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.


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.


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:

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:

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!

Posted by: Whitney | August 22, 2014

Archivists Go to Washington

Last week, thousands of archivists descended upon Washington, D.C. for a joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists (COSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Every four years these national organizations convene in our nation’s capital to learn and share knowledge. I was able to attend the conference as a member of SAA, as were assistant department head Laura Sullivan and one of my fellow project archivists, Stephanie Bennett. The following are, in my opinion, some highlights of the conference.


The conference program for the 2014 joint annual meeting of COSA, NAGARA, and SAA.

Attending educational sessions is one major reason we attend conferences. The sessions that struck me the most this year were “Getting Things Done with Born-Digital Collections,” “Talking to Stakeholders about Electronic Records,” and “Taken for Granted: How Term Positions Affect New Professionals and the Repositories That Employ Them.” The first two discussed the challenges of electronic records, which is a hot topic in the archives profession right now. The session on term positions was particularly relevant to me since I am currently in a term position, meaning that my employment here ends after a certain amount of time. That session discussed the positive and negative impacts of short term positions, as well as possible solutions and compromises to the problems term positions create.

Some notes I took during a session. Fast writing does not make for good penmanship...

Some notes I took during a session. Speedy writing does not make for good penmanship…

Another big reason we attend conferences is to meet other archivists and to network. Happily, I found two friends from grad school right off the bat, and it wasn’t long before I found other IU-Bloomington alumni, including those that I’d never met. I also met lots of people who graduated from other schools, and it was great to learn about different experiences and their current work. I even got to meet some famous people in the world of archives, which was really exciting for a new professional. In the end, it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and meet new.


Yours truly in the Library of Congress reading room.

Yours truly in the Library of Congress reading room during the All-Attendee Reception.

A couple other highlights of the conference were the All-Attendee Reception and a variety show, “Raiders of the Lost Archives.” This year’s reception was held in the Library of Congress Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building. That is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen, and absolutely lives up to its hype. They opened the reading room up to us, which is only opened to the public twice a year. I could not have been more excited to be there. After the reception, a sketch show was performed – of which I was a part – back at the conference hotel. It was a reboot of “Raiders of the Lost Archives,” which was a sketch show performed in the 1980s and 1990s. The shows included skits and songs full of archival humor (yes, it’s a thing), and it was a blast to be involved. This year’s recording may be available on YouTube in the near future, but don’t judge my performance too harshly – keep in mind we had very little rehearsal and it was at the end of a long day. But really, overall I think the show went well; we received some wonderful comments and it was good fun.

The joint meeting this year was a great experience, and I hope to attend next year’s SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio!

Posted by: hahollinger | August 19, 2014

Perry Holden in the Field

As the corn crops continue to grow here in Iowa, we decided it would be a good time to do a little “detasseling” of the new digital Extension collection and offer you a teaser! The photo below is one of the most popular and often requested images in the collection. It features Perry G. Holden and a companion perusing a young corn crop.


Holden was a leading name in agricultural education during the early 1900s. He established the Corn Train, and played a major role in the first short courses as an educator and administrator. His work with corn ultimately improved Iowa’s corn crops dramatically, and have greatly influenced how the crops are tended today. For more information on the Extension Service and P. G. Holden, visit the collections page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection.


Posted by: hahollinger | August 15, 2014

Reflections on ISU Extension – New Collection!

It’s my last day as the Silos & Smokestacks intern in the ISU Special Collections! The collection has really come together. Everything is being finalized and all of the pieces I have been working and collaborating on in the past ten weeks are coming together to form a cohesive concept.

This new collection is currently comprised of 57 items. There are several reports, letters, addresses, and photographs, as well as a video. Everything is arranged by subject, but there is also a document guide that can assist in navigating the collection for those that would like a condensed experience. It features 18 highlights that outline the fundamental aspects of the early Extension Service and its impact on Iowa. One of my favorite parts is the timeline. It is in the shape of an ear of corn, and the important dates and events are presented as kernels on the ear. Hovering over each dated kernel will reveal a pop-up box of information about each date.

There are also a few items within the collection that stand out for me. The first is an advertisement from the Boys’ Working Reserve. It would have circulated during the First World War, and was aimed primarily at those who were too young to join the armed forces, but old enough to travel to work. The advertisement is still in very good condition given its age, and the historical context is really quite interesting as it pertains to both World War I and the Extension Service.

Another favorite of mine is the Diary of the Seed Corn Train. It serves as a practical record for the Corn Train – where it stopped and who lectured – but it also introduces an element of humor into the collection. Many of the entries include remarks on the crowds or notable events that stuck out to the instructors as they traveled. In reading through the entries, one gets a keen sense of the personalities of the instructors and how they interacted with each other. As these people and events are referred to in other documents, those remarks introduce that much more dimension to the overall experience.

I think this will be a great addition to the digital collections already available, and there is plenty of potential for it to be expanded in the future. Until then, have fun investigating the Digital Collections home page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection!

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