A Brief History of Iowa State Bowl Games — Check Out Our Football Programs!

Last week, the Iowa State Cyclones football team won the Liberty Bowl over Memphis, 21-20, in a game that went down to the wire. Longtime Iowa State football fans probably know that this was Iowa State’s thirteenth bowl appearance and only its fourth bowl victory. What longtime fans may not know is that the ISU Library recently scanned a selection of football programs from the collection held by the University Archives and those are now available to view and download from the Library’s Digital Collections!

Gold colored football program titled "Ames vs. Kansas Aggies Turkey-Day Game"

Program for the Kansas State versus Iowa State football game held on November 26, 1925. Though this isn’t from a bowl game it is an example of one of the earliest programs in the collection. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs,  RS 24/6/0/5, Box 1, Folder 2]

 The 1971 Sun Bowl was Iowa State’s first bowl game. Coached by Johnny Majors, the Iowa State team lost to LSU by a score of 15-33. The program for the game provides some short biographies of the coaching staff and the players. How else would I know that one of defensive tackle Tom Wilcox’s hobbies is scuba diving?

Football program for the 1971 Sun Bowl.

This football program is for the 1971 Sun Bowl between Iowa State and LSU. The game was held on December 18, 1971, in El Paso, Texas. This program was prepared for Iowa State University, but a version must have been made for LSU. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 3, Folder 3]

The following year, Johnny Majors took the team to the 1972 Liberty Bowl. Iowa State came up just short in this contest against Georgia Tech, 31-30. The program for this game is little more than a brochure. Aside from a short recap of the 1972 season and a short biography of the coach, the most interesting part is looking at the roster, which includes height, weight, and age of each of the players.

Football program for the 1972 Liberty Bowl

This program for the 1972 Liberty Bowl is essentially a small brochure. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 3, Folder 5]

 Earle Bruce took over the coaching reigns after Majors left Iowa State and within a few years had the team back into bowl contention. Bruce coached the Iowa State squad to the Peach Bowl in 1977, a loss this time to NC State, and to the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic against Texas A&M. Iowa State lost the game by a score of 12-28, but they came away with this snazzy program.

Program cover for the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic football game

Football program for the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic that pitted Iowa State against Texas A&M. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 5, Folder 4]

It would be over two decades before Iowa State would make another bowl appearance. The 2000 Cyclones squad, coached by Dan McCarney, would finally do what no other squad had previously done—win a bowl game. The Cyclones defeated Pittsburgh 37-29 in the 2000 Insight.com Bowl. Unlike the 1972 Liberty Bowl Program, the program for this game includes biographies on most players and coaches and contains a slew of statistics and recent team history. At 116 pages, it is also nearly three times the size of any of the previous bowl programs.

Football program for the 2000 Insight.com Bowl

Football program for the 2000 Insight.com Bowl between ISU and Pitt. The game was held in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 28, 2000. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 15, Folder 1]

Prior to 2017, the most recent bowl the Cyclones participated in was the 2012 Liberty Bowl, a game the Iowa State squad lost to Tulsa by a score of 17-31. Unfortunately, the University Archives does not have a copy of this program in its collections. If you have an extra copy of this program, or any other Iowa State athletics programs that you might be willing to donate, give us a call!

You can find dozens of football programs on the Library’s Digital Collections website. Of course, you are also more than welcome to visit the Special Collections and University Archives and view the entire football program collection. We would be happy to see you!


The Butter Cow Lady Comes to Ames

As the year comes to a close, it is not unusual to reflect upon the events of the past year and give thanks for the gifts that were received. This can be important for archivists to do as well. In fact, many archives, including this one, rely heavily upon the generosity of our donors. At Iowa State, faculty offer their teaching and research files, campus units transfer administrative records, and others donate cherished materials from when they or their loved ones were students at Iowa State.

I have met and worked with many people this past year and as I think about those experiences, there are several memories that come immediately to mind. One that stands out for me was actually initiated over a year ago when I received a phone call from the son of Norma “Duffy” Lyon. For those readers not familiar with that name, you would probably recognize her if I referred to her as the Butter-Cow Lady. For decades, Norma’s butter sculptures were the star attractions of the Iowa State Fair.

Norma Lyon sculpting a butter cow

This picture shows Norma “Duffy” Lyon sculpting the 1998 Iowa State Fair butter cow. (Norma Lyon papers, RS 21/7/280, unprocessed)

Norma passed away in 2011 and, after several years of contemplating what to do with the materials she left behind, the family made the difficult decision to donate them to the archives at Iowa State University. I met with the family last year to gather items belonging to Norma and learned about the woman whose materials were being given to our care. As I reviewed the donation, her son and his wife shared memories of Norma and related stories of Norma’s youth that they had heard over the years. Then, this past summer, the family donated additional materials. The collection is not a large one, but it does include a wide variety of items such as original artwork, sketchpads, photographs, clippings, and ephemera.

Norma showing a horse

Norma Stong as a college student showing a horse during the late 1940s. (Norma Lyon papers, RS 21/7/280, unprocessed)

One of the more interesting items donated was a binder of photographs. These photographs showed the entire process that Norma used to create the 1998 Iowa State Fair butter cow. Another wonderful piece in the collection is a book containing college ephemera from Norma’s time as a student at Iowa State. I discovered that she graduated in 1950 with a degree in animal science (one of the first women to receive that degree from ISU) and had a love of art. As a student she took classes from Iowa State’s sculptor-in-residence, Christian Petersen. After graduation, Norma was able to combine those two passions and do something wonderful with them. The collection is not yet open to researchers, but during the coming year it will be processed and prepared for people to view.

One of the great joys of this profession is to be able to share unique collections like Norma’s with the public. The staff here in Special Collections and University Archives takes a lot of pride in our work, but the work that we do would be impossible without the support of our donors. If you are curious about materials you have and whether they are appropriate for the archives, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Iowa’s First Educational Television Station

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting! This is our fourth post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and this week we’re focusing on Iowa’s first educational television station, WOI-TV, to showcase the variety of public broadcasting programs we are preserving.

This photograph shows Exhibit Hall at Iowa State University in 1953. The signal tower is in the background. A sign on the door says: WOI-TV Studios. A women is walking to the door. Snow is on the ground.

Exhibit Hall. The signal tower is in the background. A sign on the door says: WOI-TV Studios. (University Photographs, RS 4/8/I).

WOI-TV first aired in central Iowa in February 1950. The station was owned and operated by Iowa State University (at the time known as Iowa State College) until it was sold to a private company in 1994. WOI-TV has the distinction of being the first commercial television station owned by a public institution of higher learning and it is thought to be the first television station in the nation dedicated to educational programming.

During the 1950s, WOI-TV developed a diverse schedule of local programming. It was one of the first television stations to broadcast college-level courses. It also developed children’s programming, including The Magic Window, which would become one of the longest-running programs in the history of television. WOI-TV provided viewers an opportunity to explore the state’s history through a series called Landmarks in Iowa History starring Herb Hake, a professor from the University of Northern Iowa. It brought the citizens of Iowa into some of Iowa’s state institutions, such as the prison system and the mental health facilities, in the award-winning series In Our Care. Viewers could learn from Iowa State faculty as they presented programs on entry-level German in Eins Zwei Drei or beginning chemistry in Chemistry 101. The station also broadcast programs on current affairs and, this being Iowa, on agriculture.

Black-and-white photograph of woman with ahir in updo, wearing dark dress, holding a puppet on her left hand (Betty Lou [McVay] Varnum) on the set of The Magic Window on WOI-TV in 1957. Betty Lou is standing next to a desk and there is another puppet on the desk.

Betty Lou (McVay) Varnum on the set of The Magic Window on WOI-TV, 1957 (University Photographs, RS 5/6).

One of the more successful early programs resulted from a $260,000 grant from the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education. The resulting project was a series of public affairs programs called The Whole Town’s Talking. The programs, directed by Charles Guggenheim, aired in 1952 and illustrated some of the challenges rural Iowa communities were facing, including school consolidation, juvenile delinquency, and paying for community infrastructure projects. The programs centered around town hall meetings featuring members of the community discussing possible solutions to their community’s needs.

WOI-TV also produced a number of programs sponsored by National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to PBS. These programs included some mentioned previously aimed at children and college-level instruction (The Magic Window, Eins Zwei Drei), but also other programs focused on international affairs, history, and literature. The Long Voyage brought classical literature to the small screen, Heritage of the Land discussed U.S. land usage and the environment, and Of Men and Ideas dealt with topics of a more abstract nature such as imagination, ethics, and governance.

By 1960, WOI-TV became the ABC affiliate of central Iowa and educational programming became less of a priority. Fortunately, many of these earlier programs survived on 16mm film and were eventually transferred to the ISU Library Special Collections and University Archives. Some of these programs have been digitized and made available online through the department’s YouTube channel. It’s interesting to look back and see how television has changed since those early shows were produced.

 


A Brief History of International Students at ISU

The mission of Iowa State University is to “Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.” In support of this mission, the University offers numerous opportunities for students and faculty to explore and share with the world, but it is hardly a one-way street. People come to Iowa State from all parts of the world to share their experiences and to gain a quality education. It really is remarkable how a small agricultural college established in the 1850s in the middle of Iowa has, over the course of over 150 years, built such a strong international reputation. This reputation has been drawing international students to Iowa State for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, documenting international students and their campus experiences is not an easy task.

Page from the 1906 Bomb with the title, "Our Friends from Foreign Lands"

The 1906 Bomb was one of the first to recognize international students at Iowa State. (The Bomb, LD2548 Io9b)

There are very few sources available to a researcher looking for information on early students at Iowa State, regardless of their country of origin. The first students arrived on campus in 1868, but it would be another 25 years before a yearbook (The Bomb) was published. Student directories were not available either, the earliest available being from 1901. For years prior to that, the college biennial reports and the course catalogs are the best sources for information on individual students. The biennial reports include lists of students for the very earliest years and then, by the 1880s, this information was shifted to the course catalogs. It is helpful that the listings often include the names of the students’ hometowns.

Based on these sources, the earliest evidence of an international student enrolling at Iowa State was in 1882 when F. Nouman of Piramaribo, South America, (this is how the hometown was listed) was enrolled for one year as a “special student,” likely meaning that he was not enrolled in the standard curriculum. In 1898 and 1899 there were several Canadian students who received degrees, though it is curious why a handful of them all appeared on campus at the same time with several of them receiving veterinary degrees. In 1902, two young men from Leon, Mexico, enrolled in the agriculture program, but neither appears to have finished their degrees.

Two interior pages from the 1901 student directory

This page from the 1901 student directory, the earliest one available, gives an idea of the type of information that can be gathered from these resources–provided the abbreviations can be deciphered! (Students’ Directory, LD2538 I58x)

The first international students outside of North America to receive degrees from Iowa State both earned them in 1907. Delfin Sanchez de Bustamante from Argentina received an advanced degree in agronomy and Alfred E. Parr of England graduated with an advanced degree in animal husbandry. We know nothing of what happened to Bustamante following his graduation, but from correspondence in an alumni file we know that after graduating from Iowa State, Parr went on to become the Director of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in British India.

That same year, Iowa State students began organizing a campus chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club. Officially established on campus in 1908, the purpose of the club, as stated in its constitution, was to encourage friendship, respect, and understanding among men and women of all nationalities. The Cosmopolitan Club attracted students from all backgrounds, but became a home for international students especially.

Please stop by Special Collections and University Archives to view these materials for yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find references to early international students that I missed! If you have materials you would like to donate to the Special Collections and University Archives to help us continue to tell the story of student life on the Iowa State University campus, please contact us. We would be happy to hear from you!


Planning for the Worst

With Halloween right around the corner, October is great time to be frightened. Everyone likes a little scare every now and then, right? During 1962, the October scare was very real, though. Nuclear war with the Soviet Union seemed like a distinct possibility and people’s greatest fears were on the verge of coming true. Fortunately, the event we refer to as the Cuban Missile Crisis did not result in direct military conflict with the Soviet Union, but in many ways the fear remained.

Khrushchev visits Iowa State, 1959

This image shows a scene from when Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, visited Iowa State in 1959. Things were a lot less cheery in the fall of 1962. (University Photos, Box 12.1)

During this time, Iowa State was not complacent in preparing for potential war. In September 1961, the State Board of Regents requested that Iowa State prepare a Survival Plan in the event of a nuclear attack in the Midwest. President Hilton asked George Burnet to lead the committee to prepare such a plan. Based largely upon the National Plan for Civil Defense and Defense Mobilization, Iowa State’s plan designated fallout shelters on campus, provided shelters with enough food and supplies for two weeks, and identified key personnel to take leadership roles in the event of such an attack.

Iowa State University Bulletin 133, Survival Plan

The Iowa State University Survival Plan was finished in June 1962 and published as Bulletin 133 by Engineering Extension in 1963. (this copy can be found in the Survival Plan Committee records, RS 8/6/90)

Extension was also hard at work helping prepare rural communities with plans to deal with nuclear fallout. If you ever wanted to learn how to build a barn to help livestock survive nuclear war, Extension gives you the answer. One particular publication, “Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout” (RCD-16), provided farmers with examples of farm structures that would help livestock survive as well as instructions on how to construct fallout shelters for people. It’s rather fascinating to look through the publication. I would be curious to know how many farmers actually built or modified their barns to take into account this possibility.

Extension publication on Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout

Interior pages from an Iowa State University Extension publication titled “Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout” published in 1968. (Extension Rural Civil Defense collection, RS 16/3/5)

If this hasn’t frightened you off and you are interested in learning more about how the University prepared for a nuclear attack on the Midwest, please feel free to stop by the Special Collections and University Archives. Information on the ISU Survival Plan can be found in the Survival Plan Committee records, RS 8/6/90, while publications prepared by the Extension service are available in the Extension Rural Civil Defense collection, RS 16/3/5. We look forward to scaring, I mean, seeing you!


The Great ISU-Iowa Football Rivalry

This Saturday, the Iowa State Cyclone football team will meet up with their in-state rivals from Iowa City in the 65th meeting between the two teams. In a rivalry that dates back to 1894, the Cyclones have had some memorable wins in the series, such as the triple-overtime victory in 2011, as well as some pretty forgettable losses, such as last year’s 3-42 drubbing. Through all the wins and losses the two teams continue to play annually, taking turns hosting the big game. But it wasn’t always this way.

Between 1894 and 1934 the Cyclones played the Hawkeyes 24 times, racking up eight wins during that stretch. Then came the great hiatus. After the 1934 game, the two teams would not meet again on the gridiron for over 40 years. Why did the series stop? And why, starting in 1977, did the two teams resume playing each other every year since?

Photograph of members of the 1894 team at their 40th year reunion in 1934.

This photographs shows members of the 1894 Iowa State football team, winners of the first meeting between Iowa State and Iowa in 1894, at their 40th reunion in 1934. They were present to see Iowa State defeat Iowa in the 1934 game–the last game the two teams would play for 43 years. [University Photograph Collection, RS 24/6/D, Football, Box 1865]

Newspaper reports leading up to the 1977 game offer many hypotheses, but nobody apparently knew exactly why the two schools stopped playing each other in football–and in most other sports for that matter. Up until 1934, it is true that there were accusations of cheating or having unqualified players on each other’s teams–some of these claims proved to be true. Some claimed that Iowa State’s surprising and resounding win in the 1934 contest, and the resulting gloating by Iowa State fans, played a role in Iowa canceling and then not scheduling any further games with Iowa State. Some felt that Iowa’s membership in the prestigious Big 10 meant that scheduling its “little brother” over in Ames only lent legitimacy to that program and didn’t offer the University of Iowa any advantages. Others stated that the University of Iowa did not want to be responsible for anguish amongst family members who rooted for opposing teams. Whatever the reason, the University of Iowa refused to include Iowa State on its football schedule for over 40 years despite numerous requests from Iowa State to renew the series.

When the Hawks and Cyclones finally did agree to play again, it didn’t exactly go smoothly. According to an article in the Ames Daily Tribune from January 29, 1977, the 1977 and 1978 games were agreed to in the early 1970s before the new Cyclone Stadium (now known far and wide as Jack Trice Stadium) was even under construction. Because Iowa’s stadium at the time was twice the size of Iowa State’s Clyde Williams Field, it was agreed that the games would be held in Iowa City. Both athletic directors agreed to extending the series to a total of six games. When the contracts were signed, only one of those six games, the game in 1981, was originally scheduled to be played in Ames–and that was only if the Cyclones built a new stadium by that time.

Photograph of Lou McCullough, 1971

Photograph of Lou McCullough, Iowa State Athletic Director for much of the 1970s. [University Photograph Collections, 24/6/A, Athletics, Box 1758]

As the 1976 football season came to a close and attention turned to the revival of the Iowa-Iowa State game in the fall, many bitter feelings would be expressed. Iowa announced that they were giving Iowa State 5,000 tickets to disperse to its fans, a number that Iowa State officials felt was far too few and that Iowa officials felt was more than generous. The athletic directors on both sides were new since the original agreements were signed and Iowa’s Bump Elliott tried to cancel the final three games in the series. The state legislature had to step in and prevent that from happening. The Iowa State athletic director, Lou McCullough, wanted to revisit the contract and make it a home-and-home series due to Iowa State’s new stadium. Pretty soon everyone was getting involved. A state senator from Ames, John Murray, introduced a resolution in the state legislature that would require the renewal of the games to be played on a home-and-home basis; the Board of Regents discussed the games at their meetings that spring; and even Governor Ray told the two schools to settle things or he would get the legislature involved.

Photogrpah of Iowa State football player carrying the ball during the 1977 ISU-Iowa football game.

Photograph from the first game in the renewal of the rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, on September 17, 1977. [University Photograph Collection, RS 24/6/D, Football, Box 1880]

In the end, Iowa would send more tickets, around 7,800 total, for the Iowa State ticket office to disperse. The schedule, however was not changed. Five of the first six games in the renewed series were played in Iowa City. Iowa State did end up winning four of those six games, but despite coming into the season ranked 19th in the country, the Cyclones fell to the Hawkeyes by a score of 10-12 in that first game held on September 17, 1977. In a way, Iowa State did get what it had wanted–since 1981, Iowa and Iowa State have played every year on a home-and-home basis. Though some Hawkeye fans may still grumble about having to play the Cyclones each year, I imagine most people in Iowa are glad the game is played. So as you watch the game this weekend, remember all the hard work that went into renewing this rivalry and don’t forget, no matter the outcome, it’s only a game!

The Special Collections and University Archives has a large collection of records related to Iowa State football, including media guides, programs, posters, photographs, film, and other archival materials. Anyone is welcome to stop by and do some research–we would be happy to see you!


Iowa State University at the Iowa State Fair

During the next two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will converge on Des Moines for the annual spectacle that is the Iowa State Fair. As usual, there will be all kinds of activities and exhibits at the fair, but the main attraction continues to be Iowa’s agricultural enterprises. Considering the prominence of agriculture at the fair, it probably comes as no surprise that Iowa State University has been participating in the State Fair for well over a century–back when the school was known as the Iowa Agricultural College.

State fair display, 1924

This image shows part of the Iowa State College exhibit at the state fair from 1924. (Iowa State Fair scrapbook, RS 0/10/4, Box 1)

In a written account of the 38th annual state fair held in 1891, the exhibit presented by the Iowa Agricultural College highlighted the three departments of entomology, botany, and civil engineering. The purpose of the exhibit was to:

“…acquaint the public with their friends and foes of field and garden, the best methods of preserving and destroying them, the noxious weeds and various diseases of plants, with methods of treatment, and to illustrate some of the work pursued in the college curriculum.” Annual Report of the Board of Directors, Iowa State Agricultural Society, 1891.

Even though members of the college saw the state fair as an opportunity to educate the citizenry about important research going on at the school, it was also clear that they recognized the benefits of advertising at the fair.

Annual Report of the Iowa State Agricutural Society, 1891

Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Iowa State Agriculture Society, 1891. Starting at the bottom of page 140 is the description of the Iowa Agricultural College exhibit.

By the 1920s, Iowa State’s presence at the fair had expanded greatly. Many departments, even those outside of the field of agriculture, were highlighted in the exhibits. Photographs from that era show exhibits sponsored by engineering, home economics, as well as the traditional agriculture programs. One portion of the 1924 exhibit featured a chemical engineering exhibit next to a promotion for a young college radio service called WOI. In 1930, Iowa State’s exhibit included a display from the women’s physical education program featuring two young women demonstrating ping pong on a rather undersized table–at least by today’s standards. You never know what you will see at the fair!

Iowa Stae College exhibit at the 1930 Iowa State Fair

Iowa State College exhibit at the 1930 Iowa State Fair featuring the Women’s Physical Education program. (Iowa State Fair scrapbook, RS 0/10/4, Box 1)

Over the years, the University’s state fair exhibits became more professional-looking and more elaborate. By the 1990s, the Office of University Marketing took charge of planning Iowa State’s exhibit at the fair. University Marketing staff determine a theme for each year’s exhibit emphasizing different aspects of the University. Sadly, visitors are not likely to see college students giving demonstrations as happened in the past, but they are sure to run into the friendly faces of ISU employees, faculty, alumni, and friends that staff the exhibit.

2005 Iowa State University state fair exhibit featuring Reiman Gardens

This image shows part of the Iowa State University state fair exhibit in 2005. This exhibit featured Reiman Gardens. (University Relations images, digital files for the State Fair)

Just as it was in 1891, the Iowa State Fair is still a great opportunity for the University to advertise itself and to share at least part of the story of Iowa State with the tens of thousands of people from around the country that stop by the exhibit. So when you visit the Varied Industries Building to pick up ISU athletics posters and temporary tattoos at this year’s ISU exhibit, take some time to read and learn about some of the great things currently going on at the University. And, of course, if you are more interested in seeing images of the ISU state fair exhibit from years past, stop by Special Collections and University Archives. We would love to see you!


Back to the 1960s – The Story of Don Smith

Several months ago I reached into the archives and pulled out an address from 1967 by President W. Robert Parks that emphasized the importance of practicing tolerance on the university campus. Across the country, the late-1960s was a period of significant generational change and Iowa State was not immune to these events. Interestingly, the address by Parks was prompted by an unlikely event–the ISU student government election of 1967. 

News article announing Smiths and Lifkas intentions to run for GSB office

Don Smith and Mary Lou Lifka announce they are entering the Government of the Student Body election. This article appeared in the April 20, 1967, issue of the Iowa State Daily. (W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, box 35, folder 8)

Donald R. Smith, often described in the papers as a member of the New Left (and often called far worse things by editorial letter writers), was elected president of the student body alongside running mate Mary Lou Lifka. Their platform included the elimination of university oversight into the private lives of students and the formation of a student federation to oppose high rents in Ames. Smith strayed from the image of the typical college student that was normally elected student body president at Iowa State: he was bearded with long shaggy hair, he rarely wore socks let alone a suit and a tie, and he didn’t much care for rules. In fact it was the elimination of rules that he was most passionate about, including eliminating student curfews, loosening campus drinking policies, and essentially getting rid of any campus policies that affected students when they were outside the classroom. He supported ending the war in Vietnam, legalization of marijuana, and access to contraceptives.

Smith stated one of his goals was to bring the University “kicking and screaming into the 20th century.” It seems he felt his main opposition would come from the administration, as they were largely the rule-enforcing body. In large part the administration remained silent, even though Smith’s election made headlines from New York to San Francisco. President Parks remained remarkably quiet on the issue considering he was receiving numerous letters from irate citizens and legislators who worried Iowa State was becoming the “Berkeley of the Midwest.”

Newspaper photo of Don Smith hung in effigy on the steps of Beardshear Hall in 1967

This image of Don Smith hung in effigy on the steps of Beardshear Hall appeared in the April 8, 1967 issue of the Iowa State Daily (W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, box 35, folder 8)

Perhaps what Smith didn’t realize was the level of resistance he would receive from his fellow students. Just weeks into his presidency the Iowa State Daily published an article claiming that Smith had attended a party in which marijuana was consumed. When Smith admitted that he had indeed smoked pot on numerous occasions, calls for his impeachment started to build momentum. Smith resigned before the student senate was to vote on his impeachment and withdrew from Iowa State shortly thereafter. His tenure lasted all of 40 days. 

Don Smith’s resignation letter, April 1967. (Government of the Student Body records, RS 22/1/3, box 2, folder 24)

Don Smith did return to Iowa State the following year to finish his mechanical engineering degree. However, just his formal request to re-enroll at Iowa State caused more headlines. Smith obtained graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and eventually moved to California where he became a very successful wind energy consultant and engineer. Donald R. Smith passed away in 2010, but he was welcomed back to the Iowa State campus on several occasions before his death to talk about his experience during those tumultuous years.

For his part, President Parks tried to let the students work out who they were going to have represent them. After Smith resigned, President Parks did assert that the University would continue to maintain rules governing student conduct outside of the classroom, but emphasized that administration was willing to listen and work with students to update student conduct rules.

If you would like to dive into the life of Donald R. Smith a little more there are several collections worth looking into. Materials from the papers of former President Parks and the records of the Government of the Student Body are cited above. The archives also holds files on former students and alumni (collection RS 21/7/1), largely composed of news clippings. The file on Don Smith contains a significant number of articles during his college years, but also after his graduation and up until his death. Clearly, Don Smith left an impression on the people of central Iowa.  

 

 


Howard P. Johnson donates World War II letters

As the University Archivist, I frequently hear from loyal Iowa Staters from across the country who inquire about donating materials to the University Archives. Often people are trying to find an appreciative home for some Iowa State memorabilia or seeing if there is any interest in a future donation of materials. This past fall I received a call from an Iowa State alum and former ISU professor regarding a small collection of materials in his possession that he was ready to part with.

Portrait of Howard P. Johnson in his military uniform, 1943

Howard P. Johnson, 1943 (Box 8, Folder 95 of the Howard P. Johnson papers, RS 9/7/15)

Howard P. Johnson, three-time graduate of Iowa State University (we were just a College at the time he received his degrees) and former Professor and Head of ISU’s Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, was contacting me regarding some World War II letters that he had. Dr. Johnson explained that he grew up on a farm near Odebolt, Iowa, and in 1943 was inducted into the military like many young men at that time. He served as a technician in the 69th Infantry Division and entered the war in Europe at the end of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945. All during his military training and his service in Europe, young Pfc. Johnson wrote to his family back home in western Iowa–often several times a week–and his family wrote back. Howard would describe his daily routine, the duties he was assigned during training, and his experiences in Europe. His parents and siblings would respond with stories of family and community events, activities on the farm, and, of course, the weather.

Letter from Howard Johnson to his folks, June 12, 1944.

Letter from Johnson to his parents dated June 12, 1944. In this letter he writes home about some of his training experiences in Mississippi–including accidentally sleeping through a first aid training session. (Box 7, Folder 51 of the Howard P. Johnson papers, RS 9/7/15)

As Dr. Johnson was explaining this to me over the phone, he questioned whether anyone would be interested in this collection of letters–nearly 400 in total. Although I recognized that these letters would not hold the same meaning to others as they do to him, I assured Dr. Johnson that people will certainly be interested in reading these letters for generations to come.

Letter from Howard P. Johnson, May 20, 1945

This note, written on a piece of birch bark that Johnson found near his encampment on May 20, 1945, provides a brief description of his location.  (Box 8, Folder 43, Howard P. Johnson papers, RS 9/7/15)

It is not every day that I am privileged to speak with a World War II veteran, nor is it often that such a complete collection of letters with so many connections to Iowa State and rural life in Iowa are offered to the department, so I was thrilled to accept the donation. The Johnson family letters offer an intimate snapshot of one Iowa farm family’s experience during a major turning point in American history. Similar stories played out thousands of times across the state and the country, but relatively few of those stories are so well documented.

Today, as we mark the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, it is important to reflect upon those men and women who bravely served in World War II. Some names, like Eisenhower and MacArthur, will forever be associated with  winning the war for the Allies. There are many more thousands of names, names like Howard P. Johnson, whose contributions are often overlooked. At least in this case his story will be preserved in the archives.

The Johnson family World War II letters are part of the Howard P. Johnson papers, RS 9/7/15, located in the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives. The department is open to researchers from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Part of our mission is to preserve the history of Iowa State University and the stories of its faculty, staff, and alumni. If you have questions about whether we are the right home for your Iowa State story, give us a call, we would love to hear from you.


“The University and Tolerance”

In deciding which topic to write about for this blog, I’ll admit, I struggled to find inspiration. I knew I wanted it to be a topic that related back to the 1960s and that it should have some connection with current events. I checked the usual sources that were readily available to me such as the Iowa State yearbook, the ISU history timeline on our website, and previous posts that appeared on this blog.

And then the thought occurred to me to skim the finding aid for the papers of President W. Robert Parks and explore some of the events that were taking place on campus 50 years ago. One folder title caught my attention, “Speech – commencement address: ‘The University and Tolerance'” from 1967.

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This portrait of W. Robert Parks was taken in 1965, just one year before he was named Iowa State’s 11th President. (University Photograph Collection, RS 2/11/A, box 67)

Parks delivered this speech on tolerance on February 25, 1967, at the graduation ceremony denoting the end of the winter quarter (Iowa State would not move to the semester system until 1981). The speech touches on the challenges of living in a modern and changing world and explores how tolerance is a necessary part of our system of government and our civil society. Parks believed that it was the university’s responsibility to develop educated minds that understood the meaning of and the need for tolerance. It was also his expectation that these people, so educated, would become leaders in developing a climate of tolerance in all aspects of national society.

“The tolerant mind, then, is a tough mind, which does not require the psychological security of absolutes. It does not need to find single causes, or to have single answers. Rather, it can live with the free interplay of differing opinions, differing goals, differing ways of life. It is, in short, tough enough to accept the psychological frustrations which accompany the rich diversities of a pluralistic society.” — “The University and Tolerance” commencement address, February 25, 1967, by W. Robert Parks, President, Iowa State University

Full text of Parks’ commencement address “The University and Tolerance”

Though there may be more eloquent passages in Parks’ speech, the above definition of what Parks believed a tolerant mind to be struck a chord with me. As I read this speech I started to wonder why Parks felt that this message of tolerance was necessary at this point in time in the University’s history. I knew that generational changes were taking place on the Iowa State campus. Female students were starting to demand greater equality with regards to curfews and visitation rules in the residence halls. The civil rights movement was gaining strength nationally, but it would be another year before the black students at Iowa State would truly make their voices heard. These issues were all certainly present at the time, but I believe the impetus for this speech was the result of the student body election that took place just weeks earlier. The campus was unprepared for the ensuing uproar when a nonconformist by the name of Don Smith became president of the Government of the Student Body–but that is a story for a future blog post!

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Spring commencement in 1967 was held in the Armory.  Unfortunately, our collections do not contain any photos of the winter commencement ceremony. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/2/E, Box 452)

Although the election of Don Smith may have been at the forefront of Parks’ mind when he presented this speech, I also think that the president, in his own way, was preparing the Iowa State community for the challenging years he knew were coming. The next several years of Parks’ presidency saw him navigate the university through the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War protests. He may not have moved the university at the speed some students preferred or responded to student agitation as firmly as some legislators would have wanted, but by most accounts Parks approached many of the significant issues of his time with care, thoughtfulness, and, of course, tolerance.

The W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, are rich in correspondence, news clippings, and administrative files that document how university leaders approached some of these often contentious issues. To learn more about how President Parks responded to events and addressed the Iowa State community during these times of change, stop in and visit us!