Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Queen Bee

While answering a reference question about a year ago, I stumbled across details on the apiculture program in the class catalog for 1922-1923. Apiculture is the practice of beekeeping.

I’m sure we have all heard the term “queen bee”, but I doubt many of us have thought about the science behind caring for the queen bee of a colony. Luckily, all of your questions about the queen bee could be answered in 414: “Queen Rearing.”


Historical Photograph Formats: Daguerreotypes

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about some historical photography processes while preparing to teach a class. This is not in any way my area of expertise, but I wanted to share both what I learned and also examples I uncovered in our ISU collections (which, while far from comprehensive, do contain more formats than I thought they would!).

If this is a topic you find interesting, know that there are a ton of other fantastic resources out there, both online and within our library and the ISU community. I’ll include a few of these throughout the post and then note more at the end.

So, the earliest format for which we have an example is the daguerreotype. (Pronounced duh-gair-oh-type.)

20190719_102008

Artifact #2001-R001. Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue.

Daguerreotypy was not the first photographic process to capture scenes with a camera, nor even the first to succeed in permanently fixing the image to a chemically-prepared surface. The latter honor belongs to another French process called “heliography” (aka “sun-writing”), and you can see an example in the Harry Ransom Center collections at the University of Texas in Austin. However, the daguerreotype process was the first to become available to the public.

20190719_101857

With the case closed. Artifact #2001-R001.

The daguerreotype was invented in Paris in 1837 by Louis Daguerre, when he discovered that a silver-coated copper plate could be made light sensitive when exposed to chloride of iodine (now known as iodine monochloride) and chloride of bromine (now known as bromine monochloride). After exposure, the plate would be developed in a dark room via heated mercury fumes, and then fixed in a bath of hyposulphite of soda (now known as sodium thiosulfate).

There were two main draw-backs to this process, however. The first, since the exposed plate itself became the finished product, was that the process created no negatives, which meant that each image was entirely unique and could not be reproduced. The second was that these plates were incredibly fragile. The cases in which they were mounted were primarily protective, not decorative, and thus, unlike photo frames of today, vital to the photograph’s survival.

Photography History Examples-page-005.2

Diagram of a daguerreotype case. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor

In addition, exposure time for this process lasted an excruciatingly long time by today’s standards. Resources differ in their estimations, and it seems that the process shortened over its lifespan, but exposure could reportedly last anywhere between 90 seconds and 20 minutes, during which the subject of the picture had to keep absolutely still. Behind-the-scenes sketches of the studio set-up often feature torturous-looking headrest devices, shaped like display stands for collectible dolls, to hold the subject’s head and neck in place.

Nevertheless, the daguerreotype was wildly popular during its short life from 1837 to about 1860, after which it was replaced by less expensive and less cumbersome formats.

This 2012 YouTube video from the Getty Museum offers a fantastic overview of that period and allows you to see the process in action. The video is titled “Early Photography: Making Daguerreotypes”, and can be accessed through the link here if the embedded version isn’t work for you.

Our ISU example of a daguerreotype, located in the artifacts collection (#2001-R001), aptly demonstrates some key identifying features of the format.

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A behind-the-scenes look in into our artifact collection.

As discussed previously, with only a few rare and very early exceptions, all daguerreotypes will be contained in a protective case, often with an attached cover that swings closed on a hinge.

It is worth noting, however, that while nearly all daguerreotypes will have these protective cases, not all photographs contained in such cases are daguerreotypes. Ambrotypes, a slightly later format, were also typically sealed in cases. The visual distinction between the two, then, lies in the tonal range and the reflective quality of the surface.

An ambrotype is a glass plate negative developed via the wet collodion process and then displayed against a black velvet background, which creates the illusion of a positive image. Consequently, its tonal range will be much more muted than that of a daguerreotype, with the whites appearing less white and more of a creamy gray.

Unfortunately, we don’t have examples of this format in our archives, but here is a visual from the book I have referenced previously:

Photography History Examples-page-008

Ambrotype. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor, page 35.

Because ambrotypes are negative images developed on a glass plate and daguerreotypes are positive images developed on a silver-coated copper plate (i.e. shiny metal on shiny metal), the surface of a daguerreotype is also much more reflective than that of an ambrotype — almost giving the impression of a ghost-image emerging through a mirror, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

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Me photobombing Benjamin Gue . . . about 200 years after the fact. Artifact #2001-R001.

The presence of this mirror-like quality also means that daguerreotypes are better viewed from a side-angle, and/or with an object or piece of paper held up to block reflective glare (e.g. my phone in the picture immediately above), than they are straight on. So, if you find yourself tilting the photo this way and that to see an image of something other than your own face, this is probably the format you are dealing with.

Contrary to common knowledge, daguerreotypes also come in a variety of sizes, from a “whole plate,’ which is about 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches, to a “sixteenth plate,” which is about 1 inch by 1 inch. Also, while the original images will all be in black and white, you’ll find that some were hand-colored after development. You’ll see this most often in portraits, where a tiny bit of pink has been dabbed onto the subjects’ cheeks to make them look more lifelike.

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Close-up of Artifact #2001-R001.

And that about wraps things up, so I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about daguerreotypes as much as I did.

If you’d like to examine our portrait of Benjamin Gue in person, feel free to stop by the archives any time that we are open, and we can assist you with the process of handling such an artifact (hint: you’ll be using gloves!). Or if you’d like to learn more, check out some of the resources below.


 

Benjamin Gue’s personal papers can be found in the archives at RS 1/3/52. You can also view the finding aid, including biographical information, here.

The book with which I supplemented images to this post is Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaller and Diane Vogt-O’Connor with Helena Zinkham, Brett Carnell, and Kit Peterson. We do not have a copy in our general collections, but you can access reviews here, or buy a copy here.

In addition to an extensive collection of the daguerreotype format (contrasted with our one artifact!), the Library of Congress links to more online resources here, describing the process in more detail, showing digitized examples, and inviting you to join The Daguerreian Society (because, yes, apparently that is a thing).

If you have additional questions about identifying, storing, handling, or repairing historical photograph formats, the staff in our Preservation department at Parks Library are very knowledgeable. Both Sonya Barron and Cynthia Kapteyn helped me out with preparation and activities for the class which inspired this post. You can visit the Preservation department page here for contact information. And, as a side note, they also run a blog, full of fascinating updates on current projects, which you can find here.

 

 


Pride Month: A Look Back

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is currently celebrated during the month of June, to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that occured in 1969. Here are past blog posts and activities we’ve done that include LGBTQIA+ history here at Iowa State University.

LGBT Pride Month, June 5, 2015

This post written by Whitney Olthoff, our former processing archivist, shares two items from Iowa State’s LGBTQ+ student organizations and also a little bit of LGBTQ+ history for the university.

Celebrate Pride: “it is OK to be yourself and who you are,” June 8, 2018

This short post was written by me last summer and includes a page from the 1994 Bomb, Iowa State University’s yearbook, as well as to a list of links of current ISU LGBTQ+ student organizations and resources .

LGBT+ History Month: “Activist Archivists / Archivistas Activistas,” October 1, 2018

This blog post was written by Luis Gonzalez-Diaz, our undergraduate research assistant for the 2018 – 2019 academic year. This post advocates for archivists as activists and discusses how important it is to have marginalized communities represented in the historical record.

LGBT+ History Month: “Early LGBT+ Student Activism / Activismo Estudiantil Temprano LGBT+” October 29, 2018

Luis Gonzalez-Diaz penned this post as a sort of a companion piece to the post above. This post is written in both English and Spanish. This post centers around student members of the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance appearing on Betty Lou Varnum’s “Dimension Five” program in 1974 to discuss their grievances over WOI-TV airing an episode from a TV show that cast a negative light on the LGBT+ community.

Brad Freihoefer (pictured center), director for the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success led discussion afterwards regarding LGBTQIA+ history at Iowa State with the group.

We do not have a lot of LGBTQIA+ history in our repository, but we do have some documentation of their activism and experiences on campus. Last October for LGBTQIA+ History Month, we partnered with the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success to host an ISU Queer Archives Tour for their Out & About program, where Center staff selected items representing LGBTQIA+ history at Iowa State to share with the group.

If you have any historical materials relating to the LGBTQIA+ community at Iowa State University and are interested in preserving those records, please contact us at archives@iastate.edu.


Caster’s jerks and knocking up the balls: Adventures in hand-press bookmaking

Me in a printer’s hat.

The first week in June, I had the privilege of attending the Book History Workshop (BHW) at Texas A&M University, where a group of twenty workshop participants and six instructors created a facsimile edition of an 18th century publication–setting the type, imposing the pages, pulling the press, and folding and binding the gatherings into pamphlets–in addition to experimenting with other aspects of book production, such as typecasting, making and decorating paper, and creating woodcut and wood engraved illustrations. These pursuits were all in the name of empirical bibliography, a term coined by Todd Samuelson and Christopher Morrow, instructors of the BHW, which they define as “an effort to understand the manner in which a book was constructed through immediate physical experience (including the systematic and repeatable process of testing and verification based on historical methodology)” (Samuelson and Morrow 86). We made books, therefore, following appropriate practices and technologies of the hand press period (ca. 1450-1800), in order to develop a deep understanding of book construction that would inform our future work with these books as librarians, curators, and scholars.

Reproduction common press at Texas A&M University.

We did indeed develop a bodily understanding of the process and labor of book production–I went to bed physically exhausted every night! Let me take you through some highlights of the workshop.

Our first full day in the pressroom, we came to tables set up with job cases full of type, equipment for composing and setting type, and an assigned number of lines to set individually:

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Once we had set our individual lines of type, we had to join them together into a page–being careful not to pie the type (spilling the lines we had so carefully composed)!

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Once we had our page locked up in its galley, we printed proof pages to see which corrections were needed.

Page of type surrounded by a metal frame with metal pieces holding the type firmly in place.

Locking up the page in a chase for a galley proof.

Finally, all the pages to be printed on a sheet were imposed on the press bed:

Day 2 began with a new experience: “knocking up the balls”–that is, putting wool into wooden ball stocks and fastening pelt over them with nails. These created padded ink balls that we used to apply ink to the type. One of my classmates joined an instructor in knocking up for this first time:

After knocking up and inking the balls, we had the chance to print the pages–wearing our printer’s hats, of course!

We also had another set of lines we each had to set.

My lines to set for day 2–longer this time!

Day 3, we had a final set of lines to set, and we experimented with two illustration techniques, wood cut and wood engraving. I plan to rush over that, however, to talk more about typecasting, which we did on day 4.

Typecasting first began with making the matrix, or the mold used to cast a single piece of type. You begin with a blank (a piece of metal that will become the matrix), and a punch (another piece of metal that is used to make the impression in the blank). Punchcutting is an entire craft unto itself, and the thought of the skill and fine touch needed to make punches blows my mind. We were given punches that we hammered into blanks, after which we filed them down to make sure the impression was centered on the matrix.

Once we had our matrices made, we were ready for typecasting. The matrix is put into an adjustable mold that is held closed with a spring. Then comes the part I was a little bit scared about–molten metal is poured into the mold, while the caster makes a “caster’s jerk.” This is an upward, jerking motion that forces the molten metal all the way into the letter form of the mold. I had some trepidation about handling molten metal, but with safety goggles and gloves, it was all pretty safe. See me below looking a liiiiiittle unsure about this whole process.

Amy getting ready to typecast. Not feeling too sure about this whole idea. Photo credit: Jo Collier.

The metal begins to solidify almost instantly, and it does not take long to cool. What comes out of the mold is a piece of type with an extra piece of metal, called a jet, attached. You break off the jet, plane off any ragged edges, and file the piece of type to type-height. And there you have it! A piece of type!

The end result of our week of labor? A 22-page facsimile pamphlet of Thomas Paine’s Thoughts on the Peace, from an edition published London in 1791. It is printed in three gatherings, or groups of folded leaves. The gatherings are sewn into a blue paper wrapper (paper made during the papermaking part of the workshop) meant to mimic the type of cheap paper wrapper that printers would frequently sell their books in. These paper wrappers were not meant to last. They were a means to hold together the gatherings of a book until the purchaser could take them to a binder to put a more permanent covering on them. In this case, though, I’m planning keep the blue paper wrapper. I’m proud of our work!

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Work Cited

Samuelson, Todd, and Christopher L. Morrow. “Empirical Bibliography: A Decade of Book History at Texas A&M.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 109, no. 1, 2015, pp. 83-109.


#TBT June Wedding

Bridesmaid, wedding, day and two visiting dresses all with large bustles. (published by Les Modes Parisiennes:Peterson's Magazine 1883)

June is a perennially popular month for weddings, so today we are taking a glance at the wedding attire of days gone by. Today’s Throwback Thursday image is from our fashion plate collection and is from an issue of Peterson’s Magazine in 1883. The two dresses on the far left are a bridesmaid’s dress and a wedding dress. As you can see, the tradition of wearing a white dress must date back from at least the late-19th century. It looks like it was also popular to have the bridesmaids wear a brightly colored dress for the occasion.

If you’re interested in seeing more fashion images, please visit our digital collection. You can also visit the archives to see the originals in the Mary Barton Fashion Illustration Collection.


ISU Summer Aesthetics

Long before Instagram and Pinterest (or the “Postcard from Campus” videos), there were filler pages in the student yearbook, featuring seasonally aesthetic scenes of campus along side nostalgic quotes, presumably meant to evoke the lazy heat of an Iowa summer and the change of pace that life undergoes each year on a comparatively quiet campus.

1916

1916.summer

1916 Bomb Yearbook, pg 23

1945

1945.summer.2

1945 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 7

1955

1955.summer.4

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 432-433

1968

1968.summer.2

1968 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 42

1969

1969.summer.1

1969 Bomb Yearbook, pgs 64-65

1970

1970.3

1970 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 34-35

1972

1972.summer.1

1972 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 78

 


Of course, summer at ISU isn’t all about lovely scenery and relaxation. Both on and off campus, the ISU community remains active throughout the hottest season of the year.

Many students continue taking classes.

1947

1947.summer1

1947 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 84-85

1955

1955.summer.2

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 440-441

 


Others study abroad.

1955

1955.summer.6

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 436-437

 


Still others attend or work at summer camps.

1936 – Civil Engineering Summer Camp

1936.summer.1

1955 – R.O.T.C Summer Camp

1955.summer.1

1957 – Forestry Summer Camp

1957.summer.1

1957 Bomb Yearbook, pg 361

 


Incoming freshmen attend orientation events and get to know their peers.

1972

1972.summer.2

1972 Bomb Yearbook, pg 79

 


And, of course, everyone complains about the construction projects (though we know we’ll be glad for the renovations come fall).

1968

1968.summer.3

1968 Bomb Yearbook, pg 43

1973

1973.summer.1

1973 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 80-81


What’s your aesthetic this summer?


History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings at Amana!

Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and Preservation have partnered with the Amana Heritage Society Museums, Living History Farms, and the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation to share local stories by screening archival agricultural films from our collections. 

This project is inspired by the work of film archivist Jane Paul (January 19, 1958–November 13, 2018). Paul spent her career collecting, curating, and presenting film content tailored for regional and multicultural New Zealand audiences.

Event this week

Thursday, June 20, Amana Heritage Auditorium, 705 44th Avenue, Amana, Iowa, starts at 7 p.m.

We are screening our production Landmarks in Iowa History #2: Amana, originally aired on February 3, 1959, and Iowa Perspectives, a news story that aired on January 10, 1979.

Peter Hoehnle’s presentation, “Just When You Thought You Had Seen It All…” follows. Hoehnle is a historian from Fire Creek Historical Consulting and an Iowa State alum. He will discuss never before seen images from the Amana Heritage Society and Museum, that were preserved through a grant with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Historical Resource Development Program. These images provide a new window on life in Amana.

Save the date for our day at Living History Farms!

Thursday, September 12, Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, Iowa

Last week

Last Wednesday we visited the Norman Borlaug Heritage Farm and did a screening in the New Oregon #8 school house.

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings is funded, in part, by the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.


NHPRC Update: CARDinal Makeover

Check it out — our public catalog, CARDinal, got a makeover!

coverpage_homescreen

CARDinal’s homepage

This is the last step to completing our NHPRC-funded project to implement a new archives management system. Please visit CARDinal (and the updated CARDinal Reference Guide) and let us know what you think!

Contact archives@iastate.edu with any questions or comments.

NHPRC logo

This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings

This summer, we are kicking off our pilot project History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings. Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and Preservation have partnered with the Amana Heritage Society Museums, Living History Farms, and the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation to share local stories by screening archival agricultural films from our collections.  This project is inspired by the work of film archivist Jane Paul (January 19, 1958–November 13, 2018). Paul spent her career collecting, curating, and presenting film content tailored for regional and multicultural New Zealand audiences.

Next week!

Wednesday, June 12, at the 1915 barn on the Norman Borlaug Heritage Farm, 20399 Timber Avenue, Lawlor, Iowa, from 1 – 3 p.m.

We are bringing two productions: Norman Borlaug – Revolutionary (1971), a film about the Green Revolution, produced by the National Agricultural Chemicals Association, and Dimension 5: World Food and Hunger with Norman Borlaug, a television panel discussion about pesticides and wheat varieties. The Borlaug Foundation also provided untitled home movie footage from Borlaug’s time in Mexico.

In two weeks!

Thursday, June 20, Amana Heritage Auditorium, 705 44th Avenue, Amana, Iowa, starts at 7 p.m.

We are screening our production Landmarks in Iowa History #2: Amana, followed by a presentation by Peter Hoehnle, from Fire Creek Historical Consulting and an Iowa State alum, on the images the Amana Heritage Society & Museum preserved through a grant with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Historical Resource Development Program.

Save the date for our day at Living History Farms!

Thursday, September 12, Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, Iowa

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings is funded, in part, by the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.


Early print features: navigating an errata list

 Last week, I highlighted our oldest book in veterinary medicine. I cut this section from that post for length, but thought it would be of interest to readers who may want to learn more about errata lists in early printed books.

During the printing process, the people that set the type, known as compositors, would occasionally make mistakes–as would anyone who had to set type in mirror-image! If these mistakes were not caught before the sheets were printed, printers would often include lists of errors, errata lists, so that readers could correct the text themselves. Here is an example of a corrected error:

Midway down the page, handwritten in the margin is "+ pugnabis"

Marginal correction made to the text.

Pictured below is the errata list from Jean Ruel’s Veterinariae medicinae libri II, printd by Simon de Colines in Paris in 1530. He has titled his list, Erratorum Recognitio, or recognized errors:

First line reads (in Latin): Repone pro purgabis, pugnabis. folio 2 pagina 2 versu 23.

List of printing errors included by the printer in the back of the book.

Let’s take a look at how a reader understood this section. The first listed error reads, “Repone pro purgabis, pugnabis. folio 2 pagina 2 versu 23,” or, Replace for purgabis, pugnabis. Leaf 2, page 2, row 23. The word “leaf” in this instruction brings me to an aside about the difference between foliation vs. pagination. Foliation means that the leaves in a book are numbered; in other words, if you open a book, the page on the right will have a number, but not the page on the left. Pagination means that every page is numbered. This is what we are used to seeing in books today. Early books, however, were often foliated, which is the case here:

Book opening illustrating foliation. The page on the right is numbered “2.” The page on the left has no number.

So, looking again at the instruction, “Leaf 2, page 2, row 23,” leaf 2 refers to the 2nd leaf of the text, the one that has a number “2” in the upper right corner. Then it indicates, “page 2.” Page 1 would be the side of the leaf that has the number on it, or the right side of the page when the book is held open. Page 2 is the other side of the leaf. Sometimes this is referred to as recto and verso, in which verso refers to the reverse side of the leaf. So here, after finding leaf 2, the reader turns the page for page 2 of that particular leaf.

The next item in the instruction is the row number, row 23 here. Starting from the top line of text on the page, count down the number of lines until you reach row 23. This count will include the line for the chapter heading seen on the page. (Confusingly it does not include the running head at the very top of the page that gives the book’s title.)

Numbers added to the rows on the page. (click for larger image)

So, to recap: for this error, the reader turns to folio 2, turns over the page, and counts down 23 lines. There we find the error, “purgabis.” The reader has marked the word with a small cross, and in the margin given the correct word, pugnabis. This reader petered out after several corrections. After trying the process out on the page pictured here, you may understand why.

A "+" above the word "purgabis" printed in the text to match the handwritten correction "+pugnabis" in the margin.

Close up of marginal correction.