Working the Corner of Yesterday and Tomorrow

When I was a kid schoolteachers used slide projectors quite a bit. Slides and transparencies are very easy to use. Film projectors and reels are a little trickier, but those were commonly used as well. Some instructors were still using these media when I was earning my degrees (roughly 1995 to 2007). Doing so could make sense: not all topics are subject to change, and if the teaching aids and apparatus are durable, why not use that slide show on Renaissance art for 20 years?

Working in archives often means working with outmoded technology and information-bearing media. It’s interesting that while archivists are not stuck in the past — we use cutting-edge tools, we collect and preserve modern stuff — archivists can never forget about the old media, machinery, methods, and materials. All that is donated to (and actively collected by) institutions like archives, museums, and special libraries.

Today I will blog about glass slides and the projectors that love them. ISU Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has more than one set of glass slides, but our largest set of them is part of the Warren H. Manning Papers (manuscript collection MS 218). Manning (1860-1938) was a giant in the realm of landscape architecture. Photography was one of his favorite tools. Among other things, SCUA’s Manning collection includes over 2000 glass “lantern slides” and over 1000 photographic prints made from the slides. Take a look — 1554 images are online here. Quite a few are of scant interest to laypeople, but there are interesting and beautiful ones too:

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Taken at Ishpeming, Michigan. William G. Mather house before planting. No date. Manning lantern slide #489. Image ID 218.LS.489.

The word “lantern” in “lantern slides” sounds a bit archaic, doesn’t it? When I think of lanterns, I think of wicks and flames, not light bulbs. Similarly, some people — Brits, possibly others — refer to flashlights as “electric torches” or just “torches,” a usage I find appealing. Lantern slide projectors use bulbs, but they are descended from magic lanterns. The basic idea is very old and requires nothing more than a source of light (the brighter the better) and something to shine it through (not necessarily a photograph: stained glass invites comparison). In this way it reminds me of the camera obscura. What could be simpler, and yet so pregnant with possibilities?

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A Spencer “Delineascope” glass slide projector, one of several that SCUA owns. Made in the 1920s. Was used for instructional purposes at ISU.

Of course, making glass slides with photographic images on them is a 19th century development. While archives and collectors should take good care of the slides, and maintain some projectors of the same vintage, we have an interest in reformatting the images. Glass slides are heavy and fragile. The projector pictured above is very heavy (take my word for it). Most people do not need to use the originals; photographic prints and digitized versions are usually better options. We pursue the same strategy when we offer facsimiles of rare books and manuscripts. Certain researchers need to see the real artifacts, and within reason we love to show them off.

The work of reformatting information resources takes as many forms as there are types of media. Consider that some things can be viewed with the naked eye, while others require an intermediary device (such as a projector). Computer programs and data storage are an extreme case; since the “goalposts” have moved so quickly, meeting requirements for preserving and accessing legacy digital resources is a daunting challenge.

Being a musician I am tempted to digress into digital audio reformatting and related topics, but I’ll save those thoughts for another time.

 


“For Married Students”: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978

This slideshow documents a little bit of the massive amount of work that went into the exhibition opening tomorrow, “For Married Students”: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978. This project is the culmination of a collaboration between the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and Preservation departments in the University Library and the Department of History. Students in Asst. Prof. Mark Barron’s Public History class (HIS 481X) spent the 2016 fall semester in the SCUA Reading Room and the library general collection conducting research.

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The opening reception is tomorrow, January 18, 6-8 p.m. in 198 Parks Library. Refreshments will be provided by the Department of History. The exhibition will be available for viewing tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. on the 4th floor of Parks Library. If you are unable to attend the opening, the exhibit will be available through the 2017 spring semester.

This blog post authored by Rachel Seale and Monica Gillen.


Basketball: Iowa State versus Kansas 60 Years Ago #TBT

Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas #13)

From University Photograph Collection, 24/5/G, box 1817

This Saturday, January 14th, marks the 60th anniversary of a well-remembered game in Iowa State’s basketball history: Iowa State versus Kansas. Both teams had players which would go on to have major professional basketball careers:  Gary Thompson (Iowa State, #20) and Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas, #13). In the photograph above, Chamberlain is attempting to make a basket while Thompson guards on the floor.

It was an exciting game, with Iowa State beating Kansas, 39-37. At the very end, Don Medsker made the winning basket. The game was Chamberlain’s first loss in college basketball. In celebration of the win, Iowa State fans invaded the Armory’s floor after the game.

A number of images documenting the game are now available in Digital Collections. Although we don’t have a program from the game (please contact us if you’d be willing to donate one!), we do have news clippings from that year in RS 24/5/0/0, box 1, folder 1, a folder of materials on Gary Thompson (RS 21/7/1), and the book “Gary Thompson, All-American” by Gary Offenburger.  Additional men’s basketball records are also available in the University Archives.


Looking Back on the 1960s

This is the first in a series of posts about Iowa State University during the 1960s.

Exploring The Chart: Rules and Regulations for Women

This past semester I had the pleasure of assisting a history class interested in studying student life during the 1960s here at Iowa State. For this type of research there are many great places to start in the archives. The Bomb, Iowa State’s yearbook, and other student publications like the Iowa State Daily and the Iowa Homemaker offer lots of opportunities to explore college life throughout the years. For some reason, maybe due to the relative lack of formal rules imposed upon my youth, I find myself fascinated by the regulations that governed student conduct on campus. The best place to find these rules for Iowa State students of the 1960s is in the student handbook, which at this time was called The Chart.

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This is an undated image of Linden Hall, originally built as a women’s dormitory. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

The 1959/1961 issue of The Chart provides a clear picture of what was expected from students at Iowa State, especially women, during the start of the 1960s. At this time men and women were housed in separate dormitories on opposite sides of campus. There were also far more restrictions on women than men. In 1960, all undergraduate women had to live in residence halls or sorority houses except under special circumstances approved by administration. The Chart details very specifically the times when women must be in their residence halls. Freshman women had to be home by 9:00 pm most weeknights whereas sophomores and up were able to stay out until the wee hour of 10:00 pm. Friday and Saturday nights the women were granted leave until midnight and 12:30 am respectively. For special events women were allowed extended hours, but this was only for a handful of events such as Homecoming, VEISHEA, and annual dances.

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No car rides without a letter from your parents! This undated photograph shows several cars parked outside Linden Hall. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

Another example of some of the strict rules for women involved visitations and travels. Any woman student intending to be away from the residence hall later than 6:00 pm had to “sign out” and any time a woman planned to leave town for any reason, she had to secure permission from the residence director. A letter of approval for out-of-town travel and for all car trips required a written letter of approval from the student’s parents! The handbook quite emphatically denied any women from entering the residence of a male student unless she was an immediate family member such as a mother or sister–and even then this was allowed only during certain times.

 

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This image shows members of Lowe House in Westgate Hall during the 1969 winter quarter. These women would be among the first at Iowa State to reside in a dormitory previously housing only men. Image taken from a Lowe House scrapbook located in Box 8 of the Union Drive Houses records, RS 7/4/4.

By the end of the decade, some of these strict rules started to soften just a bit. For one thing, in 1968 women and men started living in the same buildings, though still on separate houses/floors. Also, women were allowed as guests into men’s rooms, though hours restricted these visits to Saturdays and Sundays only. In a surprising twist they were allowed to meet with the door closed! An interesting rule that appears in the Guide to Resident Hall Living for 1969 that didn’t appear in the earlier Chart were regulations regarding the proper location for sun bathing.

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The student handbook, The Chart, for 1969-1971. Archives books call number LD2535.8 I58x

It’s important to note that these types of rules were not unique to Iowa State. In many ways these regulations were not much changed from those established at the school a century earlier. It wasn’t until the students themselves started agitating for greater equality and freedom that things started to change. The archives has many official and published records documenting student life in the 1960s at Iowa State, but relatively little from the individual students themselves. We are always interested in speaking with former students and alumni willing to donate materials documenting their personal adventure at Iowa State, so feel free to give us a call!


#TBT George Washington Carver

On this day in 1943, George Washington Carver, arguably Iowa State’s most famous alumnus, died. The iconic scientist’s research resulted in the creation of hundreds of products derived from plants. His products and his farming methods transformed the rural ecomony, helping farmers and their land flourish. Today, we honor him for his achievements and the impact they have made on the world.

George W. Carver I.A.C. Class '94. Taken in 1893. This was Carver's graduation picture, which appeared in the 1894 Bomb, Iowa State's yearbook. The same picture appears in the faculty section of the 1896 Bomb, when he was Assistant Botanist in the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1894-96.

Photograph of George W. Carver I.A.C. Class ’94. Taken in 1893. This was Carver’s graduation picture, which appeared in the 1894 Bomb, Iowa State’s yearbook. The same picture appears in the faculty section of the 1896 Bomb, when he was Assistant Botanist in the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1894-96.

To learn more about George Washington Carver, view the guide to his collection and come to Special Collections and University Archives in-person and see his papers in our reading room. To see a great selection of his papers, browse his digital collection. Learn more about Iowa State University Library’s digital collections. You will have guaranteed hours of enjoyment.

 

“There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.” George Washington Carver


# TBT Toboggan Race

Currently there is very little snow on the ground and it’s a windy but sunny 37 degrees Fahrenheit. However, today’s Throwback Thursday picture shows an entirely different scene. Below shows a snowy day, likely in late January, with students having a toboggan race during the 1949 Winter Carnival. Check out our previous post about the Winter Carnival.

students pulling other students on toboggans, snowy landscape

From University Photographs RS 22/7/G (box 1670)

The reading room is closed tomorrow and Monday January 2. We are back to our regular hours Monday-Friday beginning Tuesday, January 3. Drop by and see us!


Rare Book Highlights: Benjamin Franklin and electricity

Franklin, Benjamin. Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America. London: Printed for F. Newbery, 1774. Call number: QC516 F854e5

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Vol. 47, London: Royal Society of London, 1751-52. Call number: Q41 R812p

We’ve all heard the story of Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity by tying a key to a kite and flying it during a thunderstorm. But have you ever thought about how that story was documented?

Diagrams of leyden jars, lightnight rods, and various electrical experiments

The title page and frontispiece of Benjamin Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations on Electricity.”

As usual,the truth of the matter is a little more complicated than what we learned as children. Mythbusters performed an experiment to show that Ben would have been killed by the electric shock if he had actually touched the key. Other scholars note, however, that the charge in the key came from the surrounding atmosphere, and not from a lightning strike, making the charge much lower in intensity. Nor did Franklin exactly discover electricity. At the time, electricity was known and studied, but only in its static form (Carter 119). Franklin did prove through his experiments that lightning is a form of electricity, and he first proposed the use of lightning rods on buildings, masts of ships, or other tall structures, to attract the lightning away from the building and conduct the electric shock down into the ground.

Ben Franklin conducted a number of electrical experiments throughout the 18th century, along with a community of scientists throughout Europe. He shared the results of his experiments by letter, and he enjoyed a particular correspondence with Peter Collinson, a British scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society of London.  In his letters to Collinson, he described his experiments with Leyden jars, charged clouds, and lightning rods. Many of these letters were read at meetings of the Royal Society, where the experiments were discussed. Several other men of science performed their own experiments, and shared the results of these experiments through papers read at Royal Society meetings and through correspondence to Franklin and others.

Collinson gathered Franklin’s letters together and published them in London in 1751 under the title Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America. Five editions were printed by 1769, and editions in French, German, and Italian, were published not long after. Franklin’s work in electricity established his international reputation as a scientist, and this publication is considered to be “the most important scientific book of eighteenth-century America” (Carter 119).

Iowa State University library holds a copy published in 1774, the fifth edition by the printer F. Newbery of London. A description of the famous kite experiment can be found in Letter XI, from Oct. 19, 1752, shown below.

ISU also holds the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, where many of the letters from Franklin to Collinson and others are published. A different letter to Collinson describing the kite experiment is published in the Transactions. It was dated from Philadelphia on October 1, 1752, and it was read two-and-a-half months later, on Dec. 21, 1752.

Others were studying electricity at the same time. The same volume of Philosophical Transactions includes “An Account of the Effects of Lightning at Southmolton in Devonshire, by Joseph Palmer, Esquire,” which was read to the Society on January 9, 1752, and “An Account of the Phaenomena of Electricity in vacuo, with Some Observations thereupon, by Mr. Wm. Watson, F.R.S.,” read February 20, 1752.

Even if Ben Franklin did not “discover electricity,” he certainly made important contributions to the general understanding of the nature of electricity and lightning.

Work Cited

Carter, John, and Percy H. Muir. Printing and the Mind of Man. Karl Pressler, 1983.


A Winter’s Day on Campus #TBT

Old Main in the snow, 1899. University Photographs, RS 4/8/J, Box 348

Old Main in the snow, 1899. University Photographs, RS 4/8/J, Box 348

Winter is officially here! Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that the snow can be quite beautiful. This photo provides just one example. Behind the snow-frosted trees are two buildings – the English Office Building (home of the President’s Office) on the left and Old Main on the right. The English Office Building was located roughly where Carver Hall now stands.

If you want to see a great view of wintry campus while staying out of the elements, stop by our reading room! While you’re here, you can take a look materials from any of our great collections. Stay warm out there!

 

 


This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection related to food. After all, one of the key components of this holiday season is celebrating with food. We hope you enjoy these collection highlights from our Artifact Collection.

Teacup and Saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Top view of teacup and saucer, white embellished around edges with purple, orange and blue flowers with green stems and leaves.

Top view of teacup and saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I was drawn to this teacup and saucer because my mom and grandma both collected tea cups. I used to love examining the patterns of all the different teacups in my mom’s china cabinet when I was growing up and feeling the thinness of the fine bone china they were made of. This particular teacup and saucer in our artifact collection belonged to the mother of H. Summerfield Day, University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980). It was collected and donated to the archives by a former library employee in the Cataloging Department, Dennis Wendell.

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Wooden cheese box 9.25 inches wide, text on box "2 Pounds net weight, Iowa State College, pasteurized process cheese, Manufactured by Dairy Industry dept., Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa."

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This wooden cheese box is interesting because it’s much sturdier than I would expect. It’s only 9.25” wide, so card stock would have sufficed. I think it would make a cool pencil box. Pasteurized process cheese is not my favorite kind, but I have such high regard for cheese that I can’t help liking the box. “Process cheese” notwithstanding, it was an ISC product so it was probably of exceptional quality. I’m inspired to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup this weekend.

Wax Apples (Artifact 2008-153.001)

Bowl filled with various wax apples (yellow,pink, red)

Artifact 2008-153

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I have chosen the bowl of wax apples, originally shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, as this month’s food-related artifact.  I had heard of its existence here, but had never had the opportunity to see these first-hand until working on an artifact housing project earlier this year.  I was amazed at how shiny and fresh these 140-year-old wax apples looked, and at the same time being terrified of causing damage to these amazing artifacts!  Colonel G. B. Bracket, who created the wax apples for the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s exhibit, received a gold medal for the wax Iowa apples. The apples represent the 300 varieties of apples grown in Iowa at the time.

Iowa State milk carton (from Accession 2014-312)

Iowa State Skim Milk Carton, has "Iowa State" and picture of Food Sciences building originally Dairy Industry building. Colors on carton are yellow, black and white. It's a half-gallon carton.

This milk carton came in with accession 2014-312. It has not yet been assigned an artifact number in our artifact database. Note the illustration of the Food Sciences Building, originally known as the Dairy Industry Building, on the front of the carton.

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

In a slight departure from the theme of food for this week’s blog, I have selected this Iowa State milk carton as it represents a long history of producing dairy products at Iowa State. This milk carton would have been filled with milk during the 1960s, but the dairy program at Iowa State began much earlier than that. Iowa State started operating a creamery in the 1880s to provide a place to store and process milk and dairy products for the benefit of the students and staff of Iowa State. Any milk left over was processed into butter and sold to the neighborhood surrounding the school. Of course, in those days milk was not delivered in attractive paper cartons like this! In 2007 Iowa State renewed its support of the dairy industry in Iowa when it opened a new dairy farm south of campus. Although the days of Iowa State selling its own milk are long gone, you can still buy homemade ice cream from students in the Dairy Science Club as they carry on the tradition of preparing dairy products on the Iowa State campus.

Kenyan Fat Pot, 1944 (Artifact 2010-009.005)

Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

One of the most fascinating food-related artifacts we have is a fat pot from Kenya. According to the catalog record, this pot was “used for collecting the fat from meat as a result of cooking or for cosmetic purposes by the natives of the Turkana-Tribe from Northern Kenya.” This doesn’t sound all that different from what we do in America today, in which we collect the drippings from meat to make gravy or broth. The pot is made of wood, twine, and leather, with a leather cap. I suppose this item intrigues me largely because we don’t have a lot of artifacts from around the world, and I don’t know of any other African artifacts in our collections. It’s associated with the Shirley Held Papers (RS 26/2/53). Held was a faculty member of what is now the College of Design.

ISU Beer Can (Artifact 2012-207.002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I was browsing items in our internal artifact database and was tickled to see this beer can. Believe it or not, this is just one can of at least three other beer cans I could have selected that we have in our collection. I picked this can because it includes an image of Cy. I feel like I can justify selecting beer as a food-related artifact because, to some, it is food. All kidding aside, beer can be enjoyed with food just like wine and it even enhances some food. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretzels or nuts are often served with beer. Below is the description of the beer can from the catalog:

The can is a gold color, with red and black lettering. There is an image of Cy holding a mug of beer in one hand, and a football in the other. On the can itself reads, in red lettering, “CYCLONE BEER.” Underneath the slogan, there is black lettering that reads, “Not associated with Iowa State University.” There is a makers mark that describes the nature of where the beer was brewed and canned. On the top of the can reads: “Iowa Refund, 5 c.” There is still liquid inside of the can.

This beer can, with an assortment of other materials, came to the archives from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Chocolate Set (from Accession 2010-009)

Pot and two teacups and saucers, for drinking chocolate. Colors are white embellished with pink and yellow roses.

Chocolate set (from Accession 2010-009)

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

This image is of a chocolate pot and two cups which carries the mark of Wheelock China, a large Midwestern importing firm which flourished from 1855 until the early 1920s.  Wheelock is best known for their souvenir china, depicting local scenes and buildings and marketed to tourists.  Most of their products were imported from Germany.  These items are marked with the Wheelock Imperial Eagle stamp, which was used on china the company imported from Austria.

Black-and-white photograph of woman, in her 30s or 40s, short brunette hair and glasses, sitting at a loom.

Photograph of Shirley Held ca. 1950s (University Photographs RS 26/2/A)

The chocolate pot belonged to Shirley Held, a member of Iowa State’s Art and Design faculty for more than thirty years.  She received a B.S. in Home Economics Education from Iowa State in 1945.  Following graduation, she taught home economics in several towns in northwest Iowa. She returned to graduate school at Iowa State, earning the M.S. in Home Economics-Applied Art in 1951.  After a year teaching at Utah State College, she returned to Iowa State as a member of the Applied Art faculty, teaching design, lettering, weaving, and wood and metal crafts.   Weaving was her true calling, and she was the author of Weaving:  Handbook of the Fiber Crafts, which was published in 1973, with a second edition in 1978.  Her pieces were exhibited both in Iowa and nationally, and she promoted the art of weaving through workshops and lectures. She received a faculty citation in 1979 in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the University.  Active locally as a member of the Ames Choral Society and the Collegiate United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, she also participated in community theater, both acting and designing costumes for a number of productions.  She retired from Iowa State in 1990, and passed away in 2014.

Artifacts in the Archives – Celebrating food!


At the Library #TBT

It’s Finals Week, and the library has been an especially busy place. Today, students can be found looking up resources on their (or the library’s) computers, but 50 years ago their searches looked more like this:

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Students using the card catalog to find resources, circa 1951. University Photographs, RS 25/3/F, Box 2046

Of course, not everything has changed since then (although the card catalog is certainly a relic of the past). Students still spend a great deal of time studying in the library, and they are still spotted hunched over a table with a book, notebook, and pen. True, many of them have laptops or tablets with them as well, but the spirit is the same.

For those who still have exams, papers, and/or projects to complete, best of luck! For those who are done, congrats on a semester finished!