“Our trip…will long be remembered”: Following the Trail of a Bird Watching Road Trip

Last Thursday our new exhibition, “Our trip…will long be remembered”: Following the Train of a Bird Watching Road Trip, opened. This exhibition follows the route of birders Walter M. Rosene, Sr., and Walter Bennett during their 1924 trip from Sioux City, Iowa, to East Central North Dakota as documented in Rosene’s travel journey. Detailed notes taken on the trip represent some of the earliest observations of birding areas that are now well-known for their value to ornithological study. The exhibition will be available now through fall 2020 in Parks Library Room 403.

Detailed bird observations and poetic descriptions of fascinating accounts enable visitors to see the beauty of nature through Rosene’s eyes. Excerpts from his journal are complimented by photographs and hand-colored lantern slides taken on the trip, and maps and supplemental materials place the road trip in the larger context of environmental and social concerns of the Great Plains in the early 20th century.

Rosene, the first president of the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union, and Bennett, a biological investigator and bird life lecturer, dedicated most of their lives to conservation and bird study, and their 1,600-mile journey remained a memorable and important experience throughout their birding careers.

Many of the documents and photographs are from the Walter M. Rosene, Sr. Papers and are available digitally as part of the Avian Archives of Iowa Online (avIAn) – a newly launched web portal of Iowa ornithological primary sources supported by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The avIAn project documents nearly 100 years of bird study in Iowa and includes materials from some of the Midwest’s most prominent conservationists.

Pictured above are staff from Iowa State University Printing and Copy Services installing the window decals for the new exhibition.

Join us at the exhibition reception to learn more

What: Following the Trail of a Bird Watching Road Tip: A Curators’ Journey

When: 7-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24

Where: Ames Public Library Farewell T. Brown Auditorium, 515 Douglas Ave, Ames IA 50010

Join us to learn behind the scenes details about the creation of the exhibition and its connection to the recently completed Avian Archives of Iowa Online (avIAn). Attendees will have the unique opportunity to hear from exhibition curators Erin Anderson and Amy Bishop as they discuss their findings and the impact it has on local and national communities.

This talk marks the opening of the exhibition. Admission is free and hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served.

We would like to give special thanks to the following exhibition partners: Iowa Young Birders, Iowa Ornithologist’s Union, Ames Historical Society, the ISU Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management and Wild Birds Unlimited of Ames

Contact information

Rachel Seale, University Library Special Collections and University Archives Outreach Archivist ­­515-294-5311 or rmseale@iastate.edu

Nacuya Rucker, University Library External Relations Director 515-294-2155 or nrucker@iastate.edu

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings – Take 3!

Join us Thursday, September 12th for a screening of the film “When We Farmed with Horses” at Living History Farms (11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, Iowa). We will be in the Celebration Room in the Visitor’s Schedule (relocated from Flynn Barn due to weather) during the day from 1 – 4 pm looping several films and news clips that have featured Living History Farms over the years. Then, we return during History Happy Hour and will have en evening program, from 6 – 8 pm. After the film, stick around for a presentation with Tom Morain, the Director of Government Relations as Graceland University, followed by a Q&A session.

Still from "When We Farmed With Horses"
Still from “When We Farmed With Horses”

History Happy Hour Evening program “Flicks on the Farm”

6 pm Screening of When We Farmed With Horses

6:45 pm When We Farmed with Horses…And Before by Tom Moraine

7:15 pm Q&A

Headshot of Tom Morain

Photo courtesy of Tom Morain

Tom Morain is Director of Government Relations as Graceland University.  From 1981-1995, he was Director of Interpretation at Living History Farms before accepting appointment as administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa.  His study of small-town idea received the Shambaugh Award as Best Book of the Year.  He has taught Iowa History at Iowa State and Graceland and currently serves on the Iowa History Advisory Council.

This archival film is the last in a series of film screenings across Iowa dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories at home. History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings is funded, in part, by the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.

This project was inspired by the work of film archivist Jane Paul (1958-2018). Paul spent her career collecting, curating and presenting film content, tailored for regional, and multicultural, New Zealand audiences. 

The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) received $6,286 from the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area is one of 49 federally designated heritage areas in the nation and is an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service. Through the development of a network of sites, programs and events, SSNHA’s mission is to interpret farm life, agribusiness
and rural communities-past and present. Click HERE to explore the heritage area or to visit one of our sites.

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings at Amana!

Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and Preservation have partnered with the Amana Heritage Society Museums, Living History Farms, and the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation to share local stories by screening archival agricultural films from our collections. 

This project is inspired by the work of film archivist Jane Paul (January 19, 1958–November 13, 2018). Paul spent her career collecting, curating, and presenting film content tailored for regional and multicultural New Zealand audiences.

Event this week

Thursday, June 20, Amana Heritage Auditorium, 705 44th Avenue, Amana, Iowa, starts at 7 p.m.

We are screening our production Landmarks in Iowa History #2: Amana, originally aired on February 3, 1959, and Iowa Perspectives, a news story that aired on January 10, 1979.

Peter Hoehnle’s presentation, “Just When You Thought You Had Seen It All…” follows. Hoehnle is a historian from Fire Creek Historical Consulting and an Iowa State alum. He will discuss never before seen images from the Amana Heritage Society and Museum, that were preserved through a grant with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Historical Resource Development Program. These images provide a new window on life in Amana.

Save the date for our day at Living History Farms!

Thursday, September 12, Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, Iowa

Last week

Last Wednesday we visited the Norman Borlaug Heritage Farm and did a screening in the New Oregon #8 school house.

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings is funded, in part, by the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings

This summer, we are kicking off our pilot project History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings. Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and Preservation have partnered with the Amana Heritage Society Museums, Living History Farms, and the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation to share local stories by screening archival agricultural films from our collections.  This project is inspired by the work of film archivist Jane Paul (January 19, 1958–November 13, 2018). Paul spent her career collecting, curating, and presenting film content tailored for regional and multicultural New Zealand audiences.

Next week!

Wednesday, June 12, at the 1915 barn on the Norman Borlaug Heritage Farm, 20399 Timber Avenue, Lawlor, Iowa, from 1 – 3 p.m.

We are bringing two productions: Norman Borlaug – Revolutionary (1971), a film about the Green Revolution, produced by the National Agricultural Chemicals Association, and Dimension 5: World Food and Hunger with Norman Borlaug, a television panel discussion about pesticides and wheat varieties. The Borlaug Foundation also provided untitled home movie footage from Borlaug’s time in Mexico.

In two weeks!

Thursday, June 20, Amana Heritage Auditorium, 705 44th Avenue, Amana, Iowa, starts at 7 p.m.

We are screening our production Landmarks in Iowa History #2: Amana, followed by a presentation by Peter Hoehnle, from Fire Creek Historical Consulting and an Iowa State alum, on the images the Amana Heritage Society & Museum preserved through a grant with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Historical Resource Development Program.

Save the date for our day at Living History Farms!

Thursday, September 12, Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd., Urbandale, Iowa

History At Home: Community Archival Film Screenings is funded, in part, by the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area General Grant Program. This program funds projects dedicated to telling America’s agricultural stories.

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.

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.

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/.

A Welcome to Emily DuGranrut, Our NHPRC Project Archivist

Courtesy of Emily DuGranrut.

Emily is the new NHPRC Project Archivist at Iowa State, working with Special Collections and University Archives to complete a grant project to implement a new archives management system.

Emily is originally from Lima, Ohio, and comes from a large family of library and history lovers. She studied journalism and history at Ohio University and completed an internship at The New York Times before moving to Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, she helped manage a used bookstore for three years and began working toward her MLIS at Wayne State University. She moved to Iowa in August after completing an internship at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, where she worked digitizing audio materials and processing photo collections. She will finish her MLIS in December. In her free time, Emily enjoys hanging out with her cats, Ace and Jack, reading, camping, and rock climbing.

Activist Agriculture: Farm Protest in Iowa, 1929-1969

Next Wednesday, our new exhibition, Activist Agriculture: Farm Protest in Iowa, 1929-1969, opens. From 10:45 – 12:15 July 18, our exhibition team will talk about the exhibit process for the physical and online exhibits. The exhibition team at the Iowa State University Library includes staff from Special Collections & University Archives, as well as members of the Preservation Department & Digital Initiatives. Don’t miss out on a perfect opportunity to learn what goes on behind the scenes!

I thought it would be fun to ask the curators some questions about this exhibit. This exhibition is curated by Amy, Olivia, & Kim. Amy is our rare books & manuscripts archivist, and Olivia is our reference coordinator. Kim is the digital initiatives archivist.

What do you hope visitors get out of the exhibit?

Amy: In this exhibit, we highlight the stories of activism on the part of both farm owners and migrant farm workers in Iowa. Previous to working on the exhibit, I knew very little about the stories of migrant farm workers in Iowa, and I suspect that my case is not unusual. So, I hope visitors spend some time examining both of those elements in the exhibit, comparing and contrasting the motivations and experiences of both farmers and farm workers.

Olivia: I hope that visitors get a sense of the variety of actions taken by farmers in order to influence policy and prices.  The farmers and various farming groups did not take a “one size fits all” approach to activism.

Kim: I would like visitors to think critically about agency and its relationship to activism. I think this exhibit will show both activism to secure economic and political agency, as well as activism facilitated by social and cultural agency. I would also like visitors to be more aware of the desperation and difficult lived experiences that led farmers and farm workers to take powerful and controversial action. I also hope that visitors just find the exhibit interesting and might be inspired to learn more about the topics presented here.

What was the most interesting thing you learned doing this exhibit (can be Farm Protest related or exhibit process related)?

Amy:  I spent the most time researching and selecting items to tell the story of the National Farmers Organization (NFO) holding actions, and I was struck by the whole development of the organization and its activism in the 1960s. It is a period of American history known for its general unrest and activism on many fronts–Civil Rights, the anti-war movement, Counterculture. It is interesting to look at the activism of NFO as a piece of this broader tapestry of activism, but it is an important story on its own and one that is not widely known.

Olivia: It was interesting to see the range of factors that can affect a farmer’s ability to make a living.  Of course, weather would usually be the first thing to come to mind.  However, there are so many other forces including legislation and who gets the money when farm commodity prices increase (is if the farmer or the grocery store?)  What I learned about the exhibit process is just how much work goes into making an exhibit.  Of course there’s the fun part of choosing artifacts, but there’s a lot of research to do ahead of time and thinking about how the different interesting artifacts fit together to tell a larger story.

Kim: I was surprised by the sheer numbers of people who turned out at the blockades and strikes. I also learned how to use some new software – QGIS for building the map (with KML encoding that I learned at a workshop last year), and building timelines from scratch in Adobe Illustrator.

What is your favorite item in the exhibit (online or physical)?

Amy: I particularly like all the NFO milk holding action photos because they are visually powerful. One in particular stands out. It shows a family walking through a field in which a lot of cars are parked, heading towards a gathering of people in the distance. Six children are walking with their father, and two kids at the front of the group are carrying a sign that reads, “We like farming but can’t do it for fun alone. Support NFO.” It evokes the sense of just how much entire families were involved in the protests–and how the whole families’ livelihoods were at stake.

Olivia: My favorite item is the political cartoon of the cow sitting on her tail so that the veterinarian can’t test her for tuberculosis.  It is lighthearted, but sends a strong message.  Oh yeah, and the cow is pretty cute, too!

Kim: This is an easy one – I’ve been enamored of the Al Loveland campaign comic book since we found it. It adds a splash of color to the exhibit and some of the panels work really well as tiny vignettes of depression-era and New Deal farm experiences. We’re displaying it open to a particular page in the physical exhibit, but visitors can read the entire comic book online.

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As exhibition coordinator, I keep track of deadlines and move the process forward. There are many moving parts to the exhibition process, and I coordinate them so that other parts of the exhibition team can complete the work they need to do in order for the exhibition to open on time. My favorite part of this process is the installation of the window display. Since our Pammel Court exhibition in 2017, we have partnered with ISU Printing Services to include our department windows in our exhibits. Curators select images and with the much appreciated assistance of Jody Kalvik , program coordinator in the Library’s Instruction department, develop graphics for the window. Then it is sent over to Printing Services and after each window is printed, they take 24 hours to dry. Then I schedule a time for the Printing Services team, managed by Lorraine Petersen, to install the windows. The installation of the windows is my favorite part because it marks the beginning of a new exhibition and also is a prominent piece of the exhibit. When it is done, I am able to breathe a sign of relief.

Please drop by Wednesday, July 18, and check out our new exhibition! The exhibition team will be on hand from 10:45–12:15 to answer questions & show off the digital exhibit also in 405 Parks.