NHPRC Update: Wrapping Up

With just over a month left, we’ve begun to plan for the end of our project. Most of our time is spent wrapping up the loose ends and testing the new interface, but we’ve also completed some tasks we’re excited to share:

Two hundred draft finding aids have been completed and entered into CARDinal. These include some really interesting materials that are now fully available to users, such as the World Food Institute records and the papers of Shirley Held, a professor of art and design at ISU.


A selection of materials from the Shirley Held papers, RS 26/2/53.

We also had the opportunity to present some updates about the project at the Midwest Archives Conference Annual Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. Former Project Archivist Caitlin Moriarty and Lead Processing Archivist Rosalie Gartner participated in a panel about project management and working with student workers, and Digital Initiatives Archivist Laura Sullivan spoke about collaborating with other departments in the library and on campus to help us achieve our tasks.


GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan, where the Midwest Archives Conference Annual Meeting was held. Photo provided by Kahlee Leingang.

As the end of our project gets nearer, we encourage you to visit CARDinal and see what we’ve done. In the coming weeks, the site will be getting some appearance upgrades. If you have any problems, questions, or suggestions, contact Project Archivist Emily DuGranrut at emilyd1@iastate.edu.

NHPRC logo

This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

A Night in Malaysia #ThrowbackThursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday post is in honor of Iowa State University’s celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. ISU celebrates in April, but AAPI month is usually celebrated in May when school is out. Here are a few pages from the 1987 program “A Night in Malaysia” put on by the Association of Malaysian Students.


Today Iowa State University has the Ames Student Association for Malaysians. You can check out their Facebook page. I wonder if the Association of Malaysian Students predates the current Malaysian student group on campus? Drop by the reading room and see if you can do a little research and find out!

Introducing A.L. Carson, processing archivist

Carson, in their natural habitat (surrounded by boxes).

A.L. Carson goes by “Carson” and has since approximately the age of 12. Carson earned their Masters of Science in Information Studies, focusing on archives and digital materials, from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016, and spent two years as a Library Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In February of 2019, Carson left UNLV to come to ISU; joining SCUA as a processing archivist, Carson enjoys both the complex intellectual work of unraveling collections and the more mundane physical tasks of taking records from storage to access. They have a dog, love bicycles and baseball, and listen to a lot of music.

SCUA Visits Vet Med

This semester, members of the SCUA staff have been visiting different parts of campus in order to see other types of repositories and libraries at Iowa State. As a new SCUA staff member, this has also been a good opportunity for me to learn my way around campus and about Iowa State.

A few weeks ago, Rosalie and I toured the College of Veterinary Medicine. Our tour guide, a second year student, showed us around the school and the animal hospital. Part of the tour included visiting their library and seeing the R. Allen Packer Heritage Room. A former faculty member helped create the exhibit, which displays the history of veterinary medicine. It was interesting to see the different advancements and to try to guess how some of the instruments were used. The library has two separate study spaces, one side of the library is reserved for quiet studying and the other side is for group study. This summer the Vet Med Library will undergo renovations as the school expands the women’s locker rooms, which will take over a portion of the library space. The locker rooms are being expanded because the school has outgrown the space as women’s enrollment has increased.

Inside one of the classrooms at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Photograph courtesy of Kahlee Leingang.

One thing that struck me throughout the tour was the support provided to the vet students and the different classroom spaces they had. When showing us the student lockers and mailboxes, our tour guide mentioned that on big test days the administration puts candy in their mailboxes. There is also an on-site administration and financial aid office. All of the classes are filmed so that students can go back and watch lectures as needed. Another highlight was walking through the anatomy lab while a class was in session and getting to see specimens like an inflated section of a cow’s stomach. For privacy reasons, we could not take photographs in the labs or in the animal hospital. Additionally, the Clinical Skills Laboratory allowed students to practice their sutures using different material that resembled animal skin and organs. Also in the lab is a life-size Holstein dystocia simulator, named Frosty, to help students learn how to deliver calves. There was also a life-size calf replica, named Snowflake. Snowflake was laying on a table and we were able to lift her head in order to judge how heavy a new calf is. It surprised me how heavy her head was!

Touring the College of Veterinary Medicine was a nice opportunity to see a part of campus that we normally do not get to see. If you get the opportunity, I would highly recommend taking a tour.

For information about Vet Med, visit their about page or read their news releases. The archives also has information from Vet Med in the RS 14/1 and in the RS 22 collections.  

Happy 50th! The Origins of Special Collections & University Archives

2019 marks the Special Collections & University Archives’ (SCUA) 50th year in existence. This blog post is the first in a series of blog posts celebrating SCUA’s 50 years at Iowa State University. The Department of Special Collections at Iowa State University consolidated the already existing College History and Rare Books collections. The College History Collection was a cooperative effort, led by the University Library and the College History Committee, to preserve Iowa State University’s history.

Photograph of person wearing suit reading files standing in front of a filing cabinet. Caption to photo reads: "Robert Orr, director of the Iowa State College Library, looks over part of the college history collection now stored in Building N. The materials will be moved to the library and organized, with aid from the Alumni Achievement Fund. Title of article: "College History Collection." The project of organizing Iowa State's voluminous history files will soon be started. A $2,500 grant from the Alumni Association's Achievement Fund, requested by President James H. Hilton and approved by the alumni board of trustees, will be used to employ a part-time assistant and to buy materials for processing part of the collection. Now stored in Building N, the materials will be moved to the library for safekeeping. Photographic prints and negatives are earmarked for early attention. They will be cleaned, repaired, mounted if necessary, and classified and filed for easy reference. Other parts of the collection in Building N will be processed later. These include correspondence, selected printed works, notebooks, and other memoranda. Some bulky items, of no sentimental value, may be microfilmed to conserve space. A major part of the college history collection is already housed in the library's book stacks. It includes the life works of noted alumni and former faculty members. Lack of space prevents the library from assembling the collection into a single unit at the present time. The plan for organizing the history materials was recommended by Robert W. Orr, '29, library director, and approved by R. E. Buchanan, '04, chairman of the Alumni Association's memorials and traditions committee, and E.D. Ross, chairman of the college history committee. Plans are being made to gather a complete record of the centennial anniversary of the founding of Iowa State College. The event will be observed in 1958. Complete records of other similar obsevances are included in the history collection. "The projects will insure preservation of materials relating tot he development and growth of Iowa State College since its founding on March 22, 1858," Orr explained. "As the years pass the faculty, alumni, and students can be expected to have an increasingly keen appreciation of the history and traditions of Iowa State College."

On page 7 of the January 1954 Alumnus of Iowa State College. Call Number LH1 lo9a.

Back in July 1919, the Alumni Association tasked Dean Edgar W. Stanton to prepare a history of Iowa State College in preparation for the College’s upcoming semi-centennial celebration. Edgar Stanton was the natural choice to pursue this undertaking.  He had served the College in various capacities—Economics Department Chair, Head of the Department of Mathematics, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Dean of the Junior College, Vice President, and Acting President—since he graduated with the first graduating class in 1872. Tragically, Stanton died in 1920 from influenza, before he could complete his charge. In 1922, Louis H. Pammel, professor of Botany, was appointed as committee chair, and the committee renewed its work. In 1942, A History of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was published by then Chairman of the Committee on History of the College, Earle D. Ross.

All of the documentation compiled by Stanton, Pammel, and Ross were put in storage in a temporary building, presumably “Building N” referenced in the  “College History Article” above. In 1953, President Hilton requested $2,500 from the Alumni Association’s Achievement Fund to process the materials from the College History Collection. Dorothy Kehlenbeck was hired as the College History Collection Curator, and the materials were moved to the Parks Library.

Please click on pictures to see full caption information.

In 1969, the Special Collections Department was established. Stanley Yates was appointed Head of Special Collections, Dorothy Kehlenbeck was appointed the University Archivist, and Isabel Matterson was the Manuscript Curator. The new department was located in 162 Parks Library and its hours of operation were 8 AM – 12 PM, 1 – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Not too different from our hours today.

If you’d like to drop in and learn more about the history of SCUA or the university, come visit us in 403 Parks Library. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9 – 5.

Spring Break!

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

Spring break has officially begun, and ISU students can be found relaxing by the beach, hiking in the mountains, and getting caught up on their homework here on campus. With Spring Break finally being here, we hope that soon the spring weather will follow as well!  Until it does, we can at least enjoy these pictures of former ISU students relaxing in the sunshine. Each of these photos were found various editions of the Bomb. Have a great Spring Break everyone!


Click on photos to see full caption information.

Reflecting on 150 years of Student Life at Iowa State University

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

The newest exhibit to be featured at Special Collections and University Archives is arriving in just a few short days! Titled “We are ISU: Snapshots of Student Life” the exhibit will feature photos, clothing, scrapbooks, yearbooks, and other mementos from ISU students over the last 150 years. With the help of both the Preservation Lab and members of Special Collections and University Archives, I have photographed some cool parts of the collection, and even learned some interesting facts along the way. The exhibit is set to open March 13th, so when you have a chance, come visit the reading room to learn more about student life here at Iowa State!

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I had the chance to sit down with University Archivist Brad Kuennen and Assistant University Archivist Rachael Acheson, to learn a little more about the exhibit and what people might get to see. Brad and Rachael worked together as curators to create the exhibit. They planned the layout, selected the items, and wrote descriptions for both the physical and the online exhibits.

Are there any specific types of pieces included in the exhibit? What were the requirements for selecting pieces?

Brad: We wanted to select items from the University Archives that focused on the student experience. Since this is a look at 150 years of student life (Iowa State officially welcomed the first freshman class on March 17, 1869) this is intended to be a reflection on just some of the milestones that happened throughout the past 150 years. The window timeline will highlight 30-40 events over this entire span while the cases will reflect on six individual students highlighting some activities that they participated or events that were taking place on campus while they were here.

Rachael: We decided fairly early on that we wanted to sort of focus in on re-imagining the ISU experience of individual students from various eras, rather than pour all of our effort into constructing some broad, sweeping survey of the entire history of student life. And there were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, “student life” isn’t really a singular thing, when you stop to think about it. Each student’s experience is going to be very different and influenced by different institutional milestones, depending on their interests, their identities, their level of involvement, the context of the era they grew up in, and so many other factors. And, secondly, focusing exclusively on some kind of broader narrative would necessarily attract attention away from the day-to-day, experiential aspects of living on campus at a given point in time. And that’s what we really wanted to highlight: student experience, not without context, but within it.

The hope, then, is that these “spotlight” students, encountered immediately after the timeline, will serve as a focal point for viewers. We hope that students of today can see something of themselves in the lives of these individuals, get a fuller sense of what it might have been like to go to school with them, and come away better able to reflect on their own contributions to the portion of ISU history that’s still being written.

When did SCUA officially open? Could you give me a brief history?

Brad: SCUA was officially established as the Special Collections Department in 1969. Prior to this, there was a much smaller Iowa State History collection in the Library that was the precursor to today’s University Archives. This Iowa State History collection was initiated by staff sometime around 1918 or 1919 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening. The project was spearheaded by Edgar Stanton until his death and then taken up by Louis Pammel. The collection was enlarged in the 1950s under Dorothy Kehlenbeck in the run-up to the Centennial anniversary of the school’s founding.

Rachael: Brad is more qualified to answer this question! I only started working here last year, so I’m still learning both the institutional and departmental histories. However, for this exhibit, Rachel Seale has put together a case on SCUA’s 50-year history. The idea behind including it in this exhibit is a nod to how we’ve been able to preserve the materials you see throughout the rest of the exhibit. In other words, how are we able to tell these kinds of stories?

Do any of the pieces included have interesting backgrounds?

Brad: One item on display is a laundry mailer. This large aluminum box was used by students to mail laundry home to parents for washing. In many cases this was cheaper than using the few laundry services in and around campus. We have a photo album from Fan-Chi Kung (RS 21/7/49), an international student from China. His story has a tragic ending as he died in an automobile accident while he was at Iowa State studying for his master’s degree. He is actually buried in the College Cemetery.

Rachael: I am also a fan of the laundry mailer. I sort of wish I’d had one of those when I was in college. I also really enjoy the photographs of classrooms and classroom technology that we picked out. I love how serious all the 1920s students look as they stare down their apples, learning how to judge them for a state fair. And I love the weirdness of the 1960s “reading machines.” I included this for no reason other than because one of the 1960s/’70s student spotlights was an English major and because I found them delightfully bizarre.

What is your favorite piece in this exhibit? Why?

Brad: My favorite pieces in the exhibit are the early photographs of campus and trying to imagine what it must have been like to arrive on campus as a student for the first time. One of the cases has an image from the 1890s of Old Main that gives some clue as to how remote campus was. I often explain to students that in its early years, Iowa State was in many ways like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, except on the plains of Iowa and with a little less magic.

 Rachael: That’s a hard one. I’m torn between Loris Foster’s World War II-era scrapbook, because she documented her residential and social life in such painstaking detail, and our photos of the Vietnam War protests. I’m interested in student activism, and these capture both a lot of high tension and also many diverse parts of campus coming together on a single issue.

Brad and Rachael worked with many different departments here at the library to make this exhibit happen. As curators, they worked together to pick out the material that you will see in the exhibit, figure out where it will go in each case, write the accompanying labels, and essentially function as the storytellers. Thank you to Rachael and Brad for helping me with this blog post, and thank you to everyone involved in creating such an interesting exhibit!

The reading room hours are M-F from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, so once the exhibit is up and running, come see us on the fourth floor of Parks Library. If you are interested in learning more about student life at Iowa State University, Douglas Biggs will be giving a lecture at the MU on March 13th, the same day the exhibit opens!  Don’t forget, if you can’t make it to us in person, there will be an online version of the exhibit as well, which you will be able to find the link to on our website, https://archives.lib.iastate.edu/.

CARDinal Scavenger Hunt Answers

Our CARDinal Scavenger Hunt has officially come to an end! Thank you to everyone who participated. We will be reaching out to the winner by email, so keep an eye on your inbox. We’ve received some great feedback and will use it to continue to make improvements to CARDinal!

Here are the answers:

1. RS 16/3/4/60 Box 1, Folder 1-2: Luella Naylor 4-H Scrapbook


2. MS-0613 Box 1, Folder 2: Perry Albert Westrope penmanship scrapbook


3. RS 8/6/168 Box 3, Folder 9: Report on Making of the World’s Largest Rice Krispies Treat


4. RS 2/1 Box 1, Folder 16: Adonijah Strong Welch papers – Graduation Address to First Class, 1872


5. RS 11/1/11 Map Case Drawer C409 D19, Folder 1: Blueprints for Marston Watertower


As always, if you have any questions or comments about CARDinal, please contact NHPRC Project Archivist Emily DuGranrut at emilyd1@iastate.edu.

NHPRC logo

This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Celebrate Black History All Year-Round!

Today marks the end of Black History Month. I would like to highlight some selected posts we’ve done that celebrate the history of Black students, faculty, and staff here at Iowa State.

Over the years our knowledge about the accomplishments of Black students, faculty, and staff at Iowa State has grown and, as a result, we are able to share that information. We will continue to work to document and share the history of Black people, and other underrepresented communities, here at ISU, but also strive to post year-round to celebrate the impact that Black students, faculty, and staff have had on our campus, and not just limit our recognition to one month.

I hope you enjoy reading or rereading these posts. If you would like to learn more about this topic, please visit us. We’re located on the 4th floor of the Parks Library, open M–F 9 to 5.

Black History Month at Iowa State University

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

Black History Month is celebrated from February 1 through February 28 starting in 1976 when the celebration was extended from a week to an entire month. Here on campus, we have a number of student organizations that celebrate Black History Month and work year round to educate campus on issues black students face today. The Black Student Government was a name that I found occurring repeatedly in the “Black History Month” folder of RS 22/03/001, so I decided to see if I could learn more about them.

On campus, the Black Student Government organized educational events, speakers, and more for the students at ISU. Their mission was to help black students on campus feel safe and at home on campus while also fighting for a better life. In 1992 the “Black Student Government” changed their name to the “Black Student Alliance” and continue to use this name on campus today.

Newspaper clipping of an article from the ISU Daily, Oct. 6, 1988, titled “Program for new Black Students discusses surviving ISU” Photograph included with article shows two female black students talking.

ISU Daily article on program sponsored by the Black Student Government. 10/6/88

During Black History Month, student organizations often work together to bring speakers, workshops, and other activities to campus. In 2000, seventeen campus groups, including the Black Student Alliance, worked together to create a range of activities celebrating Black History Month.

Flyer from February of 2000 titled “Celebrate Black History Month at Iowa State University” advertising the events for Black History Month.

Lastly, like any student organization, the Black Student Alliance is also about having fun and building a community. They often host events for students to hang out, like this “Show Me What You Got” game night! The organization is still active today with 97 student members. Each year the organization has an opportunity to attend the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, hosted by a different Big XII school each year.

Handout advertising “Show me what you got game night” hosted by the Black Student Alliance depicting a black male holding a video game controller.

For more information on Black History Month, the Black Student Alliance/Black Student Government, or other student organizations, check out RS 22/03/001!  All of the documents from this blog piece came from Box 1 of the collection, folders “Black History Month”, “Black Student Alliance”, and “Black Student Government”.