Latinx Heritage Month: HASU Poster and News Clippings

Happy Latinx Heritage Month!

Last September, I wrote about my process of searching for information about a (no-longer active) student organization that had not been adequately documented within our archival collections. Because, believe it or not, such a thing is possible! You can read the post here.

I just wanted to follow up on that post with a handful of HASU (Hispanic American Student Union) materials that I DID stumble across a few months later in the much more general RS 22/03/00/01 collection for multicultural student organizations, which had apparently grown since the last time it was inventoried in our subject index. Archives are, by nature, continually a work in progress. So sometimes, you just have to keep thinking of new places to look, even if your initial CARDinal keyword search turns up empty.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find very much. But here is a poster/flyer connected to the organization:

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HASU Poster, date unknown, RS 22/03/00/01

And, apparently, if these news clippings are dated correctly, the club existed into the 1990s, which I had not known when I wrote the last post. Also helpful are the inclusion of club officers’ names, which, if you wanted, you could look up in the Bomb Yearbook, as that still being published at the time.

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1990 Iowa State Daily news clippings, RS 22/03/00/01

And, finally, here is a teeny-tiny news clipping, about the size of a fortune cookie insert (pencil included in photograph for scale) from a year or two after the club was founded.

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1981 news clipping, RS 22/03/00/01

I will write about a few more student organizations, and maybe some other Latinx resources, later this month. Until then, make sure you take part in some of the fun celebrations that the U.S. Latino/a Studies (USLS) department has planned to commemorate their 25th anniversary.


Historical Photograph Formats: Tintypes

Last month, we explored one of the world’s oldest photographic formats, the daguerreotype, and the creation process behind it. See the post here. Today, we are going to look at a second, even more wide-spread format, which arrived at the tail end of the daguerreotype’s lifespan and quickly supplanted it.

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Tintype. RS 21/6/D. Pictured left-to-right are Kate McNeil, Mame McDonald (wife of Herman Knap), Mabel Ann Young, and Aggie West. circa 1884-1885.

More commonly known as the “tintype,” ferrotypes (originally called “melainotypes”) arrived on the scene around 1853, having been invented by yet another French photographer, Adolphe-Alexandre Martin. Patents began springing up in America and the UK around 1856. The process was faster and more accessible to amateur photographers than any of its predecessors, so the format’s popularity exploded in the 1860s and 1870s. Rather than dying out at the end of this period, however, when albumen prints took the center stage of mainstream photography, tintypes remained souvenir staples at fairs and carnivals well into the 20th century – a kind of predecessor to more recent polaroids or photo booths. Within the past decade, beginning around 2012, they have also undergone a revival as an alternative form of art photography. See articles here and here for some cool examples.

But let’s back up a little. What exactly does this process look like?

In learning how to identify a daguerreotype, you may recall that I mentioned a format called an ambrotype, which comprises a glass negative displayed against a black backdrop to create the illusion of a positive image. The concept behind tintype photography draws on this same principle, and indeed incorporates elements of the same “wet collodion” process. You can learn more about the wet collodion process from this Getty Museum video, which provides a demonstration, as well as historical context:

Unlike a glass plate negative, however, the black backdrop against which a tintype negative displays is burned into a thin sheet of iron, over which the photographer directly applies a layer of emulsion. After exposure and development, the photographer then seals the plate with varnish, thereby permanently binding the negative image in the emulsion to the blackened iron that renders it positive.

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The slightly-buckled back of a tintype photograph. You can see where the varnish has bubbled.

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Close-up view of the surface of a tintype photograph.

An interesting sidenote, then, is that “tintype,” while much catchier than “ferrotype,” is technically a misnomer, despite the cheap, “tinny” feel of the finished product, as there is no actual tin involved at any stage of development.

The Kalamazoo Museum in Michigan created a video that demonstrates the tintype process specifically. You can view it here:

The format’s durability was undoubtedly its biggest selling point. While daguerreotypes and glass plate negatives require bulky cases and delicate handling, a tintype can (more-or-less) safely be displayed in any or no case at all. Many were originally framed in flimsy cardboard or paper-mache mattings.

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Tintypes with paper matting, viewed from the front. RS 21/6/D. Photo on the left: Harriet Hulton and H. E. McElroy, both class of 1885. Photo on the right: unnamed gentleman from the classes of 1882 and 1883 (though signatures on the back might offer a clue! See below).

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Tintype photographs in paper matting, viewed from the back. RS 21/6/D.

They could also be mailed or carried around in someone’s pocket, as most were small, clocking in around 3-4 inches tall on average (though, as you’ll see below, we have one 6-inch tall example in the archives).

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Tintypes. RS 21/6/D.

Additionally, tintypes could be developed very quickly, which meant that roadside photographers began to pop up all over cities and carnivals, eager to snap someone’s picture for a fee. A number of surviving photographs from the Civil War era, particularly portraits of field soldiers, were tintypes for this same reason.

Unfortunately, none of the photographs from our collection feature Civil War portraits or combat scenes. But you can see a number of these online through the Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-war/?fa=subject:tintypes

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Screenshot of the Civil War tintype photographs in the Library of Congress’s digital collections. They are accessible via this URL: https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-war/?fa=subject:tintypes

The tintypes in our ISU archives primarily feature local alumni from the mid-1880s.

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Tintype photograph. RS 21/6/D. Behind left-to-right: W. H. Wier (class of 1884), L. G. Brown (1885), and J. H. Mayne (1885). In front: two women, unnamed. Presumably class of 1885.

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Tintype photograph. RS 21/6/D. Harriet Hulton and 3 other unnamed women from the class of 1885. See how the image is buckled in the middle? That is not a reflection: it is the surface of the artifact itself.

These are congregated into a small teaching collection, rather than associated with an RS collection, and, if you would like to view them, you will need to ask the staff at our front desk to look for the “Tintypes” box in range 309.

That said, if you are interested in this format, you should definitely come visit us sometime! Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9-5.

 

 


Historical Photograph Formats: Daguerreotypes

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about some historical photography processes while preparing to teach a class. This is not in any way my area of expertise, but I wanted to share both what I learned and also examples I uncovered in our ISU collections (which, while far from comprehensive, do contain more formats than I thought they would!).

If this is a topic you find interesting, know that there are a ton of other fantastic resources out there, both online and within our library and the ISU community. I’ll include a few of these throughout the post and then note more at the end.

So, the earliest format for which we have an example is the daguerreotype. (Pronounced duh-gair-oh-type.)

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Artifact #2001-R001. Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue.

Daguerreotypy was not the first photographic process to capture scenes with a camera, nor even the first to succeed in permanently fixing the image to a chemically-prepared surface. The latter honor belongs to another French process called “heliography” (aka “sun-writing”), and you can see an example in the Harry Ransom Center collections at the University of Texas in Austin. However, the daguerreotype process was the first to become available to the public.

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With the case closed. Artifact #2001-R001.

The daguerreotype was invented in Paris in 1837 by Louis Daguerre, when he discovered that a silver-coated copper plate could be made light sensitive when exposed to chloride of iodine (now known as iodine monochloride) and chloride of bromine (now known as bromine monochloride). After exposure, the plate would be developed in a dark room via heated mercury fumes, and then fixed in a bath of hyposulphite of soda (now known as sodium thiosulfate).

There were two main draw-backs to this process, however. The first, since the exposed plate itself became the finished product, was that the process created no negatives, which meant that each image was entirely unique and could not be reproduced. The second was that these plates were incredibly fragile. The cases in which they were mounted were primarily protective, not decorative, and thus, unlike photo frames of today, vital to the photograph’s survival.

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Diagram of a daguerreotype case. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor

In addition, exposure time for this process lasted an excruciatingly long time by today’s standards. Resources differ in their estimations, and it seems that the process shortened over its lifespan, but exposure could reportedly last anywhere between 90 seconds and 20 minutes, during which the subject of the picture had to keep absolutely still. Behind-the-scenes sketches of the studio set-up often feature torturous-looking headrest devices, shaped like display stands for collectible dolls, to hold the subject’s head and neck in place.

Nevertheless, the daguerreotype was wildly popular during its short life from 1837 to about 1860, after which it was replaced by less expensive and less cumbersome formats.

This 2012 YouTube video from the Getty Museum offers a fantastic overview of that period and allows you to see the process in action. The video is titled “Early Photography: Making Daguerreotypes”, and can be accessed through the link here if the embedded version isn’t work for you.

Our ISU example of a daguerreotype, located in the artifacts collection (#2001-R001), aptly demonstrates some key identifying features of the format.

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A behind-the-scenes look in into our artifact collection.

As discussed previously, with only a few rare and very early exceptions, all daguerreotypes will be contained in a protective case, often with an attached cover that swings closed on a hinge.

It is worth noting, however, that while nearly all daguerreotypes will have these protective cases, not all photographs contained in such cases are daguerreotypes. Ambrotypes, a slightly later format, were also typically sealed in cases. The visual distinction between the two, then, lies in the tonal range and the reflective quality of the surface.

An ambrotype is a glass plate negative developed via the wet collodion process and then displayed against a black velvet background, which creates the illusion of a positive image. Consequently, its tonal range will be much more muted than that of a daguerreotype, with the whites appearing less white and more of a creamy gray.

Unfortunately, we don’t have examples of this format in our archives, but here is a visual from the book I have referenced previously:

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Ambrotype. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor, page 35.

Because ambrotypes are negative images developed on a glass plate and daguerreotypes are positive images developed on a silver-coated copper plate (i.e. shiny metal on shiny metal), the surface of a daguerreotype is also much more reflective than that of an ambrotype — almost giving the impression of a ghost-image emerging through a mirror, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

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Me photobombing Benjamin Gue . . . about 200 years after the fact. Artifact #2001-R001.

The presence of this mirror-like quality also means that daguerreotypes are better viewed from a side-angle, and/or with an object or piece of paper held up to block reflective glare (e.g. my phone in the picture immediately above), than they are straight on. So, if you find yourself tilting the photo this way and that to see an image of something other than your own face, this is probably the format you are dealing with.

Contrary to common knowledge, daguerreotypes also come in a variety of sizes, from a “whole plate,’ which is about 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches, to a “sixteenth plate,” which is about 1 inch by 1 inch. Also, while the original images will all be in black and white, you’ll find that some were hand-colored after development. You’ll see this most often in portraits, where a tiny bit of pink has been dabbed onto the subjects’ cheeks to make them look more lifelike.

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Close-up of Artifact #2001-R001.

And that about wraps things up, so I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about daguerreotypes as much as I did.

If you’d like to examine our portrait of Benjamin Gue in person, feel free to stop by the archives any time that we are open, and we can assist you with the process of handling such an artifact (hint: you’ll be using gloves!). Or if you’d like to learn more, check out some of the resources below.


 

Benjamin Gue’s personal papers can be found in the archives at RS 1/3/52. You can also view the finding aid, including biographical information, here.

The book with which I supplemented images to this post is Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaller and Diane Vogt-O’Connor with Helena Zinkham, Brett Carnell, and Kit Peterson. We do not have a copy in our general collections, but you can access reviews here, or buy a copy here.

In addition to an extensive collection of the daguerreotype format (contrasted with our one artifact!), the Library of Congress links to more online resources here, describing the process in more detail, showing digitized examples, and inviting you to join The Daguerreian Society (because, yes, apparently that is a thing).

If you have additional questions about identifying, storing, handling, or repairing historical photograph formats, the staff in our Preservation department at Parks Library are very knowledgeable. Both Sonya Barron and Cynthia Kapteyn helped me out with preparation and activities for the class which inspired this post. You can visit the Preservation department page here for contact information. And, as a side note, they also run a blog, full of fascinating updates on current projects, which you can find here.

 

 


ISU Summer Aesthetics

Long before Instagram and Pinterest (or the “Postcard from Campus” videos), there were filler pages in the student yearbook, featuring seasonally aesthetic scenes of campus along side nostalgic quotes, presumably meant to evoke the lazy heat of an Iowa summer and the change of pace that life undergoes each year on a comparatively quiet campus.

1916

1916.summer

1916 Bomb Yearbook, pg 23

1945

1945.summer.2

1945 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 7

1955

1955.summer.4

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 432-433

1968

1968.summer.2

1968 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 42

1969

1969.summer.1

1969 Bomb Yearbook, pgs 64-65

1970

1970.3

1970 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 34-35

1972

1972.summer.1

1972 Bomb Yearbook, pg. 78

 


Of course, summer at ISU isn’t all about lovely scenery and relaxation. Both on and off campus, the ISU community remains active throughout the hottest season of the year.

Many students continue taking classes.

1947

1947.summer1

1947 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 84-85

1955

1955.summer.2

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 440-441

 


Others study abroad.

1955

1955.summer.6

1955 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 436-437

 


Still others attend or work at summer camps.

1936 – Civil Engineering Summer Camp

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1955 – R.O.T.C Summer Camp

1955.summer.1

1957 – Forestry Summer Camp

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1957 Bomb Yearbook, pg 361

 


Incoming freshmen attend orientation events and get to know their peers.

1972

1972.summer.2

1972 Bomb Yearbook, pg 79

 


And, of course, everyone complains about the construction projects (though we know we’ll be glad for the renovations come fall).

1968

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1968 Bomb Yearbook, pg 43

1973

1973.summer.1

1973 Bomb Yearbook, pgs. 80-81


What’s your aesthetic this summer?


NHPRC Update: CARDinal Makeover

Check it out — our public catalog, CARDinal, got a makeover!

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CARDinal’s homepage

This is the last step to completing our NHPRC-funded project to implement a new archives management system. Please visit CARDinal (and the updated CARDinal Reference Guide) and let us know what you think!

Contact archives@iastate.edu with any questions or comments.

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


Yes! You Were Here, Too: Yearbook Portraits of AAPI Students from the 1940s.

Because our classes let out at the beginning of May, ISU tends to celebrate AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) History Month a month early.

Something I’ve noticed about our heritage months posts, which center the histories of specific racial or ethnic communities, is that they tend to front-end very recent history. This makes sense from an archival stand-point, because the records we have preserved for these communities don’t always go back very far. But, sadly, the archival gaps  perpetuate an illusion that non-white students were not always present on the ISU campus.

But this was not true! We have photographic evidence to the contrary — at least, we have some senior portraits in the old Bomb YearbooksThe real issue is that we don’t usually have much documentation beyond these photos, or even about the people in them, and that, if we do, it’s not always clear where this documentation might live. This is why these pictures tend not to be brought forward all that much. We don’t know the story behind them. As archival records, they just exist.

But they do exist.

Here, then, is a sampling of 1940s (decade chosen somewhat at random) yearbook portraits of students whom I believe — based, unfortunately, solely on appearance and name — to be AAPI, along with at least one potentially South Asian/Middle Eastern student. My hope is that someday all of our students will be able to see themselves in Iowa State history very readily, without first needing to pour through tomes of records in order to find a face that looks like theirs. But we are still working on that goal.

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Tsuneo Tanabe, Class of 1942. 1942 Bomb Yearbook page 113

As can be seen on his yearbook page below, Tanabe was from Poctello, Idaho and completed a B.S. in Dairy Husbandry.

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Tanabe with his classmates. 1942 Bomb, page 113.

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Chi-tang Woo, Class of 1943. 1943 Bomb Yearbook page 129.

Not all yearbooks give detailed information on graduating seniors, but, because of the war, classes of the early 1940s were relatively small, so this year’s yearbook made an exception. Woo’s hometown, area of study, undergraduate college, and some of his I.S.C. activities are listed below.

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1943 Bomb, page 128

 

1944_John Barakat

John Barakat, Class of 1944. 1944 Bomb Yearbook, page 20.

For those students whose yearbook pages were less helpful, I was not, unfortunately, able to do any external research at this time. But, if you are interested in learning more about their stories, feel free to use my post as a jumping-off point!

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Barakat pictured with his classmates. 1944 Bomb, page 20.

1946_Mildred A. Saha

Mildred A. Saha, Class of 1946. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 37.

1946_Mildred with Classmates

Mildred with her classmates. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 37.

1946_Yutaka Kobayashi_portrait

Yutaka Kobayashi, Class of 1946. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 32.

1946_Kobayashi with Classmates

Kobayashi with his classmates. 1946 Bomb Yearbook, page 32.

1947_Shigeru Fujimoto_portrait

Shigeru Fujimoto, Class of 1947. 1947 Bomb Yearbook, page 23.

1947_Fujimoto with Classmates

Fujimoto with classmates. 1947 Bomb Yearbook, page 23.

1948_Chujen Julien Liu

Chujen Julien Liu, Class of 1948

1948_Chung Yu Lo

Chung Yu Lo, Class of 1948

1948_Liu and Lo with Classmates

Liu and Lo with their classmates. 1948 Bomb yearbook, page 34.

1948_Tze Sheng Chiang_portrait

Tze Sheng Chiang, Class of 1948. 1948 Bomb Yearbook, page 24.

1948_Chiang with classmates

Chiang with classmates. 1948 Bomb Yearbook, page 24.

Another important thing to note is that, because these portraits feature only graduating seniors, and only those who chose to have their pictures taken, it is likely that there were more AAPI students on campus at this time. It is also very possible that I missed people, misidentified people’s ethnicit(y/ies), or both. I did not do extensive research on any of these students, and, because yearbook portraits from this era are black and white and very low resolution, I omitted several ethnically-ambiguous individuals who had German or Anglo-Saxon last names (which might have meant they were multi-racial, bore anglicized family names, were white-passing, were in fact white, or any other number of things). As such, I encourage you to come look at the yearbooks yourself. They are available both in the SCUA reading room and via our digital collections online.

If you happen across additional information (or additions or corrections!) about any of the individuals featured above, feel free to send me an email at achesonr@iastate.edu, and I will update the post. Also, if you decide to do further research on former students who have peaked your interest, please let us know what you find out about them! We are always interested in learning more about Iowa State alumni.


NHPRC Update: Wrapping Up

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

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

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

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

Detroit_Conference_Hotel

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

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

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


#WomensHistoryMonth: Female STEM Heroes of World War II

World War II proved an age of female empowerment on the homefront, as women kept the world running by stepping up to fill both jobs and societal roles traditionally held by men while the men were off at war. The same principle held true for education, and ISU (Iowa State College at the time) was not the only co-ed college in the country where female students temporarily outnumbered their male counterparts. The majority of these women still veered towards liberal arts and home economics majors, but a large number also waded into the hard sciences. Many of them discovered that they possessed an untapped talent for STEM research. Below are a handful of examples.


 

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Senior Portrait of Beatrice Bruner. Bomb Yearbook 1941, pg. 48

Beatrice Bruner Dowd (1924-1998), a native of Rolfe, Iowa, graduated from Iowa State College with her B.S. in Mathematics in 1941. She was very active in clubs and societies, and she also saved a great deal of correspondence from her time in school, where it appears she was well-loved and had many friends.

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Letter from a college friend. RS 21/7/117 Box 5, Folder 7

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Letter from a college friend. RS 21/7/117 Box 5, Folder 7.

Such letters are always interesting to peruse, because they reveal glimpses of life on campus at the time, above and beyond the education and career of the individual. Price changes in particular catch my attention. For example, did you know that Beatrice paid only a $5.00 deposit on her dorm room in 1940? With inflation taken into account, that’s about $90 in today’s currency. And one of her friends wrote that she was worried about having already spent $0.20 (equivalent to about $3.60 today) at the Union for her meals that morning – that it was so difficult to keep one’s daily expenses under $0.60 (about $10.80 today).

Box 5 Folder 7. deposit slip

Room Deposit Slip. RS 21/7/117 Box 5, Folder 7.

It is unclear who, if anyone, might have encouraged Beatrice to pursue mathematics, but her college friends’ letters reference her aptitude in STEM subjects, particularly physics, several times.

In 1943, after graduation, Beatrice joined the Navy, whereupon she was assigned to study meteorology at the University of California at Los Angeles so she could work as a Naval Weather Forecaster. Her papers contain her notes (and some doodles) from various courses she took at UCLA.

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Beatrice’s notes from a course on tropical meteorology. RS 21/7/117 Box 3, Folder 15.

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It is unclear why Dowd saved this amusing doodle on her weather maps from school, or whether she or a friend drew it. But it is certainly unique. RS 21/7/117 Box 3, Folder 15.

Her papers also include procedural documents and training materials from the Navy. Some of these employ humor as a memory aid, as is the case with the cartoons below. Researchers who would like to peruse the full collection of training cartoons, however, should be aware that some of these contain racist depictions of Japanese military personnel. 

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United States Naval Training Division’s Humorous Training Cards and Famous Last Lines. RS 21/7/117 Box 3, Folder 16.

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United States Naval Training Division’s Humorous Training Cards and Famous Last Lines. RS 21/7/117 Box 3, Folder 16.

After the war, Beatrice worked for a company called Sylvania Electronic Products (later known as GTE Government Systems), where she eventually became the Engineering Department Manager before retiring in 1986. Curiously, she also belonged to a group known as the Association of Old Crows (AOC), begun in the 1960s by veterans who had worked as Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) officers in World War II, disrupting enemy communications and radars. The group exists to this day, creating symposiums and journals to educate the public about electronic warfare.

AOC Certificate

Association of Old Crows Certificate. RS 21/7/117 Box 8.


 

Hilda S. White (1953-1997) received her Ph.D. from Iowa State after earning her bachelors in Chemistry from Bethany College, West Virginia, in 1942.

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Excerpt from an autobiographical note by Hilda S. White. RS 21/7/109 Box 1, Folder 2.

While a grad student at Iowa State, she met her future husband, Phil White, who went on to earn his D.Sc. at Harvard, where both he and Hilda were employed as biochemists in the Department of Food and Nutrition for about two years.

Immediately following this, Phil’s program at Harvard sent him to Lima, Peru to perform analysis on food consumption in that country, and Hilda accompanied him. It is unclear precisely what her role in the expedition was, as even her own subsequent write-up of the trip centers around her husband’s job and paints her own experience primarily as that of a housewife, referencing the birth of her first child (which would undoubtedly have consumed much of her time!).

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Excerpt from a report on her time in Peru. RS 21/7/109 Box 1, Folder 1.

But she was also, it seems, performing research connected to the project simultaneously, publishing papers in professional journals, and receiving her own salary from Harvard.

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Research published during Phil and Hilda’s time in Peru. RS 21/7/109 Box 1, Folder 1.

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Research published during Phil and Hilda’s time in Peru. RS 21/7/109 Box 1, Folder 1.

When they returned home in 1953, Phil joined the staff of the American Medical Association in Chicago. The chair of the organization was in the process of looking for a qualified candidate to teach Nutrition at the Home Economics department for Northwestern University at the time, and Phil recommended Hilda, who got the job. She taught there until 1973, when the department dissolved.

While at Northwestern, Hilda continued to perform and publish research, this time on “Inorganic Elements in Weighed Diets of Girls and Young Women” and “Utilization of Inorganic Elements by Young Women Eating Iron-Fortified Foods.” She eventually went on to work at the Chicago Nutrition Association and the journal board of the American Dietetic Association.

KIC Image 0003

Excerpt from Hilda S. White’s published research. RS 21/7/109 Box 1, Folder 1.

Although her the status of her work was so frequently downplayed in favor of her husband’s, it is clear that she made major contributions to her field in her own right.


 

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Undergraduate Senior Portrait of Darleane Christian. Bomb Yearbook 1948, pg. 24.

Darleane C. Hoffman (1947-2011), nuclear chemist, might be the most well-known of the alumni featured in this post.

She received both of her degrees from ISU: a B.S. in Chemistry in 1948 and a Ph.D. in Physical (Nuclear) Chemistry in 1951. Her biographical web page for the Women in Technology Hall of Fame (WITI), into which she was inducted in 2000, notes that she had not originally intended to study science at all. She had arrived at Iowa State intending to pursue a career as a commercial artist. However, according to the write-up, the influence of an unnamed female professor in one of her freshman courses peaked her interest in STEM fields, and she decided to switch her focus to chemistry.

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Darleane’s notes from Chemistry 512 – Advanced Quantitiative Analysis, a class she took in the Spring of 1949. RS 21/7/100 Box 13, Folder 3.

After graduating with a specialization in nuclear and radiochemistry (interests which would later make her famous), she applied for a job with the radiochemistry group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory only to be told, “We don’t hire women in that division.” Perhaps simply to prove she could, she continued applying to this institute until she landed a position in their Isotope and Nuclear Chemistry division, where she quickly took on leadership roles and worked for 30 years.

During this period of her life, in the 1960s, she also raised two children and would reportedly return to work each night after putting the children to bed.

In the 1970s, while serving as the Division Leader for the Isotope and Nuclear Chemistry division, Darleane discovered a naturally-occurring form of an element called plutonium-244, which scientists had previously believed to be a manufactured substance that existed only in laboratories.

Her group also performed the world’s first aqueous chemistry on hathnium, element 105, around this time.

And these discoveries led to even more innovation once she had accepted a professorship at University of California Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry. In collaboration with European scientists, the groups she led at UCLA discovered the first super-heavy elements, 118, 116, and 114. These became the focal point of her studies in later years.

Among other honors, Darleane received the University of California Berkeley Citation of Merit in 1996, the President’s National Medal of Science in 1997, and the Priestley Medal (the highest honor conferred by the American Chemical Society) in 2000.

National Medal

Ephemera surrounding Hoffman’s reception of the National Medal of Science in 1997. RS 21/7/100 Box 17, Folder 8.


 

We are immensely proud of these alumni here at ISU, and we hope their stories will inspire current students. If you would like to learn more about any of these scientists, feel free to visit the archives and browse through their papers.

Inspiration

Poster. RS 21/7/100 Box 1, Folder 1.


Highlighting the hidden women in history

Several months ago, a researcher visited the department to look at the materials of G. Perle Schmidt, a poet, composer, and author born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1881. As I normally do when someone is using a collection I haven’t looked at before, I went to our website and did a quick search for Perle – no results found. After talking with the researcher a little more, it turns out the papers of Perle Schmidt are actually  found in the collection of her husband’s papers, Louis B Schmidt. I’ll never know how this researcher found the collection, but her research skills are amazing.

You can see the Louis B. Schmidt collection listed on our website, but no finding aid is available, making it impossible to key-word search for Perle’s name in the finding aid:

FASnip

A snapshot of the finding aid for RS 13/12/22, the Louis B. Schmidt papers listed on the SCUA website.

Despite the fact that Perle was well known in her own right, she has been hidden in her husband’s collection since it was donated over 40 years ago. She was active in several societies such as the Society of Mayflower Descendants, had her first poem published at age 12, composed music, published many short stories and articles, and was even selected at the 1936 Iowa delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.

Although I normally focus my energy on making new collections available to the public, this is a clear case in which revisiting an old collection and re-working the description will make a significant change in accessibility to the collection, specifically to Perle’s materials.

Bringing “hidden women” to light can sometimes be very challenging, particularly those living in the early 1900’s. Women would frequently be referred to by their husband’s first and last name, which can make it very difficult to find or verify information about a woman. Although this practice is less common today, it does still happen. As you can see in the article below, Perle is referred to as “Mrs. Louis Schmidt.” Even in her own obituary, she is known by her husband’s name rather than her own unique identity.

Obit

Obituary for Perle Schmidt, referred to as Mrs. Louis B. Schmidt. RS 13/12/22

Sometimes women also weren’t given credit for the work they completed. I’ve often heard the tale of the wife who did the research for a husband’s newest paper, or the female secretary who wrote departmental reports that were credited to a male boss. While this didn’t happen everywhere and all the time, it does add to the challenges of verifying accomplishments. In the case of Perle Schmidt, it is her work with the ISU Music Department that we have been unable to verify. Both her husband and her son mentioned that Perle was working in the Music Department in 1907-1908, however she isn’t listed anywhere that we have been able to find.

So….what can I do about it? A few things. One small change that would bring Perle Schmidt out of the shadows is just to change the title of the collection. Rather than the Louis B. Schmidt papers, I plan to rename the collection the Louis B. and G. Perle Schmidt papers. This will allow her name to at least be key word searchable on the internet.

The description we currently have for the collection doesn’t include any biographical information on Perle Schmidt, but instead is a 2 page biography of Louis Schmidt along with an 8 page list of his publications. This biography for the collection will be updated to include more even amounts of information about both Louis and Perle. By doing this, anyone looking at the finding aid online will know Perle is a prominent part of this collection.

This collection also needs to be re-processed, and some materials will need intervention from the Preservation department to ensure the collection survives another 40 years. Some of the materials used for photographs, paper, and other formats are just not meant to last – they deteriorate even in the best of conditions and need to be checked on periodically. For example, the photographs below may have been perfectly usable in 1975, but are now so brittle they can’t be handled:

Until the collection is re-processed, it is still open for research, with a few restrictions for the more brittle items. If you’d like to come learn more about Perle, please come visit! In the coming months, an updated version of our guide to this collection can be found in our new catalog, CARDinal.


A Welcome to Kahlee Leingang, a Processing Archivist

Photo courtesy of Kahlee

Kahlee Leingang joined the SCUA team as a Processing Archivist on January 22, 2019.  She is originally from the Chicago suburbs, but called North Carolina home for the past four years while she completed her graduate education. Kahlee earned a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in Public History from North Carolina State University.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and visiting local museums.