New oral histories available online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of three new oral history projects. They include:

The Extension & Outreach project features oral histories conducted with staff members who have served more than 40 years at ISU. Staff members interviewed include: Cheryl Clark, Joel DeJong, Donna Donald, Russ Euken, Paul Lasley, Jack Steven Van Laar, and Barbara Woods,

The Mathematics project features interview with ISU Department of Mathematics faculty. To date, interviews have been conducted with James Cornette, A. M. Fink, and Wolfgang Kliemann. Additional interviews are in the works.

The Voces of a Pandemic project features oral histories conducted by the the ISU U.S. Latino/a Studies Program, focused on Latinx in Iowa, and as part of a consortium with the Voces Project at UT-Austin exploring the Stories of the Latina/o Community Affected by the Coronavirus. Interviewees include: Joanne Camacho, Pat Ferrusca, Luis Gonzalez, Giselle Guardado, Ryan Guerra, Maria Hernandez, Ernesto Jimenez, Caleb Knutson, Kenji Nakata, Abi Perdomo, Sonia Reyes, Andrea Rivas, Diego Rodriguez, and Laura Rodriguez. Additional interviews are in the works and supported by an ISU Miller Grant.

Dimensions of Dialogue opening April 7

Graphic with text: Dimensions of Dialogue Exhibition. Opening April 7 Through Spring Semester First Floor Parks Library. A Special Collections and University Archives and Integrated Studio Arts 482: Letterpress Book Arts collaboration. Graphic is red background and collage of two images: top image student project of women's faces and text in background "We Should All Be Feminists" and second image according book "Ocean Dunes" displayed open and pages of ocean dunes unfolded.

Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist, Amy Bishop, held an instruction session with ArtIS 482: Special Topics: Letterpress Book Arts course earlier this semester, in February. In this class, Amy gave a whirlwind overview of the history of the book and allowed time for the students to explore artist’s books and rare books from SCUA’s collections on their own. After ArtTIS 482 students visited us in early February, they spent the next month coming back to our Reading Room for further review of selected volumes to use them as inspiration for their accordion books.

The class was a lot of fun to work with because they were really engaged with exploring the books from our collections. I was impressed by the quality of their work on their book projects, and I am excited to partner with them to create this exhibit!

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

Come to 198 Parks on April 7, at 4:45 p.m., for the exhibition opening, with a welcome from SCUA Department Head, Daniel Hartwig, followed by group presentations by ArtTIS 482 students.

Exhibition statement by Professor Raluca Iancu

The accordion is a book form that requires no sewing. The text block is compressed through folds. The accordion can be deceiving as it is conveniently small and compact in its closed state, yet extends when opened. While it can be a long and continuous form, it can also be segmented and fractured and can be opened as a folded book.  

Considering these characteristics, students were asked to create a dialogue between two accordion books in response to books from Special Collections. How can two books/sculptural objects be immersed in conversation? How does each book remain unique and serve as one side of the conversation? The conversation could take place in the binding, through the physical relationship of the accordion form, scale, and materials, or through the use of imagery. 

Letterpress Book Arts is a special topics course offered in the newly opened Letterpress Lab at the Student Innovation Center. The course will be offered again in Fall of 2022. Questions about this course? Contact Raluca Iancu: 

Oral History Toolkit workshop

Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) will be holding a workshop for the ISU community focused on its Oral History Toolkit. The Toolkit provides an easy way for individuals to capture and share recordings using readily available technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and/or audiovisual recording equipment. SCUA designed the process to be flexible to incorporate both individuals who record their own stories and interviews between two parties. The Toolkit was intentionally designed to accommodate several use cases so that equipment/technology is not a barrier. The project utilizes Google Drive for file and project management. Its collaborative editing, sharing, and forms functionality makes it a great tool for group projects. Plus, it integrates well with mobile and desktop apps for easy uploading and editing of files. Whether you plan to conduct oral histories for a project or for personal use, this workshop will provide the means for conducting and preserving high-quality interviews.  

Please feel free to share with those who might be interested. 

Date: April 6th, 2022 

Location: Parks Library 405 

Time: 3-4 PM 
Register online here. 

George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center Exhibit Talk

This upcoming weekend is the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NHPC) alumni reunion weekend.

Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) staff invites you to participate in two exciting opportunities during and after the NPHC Reunion on Saturday, April 2:

An exhibit that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center is available to view on the 4th floor of Parks Library. Greg Bailey, University Archivist, will be on hand from 10 a.m. – 1.p.m. Saturday to give attendees a tour guided tour of the exhibit and answer questions about the exhibit and University Archives operations, including how alumni can help preserve ISU history. Original materials related to the Center and Black student organizations will also be on display.

Graphic that used logo of the Black Cultural Center when it was dedicated in 1970 and a photograph from the Open House when it was open (Pictured left to right: Roy Snell (President BSO), Mrs. Ellen Parks, Norman Thomas (1st Manager of BCC), W. Robert Parks (ISU President), Amelia Parker (Graduate Student), Dean William Bell (Associate Dean of Students), Mrs. Harriett Bell). Images on the background using 1970s inspired colors of green, orange, raspberry, purple. Text says: Black Cultural Center Celebrating 50 Years.
One of the exhibition windows for the George A. Jackon Black Cultural Center Exhibition on the 4th floor of the Parks Library.

An oral history project is underway in an effort to document ISU student life. Alumni may sign up to schedule an interview and share their ISU experiences, whether in attendance at the reunion or not. In addition, alumni are encouraged to explore other recent projects, that document student life, including HBCU Connections, COVID Stories, Voices in Color, and Tracing Race at ISU.

More from University Archivist, Greg Bailey, about Saturday’s exhibit talk.

headshot of smiling white red haired man with beard, purple and white checkered collared shirt.
University Archivist, Greg Bailey

Why is SCUA hosting an exhibit talk for the NPHC Alumni Reunion and Plaza Ribbon Cutting Celebration?

Community Engagement Specialist, Susan Gent, had brought this together as she had heard there was interest in the history of the Black Cultural Center, and knew SCUA had an exhibit on display, from some of the folks that were attending the NPHC Memorial Dedication weekend. We figured this would be a great way to share the exhibit and network with alumni from the Black fraternities and sororities at ISU. These alumni are folks we are hoping to make a connection with as we work to be more inclusive in our holdings. 

What kinds of materials will be on display in 403 Parks? 

We will have original materials also on display from the Black Cultural Center records, Black Student Organization and Black Student Alliance records, and material from the NPHC fraternities and sororities.

Celebrating over 40 years

The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center was established in 1981 to provide a centralized home for women’s organizations and to promote and sustain women through advocacy, programs, and information and referral services. Committees on campus had been formed as early as the late 1960s to address women’s issues. A group of Iowa State University women educators, created in the 1970s, started to meet regularly. This group called itself “Options Unlimited.” In 1980, they submitted a proposal to create a women’s center.

The Sloss Women’s Center soon evolved into a program and space for those that did not have space or sense of belonging elsewhere on campus.

Newsletter page with black-and-white photographs first and second rows. SPECIAL EVENTS: margaret sloss women's CENTER. 1st row photos from left to right: Black woman with eyeglasses and teeny weeny afro wearing an embroidered blouse reading a book, caption: deborah gibson; 3 white people, one with long brunette hair and bangs, another with short combed back brunette haircut, and a third with short styled possibly blonde hair and glasses, all laughing and smiling caption: FROM COFFEE HOUSE...; last photo woman with medium layered brunette hair with parted fringe, holding a guitar and singing, caption: rosi gowdey. 2nd row, 1st paragraph: As part of one of its regular meetings, the Women's Center Advisory Board has a "coffee house." SCAB was trying out the basement space of Sloss House as an informal program space, to see if the weekly coffee houses WCAB has planned for the summer could be held in the basement space. The coffee house was a success. the poetry reading and the musical performances were followed by songs sun and shared by everyone. Weekly coffeehouses at the Margaret Sloss Women's Center will begin with the summer session in June and end in July. Friday nights: 8 - 10 p.m.  3rd row, photos - photograph of woman with short brunette hair and glasses to left and man on right with balding man, hair on sides, wearing glasses and suit and tie, in front of a portrait of an older white woman with white hair, glasses, caption: alumna; and photograph of white woman standing in front of same portrait of white woman as last photo and another photograph of a white woman running track, caption: amy and text above this photo: TO OPEN HOUSE..., below that photo a woman with short brunette hair standing in front of another portrait of an older white woman, caption: rachel, last photograph in row a white women with white shirt and necklace standing in front of two portraits of older white women, caption: jill, text "spring 1982" in reference to newsletter issue. Text now broken into two columns, except for last paragraph encompasses entire row. Top left column under "alumna" photo: Grace Maurer shared her memories of Dr. Sloss as an advisor to Mortar Board when Grace was an undergraduate member of Mortar Board. Other Alumni of ISU shared memories of Margaret Sloss when they stopped by the Women's Week Open House during the VEISHEA activities April 30 and May 1. Top right column under "amy" and "jill" photos: Two practicum students who worked with OSL 
Women's Programs through the Women's Center this semester deserve thanks and applause. The research they did to create the display and the audio-visual project, "Torchlighters of ISU: Women of Excellence" will be recognized for some time to come. The display will stay up in Sloss House for the month of May for any who missed it during Veishea. 2nd paragraph under left column: JILL INGRAM, 22, a senior in Family Environment, is pictured above, on the right, with her favorite photo: the photo of the May Day celebration, one of the forerunners of Veishea. Jill felt that the best part of her practicum experience "was meeting the people who come to Sloss House." The 2nd paragraph in the right column: AMY NESS, 23, is a first-year graduate student in HIgher Education and Student Personnel Services. Amy is pictured above with her favorite photo in the display: Peg Neppel Darrah. She certainly did live up to her own quote the last few days before the Open House: I felt that the busier I am, the more organized I will be." Bottom paragraph: RACHEL CHRISTENSEN will be leaving Women's Programs at ISU in order to finish her doctorate and explore work related to it. Jill and Amy want to thank Rachel for her enthusiasm and encouragement and help with their research and the Veishea display. Those of us at ISU, who have worked with Rachel want to thank her for her contributions to Women's Programs at ISU. Good luck, Rachel, in whatever you do next!
Page 2 of the May 1982 Womenews newsletter. Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. Administrative Records, RS 3/6/3, Box 17, Folder 1.

Effective in January 2019, the center changed their name to the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity, in order to better represent the work and mission of the center.

This week we have installed the exhibition “Celebrating over 40 years” in our Reading Room, 403 Parks Library, to honor the positive impact the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity has made on campus. We are open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 5 pm. Please drop by to see our new exhibit.

Check out the Sloss Center’s current upcoming programs and events by following their Instagram page @iastateslosscenter or subscribing to their newsletter.

Preserving communities through oral history workshop

We’re happy to announce the second in a series of community archives workshops. This workshop explores the theory and practice of oral history, a field of study that documents the past through first-person interviews conducted in the present-day with an emphasis on creating space for community organizations which might not have had access to oral history projects. SCUA staff will examine various means for community members to plan, conduct, and share oral history projects using SCUA’s Oral History Toolkit. The Toolkit provides community members with both a Quick Start Guide and more detailed Manual for those who want to stand up their own projects. The workshop will explore these two tracks, incorporating exercises for developing questions, interviewing, recording, and sharing interviews. Whether you plan to share recordings with relatives or are interested in donating them to an archive, this workshop will provide the means for conducting and capturing high quality interviews.

Register for workshop here.

Time: 9-1030AM

Location: Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA, 50010

Forever True Day! 24 Hours to Show your True Colors!

Today is the inaugural Forever True Day, where Cyclones around the globe are encouraged to come together for the next 24 hours and show some support for Iowa State University. From noon today, March 1, through noon tomorrow, March 2, show your true colors and support Iowa State University and its colleges and programs. We encourage you to fill your social media with cardinal and gold for the next 24 hours — comment, like, and share on your favorite platform different #ForeverTrueDay #CyclonesEverywhere posts from Iowa State University.

Graphic with red background and gold accent boxes around text in upper left and bottom right. Image of Iowa State University mascot Cy (cardinal) posing between two members of the pep squad, white college age women wearing white sweaters with an "I", presumably in red, centered between text that says 'NOON-NOON MARCH 1&2 Forever TRUE DAY " Show your true colors. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES' .
Cy centered between two pep squad members. From University Photographs, box 1648To

The Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) collects, preserves, and shares documentation of the experiences, achievements, and memories of people and organizations reflecting the university’s major research areas, with a special commitment to documenting the history of the university. Supporting the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology and human creativity to work, we strive to enrich learning and encourage investigation by a diverse community of users.

If you wish to support SCUA, please visit our fundraising page and share this post.

For more information on this new tradition, visit

Your Community, Your Archives Workshop

In collaboration with the Ames Public Library and the Ames History Museum, we are hosting a series of community archives workshops for underrepresented communities, focusing on how to manage and preserve personal archives, family papers, and organizational records. The workshops, operating from a non-custodial model where creators maintain archives with support from archivists, start next month. The first workshop will be an introduction to community archiving.

Your Community, Your Archives, Saturday, March 5, 9–10:30 am

Graphic with text (transcribed in caption) on yellow background. Text on left and on right side collage showing Black girl holding framed picture of older Black woman, two other family photographs adjacent to this image, protest with first row of white people wearing covering that says "Granny Peace Brigade) with crowd  of people behind them,
Your Community, Your Archives, Saturday, March 5, 9–10:30AM, Farwell T. Brown Auditorium, Ames Public Library.
Participants will be introduced to community archiving and encouraged to see the value of recording their history for themselves and those who weren’t there to witness it firsthand. This workshop is for underrepresented groups and individuals with collective stories to tell and share.

This introductory workshop offers a space for community organizations and individuals who haven’t had access to archival institutions.  

Iowa State University Special Collections and University Archives staff will address the principles and purpose of archives and why you should think long-term about archiving the documents and media that tell your story or the story of your social movement.  Emphasis will be placed on maintaining materials long-term.  We’ll share examples of how to manage and preserve personal archives, family papers, and organizational records. Techniques include inventorying documents and media types and exploring storage and access options as strategies for sustainability. 

There will be time during the workshop to start your archival plan and identify next steps toward preserving your archives. 

Registration is preferred, though walk-ins are most welcome.

Register here: 

Two new oral history collections online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of two new oral history collections: the Department of Mathematics Oral History Project and the Extension and Outreach Oral History Project. The former includes interviews conducted with Department of Mathematics professors AM Fink, James Cornette, and Wolfgang Kliemann. Additional interviews are underway. The Extension and Outreach Oral History Project features interviews with staff members who have served more than 40 years at Iowa State. Interviewees include: Barbara Woods, Cheryl Clark, Donna Donald, Jack Steven Van Laar, Joel DeJong, Paul Lasley, and Russ Euken. Both collections have been captioned and are accessible via Aviary, a platform incorporating closed captioning, synching of captions with media, and full-text searching.

Oral History Toolkit

We’re pleased to announce a new project to foster oral history projects at ISU and beyond. Called the Oral History Toolkit, the goal of this project is to provide the opportunity and means for individuals and groups to plan, conduct, and share oral history projects.

While SCUA is fortunate to have conducted many oral histories over the last 50 years, it is a fraction of all the stories that can and should be preserved. This project seeks to expand those stories to provide a fuller, more inclusive representation of Iowa State and surrounding communities. All stories are welcome. 

In achieving this goal, we recognize that a balance must be made between quality recordings and providing low-barrier, easy-to-use means for capture. As a result, we outline a variety of options so that projects can get carried out with available means yet still maintain a sufficient level of quality for long-term access and research use. 

A second balancing act concerns documentation. We all appreciate simplicity and minimal instructions—just get to the point please. Yet for many individuals, conducting oral histories and submitting them to an archives are totally new concepts. As a result, we try to provide succinct, to-the-point instructions to get you up and running without overburdening you with unnecessary details. We therefore offer two sets of documentation, a simple Quick Start Guide and an in-depth Manual.

Incorporating collaborative, distributed workflows, the Toolkit provides an easy way for individuals to capture and share recordings using readily available technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and/or audiovisual recording equipment. We’ve designed the process to be flexible to incorporate both individuals who record their own stories and interviews between two parties. We also have equipment that can be loaned for project use if needed. We’ve tried to accommodate all use cases so that equipment/technology is not a barrier. 

The project utilizes Google Drive for file and project management. Its collaborative editing, sharing, and forms functionality makes it a great tool for group projects. Plus, it integrates well with mobile and desktop apps for easy uploading and editing of files. Since this project is open to all, we’ve set the sharing settings to Public so anyone can access it. Documentation (including guides and forms) and folders for individual project files are accessible here. If participants are concerned about access to files, project coordinators can set up an administrator to govern access and manage folder and file settings more granularly. This is common for oral history projects so we are used to accommodating these types of requests.  

Materials submitted as part of Toolkit projects will be deposited within SCUA. Since Iowa State’s fundamental mission is advancing knowledge, the default access setting on these materials is “World”–meaning that anyone can view the materials and download individual files. We realize, however, that some projects may deal with sensitive topics and participants may not want to share files so widely. Thankfully, our systems offers different levels of access, including embargo periods, and visibility. 

Oral histories will be added to a new collection in Aviary. In addition to showcasing projects, this platform allows for media streaming, captioning, and full-text searching and synching of transcripts. 

Have an idea for an oral history project? Contact us at to share it and begin the discussion. We’ll help you plan the project and ensure that it gets done right.

%d bloggers like this: