Today’s blog post is another collaborative post about different artifacts and collections we are happy to have here at Special Collections & University Archives at Iowa State University. Usually we reserve these posts for artifacts, but there are some collections from University Archives we are very grateful for, so they are also included. If you’re interested in reviewing any of the materials below, drop by, we’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5. This week we’re closed, though, on Thursday & Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
29-inch Hard drive
From Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist
According to the note it’s stored with, this thing is a “hard drive removed from the university’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.”
This hard drive represents important aspects of the work of the information professionals who came before us. As a cataloger for ISU Special Collections and University Archives, I am grateful for their efforts. I am reminded that it’s important to do a good job, whether or not anyone notices in the short term. In my line of work, the insights and diligence of people who have retired or passed away are inescapable. It’s almost like those people are still here, shaping what I can accomplish before I “pass the baton.”
When libraries first started using computers, the staff transcribed bibliographic information from card catalogs. Many millions of cards were reborn as electronic records. Some of those electronic records ended up on the hard drive pictured above, before being transferred to another system. In other words, the bibliographic information you see today may be new, or it may have had a long history. What if a now-discarded paper card contained information adapted from an old bibliography, or a bookseller’s catalog? That’s not terribly likely or consequential, you might say. But in bringing it up, I’ve opened a jumbo can of worms, because while we have fancy technology, our conceptual tools for arranging and describing resources remain rooted in the past. I see form and content, evolving in tandem, before we can understand the implications. I see old wine in new bottles, and vice versa … and then I begin to think I should get back to my more mundane work.
From Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist
The artifact I’m most thankful for is a women’s suffrage pin which says “Full Suffrage for Women” (2002-R001.006). It’s not so much the pin itself I’m thankful for, but what it represents. Thanks to the women who marched and wore pins like this one, I am able to vote today. Thanks to them, millions of people who before were not allowed to, are able to make their voices heard. This and several other suffragette artifacts came from Carrie Chapman Catt, women’s rights activist, suffragette, and Iowa State alumna.
From Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist
I am most thankful for the buttons in support of equal rights for women from the 1970s. I discovered them while familiarizing myself with our PastPerfect database. There are a variety of slogans included on the buttons. My favorite is “Women are not chicks.” Though women were nationally granted the right to vote in 1920 the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. I am very grateful for all of the work done for women’s rights in the U.S.
From Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist
I’m thankful for the Women’s Rights Buttons from the 1970s in Artifact 2001-R002 (pictured earlier as Rachel’s picks) and Artifact 2001-R003 (pictured directly above). These are associated with our University Archives record series for political demonstrations, RS 0/12. I’m thankful for all the women (and men) that have demonstrated and fought for women’s rights over the last one hundred and fifty years or so. Although there are still issues to fight for until we reach equality, I’m grateful for all that the generations before me have done to make the gains that we have.
The manhole cover that (almost) got away
From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist
The artifact I am most thankful for is one that I didn’t know we had until just recently. Several years ago the archives was offered a manhole cover. Now, this wasn’t just any manhole cover—it was one with a large “ISC” logo on it, the “ISC” standing for Iowa State College. I wasn’t able to find historical information on them, but it seems the manhole covers were created on campus by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Walking around campus one can find several of them still in use. We were very intrigued by the manhole cover, but we ultimately turned it down because it was large and heavy (by our standards) and would be difficult to display. Honestly, it was a decision that I regretted afterwards. This past summer a colleague of mine was looking through a shelf of artifacts that we had yet to catalog. (I would like to point out that we have only a few of these left.) Covered in the back, behind several other items, was an “ISC” manhole cover! I was rather surprised when she told me about it. At some point in the future this manhole cover will be requested by curious researchers or placed on temporary display—likely presenting several interesting challenges for us. That is a concern for another time, though. Today, I am just thankful to the archivist who took it in so that I can now say that yes, we do indeed have an “ISC” manhole cover in our collection!
Diploma Cover, ca. 1960-1969 (Artifact 2015-R034)
Petrina Jackson, MA ’94 English, Department Head
I choose the Iowa State University diploma cover because of what it represents: a good, solid education.
Growing up, my parents constantly preached the value of a good education and the importance of earning a college degree. My parents were raised in the American South during the Jim Crow era, and they believed deeply in education as the “great equalizer.” Since they did not get an opportunity to earn college degree themselves, they planted that goal in my brother and me. It was never a choice of if we would go to college; it was always a matter of when we went to college.
Going to college and encountering many new and different ideas and people expanded my world and challenged my assumptions in ways I didn’t anticipate. Most importantly, getting a degree has afforded me career opportunities that I would not have had without it. For this, I am forever grateful.
Louis H. Pammel Papers
From Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist
The collection I am most thankful for is the Louis H. Pammel Papers (RS 13/5/13). Pammel was involved in so many things, and his papers are a reflection of his broad interests. His correspondence files are a “who’s who” of prominent botanists and educators. As a member of the College History Committee, he interviewed early staff members, and was able to document the earliest days of the college from those with first-hand knowledge. He was active in the creation of Iowa’s state park law and was the first President of the Iowa State Board of Conservation, serving from 1918 to 1927. He worked tirelessly for the field of botany, for Iowa State, and the community. His students were of primary concern to him, particularly foreign students. He helped form the local chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club, and also began a Science Club and established Botanical Seminars for senior students in Botany. A devoted family man—he and Augusta Emmel Pammel had six children—he was also a mainstay at the Episcopal Church, St. John’s by the Campus. No matter what I am looking for when I work with his papers, I always learn something new.
Alumni Files, RS 21/7/1
From Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist
I am reminded again and again how thankful I am for our collection of alumni files, RS 21/7/1. These are files on a variety of Iowa State’s alumni for which we do not hold individual collections (for these, see the listing under RS 21/7 http://archives.lib.iastate.edu/collections/university-archives/by-department/rs-21-alumni-affairs). The alumni files were originally maintained by the Alumni Association before they were transferred to the university archives in the early 1970s. Throughout the years since then, when we find information about Iowa State’s graduates, we will add this material to their file – or create a new file if one does not already exist. The files contain a whole variety of documents including news clippings, articles, letters, and photographs. One of my favorite records in these files are from the original files of the Alumni Association – questionnaires which were sent to alumni to update the association on our alum’s activities and pursuits. Pictured above is the file we have on Arthur Carhart, who graduated from Iowa State in 1916.