Audubon Birds of America_plate28

Snowy Owls from John James Audubon’s Birds of America, 1840 (call number QL674, Volume 1, plate 28)

We are pleased to announce that next week we will be holding a special event showcasing a number of our natural history texts.  This is one of several Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities events being held this year.  Matthew Sivils, associate professor of English and the 2015 CEAH Fellow in the Arts and Humanities, will provide a brief overview of the texts which will be displayed, which includes works by influential eighteenth- and nineteenth-century naturalists such as Mark Catesby and John James Audubon.

You can find details on this event and others on the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities website:

The seeds of America’s environmental identity were first planted by a handful of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century naturalist-explorers. These naturalists—who were as much artists and poets as scientists—made it their mission to discover, record, and share North America’s natural diversity. These volumes, published by figures such as Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon, contain powerful descriptions and stunning illustrations of the plants and animals that would come to define the land. Professor Sivils will provide a brief overview of some of the most influential of these texts, followed by a viewing of rare natural history volumes housed in the ISU Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Professor Sivils will give his talk in the 405 classroom adjacent to the Special Collections Department.  Following his presentation, there will be an opportunity to view a selection of our natural history texts in the Special Collections Reading Room.

“Early Natural History Texts: The Roots of American Environmentalism”
March 4, 7:00–8:00 p.m., Special Collections Department, Parks Library

Below is a sampling of what you will see if you’re able to attend the event next Wednesday:

The Aurelian. A natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. Also a faithful account of their respective changes, their usual haunts when in the winged state, and their standard names as established by the Society of Aurelians. / Drawn engraved and coloured from the natural subjects. By Moses Harris. 1766. (QL542.4 H242a)

The Aurelian, 1766 (call number QL542.4 H242a)

The full title of the book pictured above is:  The Aurelian: A natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. Also a faithful account of their respective changes, their usual haunts when in the winged state, and their standard names as established by the Society of Aurelians. / Drawn engraved and coloured from the natural subjects. By Moses Harris, 1766.  (Wondering what “aurelian” means?  It’s an older world for lepidopterist.  A lepidopterist studies or collects butterflies and moths.)

historia stirpium-pg52

De historia stirpium commentarii insignes… by Leonard Fuchs, 1542 (call number QK41 .F951d)

The “De Historia Stirpium, or Notable commentaries on the history of plants, contains 497 descriptions in Latin of plants, with woodcuts based on first-hand observation.  Early herbals often contained depictions of plants which were not based on actual specimens, but on depictions from other books.  As a result, these illustrations were often inaccurate.  The De Historia Stirpium was the first herbal to illustrate native plants from the Americas.  More on Leonhart Fuchs’ herbals can be found in our online exhibit.

We are looking forward to next week’s event (March 4, 7-8pm), and hope we will see you there!

Posted by: Kim | February 24, 2015

CyPix: a Fire, a Ram, and a Tradition

Have you heard the story of the Old Main fires? Instead of the large campus we have now, the university (then the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm) was housed entirely in a single building, “Old Main.” Old Main stood where Beardshear is now. Old Main proved to be much less sturdy than Beardshear – it lasted only 34 years. First it was damaged by a tornado (1882), followed by a fire (1900) that destroyed the north wing and caused extensive damage to the rest of the building. Two years later a fire ravaged the remainder of the structure and Old Main was completely destroyed (1902).

Arloe Paul ('33) passes on the ram's head to Jerry Ladman ('58). (RS 21/7/1, Arloe Paul)

Arloe Paul (’33) passes on the ram’s head to Jerry Ladman (’58). (RS 21/7/1)

But, students turned this tragedy into an opportunity for a new tradition. The image above depicts Class President of 1933, Arloe Paul, presenting Class President of 1958, Jerry Ladman, with a metal ram’s head. The head is purported to be architectural salvage from one of the fires in Old Main. The story is that it was rescued by Dean Edgar Stanton and O. H. Cessna (both class of 1872). The passage of the head every 25 years has become a campus tradition that continues to this day. It is next due to be passed from the class of 2008 to the class of 2033.

To learn about other campus traditions, check out the following:

  • Campus Traditions (RS 00/16)
  • Memorials and Traditions Committee (RS 08/06/061)
  • VEISHEA (Record group RS 22/12)

Of course, you’re always welcome to stop by and see us or get in touch!

Posted by: bkuennen | February 20, 2015

WOI-TV Celebrates 65 Years of Programming

On February 21, 1950, WOI-TV broadcast its first programming from the campus of Iowa State College. Originally licensed to operate as Channel 4, WOI was the nation’s first educational television station and, until 1954, central Iowa’s only television station. In the spirit of the Extension tradition, Iowa State intended to use the station to explore how television could revolutionize adult education and bring new learning opportunities to high school students across the state. The station programmers knew that they faced several challenges by focusing on educational programming. A report published two months after the station was on the air identified that one of the greatest challenges the station faced was “to prove that farming and homemaking telecasts can be interesting and entertaining and at the same time be educational.”

Portrait of Ed Wegner, host of the WOI-TV program "Televisits" (RS 5/6/6)

Ed Wegner, host of the WOI-TV program “Televisits” (RS 5/6/6, box 1, folder 12)

One of the early successes of the station occurred in 1951 with the acquisition of a $260,000 grant from the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education. This money allowed WOI to produce a series of public affairs programs titled “The Whole Town’s Talking.” These programs looked at issues affecting central Iowans and illustrated how the community members debated matters such as school consolidation, community infrastructure projects, and juvenile delinquency. This award-winning series was directed and produced by Charles Guggenheim, who later in his career would direct a number of Academy Award-winning documentaries and become a media advisor for several presidential campaigns including Robert Kennedy’s.

The Whole Town's Talking

Scene from the set of an episode of “The Whole Town’s Talking,” circa 1952 (RS 5/6/6, box 1, folder 13)

When the University sold WOI-TV to Capital Communications Company in 1994, the University Archives acquired the paper records of the television station along with thousands of 16mm films and videotapes. These films offer a glimpse of what local television programming was like in the 1950s and some of these films have been digitized and are available on our YouTube channel. You can judge for yourself how successful the station was at providing educational programming that was both interesting and entertaining!

The Whole Town’s Talking – Cambridge

More resources are available in Special Collections (of course!)

  • A complete list of WOI-TV programs available for viewing in Special Collections can be seen here. WOI-TV 16mm film listing
  • Finding aids for our archival collections related to WOI Radio and Television can be found on our website. Finding Aids

If you see anything of interest, contact us, or better yet stop in and see us!

Posted by: bishopae | February 17, 2015

CyPix: Rising to the sky–Marston Water Tower

Completed Marston Water Tower, in 1897, showing Morrill Hall on the right and Margaret Hall on the left.

Marston Water Tower,  1897, showing Morrill Hall on the right and Margaret Hall on the left.

The steel pointed top of the Marston Water Tower rising above campus is one the ISU campus landmarks, and it has an interesting history. It was designed by Anson Marston, Professor and Head (1892-1917) of the Department of Civil Engineering. 1894 saw a water shortage on campus so severe that classes had to be cancelled. The following year, the college decided to build a water tower. It was the first elevated steel water tower west of the Mississippi. It stands 168 feet tall, while the tank itself is  40 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter, holding 162,000 gallons. In 1978, the university became part of the city of Ames’ water system, and Marston Water Tower was no longer used. In 1981, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1987 it was restored. In 2007,  the American Water Works Association named the Marston Water Tower an “American Water Landmark.”

Watch the tower rise above campus in this series of construction photographs from 1897.

The beginning of construction of Marston Water Tower, showing Old Main in the background, March 9, 1897.

The beginning of construction of Marston Water Tower, showing Old Main in the background, March 9, 1897.

First stage of construction completed, March 18, 1897. Old Main is on the left, the Chemical and Physical Laboratory is on the right.

First stage of construction completed, March 18, 1897. Old Main is on the left, the Chemical and Physical Laboratory is on the right.

Progress on the water tower, March 22, 1897.

Progress on the water tower, March 22, 1897.

Construction begins on tank itself, April 22, 1897.

Construction begins on tank itself, April 22, 1897.

Construction nearly completed on the water tower, July 6, 1897.

Construction nearly completed on the water tower, July 6, 1897.

It’s African-American History Month and it’s past time that we featured Frederick Douglas Patterson (’23 and ’27) – an alumnus who had a significant and continuing impact on educational funding and college attainment. He is most known for his work with the Tuskegee Institute (now University) and as the founder of the United Negro College Fund (now UNCF).

Portrait of Frederick D. Patterson (RS 21/7/19)

Portrait of Frederick D. Patterson (RS 21/7/19)

Read More…

Posted by: bishopae | February 10, 2015

CyPix: student vaudeville

Vaudeville is a type of theatrical entertainment consisting of variety acts that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Student-produced vaudeville shows were popular at Iowa State during that same time period, such as the one shown in the photograph below.

Student vaudeville performance, 1926. Photograph Collection, box 1669.

Student vaudeville performance, 1926. Photograph Collection, box 1669.

This is from the college’s fourth-annual student vaudeville performance in 1926, called “Going Down.” It followed the round-the-world flight of a high-powered plane, “Daphne,” which visited Alaska, the Indonesian island of Java, and Cairo in Egypt, before finally ending in Spiritland. It featured a ballet and several other musical and dance numbers along the way.

The performance was a hit. According to the 1926 Bomb, the ISU yearbook which was published from 1893 to 1993, the show played to capacity houses for each of its two performances. It raved, “‘Going Down’ has been acclaimed the greatest student vaudeville staged at Iowa State College.”

To browse through copies of the Bomb, or to learn more about student activities throughout ISU history, stop by Special Collections!

The Conchologist's First Book... (QL405 P752c)

The Conchologist’s First Book… (QL405 P752c)

In preparing for an event taking place next month which will showcase our natural history texts, I had the opportunity to find out about a book I had no idea we held:  The Conchologist’s First Book:  or a system of testaceous malacology, arranged expressly for the use of schools…, by Edgar Allan Poe.  I was a little surprised to learn that Poe had published far outside of the genres of detective stories and science fiction for which he is well-known!  The Conchologist’s First Book has an intriguing story all its own, and sold more copies during Poe’s lifetime than any of his other publications.

The author of a book on shells had asked Poe to put together a less expensive version of his own book.  As editor, translator, and arranger of the requested version, Poe made a number of contributions.  He did not follow more traditional ways of arranging the illustrations of the shells, but rather decided to organize the shells from the simplest to the most complex.  This was done before Charles Darwin had published his theories on evolution.  The publisher of the original book would not allow the author’s name to be on the book in fear that it would reduce the sales of the original, and therefore Poe’s name was used for the first three editions.  Curious to learn more?  The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe has an interesting description here.  This was not the only book which provides us with Poe’s scientific thinking. For his final book, Eureka, Poe writes a prose poem containing his ideas on the nature and origin of the universe.

The Special Collections Department holds a few other books related to Edgar Allan Poe, including the one pictured above (PS2631 M6 1885).

The Special Collections Department holds a few other books related to Edgar Allan Poe, including the one pictured above (PS2631 M6 1885).

Interested in seeing our first edition copy of The Conchologist’s First Book (QL405.P752c)? Please feel free to visit us on the fourth floor of Parks Library (M-F, 10-4).  We also have a few other books related to Poe (including an 1885 copy of A Defense of Edgar Allan Poe. Life, Character and Dying Declarations of the Poet. An Official Account of His Death), and a variety of books on conchology and shells.  This includes Thomas Brown’s The Conchologist’s Text Book (QL403 .B81c), which the original author of Poe’s textbook had based his book.

conchological manual

A Conchological Manual, by G. B. Sowerby, junior (QL406 So93c)

 

 
Posted by: Whitney | February 3, 2015

CyPix: Morrill Hall Library

Ever wonder what the ISU Library was like in the early days? Well, I’m about to shed some light on that mystery with the photo below.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall. (University Photographs, 4/8/H, box 157)

Originally, the Library was located in Old Main. In 1891, it was moved to Morrill Hall, where it resided on the first floor, south of the central stairway. In 1914, it was relocated to Beardshear Hall, and the Agricultural Extension Offices and Document Room took its place in Morrill. Construction of the Library’s very own building began in 1923. It was dedicated in 1925, and is still there today. Of course, it looks quite a bit different now due to renovations and additions.

This information and more can be found in our online exhibits, Morrill Hall: A Brief History and From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History. Also have a look at RS 4/8/4, Buildings and Grounds Records, for more information on the buildings in which the Library has resided. The photo above can be found on our Flickr site along with other library photos!

Tonight Orchesis I, ISU’s modern dance company, presents Barjche, the company’s annual modern dance production. The performance has a long history at ISU. Let’s see what we can find in the archives about it, shall we?

Program for first Barjche production in 1944. RS 10/7/3, Box 2, Folder 11.

Program for first Barjche production in 1944. RS 10/7/3, Box 2, Folder 11.

The first production

First things first. What’s up with the name?!? Barjche (pronounced “bar-shay”), came from combining the initials of the officers of the Women’s Dance Club in 1944, the year of the inaugural performance. The dance was initially performed as part of the VEISHEA celebrations, though later on it became a separate event, performed at different times over the years during winter quarter.  The first production included two original dance-dramas, “The Shakers” and “This Life.”

Inside of the program from the 1944 Barjche. RS 10/7/3, box 2, folder 11.

Inside of the program from the 1944 Barjche. RS 10/7/3, box 2, folder 11.

In a letter to the editor of The Iowa Stater from May 1987, Trymby Calhoun Stickels, the president of the dance club in 1944, describes her contributions to the production:

Letter to the Editor of The Iowa Stater, May 1987. RS 10/7/51, Box 3, Folder3.

Letter to the Editor of The Iowa Stater, May 1987. RS 10/7/51, Box 3, Folder3.

“I was a better writer than a dancer, so Miss Moomaw [the club’s advisor] asked me to write a story line and she did the choreography for one of our big numbers. It was based on the Shaker religious group, and, of course, had all the drama that a strict religious theme could offer. Men and women were forbidden to have any contact with each other so we had a forbidden love story and a big tragic ending. It was great fun!” –Stickels, Trymby (Tim) Calhoun. “The ‘c’ in Barjche.” The Iowa Stater May 1987: 9.

Betty Toman

Betty Toman dancing, 1988. Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51, box 4, folder 12.

Betty Toman, 1988. Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51, box 4, folder 12.

One person who has had a significant impact on Barjche is Betty Toman. Toman came to ISU in 1948 as a dance instructor and later became a professor in the Department of Physical Eduction. She served as Barjche’s director for 22 years, eventually expanding the production to include students from three departments: theater, dance, and music. In 1965, she took over advising the dance club, which became known as Orchesis. Orchesis I continues to produce Barjche today.

Barjche production, 1967. University Photograph Collection, box 804.

Barjche production, 1967. University Photograph Collection, box 804.

Although most of the dance pieces in Barjche were choreographed by students, over the years Betty Toman also brought in well-known professional dancers as guest choreographers. One of these was Bill Evans, who was commissioned to choreograph a piece for Barjche 1975 called “Salt Lake City Rag.”

Photograph and program for "Salt Lake City Rag" by Bill Evans, 1975. From RS 10/7/3 and RS 10/7/51.

Photograph and program for “Salt Lake City Rag” by Bill Evans, 1975. From RS 10/7/3 and RS 10/7/51.

More information about Barjche and Orchesis I can be found in the Orchesis Records, RS 10/7/3, and in the Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51. Stop by Special Collections to check them out!

Posted by: Kim | January 27, 2015

CyPix: Stress Relief in the Artifacts

Here at Special Collections we have a wide array of materials. Although the bulk of our materials are older and still paper-based, we also have artifacts that came in with our manuscript collections or that form part of the history of Iowa State University.

computer-shaped stress releiver

One of several foam stress relievers we have in our artifacts collection. (Artifact# 2011-048)

Universities produce promotional items and Iowa State University is no exception. We have many types of promotional items created by the University over the years. This one is a computer-shaped foam stress reliever from 2011 inscribed with one of our points of pride: “Birthplace: Electronic Digital Computer.”

We don’t yet have a separate listing of the artifacts online, but artifacts are listed in our finding aids here and here where relevant. If you’d like help locating an artifact, please contact us (archives@iastate.edu) and we’ll see what we can find!

You can learn more about the first electronic digital computer (the “ABC”) in the John Vincent Atanasoff Papers (RS 13/20/51) and the Wallace C. Caldwell Papers (RS 11/6/55).

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