Artifacts in the Archives – Celebrating food!

This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection related to food. After all, one of the key components of this holiday season is celebrating with food. We hope you enjoy these collection highlights from our Artifact Collection.

Teacup and Saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Top view of teacup and saucer, white embellished around edges with purple, orange and blue flowers with green stems and leaves.

Top view of teacup and saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I was drawn to this teacup and saucer because my mom and grandma both collected tea cups. I used to love examining the patterns of all the different teacups in my mom’s china cabinet when I was growing up and feeling the thinness of the fine bone china they were made of. This particular teacup and saucer in our artifact collection belonged to the mother of H. Summerfield Day, University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980). It was collected and donated to the archives by a former library employee in the Cataloging Department, Dennis Wendell.

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Wooden cheese box 9.25 inches wide, text on box "2 Pounds net weight, Iowa State College, pasteurized process cheese, Manufactured by Dairy Industry dept., Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa."

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This wooden cheese box is interesting because it’s much sturdier than I would expect. It’s only 9.25” wide, so card stock would have sufficed. I think it would make a cool pencil box. Pasteurized process cheese is not my favorite kind, but I have such high regard for cheese that I can’t help liking the box. “Process cheese” notwithstanding, it was an ISC product so it was probably of exceptional quality. I’m inspired to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup this weekend.

Wax Apples (Artifact 2008-153.001)

Bowl filled with various wax apples (yellow,pink, red)

Artifact 2008-153

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I have chosen the bowl of wax apples, originally shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, as this month’s food-related artifact.  I had heard of its existence here, but had never had the opportunity to see these first-hand until working on an artifact housing project earlier this year.  I was amazed at how shiny and fresh these 140-year-old wax apples looked, and at the same time being terrified of causing damage to these amazing artifacts!  Colonel G. B. Bracket, who created the wax apples for the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s exhibit, received a gold medal for the wax Iowa apples. The apples represent the 300 varieties of apples grown in Iowa at the time.

Iowa State milk carton (from Accession 2014-312)

Iowa State Skim Milk Carton, has "Iowa State" and picture of Food Sciences building originally Dairy Industry building. Colors on carton are yellow, black and white. It's a half-gallon carton.

This milk carton came in with accession 2014-312. It has not yet been assigned an artifact number in our artifact database. Note the illustration of the Food Sciences Building, originally known as the Dairy Industry Building, on the front of the carton.

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

In a slight departure from the theme of food for this week’s blog, I have selected this Iowa State milk carton as it represents a long history of producing dairy products at Iowa State. This milk carton would have been filled with milk during the 1960s, but the dairy program at Iowa State began much earlier than that. Iowa State started operating a creamery in the 1880s to provide a place to store and process milk and dairy products for the benefit of the students and staff of Iowa State. Any milk left over was processed into butter and sold to the neighborhood surrounding the school. Of course, in those days milk was not delivered in attractive paper cartons like this! In 2007 Iowa State renewed its support of the dairy industry in Iowa when it opened a new dairy farm south of campus. Although the days of Iowa State selling its own milk are long gone, you can still buy homemade ice cream from students in the Dairy Science Club as they carry on the tradition of preparing dairy products on the Iowa State campus.

Kenyan Fat Pot, 1944 (Artifact 2010-009.005)

Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

One of the most fascinating food-related artifacts we have is a fat pot from Kenya. According to the catalog record, this pot was “used for collecting the fat from meat as a result of cooking or for cosmetic purposes by the natives of the Turkana-Tribe from Northern Kenya.” This doesn’t sound all that different from what we do in America today, in which we collect the drippings from meat to make gravy or broth. The pot is made of wood, twine, and leather, with a leather cap. I suppose this item intrigues me largely because we don’t have a lot of artifacts from around the world, and I don’t know of any other African artifacts in our collections. It’s associated with the Shirley Held Papers (RS 26/2/53). Held was a faculty member of what is now the College of Design.

ISU Beer Can (Artifact 2012-207.002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I was browsing items in our internal artifact database and was tickled to see this beer can. Believe it or not, this is just one can of at least three other beer cans I could have selected that we have in our collection. I picked this can because it includes an image of Cy. I feel like I can justify selecting beer as a food-related artifact because, to some, it is food. All kidding aside, beer can be enjoyed with food just like wine and it even enhances some food. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretzels or nuts are often served with beer. Below is the description of the beer can from the catalog:

The can is a gold color, with red and black lettering. There is an image of Cy holding a mug of beer in one hand, and a football in the other. On the can itself reads, in red lettering, “CYCLONE BEER.” Underneath the slogan, there is black lettering that reads, “Not associated with Iowa State University.” There is a makers mark that describes the nature of where the beer was brewed and canned. On the top of the can reads: “Iowa Refund, 5 c.” There is still liquid inside of the can.

This beer can, with an assortment of other materials, came to the archives from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Chocolate Set (from Accession 2010-009)

Pot and two teacups and saucers, for drinking chocolate. Colors are white embellished with pink and yellow roses.

Chocolate set (from Accession 2010-009)

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

This image is of a chocolate pot and two cups which carries the mark of Wheelock China, a large Midwestern importing firm which flourished from 1855 until the early 1920s.  Wheelock is best known for their souvenir china, depicting local scenes and buildings and marketed to tourists.  Most of their products were imported from Germany.  These items are marked with the Wheelock Imperial Eagle stamp, which was used on china the company imported from Austria.

Black-and-white photograph of woman, in her 30s or 40s, short brunette hair and glasses, sitting at a loom.

Photograph of Shirley Held ca. 1950s (University Photographs RS 26/2/A)

The chocolate pot belonged to Shirley Held, a member of Iowa State’s Art and Design faculty for more than thirty years.  She received a B.S. in Home Economics Education from Iowa State in 1945.  Following graduation, she taught home economics in several towns in northwest Iowa. She returned to graduate school at Iowa State, earning the M.S. in Home Economics-Applied Art in 1951.  After a year teaching at Utah State College, she returned to Iowa State as a member of the Applied Art faculty, teaching design, lettering, weaving, and wood and metal crafts.   Weaving was her true calling, and she was the author of Weaving:  Handbook of the Fiber Crafts, which was published in 1973, with a second edition in 1978.  Her pieces were exhibited both in Iowa and nationally, and she promoted the art of weaving through workshops and lectures. She received a faculty citation in 1979 in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the University.  Active locally as a member of the Ames Choral Society and the Collegiate United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, she also participated in community theater, both acting and designing costumes for a number of productions.  She retired from Iowa State in 1990, and passed away in 2014.

Artifacts in the Archives – Celebrating food!

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