Early History of Multicultural Student Affairs at Iowa State

Tracking down administrative histories can be a difficult process. Even after working in the archives for many years these fact-finding missions can be a challenge. For this blog post I wanted to look at the early history of what we now call the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. This office had its origins in 1968 with the eight grievances presented to campus administration by Iowa State’s Black student athletes. You can read more about that event in an earlier blog post.

The results of this conversation between administration and the students was a better understanding of the University’s responsibility in supporting underrepresented groups on campus. One of the first steps the administration took was to hire staff to develop programs to highlight and support Iowa State’s minority student populations. These programs were initially overseen by staff in the Dean of Students Office and geared towards Iowa State’s Black student population. It is unclear exactly when the Office of Minority Student Programs was established; resources point to 1972 or 1973 as the most likely year though. What is certain is that Robert Lott was the first coordinator of this office. The following individuals played key roles in the development of these early programs at Iowa State.

Portrait of William Bell

William Bell, Associate Dean of Students, circa 1968, was Iowa State’s first administrator hired to develop and oversee programs geared specifically for students of color. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/3/A, Box 457)

William Bell was hired as Associate Dean of Students in September of 1968 as a direct result of the demands submitted by the Black students. Bell came to Ames from his previous position as professor of physical education and director of athletics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Bell was instrumental in establishing a number of programs during his two years at Iowa State. At his urging, the University initiated projects in coordination with historically Black colleges and universities including a faculty exchange program with Prairie View State College of Texas and fellowships in the Department of Agronomy aimed at increasing the numbers of Black graduate students in that department. Bell also helped organize Iowa State’s first Black Cultural Week, assisted in the establishment of the Black Cultural Center, participated in the recruitment of Black students and faculty, and assisted with the student counseling program. Bell also oversaw the Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholarship Fund, established in 1968, which helped students of color attend college. In 1970, Bell left Iowa State to return to his home state of North Carolina.

Iowa State Daily news clipping announcing the hiring of Harold Pollard and Willis Bright.

Article that appeared in the Thursday, November 12, 1970, issue of the Iowa State Daily announcing the hire of Harold Pollard as Assistant Dean of Students and Willis Bright who would split his duties as Program Adviser in the Dean of Students Office and Counselor in the Student Counseling Service. (Willis Bright, Dean of Students Office biographical files, RS 7/3/2)

The fall of 1970 saw the hiring of Harold Pollard as Assistant Dean of Students. According to the November 12, 1970 article in the Iowa State Daily, Pollard’s role specialized in human relations programs, with an emphasis on programs for the Black Cultural Center and assisting with recruitment of minority students and faculty. Although student affairs programming was not yet a specific unit within the Dean of Students Office, the scope of the activities was growing. The 1971 Dean of Students Office annual report notes that this was the first year in which the university specifically recruited minority students to campus although other sources note that this recruitment started in 1967. This same report notes that there were approximately 175 students of color on campus at this time (out of a total student population of around 19,300). Pollard left Iowa State after a year.

1970 also saw the hiring of Willis Bright who served as a part-time Program Advisor in the Dean of Students Office and as a Counselor in the Student Counselling Service. Bright would advise and work closely with Iowa State’s Black students, serve on the Affirmative Action Committee, and develop programs associated with the Black Cultural Center. Bright resigned in the summer of 1973.

Portrait of Robert Lott

Robert Lott, circa 1972, was hired as Assistant Dean of Students and became Iowa State’s first Coordinator/Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/3/A, Box 457)

Robert Lott was hired as Assistant Dean of Students in December 1971 to replace Pollard. He was given responsibility for minority student programs, the Black Cultural Center, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship fund. Lott was also placed in charge of administering the student orientation program. During his time at Iowa State, the University would develop an Affirmative Action Program and hold its first Black Awareness Week on campus. Lott would help develop the Advanced Preparation Program, an orientation program aimed at assisting incoming Black students transition to the University community. He also supported recruitment of more students of color. With the formation of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs in 1973, Lott was named Assistant to the Vice President and Director of the Office of Minority Student Programs.  Lott resigned from his post in September 1974.

From this point on there would continue to be an office on campus dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of Iowa State’s students of color. However, it would not be until George Jackson arrived on campus in 1978 that the Office had sustained and stable leadership. The name of the office may have changed over the years, but their mission is largely the same. According the their website, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs “supports and empowers Iowa State University’s students who self-identify as African American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Latinx, Native American/Alaskan Native and/or Multiracial, and advocates for their holistic development across the University.”

There are many others who helped develop these early programs for students of color, I have just highlighted a few. You can learn more of this history by doing your own research in Special Collections and University Archives. We would love to see you!


Been Farming Long? – 75 Years of the Ag 450 Farm

When Iowa State University was established in 1858 it was as the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The name alone sent a clear message that the school’s founders wanted the students who attended Iowa State to have a strong understanding of and practical education in farming. Of course, the students didn’t all want to be farmers, but that’s a different story.

Announcement for the Iowa Agricultural College, circa 1884

This announcement for the Iowa Agricultural College (now known as Iowa State University) shows scenes of campus as it appeared in 1884. The map also identifies the extent of the campus farm at the time. (University Photograph Collection, RS 0, oversized).

In the early years, the male students were required to spend several hours each day helping out on the school’s farm and in the shops, while the female students were assigned to help with domestic chores in the kitchens and laundry. There was no tuition at Iowa State at the time, so perhaps it seemed like a fair trade. Within 20 years, the practice of requiring students to work on campus became impractical due to the complexities of organizing and supervising a workforce of hundreds of students.

Farming by Majority Student Vote Here at Iowa State University, Hormel Farmer, Austin, Minn., June 15, 1969

This issue of Hormel Farmer from 1969 highlighted the Ag 450 Farm course at Iowa State. (Ag 450 Farm records, RS 9/8/3, Box 1, Folder 1)

By the early 20th century, the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm had become the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and had grown to become a highly respected agricultural and engineering school. Students in agriculture still gained practical experience working with livestock, understanding how to maximize crop yields, and learning the business principles of farming. However, faculty still felt that the experience of the agriculture students could still be improved.

In 1938, Dr. William Murray, professor of economics, identified that his students had no real experience in actually managing a farm. He set out to change this. Murray convinced the college administration to purchase a farm and to provide a budget for the first year of farm operations. He argued that the cost of operation should not be high—if the students apply what they learned in class then the farm should be profitable.

Ag450-box17-folder5

Members of the Ag 450 Class of 1971. Female students have much more representation in the program now than they did in the first half of the program’s history. (Ag 450 Farm records, RS 9/8/3, Box 17, Folder 5)

The college administration agreed to the proposal and purchased a 187-acre farm just south of campus in the fall of 1942. The first formal Agriculture 450 class was offered in January 1943 with Murray as instructor. In March, the farm was turned over to the management of the students with the only limitation being that each expenditure and sale be approved in advance by the instructor. The farm has been in the care of students ever since.

Students in the AgEds 450 course (as it is now called) are responsible for every major decision that happens on the farm. As of 2018, the students farm around 1400 acres of land, some of which is rented or custom farmed. They are responsible for determining which crops to plant, caring for the livestock, purchasing equipment, and marketing the animals and grain that they raise. According to the Ag 450 Farm website this farm remains “…the ONLY completely student managed farm at a land grant university in the United States.”

Color snapshot of a crane setting a small grain bin up on a cement platform. People are standing around and helping guide it into place.

Students raising a grain bin on the Ag 450 Farm. Students plan, purchase, and manage the entire operation of the farm. (Ag 450 Farm records, RS 9/8/3, Box 17, Folder 10)

If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into the history of the Ag 450 Farm, feel free to visit Special Collections and University Archives. The Ag 450 Farm records contain account books, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, and more documenting the history of the Ag 450 course and the farm itself. Stop in and take a look!


A (Very) Brief History of the Hub

This summer, the Hub is once again getting an update. ISU Dining is altering the interior layout and renovating the existing seating areas in order to reduce congestion. We who work in Special Collections and University Archives take particular interest in the Hub, since it is so easy for us to glance down from our fourth floor reading room windows in Parks Library to check on our next-door neighbor. The Hub is rather small compared to the large buildings surrounding it, but the humble Hub has a very active 126 year history.

Photograph of the Hub as it appeared shortly after it was built. The Dinkey is waiting at the station for people to board.

This picture shows the Hub sometime around 1900. The Dinkey is at the platform waiting for people to board and the Marston water tower is visible in the background. (University Photograph Collection, Box 251)

Few buildings on campus have had such a wide variety of uses as the Hub. Constructed in 1892, the Hub originally served as the college bookstore, post office, and depot for the small steam railway, affectionately known as the Dinkey, that ran from campus to downtown Ames.

Student getting an ice cream treat from a vending machine in the Hub in 1960.

Vending machines arrived in the Hub in 1959. Students had their choice of ice cream, candy, milk, soda, and other goodies. An ISU Daily article from the early 1960s stated that students chose soda pop to milk by almost 2 to 1. Go figure! (University Photograph Collection, Box 144)

Over time, the Hub was moved, added onto, and renovated to fit the needs of a growing campus. The bookstore vacated in 1958 for more spacious environs in the Memorial Union, the post office moved out five years later to a new office in Campustown, and food first came to the Hub in 1959 when vending machines moved into the building. Over the following decades, the Hub would also be home to a copy center, a ticket office, and the University Traffic Office. A dedicated outdoor seating area was added in 1983 signaling the space as a frequent gathering area for students.

The Hub as it appeared in 1983 with Morrill Hall in the background.

This picture shows the Hub as it appeared in 1983 after the outdoor seating area was added. This is what the Hub looked like when I was a student in the 1990s. (University Slide Collection, Box 9)

Even in the last 15 years that I have worked in the Library, I have been witness to several significant changes at the Hub. In 2008, the interior was completely renovated, incorporating a grill and coffee shop and an addition of a north wing for added seating. Six years later the exterior seating area would get a major revamp. The current round of improvements will see the end of vending machines in the Hub after a nearly 60-year run, but food and coffee will still be served at the Hub.

A view of the Hub, 2018.

This is the view of the Hub from the Special Collections and University Archives reading room. It’s not uncommon for our staff to wander over to the windows to see what’s going on outside when we need to stretch our legs a bit. (Photo courtesy of Brad Kuennen, 2018)

Additional information on the history of the Hub may be found in several places in Special Collections and University Archives. The Facilities Planning and Management Buildings and Grounds Files, RS 4/8/4 is a great collection to start with for any research on campus buildings. An excellent book titled The Iowa State University Campus and Its Buildings, 1959-1979, by former University Architect H. Summerfield Day is also an excellent first place to start. The archives also has historic photographs and other files that may be of interest to those looking for information on campus buildings. We would love to see you stop by to start your own research project on the Hub!


#TBT Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ames

Image of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the following text as introduction: Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. The Internationally recognized humanist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., first gained world-wide acclaim through his leadership of the Negro citizens' boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957. In the same year the Gallup Poll revealed that he was one of the most admired religious leaders of the world, and Time Magazine selected him one of the ten outstanding personalities of the year. At the present time Dr. King is pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery, and president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Inc. Dr. King has chosen as his Friday night topic, "The Moral Challenges of a New Age", and will include in his presentation views concerning the racial problem in the United States and the colonial struggle in Asia and Africa, looking at both from a theological standpoint. Dr. King, although only 30 years of age, holds the Ph.D. degree in Systematic Theology from Boston University. He has been the recipient of three earned degrees plus five honorary degrees. Within the period of three years, 1956-1958, Dr. King has been granted 37 major awards and citations, including among these being the Windy City Press Club's, "Man of the Year", "The Citation for Distinguished Christian Service", from the National Fraternal Council of Churches, U.S.A., and the "Social Justice Award", from the Religion and Labor Foundation, New York.

Pages from the 1960 Religion-in-Life Week program introducing Martin Luther King Jr. as the speaker for the evening of Friday, January 22, 1960. (Iowa State University, Religion in Life Week records, RS 22/8/0/1, Box 2, Folder 8)

In January 1960, as part of Iowa State’s annual Religion in Life Week convocations, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited the Iowa State campus to deliver a speech on “The Moral Challenges of a New Age.” Sadly, we have no photographs or recordings of the speech, but a typescript of the speech exists in the archives, as does the program for the 1960 Religion-in-Life Week. The image above was taken from the program. If only it were possible to travel back in time, I would love to find myself sitting in the audience in the Great Hall the evening Dr. King came to ISU.


Researching Former Black Students at Iowa State

People familiar with Iowa State University history usually are already aware of the story of George Washington Carver, Iowa State’s first African American graduate and faculty member, and Jack Trice, Iowa State’s first black student athlete. Over the years, much research has been done on these two individuals. Unfortunately, learning about students of color that came after them is a much more difficult task.

One frequent request we receive are questions about the first students of color to receive degrees from a specific department, the first to play on a particular sports team, or the first to be part of a campus organization. Most people contact us in the hopes that maybe somebody has compiled such a list and that it exists in the University Archives.

Bomb yearbook 1894

Iowa State’s yearbook, The Bomb, can be a starting point for research on African American students, but its usefulness is limited. This is the cover to the first yearbook from 1894.

In reality, these questions are extremely difficult to answer for a variety of reasons, but primarily because no such list exists. Over the years, archives staff have slowly been adding to an internal list of known early black students, but it is far from complete and stops in the 1960s. One of the most reliable sources for learning about student life, the yearbook, is an unreliable resource for identifying students of color because not all students appear in it and it can be particularly difficult to determine race and ethnicity based on the small, grainy, black and white images. Another factor to consider is that the University did not start collecting information on student race and ethnicity until the late 1960s so it is difficult to even know how many students of color were on campus at a given time.

So how does one go about searching for students of color in the archives? As previously mentioned, the yearbook is one place to start. Other resources to investigate are the commencement programs. These can be effective for identifying graduate students of color as the programs often list the school that the students received an undergraduate degree. If the school listed is a historically black college or university, then that is a promising lead. Student directories are another possible resource. Unfortunately, searching through these materials can be very tedious and time consuming. It is also important to remember that this is just a starting point for research. Tracking down additional details will likely lead to contacting archives at other schools and communities or into direct contact with members of the person’s family or his/her descendants.

Photographic portrait of Frederick D. Patterson

Portrait of Frederick D. Patterson (RS 21/7/19)

Staff both in the archives and within the larger Iowa State community have done some research on former black students at Iowa State. You can read about some of these students in this blog, such as Rufus B. Jackson, Frederick Patterson, Mary E.V. Hunter, Samuel Massie, and James Mitchell. Other members of the Iowa State community have done their own research on early black students at Iowa State and written articles on Holloway Smith and Walter G. Madison, for example.

These are just a small number of the many black students who have come to Iowa State since George Washington Carver first arrived on campus in 1891. If you would like to start your own investigation into students of color at Iowa State, the staff in Special Collections and University Archives would be happy to assist. Stop in and say hello!


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 husbandry (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!