Behind the Scenes – Homecoming 2016

Have you ever wondered what it takes to put together a pop-up exhibit? Last Friday, Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) exhibited about two dozen items for three hours for Iowa State’s Homecoming. The temporary exhibit was open to the public, but our focus was alumni visiting for Homecoming. Today’s post is about our process.

Dry Run

Back in mid-August, we invited the Alumni Center to drop by and see what items we thought we’d include in the October Homecoming exhibit. This dry run entailed staff from the department brainstorming on what items would be best to put on exhibit and what order they should be displayed. Labels were made and the classroom was rearranged into an exhibit space. Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, dropped by and gave us feedback on how we set the room up and what kinds of materials may engage alumni more. We also discussed what reproductions SCUA could provide for digital display over at the Alumni Center.

Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, looks at our oldest book with Amy Bishop, Rare Book and Manuscripts Archivist. University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, and Collections Archivist, Laura Sullivan, in background.

Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, looks at our oldest book with Amy Bishop, Rare Book and Manuscripts Archivist. University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, and Collections Archivist, Laura Sullivan, in background (Photo by Rachel Seale)

Two weeks out

We made sure to promote our Homecoming event in the library and in our social media. We enlisted the help of Monica Gillen, the Communication Specialist for the library, and Jody Kalvik, Instruction, Program Coordinator. Monica helped get the word out and Jody designed flyers, posters, a banner, and our signage.

The week before before Homecoming

We did one last practice run. We tweaked our list of items on display and took into account Heather’s set-up advice. We also invited Sonya Barron, Conservator, to drop by. Sonya ensured our items were sturdy enough to display, offered to provide mounts, and advised us how to safely display materials. We also made final decisions on what would be in the temporary exhibit and what order we wanted to display items, there was some rearrangement.  Pictures were taken of materials so we’d know how to set up the following week.

Two of our rare books propped up in book cradles (Photo b Rachel Seale)

Two of our rare books propped up in book cradles (Photo by Rachel Seale)

The week of Homecoming

Now that we had our exhibit finalists, we had to finish drafting and mounting the labels.

Friday of Homecoming!

We spent the morning setting up and our doors opened at 1 pm. We were so pleased at the opportunity to show off our treasures.

Thank you to everyone who visited us last Friday at 405 Parks Library. To those that missed seeing our treasures on display, drop by and see us sometime. We’re open from 9-5, Monday-Friday.


SCUA Treasures – Leave Your Legacy Homecoming 2016

Tomorrow, from 1-4 pm in room 405 Parks Library, Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) will have selected treasures on display. We will have artifacts, rare books, films, student publications from the 1960s, and other wonderful items from our collections.

 

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Please drop by. All are welcome!

For the preservation of our treasures, please leave food & drink outside.


Artifacts in the Archives – Our Most Thrilling Artifacts!

Today’s  blog post is a collaborative blog post, from several Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) staff, about the artifacts that give us the most thrills and chills. Some staff interpreted this as the spookiest artifact and some as the coolest most exciting artifact. Whatever the interpretation, here are the artifacts that give us the most chills and thrills.

Quartz Fiber Balance

Quart fiber balance, looks like a bottle with legs sitting on a wooden stand, stopper on one end and cut on the other, so it's open, and the open end covered in plastic wrap held on by a rubberband. There is a clear looking scale inside the bottle.

Quartz Fiber Balance (Artifact #2003-2-3.003)

From Amy Bishop, Rare Books & Manuscripts Curator

I nominate the Quartz Fiber Balance (artifact number 2003-203.003) from the Harry J. Svec Papers (RS 13/6/53) as the most thrilling artifact in our collections. Why the thrill? This particular balance, created by Svec as the ISU chemistry department’s glassblower, was used in Ames as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. The thought of the Manhattan Project always gives me mixed thrills and chills. Thrills from the thought of cutting-edge, top secret scientific research. Chills because of the purpose and ultimate conclusion of the Manhattan Project: atomic bombs, two of which were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing horrific numbers of people. And of course what that led to – the nuclear arms race of the Cold War and the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world.

Also thrilling, though, is to think of the skill of an ISU graduate student who worked as a glassblower, creating by hand precise apparatus for chemical experiments. To quote from the item’s catalog record: “The balance mechanism inside is entirely quartz and balances on a thin quartz thread. This mechanism is very delicate and is sensitive to one-millionth of a gram. Up to one gram of material can be held on each end.” Very impressive indeed. See more about the Ames Project in the Ames Laboratory Records.

 

General Geddes Sword (1827)

General Geddes Sword (Artifact #2015-R003)

General Geddes Sword (Artifact #2015-R003)

From Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

James Lorraine Geddes (1827-1887) led an adventurous life before his association with Iowa Agricultural College. Born in Scotland, he also lived in Canada and India before settling in the United States. In India, served in the Royal Horse Artillery of the British Army. In this capacity he distinguished himself in the ongoing Anglo-Afghan conflicts in Punjab and the Khyber Pass. He retired a Colonel in 1857 and moved to a farm in Iowa. This peaceful interval did not last long, however. He fought for the Union in the U.S. Civil War, beginning as a private and rising to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General (1865). After the war he returned to Vinton, Iowa. His many achievements in higher education were to follow (1867-1887).

His sword, therefore, makes me think of dire battles. Our information associates the year 1827 with the sword, which is puzzling – Geddes was born in that year.

 

Candelabra

Candelabra from Gravesend Manor

Candelabra from Gravesend Manor (uncataloged)

From Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

We received this along with other WOI materials when the television station moved out of the Communications Building.

This was a prop from Gravesend Manor—a television program that aired late on Saturday nights on WOI-TV.  They showed horror films with local staff doing introductions and intermissions.  Some of the characters were Malcom the Butler (Ed Weiss), the Duke of Desmodus (James Varnum), Claude (Ron Scott) and Esmerelda (John Voight).  My best recollections of the show are from slumber parties.  It was generally enjoyed with pop and pizza—made from a kit that came in a box—and a lot of giggling.

From Rachel: Check out an earlier blog post about Gravesend Manor.

Metal Shrapnel

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From Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

For the most thrilling artifact, I’ve picked metal shrapnel from World War I (2004-179.001 and .002). These pieces came from MS 666, the Fred O. Gordon Papers. Gordon fought in Europe in Battery F, 119th Field Artillery from 1918-1919 and was wounded in October 1918. The shrapnel pieces are thick, solid metal, and I can only imagine the sheer force of the explosion(s) that would’ve blown them apart. Not to mention the damage those pieces could have inflicted if they had hit someone. The act of seeing and holding authentic shrapnel from WWI makes the war and its horrors feel more real, and that’s definitely thrilling.

Tornado Souvenir

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From Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

My most thrilling artifact is a piece of wood, birch bark. It was found near Margaret Hall in the summer of 1924. Hand written lettering on the piece of birch bark: “Tornado Souvenir June 28, 1924[.] From Tree near Margaret Hall I.S.C. Ames, Iowa.”  I selected this item because I am new to the Midwest and have been a little fixated on weather, particularly weather conditions that may favor a tornado. I can’t imagine anything more thrilling and scarier than a tornado.

 

Margaret Stanton’s Death Mask

Death Mask of Margaret Stanton

Death Mask of Margaret Stanton (Artifact 2001-R130)

From Petrina Jackson, Head of SCUA

Hands down, Margaret Stanton’s death mask, for me, is our most macabre artifact. Popular through the nineteenth century, death masks were created as a commemoration or a way to create a portrait or sculpture of the dead. Death masks were usually made for people who were held in high esteem, which is a testimony of how beloved Margaret Stanton was to the Iowa State community. Although uncommon today, creating death masks, taking photographs of the dead lying in state, or weaving their hair into wreaths or jewelry were all ways that people honored the deceased in the past. With death far more removed from day-to-day, 21st-century American life, the death mask gets my vote as our creepiest, most macabre artifact.


Artifacts in the Archives – Our Favorite Artifacts

Today’s post introduces a new blog series here in Special Collections and University Archives— Artifacts in the Archives. These will be a series of posts that include staff picks for different artifacts. This week’s post lists some of our favorites.

The Death Mask

Death Mask of Margaret Stanton

Death Mask of Margaret Stanton (Artifact 2001-R130)

From Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

I might get judged for this, but… I have to go with Margaret Stanton’s death mask. It’s creepy, it’s a bit macabre, and it’s a fascinating artifact. It’s a piece of Victorian history –  this was just one of many kinds of memento mori (items created to remember the dead) that were a popular custom in that era. From my understanding, death masks were never typical in the Midwest, so it’s especially interesting that this one was made here and that we have one at all.

From Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

My favorite artifact is Margaret MacDonald Stanton’s death mask.  It gives us an opportunity to talk about two people who were here in the early days of the college, and who contributed to keeping the fledgling institution on the right track.  Edgar was the first student to receive a diploma at Iowa State.  He devoted his life to Iowa State, and was a member of the faculty until the day he died.  His memorial to Margaret has become a major symbol of the university.

Because Margaret Hall, the first dormitory specifically for women, was named for Margaret Stanton, we can also talk about early student life, and the changes on Central Campus over the years.  And there is the general creepiness factor, which can work into a discussion of past rituals surrounding death and mourning.

 

Thacher’s Calculating Instrument

Cylindrical slide rule or Thacher's Calculating Instrument

Cylindrical slide rule or Thacher’s Calculating Instrument (Artifact 2009-R004)

From Chris Anderson, Project Archivist

It’s fascinating how the math we now do digitally can be done mechanically. These are such ingenious devices. So much mileage out of a couple of interacting cylinders in a wooden frame. And of course, it’s cool looking!

From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

My favorite artifact is the cylindrical slide rule (2009-R004). When most people think of slide rules, which I know doesn’t happen often anymore, it conjures up images of flat ruler-sized devices carried around in the pockets of 1950s college students. This cylindrical slide rule is definitely not pocket-sized! At 24 inches long and nearly 5 inches in diameter, I can’t imagine students toting one of these around campus all day. In this day of computers and smartphones we take for granted how much time and sweat was involved in solving complex equations 100 years ago. This device reduced the amount of hand calculations required to solve some of these difficult mathematical problems. The cylindrical slide rule is now a relic of the past, however I still find it fascinating to look at and wonder about its workings. Maybe someday I’ll actually take the time to learn how to use it. And by that I mean typing “cylindrical slide rule” into YouTube to see if there is a video that someone else has posted.

 

Land-features Globe of Mars

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From Matt Schuler, Library Assistant II

I like it because it’s a map and it’s not something you would typically expect to see represented on a globe.  It would be something I’d love to have on display in my house if it wasn’t here.

 

Oliphant P. Stuckslager’s Hammer

 

artifact Oliphant P. Stuckslager’s Hammer, a Stuckslager hammer

Oliphant P. Stuckslager’s Hammer (Artifact 2001-R142.004)

From Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

For this post, I’m going to say that my favorite artifact is the Stuckslager hammer.  The hammer was used to construct one of the first buildings here on campus, Old Main.  We have just enough information on the hammer to give a person enough to start imagining all the activities, people, and sites the hammer saw during its lifetime – helping to bring me that much closer to the hustle and bustle which must have been part of the construction of the main building for the State Agricultural College and Model Farm (now Iowa State).

It’s seemingly a regular, common, everyday hammer of today, in look, feel, size and weight – which makes viewing the hammer both familiar and disconcerting.  This particular hammer came to Ames in 1868, brought by Oliphant P. Stuckslager with the specific purpose to help build Old Main.  We even know where Stuckslager and his family lived in Ames – further helping me to go back in time and imagine the life and times of the hammer during its quite active career, which is said to have continued until the death of its owner in 1908.  We know as much information as we do about the hammer in part thanks to a senior research project done on the hammer.  A summary of the student’s findings can be found on an earlier blog post.

The Laundry  Mailer

From Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I like the laundry mailer because it reminds me of when I was an undergraduate. Every weekend I returned home and my dad would do my laundry. Once I got my laundry done before I came home and he was disappointed! It’s also my favorite artifact because it reminds me that life was so different not too long ago. For one, students could fit an entire week’s worth of laundry into the mailer. It’s not very large. It is smaller than most carry-on luggage pieces today. I can’t imagine fitting a week’s worth of clothes in the mailer in the winter. I may be able to swing it for the summer, though, it would be a tight fit and it’s likely I’d have to wear some shorts or skirts more than once during the week. Students back then probably didn’t have a change of clothes for every day of the week. Also, I would guess that mostly mothers did the laundry. More research on the details of ISU students’ use of the laundry mailers needs to be done. Did both men and women use the laundry mailers, or did the women have laundry facilities in their dormitories? What years were the mailers in use here on campus?

Below are some links to additional information about the laundry mailer, shared with me by Becky Jordan:

Dance Card from Alpha Kappa Delta Dance

Dance card, a volvelle

Dance card (Artifact #1999-103.29)

From Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I love dance cards because they are one of those elements from the past that have completely fallen by the wayside. I am a dancer, and I would love to go to a dance and fill up a dance card with my partners’ names. This particular one is my favorite, because it is so inventive and fun. Most dance cards are little booklets, but this one is a wheel with a little paper inside where you write your partners’ names that you can view through a little window. You turn the inside paper to reveal the different names. It works like a star chart. To use a fancy term, it is a volvelle. It is from an Alpha Kappa Delta dance, but there is no indication of the year. It is part of a collection of dance cards from Clarice Johnson Van Zante given to the department as a donation in 1999. Clarice was an ISU alum who attended in the 1920s, majoring in home economics. Later she worked as a school teacher in Ottumwa. The dance card is currently part of a mini-exhibit in the Special Collections reading room called “‘I’ll Pencil You In’: Dances and Dance Cards at Iowa State.”

The Rice Krispies Treat

From Petrina Jackson, Head of SCUA

You are probably wondering why Special Collections and University Archives keeps a Rice Krispies Treat for posterity. It is a good question since it is unusual for repositories to keep food products as collection material. However, this is not just any Rice Krispies Treat. It is a piece of the world record-holding, largest Rice Krispies Treat, weighing in at 2,480 pounds. Members of the Iowa State community created the sweet, sticky snack during VEISHEA 2001 to celebrate the university theme “Strengthening Families to Become the Best,” co-sponsored by the College of Family and Consumer Science (now the College of Human Sciences). The record-holding treat was also made in honor of Mildred Day, a 1928 ISU graduate of home economics, who “was a member of the Kellogg Company team that developed the Rice Krispies Treat recipe in the 1940s.”

 


ISU Archivists visit the State Historical Society of Iowa @IowaMuseum #iowahistory

Yesterday we visited the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines. We were able to visit with a number of librarians, archivists, and curators. We learned about the Iowa Newspaper Project and work being done collecting county records, among many other things. This blog post does not do justice to all of the wonderful things we saw and learned about, so you will just have to drop by and visit the collections yourself!

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The Table’s Tale #Flashback Friday

This Flashback Friday post is about a table that Special Collections and University Archives received in 2008. The bulk of this Friday’s blog post is authored by Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist.

The table was received as a gift in 2008, and was thought to be part of the original furnishings of Morrill Hall.  However, once Archives staff started to do research on the names and other writings on the back side of the table top, it was apparent that it predated the opening of Morrill Hall in July of 1895.  It may have been in use as early as 1884.

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Here is information collected by Becky back in 2008:

Writings on the Back of the Table Top

Scattered across the table are a number of dates:

May 9 ____

May 14 ‘87

May 29 1889

November 10 89

84 (this is etched in—there is also an 84 on the inside edge of the table itself)

 

There are three tic tac toe games.

 

Also scattered are some names:

Orris Roberts—younger brother of longtime faculty member Maria Roberts, he was expelled in 1892 for joining a fraternity after they had been banned by President Beardshear.

Ch_____t______ Esq.  (The name looks as if it was rubbed out—it is smeared, rather than illegible.  The Esq. may not belong to this name)

Grace Axtell—appears in the 1896 Bomb as a class member, but did not graduate.

Rhoda Ryan

 

There are also 14 names grouped together:

Grace Axtell (again)

Daisee Robinson

Louise Hamilton

Loretta Hamilton

Cora Thompson

Ruth or Faith Thompson

Emma McCarthy

Grant Kirtrow or Kertrow

W.S. Dawson

E.E. Smith

R.B. Armstrong

C.S. Lincoln

_. W. Deaver or Driver

W.D. Mason

 

I could find no information for Rhoda Ryan, Ruth Thompson or _.W. Deaver.  Following is what I could find about the rest of these names:

 

Grace Axtell

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in the Ladies’ Course in 1893 and a Sophomore Special in 1894.  She was the daughter of Charles P. and Harriett Adelaide (Ada) Miller Axtell.  Her father was a partner in the firm of Ray & Axtell, a dry goods store on the west side of the square in Newton, Iowa.  Grace married Alfred Herschel (Fred) Munn on October 21, 1897.  Fred was a member of the class of 1894 but did not graduate.  His family owned (and still does) the Munn Lumber Company in Ames.  Their son, Hiram Axtell, was a member of the Class of 1922.

 

Daisee Robinson

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1893 and a sophomore in 1894. Like Grace Axtell, she was from Newton.  Her father, Ralph Robinson, was the editor of the Newton Journal.  Her mother’s maiden name was Fannie Hamilton.  Both parents were from Ohio.  According to her father’s obituary, Daisee’s husband was Mark Evans.

 

Louise Hamilton

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1891, a sophomore in 1894, and a junior in 1895 in the Ladies’ Course.  She appears as a member of the class of 1896 in the 1896 Bomb.  She is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 20, and in the Ames 1st Ward as a student, age 20.  She was the daughter of Charles and Tennetta Hamilton, with siblings Dora, Ethel, Loretta and Charles Jr.  Both parents were from New York.

She married William C. Boardman, September 29, 1897.

 

Loretta Hamilton

Loretta was Louise Hamilton’s sister.  We have no record of her as a student.  She is listed in the 1895 Census in Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 23 and in Ames 1st Ward as a bookkeeper, age 22.  She married Benton Davis, June 27, 1900.

 

Cora Thompson

Cora May Thompson is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward, occupation ?her (perhaps teacher), age 20.  Her parents were F.D. and Abbie Thompson, and siblings were Kate, Sylvia, Clayton, and Olive.  We have no record of her as a student.  She married Charles S. Lincoln (Class of 1894) on September 15, 1898.

 

Emma McCarthy

A member of the class of 1885, who did not graduate, Emma McCarthy was the daughter of Ames pioneer Daniel McCarthy and his wife Mary Ann Ross McCarthy.  In the 1894 yearbook (published 1893), she is listed as Iowa State’s assistant librarian.  She attended Iowa State for three semesters (1881-1882) then taught school in Story County for eight years.  She then spent two years at the Ames Post Office, joining the Iowa State staff in 1892.  She married Chaucer G. Lee (Class of 1894) on September 23, 1896.  Lee practiced law with Daniel McCarthy and was the judge of Iowa’s 11th District for eight years.  Emma’s name is very familiar in Ames, because her husband presented a park to the city bearing her name in 1949.

 

W.S. Dawson

He is listed as an Electrical Engineering sophomore in 1893 and a “Special” junior in 1894, but did not graduate.  He was from Nevada.

 

E.E. Smith

Edwin E. Smith was an 1893 graduate in Science.  He is listed in Iowa State College Graduates as being from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, and deceased.

 

R.B. Armstrong

Listed as a “special” from Polk City in the 1894 Catalog and the 1895 Bomb, he did not graduate.

 

C.S. Lincoln

An 1894 graduate, Charles S. Lincoln was the son of James Rush Lincoln, Iowa State’s head of Military Science, 1883-1919.  Charles Lincoln had a distinguished military career, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1894 and retiring as a Brigadier General in 1936.  He married Cora May Thompson (see above) on September 15, 1898.

 

W.D. Mason

Watson Mason is shown as a member of the Class of 1894 in the 1894 yearbook, but did not actually graduate until 1896.  His degree was in Mechanical Engineering, and he is noted as deceased in the 1912 engineering directory.  His hometown was Toledo, Iowa.

 

Some Explanations:

Until 1925, Iowa State’s yearbook The Bomb was published by the junior class and called by their class year.  Thus, the 1895 Bomb actually came out in 1894.  The last year this was done was 1924.  Then the yearbook staff was opened to all classes and the book was dated with the year it was actually published.  (This is also why there are two 1925 yearbooks).

The “Ladies’ Course” was a basic course of college study which included Domestic Economy.  For example, the first term of the sophomore year included Domestic Economy, German or Latin, History, One Essay, and the choice of two sciences from Botany, Horticulture, Physics or Trigonometry.  The degree received was the B.L. or Bachelor of Letters.

“Specials” were those taking special lines of study.  The 1894 Catalog describes these students as follows:

“Any person of mature age and good moral character, who desires to pursue studies in any department of instruction of the College, and who is not a candidate for a degree, will, upon application to the president, be admitted on the following conditions:  (1).  He must meet the requirements for admission to the freshman class, and pass such special examinations as the professor in charge of the department selected shall deem essential to a profitable pursuit of the work.  (2).  He shall confine his work strictly to the line of study chosen at the time of admission, and shall take enough class work, laboratory and other practice equivalent to work required of regularly classified students.  (3).  He shall submit to the same requirements in daily recitations and in examinations, with students in the regular courses.

Students who have pursued thus a special line of study in the Institution, will, upon application to the faculty, be granted the College Certificate, showing their standing in such studies.”


Collection highlight: L. H. (Lois Hattery) Tiffany Papers

Lois Hattery Tiffany was born on this day, March 8, in 1924, in Collins, Iowa. She received her B.S. (1945), M.S. (1947), and Ph.D. (1950) in plant pathology all from Iowa State College (University). She joined the Botany faculty at Iowa State as an Instructor (1950-1956). Tiffany was promoted to Assistant Professor (1956-1958), Associate Professor (1958- 1965), Professor (1965-1994), and Distinguished Professor (1994-2002). She also served as Chair (1990-1996) of the Botany Department. She retired from the department in 2002 and was named Emeritus Distinguished Professor.

Lois Tiffany (University Photographs box 1036)

Lois Tiffany (University Photographs box 1036)

Tiffany, informally known as “The Mushroom Lady,” taught mycology and botany classes at both Iowa State University and the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. Her research included studies of fungal diseases of native prairie plants in Iowa, a 10-year survey of Iowa’s morels, and a study of the fungus flora of Big Bend National Park in Texas. She also participated in the Midwestern mushroom aflatoxin studies of both corn and soybeans. Her continuing commitment to research led to the naming of an Iowa truffle in her honor. The fungus, named Mattirolomyces tiffanyae, was discovered in 1998 in several locations of Story County’s oak woods.

 

Tiffany also made great advancements for the place of women in the sciences despite the challenges of sexism in the early years of her career. She was the first woman president of the Iowa Academy of Science, the first woman president of the Osborn Club, and the first woman scientist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be awarded the title of Distinguished Professor.

Botanical specimen container used by Lois Tiffany (Artifact collection 2011-197.01)

Botanical specimen container used by Lois Tiffany (Artifact collection 2011-197.01)

Read more about Lois Tiffany in the Ecological Society of America’s recent blog post. We hold her papers here in the University Archives.


Cutting and pasting: alumni scrapbooks

A trip to your local craft store will tell you that scrapbooking is a popular American activity. But this is not just a recent phenomenon. In fact, scrapbooking has been popular for the last century or more, and this is made evident by the number of alumni scrapbooks we have here in the University Archives.

Scrapbooks provide a unique window into the history and culture of a time period. They save many of the things that would otherwise be lost to time, such as newspaper clippings, dance cards, theatre programs, and flyers. Early 20th century Iowa State College students, like many of their cohort around the country, kept scrapbooks to capture their experiences and memories of the fun times they spent outside of classes.

Pages from the Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81, showing dance cards and sports score charts, circa 1913-1919.

Pages from the Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81, showing dance cards and sports score charts, circa 1913-1919.

Scrapbooks also capture the larger historical and cultural environment in which the individuals lived out their lives, such as the scrapbook below from Mary (Graf) Speer, who attended Iowa State College in the 1940s. The first page of her scrapbook includes a newspaper front page headline proclaiming victory in Europe during World War II–obviously a huge concern to the students of the day, who had friends and family members fighting both in Europe and in the Pacific Theater.

From Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, 1945.

From Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, 1945.

Raymond T. Benson’s scrapbook from World War I documents the military activity on campus.

Page from Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Page from Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Scrapbooks also present unique challenges to archivists in terms of storage and preservation. Because scrapbooks often contain 3 dimensional objects, this can strain the binding, as with Raymond T. Benson’s Scrapbook below.

Cover of Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Cover of Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

While the photograph above shows a scrapbook placed in a box to protect it, other scrapbooks required more extensive housing treatments. Mary Graf Speer’s scrapbook came to the archives missing a cover, so spacers were placed inside the box to keep the individual pages together, while some material was removed to a separate folder.

Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, in box with spacers and separated material in folder.

Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, in box with spacers and separated material in folder.

Sometimes a scrapbook needs special treatment, not because it is in bad condition, but in order to keep it pristine. Lottie M. Rogers, who attended Iowa State College in 1901-1902, created a beautiful scrapbook. Library conservators created a special box to maintain it in its originally beautiful condition.

Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook, RS 21/7/149, circa 1901.

Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook, RS 21/7/149, circa 1901.

Box created to house the Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook.

Box created to house the Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook.

More alumni scrapbooks and other papers can be found in RS 21/7, Alumni and Former Students.


CyPix: moving up

It’s that time of year again! The time for donning caps and gowns if you are a senior, or if not, at least setting aside those textbooks and pencils for a nice …bonfire. A beanie bonfire, to be exact.

Photograph of a large freshman beanie replica burning in the bonfire during the Moving Up Ceremony, 1926. University Photograph Collection box 1702.

A large freshman beanie replica burns in the bonfire during the Moving Up Ceremony, 1926. University Photograph Collection box 1702.

From 1916 to 1934, freshmen at Iowa State College were required to wear “freshmen beanies” or “prep caps”  on campus. After suffering through a year of harassment that the caps brought upon them, freshman were quite happy to ditch them at the end of the year. Beginning in 1923, students held a mock-graduation, the Moving Up Ceremony, during VEISHEA celebrations, at which time seniors became alumni and everyone else moved up a grade. The freshmen burned their beanies in a roaring bonfire. By 1934, the caps were no longer worn and the moving up ceremony faded due to lack of interest.

We’re lucky to have a surviving beanie in the University Archives at ISU. It belonged to Robert W. Breckenridge. Robert saved his freshman beanie from 1918 instead of burning it, and it now resides in the archives.

Freshman beanie belonging to Robert W. Breckenridge, circa 1918. From University Archives Artifact Collection, 2002-189. It even has it's own fancy box and hat stand!

Freshman beanie belonging to Robert W. Breckenridge, from 1918. From University Archives Artifact Collection, 2002-189. It even has it’s own fancy box and hat stand!

More images of the Moving Up Ceremony can be found in the Student Life album on our Flickr page.

(Note: A correction was made to an earlier version of this post. The earlier version had misidentified a felt hat belonging to Iris Macumber (RS 21/7/228) as a freshman beanie. Oops! Freshmen beanies were required for men only. This hat shown above is a true example of the freshman beanie, and the photograph and information has been updated and corrected.)


CyPix: Stress Relief in the Artifacts

Here at Special Collections we have a wide array of materials. Although the bulk of our materials are older and still paper-based, we also have artifacts that came in with our manuscript collections or that form part of the history of Iowa State University.

computer-shaped stress releiver

One of several foam stress relievers we have in our artifacts collection. (Artifact# 2011-048)

Universities produce promotional items and Iowa State University is no exception. We have many types of promotional items created by the University over the years. This one is a computer-shaped foam stress reliever from 2011 inscribed with one of our points of pride: “Birthplace: Electronic Digital Computer.”

We don’t yet have a separate listing of the artifacts online, but artifacts are listed in our finding aids here and here where relevant. If you’d like help locating an artifact, please contact us (archives@iastate.edu) and we’ll see what we can find!

You can learn more about the first electronic digital computer (the “ABC”) in the John Vincent Atanasoff Papers (RS 13/20/51) and the Wallace C. Caldwell Papers (RS 11/6/55).