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.

lib.dr.iastate.edu

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:

http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/about/news_items/internship.html


CyPix: Spring Fashions

March is here, and so are spring clothing lines!

As Apparel, Merchandising, and Design majors get ready for The Fashion Show next month, let’s take a look at an earlier ISU fashion moment.

Three women students ca. 1940 work in a Textiles and Clothing classroom decorated by bulletin boards showing current fashions. Two are working with a striped fabric and a small manequin or dress form: one is draping and the other appears to be cutting. The third is working with a pencil on a small drawing board.

Three women students work in a Textiles and Clothing classroom circa 1940. RS 12/10.

Here are three students in a 1940s Textiles and Clothing classroom working on a dress design. Two students drape and cut fabric on a small mannequin, while a third works at a drawing board.

Textiles and Clothing has a long history at ISU. Sewing classes were first introduced in 1879 as part of the Domestic Economy curriculum. In 1924, the Department of Textiles and Clothing was established. In 2001, the department was combined with the departments of Family and Consumer Science Education and Studies, and Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management to form the Department of Apparel, Education Studies, and Hospitality Management. The Fashion Show grew out of the annual style show presented by the Textiles and Clothing Club during VEISHEA.

We have a number of resources for the (historical) fashionista! More photographs of Textiles and Clothing students can be found in the photo set on our Flickr page. We have many collections related to the Department of Textiles and Clothing (RS 12/10) in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Also, check out the finding aid for the Textiles and Clothing Fashion Show Records (RS 29/2/4). And be sure to take a look at the fascinating Fashion Plates Digital Collection.


Women’s History Month: Mary Newbury Adams letters

In celebration of Women’s History Month, today we’re highlighting a newly digitized collection of correspondence: a selection of Mary Newbury Adams letters from the Adams Family Papers found on our Digital Collections website.

Portrait of Mary Newbury Adams

Mary Newbury Adams.

Mary Newbury Adams was born in Peru, Indiana, in 1837 to Samuel and Mary Ann (Sergeant) Newbury. Her father strongly believed that both men and women should be educated, and so she attended Mrs. Willard’s Female Seminary in Troy, New York, where she graduated in 1857. A few months later, she married Austin Adams, a young lawyer who had graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard. They moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he eventually became a judge and was later elected to the Iowa Supreme Court and became chief justice there. The Adams had four children, Annabel (b. 1858), Eugene (b. 1861), Herbert (b. 1863), and Cecilia (b. 1865).

In an early letter, dated February 21, 1857, Mary writes from school to her fiancé Austin (“My dear one”). She suggests that his cousin might come to call on her while she is spending a Sunday with her aunt in Lansingburgh, New York, the following month. “I should be happy to see him,” she writes, adding with maidenly modesty that disappears in later letters, “although I should feel rather embarrassed I fear.”

Mary Newbury Adams was an avid student of science, history, philosophy, and poetry. In a letter to her sister Frances, she explains that she has been studying earlier that day about the formation of minerals. “I have little time to go to the library now,” she writes, “but I manage to keep one or two subjects on hand to think about – just to hang my thoughts on.” She adds, “I never was so driven in household matters” (November 9, 1869).

She established the Conversational Club of Dubuque in 1868 to promote access to education and ideas among women. Club meetings were held in the homes of members, and the topics discussed included education, local progress, political science and economy, mental and moral philosophy, the fine arts, political revolutions, belles lettres, ecclesiastical history, natural philosophy, and physical sciences.

Reflecting on the importance of the clubs to women’s lives, she writes to her sister, “Our literary clubs are getting along finely and their beneficial effects are already evident in society. When women have clubs for study then they will not be driven for amusement to make society a business. Any amusement made an occupation becomes dissipation. All dissipation ends in disease. No wonder our American women are so weak” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, March 18, 1869).

In another letter, however, she attributes women’s weakness to a very different cause: the stress that comes from a very active life. Many women today can relate to Mary’s frustrations!

“I am not very well and then am driven by outside work – our literary club’s preparation for the opening of the Institute of Sciences and Arts. One doesn’t want to go and examine minerals when they know nothing of them[,] nor rocks when one can’t tell the difference between stratified and igneous rocks. Then the papers pile in and one keeps reading and taking notes & making scrapbooks so not to lose it before it is gone[.] Then the sewing, calls, church and one’s own body to care for. It’s no wonder American women are weak. They try to live ten lives in one and vote besides.” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, April 26, 1868)

In 1866, Mrs. Adams became interested in women’s suffrage and did much to promote it through writing and speaking. She was a member of the Association for Advancement of Women, the American Historical Association, vice chairperson of Women’s Branch of the World’s Congress Auxiliary of the Colombian Exposition, and numerous literary societies. She was a founding member of the Northern Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.

Mary Newbury Adams, surrounded by seven grandchildren.

Mary Newbury Adams with grandchildren, circa 1898. Caption reads: [top row] Emily Goan, Adelaide Goan, Olive Adams, [bottom row] Percival Goan, Adele Adams (on lap), Harlow Adams.

She wrote a letter home to her children on October 27, 1898, from the National Council of Women meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, describing her busy schedule, meeting with many people, old friends and new. She writes of her “level headed practical friend by my side Maria P. Peck.” Peck was another prominent Iowa woman from Davenport and founder of the Davenport Women’s Club (see entry: “PECK, Maria Purdy,” Woman’s Who’s Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. ed. by John William Leonard. New York, NY: American Commonwealth Company, 1914. pp. 633).

The Mary Adams letters give a peek into the day-to-day concerns of a prominent Iowa suffragist and intellectual during her most active period. Be sure to take a look at the letters in Digital Collections. You can also come in to Special Collections and take a look at the entire Adams Family Papers, MS-10. To see what is included in this collection, take a look at the finding aid.

And to find other important women you can research in Special Collections, check out our Women’s Collections subject guide.

We always look forward to seeing you in Special Collections–online or in person!


Skating on Lake LaVerne

The days are getting colder, and if you have walked past Lake LaVerne lately, you may have noticed ice beginning to form on it.

Here is an early picture of ISU students playing a game of hockey on Lake LaVerne:

Students playing hockey on Lake LaVerne

Students playing hockey on Lake LaVerne.

The creation of Lake LaVerne was funded by LaVerne Noyes, an 1872 graduate of ISU who made a modest fortune as a businessman, manufacturer, and inventor of farm machinery. He wished to beautify the campus of his alma mater and hired the landscape gardener O.C. Simmonds. Lake LaVerne, as it came to be called, was created between 1914 and 1915. You can find out more from the LaVerne and Ida Noyes Collection, RS 21/7/235, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library. A finding aid is available online.

Don’t try skating on Lake LaVerne today! The lake no longer freezes over in winter because aerators are used to keep the water open through the winter months for ISU’s beloved pair of swans, Lancelot and Elaine. If you want to glide across some ice, try heading to the Ames/ISU Ice Arena instead. 

Swans on Lake LaVerne during VEISHEA.

Swans on Lake LaVerne during VEISHEA, 1936.

Check out these photos and others of Lake LaVerne on our Flickr site.


Russian World War I Soldier’s Memoirs and Photographs Available in the Special Collections Department

Kalpaschnikoff2

Russian World War I soldiers in the battlefield and trenches (photographs from Box 15, Scrapbook 2; image number 36 in the online digital copy).

Next summer marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the first war fought on a large, global scale. A recent addition to the University Archives included a number of materials from a soldier who had fought in World War I.  The grandfather of former ISU Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Hoffman, Andrew Kalpaschnikoff, fought in the Russian Army during this time. His accounts of the Great War and other experiences are held in the Special Collections Department and are ready for research!

Andrew Kalpaschnikoff grew up in Imperial Russia’s upper class, was employed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Ambassador to the United States, and later joined the Russian Army during World War I. While in service, he was named Director of the Russian Red Cross, which explains the many Red Cross-related photographs within his materials. After the Bolshevik Revolution, Kalpaschnikoff was arrested and imprisoned by the Communists, escaped, and returned to the United States. Afterward, he wrote a book entitled A Prisoner of Trotsky’s (1920), a later copy of which can be found in the Special Collections (call number DK265.7 K25 2009x).

Kalpaschnikoff’s materials are located within the Elizabeth Hoffman Papers, RS 13/1/26. The materials related to Kalpaschnikoff include photographs, photograph albums, and undated memoirs. In his memoirs, Kalpaschnikoff tells of his encounters with such notable figures as Czar Nicholas II and Leon Trotsky. The two photograph albums can be viewed online here and here. They are well worth a look! These photographs include images of battleground sites, wounded soldiers, and Red Cross stations. A further description of the series and the collection can be found online.

Kalpaschnikoff1

Russian Red Cross workers and a patient during World War I (photographs from Box 15, Scrapbook 1; image number 20 in the online digital copy).

Collections of other World War I materials can also be found in the Special Collections Department.  A subject guide for collections related to World War I is available online.

If you have questions regarding the collection, please contact the Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library at 515-294-4216, archives@iastate.edu or visit our website. We’d love to hear from you!


April Showers Bring May Flowers: Seed Catalogs for a Rainy Spring!

Iowa Seed Company-1913_cover

With the slow onset of spring this year, many are probably getting anxious to be able to get out into their gardens.  Most have hopefully already ordered their seeds…so what can one do while waiting through the next week of rain?  Or perhaps you are looking for some interesting historical resources to use as you finish up your projects at the end of the semester.  The Digital Collections site has a selection of our materials available, including a number of our seed catalogs.

The Seed Catalogs Digital Collection contains digitized copies of a variety of seed catalogs from the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century.  Companies include C. W. Dorr, Iowa Seed Company, and Page and Kelsey.  The catalogs can be quite fun to look through, in addition to being a wonderful study on the varieties of seeds available at that time and the different ways companies promoted and described their seeds.  Catalogs include seeds and bulbs for flowers, trees, herbs, ornamental shrubs, vegetables, grains, grasses, and fruit.  In addition, the catalogs often also include gardening tools and implements.

Most of the seed catalogs are from the Iowa Seed Company.  What did the Iowa Seed Company’s catalog look like one hundred years ago, in 1913?

Curious about the types of corn they might have sold for a later season like the one we are having now? (page 48):

Iowa Seed Company-1913_corn

Or the “curious vegetables”, such as eggplant, sesame, ornamental mice, cotton and Egyptian lentils (page 16):

Iowa Seed Company-1913_curious vegetables

And, if one would like birds for their garden, the Iowa Seed Company has a variety to choose from (page 146):

Iowa Seed Company-1913_birds

Have any of these pages sparked your interested?  Interested in the flowers, grains, and other seeds available through these early seed catalogs?  If you would like, take a look at more seed catalogs available from Digital Collections, or visit our department to look at the originals.  We have other seed catalogs which can be find from the library’s webpage.  In addition, we have several related manuscript collections such as the Iowa Seed and Nursery Pamphlets Collection (MS 393), and a wide variety of publications and archival collections related to agriculture.