#WayBackWednesday – Women’s Tennis

Let’s go #wayback to February 22nd, 1917 with these Iowa State University, then Iowa State College, women’s tennis players. It’s incredible to think these photographs were taken over one hundred years ago! I definitely enjoy finding images like these – they make me think about what people will think looking back at us one hundred years from now.

Here’s another photograph of a pair of women’s tennis players. The following image is dated February 17th, 1919, and is captioned “Girls Group Tennis”.

Image from University Photo Box 2029

All images in this post were found in University Photographs Box 2029.

New Library Guide for Oral Histories Available

We are pleased to announce the availability of a new library guide for oral histories in Special Collections & University Archives. Organized by subject, the guide lists more than 50 collections, including oral histories pertaining to agriculture, the arts, community & culture, diversity, government, ISU history, and science & technology.

Coach Harold Nichols, Ben Peterson, Chris Taylor (far right) at WOI-TV, 1972

Manuscripts Miscellany: Native American Task Force of the Rural Coalition

One of our manuscripts collections is the Rural Coalition records (MS-0368), a national alliance of regionally and culturally diverse organizations concerned with rural issues, formed in 1978 to provide a national, unified voice for rural people and their communities. In its early years, the organization began a relationship with representatives from American Indian communities in the United States, leading to the founding of the Native American Task Force (also, variously called the American Indian Task Force by internal documents), one of the five task forces that guided the work of the Rural Coalition in the mid-1980s.

A number of documents in the collection record the steady development and growing momentum from the task force’s beginning as the spark of an idea, through its initial organization and development.

In a letter dated June 3, 1985, Kathryn Waller, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Rural Coalition, outlined the history and beginnings of the task force:

I am writing to you about an exciting development that emerged at our just completed 1985 Annual Meeting of the Rural Coalition. A number of Native American representatives attended the Meeting and met extensively and fruitfully with our leadership. The result is that we have unprecedented opportunity to develop a strong positive relationship between Native Americans and other constituencies in the Rural Coalition. This relationship stands in contrast to the many conflicts between Native Americans and other rural people in the past. [new paragraph] There are a number of steps that need to take place in order to firm up the potential of the budding development. The first steps have already been taken and affirmed by the Rural Coalition Board of Directors on May 22nd. These steps include: (1) the establishment of a Native American Task Force within the Rural Coalition; (2) a commitment from the Board and national staff to assist in furthering the development of the Task Force; and (3) initial provision of fundraising, logistical and staff support to the Task Force.

Selection from a letter from Kathryn Waller to J. Benton Rhoads, June 3, 1985, from Rural Coalition Records, MS-0368, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Box 15, Folder 33.


After the initial meeting between Native individuals and the Rural Coalition leadership, the Native American Task Force held its inaugural meeting a year later, June 12-15, 1986, in Rapid City, South Dakota. The roster of participants includes twenty-four people from twelve states, including people from the Yakima Nation, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Oyate Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, as well as representatives from non-profit organizations and individuals.

A few months after the task force’s first meeting, they issued a “Statement of Principles — Statement of Purpose” document, dated September 1986. This statement consisted of eight points:

  1. We will work to insure a safe environment for our children and future generations;
  2. We are dedicated to the survival of the Indian Nations;
  3. We will stand together to fight for the protection of our land and resources;
  4. It is our intention to uphold and enforce our treaty rights and the inherent rights of Indians;
  5. We will advocate tribal sovereignty;
  6. We will devise many ways and means to educate and inform Indians and non-Indians to the immediate and to the far-reaching concerns of Indian country;
  7. We will work to promote economic self-sufficiency without exploitation for Indian tribes, Indian groups and Indian persons;
  8. We will look to the confirmation of international recognition of Indian nations and Indian inherent rights.

The following year, in October 1987, an official one-page prospectus of the task force outlined specific areas of focus (“Indian Water Quality, Native Lands, Indian Agriculture”) and activities (“lobbying for specific legislation, research and policy analysis, advocating public policy positions, training and technical assistance to selected Native communities and educating non-Indian rural Americans and others on Indian issues”), with a call at the end for more members.

[On Rural Coalition letterhead] American Indian Task Force of the Rural Coalition. [New paragraph] Formed in 1986, the American Indian Task Force is one of five standing task forces of the Rural Coalition, a national alliance of some 140 memberorganizations banded together to advocate policies to benefit rural people. The Task Force currently has projects on Indian Water Quality, Native Lands Indian Agriculture and other program areas. Task Force members and professional staff design and carry out these projects which involve lobbying for specific legislation, research and policy analysis advocating public policy positions, training and technical assistance to selected Native communities and education non-Indian rural Americans and others on Indian issues. [new paragraph] The Task Force currently has 14 members drawn from all segments of Indian communities. Its membership includes elected Tribal officials, Tribal staff, representatives of non-profit organizations, professionals from several fields and people from both newly-recognized and non-federally-recognized Tribes. [new paragraph] Mr. Pat Bellanger (Chippewa) and Mr. Pat Moss (Cherokee) Chair the American Indian Task Force. Ms. Bellanger is also Vice Chair of the Rural Coalition's Board of Directors. Other Coalition Task Forces are Agriculture, Natural Resources, Jobs, Community Development and Military Issues. [new paragraph] The American Indian Task Force is expanding in 1987-88. Those interested in possible Task Force membership or more detailed information should contact George Coling, Rural Coalition, 2001 S Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20009, 202/483-1500. October 1987

One-page prospectus on the American Indian Task Force of the Rural Coalition, October 1987. Rural Coalition Records, MS 368, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Box 24, Folder 30.

Indian Water Quality was one of the initial programs of the Task Force. In May 1988, the task force issued a program report, covering the period from July 1, 1987 – April 20, 1988. The program was funded with a $50,000 grant from the Public Welfare Foundation. The goal of the program is “to improve the environmental health of American Indians living on reservations,” and in order to meet this goal, it outlines specific, measurable objectives. The first of these objectives was “to deliver on-site technical assistance on water quality assessment and program options to tribes and other Native American organizations.” The report spends a considerable amount of space detailing the work on this objective, which revolved around “developing a multi-reservation and single reservation model for delivering technical assistance.” The initial work began with the South Dakota Sioux reservations, including the publication of a study Groundwater Quality for Nine Reservations in South Dakota, followed by the organization of a meeting of the Great Sioux Nation, called the Mni Wiconi Conference held in Rapid City in February 1988, to distribute the information and initiate follow up consultation with individual tribes.

Cover page of a report: Program Report to Public Welfare Foundation, Rural Coalition Indian Water Quality Program, July 1, 1987 - April 30, 1988, May 1988, Contact: George Coling, Co-Director 202/483-1500, Ted Means, Associate Director 605/867-5855"

Cover page of the Program Report on the Rural Coalition Indian Water Quality Program, May 1988. Rural Coalition Records, MS 368, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Box 14, Folder 15.

The Rural Coalition records in our holdings include a large number of subject files in which is collected background information on a number of issues of interest to the task force, including groundwater issues as well as a number of other issues, including Indian airspace, gaming legislation, Native American Fisheries, treaty rights, and economic development, among others.

These Rural Coalition records in our holdings currently end at the year 1990, but these records give insight into a growing area of focus for the organization.


Native American Heritage Month: Historical Photos of the Meskwaki

November is Native American Heritage Month, and our post for today features two sets of photos from within larger manuscript collections that offer glimpses of Meskwaki life from late 19th and early 20th century Iowa.

It bears mentioning that, while we are always seeking to diversify our collections, Iowa State University is not, and by its very nature will never be, the best resource for learning about Native American people’s histories and cultures — even those directly adjacent to us. This is because Native American nations keep their own records. If, therefore, you want to learn more about the Meskwaki Nation, which is located in Tama County, about an hour’s drive from ISU, I strongly recommend that you go directly to the source by visiting their website, their cultural center and museum, and/or by getting in touch with the museum’s historic preservation staff (contact information at the bottom of the linked page). They will be able to tell you more about themselves than our archives, or even coursework in ISU’s excellent American Indian Studies Program (AISP), ever could.

I also want to point out that the photographs in this post are, to the best of my knowledge, the creation of white, European-American photographers, who were outsiders to the Meskwaki culture. This is significant because it suggests that what we are actually seeing in these photos is (sometimes obvious, but always decidedly one-sided) documentation of encounters between two very different cultures, rather than internal elements or perspectives of Meskwaki life. It does not, at least in my opinion, make the images any less interesting or historically valuable; it is simply important context to bear in mind, particularly as our collections do not contain the counterpart, which would be documentation of such interactions that centers a Meskwaki point-of-view.


These photos are among the oldest I know of in our collections that contain glimpses of people from what was then, at least to English-speakers, known as the “Sauk and Fox” tribe. The images are contained in a 6″ x 8″ photo album, which documents rural life in central Iowa at the end of the 19th century, though it is unclear who the creator was or why so much of the album remains empty.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Album cover.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Last page in album, identifying the manufacturer.

I have scanned the relevant page spread in its entirety but will zoom in on the three individual images, as well. Each is a black-and-white, thumbnail-sized picture inserted into a photograph sleeve with four-windows and then captioned and dated by hand.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

According to an Encyclopedia Brittanica article, THE Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kai-kaik), a Sauk warrior famed for leading three allied Iowa tribes (Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo) through the 1832 “Black Hawk War” against the U.S. government, died in 1838. This means that the man pictured above must be another, younger leader who went, or at least was know to local Anglo settlers, by the same name.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

It is too bad that the photographer neglected to ask and/or recall these individuals’ names. It is, unfortunately, also not clear whether any of them had consented to be photographed. The fact that they are walking away from the camera suggests that they did not.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

Although these individuals are identified as being “from Tama Reservation,” it is not entirely clear whether they would have belonged to the Meskwaki Nation as it currently defines itself. “Sauk and Fox” seems to have been a catch-all term designated by the U.S. government for at least two distinct tribes, which it sought to forcibly relocated to Kansas in the decades following the Black Hawk War. The Meskwaki have never referred to themselves internally as the “Fox”; this is an anglicization of a name conferred on the tribe by French fur trappers more than a century before. The “reservation” in Tama county, where a number chose to remain and/or return, was also not technically a government reservation, as the Meskwaki had purchased this land for themselves in 1857.



These pictures were taken at an annual Powwow festival, which, according to the Meskwaki website, is typically held in either August or September and modeled after a traditional harvest-time social event known as the “Green Corn Dance.” Photographer Walter Rosene, best known for his prolific local bird photography, featured in the Avian Archives of Iowa Online, took these pictures, presumably while attending a Meskwaki Powwow with family or friends.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. The kids posing for this photo afford us an excellent view of their fancy outfits. The little one on the left, though, looks like he’s ready to scamper off to re-join the festivities!

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. It is unclear whether this photo was taken at the Powwow or sometime before or after. There is no additional information on the back, but I am guessing that the people in this photo were all spectators. I personally also find the symmetry and contrasts interesting — for example, the plaid in both the little white girl’s dress and in the Meskwaki woman’s shawl, and the way the woman and children in the foreground are the only ones both not wearing hats and seemingly absorbed in something other than Rosene’s camera.

I did locate photos within a few more collections, all of them RS collections, which is more of what I typically work with. But I realized belatedly that the boxes I needed from each of these are stored off-site and that I wouldn’t have time to request them. Perhaps they will become their own blog post someday.



Native American Heritage Month 2019!

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, let’s take a look back on an incredible student group during the 1970s.

The newspaper clippings in this post are from the 1970s and may contain outdated language.

In the early 1970s, the United Native American Student Association (UNASA) was formed at Iowa State University. The group was intended to provide a voice for Native American students on campus, and educate the university and Ames about their culture.

Iowa State Daily Article from 12/4/75

Throughout the 70s, this group accomplished many things. They organized tutoring for children on the Mesquakie Reservation, lobbied Iowa State to introduce more courses to integrate Native American heritage, and sponsored symposiums on Native American affairs at ISU.

In 1975, at the first fall cultural program of the UNASA, Gerald Sitting Eagle from Old Sun College in Alberta, Canada, performed some traditional hoop dances. The following article gives more information on what sounds like an incredible performance.

In the article above, Gerald Sitting Eagle share this powerful quote: “I am proud to be dressed like this. I am proud of the color of my skin. I am proud to live on a reserve. I am proud of whatever I do because I stand equal with any man.”

Everything in this post can be found in box 2 of the RS 22/03/00/01 collection.

Make sure to check out some of our previous posts on this topic as well!

#FashionFriday: 1800-1810

Mary A. Barton, an Iowa State Alumni, has been regarded as one of the best quilt makers of all time. Special Collections now stores her collection of fashion illustrations from years 1776 – 2008. I was very excited to explore this collection, and share some highlights with you all. However, due to the massive amount of these gorgeous fashion illustrations, I’ve decided to focus this blog post only on the ones from 1800-1810. Of course, there are still so many lovely illustrations from this ten-year period that this post will be featuring just a few of my favorites.

All of the materials in this post can be found in box 1 of the Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection, RS 21/7/9. Feel free to stop into the reading room to view these incredible artifacts, and many more, in person. Or view some of the digitized fashion images from this collection in our digital collections.

Additionally, we have posted a few other things from this collection, so check out those posts as well.

Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Promenaders

If you were a student at Iowa State College in 1953, one of the many activities you could take part in was square dancing! The group was known as the Promenaders.

Students engaged in a square dance.
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7
“Members of Promenaders practicing before going to Square Dancing Convention in Chicago.”
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7

As of this writing, I do not know anything more about the Square Dancing Convention in Chicago, but I’m sure it would be really interesting to learn more!

Couples dancing.
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7

It looks like the Promenaders were having a great time! College is a time of exploration, and we have records for many of the unique and interesting clubs that have been available over the years. Have a particular club you want to learn more about? Come visit us in the archives on the 4th floor of Parks Library!

#FloralAndFaunaFriday – Feeding Swans (1937)

Let us travel back in time to a lovely afternoon on June 17, 1937. The first image shown here depicts a group of girls, from a 4-H program, feeding Lancelot & Elaine by Lake LaVerne. The second photo is of a single girl, who is identified on the back of the photograph as ‘Mary Ellen Wendel of Branson, IA’. Mary Ellen Wendel is shown feeding one swan while the other looks on in envy. I hope the other swan got fed too!

Both of these images can be found in University Photographs box 383.

#WomenOnWednesdays – Taking the Road Less Traveled Conference

On April 4th, 1987, Iowa State University hosted it’s first “Taking the Road Less Traveled: Science, Math, Engineering and Technology” Conference for Girls Grades 6-12. The 1987 conference was proposed and organized by the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. Iowa State’s event drew inspiration from a similar conference for women in STEM fields at Western Michigan University, which had taken place the year prior. The conference was much more popular than anticipated, with an expected turnout of 200 participants compared to the actual 600 that showed up. The goal of this conference was to educate young women, parents, and educators on how women can be successful in fields related to science, engineering, and math.

One way they sought to achieve this goal was by exposing the girls to successful women in STEM career fields, along with providing information about the types of classes they should take in high school to prepare for a college program in these fields. I found it very interesting that the conference also provided information on programs from several other universities, and not just the ones available at Iowa State. To me, including information about other options for the girls shows the organizer’s commitment to giving the girls at the conference an overall look at all their options, rather than simply attempting to get more students to attend the university.

Image from RS 3/10/4 Box 1

The above image depicts an advertisement brochure promoting engineering programs at Iowa State, and can be found in collection RS 3/10/4 Box 1. In that same box there are also letters from speakers and mentors who were present at this event, and future events like it, all relaying how much they enjoyed the experience, and several inquiring about future opportunities. A great deal of effort went into organizing and running this conference, and it appeared to be very successful. This incredible event was made possible by funds provided by a Carl Perkins Vocational Education Grant from the Iowa Department of Education.

Welcome Greg Bailey, University Archivist

Special Collections & University Archives is happy to welcome aboard Greg Bailey as Iowa State’s new University Archivist. Greg comes to us from Texas A&M, where he served as University Archivist and Clements Curator for the Cushing Library for five years. As University Archivist, Greg was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the university archives and related collections and served as the primary spokesperson for Texas A&M history.  As Clements Curator, he was responsible for the papers of two term Governor William P. Clements. Prior to his time at Texas A&M, Greg was the University Archivist and Records Manager at Stephen F. Austin State University for three years.  

Greg received his BA in History with minors in Geography and Political Science from Eastern Illinois University and his MLIS with a specialization in archives and records management from Indiana University—Bloomington. 

Greg’s professional contributions include service on SAA’s College and University Archivist Section Steering Committee, as well as SAA’s Mentoring Sub-Committee. He also served as the Vice Chair Brazos County Historical Commission, which works to ensure the preservation of historic buildings, sites, artifacts, documents and other important pieces of Texas history. In addition, Greg served as the Vice Chair of Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee and was the Lead Contact of the Bryan/College Station area for the Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration. 

In his free time, Greg enjoys playing soccer and riding his motorcycle.

Greg Bailey, courtesy of Greg Bailey