CyPix: Watching and Walking in Winter Wonderland

Morrill Hall in snow circa 1905

Morrill Hall, circa 1905, from RS 4/8/4

Last week, Kim had some fun arts and crafts project ideas from the archives to keep our hands busy while it snows. If I’m telling the truth, my favorite thing to do when it’s snowing is… watch the snow. Since it’s not currently snowing, I’ll content myself with some photographs, like the one above of Morrill Hall dated around 1905.

Lyon Hall 1979

Women outside Lyon Hall, 1979, from RS 7/4

If I do have to go outside, though, good company is important. These women outside Lyon Hall in 1979 are making the most of their winter wonderland adventures – which most likely include class!

Exploring Collections Related to ISU’s American Indian Heritage

In 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush designated November as National American Indian Heritage Month, a tradition that has continued although the name has evolved to Native American Heritage Month. In Washington, DC, the month is commemorated by events and exhibits at institutions such as The Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Institutions, among others.

Members of White Roots of Peace, a traveling American Indian interest group, participated in the 1973 Symposium on the American Indian

Members of White Roots of Peace, a traveling American Indian interest group, participated in the 1973 Symposium on the American Indian (RS 22/3/0/1)

In December 1970, the Iowa State Daily announced the formation of the United Native American Student Association (UNASA). Its first president, Don Wanatee, stated that the group was established “to foster… understanding” of American Indians,” and to “bring different ideas and information about the American Indian to the University and the general public.” At UNASA’s January 1971 meeting, Wanatee spoke about environmental problems at the Meskwaki Indian Settlement, an early step towards that goal. The group held an annual Symposium on the American Indian as well as an annual campus Native American Week that began in April 1972 and lasted through at least 2005, according to Iowa State Daily articles. In addition to academic lectures, the symposiums often included film screenings, traditional dance performances, and events for children. More information about UNASA is available in RS 22/3/0/1, Student Organizations Records.

I would be remiss in discussing the role of Iowa State’s Native American students if I did not mention notable Native American rights leader and academic Vine Deloria, Jr. A 1958 graduate of Iowa State, Deloria also held a master’s degree in theology and a law degree; his writings also reflected these interdisciplinary interests, covering topics including religion, mythology, law, history, philosophy, and government. Oxford University Press’s American National Biography provides a biography of Deloria that provides information about many facets of his life’s work, from a three-year stint as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians to the nearly 30 years that he spent teaching courses on American Indian studies, political science, and the history of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Arizona, and the University of Colorado. In honor of Deloria’s contributions, Iowa State’s American Indian Studies Program awards the Vine Deloria Jr. Teaching, Research, and Service Award on an annual basis. Iowa State University Library carries a number of Deloria’s books, of course, including several e-books that ISU students, faculty, and staff can check out and read from the comfort of home.

CyPix: Election Edition

Portrait of Mary Newbury Adams

Portrait of Mary Newbury Adams, MS 10.

Since today is Election Day around the nation, let’s talk about our women’s suffrage collections. We have several, which we’ve talked about on the blog a few times: see related posts here. Read up on Mary Newbury Adams, a founding member of the Northern Iowa Woman Suffrage Association (pictured above), or Carrie Chapman Catt, a president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. A full range of Iowa State’s women’s collections can be seen here.

Another way to celebrate Election Day is by making one of Carrie Chapman Catt’s favorite desserts – try a cranberry souffle, strawberry shortcake-biscuit style, or something else from the Suffrage Cookbook available online through our digital collections.

#AskAnArchivist at Iowa State

As American Archives Month comes to a close at the end of October, the Special Collections Department here at Iowa State University, aka @ISU_Archives will be participating in a Twitter chat on Thursday, October 30, using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

If you have a Twitter handle, you can join in discussions about archives and special collections. Just send a tweet using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist to @ISU_Archives with your question and we will respond – even if it takes some time to go digging through the collections! If you prefer to use another medium, send your question via email to archives (at)

No question is too silly, strange, or spooky (it is almost Halloween, after all) – the most eccentric or oldest or smallest bits of our collections, a specific question about the University that you have always wondered, or even what to do with your own historical objects, papers, or digital files. As folks who come into the reading room with reference questions can attest, we are always up to brainstorm ways to find a thorough answer.

Throughout the day, a number of Special Collections staff will be answering your questions – we’ll introduce ourselves as we pop onto Twitter.

  • Laura Sullivan, Assistant Head and Collections Archivist
  • Brad Kuennen, Assistant Archivist and resident audiovisual wrangler
  • Kim Anderson, Digital Archivist and electronic records wrangler
  • Stephanie Bennett, Project Archivist who has worked with ISU’s politics-related collections
  • Amy Bishop, Project Archivist with training in rare books
  • Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist and Iowa State alum

So let us know what questions you have about the work that we do here or the collections that we preserve and provide access to here at Iowa State. Looking forward to hearing from some Cyclones (or anyone, really!) via @ISU_Archives and #AskAnArchivist on Thursday!

World Audiovisual Heritage Day is October 27

Although we are a bit early, we’re celebrating World Audiovisual Heritage Day on the blog. One of the most notable features of the Special Collections and University Archives department is the number of films to which we provide access. Many were created by Iowa State or WOI and provide visual and sometimes sound-filled evidence of the days of yore.

Here are two selections from our nearly 10,000-item films:

First, a video of landscape architecture professor Philip H. Elwood’s trip, with three students, from California to Ames in 1927. Below is the second of the two-part silent film. Even without sound, there is so much to take in. Not just the landscapes – which appear quite different than they do today – but the people, the clothes, the automobiles, other cues as to the time and place.

Another film available through our YouTube channel comes from WOI’s “Expedition” series. This episode on Christian Peterson discusses his work and includes many of the sculptures that are still on display around ISU’s campus today. All three parts are available online; below is the first part.

To browse more of our film collection – which covers agriculture, campus, social events, historical moments, and small towns around Iowa – check out our YouTube channel or our online film listings. Happy World Audiovisual Heritage Day from our corner of the University Library!

Celebrate American Archives Month

Special Collections staff hard at work, RS 25

Special Collections staff hard at work, date unknown, RS 25

Every October is American Archives Month – a time to celebrate the work of archivists and the physical and digital items that benefit from our care. There are as many ways to celebrate Archives Month (or #archivesmonth, on Twitter) as there are archival repositories. Larger archival institutions have a full range of activities to showcase their work. The National Archives and Records Administration profiles staff members and favorite items throughout the month on social media. Smithsonian Institute Archives covers its work through a number of virtual and in-person opportunities. Here at ISU Special Collections, we celebrate by working: accepting university records and donated materials relating to our collecting areas; working with donors; processing materials; answering questions from the wide variety of folks who enlist our help; educating students through tours and classroom talks; and providing access to our collections through our website and Reading Room.

The Society of American Archivists, our professional organization, is observing Archives Month, of course. The association president, Kathleen Roe, recently wrote a blog post and asked the question “Who have you met on your journey through archival records?” She posed her question in reference to people whom she met through the historical record – such as the faculty and staff, students, and alumni whose collections we hold.

Special Collections Open House

The Special Collections reading room and exhibit space in 1971, RS 25/3

But as I sit in the Reading Room with a researcher hard at work and one of our student workers making preservation reproductions, I think of the meaningful interactions and lessons that I learn from the living people that I interact with in and around the archives. For example:

  • Students of all ages, from middle school on up to retirees who are curious about something and have the time to pop in. And of course academic scholars from ISU as well as other institutions who seek the rare and unique information that we hold. Even the questions that they ask, about the archives or about their interests, teach me lessons about my work all the time!
  • Our student workers, who bring their perspectives and questions to work every week. It’s nice to hear what student life is like in 2014 when I’m used to fielding questions and handling materials that are often older than today’s students.
  • Donors who generously hand their memories, or their loved ones’ memories, over for care-taking. It is a privilege to assess a lifetime’s worth of accumulated materials and process them to allow others to benefit from all the knowledge within.
  • Colleagues who have fielded my questions, encouraged and mentored me, introduced me to other archives colleagues in their network, and so on and so forth through the six degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon. No, wait, between me and famed archivist Theodore Roosevelt Schellenberg.
  • Archivists of the wider world who I meet through graduate school, or at regional conferences, or at the SAA Annual Meeting – which was held with two other records-centric organizations this year. There is an unending supply of new people to meet, share stories with, and learn from.

Much appreciation goes out to all those who make our work as archivists possible – especially the archivists ourselves. You can celebrate American Archives Month by coming by to see our new exhibit on Homecoming, doing research, or checking out all the resources we have available through our [newly updated] website!

55 Years Ago, A Moment of Détente

Détente, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. Fifty-five years ago on September 23, 1959, then-Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev and his wife Nina spent a day on the Garst family farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa, slightly west of Des Moines. The appearance of the head of the Soviet Russian government in America during a long period of strained relations between the US and USSR looks a lot like détente – and we have the collections to prove it.

What aspects of this visit can Iowa State’s Special Collections department shed light on? In fact, Iowa State is home to a swath of materials that uncover the stories relating to the Garsts and of course this momentous visit. They include the Garst Family Papers (MS 579), the Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company (MS 173), the Garst Company (MS 642), and the Khrushchev Committee 50th Anniversary Event Records (MS 615). More collections that provide evidence of U.S.-Soviet relations are listed on this page of resources.

Khrushchevs and Garsts on the farm

Elizabeth and Roswell Garst, pictured center, on their farm with Nina and Nikita Khrushchev (RS 579)

The Garst Family Papers currently covers the period from 1860s up to 2012; we are still receiving donations from the Garst relatives. It documents the extended family and its history through photographs, letters, scrapbooks, and drawings related to various activities. These relate to the farm itself and the business that Roswell and Elizabeth co-owned with Charlie and Bertha Thomas, the Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company. Included in this are a number of photographs and photo albums that portray the Khrushchevs’ day on the farm, as well.

Iowa State also holds records from that Garst and Thomas Hybrid Corn Company as well as the Garst Company. The hybrid corn company was founded in 1931 and eventually became ICI Seeds, Inc., in 1991. The records cover much of this history, dating from 1933 to 1973, and contains advertising materials, business records such as invoices and audits, and correspondence with banks, other companies, and customers. While they may seem a bit dry, these records do manage to convey some of what made Roswell Garst the man that he was in the 1950s when he became a known figure in the international agriculture arena. The Garst Company was a farming company that Roswell and Elizabeth’s three eldest children, Jane, Stephen, and David, started in 1941. The collection materials, which date from 1941 to 2004, document through correspondence and photographs the business, mainly its large beef cattle operation. Again, another window into the Garst family that provides evidence of their interests and work around the time of the Khrushchevs’ visit.

Red Boss eats first hot dog

A scrapbook page displays a clipping regarding the Khrushchevs’ visit to a meat packing plant in Des Moines, Iowa (MS 579)

A third related collection is the Khrushchev Committee 50th Anniversary Event Records, which document the work of a statewide committee that celebrated – as you can guess – the 50th anniversary of the visit in 2009. Thirty different organizations were involved in the commemoration, which also boasted involvement from Khrushchev’s son Sergei and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (and former Iowa governor) Tom Vilsack. The collection documents the events with a number of different items, including materials for the attendees and press, schedules, news clippings, and event footage.

Our collections also boast audio and film related to the Garst family, on aspects of agriculture and business as well as this historic visit. See a list of these by searching ISU’s online library catalog for Garst film.

At this point in time when tensions between the United States and Russia are rising, I find it interesting to look back and see what events have affected international relations in the past. Let us know if you have any questions regarding the plethora of materials on this topic.

Pumpkins and Pies in Special Collections

And the pumpkin pie in its covered place
Makes you wish for it so, that you have the grace
To lift the cover and flee with the pie
– “A Parody on ‘Green River,'” Jessie A. Connor in the 1895 Bomb (p. 149)

image (3)

A page from Erwin’s 1927 article, “A Systematic Study of Squashes and Pumpkins,” from collection RS 9/16/16

It’s autumn! Well, it’s almost autumn, as the equinox that marks the end of summer falls on September 22. With autumn arrives all the great comfort foods of the season. I will not speak for you, but in my mind, mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce, and squashes of all shapes and sizes come running to the forefront. What do these delicious things have to do with the archives?

Arthur Thomas Erwin (1874-1970) was a professor of horticulture who taught at Iowa State from 1901 until 1915 before researching vegetables as a staff member of the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station for 40-plus years. As part of this work, he helped classify the various species of squash, pumpkins, and peppers. We have a box of his papers (collection RS 9/16/16) that sheds some light on his discoveries. Article titles include “Notes on Some of the Newer Vegetables” (1937), “The Peppers” (1932), and “A Systematic Study of Squashes and Pumpkins” (1927). If you are more likely to read an article than bake a pie, one of these might be your chosen reading material.


Two cookbooks from Special Collections’ rare and archival bookshelves that feature fall desserts

For people who are more of the pie-making type, we have plenty of recipes waiting for you in Special Collections. An obvious source of information is our cookbook collection. Information about the collection is available through this online exhibit and the books are all in the library catalog when you enter the phrase Cooking – Iowa into the search box. Not every cookbook will have a recipe for pumpkins or other squashes, of course, but many do. In her book Sweets Without Sugar, Marion White offers recipes with various sugars that aren’t the run-of-the-mill white stuff. The book jacket explains: “Plain granulated sugar, though easy to use and inexpensive to buy, offers little to the diet… it is harder to digest that the ‘simple sugars’ found in natural fruits and provided in honey, syrups, and molasses.” In White’s recipe for Pumpkin Pie, my go-to fall creation, she simply substitutes 1c of plain sugar with maple syrup. Sounds delicious! I’ll be giving this a try in my oven this pumpkin season.

Special Collections also holds copies of books that are written or edited by University faculty, so that section of our materials boasts a few cookbooks as well. I was both wary and delighted to see a 1998 book, Vegetable Desserts: Beyond Carrot Cake and Pumpkin Pie, by now-retired Professor of Nutrition Elisabeth Schafer and Jeannette Miller, a registered dietician. The book is helpfully arranged by vegetable: chapters include beans, jicama – a tuber that is similar to a turnip, and, more familiarly, rhubarb. A number of the recipes include squash and pumpkins in particular, including a Pumpkin Tofu Pie that… well, seems to be a pumpkin pie with added tofu. Considering how popular links that advertise “cookie dough that is made with chickpeas” and “brownies made with black beans” are on Pinterest, I think Vegetable Desserts could make a comeback. My coworkers are going to be taste-testing cocoa lentil cake with cocoa mocha frosting at some point – I’m too curious not to try it.

So go forth and bake – or research – away the autumn, friends. Make a visit Special Collections for inspiration in either!

CyPix: Ready for Cyclones Football

Football season kicked off in Ames this weekend! This time of year centers around the athletic prowess on the field, of course, but I always enjoy the full experience of game day – tailgating with friends and family, cheerleaders and dance teams, the music and pomp of halftime shows, and of course cheering in the stands. Below, these fans from 1959 demonstrate some Cyclone spirit at the Homecoming game that year. Glad we are still enjoying summer and don’t have to get out the fur-lined collars… yet.

Homecoming, 1959

A roaring crowd at the 1959 Homecoming game in Ames. Click the image to see a larger size

Special Collections and University Archives is home to a number of football-related collections and objects; this more detailed post talks about our holdings, and you can always search our website or come visit our Reading Room to uncover information about a specific player, coach, year, or mascot. In the meantime – go Cyclones!

Harry Beetison, “King of the Hoboes”

It came to my attention recently that Britt, Iowa, is home to the annual Hobo Convention. Britt has a Hobo Museum, as well, which displays materials collected by hobos and is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The convention includes a parade and a crowning of a King and a Queen of the Hobos and seems to be quite a crowd-drawing event and has earned press from sources as varied as NPR, Buzzfeed, The Economist, and The New York Times. Special Collections does not offer up much regarding the hobo culture of the Midwest, but I did find a vivid photograph and interesting history related to the Hobo Convention in the Wayne O. and Gayle Carns Burchett Papers (MS 355).

Meet Harry C. Beetison, one-time King of the Hobos.

Harry Beetison, aka King David 1

Harry Beetison, also known as King David 1, was voted King of the Hobos in the late 1930s

According to commentary provided by Ann Burchett Barton, the Burchetts’ daughter, Mr. Beetison crossed paths with her mother Gayle around the time of the Great Depression. Gayle’s parents, Francis and Lucille Carns, and the rest of the family met Beetison through their generosity to the hobos who rode the rails across the U.S. in search of work.  The collection also includes a few newspaper articles about Beetison that paint the man as a colorful character. His platform for Kingship, for example, included edicts such as: “to make bumming easier, to cover box car floors with straw and hay, and to give every hobo a better chance to have a place in every town and city throughout the nation where they can rest up…” (article circa 1937). According to another article, Beetison – a native of Ashland, Nebraska – once campaigned for a seat in the state legislature before earning his hobo title. Other clippings include a poem by Beetison and tales of his travels through a number of states; in 1945, Salt Lake City’s Deseret News called him a “gallivanter par excellence.”

There is some mystery around Beetison: the clippings refer to him as King David I but the list of hobo kings and queens refers to a King David II. King David II shows up again on the list in the 1960s – did Beetison return to reclaim his crown?  We know he’s buried in his hometown, Ashland, but there’s no telling where he went in between. I’m planning on making the trip to the Hobo Convention this year, so maybe the museum will hold some clues as to the Burchett family friend’s life. In the meantime, this small slice of family history offers a glimpse of Iowan and U.S. history as well.