Instruction in the Archives!

On Monday, a class from the Iowa State University Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted (OPPTAG) visited Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). The course was titled “Cook Your Way Through U.S. History.” In the SCUA classroom, I demonstrated how to find SCUA materials on their topic (cookbooks) and reviewed procedures and handling guidelines in our reading room. Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist, reviewed different cookbooks from Rare Books and recipes from our Manuscript Collections & University Archives and provided students with context on the collections and books.

OPPTAG students viewing cookbook from Rare Book Collection

OPPTAG students viewing cookbook from Rare Book Collection

The students then came into our reading room and looked for historic recipes they plan to cook this week. You should come into our reading room too and check out our cool cookbooks! We’re open Monday-Friday from 10-4! You can also check out some selected cookbooks online in the Library’s Digital Collections.

In honor of #NationalPollinatorWeek @ReimanGardensIA @ISUExtension

It is National Pollinator Week, and several groups at ISU are partnering with Reiman Gardens to celebrate Pollinator Fest tomorrow, June 25.

hummingbird and feeder

Hummingbirds are pollinators too! This ruby-throated hummingbird picture is from the Iowa Ornithologists Union Records (MS 166), box 12, folder 23.

More than a hundred years ago, Iowa State College Agricultural Extension recognized the importance of bees as pollinators. If more Iowans kept bees, they suggested, “the presence of such large numbers of bees would result in the better cross pollenization [sic] and fertilization of blossoms, which would indirectly add very much more in the production of fruits and seeds of various kinds” (Bee Keeping in Iowa, Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913, Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17).

"Bee Keeping in Iowa," Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913. From Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17.

“Bee Keeping in Iowa,” Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913. From Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17.

Drying grain without propane: the Small Farm Energy Project

“6/16/79 At the Fish farm, Earl showed visitors the greenhouse and the solar dryer. He said, ‘You’ll have a hard time convincing Earl Fish that you can’t dry grain without propane.’” This comes from records of the Small Farm Energy Project, a research and demonstration project of the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) to show the impact of energy conservation innovations on small farmers.

Notes from farm interviews with Earl Fish. MS 413, Box 104, folder 36.

Notes from farm interviews with Earl Fish. MS 413, Box 104, folder 36.

ISU Special Collections and University Archives holds the records of the Center for Rural Affairs, a Nebraska-based non-profit organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to improving the lives and opportunities of small farmers and rural communities. Among their many projects to improve the welfare of rural Americans, the CFRA has developed projects related to global warming and agriculture, in addition to this and other work in clean energy, which is why I’m highlighting them in honor of Earth Day, which was April 22.

Small Farm Energy Project Sign. From MS 413, box 106, folder 20.

Small Farm Energy Project Sign. From MS 413, box 106, folder 20.

For the Small Farm Energy Project, CFRA targeted low-income farmers with net incomes within 125 percent of the poverty level. Farmers applied to be part of the study. Of fifty total participants, 25 formed a control group that made no changes, but kept detailed records of their energy usage. The other 25 were the innovators, who were exposed to a variety of alternative energy technologies through a series of workshops. Individual farmers chose which technologies to implement based on their individual situations.

Earl Fish was one of the farm innovators, and his success using a solar grain dryer attracted the interest of other farmers in the area. The Small Farm Energy Project Newsletter for December 1977 reads, “Fish, cooperating farmer of the Small Farm Energy Project, used solar energy to dry grain in his 6000 bu. bin equipped with stirrator. Propane had been used in previous years for drying, but not in 1977. …Fish was particularly impressed with the quality of the dried grain using the low temperature process of solar drying compared to higher temperature drying. Another advantage of the system cited by Fish is the fan housing which lowers fan noise levels considerably.”

The Preliminary Report for the project estimates that a “solar grain dryer has the potential to save a farmer $260 a year over a 10-year period when used as a substitute for more energy-intensive batch drying. More than half the farms that could install a solar grain dryer did so” (p. 30, box 106, folder 21).

Portable solar collector has been attached to a grain bin for grain drying, circa 1979.

Portable solar collector has been attached to a grain bin for grain drying, circa 1979.

Check out the Center for Rural Affairs Records (MS 413) to learn more about the Small Farm Energy Project, including construction guidelines  to build your own solar grain dryer (see box 106, folder 18)!

Happy Earth Day!



Farm Interview: Earl Fish. Box 104, Folder 36.

“Innovations Continue as Project Extended.” Small Farm Energy Project Newsletter. Issue 9. December, 1977. Box 104, Folder 22.

Small Farm Energy Project, Center for Rural Affairs. “Preliminary Report January, 1977, through December, 1978 for the Impact of Various Energy Innovations on Energy Consumption and Net Income for 48 Small Farms.” July 1979. Box 106, Folder 21.

Coffee & color!

Color this page while you have your morning cup of coffee! What better way to start your day in a nice relaxing way!

This is another image reproduced from the Warren H. Manning Papers. You can browse other digitized images from that collection here:


Map showing infestation of gypsy moth ca. 1891.

Click here to download the page. Don’t forget to tag your work! #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives


From February 1-5, Iowa State University Special Collections and University Archives is sharing reproductions of images from our collections and inviting followers to share their colored copies.

Title page for the 1895 Bomb, the yearbook for the Iowa State College (University).

Title page for the 1895 Bomb, the yearbook for the Iowa State College (University).

This week-long foray into the coloring craze was initiated by The New York Academy of Medicine Library. Over 50+ other repositories are participating in this week-long special collections coloring fest on social media, using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. We thought this would be a fun, interactive way to promote our collections and engage followers. So, download and print out our coloring pages, then share and tag your work  #ColorOurCollections #ISU_Archives

Cypix: Wintertime fun

Here is another glass plate negative from the Descartes Pascal Papers demonstrating some wintertime fun.


Boys on horse-drawn sleds in winter. Lee Pascal and Jasper Babcock are on the front sled. Percy Pascal and Jim Townsen are on the rear sled. The horse’s name is Daisy. The photo is taken in front of the corn crib on the Pascal farm. MS 091 Box 9, folder 5.

Descartes Pascal (1870-1937) was a photographer, farmer, and pioneer seed corn breeder.  Pascal was born in De Witt, Clinton County, Iowa, where he raised corn, Shorthorn cattle, and Berkshire hogs. Pascal was also a practicing photographer.

You can find more information on the Descartes Pascal Papers in this finding aid that describes the collection and view more of his collection in our ISU Library Digital Collections, the online exhibit, and on our Flickr site.

You can also view the collection in person! We’re here from 10-4 Monday – Friday.

CyPix: World Soil Day


The video above documents the types of activities found in soils and farm crop courses at Iowa State University. Check out another of our YouTube videos on soils: “Grass Roots in the Soil” Part One and Part Two.

2015 is the International Year of Soils and World Soil Day will be celebrated on December 5th. The goal is to raise awareness about the “importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing.” (International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), 2002) In 2013, the UN General Assembly declared the 5th of December World Soil Day (A/RES/67/206). This year’s theme is “Soils a solid ground for life.”

Image of soil layering from a site in North Dakota

Arthur A. Klingebiel Papers (RS 21/7/80, box 9, folder 5)

Special Collections and University Archives holds the papers of several soil scientists and soil conservation societies. Here are some examples:

Albert A. Klingebiel Papers (RS 21/7/80)

Hugh Hammond Bennet Papers (MS 164)(pdf link)

Soil Science Society of America Records (MS 567)

Iowa Soils Conservation Districts Records (MS 264)

Wallis R. Tonsfeldt Papers (MS 558)

Find more collections by searching our holdings at the search box on our home page.

Learn more about World Soil Day at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations campaign site.

"Where Food Begins" - World Soil Day, 5 December


The World Wars at Home: Guides and Recipe Books

As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, November 11th was Veterans Day, a day in which we honor all those who have served our country. During WWI and WWII, guides and recipe books were published for the housewives left at home, which provided tips on feeding children, meal planning, home improvement and management, and practical recipes for wartime. Here at the ISU Special Collections and University Archives, we have a collection of these guides and recipe books in the Wartime Guides and Recipe Books Collection, MS 380.

Preface to Best War Time Recipes, by Royal Baking Powder Co., 1918. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 1.

Preface to Best War Time Recipes by Royal Baking Powder Co., 1918 (click to enlarge). MS 380, Box 1, Folder 1.

During the World Wars, food shortages were common. These would make certain foods such as butter and sugar much more expensive and impractical for heavy use in most households. These recipe books focused on maintaining a healthy diet – or at least, making delicious food – while using alternatives to scarce ingredients.

A dessert recipe booklet, (year).

A WWII-era dessert recipe booklet, undated. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 10.

Here is a WWI recipe for something called War Cake from the Liberty Cook Book (Box 1, Folder 1):

2 c. brown sugar; 2 c. hot water; 2 T. lard, 1 package or less of seeded raisins, 1 t. ground cinnamon, 1 t. ground cloves, 1 t. soda, 3 c. flour, 1 t. salt

Boil all ingredients but the flour, raisins and soda together for 5 minutes. Cool. When cold add soda sifted in 1/2 the flour. Bake in a loaf 45 minutes, in a slow oven, or in a sheet 30 minutes.

From WWII, here is a recipe for Corn Bisque from Wartime Recipes from Canned Foods (Box 1, Folder 7), which was created to help homemakers stretch canned foods farther:

1/2 no. 2 cream style corn; 3 c. milk; 1 small onion, sliced; 1 T. butter or margarine; 1 T. flour; 1/4 t. salt; dash of pepper

Cook corn and 2 cups of the milk in top of double boiler for 20 minutes. Add onion; continue cooking 10 minutes longer. Mash through coarse sieve if desired. Melt butter in saucepan; add flour and seasonings; blend. Add remaining 1 cup milk; cook until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add milk-corn mixture; return to double boiler; heat thoroughly. Garnish each serving with sprig of parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. 4 servings.


A proposed cleaning schedule for housewives, (year). MS 380, Box 1, Folder (?).

A proposed weekly cleaning schedule for homemakers, 1944. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 6.

Housekeeping also was (and is) a large part of being a homemaker. The 1944 booklet above, House Cleaning and Home Management Manual by The Hoover Company, offers many suggestions on housekeeping, including possible schedules to follow and equipment to have on hand. Without actually reading the cleaning schedule above, you can see how extensive cleaning duties could be. Examples in the booklet of things to be done daily include preparing and serving meals, washing dishes, packing lunches, planning menus, going to the market and running errands, light cleaning and dusting, caring for children and other family members, and apparently care of fires. Weekly housekeeping work includes washing, ironing, cleaning every room, washing windows, mending and sewing, special baking and cooking, and cleaning the cleaning equipment.

From (title) by (someone), (year). MS 380, Box 1, Folder (?)

From Real Ideas of Real Housewives on Wartime Living, undated. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 3.

Of course, helping the boys from home was also a priority. The above image highlights suggestions on how to help soldiers overseas, provided by actual housewives for other housewives. Some advice includes tips on mailing packages, buying stamps, and sending cakes. This booklet also includes ways to save time around the house, keep clothes looking new, and tips on going to the market.

For more WWI and WWII collections, see our manuscripts subject guides. Looking for more wartime recipes? Recipes from these eras can also be found in the Iowa Cookbook Collection, some of which can be viewed online.

Thank you to all our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us!

A spooky visit to Special Collections

Halloween is almost upon us, so I thought I would highlight a few spooky things that can be found at Iowa State Special Collections and University Archives.

Sometimes it is surprising what types of ephemera show up in archival collections. (“Ephemera” is the word archivists use to describe things that are made for a limited period of use, like flyers, advertisements, and brochures. You might save some ephemera items, yourself, like the movie ticket stub from your first date with your significant other.) Some Halloween ephemera shows up in the Rath Packing Company Records, MS 562, the records of a meat packing company that operated in Waterloo, Iowa, from 1891 to 1985. Apparently around 1971, the company used the holiday to promote its meat. Our collection includes a promotion sheet with instructions for how to display the free trick or treat bags they sent along with every case of hot dogs.

Treat or treat bags and flyer, circa 1971. Promotional material from the Rath Packing Company Records, MS 562, Series 8, box 29, folder 116.

Treat or treat bags and flyer, circa 1971. Promotional material from the Rath Packing Company Records, MS 562, Series 8, box 29, folder 116.

Are you throwing a party for Halloween? No party is complete without festive food, right? Well, never fear because the ISU Tea Room Records (RS 12/9/4) have you covered! The Tea Room is a non-profit, learning laboratory that has been serving meals to faculty, staff and students at Iowa State since the late 1800s. It is supported by the Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management Program and is operated entirely by students in the Quantity Food Production Management class. The collection includes recipe cards that students used to prepare food to serve to Tea Room customers. One of these recipes is an “Owl Salad for Halloween,” which makes use of another recipe for fruit salad dressing. Here are the recipes below, if you wish to recreate these owl-shaped delights:

Recipe cards from the Tea Room Records, RS 12/9/4, box 4.

Recipe cards from the Tea Room Records, RS 12/9/4, box 4. [click for larger image]

Librarians, contrary to popular belief, like to party like its 1999…especially when it is 1999. The Library Staff Association Records (RS 25/7) document a Halloween-themed office decorating contest from–you guessed it–1999! Here’s one of the winners, showing a “librarian” assaulted by a pile of books! (Don’t worry, no librarians were harmed in the taking of this photograph.)

Winner of the Funniest category for the office decorating contest, 1999. Library Staff Association Records, RS 25/7, box 4, folder 2.

Winner of the “Funniest” category for the office decorating contest, 1999. Library Staff Association Records, RS 25/7, box 4, folder 2.

Librarians also sometimes dress up in clever, frequently book-themed costumes. Check out the Librarians in Costume tumblr (not affiliated with ISU) to see some of the other high jinks librarians get up to.

Still trying to decide what to dress up as, yourself? If you’d like some historical costume ideas, the Department of Textiles and Clothing History of Costume Collection (RS 12/10/5) has fashion plates representing many periods and cultures, including early Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, as well as European and American fashions through many centuries. They are fun and fascinating to browse through! Get some ideas for next year!

Iowa State campus is not without its tales of haunted places. See the Hauntings folder in the Traditions, Songs, and Cheers Collection (RS 0/16/1) for stories of student and staff encounters with unexplained phenomena in ISU buildings. Allegedly haunted buildings on campus include the Farm House Museum, Fisher Theater, Linden Hall, and Freeman Hall, among others. If you are interested in exploring haunted places beyond campus, Special Collections has several books on ghosts in Iowa.

Of course, Special Collections has plenty of spooky reading material to offer for those who like a fright, such as this pocket-sized edition of Rudyard Kipling’s The Phantom Rickshaw, and My Own True Ghost Story (PR4854 P45 1920).

Title page of The Phantom Rickshaw, PR4854 P45 1920.

Title page of The Phantom Rickshaw, PR4854 P45 1920.

We also have several ghost and horror comic book series, including Halloween Comix from the Underground Comix Collection (MS 636) that Whitney shared last month. We also have classic titles from the 1950s and 60s such as Shock Suspenstories, Nightmare, Vampirella, Creepy, and Vault of Horror.

Creep on down to Special Collections and University Archives for a taste of Halloween spookery! Have a safe and fun holiday.