The department recently received a letter, pictured below, that has now been placed in the Woman Suffrage Collection, MS 471.

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Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

This letter, written on October 14, 1912, was addressed to Mrs. E. N. Mann of Boone, from Mary Safford, President of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association. Rev. Safford wrote urging Mrs. Mann to accept a position on the Board of Directors of which she was elected after having left an unnamed convention. Rev. Safford wrote:

In any event, I wish to congratulate you on the honor conferred, tho [sic] you may think yourself more in need of sympathy. That is understood, at all times, on my part.

In her effort to persuade Mrs. Mann to take the position, Rev. Safford added the following:

I urge all this for the sake of our common cause, and wish to add my personal urgent request that you do not permit anything to cause you to refuse to serve.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know how this turned out, and what convention this was. The following remark makes me even more curious (the words in brackets are educated guesses – the letter is a bit worm-eaten):

I greatly admired your [action] in [the] Convention and wish to express my personal appreciation of your womanhood as manifest by your frank statement.

What was this “frank statement?” What exactly went on at this convention? Perhaps someday we’ll know more about all of this, but in the meantime we have many other women’s rights-related collections that are worth viewing. These include Iowa State University. University Committee on Women Records,  the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, and the collections within the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering. Also see the Women’s Collections subject guide. If you’re at all curious about the history of women’s rights in Iowa, come in and read the rest of the letter and have a look at any of these great collections!

Posted by: bishopae | March 11, 2014

CyPix: Spring Fashions

March is here, and so are spring clothing lines!

As Apparel, Merchandising, and Design majors get ready for The Fashion Show next month, let’s take a look at an earlier ISU fashion moment.

Three women students ca. 1940 work in a Textiles and Clothing classroom decorated by bulletin boards showing current fashions. Two are working with a striped fabric and a small manequin or dress form: one is draping and the other appears to be cutting. The third is working with a pencil on a small drawing board.

Three women students work in a Textiles and Clothing classroom circa 1940. RS 12/10.

Here are three students in a 1940s Textiles and Clothing classroom working on a dress design. Two students drape and cut fabric on a small mannequin, while a third works at a drawing board.

Textiles and Clothing has a long history at ISU. Sewing classes were first introduced in 1879 as part of the Domestic Economy curriculum. In 1924, the Department of Textiles and Clothing was established. In 2001, the department was combined with the departments of Family and Consumer Science Education and Studies, and Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management to form the Department of Apparel, Education Studies, and Hospitality Management. The Fashion Show grew out of the annual style show presented by the Textiles and Clothing Club during VEISHEA.

We have a number of resources for the (historical) fashionista! More photographs of Textiles and Clothing students can be found in the photo set on our Flickr page. We have many collections related to the Department of Textiles and Clothing (RS 12/10) in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Also, check out the finding aid for the Textiles and Clothing Fashion Show Records (RS 29/2/4). And be sure to take a look at the fascinating Fashion Plates Digital Collection.

Posted by: bishopae | March 7, 2014

Women’s History Month: Mary Newbury Adams letters

In celebration of Women’s History Month, today we’re highlighting a newly digitized collection of correspondence: a selection of Mary Newbury Adams letters from the Adams Family Papers found on our Digital Collections website.

Portrait of Mary Newbury Adams

Mary Newbury Adams.

Mary Newbury Adams was born in Peru, Indiana, in 1837 to Samuel and Mary Ann (Sergeant) Newbury. Her father strongly believed that both men and women should be educated, and so she attended Mrs. Willard’s Female Seminary in Troy, New York, where she graduated in 1857. A few months later, she married Austin Adams, a young lawyer who had graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard. They moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he eventually became a judge and was later elected to the Iowa Supreme Court and became chief justice there. The Adams had four children, Annabel (b. 1858), Eugene (b. 1861), Herbert (b. 1863), and Cecilia (b. 1865).

In an early letter, dated February 21, 1857, Mary writes from school to her fiancé Austin (“My dear one”). She suggests that his cousin might come to call on her while she is spending a Sunday with her aunt in Lansingburgh, New York, the following month. “I should be happy to see him,” she writes, adding with maidenly modesty that disappears in later letters, “although I should feel rather embarrassed I fear.”

Mary Newbury Adams was an avid student of science, history, philosophy, and poetry. In a letter to her sister Frances, she explains that she has been studying earlier that day about the formation of minerals. “I have little time to go to the library now,” she writes, “but I manage to keep one or two subjects on hand to think about – just to hang my thoughts on.” She adds, “I never was so driven in household matters” (November 9, 1869).

She established the Conversational Club of Dubuque in 1868 to promote access to education and ideas among women. Club meetings were held in the homes of members, and the topics discussed included education, local progress, political science and economy, mental and moral philosophy, the fine arts, political revolutions, belles lettres, ecclesiastical history, natural philosophy, and physical sciences.

Reflecting on the importance of the clubs to women’s lives, she writes to her sister, “Our literary clubs are getting along finely and their beneficial effects are already evident in society. When women have clubs for study then they will not be driven for amusement to make society a business. Any amusement made an occupation becomes dissipation. All dissipation ends in disease. No wonder our American women are so weak” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, March 18, 1869).

In another letter, however, she attributes women’s weakness to a very different cause: the stress that comes from a very active life. Many women today can relate to Mary’s frustrations!

“I am not very well and then am driven by outside work – our literary club’s preparation for the opening of the Institute of Sciences and Arts. One doesn’t want to go and examine minerals when they know nothing of them[,] nor rocks when one can’t tell the difference between stratified and igneous rocks. Then the papers pile in and one keeps reading and taking notes & making scrapbooks so not to lose it before it is gone[.] Then the sewing, calls, church and one’s own body to care for. It’s no wonder American women are weak. They try to live ten lives in one and vote besides.” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, April 26, 1868)

In 1866, Mrs. Adams became interested in women’s suffrage and did much to promote it through writing and speaking. She was a member of the Association for Advancement of Women, the American Historical Association, vice chairperson of Women’s Branch of the World’s Congress Auxiliary of the Colombian Exposition, and numerous literary societies. She was a founding member of the Northern Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.

Mary Newbury Adams, surrounded by seven grandchildren.

Mary Newbury Adams with grandchildren, circa 1898. Caption reads: [top row] Emily Goan, Adelaide Goan, Olive Adams, [bottom row] Percival Goan, Adele Adams (on lap), Harlow Adams.

She wrote a letter home to her children on October 27, 1898, from the National Council of Women meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, describing her busy schedule, meeting with many people, old friends and new. She writes of her “level headed practical friend by my side Maria P. Peck.” Peck was another prominent Iowa woman from Davenport and founder of the Davenport Women’s Club (see entry: “PECK, Maria Purdy,” Woman’s Who’s Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. ed. by John William Leonard. New York, NY: American Commonwealth Company, 1914. pp. 633).

The Mary Adams letters give a peek into the day-to-day concerns of a prominent Iowa suffragist and intellectual during her most active period. Be sure to take a look at the letters in Digital Collections. You can also come in to Special Collections and take a look at the entire Adams Family Papers, MS-10. To see what is included in this collection, take a look at the finding aid.

And to find other important women you can research in Special Collections, check out our Women’s Collections subject guide.

We always look forward to seeing you in Special Collections–online or in person!

Posted by: Whitney | March 4, 2014

CyPix: Cy Meets Satchmo

We all know Cy is one cool cat, but did you know that he once met Satchmo himself, Louis Armstrong?

22-7-D_Cy and Louis Armstrong 1966_1648

Cy with jazz legend Louis Armstrong before a concert, 1966.

Louis Armstrong, in case anyone needs a pop culture history lesson, was a popular jazz musician whose career spanned the 1920s through the 1960s. He’s perhaps best known for his vocal renditions of “What a Wonderful World” and “Hello Dolly,” as well as his various trumpet solos. His performance of “La Vie En Rose” was even used in Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E. He also had a bit of a film career, starring alongside Bing Crosby on more than one occasion. Cy is pretty lucky to have met such a legend!

To see Cy through the years, have a look at our online exhibit, which includes this photo. Our Flickr page also has photos of our favorite mascot. Enjoy!

Posted by: bishopae | February 28, 2014

Happy 100th Anniversary to Iowa DOT!

April 9 of this year marks the end of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s centennial year, and ISU Special Collections has some great material documenting its history! But first, a little background…

In 1904 the Iowa General Assembly appointed Iowa State College (ISC) to act as a highway commission for the state. The charge of the commission was to design highway plans, conduct highway construction demonstrations, and act as an information service for county supervisors. The highway commission remained a part of the college for nine years until on April 9, 1913, the Iowa Highway Commission separated from the college. It was managed by a three-member commission including Anson Marston, Dean of the Engineering Division at ISC; H.C. Beard; and J.W. Holden. In 1975 the Iowa State Highway Commission became the Iowa Department of Transportation.

For more information on the history of the Iowa DOT, check out Iowa DOT’s historical timeline and their 100th anniversary webpage, and the Transportation portion of Iowa Public Television’s interactive Iowa Pathways website.

The following collections here in the Special Collections Department may be of interest.

People associated with Iowa Highway Commission/Iowa DOT:

Portrait of Anson Marston from 1942.

Anson Marston, 1942.

  • Anson Marston Papers (RS 11/1/11) : Professor and Head (1892-1917) of the Department of Civil Engineering and Dean (1904-1932) of the Division of Engineering, Marston also established the Iowa State Highway Commission (Iowa Department of Transportation). This collection contains papers and publications, research, engineering projects, and correspondence.
  • Fred R. White Papers (RS 21/7/33): Fred R. White received his B.S. (1907) in civil engineering from Iowa State College (University). He was Chief Engineer (1919-1952) for the Iowa State Highway Commission. This collection (1900-1974, n.d.) contains newspaper clippings, correspondence, pamphlets, photographs, blueprints, notes, and reports regarding bridge proposals, financing and construction of bridges in Iowa over the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

    Edna C. Mitchell sitting at desk.

    Edna Mitchell, from the Edna C. Mitchell Papers, MS 297, Box 1, Folder 8, Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

  • Edna C. Mitchell Papers (MS 297): Mitchell graduated from Iowa State College (University) in1917 with a degree in nutrition. While a student she also took courses in mathematics and drafting. After 10 years as a homemaker and the breakup of her marriage, Edna went to work as an engineer for the Iowa Highway Commission where she worked for 33 years. Among her responsibilities was the drafting of plans for maps, culverts, and road signs as well as the supervising of other women. This collection (1913-1993) contains biographical information, family genealogies, military records, correspondence, clippings, photographs, and diplomas. The clippings document her career as an engineer at the Iowa Highway Department.
  • John M. Dobson Papers (RS 6/1/52): Dobson joined the staff at Iowa State University as Assistant Professor (1968-1972) in the Department of History. He also served the University in various administrative capacities. This collection (1972-1999) contains materials mostly related to Dr. Dobson’s years as Associate Vice Provost. The collection includes correspondence, reports, and general information documenting, among other things, the Center for Transportation Research and Education at ISU and the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Printed materials:

  • Iowa Highway Map Collection, 1925-1991 (MS 186): The collection (1925-1991) contains Iowa highway and county highway maps. The county maps are marked “prepared by the Iowa State Highway Commission in cooperation with the Federal Works Agency Public Roads Administration.” The county maps represent all 99 counties. The collection includes oversized versions of the county maps from 1991. Also included are state highway maps.
  • Iowa Highway Commission publications in Special Collections (catalog search)
  • Iowa Department of Transportation publications in Special Collections (catalog search)

Community organizations in support of/in opposition to particular highways:

  • 520 First Association Records (MS 504): The 520 First Association, organized in 1970, had as its primary objective the immediate programming and construction of Freeway 520 (United States Highway 20), planned to go from Sioux City to Dubuque, Iowa. The organization’s name echoes their desire that this project be given “first priority.” This collection (1973-1975, undated) includes correspondence, news articles, memorandums, meeting agendas and a slideshow script. Most of the correspondence is between members of the 520 First Association and members of the Iowa State Highway Commission, the governor (Robert D. Ray), and with each other about their campaign to commence building of Highway 520 in Iowa.
  • Farm Land Preservation Association, Inc., Records (MS 108): Organized in 1976 to oppose the construction of a diagonal interstate (I-380) between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, Iowa, in order to protect and preserve farmland. The collection (1975-1979, undated) contains articles of incorporation, correspondence, court proceedings, environmental impact statements, a route location study done by the Iowa State Highway Commission, and news clippings.

Video:

Iowa Department of Transportation’s video “Highway Relocation” on Vimeo.

We hope to see you in Special Collections!

Posted by: Laura | February 25, 2014

CyPix: The New Dining Hall…and George Washington Carver

from Iowa State College (University) student yearbook, 1896 Bomb, page 167

George Washington Carver can be seen in this photograph from the 1896 Bomb, picturing the dining hall in the new women’s dormitory, Margaret Hall.

Although the exact date of George Washington Carver’s birth is unknown, he was born around 1864, which makes 2014 possibly the 150th anniversary of his birth!  As Iowa State’s first African American graduate who went on to become a well-known scientist, George Washington Carver items are frequently requested.  We have digitized a portion of the George Washington Carver Papers and photographs of George Washington Carver.  The George Washington Digital Collection is available through Digital Collections.  A description of the George Washington Carver Papers, a portion of which is available online, can be found here.

For February’s Black History Month, we thought we would highlight the image above, which shows George Washington Carver in the dining hall of the new Margaret Hall.  The photograph is quite striking, since it’s not often one sees an interior image of so many students in one photograph from that time period!  Other photographs of Carver while he was here at Iowa State can be found through Digital Collections.

Posted by: Whitney | February 21, 2014

The “Gilkey Bible”

Once upon a time at Iowa State University, there existed the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. The head of this kingdom… er… department was Herbert J. Gilkey. Gilkey, educated at MIT, Harvard, and the University of Illinois, came to Iowa State College (University) in 1931 to organize and direct the department. T&AM, referred to by students as “torture and applied misery,” (see Donald Young’s A Brief History of Engineering Mechanics at Iowa State, call number TA350.5 Y68x 2001) later became part of the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department. He served as head of the department until 1955, at which time he stayed on to teach and conduct research. In the 1930s, Gilkey formulated a set of rules and procedures, published in A Reference Manual of Suggestions and Departmental Practice (1938). This publication is commonly referred to as the “Gilkey Bible.”

Foreword from the "Gilkey Bible," written by H. J. Gilkey in October, 1938

Foreword from the “Gilkey Bible,” written by H. J. Gilkey in October, 1938

Judging by the manual he created, Gilkey was concerned with running a tight ship. At about 90 pages in length with 31 major headings, the manual goes into great detail about expectations of those who worked in the department. Today, the level at which he created these rules and procedures might be called “micromanagement.” Gilkey himself would read and approve all quizzes and final exams. However, his concern with organization and uniformity helped to establish T&AM as one of the most highly regarded mechanics departments in the country.

In the foreword, Gilkey describes his purpose in creating the manual as “an effort to record” decisions and procedures that developed over the early years of the department that every member of the department was expected and accustomed to conform to, advice and suggestions that the employee could choose to accept or reject, and other information collected to benefit new employees which also might have been useful to more veteran employees.

Some of the more interesting and/or (unintentionally) comical items found in the manual include the following:

Item 11.b: “Don’t talk too much or too long. All instructors, young and especially old, need to be constantly on their guard against doing too much of the reciting themselves. When ‘listening,’ student minds, like those of other people, are usually ‘at rest.’” (page 24)

Item 11.i: “Avoid sarcasm but instill pep.  Stimuli there must be; make them tingle or tickle, but don’t let them sting.” (page 25)

Item 18.h: “Excuse for absence. Endeavor to get the student to realize than [sic] an excuse from the Diety [sic] himself can’t remove the necessity for making up the work that he has missed. At some stage in his development the student must be brought to grips with the brutal fact that even a signed slip of paper from mamma, papa or the dean won’t neutralize a technical deficiency.” (page 35)

Item 30.h: “Endeavor to supply a touch of good breeding. Try in every way possible to supply that touch of good breeding that so many of our students lack. There is nowhere in this country a student body that eminates [sic] from a sturdier background, both racially and vocationally, than our own. Coming as they do from a race of honest rural toilers, our students have learned at home many of the basic virtues but less emphasis may have been placed upon the amenities of speech and deportment that are practically indispensible [sic] to one who would enter a professional career.” (page 57)

Item 31.c.2: “Facial alfalfa should be harvested not less than 365 times per annum.” (page 61)

Item 31.c.4: “Onions and garlic should be quarantined in the acute halitosis ward.” (page 61)

Item 31.f: “Speech. …When we can’t spell, that job can be turned over to our stenographers (perhaps) but if we can’t pronounce correctly or speak grammatically, we simply have to fry in our own fat.” Some of the most common grammatical mistakes Gilkey mentions are “he don’t,” “I don’t feel so good,” and “some of we men.” (page 61)

The manual contains a wealth of other such items, several of which occur on page 61, pictured below.

Page 61 of the "Gilkey Bible"

Page 61 of the “Gilkey Bible”

To see what else the “Gilkey Bible” has to offer, come in and see it for yourself in RS 11/7/1, Box 1. More collections involving the College of Engineering can be found here. Also of interest might be the following manuscript collections, which contain a variety of ephemera and documents Gilkey collected throughout the years: Herbert J. Gilkey Airline, Busline and Railroad Schedule Collection (MS-217), Herbert J. Gilkey Postcard Collection (MS-215), Herbert J. Gilkey Travel Brochure Collection (Ms-216), and Herbert J. Gilkey World War I Memorabilia Collection (MS-221). Let us know what you’d like to see, and we’ll be happy to help. See you soon!

Posted by: Whitney | February 18, 2014

CyPix: Iowa State’s First President, Adonijah Welch

In honor of President’s Day, let’s take a look at Iowa State University’s first president, Adonijah Welch.

President Adonijah Welch, undated

President Adonijah Welch, undated

Welch held the post from 1869 until 1883. In addition to presidential duties, he taught classes at Iowa State (at the time known as Iowa Agricultural College) until his death in 1889. Not only was he a significant figure in the design of the campus, he also helped develop the college’s first agricultural and mechanical arts classes and was a supporter of the right for women to a have a college education. For more information on Welch, check out his digital collection or come in and see the physical collection. The photo above and a photo of his wife, Mary Welch, can be found on our Flickr page. Also, be sure to check out our past blog posts involving Welch, like this and this.

Posted by: Stephanie | February 14, 2014

Black History Month at Iowa State: Some Lesser-Known Pioneers

Let’s talk about African American history today, shall we? Partly in honor of Black History Month, which is so visible these days that NBA teams have it as a hashtag on their warm-ups (okay…). But also because here at ISU, we talk a lot about George Washington Carver and Jack Trice. Important men in the history of the university, yes! But let’s give our attention to some different faces in Cyclone African American history.

Ladies first:

Mrs. M.E.V. Hunter and coach H.B. Hucles

Professor Mary E.V. Hunter, image courtesy of History of Prairie View A&M Flickr user

Iowa State’s first African American female student was Mary Evelyn Victoria Hunter. After first earning a B.S. from Prairie View A & M College in Texas, she received a Master’s degree in Home Economics Education (1931).  In Texas, Hunter was one of the first two black agents for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service (1915) and organized an annual, state-wide Home Economics Week. After her graduation from Iowa State, Dr. Hunter became a professor of Home Economics and Department head at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, a historically black land-grant college. She retired from that university in 1955 and died in Petersburg in 1967.

Dr. Samuel P. Massie, Jr, image courtesy of Massie Chairs of Excellence 

The link between Iowa State and the Manhattan Project is renown and often-discussed; my colleague Amy wrote about newly processed papers regarding the Ames Lab. The project also has a link to a barrier-breaking scientist and Iowa State graduate. Dr. Samuel Massie, who received a Ph.D. in chemistry (1946), was part of the Manhattan Project Research Group from 1943-1946. His participation in the project came about because in 1943, in the middle of his doctoral studies, he was nearly drafted into World War II before Dr. Henry Gilman stepped in. Correspondence between Gilman and Massie is available in the Henry Gilman Papers here at ISU. Massie ended up serving his country in a different capacity; in 1966, he became a professor of Chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and the first black faculty member there. He remained at the academy for the remainder of his career (1993) and passed away in 2005. More about Massey’s life story can be found in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Bonus trivia: Dr. Massie’s wife, the former Gloria Bell Thompkins, was also a professor. The two met at Fisk University and wed in 1947. Mrs. Massie, who had a Master of Arts in Psychology, helped start the Department of Psychology at Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest historically black university. Massie worked there from 1971 until her retirement in 1993. Bowie State University named a scholarship in her honor.

Dr. James W. Mitchell, photo courtesy of Howard University

A more recent graduate of Iowa State University’s chemistry Ph.D. program is James W. Mitchell (1970). He completed his undergraduate coursework at North Carolina A&T State University (1965). After earning his Ph.D. in Ames, Mitchell went to work at the famed AT&T Bell Laboratories. During this period, Michell helped found the Association of Black Laboratory Employees and headed up the company’s Analytical Chemistry Research Department. In 2002, Mitchell joined the faculty at Howard University, where he currently serves as a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Dean of Howard’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences. Over the span of his career, Dr. Mitchell has garnered a number of honors and awards – and he’s not done yet.

This is merely a drop in the bucket of contributions that African American Iowa State graduates and Iowans have made to society. Also, I would be remiss if I did not point to the Cyclones Athletics profiles of a number of notable African American student-athletes in recent history. Their profiles from February 2012 and February 2013 are available online.

If you are interested in exploring the history and journeys of other African American Cyclones and Iowans, a number of resources are available across the state and in the Special Collections. Contact us  or come visit to learn more.

Posted by: Stephanie | February 11, 2014

CyPix: Love in the Time of Glass Plate Negatives

This week is the celebration of Valentine’s Day, or Singles Awareness Day, or Galentine’s Day, or red-heart-candy-on-sale day – however you choose to celebrate. I found a number of images in the Descartes Pascal collection of glass plate negatives  to inspire your Valentine activities.

For the ladies, a pouffy sleeve pairs well with a game of cards; it is too cold to attempt an outdoor game just yet, though.

Girls playing cards

Gentlemen, grab your high collars, hats, and handkerchiefs, and hit the town.

Two dandies

Another option: you, your special someone, and some giant fur gloves make three!

John Pascal's home yard

More information on Pascal and his materials in Special Collections is available here. If your curious about what a glass-plate negative is, an exhibit about the process and more examples are available online here. Even if you’re solo these days, give thanks for whatever photography equipment you have, because chances are it’s much more user-friendly than glass plates.

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