Alpha Zeta Fraternity at Iowa State #TBT

Alpha Zeta fraternity in front of Agricultural Hall (now named Catt Hall) on steps. This photograph was taken on May 23, 1927.

(University Photographs box 1627)

(University Photographs box 1627)

Charles W. Burkett and John F. Cunningham, students in the College of Agriculture at the Ohio State University, founded the Fraternity of Alpha Zeta November 4, 1897. Alpha Zeta is a professional, service, and honorary agricultural fraternity for men and women in agriculture seeking to develop leadership skills to benefit agriculture, life sciences, and related fields. There are over 100,000 members worldwide.

Drop by the reading room and review the Alpha Zeta Wilson Chapter (Iowa State University) Records. We’re open from 10 -4, Monday-Friday.

30 years of Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games @IowaStateU @soiowa

Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games returns to Iowa State University this week. 1986 was the first year ISU hosted the summer games. This year will be the 30th year the Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games have been held here!

A race during the 1994 Special Olympics Iowa summer games (University Photographs box 21)

This is Special Olympics Iowa’s largest annual event. More than 3,000 athletes participate in the summer games. In 2006, ISU and the City of Ames put in a successful joint bid to host the first Special Olympics National Summer Games.


Awarding medals during the 1994 summer games (University Photographs box 21)

The 2016 Summer Games take place Thursday, May 19, through Saturday, May 21.

Drop by the reading room and check out our files & photographs on the history of Special Olympics Iowa at ISU. We’re open Monday – Friday 10-4.

100th anniversary of the naming of Lake LaVerne! #@IowaStateU

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the naming of Lake LaVerne. LaVerne Noyes was a member of Iowa State’s first graduating class. He graduated with a B.S. (1872) in general science and was later awarded an honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Iowa State. Noyes enlisted the help of landscape gardener O.C. Simonds to help beautify the campus of his alma mater. This project resulted in the creation of Lake LaVerne on the Iowa State campus.

Iowa State Daily (then Iowa State Student) November 19, 1914

Iowa State Daily (then Iowa State Student) November 19, 1914

The newspaper clipping above is cited by H. Summerfield Day as the first mention of a lake on campus. H. Summerfield Day was the former University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980) for Iowa State and competed the history of Iowa State University’s buildings and grounds.

Noyes paid for the lake to be built. Construction began in September 1915  and was completed, with the exception of some plantings, by December 1915. “Lake LaVerne” was suggested as a name for the lake at a Story County Alumni meeting on May 10, 1916 and formally adopted a month later. The dedication of Lake LaVerne occurred on June 6, 1916.

Ice skating on Lake Laverne ca. 1920s (University Photographs box 197)

Swans on Lake LaVerne (University Photographs box 197)

Swans on Lake LaVerne ca. 1930s (University Photographs box 197)

To learn more about the history of Lake LaVerne or review the LaVerne and Ida Noyes Collection, drop by the reading room. We’re open Monday – Friday 10-4.



Day, H. Summerfield, The Iowa State University Campus and its Buildings 1859-1979 (Iowa State University Library, 1980),

Iowa State University Facilities Planning and Management Buildings and Grounds Records, RS 4/8/4, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


#TBT Graduation Day #cyclONEgrad

This weekend, thousands of students will graduate from Iowa State University, many of whom will attend spring commencement. Iowa State’s first class graduated in 1872. Sadly, we don’t have any photos of that graduation, but we do have some from early 20th century. One of our earliest commencement photos comes from June 3, 1915, below.

Graduation recessional from Beardshear Hall, 1915. University Photographs, RS 7/2/E, Box 447.

Graduation recessional from Beardshear Hall, 1915. University Photographs, RS 7/2/E, Box 447.

To see more commencement photos throughout Iowa State’s history, stop by! We also have photos of alumni from various classes, including members of the class of 1872.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!

ISU yearbook digitization completed: The Bomb is online!

The University Library Digital Initiatives unit has completed a major digitization project that’s guaranteed to please a great many people. It’s The Bomb – figuratively and literally! Those of us who work in Special Collections & University Archives are always happy when people make use of the set of yearbooks in our reading room; now researchers around the world will enjoy access to them online, including OCR (Optical Character Recognition) functionality.*

Digital Initiatives Archivist Kim Anderson will send out a press release soon, but here’s an early “heads up” for SCUA blog readers. Special thanks goes to Bill Yungclas, who was primarily responsible for the execution of this six-year project, along with the Digital Initiatives students who worked with him over the years. It was no mean feat, since it involved 109 hefty volumes (1894—1994, the last year of publication).

Bomb 1894

Attractive lettering on the cover, 1894. IAC stands for Iowa Agricultural College.

As you can imagine, The Bomb varied quite a bit during its century of existence. In 1971 it consisted of six separate books and a supplementary 33⅓ RPM phonograph record! You can view and even download The Bomb here, including a digitized version of the recording.

Bomb record

The record is actually round, and has another side. I haven’t listened to it.

*Note that the text generated automatically by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software can look odd and contain errors. When in doubt, read the scanned pages yourself. Some of the yearbooks feature indexes, but most do not. Thankfully, OCR text allows you to search for words or phrases; however, it’s not perfect, particularly when there are special fonts or unusual layouts.

#tbt SYMBOL-2R computer

This week is Preservation Week – an annual week devoted to raising awareness about the preservation needs of collections. Since I am the Digital Initiatives Archivist, I thought I would make this week’s throwback thursday about computer history here at Iowa State.

I’ve blogged previously about the Cyclone Computer and Electronic Records Day. Today I’m focusing on the SYMBOL-2R computer. In 1970, when the computer was purchased, people used terminals that connected to a central mainframe rather than each person having their own computer. Simultaneous users at multiple terminals were accommodated by timesharing – the rapid switching of the computer’s attention between different processing jobs. The claim to fame for SYMBOL was its use of specialized hardware processors that negated the need for layers of software. By doing so, it sped up timesharing.

“To prove that many “software” functions could profitably be transferred to hardware, SYMBOL-2R was built as a pure hardware implementation, not only of a high-level programming language, but of a multi-terminal timesharing system; operable in the complete absence of system software.”

– Hamilton Richards, Jr. “Controlled Information Sharing in the SYMBOL-2R Computer System” (doctoral dissertation, Iowa State University, 1976), page 3.

Although the library doesn’t have the actual SYMBOL-2R and has no digital files related to the system, the university archives is preserving the documentation, such as the manual shown above, that can be used to maintain the knowledge required to create the computer. To help preserve this material, the archives replaced the rubber band holding the note cards together with a soft cloth tie. The polaroid shown above was peeling and getting damaged, so we placed it in a protective sleeve. All materials are stored in a cool environment in protective acid-free boxes. If you’d like to learn how to care for your own materials check out “Caring for Your Treasures.”

Learn more about computing history at Iowa State at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and in RS 11/6 in the Special Collections and University Archives Department.

Military Circus #TBT @CycloneROTC

The first Military Circus at Iowa State University was held on March 4, 1922. It was held annually, with some exceptions, until approximately 1941.

Boys, Military Service in Armory, March 7, 1925 (University Photographs box 1112)

Boys, Military Service in Armory, March 7, 1925 (University Photographs box 1112)

To learn more about the history of the Department of Military Science, drop by the reading room and check out the Department of Military Science Subject Files and other related collections! We’re open Monday – Friday 10-4.

Notable Women of ISU: Barbara Forker

It’s time for our third installment of Notable Women of ISU! This time we’re going to take a look at physical education expert Barbara Forker. Some of you may know her only as the namesake of the Barbara E. Forker Building, or “Forker” as it’s commonly called. The building, originally the Physical Education for Women (PEW) Building, was renamed in her honor in 1997. Let’s shed some light on why this building was named after her.

Barbara Forker speaking at the Forker Building dedication, 1997. [photo location]

Barbara Forker speaking at the Forker Building dedication, 1997. RS 10/7/13, Box 26, Folder 2

Born in 1920 in Kendallville, Indiana, Dr. Forker earned a B.S. (1942) from Eastern Michigan University, a M.S. (1950) from Iowa State College (University), and a Ph.D. (1957) from the University Michigan. Dr. Forker worked at Iowa State in some capacity from 1948 until her retirement in 1990, beginning as a temporary instructor and eventually becoming Emeritus Professor. She served as Head of the Women’s Physical Education Department from 1958-1974, and was the first Head of the Department of Physical Education (the men’s and women’s departments combined) from 1974-1986.

Barbara Forker, 1955. [photo location]

Barbara Forker, 1955. University Photographs, RS 10/7/A, Box 782

Throughout her career, Dr. Forker was active in many organizations and projects. She served as advisor for NAIADS (synchronized swimming team at Iowa State) and “I” Fraternity (honorary for outstanding women athletes). She was president of the Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (IAHPER), the Central District Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (CDAHPER), and the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER). She was active in several other organizations as well, and was a member of three professional fraternities.

Barbara Forker and President Gerald Ford, signed by President Ford, circa 1977. [photo location]

Barbara Forker and President Gerald Ford, signed by President Ford, circa 1977. RS 10/7/13, Box 25, Folder 2

In addition to presenting over 100 speeches and receiving several awards for her work, Dr. Forker notably worked with the United States Olympics from 1975-1984. She was a member of the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports and in 1977 served as a United States Delegate in the Second Educationists Session at the International Olympic Academy. From 1980 to 1984, she was a member of the United States Olympic Committee Executive Board and the United States Olympic Committee Education Council. In her last year with the Olympics, she was Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee Symposium at the Pre-Olympic Scientific Congress.

For more information about Dr. Forker and her impressive career, come in and have a look at the Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10/7/13. A couple other items of interest are this online feature from Iowa State University’s sesquicentennial celebration and this Women’s History Month blog post we did four years ago. Stop by sometime!


Fashion Show #TBT @ISUFashionShow

Last Saturday was the 34th annual Fashion Show. The picture below is from the first Fashion Show in 1982.

1982 Fashion Show (from Fashion Show Records RS 29/2/4 box 1)

1982 Fashion Show (from Fashion Show Records RS 29/2/4 box 1)


The Fashion Show is one of the largest fashion shows run by students in the United States. More than 150 student-designed garments are featured on the runway and in the exhibitions.

Drop by the reading room and look at the Fashion Show Records (RS 29/2/4). We’re open Monday-Friday 10-4!