Looking Back on the 1960s

This is the first in a series of posts about Iowa State University during the 1960s.

Exploring The Chart: Rules and Regulations for Women

This past semester I had the pleasure of assisting a history class interested in studying student life during the 1960s here at Iowa State. For this type of research there are many great places to start in the archives. The Bomb, Iowa State’s yearbook, and other student publications like the Iowa State Daily and the Iowa Homemaker offer lots of opportunities to explore college life throughout the years. For some reason, maybe due to the relative lack of formal rules imposed upon my youth, I find myself fascinated by the regulations that governed student conduct on campus. The best place to find these rules for Iowa State students of the 1960s is in the student handbook, which at this time was called The Chart.

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This is an undated image of Linden Hall, originally built as a women’s dormitory. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

The 1959/1961 issue of The Chart provides a clear picture of what was expected from students at Iowa State, especially women, during the start of the 1960s. At this time men and women were housed in separate dormitories on opposite sides of campus. There were also far more restrictions on women than men. In 1960, all undergraduate women had to live in residence halls or sorority houses except under special circumstances approved by administration. The Chart details very specifically the times when women must be in their residence halls. Freshman women had to be home by 9:00 pm most weeknights whereas sophomores and up were able to stay out until the wee hour of 10:00 pm. Friday and Saturday nights the women were granted leave until midnight and 12:30 am respectively. For special events women were allowed extended hours, but this was only for a handful of events such as Homecoming, VEISHEA, and annual dances.

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No car rides without a letter from your parents! This undated photograph shows several cars parked outside Linden Hall. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

Another example of some of the strict rules for women involved visitations and travels. Any woman student intending to be away from the residence hall later than 6:00 pm had to “sign out” and any time a woman planned to leave town for any reason, she had to secure permission from the residence director. A letter of approval for out-of-town travel and for all car trips required a written letter of approval from the student’s parents! The handbook quite emphatically denied any women from entering the residence of a male student unless she was an immediate family member such as a mother or sister–and even then this was allowed only during certain times.

 

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This image shows members of Lowe House in Westgate Hall during the 1969 winter quarter. These women would be among the first at Iowa State to reside in a dormitory previously housing only men. Image taken from a Lowe House scrapbook located in Box 8 of the Union Drive Houses records, RS 7/4/4.

By the end of the decade, some of these strict rules started to soften just a bit. For one thing, in 1968 women and men started living in the same buildings, though still on separate houses/floors. Also, women were allowed as guests into men’s rooms, though hours restricted these visits to Saturdays and Sundays only. In a surprising twist they were allowed to meet with the door closed! An interesting rule that appears in the Guide to Resident Hall Living for 1969 that didn’t appear in the earlier Chart were regulations regarding the proper location for sun bathing.

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The student handbook, The Chart, for 1969-1971. Archives books call number LD2535.8 I58x

It’s important to note that these types of rules were not unique to Iowa State. In many ways these regulations were not much changed from those established at the school a century earlier. It wasn’t until the students themselves started agitating for greater equality and freedom that things started to change. The archives has many official and published records documenting student life in the 1960s at Iowa State, but relatively little from the individual students themselves. We are always interested in speaking with former students and alumni willing to donate materials documenting their personal adventure at Iowa State, so feel free to give us a call!

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