Back to the 1960s – The Story of Don Smith

Several months ago I reached into the archives and pulled out an address from 1967 by President W. Robert Parks that emphasized the importance of practicing tolerance on the university campus. Across the country, the late-1960s was a period of significant generational change and Iowa State was not immune to these events. Interestingly, the address by Parks was prompted by an unlikely event–the ISU student government election of 1967. 

News article announing Smiths and Lifkas intentions to run for GSB office

Don Smith and Mary Lou Lifka announce they are entering the Government of the Student Body election. This article appeared in the April 20, 1967, issue of the Iowa State Daily. (W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, box 35, folder 8)

Donald R. Smith, often described in the papers as a member of the New Left (and often called far worse things by editorial letter writers), was elected president of the student body alongside running mate Mary Lou Lifka. Their platform included the elimination of university oversight into the private lives of students and the formation of a student federation to oppose high rents in Ames. Smith strayed from the image of the typical college student that was normally elected student body president at Iowa State: he was bearded with long shaggy hair, he rarely wore socks let alone a suit and a tie, and he didn’t much care for rules. In fact it was the elimination of rules that he was most passionate about, including eliminating student curfews, loosening campus drinking policies, and essentially getting rid of any campus policies that affected students when they were outside the classroom. He supported ending the war in Vietnam, legalization of marijuana, and access to contraceptives.

Smith stated one of his goals was to bring the University “kicking and screaming into the 20th century.” It seems he felt his main opposition would come from the administration, as they were largely the rule-enforcing body. In large part the administration remained silent, even though Smith’s election made headlines from New York to San Francisco. President Parks remained remarkably quiet on the issue considering he was receiving numerous letters from irate citizens and legislators who worried Iowa State was becoming the “Berkeley of the Midwest.”

Newspaper photo of Don Smith hung in effigy on the steps of Beardshear Hall in 1967

This image of Don Smith hung in effigy on the steps of Beardshear Hall appeared in the April 8, 1967 issue of the Iowa State Daily (W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, box 35, folder 8)

Perhaps what Smith didn’t realize was the level of resistance he would receive from his fellow students. Just weeks into his presidency the Iowa State Daily published an article claiming that Smith had attended a party in which marijuana was consumed. When Smith admitted that he had indeed smoked pot on numerous occasions, calls for his impeachment started to build momentum. Smith resigned before the student senate was to vote on his impeachment and withdrew from Iowa State shortly thereafter. His tenure lasted all of 40 days. 

Don Smith’s resignation letter, April 1967. (Government of the Student Body records, RS 22/1/3, box 2, folder 24)

Don Smith did return to Iowa State the following year to finish his mechanical engineering degree. However, just his formal request to re-enroll at Iowa State caused more headlines. Smith obtained graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and eventually moved to California where he became a very successful wind energy consultant and engineer. Donald R. Smith passed away in 2010, but he was welcomed back to the Iowa State campus on several occasions before his death to talk about his experience during those tumultuous years.

For his part, President Parks tried to let the students work out who they were going to have represent them. After Smith resigned, President Parks did assert that the University would continue to maintain rules governing student conduct outside of the classroom, but emphasized that administration was willing to listen and work with students to update student conduct rules.

If you would like to dive into the life of Donald R. Smith a little more there are several collections worth looking into. Materials from the papers of former President Parks and the records of the Government of the Student Body are cited above. The archives also holds files on former students and alumni (collection RS 21/7/1), largely composed of news clippings. The file on Don Smith contains a significant number of articles during his college years, but also after his graduation and up until his death. Clearly, Don Smith left an impression on the people of central Iowa.  

 

 


“The University and Tolerance”

In deciding which topic to write about for this blog, I’ll admit, I struggled to find inspiration. I knew I wanted it to be a topic that related back to the 1960s and that it should have some connection with current events. I checked the usual sources that were readily available to me such as the Iowa State yearbook, the ISU history timeline on our website, and previous posts that appeared on this blog.

And then the thought occurred to me to skim the finding aid for the papers of President W. Robert Parks and explore some of the events that were taking place on campus 50 years ago. One folder title caught my attention, “Speech – commencement address: ‘The University and Tolerance'” from 1967.

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This portrait of W. Robert Parks was taken in 1965, just one year before he was named Iowa State’s 11th President. (University Photograph Collection, RS 2/11/A, box 67)

Parks delivered this speech on tolerance on February 25, 1967, at the graduation ceremony denoting the end of the winter quarter (Iowa State would not move to the semester system until 1981). The speech touches on the challenges of living in a modern and changing world and explores how tolerance is a necessary part of our system of government and our civil society. Parks believed that it was the university’s responsibility to develop educated minds that understood the meaning of and the need for tolerance. It was also his expectation that these people, so educated, would become leaders in developing a climate of tolerance in all aspects of national society.

“The tolerant mind, then, is a tough mind, which does not require the psychological security of absolutes. It does not need to find single causes, or to have single answers. Rather, it can live with the free interplay of differing opinions, differing goals, differing ways of life. It is, in short, tough enough to accept the psychological frustrations which accompany the rich diversities of a pluralistic society.” — “The University and Tolerance” commencement address, February 25, 1967, by W. Robert Parks, President, Iowa State University

Full text of Parks’ commencement address “The University and Tolerance”

Though there may be more eloquent passages in Parks’ speech, the above definition of what Parks believed a tolerant mind to be struck a chord with me. As I read this speech I started to wonder why Parks felt that this message of tolerance was necessary at this point in time in the University’s history. I knew that generational changes were taking place on the Iowa State campus. Female students were starting to demand greater equality with regards to curfews and visitation rules in the residence halls. The civil rights movement was gaining strength nationally, but it would be another year before the black students at Iowa State would truly make their voices heard. These issues were all certainly present at the time, but I believe the impetus for this speech was the result of the student body election that took place just weeks earlier. The campus was unprepared for the ensuing uproar when a nonconformist by the name of Don Smith became president of the Government of the Student Body–but that is a story for a future blog post!

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Spring commencement in 1967 was held in the Armory.  Unfortunately, our collections do not contain any photos of the winter commencement ceremony. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/2/E, Box 452)

Although the election of Don Smith may have been at the forefront of Parks’ mind when he presented this speech, I also think that the president, in his own way, was preparing the Iowa State community for the challenging years he knew were coming. The next several years of Parks’ presidency saw him navigate the university through the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War protests. He may not have moved the university at the speed some students preferred or responded to student agitation as firmly as some legislators would have wanted, but by most accounts Parks approached many of the significant issues of his time with care, thoughtfulness, and, of course, tolerance.

The W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, are rich in correspondence, news clippings, and administrative files that document how university leaders approached some of these often contentious issues. To learn more about how President Parks responded to events and addressed the Iowa State community during these times of change, stop in and visit us!


Rare Book Highlights: Iowa Private Press books

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am highlighting several private press books that contain collections of poetry. Private presses are run by individuals and are driven less by commercial than personal interests. The works they create have limited press runs, and the goal is to create a beautiful book.

Iowa State University Library has collected the works of a number of Iowa private presses, particularly from those active in the 1960s-80s, and Special Collections holds a related manuscript collection, the Iowa Private Presses Ephemera Collection (MS 414).

Slesinger, Warren. Field with Figurations. West Branch, Iowa: The Cummington Press, 1970. Call number: PS3569.L4 F5

This book of poems by Warren Slesinger published by the Cummington Press in West Branch, Iowa, is quarter-bound with a lovely gray paste-paper with a wavy design. Many private press books use a colophon–a note at the end of the book containing various information about the book and its publication. In early printed books, especially those in the 15th century, the colophon was the only place to find information on the title and author of the work, the printer, place of printing, and date. Today in many private press and artists’ books, the colophon is frequently used to record details about the type, paper, binding, and other physical aspects of the book. In this case, we see that this book is part of a numbered edition–33 of 295 copies–as well as other details about the paper and funding source.

This book is number 33 of an edition limited to two hundred and ninety-five copies, printed on Alexandra Japan paper from Octavian type; its production has been enabled by a grant of money from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Colophon of Slesinger’s “Field with Figurations”.

Sjoberg, John. Hazel & Other Poems. West Branch, Iowa: The Toothpaste Press, 1976. Call number: PS3569.J6 H3

Here is another book with an interesting binding. The colophon indicates that this edition was bound in two different ways. The larger portion was sewn and glued into wrappers, meaning paper covers, similar in weight to a paperback book. Fifty copies, of which this one is numbered 41 and signed by the author, were “quarter bound in Japanese handmade Tomoe paper & cloth over boards by the Black Oak Bindery.” I love this binding. The paper has an almost furry texture, and the swirls have a lovely sheen in the light.

Hazel was designed by Cinda Kornblum; handset by Steve Levine and Allan Kornblum; then printed on Ragston paper in an edition of 500 copies by Allan Kornblum & a treadle-driven Challenge platen press. Of this first edition, 450 were sewn and glued into wrappers; 50 copies were numbered & signed by the author, then quarter bound in Japanese hand-made Tomoe paper & cloth over boards by the Black Oak Bindery. Numbered 41, and signed by John Sjoberg.

Colophon for Sjoberg’s “Hazel & Other Poems.”

Padgett, Ron, and Trevor Winkfield. How to be a Woodpecker. West Branch, Iowa: The Toothpaste Press, 1983. Call number: PS3566.A32 H68x 1983

Here is an example of a book sewn into wrappers. Sewn with a simple pamphlet stitch, I find it elegant in its simplicity. This book contains a series of 5 poems, each illustrated with a whimsical black and white print. These are also signed by the book’s creators.

(c) 1983 by Ron Padgett and Trevor Winkfield. Handset in Optima type by David Duer. This is number 213 of 600 signed copies printed on Ragston paper by Allan Kornblum and D. Duer. Handsewn in Canson wrappers by A.B. signed in black ink by Ron Padgett. Signed in red ink by Trevor Winkfield.

Colophon of Padgett and Winkfield’s “How to be a Woodpecker.”

Slesinger, Warren. With Some Justification: Nine Poems. Iowa City: The Windhover Press, 1983. Call number: PS3569.L4 W5 1983

This understated volume may be my favorite of all. Its textblock has been sewn onto cloth tapes that have been laced into the simple, light gray wrappers.

The nine poems are disguised as dictionary definitions. Above, below, and between the areas of text on each page are sections of uninked type impressions, type layered over type so that is creates a blurred impression. Cleverly, they carried over this idea of the blind-stamping type into the colophon. Half is inked, and half is like a secret message. Can you read it in the image below? (Click the images to view larger.)

Popkes, Wendy. Iowa Couplets. Art and printing by Ladislav Hanka. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Rarach, Press, 1982. Call number: PS3566 O62743x 1982

This book comes out a press from Michigan, but how could I resist including a book called Iowa Couplets? Bound in a paper with bits of grass, it gives a feeling of prairie before even opening the book. It includes a single poem and prints of rows of corn stalks.

I will leave you with the last lines of the poem,

A tall stalk

sprung from the living room carpet,

I become an acre,

a field in their old eyes.


#TBT Spring Break Fashion

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RS 21/7/9, box 18

To celebrate Spring Break, I present the most fashion-forward swimwear of 1917. 100 years ago, this is what the young ladies of Iowa State may have worn on their beach vacations.  Of course, spring break as we know it now did not exist in 1917, though there was a 3 day Easter vacation.  This picture is a magazine cover found in the collection of covers and fashion prints collected by Mary Barton.  You can browse the digitized images of fashion plates from this collection.

I know everyone will be clamoring to get their hands on this swimsuit! Have fun and be safe as you finish up Spring Break!


Formation of the Black Student Organization at ISU

For this look back at the 1960s I’ve decided to explore the origins of the Black Student Organization at ISU (now the Black Student Alliance). Not only is it a story that is not well-known to me, but I suspect it is not familiar to most people now at Iowa State. It seems almost all Iowa Staters are familiar with the story of George Washington Carver, Iowa State’s first African American student and faculty member, and the tragedy of Iowa State’s first black athlete, Jack Trice. After doing some research into our student organizations files here in the archives, I found that the story of the formation of the Black Student Organization at ISU is just as interesting and incredibly relevant to students on campus today.

The 1960s at Iowa State started off much as the 1950s left off. Strict rules were still in place regulating conduct and social interaction of women students. Students were separated into different dormitories with men on one side of campus and the women on the other. However, as the 1960s wore on, student perceptions began to change. Like in much of the country, students began to question the war in Vietnam, female students began to push back against gender barriers, and students of color began to speak out against racism and prejudice.

In the summer of 1967, the faculty and staff newspaper, News of Iowa State, ran an article reporting on a study completed by two ISU journalism students regarding the racial climate at Iowa State. The findings, authored by Pat Alford, identified as a “Negro coed from Charlotte, N.C.,” and Maurine Foster, simply identified as a Weldon, Iowa native, were both journalism students at Iowa State. The results of their study found that the racial climate at Iowa State at that time was “relatively favorable.” During those years, the University attempted to eliminate overt discrimination. Students interviewed in the study didn’t believe they would be denied membership to student groups, but with an enrollment of around 125, black students largely felt they were being left out of the mainstream of college life. (This may help explain why it is so difficult to find a photograph in our collections of an African-American student at Iowa State prior to 1970 unless he was involved in athletics.)

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Article from the Iowa State Daily, April 6, 1968, reporting on the demonstration by a group of students at the Memorial Union the previous day.

This favorable view of campus race relations abruptly changed following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968. The following day, black students on campus held a demonstration in the Commons of the Memorial Union. According to a report by the Iowa State Daily (April 6, 1968), a group of approximately 40 students filed into the Union, toasted to “black unity on campus” and then dropped and shattered their drinking glasses on the floor, overturned their tables and chairs, and quietly left. Following the demonstration, a statement was issued and signed by the “Afro-American Students of Iowa State University,” a group that formed the night before under the leadership of student Bruce Ellis. The students adopted a constitution on April 23, 1968 and officially became the Black Student Organization.

In early May, students and administrators were interviewed by the Iowa State Daily (May 3, 1968) for an article on campus race relations. One of those students was Pat Alford, the student from Charlotte. The article identifies some of the common forms of discrimination blacks faced at Iowa State. These included overt forms such as insensitive signs and symbols used by student groups and the denial of access to certain student groups based on skin color. It is interesting that these statements seem to conflict with what was reported a year earlier. The article noted the psychological burdens of being a person of color in a community where the vast majority of students and faculty are white. Black students also felt they were missing out on social interactions at Iowa State. According to one estimate, black male students outnumbered black female students at Iowa State 15 to 1, resulting in many black male students traveling to Des Moines to find a date.

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1967 Iowa State football team (Bomb, 1968, page 119)

Within weeks, the Black Student Organization would take their concerns to University administration. On May 20, 1968, the black athletes of Iowa State, with the full support of the Black Student Organization, issued eight grievances to the Athletic Council. The students asked for racial representation in the coaching staff and administration of the athletics department, reprimands or removal of three coaches and trainers they accused of discriminatory treatment of black athletes, more leniency for all athletes in terms of academics and living requirements, an allowance for black athletes to seek employment while on full scholarship, and a request that the ISU community use the words Black Students or Afro-Americans in place of the term Negro.

The initial response from the Athletic Council, signed by council chairman John Mahlstede, did not exactly impress the students. Dated two weeks later on June 5, the response was carefully worded, but it was clear that the Council did not find any evidence of discriminatory actions by the coaches or in its hiring practices. Not surprisingly, this announcement did not end the controversy.

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The first page from a letter, dated May 20, 1968, submitted to the Athletic Council on behalf of the black student athletess. (See file labeled Black Student Organization – Athletic Council Issue in RS 22/3/0/1, Multicultural Student Affairs)

By the end of June, President W. Robert Parks asked that the University Human Relations Committee conduct a separate investigation into the grievances. This report, presented just two weeks later, recognized that discrimination almost assuredly existed on campus and that “the need for change in behavior on the part of individual members of the University community is crucial.” The report did not charge any individuals with discriminatory actions. It did, however, strongly encourage the hiring of a black football coach, a recommendation that coach Johnny Majors fulfilled when he hired coach Ray Green in the spring of 1969.

These actions did not satisfy everyone. At least seven students carried through on their promise to leave Iowa State if and when the Athletic Council did not comply with the eight grievances. Bruce Ellis, president of the Black Student Organization, was one of these students along with two football players. Though these students did not immediately effect the change they hoped to, their actions did initiate a conversation about race and inclusivity that in many ways continues today. They also helped foster a growing awareness among members of the ISU community that racism and discrimination were present on the Iowa State campus and that the entire community was responsible for addressing the concerns raised by black students of Iowa State.

More information on the early years of the Black Student Organization (now known as the Black Student Alliance) is available in Special Collections and University Archives in collection RS 22/3/0/1, Multicultural Student Organizations. Unfortunately, the black student experience at Iowa State is largely underrepresented in the archives. Most of the materials that are available to historians and researchers consist of newspaper clippings or files from campus administration. These records are often incomplete and leave gaps in the historical record. We welcome collection materials (i.e. photographs, letters, flyers, etc.) from alumni that might help document the experience of black students at Iowa State.


Working the Corner of Yesterday and Tomorrow

When I was a kid schoolteachers used slide projectors quite a bit. Slides and transparencies are very easy to use. Film projectors and reels are a little trickier, but those were commonly used as well. Some instructors were still using these media when I was earning my degrees (roughly 1995 to 2007). Doing so could make sense: not all topics are subject to change, and if the teaching aids and apparatus are durable, why not use that slide show on Renaissance art for 20 years?

Working in archives often means working with outmoded technology and information-bearing media. It’s interesting that while archivists are not stuck in the past — we use cutting-edge tools, we collect and preserve modern stuff — archivists can never forget about the old media, machinery, methods, and materials. All that is donated to (and actively collected by) institutions like archives, museums, and special libraries.

Today I will blog about glass slides and the projectors that love them. ISU Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) has more than one set of glass slides, but our largest set of them is part of the Warren H. Manning Papers (manuscript collection MS 218). Manning (1860-1938) was a giant in the realm of landscape architecture. Photography was one of his favorite tools. Among other things, SCUA’s Manning collection includes over 2000 glass “lantern slides” and over 1000 photographic prints made from the slides. Take a look — 1554 images are online here. Quite a few are of scant interest to laypeople, but there are interesting and beautiful ones too:

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Taken at Ishpeming, Michigan. William G. Mather house before planting. No date. Manning lantern slide #489. Image ID 218.LS.489.

The word “lantern” in “lantern slides” sounds a bit archaic, doesn’t it? When I think of lanterns, I think of wicks and flames, not light bulbs. Similarly, some people — Brits, possibly others — refer to flashlights as “electric torches” or just “torches,” a usage I find appealing. Lantern slide projectors use bulbs, but they are descended from magic lanterns. The basic idea is very old and requires nothing more than a source of light (the brighter the better) and something to shine it through (not necessarily a photograph: stained glass invites comparison). In this way it reminds me of the camera obscura. What could be simpler, and yet so pregnant with possibilities?

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A Spencer “Delineascope” glass slide projector, one of several that SCUA owns. Made in the 1920s. Was used for instructional purposes at ISU.

Of course, making glass slides with photographic images on them is a 19th century development. While archives and collectors should take good care of the slides, and maintain some projectors of the same vintage, we have an interest in reformatting the images. Glass slides are heavy and fragile. The projector pictured above is very heavy (take my word for it). Most people do not need to use the originals; photographic prints and digitized versions are usually better options. We pursue the same strategy when we offer facsimiles of rare books and manuscripts. Certain researchers need to see the real artifacts, and within reason we love to show them off.

The work of reformatting information resources takes as many forms as there are types of media. Consider that some things can be viewed with the naked eye, while others require an intermediary device (such as a projector). Computer programs and data storage are an extreme case; since the “goalposts” have moved so quickly, meeting requirements for preserving and accessing legacy digital resources is a daunting challenge.

Being a musician I am tempted to digress into digital audio reformatting and related topics, but I’ll save those thoughts for another time.

 


Basketball: Iowa State versus Kansas 60 Years Ago #TBT

Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas #13)

From University Photograph Collection, 24/5/G, box 1817

This Saturday, January 14th, marks the 60th anniversary of a well-remembered game in Iowa State’s basketball history: Iowa State versus Kansas. Both teams had players which would go on to have major professional basketball careers:  Gary Thompson (Iowa State, #20) and Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas, #13). In the photograph above, Chamberlain is attempting to make a basket while Thompson guards on the floor.

It was an exciting game, with Iowa State beating Kansas, 39-37. At the very end, Don Medsker made the winning basket. The game was Chamberlain’s first loss in college basketball. In celebration of the win, Iowa State fans invaded the Armory’s floor after the game.

A number of images documenting the game are now available in Digital Collections. Although we don’t have a program from the game (please contact us if you’d be willing to donate one!), we do have news clippings from that year in RS 24/5/0/0, box 1, folder 1, a folder of materials on Gary Thompson (RS 21/7/1), and the book “Gary Thompson, All-American” by Gary Offenburger.  Additional men’s basketball records are also available in the University Archives.


Looking Back on the 1960s

This is the first in a series of posts about Iowa State University during the 1960s.

Exploring The Chart: Rules and Regulations for Women

This past semester I had the pleasure of assisting a history class interested in studying student life during the 1960s here at Iowa State. For this type of research there are many great places to start in the archives. The Bomb, Iowa State’s yearbook, and other student publications like the Iowa State Daily and the Iowa Homemaker offer lots of opportunities to explore college life throughout the years. For some reason, maybe due to the relative lack of formal rules imposed upon my youth, I find myself fascinated by the regulations that governed student conduct on campus. The best place to find these rules for Iowa State students of the 1960s is in the student handbook, which at this time was called The Chart.

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This is an undated image of Linden Hall, originally built as a women’s dormitory. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

The 1959/1961 issue of The Chart provides a clear picture of what was expected from students at Iowa State, especially women, during the start of the 1960s. At this time men and women were housed in separate dormitories on opposite sides of campus. There were also far more restrictions on women than men. In 1960, all undergraduate women had to live in residence halls or sorority houses except under special circumstances approved by administration. The Chart details very specifically the times when women must be in their residence halls. Freshman women had to be home by 9:00 pm most weeknights whereas sophomores and up were able to stay out until the wee hour of 10:00 pm. Friday and Saturday nights the women were granted leave until midnight and 12:30 am respectively. For special events women were allowed extended hours, but this was only for a handful of events such as Homecoming, VEISHEA, and annual dances.

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No car rides without a letter from your parents! This undated photograph shows several cars parked outside Linden Hall. Photograph from box 487, Linden Hall, RS 7/4/I, University Photograph Collection.

Another example of some of the strict rules for women involved visitations and travels. Any woman student intending to be away from the residence hall later than 6:00 pm had to “sign out” and any time a woman planned to leave town for any reason, she had to secure permission from the residence director. A letter of approval for out-of-town travel and for all car trips required a written letter of approval from the student’s parents! The handbook quite emphatically denied any women from entering the residence of a male student unless she was an immediate family member such as a mother or sister–and even then this was allowed only during certain times.

 

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This image shows members of Lowe House in Westgate Hall during the 1969 winter quarter. These women would be among the first at Iowa State to reside in a dormitory previously housing only men. Image taken from a Lowe House scrapbook located in Box 8 of the Union Drive Houses records, RS 7/4/4.

By the end of the decade, some of these strict rules started to soften just a bit. For one thing, in 1968 women and men started living in the same buildings, though still on separate houses/floors. Also, women were allowed as guests into men’s rooms, though hours restricted these visits to Saturdays and Sundays only. In a surprising twist they were allowed to meet with the door closed! An interesting rule that appears in the Guide to Resident Hall Living for 1969 that didn’t appear in the earlier Chart were regulations regarding the proper location for sun bathing.

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The student handbook, The Chart, for 1969-1971. Archives books call number LD2535.8 I58x

It’s important to note that these types of rules were not unique to Iowa State. In many ways these regulations were not much changed from those established at the school a century earlier. It wasn’t until the students themselves started agitating for greater equality and freedom that things started to change. The archives has many official and published records documenting student life in the 1960s at Iowa State, but relatively little from the individual students themselves. We are always interested in speaking with former students and alumni willing to donate materials documenting their personal adventure at Iowa State, so feel free to give us a call!


#TBT George Washington Carver

On this day in 1943, George Washington Carver, arguably Iowa State’s most famous alumnus, died. The iconic scientist’s research resulted in the creation of hundreds of products derived from plants. His products and his farming methods transformed the rural ecomony, helping farmers and their land flourish. Today, we honor him for his achievements and the impact they have made on the world.

George W. Carver I.A.C. Class '94. Taken in 1893. This was Carver's graduation picture, which appeared in the 1894 Bomb, Iowa State's yearbook. The same picture appears in the faculty section of the 1896 Bomb, when he was Assistant Botanist in the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1894-96.

Photograph of George W. Carver I.A.C. Class ’94. Taken in 1893. This was Carver’s graduation picture, which appeared in the 1894 Bomb, Iowa State’s yearbook. The same picture appears in the faculty section of the 1896 Bomb, when he was Assistant Botanist in the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1894-96.

To learn more about George Washington Carver, view the guide to his collection and come to Special Collections and University Archives in-person and see his papers in our reading room. To see a great selection of his papers, browse his digital collection. Learn more about Iowa State University Library’s digital collections. You will have guaranteed hours of enjoyment.

 

“There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.” George Washington Carver


Artifacts in the Archives – Thankful for What We’ve Got!

Today’s blog post is another collaborative post about different artifacts and collections we are happy to have here at Special Collections & University Archives at Iowa State University. Usually we reserve these posts for artifacts, but there are some collections from University Archives we are very grateful for, so they are also included. If you’re interested in reviewing any of the materials below, drop by, we’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5. This week we’re closed, though, on Thursday & Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Artifacts

29-inch Hard drive

Accession no. is 2009-R0001 hard drive removed from the university’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.

Accession no. is 2009-R0001 29″ wide hard drive removed from the University’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.

From Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

According to the note it’s stored with, this thing is a “hard drive removed from the university’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.”

This hard drive represents important aspects of the work of the information professionals who came before us. As a cataloger for ISU Special Collections and University Archives, I am grateful for their efforts. I am reminded that it’s important to do a good job, whether or not anyone notices in the short term. In my line of work, the insights and diligence of people who have retired or passed away are inescapable. It’s almost like those people are still here, shaping what I can accomplish before I “pass the baton.”

When libraries first started using computers, the staff transcribed bibliographic information from card catalogs. Many millions of cards were reborn as electronic records. Some of those electronic records ended up on the hard drive pictured above, before being transferred to another system. In other words, the bibliographic information you see today may be new, or it may have had a long history. What if a now-discarded paper card contained information adapted from an old bibliography, or a bookseller’s catalog? That’s not terribly likely or consequential, you might say. But in bringing it up, I’ve opened a jumbo can of worms, because while we have fancy technology, our conceptual tools for arranging and describing resources remain rooted in the past. I see form and content, evolving in tandem, before we can understand the implications. I see old wine in new bottles, and vice versa … and then I begin to think I should get back to my more mundane work.

Political Buttons

Political button "Full Suffrage For Women" (Artifact 2002-R001.006)

Political button “Full suffrage for women” (Artifact 2002-R001.006)

From Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

The artifact I’m most thankful for is a women’s suffrage pin which says “Full Suffrage for Women” (2002-R001.006). It’s not so much the pin itself I’m thankful for, but what it represents. Thanks to the women who marched and wore pins like this one, I am able to vote today. Thanks to them, millions of people who before were not allowed to, are able to make their voices heard. This and several other suffragette artifacts came from Carrie Chapman Catt, women’s rights activist, suffragette, and Iowa State alumna.

 

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From Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I am most thankful for the buttons in support of equal rights for women from the 1970s.  I discovered them while familiarizing myself with our PastPerfect database. There are a variety of slogans included on the buttons. My favorite is “Women are not chicks.” Though women were nationally granted the right to vote in 1920 the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. I am very grateful for all of the work done for women’s rights in the U.S.

 

From Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I’m thankful for the Women’s Rights Buttons from the 1970s in Artifact 2001-R002 (pictured earlier as Rachel’s picks) and Artifact 2001-R003 (pictured directly above). These are associated with our University Archives record series for political demonstrations, RS 0/12. I’m thankful for all the women (and men) that have demonstrated and fought for women’s rights over the last one hundred and fifty years or so. Although there are still issues to fight for until we reach equality, I’m grateful for all that the generations before me have done to make the gains that we have.

 

The manhole cover that (almost) got away

Top view of manhole cover, text on cover "Mechanical Engineering Department, Ames, Iowa"

Top view of manhole cover, text on cover “Mechanical Engineering Department, Ames, Iowa” (Artifact Collection unaccessioned)

From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

The artifact I am most thankful for is one that I didn’t know we had until just recently. Several years ago the archives was offered a manhole cover. Now, this wasn’t just any manhole cover—it was one with a large “ISC” logo on it, the “ISC” standing for Iowa State College. I wasn’t able to find historical information on them, but it seems the manhole covers were created on campus by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Walking around campus one can find several of them still in use. We were very intrigued by the manhole cover, but we ultimately turned it down because it was large and heavy (by our standards) and would be difficult to display. Honestly, it was a decision that I regretted afterwards. This past summer a colleague of mine was looking through a shelf of artifacts that we had yet to catalog. (I would like to point out that we have only a few of these left.) Covered in the back, behind several other items, was an “ISC” manhole cover! I was rather surprised when she told me about it. At some point in the future this manhole cover will be requested by curious researchers or placed on temporary display—likely presenting several interesting challenges for us. That is a concern for another time, though. Today, I am just thankful to the archivist who took it in so that I can now say that yes, we do indeed have an “ISC” manhole cover in our collection!

 

Diploma Cover, ca. 1960-1969 (Artifact 2015-R034)

Iowa State University Diploma cover (Artifact 2015-R034)

Iowa State University Diploma cover (Artifact 2015-R034)

Petrina Jackson, MA ’94 English, Department Head

I choose the Iowa State University diploma cover because of what it represents: a good, solid education.

Growing up, my parents constantly preached the value of a good education and the importance of earning a college degree. My parents were raised in the American South during the Jim Crow era, and they believed deeply in education as the “great equalizer.” Since they did not get an opportunity to earn college degree themselves, they planted that goal in my brother and me. It was never a choice of if we would go to college; it was always a matter of when we went to college.

Going to college and encountering many new and different ideas and people expanded my world and challenged my assumptions in ways I didn’t anticipate. Most importantly, getting a degree has afforded me career opportunities that I would not have had without it. For this, I am forever grateful.

 

University Archives

Louis H. Pammel Papers

Louis Pammel in the field, 1903 (University Photographs)

Louis Pammel in the field, 1903 (University Photographs)

From Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

The collection I am most thankful for is the Louis H. Pammel Papers (RS 13/5/13).  Pammel was involved in so many things, and his papers are a reflection of his broad interests.  His correspondence files are a “who’s who” of prominent botanists and educators.  As a member of the College History Committee, he interviewed early staff members, and was able to document the earliest days of the college from those with first-hand knowledge.  He was active in the creation of Iowa’s state park law and was the first President of the Iowa State Board of Conservation, serving from 1918 to 1927.  He worked tirelessly for the field of botany, for Iowa State, and the community.  His students were of primary concern to him, particularly foreign students.  He helped form the local chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club, and also began a Science Club and established Botanical Seminars for senior students in Botany.  A devoted family man—he and Augusta Emmel Pammel had six children—he was also a mainstay at the Episcopal Church, St. John’s by the Campus.  No matter what I am looking for when I work with his papers, I always learn something new.

 

Alumni Files, RS 21/7/1

Arthur Carhart's file, he graduated from Iowa State in 1916. File folder open and sitting in front of document box.

Arthur Carhart’s file, he graduated from Iowa State in 1916.

From Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I am reminded again and again how thankful I am for our collection of alumni files, RS 21/7/1.  These are files on a variety of Iowa State’s alumni for which we do not hold individual collections (for these, see the listing under RS 21/7 http://archives.lib.iastate.edu/collections/university-archives/by-department/rs-21-alumni-affairs).  The alumni files were originally maintained by the Alumni Association before they were transferred to the university archives in the early 1970s.  Throughout the years since then, when we find information about Iowa State’s graduates, we will add this material to their file – or create a new file if one does not already exist.  The files contain a whole variety of documents including news clippings, articles, letters, and photographs.  One of my favorite records in these files are from the original files of the Alumni Association – questionnaires which were sent to alumni to update the association on our alum’s activities and pursuits.  Pictured above is the file we have on Arthur Carhart, who graduated from Iowa State in 1916.