Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Iowa State

RS 7/5/1, box 1, folder 9

Program for “Beyond the Dream,” Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Celebration at Iowa State University, 1989. (RS 7/5/1, box 1, folder 9)

Special Collections is closed today as the University participates in the national recognition of the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King. The holiday, celebrated the third Monday in January, is officially called “Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.” as the original proposal was to have the celebration on Dr. King’s January 15th birthday.

Signed into law in 1983, the federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986. The State of Iowa joined 43 others in celebrating the holiday in 1989. At Iowa State University, the celebration is planned and managed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee. Special Collections has records of the committee in our web archives here and here.

Iowa State University was lucky enough to be one of the universities Dr. King visited in the 1960s.  He spoke on campus January 22, 1960. His speech, “The Moral Challenges of a New Age” was excerpted in the program for the ISU celebration of 2008:

All I am saying is simply this: All life is interrelated, whatever affects one individual, whatever affects one nation directly affects other individuals and other nations indirectly. We are all tied in a single garment of destiny, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, and therefore, we must live together. So long as there is poverty in the world no individual can truly be rich, even if he has a billion dollars. So long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live more than 28 or 30 years, no man can be totally healthy, even if he has just got a checkup from the Mayo Clinic. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought until you are what you ought to be. This is the way life is made, this is the way the universe is made.”

The full text of this speech is available in RS 22/08/00/01, box 2, folder 1.


Perry Holden in the Field

As the corn crops continue to grow here in Iowa, we decided it would be a good time to do a little “detasseling” of the new digital Extension collection and offer you a teaser! The photo below is one of the most popular and often requested images in the collection. It features Perry G. Holden and a companion perusing a young corn crop.


Holden was a leading name in agricultural education during the early 1900s. He established the Corn Train, and played a major role in the first short courses as an educator and administrator. His work with corn ultimately improved Iowa’s corn crops dramatically, and have greatly influenced how the crops are tended today. For more information on the Extension Service and P. G. Holden, visit the collections page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection.


Reflections on ISU Extension – New Collection!

It’s my last day as the Silos & Smokestacks intern in the ISU Special Collections! The collection has really come together. Everything is being finalized and all of the pieces I have been working and collaborating on in the past ten weeks are coming together to form a cohesive concept.

This new collection is currently comprised of 57 items. There are several reports, letters, addresses, and photographs, as well as a video. Everything is arranged by subject, but there is also a document guide that can assist in navigating the collection for those that would like a condensed experience. It features 18 highlights that outline the fundamental aspects of the early Extension Service and its impact on Iowa. One of my favorite parts is the timeline. It is in the shape of an ear of corn, and the important dates and events are presented as kernels on the ear. Hovering over each dated kernel will reveal a pop-up box of information about each date.

There are also a few items within the collection that stand out for me. The first is an advertisement from the Boys’ Working Reserve. It would have circulated during the First World War, and was aimed primarily at those who were too young to join the armed forces, but old enough to travel to work. The advertisement is still in very good condition given its age, and the historical context is really quite interesting as it pertains to both World War I and the Extension Service.

Another favorite of mine is the Diary of the Seed Corn Train. It serves as a practical record for the Corn Train – where it stopped and who lectured – but it also introduces an element of humor into the collection. Many of the entries include remarks on the crowds or notable events that stuck out to the instructors as they traveled. In reading through the entries, one gets a keen sense of the personalities of the instructors and how they interacted with each other. As these people and events are referred to in other documents, those remarks introduce that much more dimension to the overall experience.

I think this will be a great addition to the digital collections already available, and there is plenty of potential for it to be expanded in the future. Until then, have fun investigating the Digital Collections home page and the Reflections on ISU Extension collection!

An Update from the Silos & Smokestacks Intern

The Silos & Smokestacks Extension project is progressing well – it’s really starting to take shape now. Most of the final selections have been made for the collection, and the materials were recently digitized and formatted for the digital exhibit. I even got to do the preservation treatments, which was even more fun than I’d hoped it would be. Digging through boxes and finding the highlights has been an engaging process, but I’m also excited to see it start to come together as a tangible item.

The collection will be composed of various reports, photographs, personal reflections, and a large handful of rather unique items. I wanted to be able to capture the early Extension work from several perspectives – the farmers’ and administration specifically. One of my favorites is a set of notes, handwritten by Ralph K. Bliss for several of the short courses he led. His specialties included the care of livestock (swine, cattle, sheep, and horses), as well as the proper judgment of these animals when presented in show. Farmers in these short courses would have looked to this content and instruction for guidance, whether they had a desire to learn which grains were best to feed the horses or the characteristics that determined the best animal in a group.

The notes outline the courses as Bliss would have taught them, but they also provide insight to the time period and the work that was being done by the College. Information that is now common knowledge (or at least easily Googled) would not have been at the time. The notes not only show a stage in the evolution of agricultural progress, but they also serve as a reminder that the wide dispersal of information used to be even more of a luxury than it is now.

I hope this snippet of insight has generated some excitement! Another update will be coming soon.

Hillary H.

Greetings from a recent addition!

Salutations blog-readers!

I’m Hillary H., the new Silos and Smokestacks intern working in the ISU Special Collections. I’m here for the summer from the School of Library and Information Science at UNC-Chapel Hill where I’m working on my MS in Library Science (concentration in  Archives and Records Management). I’ve worked with rare books previously, and have several years experience in the used book business.

In my work here, I’ll be putting together an online collection about the early Extension work in Iowa. It will have a special emphasis on the agricultural work done by the Extension Service and the impact it had on the lives of Iowa’s farmers.

Lots of progress has been made already. Thus far I’ve gone through nearly one hundred folders of material, and not only have I found dozens of pieces that have potential to make it into the digital collection, I have also found several references I never anticipated seeing anywhere outside of my hometown. For instance, Walter Hines Page was a name I’d only ever seen in relation to my high school (it’s named after him), but I recently found a few comments about Page and comments about one of the national committees he had served on. It is definitely not what I had expected to find in Iowa, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

In addition to the aforementioned findings, there has already been some preliminary designing of the website, and conservation work is set to begin in the next day or so.

Expect another update from me soon!

Hillary H.


In 1872, when the Board of Trustees of Iowa State College (University) decided to create a Department of Domestic Economy, there was no precedent for how to begin such a curriculum. No other land grant institution was teaching in this field, and there were no textbooks. Mary Beaumont Welch, wife of the first ISC president, Adonijah S. Welch, was suggested to head up the department.

“With fear and trembling I finally decided to try,” Mary Welch later reminisced in an essay on “The Early Days of Domestic Science at I.S.C.” for The Alumnus for June 1912, “after telling the committee frankly that I was without experience in that sort of teaching, that there were no established precedents to guide me and no classified courses for me to follow.”

Portrait of Mary Beaumont Welch, wife of Iowa State College President Adonijah Welch. Undated photograph circa early 1900s.

Mary Beaumont Welch, wife of Iowa State College (University) President Adonijah Welch, undated.

In spite of her professed fear, Welch dove in to the task and forged a way ahead. Before she began teaching classes, she took a course at Juliet Corson’s School of Cookery in New York, and later on, she traveled to London to attend the South Kensington School of Cookery, from which she received a certificate.

The London school was established to train young women to go into domestic service for the English upper classes. Welch remembered:

“It was incomprehensible to the English mind that a women, apparently a lady, whose husband was, as my letters of introduction proved, at the head of an important institution of learning, should be anxious either to learn or to teach cooking. The question was often asked me what family I was engaged to work for when I received my certificate.”

On April 2, 1920, Welch answered a note from Elizabeth Storms, then a junior in Home Economics and Agriculture at Iowa State College, asking about “the early days of the Home Economics Department.” In her reply, she writes, “There was very little method of formality in my manner of conducting those early classes. My lectures were intimate talks on the ways and means I had found useful in my own home. …One thing we did to make our work practical was to cook a dinner for a table of eight in the College Dining Room, three days in each week. We were given the same materials from the kitchen that were used for all the tables, but allowed to cook and serve them as we pleased, and I can assure you each table awaited its turn for our dinner with eagerness.”

Welch wrote some of her lectures on domestic economy in a notebook. These lectures covered subjects such as ironing, management of domestic help, cooking, and household accounts. Her no-nonsense approach is apparent in this passage from one lecture: “Avoid primness in your surroundings. Be orderly and neat, but be sensible at the same time. There is nothing more disagreeable than a housekeeper who follows husband, children, and guests about with a broom and dustpan or a floor cloth.”

In 1884, she published a cookbook called Mrs. Welch’s Cookbook, which can be viewed in the Digital Collections.

Not only did Welch teach the basics of home management to ISC students, but she also lectured to women’s groups around the state. Around 1882-1883, she gave six lectures to a group of 60 women in Des Moines, in this way embarking on the first Extension activity in the area of home economics.

Wlech resigned from ISC in 1883 but continued to lecture to various women’s groups. In 1992, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

Find out more from the Mary Beaumont Welch Papers in Special Collections.

“Intimate talks” on home management: Mary Beaumont Welch on establishing ISC’s Department of Domestic Economy

150 years of Professor Anson Marston

May 31, 2014, marks the 150th anniversary of legendary engineering professor and department head Anson Marston’s birth. On campus, Marston still looms large – the original Engineering Hall was renamed Marston Hall in his honor in 1947 and Marston Water Tower bears his name. Ames has also recognized this distinguished professor with Marston Avenue.

Anson Marston, 1925

Anson Marston in 1925

Marston is renowned locally for good reason; he was the first Dean of the Division of Engineering and also spent twenty-five years as Professor and Head of the Department of Civil Engineering. He designed the water tower that bears his name, along with the sewage disposal system for the campus. He initiated the construction of the engineering building that now bears his name. He supervised the construction of the Campanile and the restoration of Lake LaVerne in the 1930s, both beloved icons of the Iowa State campus even today. Christian Petersen designed the Anson Marston Medal, which annually recognizes an ISU alumnus for achievements in the field of engineering. You can see digital images of the coin via our Digital Collections site.

We recently mentioned Marston in a post about the 100th anniversary of the Iowa Department of Transportation. If you will recall, Marston established the early version of this group, the Iowa State Highway Commission. But Marston’s contributions were not to Ames and Iowa alone. He consulted on engineering projects from California to Florida, from Chicago, IL, to the Panama Canal.

In addition to providing information about his professional work, the Anson Marston Papers (RS 11/1/11) gives us insight into the man who accomplished these feats – his values and his life outside of Iowa State. In a 1938 remembrance of President Beardshear, Marston recounted the values he prized in Beardshear:

[A] first impression of strength was deepened by acquaintance with the man. Dr. Beardshear possessed in eminent degree that most essential qualification of a great college president, the ability to inspire young men…What he insisted upon was the great essential that every student should be an honestest gentlemen or lady, and many a one owes all he has become in life to one of [Beardshear’s] vigorous, searching, heart to heart talks… – “President Beardshear and the College,” 1938

This compliment to the man who hired him provides insight into Marston’s personal leadership ideals.

Even more information about Marston as a man away from the college is gleaned from family correspondence included in his collection. Dr. Marston was an engineering giant, but he was also a son and brother. “Dear Bro,” his brother Charles writes in 1906. “I can raise half of Mother’s [mortgage payment] if you send raise the other half.” Then, as now, the siblings were working together to care for their elderly parents. The letter goes on to discuss possible bull and stallion purchases that Charles is considering.

Letters from Mrs. Marston, his mother, are also familiar in their parent-child discussions. A January 1906 letter from Mrs. Marston details recent severe weather in her home in Winnebago, Illinois, and the observation that “according to the paper, you must have had a greater amount of snow…there was more rain and sleet here.” I think I had this conversation with my parents at least a few times this winter, 112 years later. A few more letters from wife Alice and to his sister Mary are included in the collection as well.

Marston Water Tower Construction, 1897

Marston Water Tower being constructed in 1897 using Marston’s design

For more insight into Marston’s many contributions to the field of engineering, his leadership at Iowa State, or his life during the first half of the 20th century, take a look at the finding aid for the Anson Marston Papers. Let us know if you have any questions or come by to explore the work of Dr. Marston in person.

Meet the Digital Repository @ Iowa State University

When you hear the phrase “digital repository,” what springs to mind? A few years ago, before I earned my master’s in Library Science and Archives Management, my mental image was a scramble of files and databases and question marks (“repository????”). Thankfully, my knowledge has since improved.

Iowa State University’s own Digital Repository @ Iowa State University is celebrating its second birthday this month and is nearing 1.4 million downloads from the site. As the semester winds down and theses are published, it’s a good time to talk about what the Digital Repository (DR) is and how it serves the Iowa State community.

In a nutshell, the DR provides a home for free public access to scholarship created by Iowa State students, faculty, and staff. Visit the repository and see for yourself: many articles written by our community members are available for download in a single click.


Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, in sunburst form

The kinds of scholarly materials that can be uploaded to the repository cover a broad spectrum. Popular types include journal articles and manuscripts; theses and dissertations; conference proceedings, presentations and posters; extension and outreach publications; patents; and audio recordings. The Digital Repository Coordinator, Harrison W. Inefuku, is always looking to help, though, so if you have an alternative not listed above, he’s happy to talk with you about uploading scholarly output from ISU to the DR.

While the Digital Repository is not a part of the Special Collections Department – it is part of the University Library as a whole and can be found via our main web page – we find ourselves working with and thinking about the repository often. As the record-keeper for collections from professors and alumni, University Archives houses lots of academic papers and publications created by Iowa State departments, faculty, staff, and students. In addition to the obvious, such as master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, we collect publications and papers that document individual departments’ histories, the campus’s architectural evolution, short-lived student publications, and social events and societies.

Lest you think the DR @ ISU is the only place to find digital records from the University online, next time we will talk about the University Library Digital Collections. If you are too excited to wait, check out blog posts related to Digital Collections at ISU Preservation Department’s blog!

In the same way that Wikipedia sometimes acts like quicksand, I can get lost while exploring the DR website. Some of my favorite ways to interact with its contents include:

  • A sunburst (also pictured above) showcasing the Digital Repository’s contents by discipline and subject. I checked out some Home Economics resources regarding canning recently in preparation for summer’s bounty.
  • A map that shows what papers are being downloaded and where. Recently, someone in Kiev was downloading a thesis regarding European bark beetles.
  • Lists of the most popular papers and most recent additions to the repository.

Harrison has also created a number of resources that go into more detail about how the repository can help students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University community. If you are curious about how the repository works, who does that work here at ISU, and how important issues such as copyright are handled, see these online documents regarding outreach.

Harrison enjoys meeting with people to discuss the repository’s value and uses, too, so if you’re still curious, contact him – and tell him that Special Collections sent you.

George Washington Carver: Celebrating His 150th Birthday

Graduation image

Born a slave, George Washington Carver received two degrees from Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University), and gained an international reputation during his career at Tuskegee University. Although the exact date of Carver’s birth is unknown, he was born around the year 1864 and many are celebrating this year as the 150th anniversary of his birth.

As an agricultural scientist, Carver’s research resulted in the creation of 325 products from a variety of food items such as peanuts, sweet potatoes, and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land.

The George Washington Carver Collection in the University Archives holds information on his life and work. In addition, Digital Collections at the Iowa State University Library maintains a digital collection which includes a selection of materials from the University Archives documenting his time here at Iowa State (primarily images) and his correspondence with Iowa State colleagues after he was at Tuskegee: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/preserv/cdm/gwcarver.html. The majority of correspondence is to Carver’s mentor, Dr. Louis Pammel, on a variety of scientific topics.

Only a portion of the George Washington Carver collection housed in the Special Collections Department is represented in the digital collection. The finding aid for the complete list of Carver materials available through Special Collections can be found here: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/arch/rgrp/21-7-2.html.

Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be hosting a George Washington Carver Life and Legacy Symposium on April 23, 2014 which will focus on encouraging future “George Washington Carver” students at Iowa State. The Special Collections Department will be participating in the Symposium, creating a booth which will highlight a selection of the diverse students who followed in Carver’s footsteps here at Iowa State. For more information about the Symposium, see http://www.diversity.cals.iastate.edu/george-washington-carver-life-and-legacy-symposium-april-23-2014.

Call for Applications: Summer Digitization Project Internship – Silos & Smokestacks Agricultural Heritage Intern

Through a generous grant from the Silos & Smokestacks Agricultural Heritage Internship Grant Program, the Special Collections and Preservation Departments of the Iowa State University Library are offering a summer internship. The Silos & Smokestacks Agricultural Heritage Internship is a full-time, 10-week project position to develop a digital collection on Iowa State’s early Extension movement and create content for an interpretive website.  We will be accepting applications through Friday, April 18th.  For more information, please visit our website: