Posted by: Kim | January 27, 2015

CyPix: Stress Relief in the Artifacts

Here at Special Collections we have a wide array of materials. Although the bulk of our materials are older and still paper-based, we also have artifacts that came in with our manuscript collections or that form part of the history of Iowa State University.

computer-shaped stress releiver

One of several foam stress relievers we have in our artifacts collection. (Artifact# 2011-048)

Universities produce promotional items and Iowa State University is no exception. We have many types of promotional items created by the University over the years. This one is a computer-shaped foam stress reliever from 2011 inscribed with one of our points of pride: “Birthplace: Electronic Digital Computer.”

We don’t yet have a separate listing of the artifacts online, but artifacts are listed in our finding aids here and here where relevant. If you’d like help locating an artifact, please contact us ( and we’ll see what we can find!

You can learn more about the first electronic digital computer (the “ABC”) in the John Vincent Atanasoff Papers (RS 13/20/51) and the Wallace C. Caldwell Papers (RS 11/6/55).

Posted by: bishopae | January 23, 2015

ISU Theatre celebrates 100 years

The following post was written by former student employee Samantha Koontz before she finished up her work with us at the end of last semester. This post accompanies the exhibit she created. Stop by Special Collections to view the exhibit!

Fredrica Shattuck in 1900.

Fredrica Shattuck in 1900.

In 1914 Fredrica Shattuck, head of Public Speaking at Iowa State, founded the Iowa State Players so that students could participate in public performances. She also founded “The Little Country Theatre” which performed at the Iowa State Fair from 1921 to 1926. She was instrumental in obtaining a laboratory theater workspace for students to practice and perform in. The Theater Workshop, formerly a campus sheep barn, served as the home of the Iowa State Players for many years. It was renamed Shattuck Theater in 1960. Shattuck relinquished her position as department head in 1931 but remained on as a teacher at Iowa State College.

The Theater Workshop, renamed to the Shattuck Theater in 1960.

The Theater Workshop, renamed to the Shattuck Theater in 1960.

As the years progressed, many department heads came and went, each bringing something new to the department. ISU Theatre has performed works by Shakespeare, musicals, comedies and student produced works. In the department’s early years, the Iowa State Players performed in Curtiss Hall Auditorium and The Theater Workshop, later renamed the Shattuck Theater. Throughout the years, students and professors alike have put their blood, sweat and tears into productions here at Iowa State in an effort to tell the best story they could. Currently the department pursues this with great vigor and performs their works in Fisher Theater along with the Student Produced Show in Pearson Hall.

ISU Theater productions, clockwise from left: "The Boys in the Band," 1971 in Curtiss Hall Auditorium; "Summertree," 1971 in Shattuck Theater; "The Tempest," 1923.

ISU Theater productions, clockwise from left: “The Boys in the Band,” 1971 in Curtiss Hall Auditorium; “Summertree,” 1971 in Shattuck Theater; “The Tempest,” 1923.

The auditorium and exterior of Fisher Theater, completed in 1974.

The auditorium and exterior of Fisher Theater, completed in 1974.

Here at Special Collections there are many scrapbooks containing news clippings, photographs and playbills of productions for each season up in to the 1980s (see Kathryn Eames Papers, RS 13/23/52). These scrapbooks show how theater was done in the past and are great reminders of the history of the department. The archives also contain correspondence from Fredrica Shattuck, information on other faculty members of the department as well as playbills and information on the shows that were produced throughout the years (see Fredrica V. Shattuck Papers, RS 13/23/51 and the Theatre Production Records, RS 13/23/3). Two of the most performed shows here at Iowa State University are Our Town and Crimes of the Heart, each of which was performed 4 times. Crimes of the Heart just closed on the Fisher Theater stage in November 2014 after its 4th run.

Left to right: Playbill for "Candida," 1925; news clipping about production of "Love and Honor: Iowa in the Civil War," 2008; photo from performance of "Rent" in  Fisher Theater, 2012; rehearsal schedule for "Henry IV, Part I," undated.

Left to right: Playbill for “Candida,” 1925; news clipping about production of “Love and Honor: Iowa in the Civil War,” 2008; photo from performance of “Rent” in Fisher Theater, 2012; rehearsal schedule for “Henry IV, Part I,” undated.

This year, for the 100th anniversary of ISU Theatre, the season looks to highlight the past, present and future of ISU Theatre. They have selected shows they have performed in the past such as Crimes of the Heart, Love and Honor: Iowa in the Civil War and A Christmas CarolTo honor the present, shows that have never been performed here will hit Fisher Theater’s stage, including Les Miserables, On The Verge, and Spring Awakening. With the gala performance on November 15th, the department celebrated both its past and its future. Alumni and students came together to perform – showing people what theater has been with the alumni and what it will become with the current students.

Into the Woods was performed in 2014 as the Stars Over Veishea performance. It was canceled mid-run due to the cancellation of Veishea.

Into the Woods was performed in 2014 as the Stars Over Veishea performance. It was canceled mid-run due to the cancellation of Veishea.

To see more from the ISU Theatre Program Records, stop by Special Collections!

Posted by: Kim | January 20, 2015

CyPix: “Dirt Farm Editing” with Ray Anderson

Ray Anderson at his typewriter, undated. (MS 61, box 1, folder 9)

Ray Anderson at his typewriter, undated. (MS 61, box 1, folder 9)

“Dirt Farm Editing,” perhaps it should be called for I try to tamp my stories full of dirt but never to dish it out. Clean dirt, the kind that grows your bacon and eggs, the “dirt farmer” sort of dirt, including muck, mire, mud and manure, but just the same the soil and soul of the nation.

- Ray Anderson. “My Stories are Full of Dirt! An All-American Farm Editor Gives Low Down on His Job.” The Quill, April 1928. (MS 61, box 1, folder 3)

Ray Anderson, former farmer, was best known for his work as a journalist. From 1927-1944 he served as Farm Editor for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. His regular columns included “Fence Drift: Caught in the Woven Wire” (observational poetry) and “SHUCKS! Let’s Talk It Over” (news and observations). In 1944 he left the Gazette to join the staff of Farm Journal as an Associate Editor. Calling Anderson “America’s greatest farm reporter,”  Farm Journal Editor Carroll P. Streeter,  described Anderson as possessing the “liveliest reportorial curiosity I have ever known. Nothing pleases him so much as striking out to go new places, see new things, meet new people, encounter new ideas. He will never outgrow this if he lives to be 100.” (MS 61, box 1, folder 11).

Sunshine, at last.
In abundance.
* * *
Puts color in the corn.
And happy in the heart of the farmer.
* * *
‘Twas ever so, in Iowa.
Gloom never aught but temporary.
* * *
Soil, rain, sunshine, the man on the acres.
Reasons why we live in the center of the world.

- Fence Drift: Caught in the Woven Wire.
Undated. (MS 61, box 1, folder 4)

Aside from the Ray Anderson Papers (MS 61 Finding Aid), we have a number of manuscript collections pertaining to agricultural journalism. Here is a sampling of them:

As always, we are happy to help you with your research. Give us a call or email!

Posted by: Kim | January 19, 2015

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Iowa State

RS 7/5/1, box 1, folder 9

Program for “Beyond the Dream,” Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Celebration at Iowa State University, 1989. (RS 7/5/1, box 1, folder 9)

Special Collections is closed today as the University participates in the national recognition of the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King. The holiday, celebrated the third Monday in January, is officially called “Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.” as the original proposal was to have the celebration on Dr. King’s January 15th birthday.

Signed into law in 1983, the federal holiday was first celebrated in 1986. The State of Iowa joined 43 others in celebrating the holiday in 1989. At Iowa State University, the celebration is planned and managed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee. Special Collections has records of the committee in our web archives here and here.

Iowa State University was lucky enough to be one of the universities Dr. King visited in the 1960s.  He spoke on campus January 22, 1960. His speech, “The Moral Challenges of a New Age” was excerpted in the program for the ISU celebration of 2008:

All I am saying is simply this: All life is interrelated, whatever affects one individual, whatever affects one nation directly affects other individuals and other nations indirectly. We are all tied in a single garment of destiny, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, and therefore, we must live together. So long as there is poverty in the world no individual can truly be rich, even if he has a billion dollars. So long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live more than 28 or 30 years, no man can be totally healthy, even if he has just got a checkup from the Mayo Clinic. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought until you are what you ought to be. This is the way life is made, this is the way the universe is made.”

The full text of this speech is available in RS 22/08/00/01, box 2, folder 1.


Posted by: Whitney | January 16, 2015

A Bird Named Enza Flew to ISU: The Flu Epidemic of 1918

When I learned about the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 in grade school, a little playground rhyme from the era etched itself in my mind. It goes like this: “I had a little bird, it’s name was Enza, I opened the window and in flew Enza.” Of course, this seemingly lighthearted rhyme is a rather punny (sorry…) metaphor for the spread of influenza (“in flew Enza”). As we’re in the midst of a particularly nasty and newsworthy flu season, it seems like a good time to flash back to that flu epidemic that nearly 100 years later remains in our consciousness. Like the rest of the world, Iowa State University was not immune to the disease, and life on campus was impacted greatly.


State Gym transformed into a temporary hospital during the Spanish influenza epidemic, 1918. RS 13/16/D, Box 1123

Spanish influenza began its spread in late August, 1918. Shipments of troops moving out across the world during World War I aided the transmission of the disease. By October of that year, the epidemic swept into Iowa, and the state first reported cases of influenza on October 5th. Although the first reports were submitted at that time, it seems that the disease was here a bit earlier – Camp Dodge was quarantined on September 28th. The epidemic was at its peak in Iowa the week of October 19th with a total of 21,117 cases, but the disease didn’t significantly disappear until the summer of 1919. By the time the outbreak ended in 1919, approximately 20 million people died the world over. This website on “The Great Pandemic,” as it is sometimes called, provides lots of information on the spread of the Spanish flu, including its effects in each state.

A small portion of influenza diagnoses in the Iowa State College Hospital record book for the Motor Corps and SATC, October, 1918. RS 13/16/1, Box 2, Folder 12

A small portion of influenza diagnoses in the Iowa State College Hospital record book for the Motor Corps and SATC, October, 1918. Notice how they started to abbreviate after awhile. RS 13/16/1, Box 2, Folder 12

While all of this was going on, our Student Army Training Corps, or SATC, was training military men on campus for WWI. October 1918 brought disruption to the training program with many SATC men falling ill with Spanish influenza. In the Iowa State College Hospital’s record book, there are pages upon pages of influenza cases, primarily from October through December 1918. Eventually the College Hospital was overflowing with patients, and other buildings, including State Gym, were turned into additional hospital facilities. An excerpt from a letter from President Stanton to the Committee on Education and Special Training, Washington, DC, describes the situation on October 9th, 1918:

“We have some 300 cases of the Influenza, but have ample hospital facilities, physicians and attendants. The number of new cases are decreasing, those discharged from the hospital exceed those admitted, and we feel that we are facing toward normal conditions. We have a strict quarantine separating us from the rest of the world.” (RS 13/16/1, Box 2, Folder 14)

The quarantine of which he wrote involved guards posted around campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone who wished to enter or leave campus required permission and were given passes to present to the guards, like the one below.


A pass issued to a faculty member during the 1918 influenza epidemic campus quarantine. RS 13/16/1, Box 2, Folder 1

Despite President Stanton’s optimism in the letter, the epidemic was far from over at Iowa State. In a memo to the heads of departments dated October 12, 1918, he enacted the following:

“At meeting of the Board of Deans on October 8, 1918 it was decided that, for the time being, complete segregation of men from women students be established, including segregation at class periods.” (RS 13/16/1, Box 2, Folder 9)

The logic behind this was likely that all SATC members were men; therefore separating the men from the women would reduce the spread of the disease. It was a method that seems to have worked. Out of the 53 people that died at Iowa State, only two were women. The other 51 were all SATC men. The men’s names are included on the WWI list in Gold Star Hall in the Memorial Union.

For more information on the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 at Iowa State, see the Department of Military Science Subject Files, the James Thomas Emmerson Papers, and the Charles F. Tous Papers. And of course, do what you can to prevent the flu and its spread this season – tips can be found here. Stay healthy!


Posted by: bishopae | January 13, 2015

CyPix: Memorial Union in snow

Students returning to campus this week for the start of spring semester were greeted by a campus scene not unlike the photo below:

A five-story building is in the background on the right side of the image, with a frozen lake in the foreground.

This photograph shows the Memorial Union overlooking an ice-covered Lake LaVerne, unknown date. RS 4/8/4.

With sub-zero wind chills, frozen lakes, and piles of snow, it seems a long, cold trudge until spring break on sunny tropical beaches! Special Collections wishes everyone warm thoughts and a prosperous and productive semester!

Posted by: Kim | January 8, 2015

“House Babies” at Iowa State

"Jack" (RS 12/5/4, 1925-1936, box 7)

“Jack” (RS 12/5/4, 1925-1936, box 7)

Imagine that it’s your last year in college. Before you can graduate you have to move in with 8 or so roommates (plus a resident advisor) to a single family house on campus. You will have to keep the house spotless, host a dinner or birthday party, decorate, manage accounts, schedule leisure time, continue with your other classes, and take care of an actual baby for six weeks. You and your new roommates will take turn being cook, accountant, hostess, manager, and “child director,” and you have to do it all for a grade! For over thirty years (1924-1958) female Iowa State students and “borrowed” children formed temporary families in the Home Management houses. By the time the program was over, Iowa State students had participated in raising 257 children.

Read More…

Posted by: Whitney | January 6, 2015

CyPix: Skating in a Winter Wonderland

We’re back! Classes don’t start for another week, but we are here and ready to go. Let’s start the new year off with an image from the Descartes Pascal Papers, MS 91:

Young men ice skating, undated. MS 91, Box 9, Folder 1.

Young men ice skating in rural Iowa, undated. MS 91, Box 9, Folder 1.

This glass plate negative shows a group of gentlemen posing for the camera while out ice skating somewhere in rural Iowa. The cold didn’t stop these guys from having fun! This photo and several other from Pascal can be found on our Flickr site, and more information on photographer, farmer, and seed corn breeder Pascal can be found in this online exhibit. And, of course, this image and many others are available in our department, so stop in, warm up, and have a look!

Posted by: bishopae | December 23, 2014

CyPix: Happy holidays!

Today’s photo post shows women from Alpha Delta Phi sorority decorating their Christmas tree in 1953.

Members of Alpha Delta Phi sorority decorating their Christmas tree, 1953.

Members of Alpha Delta Phi sorority decorating their Christmas tree, 1953.

We would like to remind everyone that the Special Collections will be closed for the winter break beginning tomorrow, December 24, at 3pm. We will be open to the public again on January 5 at 10 am. In the meantime, feel free to visit us virtually at our website, our Flickr page, and the Digital Collections.

Whatever occasions you celebrate this time of year, have a safe and happy break!

Posted by: Whitney | December 19, 2014

Christmas Menus Courtesy of Homemaker’s Half-Hour

It’s that time again! Time to get together with family and friends and celebrate the holiday season. For many, that season means Christmas, and with Christmas comes lots and lots of food. In case any of you are still trying to figure out your menus, here are some ideas courtesy of WOI-TV’s Homemaker’s Half-Hour. While these menus were originally created for Christmas, I see no reason why they couldn’t be used or adapted for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or anything else anybody might celebrate.

Christmas week menus, 1945 (RS 5/6/3, box 40, folder 1)

Christmas week menus, 1945 (RS 5/6/3, box 40, folder 1)

This three-way Christmas dinner menu (broadcast the week of December 17-22, 1945) gives you plenty of options to choose from in each category. Comments were made on the various dishes in this menu throughout the week:

  • Fruit Appetizer: mixed fruit cup or fruit salad or fruit juice
  • Bird in the Hand: Roast goose, roast duck, or “mock duck” from lamb or pork tenderloins
  • Stuffings: celery stuffing, rice and dried apricot stuffing, savory dressing with walnut meats
  • Potatoes: honeyed sweet potatoes or fluffy mashed potatoes with rich brown gravy
  • A Homey Vegetable: cheese creamed onions, mashed turnip or squash or green beans
  • Festive Relish Tray: celery, pickles, carrot sticks, etc.
  • Sweets: spiced currants, gooseberries or cranberries
  • Rolls: assorted hot rolls (refrigerator roll dough) as parker-house, clover leaf, crescent
  • Dessert: steamed pudding or mince pie (choice or carrot pudding with lemon sauce; raisin pudding with foamy sauce, plum pudding, cranberry pudding vanilla sauce, etc.)
  • Beverage

Below are a couple of recipes featured in the notes for this menu’s episodes.

Recipe for carrot pudding and lemon sauce (RS 5/6/3, box 40, folder 1)

Recipes for carrot pudding and lemon sauce (RS 5/6/3, box 40, folder 1)

Some items in other Christmas menus include the following:

  • Christmas dinner, 1946: Oyster baked potatoes (presumably using leftover oysters from Christmas Eve’s oyster stew – a tradition in many families)
  • Christmas dinner, 1946: Molded cranberry nut salad
  • Christmas dinner, 1946: Plum pudding with hard sauce (a combination of butter, sugar, and brandy or rum) for those who fancy an English Christmas tradition
  • Christmas Luncheon or Supper, 1947: Oyster or salsify soup (salsify is a root vegetable that tastes like oysters when cooked; salsify soup is sometimes called “poor man’s oyster stew”)
  • Christmas Luncheon or Supper, 1947: Fruit cake
  • Christmas Dinner, 1950: Chilled grapefruit sections with red hots
  • Christmas Dinner, 1950: Bride’s salad (mixture of fruit including white grapes and nuts folded into whipped cream; lemon juice and sugar may be added to the whipped cream if desired)

Unfortunately we don’t have recipes for all of these items, but I’m sure similar recipes can be found online. Well, maybe not for everything, but then again the internet is full of surprises!

Many more menus – holiday or not – are available in the WOI Radio and Television Records, as well as scripts of Homemaker’s Half-Hour and other productions. Our cookbook collection is also full of some great and interesting recipes, some of which you can view online.

Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate, we wish you a very happy holiday!

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