ISU Archivists visit the State Historical Society of Iowa @IowaMuseum #iowahistory

Yesterday we visited the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines. We were able to visit with a number of librarians, archivists, and curators. We learned about the Iowa Newspaper Project and work being done collecting county records, among many other things. This blog post does not do justice to all of the wonderful things we saw and learned about, so you will just have to drop by and visit the collections yourself!

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Rare Book Highlights: Cobbett’s Corn

Cobbett, William. A Treatise on Cobbett’s Corn. London: W. Cobbett, 1828.

What do you think of when you think of Iowa?

Let me guess. Corn.

Cobbett's Corn title page, printed on paper made from corn husks, 1828.

Cobbett’s Corn title page, printed on paper made from corn husks, 1828.

That is why I love to pull out Cobbett’s Corn when people come to ISU’s Special Collections and University Archives. Not only is it a rare book focused on corn, but its first two leaves are actually printed on paper made from corn husks to demonstrate the usefulness of the plant.

William Cobbett was a lively writer with strong opinions. In his “Introduction” to the book, he explains that in the book he will

“show, what a blessing this plant will be to the English labourer, and how it will and must drive the accursed soul-degrading potatoe out of that land, into which it never ought to have come” (8).

Tell us how you really feel, Cobbett!

William Cobbett, portrait in oils, possibly by George Cooke, about 1831. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Cobbett’s animated writing style was matched by a spirited personality, which showed itself in his campaigns against corruption and fiery journalism that had a tendency to run afoul of the authorities. Born in 1763 in Farnham, Surrey, to a farmer and innkeeper, he joined the army at the age of 21, which took him to New Brunswick in Canada. After his return to England and leaving the army, he accused several of his former officers with corruption. Fearing retribution, he fled to France, but, as the country was in the midst of revolution, he soon left for America, settling in Philadelphia in 1792. There, he began his career in political journalism, returning to England in 1800 after losing a lawsuit for libel brought against him by the physician Dr. Benjamin Rush. He continued his political journalism in England, founding the Political Register in 1802, which he published until his death in 1835. He spent two years in prison (1810-1812) and paid a hefty fine for criticizing the flogging of a militiaman who had protested against unfair paycuts. Through his paper, he was an advocate for the poor and a proponent of Parliamentary reform. In the midst of social unrest, the government repressed dissent, which sent Cobbett fleeing once again to the United States in 1817, where he lived and continued to publish the Register for two years before returning to England.

Cobbett’s periods in North America exposed him to the maize that is native here. In fact, it was while serving in the army in New Brunswick that he first experienced “Indian corn” and “made many meals upon ears of corn in their green state” (14). Until this time, he writes,

“I used to be greatly puzzled by that text of Scripture (St. Matthew, chap. xii., ver. 1,) which told me that, ‘at that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn: and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat'” (14).

He then goes on (what I found to be) an entertaining digression for several pages of what he calls the “Scriptural history of the corn” (20), which includes little jabs at the corruption of the Church in England.

Engraving of a corn plant.

Plate 1 from Cobbett’s Corn, 1828.

The corn he suggests growing in England is a particular variety that his son discovered in France. It is a smaller variety that does not require long periods of heat to ripen, thus making it appropriate for England’s shorter, wetter summers.

Cobbett’s Corn is a less known book. He is better known for Rural Rides, in which he describes horseback rides through the country landscapes of Southeast England and the Midlands and shares his views on social reform. But Cobbett’s Corn is worth a look, as well. The bibliographer Morris L. Pearl wrote, “In this most entertainingly written treatise Cobbett skilfully blended agricultural and political advice with fascinating reminiscences. Contemptuous of his critics and enemies, he waxed lyrical at the prospect of English farm-labourers seeing ‘this beautiful crop growing in all their gardens…instead of the infamous Potato'” (Pearl, William Cobbett (1953), no. 154).

 


Introducing the Digital Initiatives Website! @ISU_library

Hooray! The Digital Initiatives unit now has a website explaining what they do and providing a gateway to selected digitized collections. In a nutshell, Digital Initiatives puts collections from Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) online, as well as selected material from the library’s collection that’s in the public domain.

You can browse by topics, from A-Z, and by material/media type!

Some SCUA collections available are the Bomb (ISU yearbook) and the Cookbook Collection, includes Mrs. Welch’s Cook Book, Kitchen Klatter, and the 1890 Women’s Suffrage Cook Book.

If you want to suggest a new project for Digital Initiatives or ask them a question, contact them on their  Get Involved page.

 

 


Getting ready for WelcomeFest! @ISU_Library @ISU_SAC

In 1916 the tradition of freshman beanies began. Freshman had to wear the official freshman beanie from the first day of the school year through spring, from 8 am to 6 pm daily except Sunday. The beanies were then burned in a spring bonfire when freshmen became sophomores. This tradition ended in 1934.

Since the beanies were usually burned, you can imagine that many have not survived for posterity. In Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), we do have a freshman beanie (pictured below) in our Artifact Collection .

Freshman Beanie from the SCUA Artifact Collection

Freshman Beanie from the SCUA Artifact Collection

Next week at the University Library table at WelcomeFest, SCUA staff will be wearing beanies while greeting new ISU Freshman. The talented Science & Technology Librarians Kris Stacy-Bates & Heather Lewin, and Head of Stacks, Kathy Parsons,  constructed the beanies for us and they did wonderful work! Our beanie makers constructed the beanies without any pattern. They couldn’t deconstruct the original beanie and use that as a model, because it is an artifact. They had to develop their own pattern and technique for creating the new beanies. They did a fantastic job!

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Below are the library staff responsible for creating the facsimile beanies.

(L-R): Kris Stacy-Bates, Heather Lewin, and Kathy Parsons wearing facsimiles of freshman beanies they made

(L-R): Kris Stacy-Bates, Heather Lewin, and Kathy Parsons (Photo by Megan O’Donnell)

A round of applause to Kris, Heather & Kathy! We’ll see you next week at the library’s WelcomeFest table. Drop by and get your picture taken! We will be there with our beanies on.


The Table’s Tale #Flashback Friday

This Flashback Friday post is about a table that Special Collections and University Archives received in 2008. The bulk of this Friday’s blog post is authored by Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist.

The table was received as a gift in 2008, and was thought to be part of the original furnishings of Morrill Hall.  However, once Archives staff started to do research on the names and other writings on the back side of the table top, it was apparent that it predated the opening of Morrill Hall in July of 1895.  It may have been in use as early as 1884.

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Here is information collected by Becky back in 2008:

Writings on the Back of the Table Top

Scattered across the table are a number of dates:

May 9 ____

May 14 ‘87

May 29 1889

November 10 89

84 (this is etched in—there is also an 84 on the inside edge of the table itself)

 

There are three tic tac toe games.

 

Also scattered are some names:

Orris Roberts—younger brother of longtime faculty member Maria Roberts, he was expelled in 1892 for joining a fraternity after they had been banned by President Beardshear.

Ch_____t______ Esq.  (The name looks as if it was rubbed out—it is smeared, rather than illegible.  The Esq. may not belong to this name)

Grace Axtell—appears in the 1896 Bomb as a class member, but did not graduate.

Rhoda Ryan

 

There are also 14 names grouped together:

Grace Axtell (again)

Daisee Robinson

Louise Hamilton

Loretta Hamilton

Cora Thompson

Ruth or Faith Thompson

Emma McCarthy

Grant Kirtrow or Kertrow

W.S. Dawson

E.E. Smith

R.B. Armstrong

C.S. Lincoln

_. W. Deaver or Driver

W.D. Mason

 

I could find no information for Rhoda Ryan, Ruth Thompson or _.W. Deaver.  Following is what I could find about the rest of these names:

 

Grace Axtell

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in the Ladies’ Course in 1893 and a Sophomore Special in 1894.  She was the daughter of Charles P. and Harriett Adelaide (Ada) Miller Axtell.  Her father was a partner in the firm of Ray & Axtell, a dry goods store on the west side of the square in Newton, Iowa.  Grace married Alfred Herschel (Fred) Munn on October 21, 1897.  Fred was a member of the class of 1894 but did not graduate.  His family owned (and still does) the Munn Lumber Company in Ames.  Their son, Hiram Axtell, was a member of the Class of 1922.

 

Daisee Robinson

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1893 and a sophomore in 1894. Like Grace Axtell, she was from Newton.  Her father, Ralph Robinson, was the editor of the Newton Journal.  Her mother’s maiden name was Fannie Hamilton.  Both parents were from Ohio.  According to her father’s obituary, Daisee’s husband was Mark Evans.

 

Louise Hamilton

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1891, a sophomore in 1894, and a junior in 1895 in the Ladies’ Course.  She appears as a member of the class of 1896 in the 1896 Bomb.  She is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 20, and in the Ames 1st Ward as a student, age 20.  She was the daughter of Charles and Tennetta Hamilton, with siblings Dora, Ethel, Loretta and Charles Jr.  Both parents were from New York.

She married William C. Boardman, September 29, 1897.

 

Loretta Hamilton

Loretta was Louise Hamilton’s sister.  We have no record of her as a student.  She is listed in the 1895 Census in Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 23 and in Ames 1st Ward as a bookkeeper, age 22.  She married Benton Davis, June 27, 1900.

 

Cora Thompson

Cora May Thompson is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward, occupation ?her (perhaps teacher), age 20.  Her parents were F.D. and Abbie Thompson, and siblings were Kate, Sylvia, Clayton, and Olive.  We have no record of her as a student.  She married Charles S. Lincoln (Class of 1894) on September 15, 1898.

 

Emma McCarthy

A member of the class of 1885, who did not graduate, Emma McCarthy was the daughter of Ames pioneer Daniel McCarthy and his wife Mary Ann Ross McCarthy.  In the 1894 yearbook (published 1893), she is listed as Iowa State’s assistant librarian.  She attended Iowa State for three semesters (1881-1882) then taught school in Story County for eight years.  She then spent two years at the Ames Post Office, joining the Iowa State staff in 1892.  She married Chaucer G. Lee (Class of 1894) on September 23, 1896.  Lee practiced law with Daniel McCarthy and was the judge of Iowa’s 11th District for eight years.  Emma’s name is very familiar in Ames, because her husband presented a park to the city bearing her name in 1949.

 

W.S. Dawson

He is listed as an Electrical Engineering sophomore in 1893 and a “Special” junior in 1894, but did not graduate.  He was from Nevada.

 

E.E. Smith

Edwin E. Smith was an 1893 graduate in Science.  He is listed in Iowa State College Graduates as being from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, and deceased.

 

R.B. Armstrong

Listed as a “special” from Polk City in the 1894 Catalog and the 1895 Bomb, he did not graduate.

 

C.S. Lincoln

An 1894 graduate, Charles S. Lincoln was the son of James Rush Lincoln, Iowa State’s head of Military Science, 1883-1919.  Charles Lincoln had a distinguished military career, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1894 and retiring as a Brigadier General in 1936.  He married Cora May Thompson (see above) on September 15, 1898.

 

W.D. Mason

Watson Mason is shown as a member of the Class of 1894 in the 1894 yearbook, but did not actually graduate until 1896.  His degree was in Mechanical Engineering, and he is noted as deceased in the 1912 engineering directory.  His hometown was Toledo, Iowa.

 

Some Explanations:

Until 1925, Iowa State’s yearbook The Bomb was published by the junior class and called by their class year.  Thus, the 1895 Bomb actually came out in 1894.  The last year this was done was 1924.  Then the yearbook staff was opened to all classes and the book was dated with the year it was actually published.  (This is also why there are two 1925 yearbooks).

The “Ladies’ Course” was a basic course of college study which included Domestic Economy.  For example, the first term of the sophomore year included Domestic Economy, German or Latin, History, One Essay, and the choice of two sciences from Botany, Horticulture, Physics or Trigonometry.  The degree received was the B.L. or Bachelor of Letters.

“Specials” were those taking special lines of study.  The 1894 Catalog describes these students as follows:

“Any person of mature age and good moral character, who desires to pursue studies in any department of instruction of the College, and who is not a candidate for a degree, will, upon application to the president, be admitted on the following conditions:  (1).  He must meet the requirements for admission to the freshman class, and pass such special examinations as the professor in charge of the department selected shall deem essential to a profitable pursuit of the work.  (2).  He shall confine his work strictly to the line of study chosen at the time of admission, and shall take enough class work, laboratory and other practice equivalent to work required of regularly classified students.  (3).  He shall submit to the same requirements in daily recitations and in examinations, with students in the regular courses.

Students who have pursued thus a special line of study in the Institution, will, upon application to the faculty, be granted the College Certificate, showing their standing in such studies.”


“The world’s first and longest-running scientific periodical”

Phil Trans tp

The title page of the copy held by ISU Library Special Collections and archives.

A patron has been examining our 350-year-old copies of the first issues of Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London, which gives me something interesting to blog about. The patron is Marcia Prior-Miller, an Associate Professor Emeritus from the ISU Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. I met Marcia when she visited Special Collections a year or so ago, and I enjoyed talking to her about her research and writing. Now she’s back, and working on a book chapter. Its topic is the historical emergence of magazine and journal publishing. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London is one of the four earliest examples of magazines or journals; the other three publications are in German, Italian, and French, and we won’t address them here.

The first issue of Philosophical transactions […] contains ten entries on various scientific and technical topics. Some are essay-length; others are just paragraphs. None have illustrations, charts, or graphs. Nor are there bibliographical references or citations as we know them, although in some cases titles and names are provided. Henry Oldenburg seems to have edited the whole, drawing on an array of publications and correspondence. I find it to be interesting reading; the prose style is more colorful and lively than the scientific writing of our time.

Monstrous calf

Again, the first issue. Note that someone underlined dozens of words in ink that has turned brown with age. Perhaps it is iron gall ink.

Issue number two has pages numbered 17-32, i.e. it takes up where issue number one left off. To this day, journals (as opposed to magazines) commonly have “continuous paging throughout a volume.” Notably, volume two of Philosophical transactions […] does not begin with a fresh page one; rather, after some unnumbered pages, it carries on from p. 409. (Pardon me for noting these details. I am a librarian and a cataloger, so I can’t help but notice them!)

Issue two also feature the title’s first illustrations. They are beautifully done on a leaf that folds out. These figures are associated with the article (?) on pages 21-26 concerning “a way of producing Wind by the fall of Water.”

Phil Trans ill

Visit us here in special collections if you’d like to see our extensive collection of the Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of LondonYou can also view and download scans of individual issues (here, and I imagine elsewhere).

(My blog post’s title is borrowed from an exhibition catalog called Philosophical transactions: 350 years of publishing at the Royal Society (1665-2015). The catalog is an excellent resource in itself. You can view or download a PDF of it here.)


#TBT Art Class @ISUDesign

Students practice their skills in a drawing class, 1934. University Photographs, box #.

Students practice their skills in a drawing class, 1934. University Photographs, box 2081.

 

Although the College of Design at Iowa State is relatively young (est. 1979), art classes existed on campus long before that. This photo from 1934 illustrates – so to speak – just that. More information on art and design at ISU can be found in the College of Design collections, and additional photographs can be found in University Photographs, RS 26. Come in and have a look!

 

 

 


Youth dive into history!

“Dive into History: Solve a Mystery in the Archives” was the name of the workshop Project Archivist, Whitney Olthoff, and I conducted on June 30th for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. “Dive to New Depths” was this year’s conference theme, and that’s exactly what 4-Hers got to do in our workshop. We provided 30 students from grades 9-12 hands-on experience using primary sources from our collections. They had to “dive in” to selected collections, look for clues, and answer questions. Our goals were to give them a snapshot of the kinds of materials we have here and to show them that conducting research in special collections and archives is not the same as researching something on the Internet.

 

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We look forward to conducting more instruction sessions that show students how to handle and evaluate primary sources!  Contact us if you are interested in having your class come in and use materials from Special Collections & University Archives.

This post was written by Rachel Seale and Whitney Olthoff.


#TBT On the Farm @ISUExtension

Two farmers lifting hay bales on the farm, (year?). University Photographs, box (#)

Two farmers lifting hay bales on the farm, undated. University Photographs, box 1349

There is so much I love about his photo: the angle, the light and dark contrast, the windmill, the depiction of farm work in the early-to-mid 20th century.  It also looks a bit like a storm is building, but that may just be blue sky that looks extra dark with the overall dark tone of the photo. This is one of several photos taken at farmsteads around Iowa by the Extension Service.

Stop in sometime to see more photos depicting rural life in Iowa!


Rare Book Highlights: Micrographia

Illustration of Hooke's microscope, from Micrographia.

Illustration of Hooke’s microscope, from Micrographia.

Last month, I highlighted Nehemiah Grew’s Anatomy of Plants, published in 1682, in which an English physician turned his microscope to the world of plants. This month, I am going backwards–not too far, only about 20 years–to the book that inspired Grew’s microscopic research. That book is Robert Hooke‘s Micrographia, published in 1665.

Micrographia was the first book to delve deep into microscopic observations, and its publication reached far and wide. Isaac Newton read it, and Hooke’s observations of light inspired his experiments in Book 2 of Opticks. The great 17th century London diarist Samuel Pepys writes that he sat up reading it till 2 am, and called it “the most ingenious book that ever I read in my life.” The entry for the book in The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine bibliography states that the book “had an impact rivalling that of Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius,” Galileo’s 1610 pamphlet describing his telescopic observations of the Moon and four moons of Jupiter (Norman 1092).

Looking at its plates, you can see why. The book is particularly famous for its large, and perhaps alarming, illustrations of the flea and louse (above).

Illustration of cork under magnification, from Hooke's Micrographia

Illustration of cork under magnification, from Hooke’s Micrographia.

The book is noted for its first use of the word cells in describing the structure of cork, although Hooke did not understand the nature of what biologists later termed cells in the structure of plants and animals. Hooke made other observations published in the book that contributed to or are associated with other scientific theories. His observation of charcoal, for instance, includes his theories on combustion, an area of scientific work in which three other men (Robert Boyle, Richard Lower, and John Mayow) were actively engaged at the same time. Hooke’s observations of insects formed the first studies of insect anatomy.

Hooke began his observations with inanimate objects, including various types of cloth, the point of a needle, and the edge of a razor, which he discovered to be “a rough surface of a very considerable bredth from side to side, the narrowest part not seeming thinner then the back of a pretty thick Knife” (4). [Note that spelling peculiarities in quotations here and below are from the original work and indicate variations in spelling from the time period.] From there, he moved on to plants and to animals, specifically insects.

I was particularly struck by his observations of the sting of a bee, which he notes,”seems to be a weapon of offence, and is as great an Instance, that Nature did realy intend revenge as any” (163). He describes its structure as consisting of a sheath and a sword. The sheath he describes as being:

“arm’d moreover neer the top with several crooks or forks (pqrst) on one side, and (pqrstu) on the other, each of which seem’d like so many Thorns growing on a briar, or rather like so many Cat’s Claws; for the crooks themselves seem’d to be little sharp transparent points or claws, growing out of little protuberancies on the side of the sheath, which, by observing the Figure diligently, is easie enough to be perceiv’d; and from several particulars, I suppose the Animal has a power of displaying them, and shutting them in again as it pleases, as a Cat does its claws, or as an Adder or Viper can its teeth or fangs” (163-4).

Stop by Special Collections and University Archives to read more of Hooke’s observations and view the impressive folding plates. We hope to see you soon!