This post will be a little different than most – it will not be about our collections, but rather the CIA annual meeting Tanya Zanish-Belcher (Head of our Special Collections Department) and I attended about three weeks ago (July 11). And, yes, CIA in this case does not stand for the federal government’s Central Intelligence Agency – but rather Consortium of Iowa Archivists. (The CIA’s founders, however, decided that since the professional organization of Iowa’s archivists would have both the word “Iowa” and “Archivists” in the name, the acronym naturally had to be CIA).
Every once in awhile archivists do, indeed, get out of the archives and meet fellow archivists to learn about what others are doing and, perhaps, bring back some of what we’ve learned to our own institutions. This meeting of about 25 Iowa archivists was no different. The Hoover Presidential Library and Museum graciously agreed to host the meeting at their archives, and during the meeting the staff gave an interesting presentation on their collections. Another wonderful part of the meeting was talking with our Iowa colleagues, finding out what they had been doing this past year, and sharing stories, struggles and advice with each other. Most of the morning’s meeting therefore consisted of reports from attendees on what their institutions had been working on.
Pictured above is the (very, very small!) house where Herbert Hoover (31st President of the United States) was born.
Although only a brief summary of what some Iowa archivists are working on, below are a few highlights (the full minutes of the meeting will be posted on the website shortly):
- Kirkwood Community College reported on how they had been digitizing collections.
- Grinnell College reported on their work with Archon.
- Luther College is finishing up its sesquicentennial celebration. The sesquicentennial has been very busy for the college archive’s staff, which recently doubled to include two people. Project Archivist Sasha Griffin was recently hired to help with the Journeys to America project.
- Loras College submitted an HRDP grant proposal for digitizing glass plate negatives depicting Dubuque’s entire workforce in 1912.
- Iowa Women’s Archives (at the University of Iowa) has worked with the State Historical Society of Iowa to provide digital access to suffrage collections located at the University of Iowa and other Iowa archives (including Carrie Chapman Catt’s suffrage buttons from here at Iowa State!).
- University of Iowa’s Special Collections Department is digitizing their Civil War diaries and experimenting with crowd sourcing (allowing people to access the images of the diaries online, and from these the general public can create and submit transcripts of the digitized diaries). The University of Iowa also recently completed an online exhibit on “LGBTQ Life in Iowa City, 1967-2010” and received an honorable mention from OutHistory.org, which sponsored the competition.
Various other items were discussed after lunch, and afterwards we could choose to either have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hoover Archives, or receive a guided tour of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site grounds. I took the tour of the grounds, since I was curious to find out about the grounds and Hoover’s history in his childhood hometown of West Branch (Iowa). The Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is located on the site where Hoover was born and where he and his wife are now buried. Below are a few photographs of the grounds (see above for the house where Hoover spent his first few years).
Above is the inside of Hoover’s birthplace cottage. In addition, the grounds include buildings as they may have appeared during Hoover’s childhood, such as a Quaker meeting house (West Branch was founded by the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. Hoover and his family were Quakers, and people have speculated about how this background may have influenced him.)
Hoover was buried on a small hill near his birthplace. As I stood on this hill, I loved the idea that his grave overlooks his birthplace. You might be able to see it in the photograph above – it’s the very, very small speck of white between the trees in the far distance.
And, finally, there are patches of native prairie on the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site grounds. The lovely patch near Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover’s gravesite is pictured above.