Happy 20th birthday Reiman Gardens!

Bird house in Reiman Gardens (RS 5/7/3/0/5, box 1, folder 1)

Bird house in Reiman Gardens (RS 5/7/3/0/5, box 1, folder 1)

 

Educate, enchant, and inspire an appreciation of plants, butterflies, and the beauty of the natural world.

– Reiman Gardens Mission Statement

Reiman Gardens turns 20 this year. The university’s old horticultural garden (est. 1914), the predecessor to Reiman Gardens, was greatly expanded and moved to its present location to serve as an attractive entrance to the Iowa State University campus. Construction began in 1994 and the garden was officially dedicated on September 16, 1995.

Reiman Gardens is the largest public garden in Iowa.

Read More


Happy Founders Day!

Today (March 22, 2015), Iowa State University is 157!

North-east from Main, 1888. (DOI: 04-08-K_AerialViews_0359-01-002)

An early view of campus – northeast from Main, 1888. (DOI: 04-08-K_AerialViews_0359-01-002)

Iowa State University (then the Iowa State Agricultural College and Model Farm) was officially established on March 22, 1858 when the charter act establishing a state agricultural college became law. It took approximately 9 years before the first classes began.

A brief timeline of Iowa State University’s founding:

  • March 22, 1858 – The Iowa State Agricultural College and Model Farm was established via the legislature of the State of Iowa
  • June 21, 1859 – a 648 acre farm in Story County was selected as the site for the campus
  • 1861 – construction was  completed on the Farm House (the first building on campus)
  • 1862 – Iowa was the first state in the nation to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act, ensuring funding for ISU (then College)
  • March 17, 1869 – the inauguration of the College and the installation of the president and faculty
The first faculty meeting minutes every recorded. RS 8/3/3, Ledger 1.

The first faculty meeting minutes ever recorded at Iowa State University. (RS 8/3/3, Ledger 1.)

The Special Collections department helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding in the 2007-2008 academic year by initiating an oral history project to document “Cyclone stories” – interviews with alumni, staff, students, faculty, and any other Cyclones. Some audio and transcription excerpts are available online.  Learn more about ISU’s founding at our Sesquicentennial exhibit: “1858-2008, 150 Years of Excellence” and the associated campus timeline.


March 4 Event: “Early Natural History Texts: The Roots of American Environmentalism”

Audubon Birds of America_plate28

Snowy Owls from John James Audubon’s Birds of America, 1840 (call number QL674, Volume 1, plate 28)

We are pleased to announce that next week we will be holding a special event showcasing a number of our natural history texts.  This is one of several Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities events being held this year.  Matthew Sivils, associate professor of English and the 2015 CEAH Fellow in the Arts and Humanities, will provide a brief overview of the texts which will be displayed, which includes works by influential eighteenth- and nineteenth-century naturalists such as Mark Catesby and John James Audubon.

You can find details on this event and others on the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities website:

The seeds of America’s environmental identity were first planted by a handful of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century naturalist-explorers. These naturalists—who were as much artists and poets as scientists—made it their mission to discover, record, and share North America’s natural diversity. These volumes, published by figures such as Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon, contain powerful descriptions and stunning illustrations of the plants and animals that would come to define the land. Professor Sivils will provide a brief overview of some of the most influential of these texts, followed by a viewing of rare natural history volumes housed in the ISU Library’s Department of Special Collections.

Professor Sivils will give his talk in the 405 classroom adjacent to the Special Collections Department.  Following his presentation, there will be an opportunity to view a selection of our natural history texts in the Special Collections Reading Room.

“Early Natural History Texts: The Roots of American Environmentalism”
March 4, 7:00–8:00 p.m., Special Collections Department, Parks Library

Below is a sampling of what you will see if you’re able to attend the event next Wednesday:

The Aurelian. A natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. Also a faithful account of their respective changes, their usual haunts when in the winged state, and their standard names as established by the Society of Aurelians. / Drawn engraved and coloured from the natural subjects. By Moses Harris. 1766. (QL542.4 H242a)

The Aurelian, 1766 (call number QL542.4 H242a)

The full title of the book pictured above is:  The Aurelian: A natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. Also a faithful account of their respective changes, their usual haunts when in the winged state, and their standard names as established by the Society of Aurelians. / Drawn engraved and coloured from the natural subjects. By Moses Harris, 1766.  (Wondering what “aurelian” means?  It’s an older world for lepidopterist.  A lepidopterist studies or collects butterflies and moths.)

historia stirpium-pg52

De historia stirpium commentarii insignes… by Leonard Fuchs, 1542 (call number QK41 .F951d)

The “De Historia Stirpium, or Notable commentaries on the history of plants, contains 497 descriptions in Latin of plants, with woodcuts based on first-hand observation.  Early herbals often contained depictions of plants which were not based on actual specimens, but on depictions from other books.  As a result, these illustrations were often inaccurate.  The De Historia Stirpium was the first herbal to illustrate native plants from the Americas.  More on Leonhart Fuchs’ herbals can be found in our online exhibit.

We are looking forward to next week’s event (March 4, 7-8pm), and hope we will see you there!


Special Collections bids farewell to Stephanie

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Here is a special post to announce some exciting news.

A little over a year ago, Stephanie introduced herself and the two other project archivists to our readers. Now, Stephanie will be the first of us to leave ISU as she moves on to a new Collections Archivist position at Wake Forest University Special Collection and Archives. Congratulations, Stephanie!!!

Stephanie’s many contributions to the Special Collections department can be quantified in numerable ways—from processing almost 400 linear feet of archival collections, to greeting and assisting patrons over hundreds of hours at our public services desk, to composing more than 30 interesting and informative blog posts. But there are many other ways that Stephanie has contributed to the department over the last year-and-a-half that will be greatly missed: her quick wit, her enthusiasm, and her insights on all things archival.

Thanks for the laughs and for all the hard work, Stephanie! ISU will miss you *sniff*, but we know you will rock your next job!

Stephanie’s last day is tomorrow, so please join us in wishing Stephanie all the very best in her new endeavors in a warmer climate.


#AskAnArchivist at Iowa State

As American Archives Month comes to a close at the end of October, the Special Collections Department here at Iowa State University, aka @ISU_Archives will be participating in a Twitter chat on Thursday, October 30, using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

If you have a Twitter handle, you can join in discussions about archives and special collections. Just send a tweet using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist to @ISU_Archives with your question and we will respond – even if it takes some time to go digging through the collections! If you prefer to use another medium, send your question via email to archives (at) iastate.edu.

No question is too silly, strange, or spooky (it is almost Halloween, after all) – the most eccentric or oldest or smallest bits of our collections, a specific question about the University that you have always wondered, or even what to do with your own historical objects, papers, or digital files. As folks who come into the reading room with reference questions can attest, we are always up to brainstorm ways to find a thorough answer.

Throughout the day, a number of Special Collections staff will be answering your questions – we’ll introduce ourselves as we pop onto Twitter.

  • Laura Sullivan, Assistant Head and Collections Archivist
  • Brad Kuennen, Assistant Archivist and resident audiovisual wrangler
  • Kim Anderson, Digital Archivist and electronic records wrangler
  • Stephanie Bennett, Project Archivist who has worked with ISU’s politics-related collections
  • Amy Bishop, Project Archivist with training in rare books
  • Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist and Iowa State alum

So let us know what questions you have about the work that we do here or the collections that we preserve and provide access to here at Iowa State. Looking forward to hearing from some Cyclones (or anyone, really!) via @ISU_Archives and #AskAnArchivist on Thursday!


Cy’s Birthday!

October 16th, 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of Cy’s debut.

Cy in front of Hilton Coliseum

Here’s Cy at age 21 (1975)(via Flickr)

Cy, a large cardinal, is the mascot for Iowa State University. If you’ve been in Ames recently you may have seen some of the 30 unique Cy statues placed throughout the city. CyclONE City, running through December 5th, is a community art project celebrating the town-gown relationship between Iowa State University and the city of Ames. Read more at the Iowa State Daily and the Ames Tribune.

We’ve got a brand new Cy exhibit on display in the Special Collections reading room. We hope you’ll stop by! In the meantime you can read about him through the virtual exhibit we made ten years ago in honor of his 50th birthday: Fifty Years of Cy: Our Mascot


Celebrate American Archives Month

Special Collections staff hard at work, RS 25

Special Collections staff hard at work, date unknown, RS 25

Every October is American Archives Month – a time to celebrate the work of archivists and the physical and digital items that benefit from our care. There are as many ways to celebrate Archives Month (or #archivesmonth, on Twitter) as there are archival repositories. Larger archival institutions have a full range of activities to showcase their work. The National Archives and Records Administration profiles staff members and favorite items throughout the month on social media. Smithsonian Institute Archives covers its work through a number of virtual and in-person opportunities. Here at ISU Special Collections, we celebrate by working: accepting university records and donated materials relating to our collecting areas; working with donors; processing materials; answering questions from the wide variety of folks who enlist our help; educating students through tours and classroom talks; and providing access to our collections through our website and Reading Room.

The Society of American Archivists, our professional organization, is observing Archives Month, of course. The association president, Kathleen Roe, recently wrote a blog post and asked the question “Who have you met on your journey through archival records?” She posed her question in reference to people whom she met through the historical record – such as the faculty and staff, students, and alumni whose collections we hold.

Special Collections Open House

The Special Collections reading room and exhibit space in 1971, RS 25/3

But as I sit in the Reading Room with a researcher hard at work and one of our student workers making preservation reproductions, I think of the meaningful interactions and lessons that I learn from the living people that I interact with in and around the archives. For example:

  • Students of all ages, from middle school on up to retirees who are curious about something and have the time to pop in. And of course academic scholars from ISU as well as other institutions who seek the rare and unique information that we hold. Even the questions that they ask, about the archives or about their interests, teach me lessons about my work all the time!
  • Our student workers, who bring their perspectives and questions to work every week. It’s nice to hear what student life is like in 2014 when I’m used to fielding questions and handling materials that are often older than today’s students.
  • Donors who generously hand their memories, or their loved ones’ memories, over for care-taking. It is a privilege to assess a lifetime’s worth of accumulated materials and process them to allow others to benefit from all the knowledge within.
  • Colleagues who have fielded my questions, encouraged and mentored me, introduced me to other archives colleagues in their network, and so on and so forth through the six degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon. No, wait, between me and famed archivist Theodore Roosevelt Schellenberg.
  • Archivists of the wider world who I meet through graduate school, or at regional conferences, or at the SAA Annual Meeting – which was held with two other records-centric organizations this year. There is an unending supply of new people to meet, share stories with, and learn from.

Much appreciation goes out to all those who make our work as archivists possible – especially the archivists ourselves. You can celebrate American Archives Month by coming by to see our new exhibit on Homecoming, doing research, or checking out all the resources we have available through our [newly updated] website!


A New Staff Member in Special Collections

Hi! I’m Kim and I’m the newest member of the Special Collections team.

Kim standing amongst collections

Me with some of our collections

I started in August as a new Archivist. I’ll be serving as the archives lead on digital materials as well as doing general “archivist stuff.” It’s an exciting time – we’re preparing to get a formal digital records program established. It will take some time to get everything in place so keep an eye out in our blog to see the latest developments. Digital records (sometimes used interchangeably with “e-records,” “electronic records,” or “born-digital”) are things with archival value that are originally in some digital form – e.g. e-mail, databases, web sites, Word documents, etc. The Library of Congress has some tips on how to maintain your own digital records: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/records.html

I’m a California transplant. I grew up in the Central Valley and foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. I’m personally familiar with agriculture and rural life – so I’m seeing some familiar sights around Central Iowa. My high school was surrounded by orchards and berry fields. When I was little we had goats, ducks, and chickens and I ordered my school clothes out of a Sears Catalog at the general store/post office in Coarsegold. My mom grew up in Lee County, Iowa where my grandpa had a farm and raised corn, soybeans, and hogs. Even though I’m a Californian I grew up hearing all about Iowa and now I live here! I recently inherited my aunt’s recipes – six recipe boxes crammed full of hand-written recipe cards many of which she collected from the Donnellson (Iowa) newspaper. So, I’m bringing a little bit of Iowa back to Iowa with me. (Speaking of which, did you know we have a fabulous Iowa cook book collection?)

I’ve been around archives and libraries for a while now. I got my first library job in 1995 as a student worker in a curriculum library at Northern Arizona University (NAU) but switched to NAU’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) two years later. At SCA I got to do a little bit of everything – processing manuscript and photograph collections, conservation (and preservation work (phase boxes, rebacking books, and more!), exhibit design and construction, and working with people – learning from donors, assisting researchers, and supervising students and volunteers. I’ve mostly stayed in Special Collections or University Archives except for a few brief stints at law libraries and police records.

I earned my B.A. in Humanities (minor in Anthropology) from NAU and my MLIS from University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). I love university life and campus histories and I’m happiest being part of the rhythm of college campuses. While at UCLA I worked as historical researcher for a book project on UCLA’s history and served as author of the history of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. I also worked in the UCLA University Archives. I completed my time at UCLA when I earned my doctorate in Information Studies in 2011. My dissertation “Appraisal Learning Networks: How University Archivists Learn to Appraise through Social Interaction” received the ALISE/Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation award in 2013. I also spent six weeks in Australia last summer as a visiting scholar at Monash University and study abroad instructor learning about e-records and the Australian records continuum. My doctoral focus was archival studies and my sub-specialization was in the History of Science and Technology so working at the Special Collections at Iowa State is a perfect match for my interests!

Kim with Rosella

Me with a crimson rosella along the Great Ocean Road

For the past few years I’ve been serving as Archives Program Director and teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the archival studies area within the MLIS program. I’ve made the decision to return to practice and am very enthusiastic about the possibilities of this position. It’s a great team here. I hope you will visit us and see what we’re up to.


Archivists Go to Washington

Last week, thousands of archivists descended upon Washington, D.C. for a joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists (COSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Every four years these national organizations convene in our nation’s capital to learn and share knowledge. I was able to attend the conference as a member of SAA, as were assistant department head Laura Sullivan and one of my fellow project archivists, Stephanie Bennett. The following are, in my opinion, some highlights of the conference.

IMG_1279

The conference program for the 2014 joint annual meeting of COSA, NAGARA, and SAA.

Attending educational sessions is one major reason we attend conferences. The sessions that struck me the most this year were “Getting Things Done with Born-Digital Collections,” “Talking to Stakeholders about Electronic Records,” and “Taken for Granted: How Term Positions Affect New Professionals and the Repositories That Employ Them.” The first two discussed the challenges of electronic records, which is a hot topic in the archives profession right now. The session on term positions was particularly relevant to me since I am currently in a term position, meaning that my employment here ends after a certain amount of time. That session discussed the positive and negative impacts of short term positions, as well as possible solutions and compromises to the problems term positions create.

Some notes I took during a session. Fast writing does not make for good penmanship...

Some notes I took during a session. Speedy writing does not make for good penmanship…

Another big reason we attend conferences is to meet other archivists and to network. Happily, I found two friends from grad school right off the bat, and it wasn’t long before I found other IU-Bloomington alumni, including those that I’d never met. I also met lots of people who graduated from other schools, and it was great to learn about different experiences and their current work. I even got to meet some famous people in the world of archives, which was really exciting for a new professional. In the end, it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and meet new.

 

Yours truly in the Library of Congress reading room.

Yours truly in the Library of Congress reading room during the All-Attendee Reception.

A couple other highlights of the conference were the All-Attendee Reception and a variety show, “Raiders of the Lost Archives.” This year’s reception was held in the Library of Congress Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building. That is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen, and absolutely lives up to its hype. They opened the reading room up to us, which is only opened to the public twice a year. I could not have been more excited to be there. After the reception, a sketch show was performed – of which I was a part – back at the conference hotel. It was a reboot of “Raiders of the Lost Archives,” which was a sketch show performed in the 1980s and 1990s. The shows included skits and songs full of archival humor (yes, it’s a thing), and it was a blast to be involved. This year’s recording may be available on YouTube in the near future, but don’t judge my performance too harshly – keep in mind we had very little rehearsal and it was at the end of a long day. But really, overall I think the show went well; we received some wonderful comments and it was good fun.

The joint meeting this year was a great experience, and I hope to attend next year’s SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio!


CyPix: Anniversaries

It is official – the three Project Archivists who arrived last summer will all be celebrating a one-year work anniversary at Special Collections in the next month or so. To celebrate the occasion, I give you a photo from this March 1948 luncheon celebrating the 90th anniversary of Iowa State College (University)’s founding. For more information on the 90th Anniversary collection, see its finding aid.

The University celebrates its 90th anniversary in 1948

The University celebrates its 90th anniversary in 1948  (RS 0/11/5, University Photographs Collection)

Our one-year anniversary is not quite as noteworthy as the University’s 90th; we will probably commemorate ours with high-fives. But we have been hard at work here and would like to share some of our accomplishments.

The Project Archivists’ primary duty is processing collections, which is to say, arranging, describing, and housing collections and creating finding aids and other outputs that allow people to find items in our collections more easily. In the past year, we have worked with 28 collections and have processed approximately 960 linear feet of materials. To imagine this more clearly: a banker’s box sized carton equals 1.3 linear feet. So we have handled roughly 740 cartons of materials this year. Whew!

When processing, we frequently rehouse materials to condense them or weed items that are present in duplicate or have minimal research value in order to free up space for new collections. So far, we have “found” 150 linear feet through processing; 115 record cartons can now fill that space. And more “found” room is on its way as we continue our work! Archivists get very excited about shelf space, so this is a coup for Special Collections.

Bennett, Bishop, Olthoff - the Project Archivists

Stephanie Bennett, Amy Bishop, and Whitney Olthoff in the Special Collections Reading Room

 

In addition to our processing duties, the Project Archivists have also published nearly 75 posts on this blog; tallied around 600 hours on the reference desk helping patrons; attended a Midwest Archives Conference meeting together; and presented at an ISU librarian meeting.

Now on to year two! Since we are acclimated to the administrative processes involved in our work and have become more conversant in Iowa State’s subject areas and institutional history, it promises to be another banner year. Watch this space for more posts about the wonders that our collections contain and the work we’re doing to make them more accessible to the university community, Iowa, and the world.