Happy 50th! The Origins of Special Collections & University Archives

2019 marks the Special Collections & University Archives’ (SCUA) 50th year in existence. This blog post is the first in a series of blog posts celebrating SCUA’s 50 years at Iowa State University. The Department of Special Collections at Iowa State University consolidated the already existing College History and Rare Books collections. The College History Collection was a cooperative effort, led by the University Library and the College History Committee, to preserve Iowa State University’s history.

Photograph of person wearing suit reading files standing in front of a filing cabinet. Caption to photo reads: "Robert Orr, director of the Iowa State College Library, looks over part of the college history collection now stored in Building N. The materials will be moved to the library and organized, with aid from the Alumni Achievement Fund. Title of article: "College History Collection." The project of organizing Iowa State's voluminous history files will soon be started. A $2,500 grant from the Alumni Association's Achievement Fund, requested by President James H. Hilton and approved by the alumni board of trustees, will be used to employ a part-time assistant and to buy materials for processing part of the collection. Now stored in Building N, the materials will be moved to the library for safekeeping. Photographic prints and negatives are earmarked for early attention. They will be cleaned, repaired, mounted if necessary, and classified and filed for easy reference. Other parts of the collection in Building N will be processed later. These include correspondence, selected printed works, notebooks, and other memoranda. Some bulky items, of no sentimental value, may be microfilmed to conserve space. A major part of the college history collection is already housed in the library's book stacks. It includes the life works of noted alumni and former faculty members. Lack of space prevents the library from assembling the collection into a single unit at the present time. The plan for organizing the history materials was recommended by Robert W. Orr, '29, library director, and approved by R. E. Buchanan, '04, chairman of the Alumni Association's memorials and traditions committee, and E.D. Ross, chairman of the college history committee. Plans are being made to gather a complete record of the centennial anniversary of the founding of Iowa State College. The event will be observed in 1958. Complete records of other similar obsevances are included in the history collection. "The projects will insure preservation of materials relating tot he development and growth of Iowa State College since its founding on March 22, 1858," Orr explained. "As the years pass the faculty, alumni, and students can be expected to have an increasingly keen appreciation of the history and traditions of Iowa State College."

On page 7 of the January 1954 Alumnus of Iowa State College. Call Number LH1 lo9a.

Back in July 1919, the Alumni Association tasked Dean Edgar W. Stanton to prepare a history of Iowa State College in preparation for the College’s upcoming semi-centennial celebration. Edgar Stanton was the natural choice to pursue this undertaking.  He had served the College in various capacities—Economics Department Chair, Head of the Department of Mathematics, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Dean of the Junior College, Vice President, and Acting President—since he graduated with the first graduating class in 1872. Tragically, Stanton died in 1920 from influenza, before he could complete his charge. In 1922, Louis H. Pammel, professor of Botany, was appointed as committee chair, and the committee renewed its work. In 1942, A History of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was published by then Chairman of the Committee on History of the College, Earle D. Ross.

All of the documentation compiled by Stanton, Pammel, and Ross were put in storage in a temporary building, presumably “Building N” referenced in the  “College History Article” above. In 1953, President Hilton requested $2,500 from the Alumni Association’s Achievement Fund to process the materials from the College History Collection. Dorothy Kehlenbeck was hired as the College History Collection Curator, and the materials were moved to the Parks Library.

Please click on pictures to see full caption information.

In 1969, the Special Collections Department was established. Stanley Yates was appointed Head of Special Collections, Dorothy Kehlenbeck was appointed the University Archivist, and Isabel Matterson was the Manuscript Curator. The new department was located in 162 Parks Library and its hours of operation were 8 AM – 12 PM, 1 – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Not too different from our hours today.

If you’d like to drop in and learn more about the history of SCUA or the university, come visit us in 403 Parks Library. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9 – 5.

One thought on “Happy 50th! The Origins of Special Collections & University Archives

  1. Pingback: Happy 50th! The Origins of Special Collections and University Archives Part 2: Collection Highlights | Cardinal Tales

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s