One Year Later: NHPRC-funded Project to Improve Access to Archival Collections & Their Descriptions

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed a number of posts this past year related to our project transferring SCUA’s finding aids (descriptions of archival collections) into an archives management system. Not only is the goal of this project to make it easier for everyone to find collections of interest, but it will also make it far easier for staff to manage the collections behind-the-scenes. We’ve reported on what the project is, and highlighted a few interesting encounters along the way. We’re just about a year into the project, which began June 1, 2018, and you may be curious about what is happening backstage, and when will you be able to see the results?

Caitlin Moriarty, the project archivist hired for the project, has been hard at work transferring the finding aids from the Microsoft Word versions into the new archives management system. (Currently, the finding aids are maintained in both their Microsoft Word versions – the official version, and their publicly displayed versions online in HTML.) While the bulk of the project’s work involves a fair share of tedious data-entry -type work, Caitlin also needs to remain aware of the finding aids she’s working with and how well they’re going to transfer into the archives management system (although SCUA has tried to create consistent finding aids throughout the years, close to 50 years of finding-aid-creation by various authors means they’re not all the same, nor are they, alas, perfect!).

GarciaFAs.JPG

Shown above are 2 versions of the same finding aid for the Pilar A. Garcia papers. On the left is the public interface for the new system, and on the right is the current system. The display is fairly similar, although the new system has a left-hand navigation bar which makes it far easier to navigate within the finding aids’ container listings, especially those of large collections.

In addition to adapting the finding aids for the new system, Caitlin is also in charge of a whole variety of tests to make sure that things are done properly – both for the finding aids themselves, and how they are encoded within the system so all of the behind-the-scenes work can be done as smoothly as possible. For instance, if the system is not encoding the finding aids properly – this may mean that when the finding aids are shared with bibliographic utilities such as this one, they won’t be displayed properly and might not make a whole lot of sense to people.  Caitlin has also been working with the University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, to make sure the university records are easily navigable within the system.

Curious to see what this new system will look like?  If all goes well, we’ll be having a soft launch of the system this November.  Although more work will need to be done after this date, a fair number of the finding aids will be in the system at this point. All of the manuscripts were entered by the end of last year, and we’re in the process of getting the university archives finding aids, which are a bit more tricky, into the system.

In the meantime, here’s a small glimpse at what is to come.  Below is the Google search bar (see the upper right “Search Special Collections) which is used to search the entire SCUA website, including all of the finding aids – notice there is no way to limit the search to a specific field, such as creator, dates, etc.:

SCUAGoogleSearchBarArrow.JPG

The new system also has a quick search option, similar to the one-stop shop of the Google search (however, it will only be searching finding aids – not the entire SCUA website).  There is also an advanced search, which offers a variety of search options, including those shown below:

SKCAsearch.JPG

What else is happening behind-the-scenes? Quite a few things we do not have time to cover in this post, but suffice it to say that, as with any  major project, there are problems to solve, reports to write, deadlines to meet, and timelines to adjust. Stay tuned for additional updates & blog posts on the NHPRC-funded project to migrate SCUA’s finding aids into a brand new system!

nhprc-logo-l

This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


Digital Exhibit on Iowa’s State Parks System Now Available!

As the cold days of winter have settled in for many of us, state parks are probably not on many plans for the coming months.  However, there is now an additional option to learn about the history of Iowa’s state parks from the comfort of the indoors. As mentioned in a previous post, the Special Collections and University Archives has an exhibition on display through the end of the year which tells the story of the early state parks movement here in Iowa: “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”:  The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System. Unable to visit the exhibition in person?  There’s now an alternative! Digital Initiatives and SCUA are excited to announce that the online version of the state parks exhibit is now available, along with the accompanying Iowa State Parks Digital Collection (which contains digitized materials used in the physical exhibit along with additional materials from SCUA’s collections).

Swimming scene (1903) from what would eventually become Ledges State Park. (from University Photograph Collection, box 377, folder 13)

The online exhibit extends the focus of the physical exhibit to include additional information on the parks system as a whole, the people behind the park names, the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a broader history of the parks’ design, construction, and the natural areas they preserve. There is only so much space for the physical exhibits, so it was satisfying to see some of what we were not able to include in the physical exhibit incorporated into the online version. As one of the curators of the physical exhibit, I was able to work on both the physical exhibit and then the online exhibit. It was a great experience to see how the online exhibit became a companion to – and expanded on – our physical exhibit.

In addition to the images and textual content, the online exhibit also includes some fun interactive aspects including a StoryMap (created using Knight Lab’s StoryMap) which gives a tour of all 55 Iowa State Parks in 2017, in the order of their founding:

…and “quizzes” (but the fun kind – no grading involved!).  The fill-in-the-blank and true/false examples pictured below are from the page on Backbone State Park.

We were also able to add footnotes to the Drupal-based exhibit – which was exciting for us to learn about and to be able to incorporate into the text. For details on how this was done, visit Lori Bousson’s blog post over on the Digital Initiatives and Scholarship blog, DSI Update.

A lot of work goes into the creation of exhibits – both the reading room and online versions, and we hope that at least a few of you have been able to visit it here on the 4th floor of Parks Library.  Thanks to the help of people from across the library, we have been able to make the research, design and work of the physical exhibit available online for people to view across the world – with no closing date!


A Welcome to Caitlin Moriarty, Our NHPRC Project Archivist

We’re happy to announce that Caitlin Moriarty started with us June 1st.  As announced in a previous blog post, Caitlin will be working on our National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) grant project to migrate our finding aids from Microsoft Word documents and HTML into our new archives management system (AMS), CuadraSTAR’s Star Knowledge Center for Archives (SKCA).

Caitlin

Caitlin comes to us from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she gained a wide variety of experiences in archival work. Caitlin has had a variety of experiences processing, describing, and providing reference assistance in different archival settings at the University of Michigan and the Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections. Most recently, she was worked as a reference assistant for the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library, and as an archives assistant at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library. In addition, she worked for Garrett Scott, Bookseller in Ann Arbor to process, inventory, and catalog manuscripts and rare books.  She majored in Russian and political science at Dickinson College and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Information in 2016 with a Master of Science in Information, specializing in Archives and Records Management.

Please join us in welcoming Caitlin!


Celebrating 100 Years: Iowa’s State Parks

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to the efforts of Iowa leaders over 100 years ago, including people here at Iowa State, state parks were established within the state of Iowa just a few years after legislation for national state parks was passed.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of Iowa’s General Assembly passing state park legislation. The Special Collections and University Archives is excited to announce a new reading room exhibition to celebrate this achievement:  “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”: The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System.” Iowa’s landscape of native prairie, forests, and wetlands was rapidly disappearing by the early part of the 20th century due to an expanding population and growing agricultural operations. Individuals from across Iowa advocated for the legislature to set aside land to conserve Iowa’s dwindling natural landscapes, resulting in the passage of Iowa’s state parks bill on April 12, 1917. Iowa State played a central role in establishing the state park system and the state of Iowa soon became a national leader in the state park movement.

Louis Pammel (far left), Iowa State botany professor and leader in Iowa’s state park movement, with students at Ledges State Park.

The exhibit highlights Iowa State’s role in the state park movement, and includes individuals such as botanists Louis Pammel and Ada Hayden, forester G. B. MacDonald, and landscape architect John Fitzsimmons. A brief history of the work to establish state parks in Iowa opens the exhibit, followed by background on Iowa’s first state parks. The exhibit concludes with examples on how Iowa State has used state parks throughout the years, up until the present day – including a current student’s field notebook.

Why was this exhibit theme chosen?  In addition to celebrating an anniversary, it was a great way to highlight the work of Iowa State individuals in ways they are not often mentioned.  In fact, I was surprised to learn that a number of Iowa State administrators were involved – in addition to faculty and staff in botany, forestry, and landscape architecture. The quote from the exhibit’s title is from May H. McNider’s article “Women Want Iowa Scenery Preserved,” published in the 1919 Report of the State Board of Conservation. MacNider, who would later become president of the Board of Conservation, was a civic leader in the town of Mason City, Iowa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The development of exhibitions involve a variety of components, including staff from throughout the library.  This one was no exception.  The primary areas of responsibility for the exhibition’s curators (Becky Jordan, Brad Kuennen, and myself – Laura Sullivan) were: developing the exhibition’s themes, researching their assigned areas, selecting exhibition items, writing the exhibition’s text, designing the case layouts, and installing the exhibition.  In addition to the three curators who developed the exhibition, the preservation department helped on a variety of levels including conducting a preservation assessment, digitizing, and building the labels and display supports. We also received support for communications and the window display panels.  Digital initiatives is currently designing an online exhibit, which will be ready in a few weeks.

General Plan for the Landscape Development of Backbone State Park (Iowa’s first state park), 1925 (RS 13/5/13, tube 73)

In conjunction with the exhibit Heidi H. Hohmann, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, will be giving a presentation on Tuesday, June 6th at 7 p.m. in the Farwell T. Brown Auditorium at the Ames Public Library. Hohmann’s lecture, “Designing State and National Parks,” will focus on Iowa State and the Department of Landscape Architecture’s influence and role in the development of national parks and Iowa’s state parks.

Whether you’re looking for summer excursion ideas, would like to immerse yourself in the history of state parks here in Iowa, or would like to take a look at the exhibit for any other reason – please visit us on the 4th floor of Parks Library. Most of the exhibit is located within the reading room, but if you’re only able to stop by after hours, the window displays and a few exhibit cases are available for viewing after the department is closed.  The exhibit will run through the end of 2017.

 

 

 

 


#TBT Iowa’s State Parks: Marking 100 Years

13-05-A_Pammel_1026-002-002a

Carl Fritz Hemmings (left) with Louis Pammel (right) (from University Photograph Collection, box 1026)

Today’s Throw Back Thursday photograph is of Iowa State botany professor Louis Pammel with Ledges State Park custodian Carl Fritz Hemmings. This year marks the centennial of the passage of the first state parks act in Iowa, which was approved April 12, 1917. The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives  plans a summer exhibition, “This movement for a more beautiful Iowa”: The Early Years of Iowa’s State Park System” which will open to the public on May 17.

Iowa’s landscape of native prairie, forests, and wetlands was rapidly disappearing by the early part of the 20th century due to an expanding population and growing agricultural operations. Individuals from across Iowa advocated for the legislature to set aside land to conserve Iowa’s dwindling natural landscapes resulting in the passage of Iowa’s state parks bill in 1917. Iowa State played a central role in establishing the state park system and the state of Iowa soon became a national leader in the state park movement. The exhibit highlights Iowa State’s role in the state park movement.


NHPRC Awards Grant for Finding Aid Migration Project

The Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is pleased to announce that the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) has awarded the University Library with a $118,825 grant supporting a two-year project to migrate nearly 1,700 finding aids into a new archives management system that complies with EAD (Encoded Archival Description).

The project, entitled “Modern Tools for Modern Research: Migrating Old Finding Aids to a New Archives Management System,” will transform the way researchers explore and interact with SCUA’s unique collections. In addition to brief catalog records, SCUA uses detailed finding aids to describe its archival collections. (An example of one of our finding aids for an archival collection can be found here).  Archival collections can range in size from a small folder to hundreds of boxes. The finding aid facilitates the discovery of information within an archival collection, and researchers and archivists alike would spend many, many extra hours searching for information without such a tool!

FA top

Snapshot of a current online finding aid.

Currently, the department’s finding aids are discoverable online through a Google search bar, in addition to various subject guides. With the migration of our finding aids to our new archives management system software (CuadraSTAR’s SKCA), researchers will have an enhanced mechanism for discovering and searching applicable finding aids during their research.

Migrating finding aids to a new system is no small task, and the grant will ensure the project’s timely completion. The grant funds will support a two-year term staff member and a student assistant to execute this project, which will begin in June 2017 and runs through May 2019.

The upcoming project is an exciting milestone for the department, and SCUA would like to thank the National Historical Publications & Records Commission and other supporters for their help with the grant proposal. A complete list of 2016 NHPRC awarded grants is available online.

nhprc-logo-l

About NHPRC: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States.


Basketball: Iowa State versus Kansas 60 Years Ago #TBT

Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas #13)

From University Photograph Collection, 24/5/G, box 1817

This Saturday, January 14th, marks the 60th anniversary of a well-remembered game in Iowa State’s basketball history: Iowa State versus Kansas. Both teams had players which would go on to have major professional basketball careers:  Gary Thompson (Iowa State, #20) and Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas, #13). In the photograph above, Chamberlain is attempting to make a basket while Thompson guards on the floor.

It was an exciting game, with Iowa State beating Kansas, 39-37. At the very end, Don Medsker made the winning basket. The game was Chamberlain’s first loss in college basketball. In celebration of the win, Iowa State fans invaded the Armory’s floor after the game.

A number of images documenting the game are now available in Digital Collections. Although we don’t have a program from the game (please contact us if you’d be willing to donate one!), we do have news clippings from that year in RS 24/5/0/0, box 1, folder 1, a folder of materials on Gary Thompson (RS 21/7/1), and the book “Gary Thompson, All-American” by Gary Offenburger.  Additional men’s basketball records are also available in the University Archives.


Iowa State Alum, Landscape Architect, Wilderness Idea Pioneer: Arthur Carhart

As the holiday season is here, and the cold weather has descended upon us in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest, many are spending more time indoors with family and friends. The end of the year and the beginning of the next is when we frequently receive an upturn in questions regarding alumni, many likely arising during conversations during a winter get-together or as people think about family at this time of year. What resources do we have in the university archives to look into Iowa State alumni?

21-7-1_carhart

Arthur  Carhart’s folder in our alumni files, RS 21/7/1.

I’ll use a 1916 graduate, Arthur Carhart, as an example to walk readers through the possibilities. Why did I choose Arthur Carhart?  This past year, I visited the Gila Wilderness Area in New Mexico, which was established in large part due to the efforts of Aldo Leopold, a native Iowan (and, as a side note, we hold the papers of his brother, Frederick Leopold) – and Leopold’s ideas were probably influenced by Carhart, since they conversed on the wilderness idea at least once.  I am repeatedly reminded that even as a state which has significantly changed its landscape, Iowa has had many people who are passionate about conservation and preserving the land…as a perusal of this subject guide for our collections will reveal.

One such person I recently learned about was, as you all know by now, Arthur Hawthorne Carhart. One hundred years ago this year (1916), Carhart graduated with Iowa State’s first degree in landscape gardening (later landscape architecture), and became the first landscape architect for the National Forest Service. Carhart’s vision for wilderness preservation had a lasting impact here in this country. One of his first projects was to survey Trappers Lake in Colorado’s White Pine National Forest for development. After his visit, he recommended instead that the area be designated as a wilderness. Trappers Lake became the National Forest’s first wilderness preservation area. Before leaving the Forest Service to work in private practice, Carhart recommended that an area of northern Minnesota be designated as a wilderness area, and this is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Carhart later became a successful writer, drawing upon his earlier experiences. The Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa holds the Papers of Arthur Carhart, which contain his literary manuscripts.

What was Carhart’s life like here at Iowa State while a student, and what do we have which documents his accomplishments after graduation?  As our genealogy subject guide reveals, we have a variety of resources with which to begin.

bomb16_dec

In addition to supplying information about students at the time, the Bomb also provides a window into what life was like at that time. Above is a passage about a December Christmas Carnival which took place on campus (from 1916 Bomb).

The Bomb, the student yearbook, can often be a rich source of information and a great place to begin – especially if the alum was involved in a variety of student organizations, as Carhart was.  During his senior year alone, the 1916 Bomb reveals that he was a member of Acacia, band, glee club, horticulture department club, and the Iowa State College Chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club (an international student group; more on the Iowa State chapter can be found in this earlier blog post).

bombl17_carhart

Carhart’s page from the section on seniors from the 1916 Bomb.

In addition to physical copies here in the department and the general collection, the Bomb is now available online through Digital Collections.

We also have his bachelors thesis (call number: Cob 1916 Carhart) entitled “Landscape Materials for Iowa.”  As Carhart states in his forward, he has compiled a listing of plants hardy enough to use in the middle west state of Iowa.  No single book, or even group of books, existed at that time which did so for midwest states.  This groundbreaking work of an Iowa State senior is a great view into Carhart’s work as a budding landscape architect, in addition to preserving an annotated list of plants available for such work in the early part of the 20th century. (Please note: we are in the process of cataloging our bachelors theses. His thesis will soon be discoverable through the library’s search system…just not yet!)

thesis

Title page from Carhart’s bachelors thesis (call #: Cob 1916 Carhart)

There are multiple other resources one could go to to find other windows into Carhart’s life here at Iowa State – but I will leave those up to you to find, if you’re so inclined. The student directories would reveal where he lived while here, as well as his hometown and major.  This would also be a good place to start if you had a basic idea for when someone attended, but not the exact date.  The records for the student groups he was involved with here on campus may have photographs, scrapbooks, programs, and other materials documenting what he may have done within those organizations.

His file in our alumni files (RS 21/7/1) reveals what he accomplished after graduating from Iowa State – and this included quite a lot, far more than I knew about him before examining the file! In addition to his accomplishments mentioned above, a 1969 letter to President Parks (from a nomination packet for Iowa State’s “Distinguished Achievement Citation”) says that he “conceived and carried through to establishment” the Conservation Library Center (now the Conservation Collection, Denver Public Library), and saved Dinosaur National Monument from a proposed dam. Carhart’s alumni file is full of additional information, including news clippings, resumes, articles, correspondence, updates to the alumni association, among others.

Incidentally, Dinosaur National Monument has at least two Iowa State connections.  In addition to Carhart’s work, the large array of fossils which eventually became Dinosaur National Monument was discovered by another Iowa State alum, Earl Douglass. I’ll leave it to the curious among you to find out what we may have on Douglass! I hope this post has given everyone a better idea about the resources we have in the University Archives related to former students.

 


Iowa State Ties for Valentine’s Day: Love stories beginning at Iowa State

Valentine’s Day was this past weekend, and some of you may have thought about where you met your significant other.  Was it here at Iowa State?  If it was, you are definitely not alone, and some of those stories are documented here in the University Archives!

You may recognize at least one person, since his name is on a building:  Samuel Beyer.

13-2-A_Beyer_in_office_reading_1925_b1020

Samuel Beyer in his office, 1925 (University Photograph Collection, 13-2-A, box 1020)

Instructor and professor of Geology and Zoology here at Iowa State (1891-1930), Beyer met his wife, Jennie Morrison, during his senior year and they were married in 1893 after her graduation.  In addition to his faculty and administrative duties, Beyer was dedicated to Iowa State athletics and is credited with bringing Homecoming celebrations to Iowa State. He was also instrumental in organizing the construction of State Gymnasium and Clyde Williams Field. (To find out more about Samuel Beyer and what is in his archival collection, see the online finding aid to the Samuel W. Beyer Papers).

Library staff, 1931-1932

Library staff, 1931-1932. Elva is in the second row, second from the left. (University Photograph Collection, 25-1-D, box 2040)

Other stories of people meeting here at Iowa State are scattered in various collections.  Some of these we know about, others are yet to be found in diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, news clippings, and the like.  For instance, the first extension agent in Utah, Arvil Stark, met his wife here at Iowa State.  This love story began not far from where it is documented here in the University Archives (in their son’s alumni file, RS 21/7/1, Craig Stark).  Arvil Stark attended Iowa State, and received his Ph.D. in horticulture in 1934.  Elva Acklam Stark received her library degree from the University of Wisconsin, and her first job was here at Iowa State’s library.  Elva and Arvil met at the library when Arvil was checking out books.  According to their son Craig Stark, “My Dad took my Mom apple blossoms from the Horticulture Farm and they fell in love at ISU!!”

Interested in hearing about others who fell in love here at Iowa State?  Although not all of these love stories are documented here in the University Archives (and some may be), you can read more stories collected by the Iowa State University Foundation here.


CyPix: Farm Protests

Milk protest

Scene from a farmers protest (National Farmers Organization Records, MS 481, box 15, folder 5), the milk holding action organized by the National Farmers Organization in 1967.

Last week’s European farmers protests brought to mind a number of the collections in our department documenting protests organized by farmers, and in particular the image above from our National Farmers Organization Records (MS 481). The National Farmers Organization (NFO) was founded in 1955 to combat low prices farmers received from food processors.  The more intensive aspects of the organization’s activities, demonstrated by the image above, receded by 1979, when its focus turned to collective bargaining for better prices. The NFO, which now has its headquarters in Ames, Iowa, is organized on county, Congressional district, state, and national levels.

A selection of additional collections documenting protests and other political actions can be found in our Political Action Subject Guide.  In particular, the National Farmers Organization Records and Charles Walters Papers both document the National Farmers Organization, in addition to a variety of other collections found in the subject guide.