It’s my last day as the Silos & Smokestacks intern in the ISU Special Collections! The collection has really come together. Everything is being finalized and all of the pieces I have been working and collaborating on in the past ten weeks are coming together to form a cohesive concept.
This new collection is currently comprised of 57 items. There are several reports, letters, addresses, and photographs, as well as a video. Everything is arranged by subject, but there is also a document guide that can assist in navigating the collection for those that would like a condensed experience. It features 18 highlights that outline the fundamental aspects of the early Extension Service and its impact on Iowa. One of my favorite parts is the timeline. It is in the shape of an ear of corn, and the important dates and events are presented as kernels on the ear. Hovering over each dated kernel will reveal a pop-up box of information about each date.
There are also a few items within the collection that stand out for me. The first is an advertisement from the Boys’ Working Reserve. It would have circulated during the First World War, and was aimed primarily at those who were too young to join the armed forces, but old enough to travel to work. The advertisement is still in very good condition given its age, and the historical context is really quite interesting as it pertains to both World War I and the Extension Service.
Another favorite of mine is the Diary of the Seed Corn Train. It serves as a practical record for the Corn Train – where it stopped and who lectured – but it also introduces an element of humor into the collection. Many of the entries include remarks on the crowds or notable events that stuck out to the instructors as they traveled. In reading through the entries, one gets a keen sense of the personalities of the instructors and how they interacted with each other. As these people and events are referred to in other documents, those remarks introduce that much more dimension to the overall experience.
I think this will be a great addition to the digital collections already available, and there is plenty of potential for it to be expanded in the future. Until then, have fun investigating the Digital Collections home page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection!