What Were Past New Student Orientations at Iowa State Like?

Orientation Days brochures from the 1960s and 1970s (found in RS 7/2/5).

June is an exciting month for new students coming to Iowa State University in the fall, since this is when the new student orientations take place.  Students, and their families, can become more familiar with the campus, meet with their faculty advisers,  register for classes, and learn about campus resources.  One of the resources includes our own Special Collections Department, which holds the university archives, manuscript collections, and other rare and unique research materials.  To learn more about what we offer, please visit our website.

One of the many collections in the university archives documenting the history of the university includes resources on past new student orientations here at Iowa State.  Handouts, pamphets, parents guidebooks, orientation handbooks, and other orientation materials can be found in the New Student Programs Records (RS 7/2/5), which has an online finding aid/collection description.  Photographs of orientations gone by can also be found in the university archives.  To the left is pictured rows and rows of students, taking the required aptitude tests which at that time (1953) were a required part of orientation.

To the right is a photograph showing Professor MacRae (music professor) leading the freshmen in a song at the first general meeting of orientation (at that time called Freshman Days).  The songs for Freshman Days (and used for other occasions as well) can be found in some of the Freshman Manuals (LD2546.F75x).   The Freshman Manuals also contain a variety of information on Iowa State for new students including student organizations, academic programs and departments, traditions, and suggestions on how to succeed.

One song found in the 1932 Freshman Manual is “Sing Me a Song of Iowa State,” and the beginning lines are:

“O sing me a song of Iowa State, Her glories yet untold

Her battles fought and vict’ries won

Beneath the Cardinal and Gold…”

Perhaps this is the song being sung by the students pictured above.

If anyone visiting for the orientations would like, please feel free to visit the Special Collections Department (located on the 4th floor of Parks Library).  Most of our collections are in closed stacks, but if there is something you would like to see we can pull it for you.  We currently have an exhibit in our reading room about the cottages once on campus (most of which are no longer here), and some of our more frequently used books are also out in the reading room, including the yearbook (called the Bomb – published annually from 1893 to 1994).

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