The Butter Cow Lady Comes to Ames

As the year comes to a close, it is not unusual to reflect upon the events of the past year and give thanks for the gifts that were received. This can be important for archivists to do as well. In fact, many archives, including this one, rely heavily upon the generosity of our donors. At Iowa State, faculty offer their teaching and research files, campus units transfer administrative records, and others donate cherished materials from when they or their loved ones were students at Iowa State.

I have met and worked with many people this past year and as I think about those experiences, there are several memories that come immediately to mind. One that stands out for me was actually initiated over a year ago when I received a phone call from the son of Norma “Duffy” Lyon. For those readers not familiar with that name, you would probably recognize her if I referred to her as the Butter-Cow Lady. For decades, Norma’s butter sculptures were the star attractions of the Iowa State Fair.

Norma Lyon sculpting a butter cow

This picture shows Norma “Duffy” Lyon sculpting the 1998 Iowa State Fair butter cow. (Norma Lyon papers, RS 21/7/280, unprocessed)

Norma passed away in 2011 and, after several years of contemplating what to do with the materials she left behind, the family made the difficult decision to donate them to the archives at Iowa State University. I met with the family last year to gather items belonging to Norma and learned about the woman whose materials were being given to our care. As I reviewed the donation, her son and his wife shared memories of Norma and related stories of Norma’s youth that they had heard over the years. Then, this past summer, the family donated additional materials. The collection is not a large one, but it does include a wide variety of items such as original artwork, sketchpads, photographs, clippings, and ephemera.

Norma showing a horse

Norma Stong as a college student showing a horse during the late 1940s. (Norma Lyon papers, RS 21/7/280, unprocessed)

One of the more interesting items donated was a binder of photographs. These photographs showed the entire process that Norma used to create the 1998 Iowa State Fair butter cow. Another wonderful piece in the collection is a book containing college ephemera from Norma’s time as a student at Iowa State. I discovered that she graduated in 1950 with a degree in animal science (one of the first women to receive that degree from ISU) and had a love of art. As a student she took classes from Iowa State’s sculptor-in-residence, Christian Petersen. After graduation, Norma was able to combine those two passions and do something wonderful with them. The collection is not yet open to researchers, but during the coming year it will be processed and prepared for people to view.

One of the great joys of this profession is to be able to share unique collections like Norma’s with the public. The staff here in Special Collections and University Archives takes a lot of pride in our work, but the work that we do would be impossible without the support of our donors. If you are curious about materials you have and whether they are appropriate for the archives, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.



Visiting SCUA 101

This is the first in a new series of posts about visiting the Special Collections and University Archives written by someone who is fairly new to archives herself!  The first time (or the first few times) you research in a special collections or archives, it can be a bit intimidating.  There are special rules for handling and viewing materials.  There are methods for searching for materials that you might not have encountered before.  On top of that, handling the only copy in existence of a document that may be over 100 years old is enough to give anyone pause!

Fear not!  This blog series is designed to help you feel more comfortable in coming to visit our reading room and using our rare and archival materials.

The first topic to address is: why are there so many rules?

Rules Sheet

Folder marker with rules for using the reading room.

While every special collections will do things a little differently, there are suggested best practices that we adhere to.  The rules are not in place to scare researchers off.  Trust me, we really want you to use our materials, and we love seeing a full reading room!  The rules are in place to protect the materials and ensure they are available to researchers now and for generations to come!

As you can see, there are many rules, so I’ll only go into detail about a few.

  • We don’t allow food or beverages of any kind for a couple of reasons.  Most immediately, this eliminates the possibility of crumbs or spills on the materials.  Secondly, people might find a bag of chips too tempting to resist, but so do pests that may come for the chips, but stay to chew on important documents.
  • We ask you to use book supports for all bound volumes, which helps alleviate pressure on the spine.  This is important whether the book is new or old.  After all, someday that brand new book will be an old book.
BookCradle3

Demonstration of book cradle and weight use with class catalogue from 1904-05.

  • An important aspect of using the archives is preserving the original order of materials.  Because of this, there are several rules that are in place in order to preserve the order the files are in currently.  For example, bringing up the entire folder when you scan something helps ensure the item gets put back in the correct place (and helps prevent bending, creasing, or tearing of the item on the way to or from the scanner).

If you have questions about any of the other rules, we’re more than happy to answer them!  Stop by the reading room anytime between 9 and 5, Monday-Friday or email us at archives@iastate.edu.  Stay tuned to future posts for tips for finding materials using our website, help with materials handling quandaries, and other helpful information.

 


A Brief History of International Students at ISU

The mission of Iowa State University is to “Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.” In support of this mission, the University offers numerous opportunities for students and faculty to explore and share with the world, but it is hardly a one-way street. People come to Iowa State from all parts of the world to share their experiences and to gain a quality education. It really is remarkable how a small agricultural college established in the 1850s in the middle of Iowa has, over the course of over 150 years, built such a strong international reputation. This reputation has been drawing international students to Iowa State for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, documenting international students and their campus experiences is not an easy task.

Page from the 1906 Bomb with the title, "Our Friends from Foreign Lands"

The 1906 Bomb was one of the first to recognize international students at Iowa State. (The Bomb, LD2548 Io9b)

There are very few sources available to a researcher looking for information on early students at Iowa State, regardless of their country of origin. The first students arrived on campus in 1868, but it would be another 25 years before a yearbook (The Bomb) was published. Student directories were not available either, the earliest available being from 1901. For years prior to that, the college biennial reports and the course catalogs are the best sources for information on individual students. The biennial reports include lists of students for the very earliest years and then, by the 1880s, this information was shifted to the course catalogs. It is helpful that the listings often include the names of the students’ hometowns.

Based on these sources, the earliest evidence of an international student enrolling at Iowa State was in 1882 when F. Nouman of Piramaribo, South America, (this is how the hometown was listed) was enrolled for one year as a “special student,” likely meaning that he was not enrolled in the standard curriculum. In 1898 and 1899 there were several Canadian students who received degrees, though it is curious why a handful of them all appeared on campus at the same time with several of them receiving veterinary degrees. In 1902, two young men from Leon, Mexico, enrolled in the agriculture program, but neither appears to have finished their degrees.

Two interior pages from the 1901 student directory

This page from the 1901 student directory, the earliest one available, gives an idea of the type of information that can be gathered from these resources–provided the abbreviations can be deciphered! (Students’ Directory, LD2538 I58x)

The first international students outside of North America to receive degrees from Iowa State both earned them in 1907. Delfin Sanchez de Bustamante from Argentina received an advanced degree in agronomy and Alfred E. Parr of England graduated with an advanced degree in animal husbandry. We know nothing of what happened to Bustamante following his graduation, but from correspondence in an alumni file we know that after graduating from Iowa State, Parr went on to become the Director of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry in British India.

That same year, Iowa State students began organizing a campus chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club. Officially established on campus in 1908, the purpose of the club, as stated in its constitution, was to encourage friendship, respect, and understanding among men and women of all nationalities. The Cosmopolitan Club attracted students from all backgrounds, but became a home for international students especially.

Please stop by Special Collections and University Archives to view these materials for yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find references to early international students that I missed! If you have materials you would like to donate to the Special Collections and University Archives to help us continue to tell the story of student life on the Iowa State University campus, please contact us. We would be happy to hear from you!


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: Radio Broadcasting

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) have joined the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting! This is our second post commemorating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and this week I’m highlighting some finding aids for our collections related to noted local and regional radio broadcasters.

John D. “Jack Shelley Papers, RS 13/13/55

Jack Shelley, 1965 (University Photographs RS 13/13/55).

John D. “Jack” Shelley was born in Boone, Iowa on March 8, 1912. He graduated from Boone High School (1929), and earned a Bachelor of Journalism Degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia (1935). After a short stay with the Iowa Herald in Clinton, Iowa, Shelley went to work for WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa. He was assistant news director for five years, then became news director for both radio and television until he left in 1965. Shelley was a war correspondent in Europe and the Pacific covering World War II. He interviewed hundreds of combat soldiers in both theaters. Shelley recorded one of the first broadcast interviews with crew members of the airplanes that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. He was aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay to cover the Allies’ acceptance of the unconditional Japanese surrender, and was one of twenty reporters chosen to cover the atomic bomb tests at Yucca Flats, Nevada (1953). The tape recorder Shelley took along to record the event was one of the few to withstand the shock of the blast.

In 1965, Mr. Shelley joined Iowa State University as an Associate Professor of Journalism, then served as Professor until his retirement in 1982. Iowa State University honored him for his academic contributions with an Outstanding Teacher Award and a Faculty Citation from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Jack Shelley helped found the Iowa Broadcast News Association, an organization that honored him by establishing the Jack Shelley Award in 1971. He is a past president of the International Radio-Television News Directors Association, which he helped found, and of the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He was president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council (1981) and a member of a committee appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court to advise it on the use of cameras and tape recorders in court trials. He received the Broadcaster of the Year Award (1980) from the Iowa Broadcasters Association.

Herbert Plambeck Papers, RS 21/7/42

Herb Plambeck, (University Photographs RS 21/7/42).

Herbert Plambeck was born February 29, 1908 and raised in Scott County, Iowa. He graduated from Iowa State University with a major in agriculture (1936). He began his professional career as a USDA College (University) County Extension employee, but in 1935 he became Farm Editor for the Davenport (Iowa) Times Democrat. In 1936, he was named Farm Director for WHO-Radio in Des Moines, a position he held until 1970.  Plambeck was then appointed assistant to the U.S. Secretary for Agriculture where he focused on public affairs. Plambeck was a member of the U.S. Agricultural Delegation to the Soviet Union in 1955, where he made the first farm broadcast report from Russia. He repeated this feat when he delivered the first farm broadcast from China in 1976.

John C. Baker Papers, MS 546

John C. Baker was born in 1909 in Brazil, Indiana. He received his B.S. (1930) in agriculture from Purdue University. He began farm broadcasting at the Purdue radio station WBAA from 1930-1931. He also worked stints in farm broadcasting in Massachusetts, Chicago, and in the radio service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he participated in the National Farm and Home Hour on NBC and The American Farmer on ABC. In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as an information officer in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Census Bureau. He published Farm Broadcasting: The First Sixty Years with Iowa State University Press in 1981.


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act #PubMedia50 @amarchivepub: WOI Radio and Television Records

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) will be joining the American Archive of Public Broadcasting‘s month-long celebration of the Public Broadcasting Act’s 50th Anniversary by posting content throughout the month to celebrate the history and preservation of public broadcasting!

This week’s post will highlight our WOI Radio and Television Records (RS 5/6/3).

WOI-AM went on the air on April 28, 1922, with regular market news broadcasts. During the next 25 years, the scope of station programming expanded to encompass all areas of Iowa State‘s activities including agricultural programming, programs for homemakers, lectures, forums, and classical music. On July 1, 1949, WOI-FM became one of the first FM stations in Iowa when it started broadcasting. In 2004, WOI Radio became part of Iowa Public Radio.

Iowa State’s WOI radio room, circa 1920s (University Photographs RS 5/6).

WOI-TV went on the air in February 1950 and for several years was the first station in central Iowa to offer a regular schedule of programming. It was the first television station owned and operated by an institution of higher learning and was noteworthy for its early experiments in Kinescope recording techniques. WOI-TV was sold to Capital Communications Company, Inc. in 1994.

Photograph of Barbara McWhorter, the VEISHEA Queen of Queens for 1951, on WOI-TV (University Photographs RS 22/12).

This collection contains correspondence, news clippings, reports, brochures and other publications, and minutes from WOI Board meetings. The records also include information on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing and the tax cases in which WOI was involved. In addition, the records include scripts and other documents for various WOI Radio and Television programs, such as “The Prairie Valley Intelligencer” and “The Homemaker’s Half-Hour.” There are also audience surveys, Nielson Ratings showing the station in comparison to other area stations, and programming schedules.

 


Planning for the Worst

With Halloween right around the corner, October is great time to be frightened. Everyone likes a little scare every now and then, right? During 1962, the October scare was very real, though. Nuclear war with the Soviet Union seemed like a distinct possibility and people’s greatest fears were on the verge of coming true. Fortunately, the event we refer to as the Cuban Missile Crisis did not result in direct military conflict with the Soviet Union, but in many ways the fear remained.

Khrushchev visits Iowa State, 1959

This image shows a scene from when Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, visited Iowa State in 1959. Things were a lot less cheery in the fall of 1962. (University Photos, Box 12.1)

During this time, Iowa State was not complacent in preparing for potential war. In September 1961, the State Board of Regents requested that Iowa State prepare a Survival Plan in the event of a nuclear attack in the Midwest. President Hilton asked George Burnet to lead the committee to prepare such a plan. Based largely upon the National Plan for Civil Defense and Defense Mobilization, Iowa State’s plan designated fallout shelters on campus, provided shelters with enough food and supplies for two weeks, and identified key personnel to take leadership roles in the event of such an attack.

Iowa State University Bulletin 133, Survival Plan

The Iowa State University Survival Plan was finished in June 1962 and published as Bulletin 133 by Engineering Extension in 1963. (this copy can be found in the Survival Plan Committee records, RS 8/6/90)

Extension was also hard at work helping prepare rural communities with plans to deal with nuclear fallout. If you ever wanted to learn how to build a barn to help livestock survive nuclear war, Extension gives you the answer. One particular publication, “Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout” (RCD-16), provided farmers with examples of farm structures that would help livestock survive as well as instructions on how to construct fallout shelters for people. It’s rather fascinating to look through the publication. I would be curious to know how many farmers actually built or modified their barns to take into account this possibility.

Extension publication on Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout

Interior pages from an Iowa State University Extension publication titled “Protecting Family and Livestock from Nuclear Fallout” published in 1968. (Extension Rural Civil Defense collection, RS 16/3/5)

If this hasn’t frightened you off and you are interested in learning more about how the University prepared for a nuclear attack on the Midwest, please feel free to stop by the Special Collections and University Archives. Information on the ISU Survival Plan can be found in the Survival Plan Committee records, RS 8/6/90, while publications prepared by the Extension service are available in the Extension Rural Civil Defense collection, RS 16/3/5. We look forward to scaring, I mean, seeing you!


#TBT Engineer’s Campfire

Tomorrow is the first day of fall, so let’s look back at an Iowa State fall tradition of days gone by.

1927Yearbook

Page from the 1927 Bomb

The text on the page reads “One of the most picturesque occasions of the Fall Quarter is the Engineer’s Campfire held in a natural theatre in North Woods.  During the afternoon a regular “Side-show” provides entertainment, while at night two big fires light up a stage for student vaudeville stunts.  The Engineers are knighted by St. Patrick by the light of the two big “torches.”  Norman Brown was St. Patrick this fall, and Margaret Erickson was “Engineer’s Lady.”

The Engineer’s Campfire was suspended in 1929 due to falling revenue and the unpredictability of the fall weather in Iowa.

As the weather gets colder (or at least, will eventually!), take time to learn about other ISU traditions that have been left in the past. After you do that, the entire run of the Bomb has been digitized, and all are encouraged to contribute to helping transcribe the pages in order to make the text search more accurate.


History of the Library, Pt. 4

This is the fourth and final post in our series on the history of the library at Iowa State University.  Need to catch up? Read our first, second, and third posts.

We left off last time after the second library addition in 1969.  Thus far the story of the library has been about expansion, and this post is no different.  Continuing with the trend, the library was acquiring materials rapidly to help meet the expanding student population and growth in programs at ISU.  In 1967, the library had 680,027 bound volumes.  About a decade later, that number had nearly doubled to 1,180,951 volumes.  This does not include the other collection items such as serial titles, microfilm, and maps.

Between the 2nd and 3rd addition, the library also established the Special Collections Department and the Media/Microforms Center.  The library collections were growing, straining the space in the existing library.  Additionally, with a continuously growing student population, reading and study space in the library was also quite limited.  Thus, the library needed to expand again.

The third expansion of the library was completed and opened on August 15, 1983, and largely transformed the library into what it looks like today.  The addition took place in two stages: first was the addition and second was renovating the existing building.  For example, the Periodical Room was restored while retaining its 1920s design.  Overall, the third addition added a little over 70,000 square feet of usable space.*

One major change that came about with the third addition that anyone who has seen Parks Library will recognize is the glass front of the library.

Library3rdAddition

Library 3rd Addition, University photos, box 259

You may be wondering why the library is known as the Parks library.  The University President at the time of the second and third expansions was W. Robert Parks.  He and his wife (Ellen Sorge Parks) were big supporters of the library and believed a strong library was essential to a strong university.  President Parks was instrumental in securing funding for the expansion and renovation of the library.  In order to honor his and his wife’s efforts, the library was dedicated as the Parks Library in a ceremony on June 8, 1984.  A portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Parks hangs in the library; you can see it on the first floor on your way to Bookends Cafe.

ParksPortrait

Library staff putting up the Parks’ portrait in 2000, University photos, box 2043

Of course, these history of the library posts have focused on changes to the building, but a whole other set of posts could be devoted to changes in staffing, automation, and countless other changes and improvements the library has had over the years.  If you are interested in exploring more, please visit the reading room!

*Post written with the help of “A Short History of the Iowa State University Library 1858-2007” by Kevin D. Hill.

 

 


#Flashback Friday – Iowa State vs. Iowa

Tomorrow is the Iowa State vs. Iowa football game. Wednesday’s post detailed the history behind the rivalry. Today’s Flashback Friday photograph is of an Iowa versus Iowa State football game in Ames at Clyde Williams Field.

Photograph of an Iowa versus Iowa State football game in Ames at Clyde Williams Field.

Drop by our reading room to look at more football photographs in our University Photograph collection. We’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5.