Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist
ISU Special Collections has seven or eight commemorative ashtrays. To my way of thinking, if you like the message about the school’s centennial, you wouldn’t want to cover it with ashes and cigarette butts, would you? That’s like lining a spittoon with the state flag.
I find these artifacts inspirational because they remind me of how prevalent smoking used to be in the U.S. When I was a child — I was born in 1971 — people were allowed to smoke in more places than they are now. Not only was the smoke annoying (at best), but they littered the ground with countless cigarette butts. Even if you set aside the health effects, smokers made a major nuisance of themselves. My father smoked unfiltered “Camels” all day. I thought the packaging looked cool, but his habit was so unappealing that I never took it up. Thank goodness for that.
We’ve come along way since then. I suppose there’s not much left of the commemorative ashtray industry.
Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist
This button from our Artifact Collection inspires me because the work of first-wave feminists in securing women’s right to vote was so important in propelling forward the advances in women’s rights, a movement that has been carried on by so many generations of women since the late 19th century and continues today. I cannot imagine not being able to participate fully in the political system, or not being able to own property, to work whether married or single, and so many other rights that we tend to take for granted today. My grandma was born in 1922, two years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. That helps put in perspective for me just how recently women have gained these rights.
This button is from the Carrie Chapman Catt artifact collection, the well-known Iowa suffragist and Iowa State alum.
Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue #2001-R001
Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator
Benjamin Gue was one of the authors of a bill to establish a state agricultural college and model farm (what would become Iowa State University). This artifact is inspiring because to me it represents the very purpose of the work we do in Special Collections and University Archives. Part of SCUA’s mission is to preserve the history of the University for future generations to access and learn from. Daguerreotypes were among the first modes of “printing” photographic images and are susceptible to damage with too much light, or too high or low humidity and/or temperature. Providing stable conditions is an important part of our jobs. Another part is providing access to our collections. I think this artifact is a great example of a piece of history that might be lost entirely, or at least lost to the majority of researchers, if it were not for the work we do here.
Banned Books Buttons #s2001.R026.001-03
Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist
It blows my mind to see which books have been banned by governments around the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments. Libraries and schools still ban books and many of them are classics and award-winning books. I am inspired by these “Read Banned Books” buttons because books inspire me. The stories within them and the way the authors have crafted their words to tell their stories make me feel connected to people, places, and ideas that are usually beyond my scope of experience.