Tell Your Story – Natalie Kelly

Today Natalie shares her thoughts on her college time coming to an end as part of the “Tell Your Story” project. This was her third post.

On May 7, I sat in the basement of my parent’s house and finished my college career by clicking submit on an online quiz for RUSSIAN 375. In a split second, my time at Iowa State was over. No celebration occurred or defining moment that I will remember for a lifetime took place. Growing up I could have never imagined this is how my college experience would end. Watching my name scroll by on a screen during online commencement was a bittersweet moment, and I would have given anything to sit in Hilton and accept my diploma in person. The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted many people in unexpected ways, and the class of 2020 is far from excluded. Our transition in adulthood has been sudden and abrupt, leaving us scrambling to prepare for the ‘real world’. We are being pushed into find jobs in a market where hiring is basically nonexistent and unemployment rates are higher than ever before. I read an article posted to titled How COVID-19 Will Shape the Class of 2020 For the Rest of Their Lives by Charlotte Alter, and found her remarks spot on.

“College graduation is one of life’s last clean transitions, a final passage from adolescence to adulthood that is predictable in ways other transitions rarely are. Relationships end with breakups or death, jobs often end with quitting or firing, but college is one of the only things in life that ends with a fresh start. Except when it doesn’t… The Class of 2020 hugged their closest friends and mourned their lost semester, but scattered back home without so much as a goodbye to many people they’d lived with for years. Acquaintances who laughed in hallways or shared inside jokes in seminars simply disappeared. Fraternities and sororities canceled their formals and philanthropy events, attempting Zoom happy hours that didn’t come close to the real thing.” (Alter, 2020)

Alter’s depiction of these graduate’s lives hits far too close to home with me. I never got to huge friend’s goodbye who live across the country, or sit next to my Event Management peers one last time. I have partaken in a few Zoom happy hours myself, trying to feel connected to my friends and sorority sisters during a time when we should have all still been together. I am thankful to be healthy and have parents who are willing to support me during this time, and my heart goes out to those who don’t have the same amenities. I have no idea what the next months will bring, let alone the next few weeks. The world may never be the same again, and the class of 2020 surly will never forget this period in history.

TIME article link:

Tell Your Story – Taylor Tomlinson

Today’s post is from Taylor, the seventh post in his series, as part of the “Tell Your Story” project.

Finals week 

Where last week felt like an absolute trudge for me, this week was over before I knew it. Maybe it’s because I was happy and ready to be done but it was Thursday and I still thought it was Tuesday. I’m sure for most, this week was a crawl. I know my friend had a final that was due last week he thought was due this week. Fortunately, he begged the teacher and they reopened it. I had a similar experience, because I mixed up two tests that opened at the same time. The one I planned on taking on Tuesday morning was due at 11:59 Monday night. I found out at 11:00. Another friend only passed a class by a few points, I know they had been struggling with that. Besides that, one close call for me though, all of my finals were fairly straightforward, and I had them all done and submitted by Tuesday afternoon. Now the week is over and final grades are rolling in. The ones I am the wariest of are also the ones that are taking the longest, which I’m sure is true of most people. I know I didn’t do too bad, but I’m sure they’re not as good as I would like.  

I’m definitely ready for a nice break and hopefully class on campus next fall. As we begin to reopen little by little, in person classes become more and more certain. Though, the situation was evolving rapidly not long back, and every big development was another bump in the road. I’m not sure what kind of bumps we may face in the near future, but I hope that the biggest roadblocks are behind us. 

I’ve been out a lot recently, but I haven’t gone to any restaurants, so I am curious how that would go. I have heard that they operate at half capacity and they can’t give you the food, you have to get it yourself. I don’t know the accuracy of that, but It would be an interesting experience to dine out right now.  

On the topic of going out. Now that the governor has started to lift restrictions a little, some friends and I finally met up for the first time since mid-March. We didn’t do much other than talk, but it was nice to catch up. I also visited campus for the first time since before spring break. It was refreshing to go for a walk and not go the exact same way I always do. Compared to earlier in the year, there were obviously a lot less people, but we did see a handful of students taking their graduation photos. I know that a lot of people were really upset about the lack of a graduation ceremony. I hope that taking graduation photos can help fill the mortarboard shaped holes in their hearts. I for one, have had my fill of graduation ceremonies and I wouldn’t want to trip in front of an even bigger audience.  

Other than walking and talking, we got our fishing licenses. We tried to go fishing this last Friday, but it was very windy. After a while I just curled up into a ball and watched him fish. I did catch one fish though so that was nice. Currently in the works, a good and proper fishing trip, but I think it is still a way out.  

My other friend somewhat, well let’s not beat around the bush, completely irresponsibly bought a virtual reality headset, so of course we had to try it. It was a lot of fun. It’s crazy just how much you feel like you are actually there. Obviously, you don’t think you’re actually there, but you really feel the depth and space of the area. The screen was a little blurry, but I think that’s because it was adjusted to my friend’s eyes, not mine. My favorite thing about it though is that it came with a little spacer you can put in for people with glasses so I wouldn’t have to take them off. It was also way more of a workout than I had anticipated. I could have definitely used that back in early April when I wasn’t active at all. All in all, when money is a little less tight, I may just have to get my own.  

I know we just had our first confirmed Iowa State case, but I hope in the coming months, things start to calm down and we all can start going back to our normal day to day. It was nice to see friends again, but it will be better when we can start meeting up in bigger groups and won’t have to try our best to avoid everyone else.  

That’s all for this week. Now that I’m done writing, I’m going to go on my walk and try to figure out what to do with the rest of the day. If anyone was wondering, May has been a Para-more month so far. 

Tell Your Story -Mason Porter

Today’s post in the “Tell Your Story” project comes from Mason. This is the sixth post in his series.

May 11, 2020 through May 15, 2020

On Saturday, I woke up around noon and got ready. At one in the afternoon, my family celebrated Mother’s Day. After the party was over, I started work on the blog updates for last week. It took the rest of the night to get that done. After I finished it, Iwent to bed.

Sunday was just painful. I got up at seven thirty in the morning and got ready because my sister and I went of to our parents’ house to build one of my mom’s Mother’s Day presents. A new bathroom vanity. This took like four or five hours to do. After we finished that, we played a few board games and had supper.

Monday and Tuesday were uneventful, I basically played games on my phone and watched NETFLIX all day both days. My sleep schedule has also gotten bad again. It is just really hard for me to get to bed at a decent time. My eating schedule is also trash. Some days I eat two or three meals, some days I just kind of snack all day.

On Wednesday, I got up early and cleaned my room. I then helped my roommates clean the rest of the apartment. After that, I started working on a puzzle that my grandpa gave me to do. After that, I got on TikTok and was on there until I went to bed.

Thursday was also pretty uneventful. I started watching Power Rangers on NETFLIX. It may be a kid show, but the older seasons at least are interesting.

Friday, my sister and I went over to my parents’ house to help clean out and organize one of the storage rooms that my parents have in their house. It was a long day, but it was worth it. We got a lot done.

Tell Your Story – Mimi Duong

Mimi shares her experiences during the sixth week of social distancing as part of the “Tell Your Story” Project. This is her sixth post in her series.

Social Distancing Week 6

The weather this week has been perfect. I think I spent time outside every day, which is improving my physical and mental health. I even ran 3 miles! I know that isn’t big for a lot of people, but I felt accomplished. While on my run, I saw a yarn design on the trees and people picnicking. Instead of forcefully going outside into the wind or cold, I have been willingly spending time outdoors. Whether I am going on a bike ride to dairy queen or walking my roommate’s dog, I have been consistently getting out of the house. One day, my roommate and I even walked the dog to the stadium. We even saw people hanging out in the parking lot talking to each other from their cars. I am of course still social distancing and staying 6 feet away from others, just like them. It is just interesting how creative people have gotten. 

By the time things go back to normal I could probably start my own cookbook of recipes. This week I added homemade pretzels to the list. Since it was international pretzel day this past week, my roommates and I made them. I also made a cheese sauce from scratch that tasted awesome. One interesting part of the process was the fact that all stores were out of yeast. Either other people knew it was international pretzel day, or everyone was stocking up to make bread. I think the latter. Now I can say I have successfully made homemade granola bars, pasta, snickerdoodle cookies, and pretzels!


It was also announced this week that some counties in Iowa are opening back up. I don’t know if that is the right terminology to use considering we didn’t really close. Either way Ames was among that list of counties reopening. I honestly can’t say that anything is different. I feel like people are still being cautious and the University remains mostly closed. Even if stores and restaurants open, I don’t see myself going to them until it is entirely safe.

Group projects have been stressful, but on the bright side professors seem to be very understanding. It is just difficult making sure people pull their weight and complete their parts. Not everyone is successfully managing their courses online and a lot of my groupmates have said that they are struggling with due dates. Since, a lot of the classes that I am taking have similar projects, it does get difficult to stay on track. I would say that the only reason why I am on top of my assignments, is because I am constantly paranoid that I am forgetting to do something. Therefor I triple check assignment due dates frequently.

Another bittersweet part of this week includes an end of year party for the Stacks department. It was really nice catching up and seeing a lot of my co-workers. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to some seniors virtually. It’s definitely not the same as doing it in person, but at least we were able to do something. Typically, there would be a party and a senior sendoff, and hopefully next Spring I will have one in person. It is just another thing that makes me sad for graduating seniors.

Rare Book Highlights: Dicken’s Bleak House in monthly parts

Don’t you hate it when the show you are watching ends on a cliff hanger?

In these days of streaming shows, maybe I should say, Remember when your favorite broadcast TV show ended on a cliffhanger, and you had to wait a whole week to find out what happened? Well, that format was pioneered by Charles Dickens in his wildly popular serialized novels.

Portrait of Charles Dickens. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Dickens popularized the format of the serialized novel during the 19th century. Serial publishing, or the printing of a longer work in sequential installments over a period of time, began in the early days of printing; however, it wasn’t until the publication of Dickens’ novel The Pickwick Papers in 1836-1837 that it really became a thing.

Serial literature could be published within periodicals or as separate fascicles in cheap paper wrappers. The latter is how Dickens’ novels appeared. After Pickwick, many other 19th century novels were published in this way, including French novelist Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Wilkie Collin’s The Woman in White.

Serialized novels were popular because they could be printed and sold cheaply, and were therefore available to a wider audience. Publishers could judge the popularity of a work before committing to publishing a more expensive bound edition. All of Dickens’ novels were initially published in monthly or weekly parts and later issued in book form.

Special Collections and University Archives has several of Dickens’ novels in their original parts, including Bleak House, shown here:

Photo of a stack of pamphlets with illustrated, light blue paper covers. Also pictured is a case made to hold the pamphlets. The case is made to look like a bound book and has two parts: a bottom with a lid that fits over the top.

Stack of 20 original parts of Bleak House, with the slipcase that houses them.

Bleak House was Dickens’ 13th major publication. It followed the standard format for all of his serialized novels: 20 monthly installments, each containing 32 pages of text and two illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne, a.k.a. Phiz, the last two installments published as a double issue. Each issue cost one shilling; the final issue cost 2 shillings.

Cover illustrated with detailed black and white illustrations showing scenes of men, women, and children in a number of scenes representing 19th century English life.

Cover of first installment of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House is engraved with illustrations by H.K.Browne.

My favorite part of these fascicles are the advertisements, which open up a window into the commercial world of Victorian England. See, for example, the ad below for Edmiston’s Pocket Siphonia, essentially a raincoat that folds to fit into a pocket. As the ad explains, “the most important feature in this Waterproofing is being mineralised, … obviating the stickiness and unpleasant smell peculiar to all other Waterproofs.”

Advertisement includes illustrations of a man in the rain with an umbrella turned inside out, a man wearing an overcoat in the rain with the words “no umbrella required” above him, and illustrations of other products including leggings, a hat, and a hood.

Advertisement for Edmiston’s Pocket Siphonia and other products. Inside front cover of first part of Bleak House.

Charles Dickens. Bleak House. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1852-1853. Call number: PR4556 A1 1852x

Tell Your Story – Taylor Tomlinson

In today’s post, the sixth in his series, Taylor shares his experience as part of the “Tell Your Story” project.

This week was a long one. I’m glad the semester is coming to a close very soon because I didn’t realize just how burnt out I was getting until this week. I know it’s common, but I just did not have the motivation to do anything all week, nevertheless I powered through it. Something I find kind of funny about being hulled up inside is that I am so incredibly bored and yet, I cannot find the motivation to do anything, leisure or academic, though there are countless things I could do. I do find though, when I just start something, even if I do not want to do it at all, it is a lot easier to build up motivation to keep doing it.  

Academically, my classes have all finished lectures and all that’s left are the finals. Some of which I am not looking forward to very much. Some of which haven’t even been talked about yet, though they are probably only a couple days from now. It will be nice to have a little less to worry about, I just hope that I can find the motivation to finish personal projects now that I will actually have time for them. Though I doubt I will do any significant work, at least starting something and stopping after a few minutes is better than thinking about starting something for a few hours.  

I have started walking a lot now. It is possibly the thing I look forward to the most every day, probably because it makes me feel less decrepit and because I usually do it after I’m done with all of my academics and work for the day, so it’s like a victory lap. It is a really good excuse to listen to music too, that’s something I’ve been doing a lot while stuck inside, though I wish I would branch out more, I’ve been listening to the same rotation of 20 or so songs for a while now. I’ve seen multiple people make monthly playlists with a specific feeling for each month and that’s an Idea I really like. I might just have to try that. I’ve sort of already got some ideas for September and October, not sure about the summer months though. In any case, April is apparently my Nirvana and Tool month. If anyone is interested, “Drain you,” “You Know You’re Right,” “Scentless Apprentice,” “Molly’s Lips” and the acoustic home demo for “Sliver” are some of my favorite Nirvana songs. I know a lot less Tool songs, but “Sober,” “The Pot,” “Forty Six & 2,” “Lateralus” and “Schism” are all really good.  

Other than listening to music, I borrowed Final Fantasy VII Remake from a friend, and I’ve been playing that a lot recently. I never played the original, so I don’t really know what all is different between them. So far, I like it a lot, though I’m not very good at it. The one thing I will say is, and again I never played the original one so I don’t know if this is accurate to the source material, though the story is very intriguing, It feels like they didn’t have much to put in between climatic events so they tried to fudge the pace by using throwaway side quests that aren’t very fun and only act to simulate the passage of time to make the next event more anticipated. Other than that though It’s fun, though like I said earlier, finding the motivation to actually sit down and put time into it is kind of hard. I hope that as we begin to transition back into a normal schedule, motivation will become more easily attainable.  

On that note, some counties in Iowa are beginning to reopen. Story County is partially reopening but the way it was described to me, it sounded like, though eager, we aren’t really ready to reopen yet. Either way, I’ve been talking with friends and we’ve got some really fun ideas when things go back to normal, or close to normal.  

I almost forgot, last time I mentioned I had a book on the way. It came a lot quicker than I had expected, and though I haven’t read it yet, I am very excited to do so. It is not incredibly long so it’s not as intimidating as some other books I have on the back burner. One thing I really appreciate about the Murakami books is that the covers are always nice and minimalistic. I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover but with such a minimalist art style, it’s hard not to wonder what is inside. It’s like when you go to the back of the library and find the black book with no name on the spine. I’ve noticed that it is somewhat of a trend nowadays to have a cover that is aesthetically pleasing but doesn’t really have anything to do with the actual contents of the book. On one hand I do like it because books just look more pleasing in general, but I also have some issues with it. However, since Murakami’s writing is in and of itself somewhat mysterious and intriguing, I think it works to help further the mysterious nature of the contents.  

That’s all I have for this week. Hopefully, while I’m walking today, I can muster the motivation to get some stuff done and possibly start chipping away at the book. If anything, I wrote a little today and that’s better than nothing at all. 

Tell Your Story – Mason Porter

Today’s post is from Mason, his fifth post, as part of the “Tell Your Story” project.

May 4th through May 8th 2020

So, this week was really different. This week was finals week. This blog is going to be different because it is going to be one blog for the whole week.

Saturday, I spent all day doing all of the semester’s work for my Geology 111 class. I then took the final a little while after it became available at midnight. I then spent the rest of the night on TikTok.

On Sunday, my sister, dad, and I went Mother’s Day shopping. After that, my sister and I went home with my dad and had supper with my parents. My sister and I got home around eleven at night. I went to bed a few hours after that.

I got up somewhat early on Monday, and spent all day playing on my phone with my sister until around seven at night. I then played on my phone and talked about high school with my sister’s boyfriend until around three thirty in the morning. He and I went to the same middle school and high school like ten years apart, so it was fun to talk about the changes. The three of us play several mobile games on our phones together, so sitting around and all playing the same game for hours on end is a common occurrence. After that, he went to bed, and I got on TikTok. I was on TikTok until around eight at night when I finally went to bed.

Because I was up for thirty plus hours on Monday, I didn’t have a Tuesday.

Wednesday was a challenge. I woke up at seven in the morning and got right to work. I started by studying for my Geology 100 final. This final was in two parts. One that was new material, and one that was review from the previous exams. I read through my old exams and took that part of the final. I finished this by noon. I then had to go take my grandma flowers for Mother’s Day. When my sister and I got back from that, it was already almost four in the afternoon. I then switched to my History 211x final because that was due at midnight. I started studying for that and got the final done by eleven at night. After this, I went back to Geology. I read through all of the new material a few times and then took the exam. At this point, it was already six or seven in the morning. It took longer to study because I was so tired. After this, I ate the breakfast that my sister made, and then took some to my mom, who is still working on campus. After that, I watched Netflix with my sister until my last final opened up at ten in the morning. I had not taken any notes for this class all semester because I could never figure out how for the way this professor teaches, so I couldn’t study, I had to just go for it. I started the final at ten thirty. It wasn’t what I expected. I thought it was going to be an essay, but it wasn’t. I had to make two claims and support them with evidence from specific readings. This was difficult, but I did it. I probably failed, but I did it. After this, my sister, our other roommate, and I went to buy hair dye to dye our hair. My roommate went blonde, my sister went purple, and I plan on dying my hair green. Next it was time for lunch. We bought Five Guys and took it home to eat, because you know, Corona virus. After I ate, I finished the thing I was working on in Minecraft. Then I went to bed at two thirty in the afternoon.

Because I was up for thirty plus hours on Wednesday, I didn’t have a Thursday.

Friday was fun. I woke up at eight thirty in the morning. I played games on my phone until two thirty in the afternoon. At that point, I got bored of sitting around the house, so I got out my camera and walked to campus. I went around taking photos on campus until my camera died a little after five. After that, I walked home. Around seven, my parents came over and picked up my sister and I to go look at bathroom sinks for my mom for Mother’s Day. After that, we went back to my place where my sister made spaghetti. Next, my dad and I took my parents’ truck back to my parents’ house, while my sister and mom picked up my sister’s boyfriend from work to help unload everything. Once everyone was at my parents’ place, we unloaded the sink and cabinets, then my sister, her boyfriend and I went home. I stayed up on TikTok and YouTube until around four thirty in the morning, when I went to bed.

Virtual Access to Digital Records

The Special Collections & University Archives department has been closed to the public since March 18. That’s 47 (as of 5/21) business days and counting without researchers being able to visit and use our collections. It became clear early on that we would not be returning to campus any time soon, and we needed to provide virtual access to our collections as much as possible. So we are!

Since we don’t currently have a way to share born digital records, we’re creating an access copy of the original files and saving these to This method of access is only temporary, and will change once we find a long term solution.

How to Find Digital Records

Not all of our collections have born digital records. To see what is available, navigate to our catalog, CARDinal; from the SCUA homepage scroll to the bottom and click on the large icon for CARDinal.

The CARDinal icon, found at the lower left hand corner of the Special Collections & University Archives website.

CARDinal will open in a new window. Click on the Advanced Search button in the top yellow bar. Type “Digital Records” in the Titles field, and select the “series” option under Parts(“levels”) of Description; click Search.

Note: If you search for “Digital Records” in the Quick Search, your results will include descriptions without links to digital records. Only results with the title Digital Records will have any records for you to view online.

Search criteria are shown highlighted in red.

Once you have found a collection within the results list that interests you, click on the Display Finding Aid link right under the collection name.

The Display Finding Aid button is highlighted in red.

The finding aid will open directly to the Digital Records series. You will find information about how many digital files are available, a brief description of what they are, how they are arranged, and most importantly, a link to the actual digital records.

The link to digital records in the Electronic Resources section is highlighted in red.

Clicking on the link in the Electronic Resources section will take you directly to the folder in Here you will be able to view any born digital records for the collection, but will not be able to download them.

A preview of the digital records available.

A few extra notes about digital records:

  1. We are still adding links to collections as fast as we can, so please continue to check back.
  2. Some files do not preview well in Box. If you find a record you cannot preview, please email with the details (collection number, folder name, file name) so we can troubleshoot.
  3. The process we’ve used here does not follow our digital processing and preservation work flow, however the original materials are still being preserved and have not been altered.

I hope all our readers are doing well and staying healthy! If you have any feedback or need assistance finding digital records please email us at

Tell Your Story – Mimi Duong

In today’s post Mimi shares her experiences, her fifth post, as part of the “Tell Your Story” project.

Social Distancing Week 5 

At the beginning of this week, one of my cousins reached out and asked if everyone in our group chat wanted to have a zoom session to catch up. We ended up zooming twice in one weekend to play the game Jackbox together. It was great seeing everyone and playing games together and we even decided to do it again the following weekend! It is weird how the COVID-19 has families reaching out to each other. It is evident on my mom and dad’s side of the family, along with friends of mine. I can’t say that I don’t enjoy seeing family members after a long time, because I do, it is just interesting how this virus has affected everyone. 

The weather this week has been great. I went hammocking on the central campus and spent time outdoors. It was nice seeing others, while also social distancing. It helped me forget the bad in the world for just a couple of hours. It was nice just being in the sun. The past couple of weeks have been difficult with the cold and rain, so I feel like it can only go up from here. I am not complaining. Although one day there was some heavy rain, it lasted only an hour and there was a double rainbow. I really find myself appreciating the little things in life more, I know it sounds cheesy. 

Another way I have been enjoying the outdoors is jogging around Ada Hayden park. I think that it is open because it’s a trail versus an actual park. Either way, it was easy to distance myself from others because the path is so large. Before Coronavirus and social distancing I had never been to the park, and now that I have it is one of my favorite places in Ames. It is weird the type of things I have discovered while social distancing. 

In addition to hammocking and jogging, I went golfing this week. The weather was just too nice and golfing doesn’t involve being around others. Although the course was busy because of the nice day, it was easy to stay several feet away from people. They set up rules such as, individuals from different households are required to be in different golf carts. Afterwards, my roommate and I decided to visit a local taco truck to support small businesses. I think that it is important these days to do so, especially since my parents own a small business. I see the negative effects on restaurants first hand. 

There was a day this week that I spent the majority of the day on the deck laying in the sun and completing my assignments that way. It was the nicest day of the week. Me and my roommate even befriended the people on the deck next to us. There was at least 15 feet between our decks, so there was no threat. Even social distancing doesn’t prevent making new friends.