Visiting SCUA 101

This is the first in a new series of posts about visiting the Special Collections and University Archives written by someone who is fairly new to archives herself!  The first time (or the first few times) you research in a special collections or archives, it can be a bit intimidating.  There are special rules for handling and viewing materials.  There are methods for searching for materials that you might not have encountered before.  On top of that, handling the only copy in existence of a document that may be over 100 years old is enough to give anyone pause!

Fear not!  This blog series is designed to help you feel more comfortable in coming to visit our reading room and using our rare and archival materials.

The first topic to address is: why are there so many rules?

Rules Sheet

Folder marker with rules for using the reading room.

While every special collections will do things a little differently, there are suggested best practices that we adhere to.  The rules are not in place to scare researchers off.  Trust me, we really want you to use our materials, and we love seeing a full reading room!  The rules are in place to protect the materials and ensure they are available to researchers now and for generations to come!

As you can see, there are many rules, so I’ll only go into detail about a few.

  • We don’t allow food or beverages of any kind for a couple of reasons.  Most immediately, this eliminates the possibility of crumbs or spills on the materials.  Secondly, people might find a bag of chips too tempting to resist, but so do pests that may come for the chips, but stay to chew on important documents.
  • We ask you to use book supports for all bound volumes, which helps alleviate pressure on the spine.  This is important whether the book is new or old.  After all, someday that brand new book will be an old book.
BookCradle3

Demonstration of book cradle and weight use with class catalogue from 1904-05.

  • An important aspect of using the archives is preserving the original order of materials.  Because of this, there are several rules that are in place in order to preserve the order the files are in currently.  For example, bringing up the entire folder when you scan something helps ensure the item gets put back in the correct place (and helps prevent bending, creasing, or tearing of the item on the way to or from the scanner).

If you have questions about any of the other rules, we’re more than happy to answer them!  Stop by the reading room anytime between 9 and 5, Monday-Friday or email us at archives@iastate.edu.  Stay tuned to future posts for tips for finding materials using our website, help with materials handling quandaries, and other helpful information.

 


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Audiovisual Preservation

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month of November to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting! This is our fifth and last post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and this week I’m highlighting some recent actions we’ve taken to preserving our audiovisual collections, which includes our collections related to public broadcasting.

For our current initiatives, we’ve been focused on audiovisual preservation. Last spring, we hired Rosie Rowe, our Audiovisual Preservation Specialist. This is a new position, charged with providing guidance on our audiovisual preservation and access workflow.

AV digitization workstation 1

Video Preservation Rack (Courtesy of Brad Kuennen).

AV digitization workstation 2

Audio Preservation Rack (in process) (Courtesy of Brad Kuennen).

Through the acquisition of equipment from other campus units and purchasing other needed tools, Rosie has constructed a Video Preservation Rack. She has developed a digitization workflow and is currently training students to assist with some of that work. She is in the process of constructing an audio preservation workstation. Through her initiative and in collaboration with other department staff, she has developed an audiovisual access policy based on principles of best practices for preservation, identified priority collections for digitization, and improved intellectual control over collections. This work will greatly benefit our audiovisual collections so that they can be better preserved, managed, and shared.

This post was co-written by Rachel Seale, outreach archivist, & Brad Kuennen, university archivist.

 


Rare Book Highlights: Pop Up! The Technical Encyclopedia Edition

Henri Desarces. Nouvelle encyclopédie pratique de mécanique et d’éelectricité. 4 volumes. Paris: Librairie Aristide Quillet, 1924. (TJ163 .D47 1924)

Okay, so it is not technically a pop-up book. But as a non-scientist and non-engineer, I find myself drawn most to the illustrations in scientific works. Plates with moveable layers are just gravy. (Look below for videos!)

And yet, scientific illustrations are more than just pretty pictures. They communicate complex concepts both to other experts in a highly specialized field, and also sometimes to general audiences.

This newly-purchased encyclopedia is clearly speaking to experts, as you can see by examining a few pages from any volume:

Two pages show technical text in French along with several scientific and mathematical diagrams.

Opening in vol. 1 of Nouvelle encyclopedie.

This encyclopedia uses a number of different illustration techniques, including half-tones, blueprints, and chromolithographs.

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And finally, the 4th “Atlas” volume contains chromolithographic plates with several layers of overlays that are just seriously cool:

The Nouvelle ecyclopédie is a comprehensive guide to the state of mechanics and electricity (volume 3 is entirely devoted to electricity) post-World War I. It was compiled by Henri Desarces, an engineer at École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris. He first published the work under the title Grande encyclopédie practique de méchanique et d’electricité in 1913. For this second revised and updated edition, Desarces collaborated with many other French engineers who were specialists in various fields. The French publisher Quillet was a well-known publisher of illustrated and accurate technical encyclopedias.

This is a wonderful addition to our engineering books, and I am excited to share it with classes and researchers!

Here’s a bonus video:


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Iowa’s First Educational Television Station

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting! This is our fourth post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and this week we’re focusing on Iowa’s first educational television station, WOI-TV, to showcase the variety of public broadcasting programs we are preserving.

This photograph shows Exhibit Hall at Iowa State University in 1953. The signal tower is in the background. A sign on the door says: WOI-TV Studios. A women is walking to the door. Snow is on the ground.

Exhibit Hall. The signal tower is in the background. A sign on the door says: WOI-TV Studios. (University Photographs, RS 4/8/I).

WOI-TV first aired in central Iowa in February 1950. The station was owned and operated by Iowa State University (at the time known as Iowa State College) until it was sold to a private company in 1994. WOI-TV has the distinction of being the first commercial television station owned by a public institution of higher learning and it is thought to be the first television station in the nation dedicated to educational programming.

During the 1950s, WOI-TV developed a diverse schedule of local programming. It was one of the first television stations to broadcast college-level courses. It also developed children’s programming, including The Magic Window, which would become one of the longest-running programs in the history of television. WOI-TV provided viewers an opportunity to explore the state’s history through a series called Landmarks in Iowa History starring Herb Hake, a professor from the University of Northern Iowa. It brought the citizens of Iowa into some of Iowa’s state institutions, such as the prison system and the mental health facilities, in the award-winning series In Our Care. Viewers could learn from Iowa State faculty as they presented programs on entry-level German in Eins Zwei Drei or beginning chemistry in Chemistry 101. The station also broadcast programs on current affairs and, this being Iowa, on agriculture.

Black-and-white photograph of woman with ahir in updo, wearing dark dress, holding a puppet on her left hand (Betty Lou [McVay] Varnum) on the set of The Magic Window on WOI-TV in 1957. Betty Lou is standing next to a desk and there is another puppet on the desk.

Betty Lou (McVay) Varnum on the set of The Magic Window on WOI-TV, 1957 (University Photographs, RS 5/6).

One of the more successful early programs resulted from a $260,000 grant from the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education. The resulting project was a series of public affairs programs called The Whole Town’s Talking. The programs, directed by Charles Guggenheim, aired in 1952 and illustrated some of the challenges rural Iowa communities were facing, including school consolidation, juvenile delinquency, and paying for community infrastructure projects. The programs centered around town hall meetings featuring members of the community discussing possible solutions to their community’s needs.

WOI-TV also produced a number of programs sponsored by National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to PBS. These programs included some mentioned previously aimed at children and college-level instruction (The Magic Window, Eins Zwei Drei), but also other programs focused on international affairs, history, and literature. The Long Voyage brought classical literature to the small screen, Heritage of the Land discussed U.S. land usage and the environment, and Of Men and Ideas dealt with topics of a more abstract nature such as imagination, ethics, and governance.

By 1960, WOI-TV became the ABC affiliate of central Iowa and educational programming became less of a priority. Fortunately, many of these earlier programs survived on 16mm film and were eventually transferred to the ISU Library Special Collections and University Archives. Some of these programs have been digitized and made available online through the department’s YouTube channel. It’s interesting to look back and see how television has changed since those early shows were produced.

 


A Brief History of International Students at ISU

The mission of Iowa State University is to “Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.” In support of this mission, the University offers numerous opportunities for students and faculty to explore and share with the world, but it is hardly a one-way street. People come to Iowa State from all parts of the world to share their experiences and to gain a quality education. It really is remarkable how a small agricultural college established in the 1850s in the middle of Iowa has, over the course of over 150 years, built such a strong international reputation. This reputation has been drawing international students to Iowa State for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, documenting international students and their campus experiences is not an easy task.

Page from the 1906 Bomb with the title, "Our Friends from Foreign Lands"

The 1906 Bomb was one of the first to recognize international students at Iowa State. (The Bomb, LD2548 Io9b)

There are very few sources available to a researcher looking for information on early students at Iowa State, regardless of their country of origin. The first students arrived on campus in 1868, but it would be another 25 years before a yearbook (The Bomb) was published. Student directories were not available either, the earliest available being from 1901. For years prior to that, the college biennial reports and the course catalogs are the best sources for information on individual students. The biennial reports include lists of students for the very earliest years and then, by the 1880s, this information was shifted to the course catalogs. It is helpful that the listings often include the names of the students’ hometowns.

Based on these sources, the earliest evidence of an international student enrolling at Iowa State was in 1882 when F. Nouman of Piramaribo, South America, (this is how the hometown was listed) was enrolled for one year as a “special student,” likely meaning that he was not enrolled in the standard curriculum. In 1898 and 1899 there were several Canadian students who received degrees, though it is curious why a handful of them all appeared on campus at the same time with several of them receiving veterinary degrees. In 1902, two young men from Leon, Mexico, enrolled in the agriculture program, but neither appears to have finished their degrees.

Two interior pages from the 1901 student directory

This page from the 1901 student directory, the earliest one available, gives an idea of the type of information that can be gathered from these resources–provided the abbreviations can be deciphered! (Students’ Directory, LD2538 I58x)

The first international students outside of North America to receive degrees from Iowa State both earned them in 1907. Delfin Sanchez de Bustamante from Argentina received an advanced degree in agronomy and Alfred E. Parr of England graduated with an advanced degree in animal husbandry. We know nothing of what happened to Bustamante following his graduation, but from correspondence in an alumni file we know that after graduating from Iowa State, Parr went on to become the Director of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in British India.

That same year, Iowa State students began organizing a campus chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club. Officially established on campus in 1908, the purpose of the club, as stated in its constitution, was to encourage friendship, respect, and understanding among men and women of all nationalities. The Cosmopolitan Club attracted students from all backgrounds, but became a home for international students especially.

Please stop by Special Collections and University Archives to view these materials for yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find references to early international students that I missed! If you have materials you would like to donate to the Special Collections and University Archives to help us continue to tell the story of student life on the Iowa State University campus, please contact us. We would be happy to hear from you!


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Educational Television

NET_3_FX

National Educational Television presents The Magic Window program, 1956 [ISU Special Collections and University Archives, WOI-TV]

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary! We’re posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting. This is our third post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, and this week we are highlighting the longest-running, locally produced children’s educational television program ever made in America: The Magic Window.

 

NET_4_FX

Intro title of The Magic Window, 1954 [ISU Special Collections and University Archives, WOI-TV]

“The Magic Window, which for forty years was hosted by a woman named Betty Lou Varnum. In every episode, Betty Lou would introduce a craft-making segment by announcing the materials needed. These were always kid-safe items that could be found around the house. But the kids had to find everything fast, really fast or Betty Lou would go on without them.” –The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow (Gotham, 2010)

Magic Window 2 FX

Frame still from The Magic Window, 1956 [ISU Special Collections and University Archives, WOI-TV]

Betty Lou Varnum was a TV personality at WOI-TV in central Iowa. She began her career in 1954 as host of a program for children, “The Magic Window.” She also hosted other WOI-TV programs “Dimension 5,” “Status 6,” and “Stringer’s Newscast.” Varnum was an announcer for a number of televised VEISHEA parades at Iowa State University and Iowa State Fair parades in Des Moines, Iowa. She retired from WOI-TV in 1994.

Betty Lou FX

Betty Lou Varnum, host of The Magic Window, 1955 [ISU Special Collections and University Archives, WOI-TV]


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Radio Broadcasting

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting! This is our second post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and this week I’m highlighting some finding aids for our collections related to noted local and regional radio broadcasters.

John D. “Jack Shelley Papers, RS 13/13/55

Jack Shelley, 1965 (University Photographs RS 13/13/55).

John D. “Jack” Shelley was born in Boone, Iowa on March 8, 1912. He graduated from Boone High School (1929), and earned a Bachelor of Journalism Degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia (1935). After a short stay with the Iowa Herald in Clinton, Iowa, Shelley went to work for WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa. He was assistant news director for five years, then became news director for both radio and television until he left in 1965. Shelley was a war correspondent in Europe and the Pacific covering World War II. He interviewed hundreds of combat soldiers in both theaters. Shelley recorded one of the first broadcast interviews with crew members of the airplanes that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. He was aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay to cover the Allies’ acceptance of the unconditional Japanese surrender, and was one of twenty reporters chosen to cover the atomic bomb tests at Yucca Flats, Nevada (1953). The tape recorder Shelley took along to record the event was one of the few to withstand the shock of the blast.

In 1965, Mr. Shelley joined Iowa State University as an Associate Professor of Journalism, then served as Professor until his retirement in 1982. Iowa State University honored him for his academic contributions with an Outstanding Teacher Award and a Faculty Citation from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Jack Shelley helped found the Iowa Broadcast News Association, an organization that honored him by establishing the Jack Shelley Award in 1971. He is a past president of the International Radio-Television News Directors Association, which he helped found, and of the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He was president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council (1981) and a member of a committee appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court to advise it on the use of cameras and tape recorders in court trials. He received the Broadcaster of the Year Award (1980) from the Iowa Broadcasters Association.

Herbert Plambeck Papers, RS 21/7/42

Herb Plambeck, (University Photographs RS 21/7/42).

Herbert Plambeck was born February 29, 1908 and raised in Scott County, Iowa. He graduated from Iowa State University with a major in agriculture (1936). He began his professional career as a USDA College (University) County Extension employee, but in 1935 he became Farm Editor for the Davenport (Iowa) Times Democrat. In 1936, he was named Farm Director for WHO-Radio in Des Moines, a position he held until 1970.  Plambeck was then appointed assistant to the U.S. Secretary for Agriculture where he focused on public affairs. Plambeck was a member of the U.S. Agricultural Delegation to the Soviet Union in 1955, where he made the first farm broadcast report from Russia. He repeated this feat when he delivered the first farm broadcast from China in 1976.

John C. Baker Papers, MS 546

John C. Baker was born in 1909 in Brazil, Indiana. He received his B.S. (1930) in agriculture from Purdue University. He began farm broadcasting at the Purdue radio station WBAA from 1930-1931. He also worked stints in farm broadcasting in Massachusetts, Chicago, and in the radio service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he participated in the National Farm and Home Hour on NBC and The American Farmer on ABC. In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as an information officer in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Census Bureau. He published Farm Broadcasting: The First Sixty Years with Iowa State University Press in 1981.


A conversation of books and prints

Amy N. Worthen: The World in Perspective, August 22 – December 17, 2017, Brunnier Art Museum, 295 Scheman Building, Iowa State University

Is there a book you’ve had a conversation with over the course of your life? Has its meaning changed each time you return to it? Has it influenced your own work?

Here is an opportunity to see such a conversation play out in the works of an artist.

Amy N. Worthen: The World in Perspective. Prints and Drawings

Introduction label to “Amy N. Worthen: The World in Perspective” at Brunnier Art Museum.

About a year ago, I was contacted by Adrienne Gennett, Assistant Curator of Collections and Education at Iowa State University Museums, about the possibility of Special Collections and University Archives loaning some early printed books for an exhibition featuring a locally-based printmaker to help illustrate the history of printmaking. I had never been involved in an exhibition loan, but I was excited by the idea of our collections reaching an audience outside the library’s walls. As I met first with Adrienne, and joined later by the artist, Amy Worthen, the ideas for the book portion of the exhibit began to take shape.

Amy Worthen sent me a list of books with prints that had been influential to her–both as an art historian and as an artist. Since she lives for part of the year in Venice, Italy, she also listed some of our early books printed in Venice.

As Amy and Adrienne paged through books here in Special Collections, I got a peak behind the curtain, listening to their curatorial conversations as they determined the interplay of historical to contemporary prints.

Two books open for display in a glass museum case.

Two volumes from Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedie (call number AE25 .En185): the entry on Gravure (engraving) and a corresponding illustration from the plates volume.

After the final selections were made, other library staff contributed to getting the books ready for their exhibition debut. The library’s conservator, Sonya Barron, reviewed the items to identify any needed repairs. Preservation department staff member Jim Wilcox built the cradles to support the books. Finally, the books were ready for packing up and installation, completed by Sonya in collaboration with Museums curator Adrienne.

When I visited the exhibit, it was satisfying to see the final results. As Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist, I was delighted to see some familiar faces in a new setting, and viewing the results of Amy Worthen’s “conversations” with the early prints was illuminating.

One of the first cases you see when you enter the room lays the foundation for the exhibit. Two volumes are displayed side-by-side in a case. One is entirely text–the entry from Denis Diderot’s French Enlightenment Encyclopédie on “Gravure,” or engraving. To its right is one of the encyclopedia’s plates volumes, opened to an illustration of engraving tools. When you turn to your left, you see a corresponding case of engraving tools and a copper plate, etched with fine lines by the artist. Hanging above it on the wall is Worthen’s framed artist’s proof of Strumenti d’ Incisione (Engraving Tools), 1995, a true counterpart to the Encyclopédie‘s illustration–she created it to illustrate her entry on printmaking for the Grove Dictionary of Art.

Another example of Amy Worthen’s prints in conversation with earlier pieces can be seen in the pairing of a print from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Le antichità romane (1756) (call number NA1120 .P664a), with the artist’s Catacomb. The accompanying label reads, “When she was in college Worthen first saw original Piranesi etchings. She was greatly inspired by his approach to architecture – part documentation, part exaggeration, and part fantasy.” Both of the prints feature Roman catacombs, or underground burial sites.

Some of my favorite pieces in the exhibition are those with elements of whimsy and humor, such as The Department of Agriculture, depicting a cow seated at a desk inside the State Capitol building addressing a group of animals including 2 pigs and a litter of piglets, a rooster, and a big-horn sheep. I laughed out loud when I saw Worthen’s Self-Portrait as a Pineapple:

Print of black lines on yellow showing a pineapple form with a face underneath the leaves.

Self-Portrait as a Pineapple, 1970
Amy N. Worthen (American, b.1946)
Un-numbered
12 1/4 x 9 1/8 in. (31 x 23.2 cm)
Loaned by the artist

This is only a sneak peek at the exhibit. You’ll want to visit in person to see the eight books from Special Collections and more than one hundred prints, sketchbooks, and printing plates.

You still have time to stop by and see Amy N. Worthen: The World in Perspective. It is on exhibit through December 17, 2017, at Brunnier Art Museum in 295 Scheman Building.


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: WOI Radio and Television Records

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) will be joining the American Archive of Public Broadcasting‘s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting!

This week’s post will highlight our WOI Radio and Television Records (RS 5/6/3).

WOI-AM went on the air on April 28, 1922, with regular market news broadcasts. During the next 25 years, the scope of station programming expanded to encompass all areas of Iowa State‘s activities including agricultural programming, programs for homemakers, lectures, forums, and classical music. On July 1, 1949, WOI-FM became one of the first FM stations in Iowa when it started broadcasting. In 2004, WOI Radio became part of Iowa Public Radio.

Iowa State’s WOI radio room, circa 1920s (University Photographs RS 5/6).

WOI-TV went on the air in February 1950 and for several years was the first station in central Iowa to offer a regular schedule of programming. It was the first television station owned and operated by an institution of higher learning and was noteworthy for its early experiments in Kinescope recording techniques. WOI-TV was sold to Capital Communications Company, Inc. in 1994.

Photograph of Barbara McWhorter, the VEISHEA Queen of Queens for 1951, on WOI-TV (University Photographs RS 22/12).

This collection contains correspondence, news clippings, reports, brochures and other publications, and minutes from WOI Board meetings. The records also include information on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing and the tax cases in which WOI was involved. In addition, the records include scripts and other documents for various WOI Radio and Television programs, such as “The Prairie Valley Intelligencer” and “The Homemaker’s Half-Hour.” There are also audience surveys, Nielson Ratings showing the station in comparison to other area stations, and programming schedules.