Perry Holden in the Field

As the corn crops continue to grow here in Iowa, we decided it would be a good time to do a little “detasseling” of the new digital Extension collection and offer you a teaser! The photo below is one of the most popular and often requested images in the collection. It features Perry G. Holden and a companion perusing a young corn crop.

holden

Holden was a leading name in agricultural education during the early 1900s. He established the Corn Train, and played a major role in the first short courses as an educator and administrator. His work with corn ultimately improved Iowa’s corn crops dramatically, and have greatly influenced how the crops are tended today. For more information on the Extension Service and P. G. Holden, visit the collections page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection.

 


Reflections on ISU Extension – New Collection!

It’s my last day as the Silos & Smokestacks intern in the ISU Special Collections! The collection has really come together. Everything is being finalized and all of the pieces I have been working and collaborating on in the past ten weeks are coming together to form a cohesive concept.

This new collection is currently comprised of 57 items. There are several reports, letters, addresses, and photographs, as well as a video. Everything is arranged by subject, but there is also a document guide that can assist in navigating the collection for those that would like a condensed experience. It features 18 highlights that outline the fundamental aspects of the early Extension Service and its impact on Iowa. One of my favorite parts is the timeline. It is in the shape of an ear of corn, and the important dates and events are presented as kernels on the ear. Hovering over each dated kernel will reveal a pop-up box of information about each date.

There are also a few items within the collection that stand out for me. The first is an advertisement from the Boys’ Working Reserve. It would have circulated during the First World War, and was aimed primarily at those who were too young to join the armed forces, but old enough to travel to work. The advertisement is still in very good condition given its age, and the historical context is really quite interesting as it pertains to both World War I and the Extension Service.

Another favorite of mine is the Diary of the Seed Corn Train. It serves as a practical record for the Corn Train – where it stopped and who lectured – but it also introduces an element of humor into the collection. Many of the entries include remarks on the crowds or notable events that stuck out to the instructors as they traveled. In reading through the entries, one gets a keen sense of the personalities of the instructors and how they interacted with each other. As these people and events are referred to in other documents, those remarks introduce that much more dimension to the overall experience.

I think this will be a great addition to the digital collections already available, and there is plenty of potential for it to be expanded in the future. Until then, have fun investigating the Digital Collections home page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection!


An Update from the Silos & Smokestacks Intern

The Silos & Smokestacks Extension project is progressing well – it’s really starting to take shape now. Most of the final selections have been made for the collection, and the materials were recently digitized and formatted for the digital exhibit. I even got to do the preservation treatments, which was even more fun than I’d hoped it would be. Digging through boxes and finding the highlights has been an engaging process, but I’m also excited to see it start to come together as a tangible item.

The collection will be composed of various reports, photographs, personal reflections, and a large handful of rather unique items. I wanted to be able to capture the early Extension work from several perspectives – the farmers’ and administration specifically. One of my favorites is a set of notes, handwritten by Ralph K. Bliss for several of the short courses he led. His specialties included the care of livestock (swine, cattle, sheep, and horses), as well as the proper judgment of these animals when presented in show. Farmers in these short courses would have looked to this content and instruction for guidance, whether they had a desire to learn which grains were best to feed the horses or the characteristics that determined the best animal in a group.

The notes outline the courses as Bliss would have taught them, but they also provide insight to the time period and the work that was being done by the College. Information that is now common knowledge (or at least easily Googled) would not have been at the time. The notes not only show a stage in the evolution of agricultural progress, but they also serve as a reminder that the wide dispersal of information used to be even more of a luxury than it is now.

I hope this snippet of insight has generated some excitement! Another update will be coming soon.

Hillary H.


Greetings from a recent addition!

Salutations blog-readers!

I’m Hillary H., the new Silos and Smokestacks intern working in the ISU Special Collections. I’m here for the summer from the School of Library and Information Science at UNC-Chapel Hill where I’m working on my MS in Library Science (concentration in  Archives and Records Management). I’ve worked with rare books previously, and have several years experience in the used book business.

In my work here, I’ll be putting together an online collection about the early Extension work in Iowa. It will have a special emphasis on the agricultural work done by the Extension Service and the impact it had on the lives of Iowa’s farmers.

Lots of progress has been made already. Thus far I’ve gone through nearly one hundred folders of material, and not only have I found dozens of pieces that have potential to make it into the digital collection, I have also found several references I never anticipated seeing anywhere outside of my hometown. For instance, Walter Hines Page was a name I’d only ever seen in relation to my high school (it’s named after him), but I recently found a few comments about Page and comments about one of the national committees he had served on. It is definitely not what I had expected to find in Iowa, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

In addition to the aforementioned findings, there has already been some preliminary designing of the website, and conservation work is set to begin in the next day or so.

Expect another update from me soon!

Hillary H.

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