Reading Room Updates for June 2021

For the month of June, SCUA will be open by appointment only between 10 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. A 24-hour (one business day) notice for appointment requests is required. Below are other policies in place through June.

Access

  • No walk-in researchers. Appointments are required for all visits.
  • Registration through Aeon is required for all users (including people coming up to scan textbooks that are kept in our collection).
  • Students can still visit and access textbooks, but appointments and registration are required.
  • Reading Room will be closed to the public June 7 – 11.

Physical space

  • Reading Room occupancy is limited to six researchers.
  • Our space is limited to Reading Room/SCUA materials only.
  • We are not allowing outside materials or patrons not using our collections to use the scanner in the Reading Room.
  • Masks/face coverings are encouraged if you have not been fully vaccinated, but not required.

Requests

Allow three business days for SCUA to bring materials from off-site storage to the Reading Room.

Resources

Email us at archives@iastate.edu for instruction requests.


A Case of Mistaken Identity: State University of Iowa VS Iowa State University

We frequently get requests from patrons for records of people linked to the “State University of Iowa.” This is a very understandable request. It only serves to reason that the “State University of Iowa” would be the forerunner to “Iowa State University.” However, this is not the case, and we need to refer those patrons to contact the University of Iowa special collections and archives. In this post, I will explain some clues we use to figure out the discrepancy and how the names have changed over the years.

Founded in 1847, the University of Iowa is legally the State University of Iowa. The Board of Regents made the decision that they can go by University of Iowa for everyday usage in 1964 (Source). I see this most often on theses of students of the State University of Iowa.

Iowa State University was founded in 1858 as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (though the first class did not start until 1868). “In 1898, the name was changed to the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, to reflect the engineering curricula…” (A Sesquicentennial History of Iowa State University, 313). It wasn’t until July 4, 1959 that Iowa State College officially became a university.

When a request comes in, there are a few clues we use to determine whether a question is for us or for the University of Iowa. If anyone mentions a medical or dental degree, that’s pretty much a guarantee that we need to pass the letter on. Other major areas of study can be a clue, but there is less certainty (like English/writing or art). A mention of Iowa State as a university pre-1960s is often a clue, but not a guarantee since the patron could know that it was technically a college at the time, but using the current nomenclature when asking their question.

Clone, the offspring of Cy, battles Herky at an ISU vs Iowa football game

Of course, if you’re not sure if your question is for ISU or UI, please don’t hesitate to send it our way! We’ll be happy to let you know whether we can help you or if you’ll need to search elsewhere. We take reference inquiries at archives@iastate.edu.


SCUA Scoop: The Journey of a Researcher’s Request

This new series, SCUA Scoop, will share a behind the scenes look at how we fulfill our mission and serve our community. Our first post was last fall and was an introduction to SCUA and where we fit within the university and the library. Today is all about the different routes a research question or request for reproductions can take.

We don’t actually conduct in-depth research for researchers, though for some questions that can be answered quickly we can do the leg work (e.g., checking names in the ISU directory or check for a file in the Alumni and Former Student records (RS 21/7). For all other research, we consult and brainstorm with researchers on where they should look when they come in and do research. For those that can’t come in and do research, there is the option of having material copied but that can be cost prohibitive sometimes.

Below are some common requests and visual representations on how they get routed and the path they take to their final outcome.

Family History Workflow

Flow chart that uses visual and some text to explain the workflow for family history research requests. The smiley face and a cluster of question marks in different colors, represents the family history request. Then an  arrow to the Research Coordinator and then a three-way arrow pointing to 3 different processes "Checks directories," "Checks yearbooks,' and "Checks Alumni & Former Student records (RS 21/7)" in different octagons in different colors, accompanied by a photo of archival boxes on compact shelving. Then arrow goes points to a KIC scanner with a book on the bed and the explanation "Scans (in-department" any documents, photographs and downloads to Cybox along with any alredy digitized material (e.g., from the Bomb). Then arrow goes to Email icon and "Email results of search or link to Cybox for researcher to download" and then back full circle to researcher.
Photographs by SCUA staff and other visuals from Microsoft Word shapes and online pictures (Creative Commons licenses only)

What is missing from this workflow and the following workflows is the conversation between the researcher and our Research Coordinator that sets expectations on how much information we are likely to have, when it can be delivered, and if there are applicable fees. Generally, requests like the one above do not have any fees.

Out-of-town Researcher Requests Copies

Flow chart that usues visual and some text to explain the workflow for reproduction requests for researchers who are not local. The shape of the State of Alaska and a smiley face, and a cluster of question marks in different colors, represents the research request. Then a two-way arrow between the researcher/their request and the Research Coordinator (illustrating conversation) and then a photo of archival boxes on compact shelving, then moves to calculator and money and two way arrow goes from money to researcher. Then from the money the arrow goes to a KIC scanner with a book on the bed and the explanation "Scans (in-department" specified document and adds to Cybox" then arrow goes to Email icon and "Email link to Cybox for researcher to download files" and then back full circle to researcher.
Photographs by SCUA staff and other visuals from Microsoft Word shapes and online pictures (Creative Commons licenses only)

Elements missing from this process (due to my basic flow charting skills) is the Research Coordinator has to find the material the researcher requests, count pages, calculate fees and give quote to researcher who then remits payment in order to move their request forward. What is also missing from this and all of the other workflows is the steps we take to find the appropriate collections or publications that have relevant information and also our request system (Aeon) that tracks what collections are getting used. Tracking collection use tells us what collections are candidates for digitization and grant projects and in a department with multiple interdepartmental projects, public access, instruction, and exhibitions it is a handy way to keep track of the location for collection materials.

Request for scans for oversized material

Flow chart that uses visual and some text to explain the workflow for reproduction requests for researchers who are not local. A globe with Europe highlighted, and a smiley face, and a cluster of question marks in different colors, represents the research request. Then a two-way arrow between the researcher/their request and the Research Coordinator (illustrating conversation) and then the arrow goes to a calculator and a picture of money (signifying fees) with a two-way arrow between these two images back to the researcher. From the money the arrow moves on to a large blueprint partially unrolled on the floor of the Reading Room, a plus sign, and then a picture of a large light for photo shoots pointing towards a white wall, and a plus sign and the Photoshop icon, and then an equal sign ending with a clock with wings.  Then the arrow goes to Email icon and "Email link to Cybox for researcher to download requested files" and then back full circle to researcher.
Photographs by SCUA and Preservation staff and other visuals from Microsoft Word shapes and online pictures (Creative Commons licenses only)

This is one of our lengthiest workflows and I doubt my flow chart illustrates why. All the missing elements I mentioned above are also usually present in this process. Transporting large fragile rolled items, safely unrolling them, repairing, photographing, reshelving and then stitching the multiple images together takes two departments, a handful of staff, a lot of patience, and substantial costs.

There are many more kinds of research requests and they can get complicated—there is a lot of back and forth, double-checking, and consulting with additional staff. That is a blog post for another day.

What kind of processes or workflows are you interested in learning about? Comment below or email me at rmseale@iastate.edu.


What makes the work work: a note about trying things and writing them down.

This post is about two important elements of archival practice: trying things and writing them down

Writing things down is, unsurprisingly, an important part of archival work. The one thing all archives have in common is that no two are alike: archives collect unique materials, and every archive has its own set of collecting, preservation, and access concerns and priorities, which they address from within a broadly uniform theoretical framework. What that means is that, while we use certain tools (both intellectual and technological) and follow certain professional standards and practices, how we enact and apply them varies from place to place. And what that means is that trying things and writing them down is a crucial part of working in an archive, and that’s true whether it’s a community archive preserving the history of a local theater, a university or government archive collecting public records, or a corporate archive maintaining design and manufacturing specifications.

One example of trying things and writing them down as archival practice here at SCUA is how we catalog artifacts. To keep track of these three-dimensional objects (we have a lot of buttons), we use a software called Past Perfect, which was developed for use in museums. It lets us create records for artifacts, attach pictures, track where they are in our storage (or on display in an exhibit, out for preservation, etc), and export inventories– like the searchable PDF catalog on our website. There’s a manual for the software which details how to input information, how to save records, etc– basic software functions– but what it doesn’t, and can’t, tell us is how we want to use the software. Since Past Perfect was designed to support a broad range of institutions, it has a lot more options and features than we even need, and the interface can be pretty overwhelming, which was only part of the problem. The issue we found was that not enough of the artifacts in our collection had records, and the records were inconsistent, mostly because the existing instructions for cataloging artifacts weren’t very thorough and there wasn’t a clear workflow to follow.

How do we decide which fields are important for our artifacts, what kind of language to use in the descriptions, and what the standard cataloging procedure should be? That’s where trying things comes in. In order to develop a SCUA-specific manual for creating artifact records with Past Perfect, we had to take a look at what kind of records had been made before, what kind of artifacts we had, and what we thought was important to capture: most of all, though, we had to try cataloging artifacts. Every time we made a decision– enter the date of creation like this, use this term first to describe this kind of object– we wrote it down. Every time we took an action, we wrote it down. Eventually, we had a list of steps and directions for using Past Perfect to create the kind of records we want to have for the kind of objects SCUA holds. And then the testing began… There’s a manual now, with screenshots, that lays out the process so that anyone can do it and get the expected result.

This came up as a part of a larger project reviewing how we handle artifacts. Examining the artifact catalog, it became obvious that the existing procedures hadn’t been working and we needed a new approach. This is fairly common in an archive: a task becomes a bottleneck, or a procedure hasn’t been kept up to date, and creates a problem that needs to be solved inside the archive’s existing systems. Changing our approach is often a lot easier than acquiring (and training on, and migrating information to) a new tool for doing it. In this case, we already had Past Perfect, and Past Perfect was designed for the job, it just wasn’t being used consistently and to its potential. Fully documenting the workflow, the expected outcome, and our decision-making process in a manual solved the problem (not enough artifacts had records, and the records weren’t consistent) and also created a means to update that manual as needed.

We tried some things, and once we had tried enough things, we wrote them down, and now there’s a resource that anyone in the department, from a student worker to the next University Archivist, can pick up and use– or change, if it needs to be changed.

All this contributes to the life of the archive, both in shaping how materials are handled and made available, and becoming a record of how the people who work here do their work, what they’re passionate about, what they’ve changed and why. It’s the sort of work that supports all the rest of the work we do, not just now but for years to come. Which, given that our job is to preserve, make available, and store materials in the holdings for future generations, is sort of important.


#FashionFriday – April 1848

Welcome to April’s first #FashionFriday post! Today’s illustration takes us back to the fashion of April 1848, as we return to the Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection.

Fashions for April, illustrating a loose fitting coat and 4 dresses all with fitted bodices and full skirts. Top left dress has jewel neckline, 3/4 length, ruffle cuffed sleeves, and net mitts; top center has a jewel neckline, 3/4 oversleeves with wrist length, pleated undersleeves, and brooches pinned to waist; top right has a 'V' neckline with an attached lace capelet with center front bow and ruffle cuffed, 3/4 length sleeves; all top views have lace caps. Left coat dress is simple and fitted with a fold over collar; long, fitted sleeves, and a bonnet. The coat fits loosely over the body and is approximately knee-length with 3/4 sleeves, but the dress has long sleeves; worn with a lace and flower trimmed bonnet. (Published for The New Belle Assemblee: a Magazine for Literature and Fashion)
Image from ISU Digital Collections. Materials from RS 21/7/9 Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection.

Experience fashion history at home with the digitized fashion plates via ISU Digital Collections. Make sure to check out our other posts about this about this collection for more of our favorite illustrations.



Happy St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day was historically a special day at Iowa State. Why, you may ask? Well, St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers! He earned this honor by “teaching the Irish to build arches of lime mortar instead of dry masonry” (Engineers Ireland).

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Iowa State was held March 17, 1910.  Beginning at 8:30 in the morning, members of the Civil Engineering Society paraded around the campus, wearing tall top hats and pushing their flag bearer in a wheelbarrow.  The group paused for a program of songs and speeches on the steps of Beardshear Hall.  They then proceeded to downtown Ames, where they were addressed by Mayor Parley Sheldon.  In the afternoon, the Civil Engineering juniors played baseball against the seniors—the seniors won, 13-10.  Roller skating and a banquet brought the day to a close.

St. Patrick’s Day parade,
University Photos, Box 1658

Though St. Patrick’s Day began as a day of entertainment, by 1913, it was also serving the function of an open house for the Engineering Division.  Each department had a display.  Outstanding senior engineers were inducted into the Knights of the Order of the Guard of St. Patrick, an engineering honorary.  The inductees were “knighted” with a slide rule, by the “Engineer’s Lady” who had been selected by a student vote at the Engineer’s Campfire during fall semester.  St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated from 1910 until 1921.  The Knighting of the Guard of St. Patrick was incorporated into the VEISHEA ceremonies from 1922 to 1926 and then the ceremony was added to the Engineer’s Campfire festivities. (Previous 2 paragraphs researched and written by Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist.)

St. Patrick and Engineer’s Lady
University Photos, Box 1658

Everyone have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day, especially our friends in engineering!


CoEducation at Iowa State University

Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, now Iowa State University, was officially established by the Iowa General Assembly on March 22, 1858, but classes were not held until 1869. In 1868 the Board of Trustees began touring the United States and visiting Agricultural Universities and Colleges on observe how they were organized, the course of instruction, and rules and regulations governing them. They also toured a number of institutes that had been coeducational since their inception as they weighed the option in making the new college coeducational. 

Board of Regents Minutes, Volume 1, Page 246 (RS 1/8, Board of Regents Minutes)

Paragraph 2 Transcription

We also visited Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio, one of the best and most successful Colleges in the country, in which girls have been admitted from the time of its organization. The plan has given the most entire satisfaction, and many of the young ladies stand at the head of the regular college classes.

The Board concluded that it would be beneficial to all that women be admitted to the College, pending they meet admissions standards, for the first session, which was slated for March of 1869.  All Board members were also in agreement that they had no grounds not to admit women to the new college, as funding of the college came from state tax-payer monies.

Board of Regents Minutes, Volume 1, Page 248 (RS 1/8, Board of Regents Minutes)

Paragraph 2 Transcription

Again – we hold that we as Trustees have no right to exclude girls from the benefits of our State Agricultural College. The funds for the purchase of the Farm, and the erection of buildings , are derived from the tax-payers of the state and upon what principle of justice can we declare that only those who have sons shall enjoy its benefit. The general government has appropriated a vast tract of the public domain for the endowment and support of these industrial institutes, and what right have we to exclude the girls and young women of our state from any share in its beneficiaries

The two days following the opening of the college, applicants for admission were given exams in local geography, arithmetic, English grammar, and reading and spelling.  Those who proved proficient were enrolled in classes, while those who fell below the required standard but were deemed sufficient with a year of study were entered into the preparatory department. The first semester saw 93 students enrolled as freshmen and 80 in the preparatory department. Of those 173 students 16 women were admitted to the freshmen class, and 21 to the preparatory department. 

Third Biennial Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Agricultural College and Farm (LD 2531 Io9r, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives)

The Iowa State Agricultural College held its first commencement on November 13, 1872. Out of the original 93 students enrolled, only 26 graduated. Two of those were Fannie H. Richards and Mattie A. Locke, the first female graduates of Iowa State University.

Commencement Program 1872 (Office of the Registrar Records, RS 7/9/4/1, Box 1, Folder 1, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives)
Photo of Mattie A. (Locke) Macomber (University Photograph Collection, RS 21/6/A, Box 1547)
Photo of Fannie H. (Richards) Stanley (University Photograph Collection, RS 21/6/A, Box 1547)
Commencement Program 1872 (Office of the Registrar Records, RS 7/9/4/1, Box 1, Folder 1, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives)


#FashionFriday – 1867 Day Dresses

Here’s another #FashionFriday post, featuring the Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection. Make sure to check out our other posts about this about this collection for more of our favorite illustrations.

Today’s illustration depicts a group of women in different colors and styles of day dresses. The illustration is captioned “Godey’s Fashions for May 1867”.

Colorful fashion illustration on yellowing paper. The paper is torn in the bottom right hand corner. The text reads "Codey's Fashions for May 1867" and depicts a group of five women in luxurious day dresses.
Image from ISU Digital Collections. Materials from RS 21/7/9 Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection.

Experience fashion history at home with the digitized fashion plates via ISU Digital Collections.


#FlashbackFriday – Portraits in the Snow (1969)

While clicking through book two of the 1969 Bomb, I found a few sorority portraits that made good use of the snow. Check out these snowy group portraits from the 1969 Alpha Gamma Delta, and Delta Zeta sororities.

Remember, if you’re interested in reading more about years of Iowa State past, all copies of the Bomb are available digitally!