Now available online: Films of landscape architecture Professor Philip Elwood

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and last week the availability of the largest online digital collection of presidential papers (that of John F. Kennedy) was announced.  However, as the search page for the digitized collection makes clear, the majority of the library’s collections remains undigitized and are available in their original, physical form only.  As at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, libraries and archives all over the world are struggling to find the time and money to make even a small portion of their collections available online.  Despite these obstacles, we here at Iowa State have been in the process of digitizing our collections over the past few years, and there are a number of new collections online which this blog hopes to highlight in the coming months.

For instance, a new blog post from our Preservation Department’s blog describes the lantern slides from the Warren Manning Papers (prominent landscape architect), which are now available in our Digital Collections.  Please take note that this is only a part of his collection, and the entire collection is available here in the Special Collections Department.  If you would like to find out more, the collection’s finding aid/description can be found here.

Philip Homer Elwood

We have a variety of digitized portions of our collections in Digital Collections, in addition to photographs on Flickr, documents and publications on Scribd, audio on iTunes U, and films on our YouTube channel.  We recently uploaded a number of films made by Iowa State landscape professor Philip Elwood (some of you may recognize the name from the former Elwood Drive, now University Boulevard).  In 1923, Elwood was hired as a Professor of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State College (now University) and helped to organize the new Department of Landscape Architecture. He was made head of the department in 1929 and served in that capacity until 1950.

During his time at Iowa State, Elwood conducted several summer travel tours for students to Asia and Europe, and throughout North America.  These films document these travels, and I highly recommend you visit our YouTube channel to see them all since this would have to be quite a lengthy post if I were to highlight them all!  You can limit the selections to only the Elwood films by searching for “Elwood” in the searchbox.  However, please take note:  if you are looking for exciting music and sounds with color images, please be aware that these are silent and in black and white.  Even so, they are an interesting window into the early part of the 20th century both here and abroad, showing a different way of life (and landscape architecture!).

One of these films include a trip from Japan to Hong Kong.  Professors Elwood and Popham took 4 students (Bethane Carpenter, John Hall, Max Bird, and Norman Morris) on a tour of Japan, China, the Philippine Islands, and Hawaii in 1929. This videodisc covers highlights of the Korea, China and Hong Kong portions of that trip and includes footage of a train ride between Kamakura and Kyoto showing rice farms, the sacred island of Miyajima (Itsuku-Shima), a willow pattern tea house, temples, the harbor of the Whang-poo River in Shanghai, scenes of Hong Kong, the upper deck of C.P. SS Empress of Russia, and views of Hong Kong from the docks at Kowloon.

There are also a number of films of Elwood’s travels throughout North America, including Tennessee (this film is in 2 parts).

Elwood took students on a tour of the southern and eastern United States. In Tennessee they view a Confederate statue, homes in a small town, and boys playing football in a yard.  From there they traveled on to view a new power plant with its lake, dam, and new community for its workers, dam construction, rural communities where girls are doing laundry outdoors in tubs, and a woman is standing over a tub on a fire. They also see a waterwheel working at a mill, logging, and mining operations. Then the group travels through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Part 1:

Part 2:

As mentioned above, please visit our YouTube channel to view more of these films, as well as many others.  Also remember to keep in mind that if you are not finding what you need online, it is not necessarily because it does not exist but just might not be digitized!  Search our website or the library’s catalog, or ask us, to find out what might be available.

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