeck Papers. For more information, search through our website or ask us about our other holdings!

Posted by: Kim | September 19, 2014

A New Staff Member in Special Collections

Hi! I’m Kim and I’m the newest member of the Special Collections team.

Kim standing amongst collections

Me with some of our collections

I started in August as a new Archivist. I’ll be serving as the archives lead on digital materials as well as doing general “archivist stuff.” It’s an exciting time – we’re preparing to get a formal digital records program established. It will take some time to get everything in place so keep an eye out in our blog to see the latest developments. Digital records (sometimes used interchangeably with “e-records,” “electronic records,” or “born-digital”) are things with archival value that are originally in some digital form – e.g. e-mail, databases, web sites, Word documents, etc. The Library of Congress has some tips on how to maintain your own digital records: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/records.html

I’m a California transplant. I grew up in the Central Valley and foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. I’m personally familiar with agriculture and rural life – so I’m seeing some familiar sights around Central Iowa. My high school was surrounded by orchards and berry fields. When I was little we had goats, ducks, and chickens and I ordered my school clothes out of a Sears Catalog at the general store/post office in Coarsegold. My mom grew up in Lee County, Iowa where my grandpa had a farm and raised corn, soybeans, and hogs. Even though I’m a Californian I grew up hearing all about Iowa and now I live here! I recently inherited my aunt’s recipes – six recipe boxes crammed full of hand-written recipe cards many of which she collected from the Donnellson (Iowa) newspaper. So, I’m bringing a little bit of Iowa back to Iowa with me. (Speaking of which, did you know we have a fabulous Iowa cook book collection?)

I’ve been around archives and libraries for a while now. I got my first library job in 1995 as a student worker in a curriculum library at Northern Arizona University (NAU) but switched to NAU’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) two years later. At SCA I got to do a little bit of everything – processing manuscript and photograph collections, conservation (and preservation work (phase boxes, rebacking books, and more!), exhibit design and construction, and working with people – learning from donors, assisting researchers, and supervising students and volunteers. I’ve mostly stayed in Special Collections or University Archives except for a few brief stints at law libraries and police records.

I earned my B.A. in Humanities (minor in Anthropology) from NAU and my MLIS from University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). I love university life and campus histories and I’m happiest being part of the rhythm of college campuses. While at UCLA I worked as historical researcher for a book project on UCLA’s history and served as author of the history of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. I also worked in the UCLA University Archives. I completed my time at UCLA when I earned my doctorate in Information Studies in 2011. My dissertation “Appraisal Learning Networks: How University Archivists Learn to Appraise through Social Interaction” received the ALISE/Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation award in 2013. I also spent six weeks in Australia last summer as a visiting scholar at Monash University and study abroad instructor learning about e-records and the Australian records continuum. My doctoral focus was archival studies and my sub-specialization was in the History of Science and Technology so working at the Special Collections at Iowa State is a perfect match for my interests!

Kim with Rosella

Me with a crimson rosella along the Great Ocean Road

For the past few years I’ve been serving as Archives Program Director and teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the archival studies area within the MLIS program. I’ve made the decision to return to practice and am very enthusiastic about the possibilities of this position. It’s a great team here. I hope you will visit us and see what we’re up to.

Posted by: Whitney | September 16, 2014

CyPix: Marching Band Season

Football season is in full swing, but let’s not forget about that musical ensemble that breathes life into that break between the two halves of every football game! Yes, it’s also marching band season, and halftime would not be the same without them. In the photo below, some sousaphone players are pictured blasting out the eardrums of two poor piccolo players (okay, it’s probably just posed) from our own marching band – the Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band, or ISUCF’V’MB.

Sousaphone and piccolo players from the Iowa State University Cyclone Football "Varsity" Marching Band (ISUCF'V'MB), circa 1970s. RS 13/17/3

Sousaphone and piccolo players from the Iowa State University Cyclone Football “Varsity” Marching Band (ISUCF’V’MB), circa 1970s. RS 13/17/3

The band was first organized at Iowa State around 1879 or 1880. The Iowa State Band went on to play at the World’s Columbian Exposition, otherwise known as the World’s Fair, in Chicago in October 1892 for the dedication of the Iowa State Building. The band’s long tradition is still strong today, with a membership of more than 300 students.

More marching band photos are available here, as well as in the Special Collections Department. Interested in learning more about our fantastic marching band? Come in and have a look at our Marching Band Records, RS 13/7/3, a collection full of scrapbooks, documents, and artifacts, in addition to photographs.

Posted by: Stephanie | September 12, 2014

Pumpkins and Pies in Special Collections

And the pumpkin pie in its covered place
Makes you wish for it so, that you have the grace
To lift the cover and flee with the pie
– “A Parody on ‘Green River,'” Jessie A. Connor in the 1895 Bomb (p. 149)

image (3)

A page from Erwin’s 1927 article, “A Systematic Study of Squashes and Pumpkins,” from collection RS 9/16/16

It’s autumn! Well, it’s almost autumn, as the equinox that marks the end of summer falls on September 22. With autumn arrives all the great comfort foods of the season. I will not speak for you, but in my mind, mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce, and squashes of all shapes and sizes come running to the forefront. What do these delicious things have to do with the archives?

Arthur Thomas Erwin (1874-1970) was a professor of horticulture who taught at Iowa State from 1901 until 1915 before researching vegetables as a staff member of the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station for 40-plus years. As part of this work, he helped classify the various species of squash, pumpkins, and peppers. We have a box of his papers (collection RS 9/16/16) that sheds some light on his discoveries. Article titles include “Notes on Some of the Newer Vegetables” (1937), “The Peppers” (1932), and “A Systematic Study of Squashes and Pumpkins” (1927). If you are more likely to read an article than bake a pie, one of these might be your chosen reading material.

Cookbooks

Two cookbooks from Special Collections’ rare and archival bookshelves that feature fall desserts

For people who are more of the pie-making type, we have plenty of recipes waiting for you in Special Collections. An obvious source of information is our cookbook collection. Information about the collection is available through this online exhibit and the books are all in the library catalog when you enter the phrase Cooking – Iowa into the search box. Not every cookbook will have a recipe for pumpkins or other squashes, of course, but many do. In her book Sweets Without Sugar, Marion White offers recipes with various sugars that aren’t the run-of-the-mill white stuff. The book jacket explains: “Plain granulated sugar, though easy to use and inexpensive to buy, offers little to the diet… it is harder to digest that the ‘simple sugars’ found in natural fruits and provided in honey, syrups, and molasses.” In White’s recipe for Pumpkin Pie, my go-to fall creation, she simply substitutes 1c of plain sugar with maple syrup. Sounds delicious! I’ll be giving this a try in my oven this pumpkin season.

Special Collections also holds copies of books that are written or edited by University faculty, so that section of our materials boasts a few cookbooks as well. I was both wary and delighted to see a 1998 book, Vegetable Desserts: Beyond Carrot Cake and Pumpkin Pie, by now-retired Professor of Nutrition Elisabeth Schafer and Jeannette Miller, a registered dietician. The book is helpfully arranged by vegetable: chapters include beans, jicama – a tuber that is similar to a turnip, and, more familiarly, rhubarb. A number of the recipes include squash and pumpkins in particular, including a Pumpkin Tofu Pie that… well, seems to be a pumpkin pie with added tofu. Considering how popular links that advertise “cookie dough that is made with chickpeas” and “brownies made with black beans” are on Pinterest, I think Vegetable Desserts could make a comeback. My coworkers are going to be taste-testing cocoa lentil cake with cocoa mocha frosting at some point – I’m too curious not to try it.

So go forth and bake – or research – away the autumn, friends. Make a visit Special Collections for inspiration in either!

Posted by: bishopae | September 9, 2014

CyPix: Driver training in the 1930s

When cars began replacing carriages on American roads in the early 20th century, there was no formal system for educating new drivers, and, not surprisingly, the accident rate was high. A. R. Lauer was an Associate Professor in Psychology, who came to Iowa State College (University) in 1930 and performed research on driving safety. By the mid-1930s, Lauer was involved in cooperative work with the Motor Vehicle Department for the State of Iowa.

Nine students sit in individual dummy cars (with steering wheels and controls but no wheels) in a large classroom, while a teacher lectures from the front of the classroom pointing to a projected image of a car.

Students in driver training course sitting in dummy cars while a teacher lectures at the front of the classroom, 1938. University Photo Collection, Box 781.

In 1938, ISC’s President Charles E. Friley requested that the Psychology Department begin a driver education program for future teachers of driver’s training classes in public schools, and the program quickly became in high demand. Both the research and the training programs had a definite impact on the safety of Iowa roads. The following chart from Lauer’s report, Development of the driver education and research program at Iowa State College, shows a clear downward trend in the number of fatalities on Iowa highways from 1935 through 1955:

Line graph showing a clear downward trend in fatalities in Iowa from 1935 throug 1955.

Chart showing “Trend in Fatality Rates for Iowa” from A.R. Lauer’s report.

 

Posted by: Whitney | September 5, 2014

Anson Marston Collection Update

In the time since we celebrated Anson Marston’s 150th birthday in May, another box of materials has been added to his collection, RS 11/1/11. These materials include certificates awarded to Marston, Cornell University class reunion booklets with a photo, news clippings, a booklet of letters Marston sent to his wife from Panama and Nicaragua, military correspondence, and an Iowa State Highway Commission bulletin featuring Marston. Let’s take a closer look at some of these materials.

Cornell Class Reunions

A photo of the engineers of the Class of 1889, Cornell University. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 2.

A photo of the engineers of the Class of 1889, Cornell University. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 2.

Among the added materials are programs from Marston’s 20 and 25-year Cornell University class reunions, as well as a Class of 1889 photo. In both the 20-year and 25-year programs, he’s listed as working at the University of Iowa in Ames, Iowa. Blasphemy! Of course, it should be listed as “Iowa State College,” since he never worked at the University of Iowa (or “State University of Iowa” as it was also called then). Aside from this, both programs give a brief synopsis of what Marston was doing with his life: serving as “Dean of the Engineering College,” which is also not entirely accurate, as it was a department at the time, not a college.

It seems that by the 25-year reunion, the class secretary was having some trouble recruiting attendees and submissions for the programs. The foreword for the 25-year book reads as follows:

“For the third time, the Secretary has levied toll on the members, of the class of ’89, Cornell University, holding them up at the point of his pen and forcing them to divulge their guilty secrets, to open their skeleton closets for the kindly interest and inspection of the rest of the class. This time, the 25th anniversary of our graduation, seemed to demand an unusual effort in trying to follow the suggestion made at the reunion dinner, that the book should contain photographs of the members, the secretary found abundant opportunity for effort. The following pages show the results and for the interest they may have, the members themselves are responsible. Some of the class apparently are timid; some, modest; and some, ashamed; but they are all members of ’89 and the only regret of the secretary is that there are so many blank records, which he could fill, neither by coaxing, lamenting nor demanding. The rest of the class are the real losers by what must be considered, mistaken sensibilities on the part of a few.”

At least Marston was not one of the “timid,” “modest,” or “ashamed,” as both his photo and a description are included in that program.

Letters from Panama and Nicaragua

A hand-tinted photostat copy of the original caricature of Anson Marston by J. Zavala Urtecho,1931. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 4.

A hand-tinted photostat copy of the original caricature of Anson Marston by J. Zavala Urtecho,1931. From Granada, Nicaragua. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 4.

A booklet of letters from Marston to his wife cover his travels to and from Panama and Nicaragua from January to March 1931. He traveled there as a member of the United States Army Interoceanic Canal Board, which was assigned to investigate the possibility of building a canal through Nicaragua. The letters discuss happenings, descriptions of the ship and its surroundings, people met, as well as an account of tragedy. An excerpt from a February 26, 1931, letter that Marston wrote in Balboa at the Tivoli Hotel, reads as follows:

“It seems good to get back into a real hotel, although all the trip has been so wonderful.

To day [sic] we went through Culebra Cut in a government tug. Tomorrow evening we are to attend a smoker given by the local section of A.S.C.E. Saturday night the Ames people have a dinner for me.

I like Gen. and Mrs. Jadwin very much. We have just been dining together here at the hotel which is on American territory and therefore is dry, while so many go ‘across the line’ into Panama City to dine.”

From Tuesday, March 3, 1931:

“I have spent the day at Gatun Locks and on the Atlantic side calling on Mrs. Jadwin on the transport at San Mihiel, on which she and the body of Gen. Jadwin are sailing for New York to night [sic]. What a terrible experience for her! She and Gen. Jadwin were just about our ages and are much our kind of people. We have been eating at the same reserved table here and I have been getting really acquainted with two very fine people. He has been telling me his plans for an active future and she of their plans for travel together. Their two sons are grown.”

How sad! General Jadwin had been feeling a bit ill the previous two days, and it turned out that he had a small stroke but was expected to survive. Instead, he passed away around 5 p.m. on Monday, March 2nd, of a “large cerebral hemorrhage.” A copy of a letter to Marston from Mrs. Jadwin is included in the back of the booklet, part of which reads:

“I have had many years of sweet companionship with him and I shall try to be brave, as he always was and carry on as he would have me do.”

Aside from this tragedy, Marston’s trip seems to have been a success and quite enjoyable. Apparently, he was very popular too. This excerpt of a letter from R. Z. Kirkpatrick to Mrs. Marston from March 7, 1931, sums up his likeability:

“My Dear Mrs. Marston,

There goes forward to your address today one Dean; we hope he arrives in as good order as he was when he was shipped.

His behavior here has been excellent; while it was all wrong that you weren’t along I really think that he will have little to explain away maritally. At that I think every AMES-MAN here had my experience – – our wives fell in love with your husband; you can easily understand why, from personal experience.”

Letters from World War I

The first page of a letter from Marston to his wife, Alice, 1918. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 6.

The first page of a letter from Marston to his wife, Alice, 1918. RS 11/1/11, box 15, folder 6.

Perhaps the most interesting of Marston’s military letters involve his time serving during World War I. How appropriate, considering that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War! Marston was a member of the 109th Engineers, which were stationed in Camp Dix, New Jersey in 1918. In his letter of September 6, 1918, he writes the following:

“I resent being left behind with every fiber and I am not concealing this attitude from [Colonel D.] in the least. Of course I can do nothing but obey the order (when it comes) but I do not want any one in this regiment or in the Dir. staff to think that it is with any least consent of mine that I am being left behind my men.”

Colonel D., whoever that is, had recommended Marston to be promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, and a major was likely to go over to France, preventing Marston from fighting in Europe.

At some point in the fall of 1918, Marston left the 109th and by December was stationed at Camp Leach, Washington, D.C. In his letter of December 2nd, he has changed his tune a bit about being left out of the fighting overseas:

“The U.S. casualties in France when compared with the number of Infantry we had on the actual fighting line show that an infantry-man on the front for 4 mos had a very slim chance of escaping. It was evidently mostly a question of getting wounded or killed.”

If this is the battle I think it is, he was very fortunate indeed to not have been sent over. The casualties in France mentioned were likely part of the Meuse Argonne Offensive, particularly in mid-October. The timing is right, and the US army suffered heavy casualties at that time and place. More information on the Offensive can be found here, a great jumping off point for more research for those interested.

Believe it or not, there is much more where this came from, so stop by and see what the whole collection has to offer!

Posted by: Stephanie | September 2, 2014

CyPix: Ready for Cyclones Football

Football season kicked off in Ames this weekend! This time of year centers around the athletic prowess on the field, of course, but I always enjoy the full experience of game day – tailgating with friends and family, cheerleaders and dance teams, the music and pomp of halftime shows, and of course cheering in the stands. Below, these fans from 1959 demonstrate some Cyclone spirit at the Homecoming game that year. Glad we are still enjoying summer and don’t have to get out the fur-lined collars… yet.

Homecoming, 1959

A roaring crowd at the 1959 Homecoming game in Ames. Click the image to see a larger size

Special Collections and University Archives is home to a number of football-related collections and objects; this more detailed post talks about our holdings, and you can always search our website or come visit our Reading Room to uncover information about a specific player, coach, year, or mascot. In the meantime – go Cyclones!

Posted by: Kim | August 29, 2014

100 Years Since the Great War

If there had been any doubt as to the advisability of the creation of the Land Grant institutions, that doubt was destroyed for all time by the Great War. – War Records Committee. “A Short History of Iowa State College in the World War.” (RS 13/16/1, box 2 folder 1)

World War I began in the summer of 1914 and ended in 1919. The United States joined on April 6, 1917 with a declaration of war on Germany. When the United States joined it had a standing army of 133,000. By early June 1917 approximately 9.5 million men had registered for service.

114,000 Iowans enlisted and Iowa State students, staff, faculty, trainees, and alumni formed around 6000 of those serving in World War I.

ServiceFlagDedication_RS13_16_1_Box1Folder1_web

A service flag dedication in State Gym for 1500 active duty students and alumni, ca. 1918. (RS 13/16/1 box 1, folder 1)

Training Specialists for the War Effort

Iowa State University responded by providing space, expertise, and infrastructure for training soldiers in a number of areas the largest being infantry, engineering, artillery, aviation, and “special.” The majority of these were men, but 29 women from Home Economics also served. 11 were nurses, 10 were dietitians, two were laboratory technicians, and one was a yeoman. One of these women, Pearl Wesley Yates, is remembered with a Gold Star.

The Story of the Gold Star

If you’ve been to Memorial Union you have probably passed through Gold Star Hall which lists the names of Iowa Staters killed in World War I and subsequent wars.

The symbol of the Gold Star was chosen to represent fallen soldiers when President Wilson approved a suggestion by the Women’s Committee of National Defenses for women to wear black arm bands with a gold star for each family member who had died during the war. The campus community in the post-war period formed a not-for-profit corporation (the Memorial Union Corporation) to raise the funds for the building of the Union. Near the Union is a rock plaque inscribed “Dedicated to the men whose lives were lost in World War I.” 119 Iowa Staters killed during World War I are remembered in Gold Star Hall. You can find out more about the lives of the 119 through the informational kiosk at the Union. The kiosk is intended to provide more context and personal information about each person memorialized in the Hall. It was developed by Iowa State graduate student Stelios Vasilis Perdios and based in large part on material found in Special Collections.

Service to Veterans

Cover of Bulletin entitled "Special Training for Disabled Ex-Service Men"

Campus Bulletin detailing the special programs in place to support vocational training for WWI veterans. (RS 13/16/1, Box 2, folder 14)

Iowa State continued working with the military after the war was over by developing retraining programs for disabled veterans. These courses were designed to provide support to veterans who had not previously had college preparation. The classes were primarily focused on agriculture with topics such as “Elementary Beekeeping” and an individualized course of study in Animal Husbandry.

Veteran learning beekeeping

A selection from the Bulletin on Beekeeping training. The original caption reads “Following his completion of work in beekeeping this world war veteran took up work for himself in honey production. (RS 13/16/1, box 2, folder 14)

 

Want to Learn More?

Iowa State University Special Collections has many manuscript collections relating to World War I: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/collections/MSsubject.html

Our Department of Military Science Subject Files (Record Series 13/16/1) is a great resource for understanding the University’s role in the War. The collection has multiple folders of correspondence related to the World War I (as well as other wars), including several folders of correspondence with soldiers on active duty: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/arch/rgrp/13-16-1.html

Don’t miss our previous posts in this blog:

Read More…

Posted by: bishopae | August 26, 2014

CyPix: Freshmen Days

Yesterday morning, the sidewalks around campus were suddenly packed with walkers, bikers, and skateboarders–many toting backpacks and bags–walking purposefully, or sleepily, to their 8:00 am classes. Yes, that’s right. Like many other campuses across North America, yesterday was the first day of classes for the new academic year. For many of the students, this is their first taste of college life. They spent last Friday participating in Destination Iowa State to get to know the ISU campus and learn strategies for succeeding in college. What they probably did not have to do was take a placement exam, like these Iowa State College (ISC) students from around 1954.

Row of freshman girls wearing blouses and skirts with saddle shoes and loafers, sitting at desks in a large building, taking exams.

Incoming freshman taking their entrance examinations in the Armory during Freshman Days, circa 1954.

ISC first instituted “Freshman Day” in fall of 1926, during which entering students took a physical exam, registered for classes, and attended a convocation in State Gym. Later it was expanded to a three-day program, and included, at different times, a psychological exam and an English placement exam. In 1960, “Freshman Days” was changed to “Orientation Days,” and a summer orientation program was created in addition to the program at the start of fall term. Eventually, summer orientation became the main program. For more information on Freshman Days, see the Office of Admissions New Student Program Records (RS 7/2/5).

Special Collections would like to say “Welcome!” to the entering freshmen and transfer students, as well as “Welcome back!” to returning students. We hope to see you in 403 Parks Library to help you with all of your archival research needs, or even just curiosity!

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