One of the great benefits of answering reference questions is all the stuff I discover in the special collections and archives along the way. Anyone who has done research in an archive can tell you how easy it is to get off track when you spot that new interesting document or photo that leads you down a new research rabbit hole.
Since I have the great opportunity to dig through the archives, I am excited to start this occasional blog series to share the interesting, funny, shocking, weird, or just plain fun things I stumble upon in the special collections and archives.
To kick things off, while searching for some student group photos, I came across a couple of images from a Milk Maid contest. I was drawn in by the cow sporting a lovely lei crown and was inspired to learn more.
One of the things required of contestants was to show affection for the cows. University Photo Box 1657
University Photo Box, 1657
The Milk Maid contest was hosted by the Dairy Science Club. There would be dozens of contestants and thousands of spectators to these contests. The participants were judged on “the amount of milk they collect, their costume, their display of affection for the cow and the amount of audience support” (Iowa State Daily, 10/4/1979).
There was a parallel contest for men that included milk chugging, milk can rolling, and goat dressing.
Photo from Iowa State Daily article, 4/10/1975. RS 22/5/0/1, box 5, “Dairy Science Club”
To learn more about the Milk Maid contest or to find a research rabbit hole of your own, visit the SCUA Monday-Friday, 9-5.