Today’s #MediaMonday post takes another look at one of my favorite collections: MS-0381 “Food and Household Product Advertising Guides and Publications collection. circa 1880s-1978”.
“It’s All In Knowing How” is an instruction book on the recently discovered uses for Baking Soda, advertising Arm & Hammer and Cow Brand Baking Soda, as shown on the back cover. A short advertisement pamphlet that promises helpful hints for use “in the home, in the garden, and on the farm.” The content seems to be aimed at housewives, even including an advice column from “Mrs. Anderson”.
Mrs. Anderson is introduced on the second page of the pamphlet, and is described as a “housewife who did her own housework – and enjoyed it.” Mr. and Mrs. Anderson have just moved into a new house in the suburbs that needs a lot of cleaning, so Mrs. Anderson gets right to work.
The “Mrs. Anderson” columns contain advice on topics ranging from entertaining guests on a Sunday night to cleaning a light-bulb. Here are a few of Mrs. Anderson’s Household Hints.
Let’s revisit the Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection for this #FashionFriday! We have posted about this collection a few times before so feel free to check out those posts after this one. This collection is always a joy to explore, and this illustration of Kensington Garden Dresses from 1807 was no exception.
By Kimberly Voss, PhD Professor, University of Central Florida
Home economics often gets a bad rap – reduced to descriptions of boring stories about sewing aprons or cooking dishes with too many raisins. Yet, this field offered many opportunities and adventures for women in the 1930s through the 1970s. These graduates had impressive careers in the test kitchens of food companies, magazine or newspaper journalists and university professors. One of the most prominent home economics graduates from Iowa State University was Ruth Ellen Church – the longtime food editor, cookbook author and pioneering wine editor at the Chicago Tribune. She set the standard for quality newspaper food journalism at an important time in food history – earning the University’s Schwartz Award in 1984.
Journalism – often combined with home economics – long provided paid employment for American women, especially for material that was aimed at female readership. For example, at newspapers, women journalists worked in the women’s pages from the 1880s through the end of the sections in the 1970s. These sections have been described as housing the four F’s: family, fashion, food, and furnishings. While some journalists derisively dismissed these as “fluff,” these are topics that impact daily life and meant a great deal to readers.
The ISU Special Collections and University Archives offer a wealth of material about Church and home economics journalism, which helps us understand a history that is too often overlooked. The annual course catalogs provide proof of the rigor of the home economics’ curriculum. The students also showed they were good researchers and reporters who produced significant materials student publications and yearbooks. They also had a lot of fun. After all, they had been taught about entertaining. Church showed off those skills at many parties on her Wisconsin farm – with lots of good food.
Home Economics Background
While too often mocked for reinforcing tradition, home economics was a significant major for college women. The students majoring in and later working in the home economics field in the 1950s and 1960s were well aware of the issues that would become part of the mission of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s. In truth, they were much closer to their activist sisters as acquaintances than enemies. A common textbook, Introduction to Home Economics, began with quotes from the report The American Women that documented women’s employment difficulties faced by many women in 1965. It was based on a 1962 report from the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, which predicted a new role for women in society. The textbook addressed the numerous jobs that the home economists field offered. The author cited an article in Cosmopolitan magazine that described home economists as “Today’s Glamour Girls.”
Home economics journalism, a common major at several land-grant colleges, has a long history at Iowa State University. According to a history of ISU, home economics journalism was a significant major – especially from 1927 to 1952. A school history noted, “Manufacturers of food products and household equipment discovered that home economics-trained women could write reports and directions.”
These ISU home economics students were taught by impressive professors. Pioneer Katherine Goeppinger was a home economics journalism professor from 1936 until 1950. (She is honored in the ISU Plaza of Heroines.) She wrote the foreword and a chapter in the classic home economics textbook, “How to Write for Homemakers.” During her career, she addressed changes in the department from the depression days through the war years and consumer years. Through it all, she taught about home economics skills and journalism ethics, as well as the significance of food and fashion. Goeppinger graduated from Iowa State College in 1924. Before returning to the school as a professor, she served as director of home economics for various utilities, as well as an editor at Curtis Publishing in Philadelphia.
ISU Alum Ruth Ellen Church
Church was born Ruth Ellen Lovrien in Humboldt, Iowa, in 1909 and graduated from Iowa State University in 1933. She was a staff writer for the school’s yearbook, editor for the student magazine Iowa Homemaker and an editor of the student publication Green Gander. She made the most of her home economics journalism degree – a popular variation of home economics at the time. Catalogs found in Special Collections and University Archives show the classes taken, yearbooks verify activities and student publications feature the work student produced. In Church’s case, there were examples of her writing about cosmetics with the great title of “From Cleopatra to Betty Co-ed” and an article about an Iowa State television show “Homemakers’ Half Hour.”
She briefly held the position of society editor at a small Iowa daily but left because she refused to get involved in advertising – a violation of her journalism background. By 1936, she began her nearly 40-year run as food editor at the ChicagoTribune. (She became Ruth Ellen Church when she married advertising executive Freeman Church later that same year.)
Initially, Church used the pen name “Mary Meade” as her byline. It was a common for newspaper food writers was to use pen names, often at the request of management because they wanted to preserve the continuity of the columnist, as it was expected the female reporter would leave employment once married. Church – despite marrying and having two children – never left her job.
At the Tribune, Church oversaw numerous projects including a weekly recipe contest. The winner earned a $5 prize and her recipe was published. Readers were advised to test the recipes and be specific with the measurements and directions. During her career, she wrote a daily food column plus a weekly special section and oversaw a test kitchen. She also directed all of the food photography that ran in her section.
Church also traveled internationally and shared her adventures with her Chicago readers – including stories of wine. For example, she spent three months abroad in 1967 for her “What’s Cooking in Europe” feature series, which ran for 56 days in the Tribune. She visited a dozen countries and sent back stories from restaurants and home cooks. This was a time when few newspapers wrote about wines. It was more of a cocktail era.
Her wine writing style was described as “conversational, disarmingly breezy and unabashedly enthusiastic. When something particularly pleased Ms. Church, she often noted it with an exclamation mark!” Some specific headlines from 1962 included “Wines Can Be Divided into Five Classes,” “Today’s Lesson is on Sauternes,” and “Our Wine Columnist Visits Home of Famed Sherry.”
It was a time that the foundation of wine journalism was being developed. As current wine journalist Lettie Teague wrote: “Church made it clear that she was learning right along with her readers. She approached wine as accessible, and that fact alone is worth an exclamation point!” Thankfully, ISU Special Collections and University Archives has information that provides for a better understanding of home economics journalism!
Kimberly Wilmot Voss, PhD, is a University of Central Florida full professor of journalism and author of the books The Food Section: Newspaper Women and the Culinary Community; Politicking Politely: Well-Behaved Women Making a Difference in the 1960s and 1970s; Re-Evaluating Women’s Page Journalism in the Post-World War II Era: Celebrating Soft News and a co-author of Mad Men & Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance and Otherness. She has also published more than 25 journal articles about women and journalism history.
 Jodi Wilgoren and Carol Haddix, “Ruth Ellen Church, Ex-Tribune Editor,” Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1991.
 Ruth Hoeflin, Introduction to Home Economics (Manhattan, Kansas: Kansas State University, 1965), 1.
Happy National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month!
As mentioned in previous posts, our collections currently hold far less information on the experiences of the ISU Latinx community than we would like, though we are working to correct that. Everything we do have, however, clearly indicates that ISU students with Hispanic and Latinx heritage have long led rich social lives and contributed greatly to campus culture during their time in college.
I have included here a sampling (NOT comprehensive) of current and historical Latinx student organizations whose records are represented in the archives, along with a handful of documents to illustrate their activities. Some of these materials are already digitized and available online, but, if you would like to explore any analog collections mentioned in this post, you can request materials through our new Aeon system and make an appointment to view them in our reading room.
International Student Organizations
Organizations supporting international students were among the earliest student organizations (along with Greek and very early literary societies) to form on campus, and many contemporary off-shoots can trace their roots back the 1920s Cosmopolitan Club. You can find photos and documents from this elsewhere on our blog and website.
Mexican Student Association
Poster for a 1979 MU event. RS 22/3 Mexican Students Association
Puerto Rican Student Association
RS 22/3 Puerto Rican Student Association
Greek organizations which highlight or support a particular racial or ethnic heritage (though most of these do not discriminate against potential members from other racial or ethnic backgrounds, unlike earlier white Greek organizations) have historically, and continue to this day, to play a crucial role in providing community for individuals whose identities are underrepresented elsewhere at the university.
Lambda Theta Nu Sorority
2011 Iowa State Daily article. RS 22/03/01 Lambda Theta Nu
Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority
A handful of LTA members were kind enough to share some stories with us via oral history interviews for the #VoicesinColor project. You can stream these interviews on Aviary to learn more about these students’ experiences within their sorority, via their extensive campus involvement, and as members of the Latinx community attending a predominantly white institution during politically turbulent times.
Lambda Theta Phi Fraternity
The gentlemen of Lambda Theta Phi, like many contemporary student organizations, maintain an online presence apart from the Student Activities Center’s database of officially-recognized organizations. And they were gracious enough to allow us to web archive the public version of their Facebook page. You can find access and, to a limited extend, interact with the archived copies of this page in our Archive-It account.
The first archived version of the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity from March 2018. As you can see, this crawl did not successfully pick up any video files. This is often the case with social media crawls, as Facebook’s code is very complex.
Multicultural Student Organizations
This broad category technically encompasses all previously-listed organizations as well but is here used to refer specifically to organizations created to center American students from Hispanic and/or Latinx backgrounds.
Latin American Student Union (LASU)
RS 22/3 Latin American Student Union
Hispanic American Student Union (HASU)
Without more documentation, it is not clear to me whether LASU and HASU were two distinct organizations that existed simultaneously, a single organization that changed its name at some point, or two interchangeable names for the same organization. However, given the use of a similar logo/face on publications for both, my guess is that one of the latter options is more likely. Regardless, both seem to have been extremely active on campus for well over a decade.
HASU poster, date unknown, RS 22/03/00/01
Mexican-American Young Achievers Society (MAYAS)
RS 22/3/0/1 Mexican-American Young Achievers Society.
Political Activism Student Organizations
In my observation, the membership, and often leadership, of political activism groups and of the more social groups listed above tends to overlap significantly. Many social Latinx organizations also engage in political activism or advocacy at one time or another, either as part of their stated purpose or as an extension of members’ interests. Regardless, there is no doubt that the Latinx community at Iowa State has been and continues to be a passionate voice for change, both locally and on a national level.
It is sometimes possible to find mentions in The Tribune and other local papers of the activities of politically-minded student groups, even when we do not have these groups’ records in the archives.
RS 22/3 Latino Caucus
Students Against Bigotry
This organization grew out of a 2015 Latinx-led campus response to national sociopolitical issues like the Mizzou protests and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. It was originally referred to as Latinos United for a Change (LUCHA), though the name changed as interest and participation broadened to include more of the student body.
RS 22/04/01 Students Against Bigotry
And, again, that is only a small sampling of the Latinx student organizations that have been active on campus, or even that are mentioned, however briefly, in ISU archival records. That said, if you or someone you know was involved with one of these organizations while a student at ISU, please do get in touch and share what you remember! We are always looking for ways to tell fuller stories about students’ lives and experiences at ISU.
Everyone knows Cy, Iowa State’s beloved Cardinal mascot. Cy has been spreading Iowa State cheer longer than anyone, and we have the photographs to prove it. Check out these #ThrowbackThursday photos of Cy in the 1950s!
I am launching a new series, SCUA Scoop, that will share a behind the scenes look at how we fulfill our mission and serve our community. SCUA celebrated its 50th birthday last year and I would like to share how we have modernized and revised our professional practices to remain current.
Let’s start out first visualizing where SCUA currently fits within Iowa State University and the University Library.
SCUA falls under the Curation Services division of the University Library.
Curation Services works collaboratively to preserve and share the high quality, unique, and vibrant collections of the Iowa State University Library with Iowa and the world. We value an imaginative, accessible, and responsive physical and virtual environment for scholarly research, study, and personal growth, and we strive to ensure that the library is a safe and welcoming space for all.
We work with all the departments in the library but work most frequently with our colleagues in Preservation & Stacks Management and Digital Scholarship & Initiatives (DSI). In future posts I’ll detail the different projects SCUA has collaborated with Preservation and DSI. In the meantime, do check out their awesome blogs for details on their work to date:
I have worked as outreach archivist in SCUA for almost five years and have seen the department strategically grow to best serve the research interests of ISU and the public. Below is how we are currently organized:
We are an extremely collaborative department and we all have a hand filling reference desk shifts, paging boxes, and strategizing how best to deliver services to the public. Some of us work more with donors and with getting collections available to the public and others work more with people — facilitating people’s access to our collections, promoting our services and collections, and initiating collaborations with other departments, community organizations, and/or individuals.
I keep mentioning services — what does that mean? We provide reference assistance, help researchers navigate all the tools we have in place to search our repository, and refer them to other people or institutions who may be able to assist them. We teach primary source literacy using active learning methods. We also are available to consult with instructors on creating assignments and projects using primary sources from our collections. We also provide classes or groups with orientation to using our Reading Room (403 Parks Library), the place where researchers come to access our analog collections. SCUA curates exhibits to highlight our collections and educate the public on parts of our collection that may not be well known and we invite researchers to guest curate exhibits as well. We also provide reproductions from our collections and select high-use collections to be digitized and available in Digital Collections. Researchers are also welcome to copy materials using their phone/tablet cameras or by using the KIC scanner in the Reading Room (at no cost).
SCUA Scoop will highlight the processes and workflows behind our different services and projects so stay tuned! Our first installment will be the journey of a reference request.
We are pleased to announce an exciting new crowdsourcing project to engage the public with our unique collections. Utilizing functionality provided by From The Page, the public can now transcribe, translate and/or add subject tags to digitized materials from Special Collections and University Archives. Collections available include:
The Ada Hayden Papers (1864-2007) include biographical information, diplomas and certificates, illustrations, list of publications, and a small amount of general correspondence and correspondence concerning the Hayden family as well as a bibliography of early botanists.
The Adams Family Papers (1618-2008, undated) contains correspondence, writings, diaries, newspaper clippings, the family bible and biographical materials. The biographical materials include newspaper clippings, journals, and diaries of the family members.
This collection contains trade catalogs, 1881-1922, from Iowa seed companies, such as the Iowa Seed Company and Dorr’s Iowa Seeds. Catalogs include seeds and bulbs for flowers, trees, herbs, ornamental shrubs, vegetables, grains, grasses, and fruit.
This collection is based on an online exhibit, “A More Beautiful Iowa: Iowa’s State Parks System,” was was a physical exhibit displayed in the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) during the summer and fall semester of 2017.
For 150 years, members of the Iowa State University community have been welcoming students to campus. From the beginning, Iowa State was open – at least nominally – to men and women, rich and poor, and any race or ethnicity. This exhibit celebrates the history of student life on this campus and takes a closer look at brief moments of time, “snapshots” if you will, spotlighting only a handful of the many students who have called Ames and Iowa State University home.
More collections will be opened to the public as these are completed. In total, 43 collections and more than 42,000 pages will be available to the public. A Library Guide is available for more information, including instructions and conventions.
We are pleased to announce the online availability of a five-part oral history with Michimasa (Michi) Hirata (MS 1967, Chemistry), a survivor (Hibakusha) of the Hiroshima atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. Michi was originally scheduled to visit campus as part of the ISU Lecture Series, but because of COVID was interviewed in May at his home in Japan via Zoom. Clocking in at close to nine total hours, part explores background, early life, WWII, and the Hiroshima bombing; part two continues with the Hiroshima bombing and end of WWII; part three explores occupied Japan, the Press Code, and Michi’s education; part four explores his professional career, family, and the beginnings of his activism; part five continues with his activism and concludes with his reflections. The interview is available via Aviary, a cloud based platform featuring closed captioning, synching of captions and audio, and full text searching of captions. Users can also access an edited transcript.
Here’s a brief description in Michi’s own words of that terrible day:
About 1.2 miles away from epicenter of the atomic bomb explosion, I was sitting in my home with my father and aunt. Luckily, I escaped burns and serious injuries. Our house, however, was completely destroyed by fire, which spread throughout the block. Thanks to the wind direction and big open space existing between the next block, the houses beyond the block away from the center of Hiroshima were not burned down. My block was the edge of a burned-out area of entire Hiroshima city. Due to daily air raids, children had been evacuated away from Hiroshima city based on school groups and families. My mother and two sisters were living at our relative’s cottage (7 miles away) as we evacuated. Late afternoon that day when the fire calmed down, my father and I tried to go to the family evacuation spot. However, very hot roads jammed with full of burned debris, tangled electricity wires, and wounded and dead blocked our way. My father decided to take a detour walking on the railway bank and crossing the bridge of still burning railroad ties. Finally, very late that night we arrived at the evacuation spot and jumped for joy to as the family was reunited.
Today’s post was written by Mark Barron, a public historian who works in Human Sciences Extension and Outreach. Mark frequently collaborates with and researches in SCUA. In Fall 2016, Mark’s HIST 481X class curated “For Married Students”: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978 , that opened in Spring 2017 (digital exhibit: https://exhibits.lib.iastate.edu/pammel-court-digital-exhibit). Mark also curated the Edward Mevinsky Digital Project.Later on this semester Mark and SCUA Department Head, Daniel Hartwig, are co-teaching an honors seminar, HON 321J: Documenting the Past: An Introduction to Oral History.
In 2018, students in HIST 481X, under the direction of Mark Barron, curated an exhibit on how Iowa State handled the flu pandemic of 1918-1919. The exhibit, titled “Some Call it Flu, but I Call it Hell”: Iowa State and the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919, looked at student life, the presence of military trainees at Iowa State during WWI, the effects of the flu on campus, and the changes Iowa State made in response to the flu.
Little did the class realize that two years after completing the exhibit, Iowa State would be facing another pandemic in COVID-19. In recognition of the current coronavirus threat, and how it is upending the daily lives of the Iowa State community, we are re-installing the flu exhibit outside of room 405 in Parks Library for the fall 2020 semester. We hope that visitors can relate to the history of quarantines and mask-wearing, and leave with the understanding that past generations also confronted the threat of viral infection and came out victorious.
This exhibition is open now and located on the 4th floor of Parks Library, near 405 Parks.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, I want to highlight the first collection I processed at SCUA, the Cora Hawk Keith Papers on Women’s Suffrage. It is a small collection, but I think it provides a glimpse into the activities of local organizations and how suffragists persuaded people that women deserved the right to vote. One of my favorite parts of the collection is the note written on Iowa Equal Suffrage Association letterhead (Box 1, Item 3) refuting the argument “when all women want the ballot-they will get it.” Keith writes, ” Most thinking people, however the see the incongruity between such a statement and the fact that not nearly all voters want to vote: that a great percent of those who have the power do not exercise it…and that event those who do vote – many sell their vote, and even then the price is ridiculously low.” The image below shows the full handwritten note.