Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: “Adulting” is Hard

I’m back with another interesting thing I found while helping answer reference questions. When doing some research on the houses at Pammel Court, I came across an amusing description of the lack of “adulting” skills of some of the residents:

Page 162 from “The First 100 Years of Residential Housing at Iowa State University 1868-1968” by J.C. Schilletter

The Pammel Court houses were first occupied in 1946, and, as this book was published in 1970, we can assume this story took place in that twenty-five(ish) year span. To my fellow Millenials, here is some ammunition for the next time someone decries our generation; it seems that even the Greatest Generation endured some growing pains when entering adulthood and running their homes. As we see so often in history, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.


CyHawk: We are family

Nile Kinnick Sr., University Photos, box 1831

As we all prepare for the big football game this Saturday, I wanted to present a little known fact about Nile Kinnick, the namesake for the University of Iowa football stadium. For good reason, when you think of the name Kinnick, you think of University of Iowa. However, it’s interesting to learn that his father (also named Nile Kinnick) was a player on Iowa State’s Football team in the 19-teens. In case you’re wondering, the Ames team beat the University of Iowa team in Iowa City during Kinnick Sr.’s graduating year.

Bomb 1917, Page 186
Nile Kinnick Senior graduated with a degree in agronomy.
1916 Iowa State College Directory

Despite the fierce rivalry between the two schools, it’s important to remember that historically and today, there is more that unites the schools than divides them. Have fun at the game this weekend and be safe!


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Queen Bee

While answering a reference question about a year ago, I stumbled across details on the apiculture program in the class catalog for 1922-1923. Apiculture is the practice of beekeeping.

I’m sure we have all heard the term “queen bee”, but I doubt many of us have thought about the science behind caring for the queen bee of a colony. Luckily, all of your questions about the queen bee could be answered in 414: “Queen Rearing.”


#TBT June Wedding

Bridesmaid, wedding, day and two visiting dresses all with large bustles. (published by Les Modes Parisiennes:Peterson's Magazine 1883)

June is a perennially popular month for weddings, so today we are taking a glance at the wedding attire of days gone by. Today’s Throwback Thursday image is from our fashion plate collection and is from an issue of Peterson’s Magazine in 1883. The two dresses on the far left are a bridesmaid’s dress and a wedding dress. As you can see, the tradition of wearing a white dress must date back from at least the late-19th century. It looks like it was also popular to have the bridesmaids wear a brightly colored dress for the occasion.

If you’re interested in seeing more fashion images, please visit our digital collection. You can also visit the archives to see the originals in the Mary Barton Fashion Illustration Collection.


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: “Preps” be Warned

I stumbled upon this document when looking at the papers of Frank Paine, an alumnus who graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1909.

RS 11/9/2, Box 1, Folder 1

This document is a “warning” to the “Prep” class (freshman) from the Sophomore class of 1909. I would venture a guess that this was made all in good fun to “rib” the new kids on the block. The text is small and a little difficult to read. Here is a highlight:

“Be it therefore known that we hold these truths self-evident that all “preps” are created brainless, that they are endowed by their creator with certain depraved hallucinations, among which are the following: That their milk brained babble can impress their natural superiors, the sophomores; and that their cheap, long delayed, crack-brained squash tops are a real terror to the world.”

I was struck by the imagery on this poster as I was flipping through the documents. While tensions between classes may be a thing of the past, this poster is a reminder that things were not always so copacetic. For more, see this post about freshman beanies.


#TBT Celebrating Iowa’s Farms

The banner reads “Iowa’s Crops to the Rescue” University Photographs, Box 162

Today’s Throwback Thursday photo was taken at the Ag Day Parade in 1920. The parade was in conjunction with the Agricultural Carnival which was held at Iowa State from 1912-1915, then again in 1919-1921. In 1922, the Carnival was absorbed, along with other events, into the VEISHEA celebration.

Perhaps the sentiment behind “Iowa’s Crops to the Rescue” had to do with helping to feed the people of Europe after the detrimental affects of WWI. Often the artifacts in the archives tell part of a story, and it is up to the researchers to help piece together the evidence to tell a whole story.

Come visit the archives from 9-5, Monday-Friday to see what stories you might be able to tell!


Ada Hayden Herbarium Tour

Special Collections and Preservation staff on a tour of the herbarium led by Deb Lewis

Recently, staff from the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and Preservation departments toured the Ada Hayden Herbarium in Bessey Hall.

A herbarium is a collection of dried horticultural specimens arranged for reference and study; the Ada Hayden Herbarium holds over 650,000 vascular plant, bryophyte, fungus, and lichen specimens, including many holotypes. These specimens are studied by researchers coming to work in the herbarium and packed and shipped to researchers across the United States and around the world.

The plants are flattened, dried, and frozen before they are filed in storage. The freezing process insures that any critters that may arrive on the plants are not able to start an infestation in the collection. Information about each plant is carefully collected including the scientific names, name of the locator, and where the plant was found. Deb explained that if properly preserved, the plant specimens can be kept for study indefinitely; including those collected as far back as 1894 by George Washington Carver!

Plant specimen collected by Ada Hayden in 1901.

You’ll notice on the above picture there is a lighter rectangle above the handwritten information about the plant. This is a little envelope for pieces of the plant that may have been removed for study (with specific permission from the herbarium). Every effort is made to ensure that as much of the original plant is kept for research into the future.

In addition to the plant specimens, the herbarium also has a library of horticulture books for easy access for researchers. It was fascinating to see the herbarium and learn about how they preserve the delicate plant specimens. To learn more please see their site!


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Obnoxious Fish

It’s time for my second installment of Weird, Wacky, Wonderful. You can see my first post about the Milk Maid Contest here!

While looking through our records from the Works Progress Administration (MS 409) from the 1930s, I stumbled upon an interestingly named project that took place in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.  While glancing through the paperwork, Project # 1286 caught my eye:

ObnoxiousFish409B1F42 0001

MS 409, Box 1, Folder 42

ObnoxiousFish409B1F42 0002

MS 409, Box 1, Folder 42, Map of projects in Cerro Gordo County

The work to remove the offending fish took over 2 months in the spring of 1936.  While logically, this was likely the removal of an invasive fish species, it is still fun to think of ways a fish could be obnoxious.  Perhaps they were keeping the lakeside inhabitants up all night with loud parties?

Come to the archives to see what weird, wacky, wonderful things you may stumble upon 9-5, Monday-Friday.


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful

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.

milkmaid 0001

One of the things required of contestants was to show affection for the cows. University Photo Box 1657

milkmaid 0002

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.

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.