#TBT WWI Military Band

Iowa State has had a military presence on campus since 1870. During World War I, soldiers were trained for the military here, often as auto mechanics, blacksmiths, or machinists. In addition, there was military band. The photo below shows the U.S. Army Training Detachment Military Band, 2nd set (Iowa) in July of 1918.

Military band, 1918. University Photographs, Box 1106

Military band, 1918. University Photographs, Box 1106

What do you notice about this photo? The instruments? The uniforms? The faces? My personal favorite part is this:


I’m not sure which I love more, the dog or the facial expression of the man holding the dog. I’m not sure if he’s smug or amused (or both), but it seems like an appropriate look for someone holding the only dog in the photo. Also, why is there a dog in a photo of a military band? Whatever the reason, it makes this one of my favorite photos in our archives.

If you’re interested in military history at ISU, stop in or contact us to have a look at the Department of Military Science Subject Files, or any of our other ISU military collections!

Stephens Auditorium and the Ames International Orchestra Festival @StephensAud

Construction of ISU’s C. Y. Stephens Auditorium was completed in September of 1969. Visit “History of campus buildings” for more information. The auditorium is noted for its award-winning design, but today I’ll concentrate on some of what’s happened inside.

Stephens Auditorium at night in 1979

A photo taken in 1979 on the 10th anniversary of the Ames International Orchestra Festival Association. It’s not the best photo, but I like how the lights look. Source: Ames International Orchestra Festival Association Records, MS 137, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


The Ames International Orchestra Festival Association formed circa 1969-1971. It brought the world’s greatest orchestras, conductors, and soloists to the annual festival. Not having attended, I can only imagine the festivals as simply super, as classical music at its classiest and most musical. Here are a few glamour shots to give you some idea of the level of artistry I’m talking about. Google them if you must, folks, or take my humble word for it: this is top-shelf talent!


Conductor Zubin Mehta (1936-)


Violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)


Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (1961-)












Composer, conductor, author, and pianist Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)


Pianist, conductor, and composer André Previn (1929-)


Cellist Jian Wang (1968-)











Source of photos: Ames International Orchestra Festival Association Records, MS 137, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library. (Some photos are uncredited; copyright for the publicity photos presumably belongs to the artists or their agencies.) For more information about the collection, see our finding aid.

I’ll admit that while I’d be pleased if a blog reader visited Special Collections to look at the AIOFA scrapbooks, photos, programs, etc., what I really want you to do is treat yourself to an evening at Stephens Auditorium. I myself have seen two shows there: the incomparable Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the Moscow Festival Ballet performing “Sleeping Beauty” as imagined by Tchaikovsky. Great shows, great venue. Look what’s coming up. There’s something for all tastes!


Go Cyclones! #TBT @CycloneATH

Since this Saturday is the ISU football game against University of Iowa,  this week’s #TBT picture is a photograph of the ISU varsity football team 100 years ago.  Go Cyclones!

Iowa State varsity football team. In the background are State Gym, Marston Water Tower, and engineering buildings, 1916, taken by D.A. Davis.

Iowa State varsity football team. In the background are State Gym, Marston Water Tower, and engineering buildings, 1916, taken by D.A. Davis (University Photographs RS 24-6)


For more football pictures from Special Collections & University Archives, check out our Football album on Flickr and our YouTube playlist of ISU Athletics films.

You can also drop by our reading room. We’re on the 4th floor of the Parks Library and open from 9-5, Monday-Friday.

Meet Petrina Jackson, New Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

If you would have told me that when I graduated from Iowa State University in 1994 with my MA in English that I would return twenty-two years later, I would have never believed you. However this past April, that is exactly what I did. Much has happened during those years to prepare me for my homecoming to ISU.

After I graduated from ISU, I began my career as an English professor at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois. During my time there, I learned a great deal about teaching, student success, and what makes good writing good. It was a positive experience overall, but with a five minimum course load per semester and endless papers to grade, I knew that I would not retire from that field. Seven years in, I decided to change careers and become an archivist. Becoming an archivist required going back to school, so sixteen years after I graduated from ISU, I earned my Master of Library and Information Science with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from the University of Pittsburgh.

The road to being an archivist has taken me to several incredible academic universities, including Cornell University’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in the Carl A. Kroch Library, where I served as a senior assistant archivist and made connections with students, alumni, and community members, teaching the importance of preserving their historical records and planning events to spotlight those records. From Cornell, I moved on to the University of Virginia (U.Va.) and served as head of instruction and outreach for the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. At U.Va., I created an instruction program that increased the number of class sessions using special collections materials by 170%. After eight years at U.Va., I wanted the challenge of overseeing and growing an entire Special Collections’ program. When the opportunity arose to apply for ISU’s Head of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), I went for it.

My goal at ISU is to make SCUA central to Iowa State’s curriculum. ISU is a student-centered research university, and part of the goal of the Library is to help prepare students to become strong researchers, which includes learning to do the deep detective work of navigating through primary sources to find the answers to their research questions. This type of work goes far beyond performing Google searches. It requires critical thinking, patience, and stamina to look for information in its rawest, unadulterated form. Acquainting and immersing undergraduate and graduate students to primary sources research through coming to SCUA with their classes, using primary sources in their course assignments, and researching for their own scholarly project in our reading room are ways to build and flex these skills. Our main goal is to make SCUA a vibrant place for the ISU community, Iowans, and all who seek further knowledge in our research areas, be it for a middle schooler’s history day project, a retiree’s family genealogy, an undergraduate’s class assignment, a graduate student’s thesis or dissertation, or a faculty member’s publication. So come over to Special Collections and University Archives and dig into our rich resources, or just stop by and say hi! We would love to meet you.

Photograph of Petrina Jackson by Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist, 6 September 2016.

Photograph of Petrina Jackson by Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist, 6 September 2016.


Notable Women of ISU: Mary B. Welch

Welch is a name with strong ties to Iowa State University. Welch Avenue is a well-known street in Campustown, and Welch Hall is a residence hall on campus. The former was likely named after ISU’s first president, Adonijah Welch, but the latter is named for his wife, Mary Beaumont Welch. Mrs. Welch is not known merely as the president’s wife, but rather as a pioneer in home economics education.

Portrait of Mary B. Welch, [date]. University Photographs, Box [#]

Portrait of Mary B. Welch, undated. University Photographs, Box 50

Mary B. Welch was born in 1841 in Lyons, New York. After the death of her first husband, George Dudley, she met and married Adonijah Welch in 1868. Shortly after, the Welches moved to Ames, Iowa, so that he could serve as Iowa State University’s (then the Iowa Agricultural College) first president. Mrs. Welch attended various institutions to prepare for her time as a domestic science instructor at Iowa State. These included Elmira Seminary in New York, the New York School of Cooking, and The National Training School for Cookery in South Kensington, London. Of her time in London, she had this to say:

“Many amusing incidents of that London experience might be told. The only object of the school there was to train cooks for service. It was incomprehensible to the English mind that a woman, apparently a lady, whose husband was, as my letters of introduction proved, at the head of an important institution of learning, should be anxious either to learn or to teach cooking. The question was often asked me what family I was engaged to work for when I received my certificate.” ~ The Alumnus, Vol. 18, No. 5 (reproduced from an earlier issue)

Photo published in The Alumnus, Vol. 8, No. 5, 1923. RS 12/3/11, Box 1, Folder 1

Photo published in The Alumnus, Vol. 8, No. 5, 1923. RS 12/3/11, Box 1, Folder 1

All of this experience in addition to self-study and other life experience played into her teaching. Mrs. Welch organized and became head of the Department of Domestic Economy in 1875, one of the first such programs in the nation. She developed a curriculum around the properties of chemistry, botany, physiology, geology, and physics that applied to domestic science.

In 1881, Mrs. Welch expanded her teaching to outside of Iowa State and taught a class to women in Des Moines. This is considered the first extension work in home economics at a land grant institution. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Welch wrote a cookbook titled Mrs. Welch’s Cookbook, along with writings that appeared in various periodicals.

Cover of Mrs. Welch's Cookbook, 1884. TX715.W441.1884

Cover of Mrs. Welch’s Cookbook, 1884. TX715.W441

After her resignation in 1883, Mrs. Welch continued to lecture to various clubs, colleges, and the YWCA. She passed away in 1923 at her home in California, leaving behind a legacy that continues today within the College of Human Sciences. In 1992, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

More information on Mary B. Welch can be found in her collection in the University Archives, and some items from that collection can be found in Digital Collections.

ISU Archivists visit the State Historical Society of Iowa @IowaMuseum #iowahistory

Yesterday we visited the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines. We were able to visit with a number of librarians, archivists, and curators. We learned about the Iowa Newspaper Project and work being done collecting county records, among many other things. This blog post does not do justice to all of the wonderful things we saw and learned about, so you will just have to drop by and visit the collections yourself!

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Rare Book Highlights: Cobbett’s Corn

Cobbett, William. A Treatise on Cobbett’s Corn. London: W. Cobbett, 1828.

What do you think of when you think of Iowa?

Let me guess. Corn.

Cobbett's Corn title page, printed on paper made from corn husks, 1828.

Cobbett’s Corn title page, printed on paper made from corn husks, 1828.

That is why I love to pull out Cobbett’s Corn when people come to ISU’s Special Collections and University Archives. Not only is it a rare book focused on corn, but its first two leaves are actually printed on paper made from corn husks to demonstrate the usefulness of the plant.

William Cobbett was a lively writer with strong opinions. In his “Introduction” to the book, he explains that in the book he will

“show, what a blessing this plant will be to the English labourer, and how it will and must drive the accursed soul-degrading potatoe out of that land, into which it never ought to have come” (8).

Tell us how you really feel, Cobbett!

William Cobbett, portrait in oils, possibly by George Cooke, about 1831. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Cobbett’s animated writing style was matched by a spirited personality, which showed itself in his campaigns against corruption and fiery journalism that had a tendency to run afoul of the authorities. Born in 1763 in Farnham, Surrey, to a farmer and innkeeper, he joined the army at the age of 21, which took him to New Brunswick in Canada. After his return to England and leaving the army, he accused several of his former officers with corruption. Fearing retribution, he fled to France, but, as the country was in the midst of revolution, he soon left for America, settling in Philadelphia in 1792. There, he began his career in political journalism, returning to England in 1800 after losing a lawsuit for libel brought against him by the physician Dr. Benjamin Rush. He continued his political journalism in England, founding the Political Register in 1802, which he published until his death in 1835. He spent two years in prison (1810-1812) and paid a hefty fine for criticizing the flogging of a militiaman who had protested against unfair paycuts. Through his paper, he was an advocate for the poor and a proponent of Parliamentary reform. In the midst of social unrest, the government repressed dissent, which sent Cobbett fleeing once again to the United States in 1817, where he lived and continued to publish the Register for two years before returning to England.

Cobbett’s periods in North America exposed him to the maize that is native here. In fact, it was while serving in the army in New Brunswick that he first experienced “Indian corn” and “made many meals upon ears of corn in their green state” (14). Until this time, he writes,

“I used to be greatly puzzled by that text of Scripture (St. Matthew, chap. xii., ver. 1,) which told me that, ‘at that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn: and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat'” (14).

He then goes on (what I found to be) an entertaining digression for several pages of what he calls the “Scriptural history of the corn” (20), which includes little jabs at the corruption of the Church in England.

Engraving of a corn plant.

Plate 1 from Cobbett’s Corn, 1828.

The corn he suggests growing in England is a particular variety that his son discovered in France. It is a smaller variety that does not require long periods of heat to ripen, thus making it appropriate for England’s shorter, wetter summers.

Cobbett’s Corn is a less known book. He is better known for Rural Rides, in which he describes horseback rides through the country landscapes of Southeast England and the Midlands and shares his views on social reform. But Cobbett’s Corn is worth a look, as well. The bibliographer Morris L. Pearl wrote, “In this most entertainingly written treatise Cobbett skilfully blended agricultural and political advice with fascinating reminiscences. Contemptuous of his critics and enemies, he waxed lyrical at the prospect of English farm-labourers seeing ‘this beautiful crop growing in all their gardens…instead of the infamous Potato'” (Pearl, William Cobbett (1953), no. 154).


Introducing the Digital Initiatives Website! @ISU_library

Hooray! The Digital Initiatives unit now has a website explaining what they do and providing a gateway to selected digitized collections. In a nutshell, Digital Initiatives puts collections from Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) online, as well as selected material from the library’s collection that’s in the public domain.

You can browse by topics, from A-Z, and by material/media type!

Some SCUA collections available are the Bomb (ISU yearbook) and the Cookbook Collection, includes Mrs. Welch’s Cook Book, Kitchen Klatter, and the 1890 Women’s Suffrage Cook Book.

If you want to suggest a new project for Digital Initiatives or ask them a question, contact them on their  Get Involved page.



Getting ready for WelcomeFest! @ISU_Library @ISU_SAC

In 1916 the tradition of freshman beanies began. Freshman had to wear the official freshman beanie from the first day of the school year through spring, from 8 am to 6 pm daily except Sunday. The beanies were then burned in a spring bonfire when freshmen became sophomores. This tradition ended in 1934.

Since the beanies were usually burned, you can imagine that many have not survived for posterity. In Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), we do have a freshman beanie (pictured below) in our Artifact Collection .

Freshman Beanie from the SCUA Artifact Collection

Freshman Beanie from the SCUA Artifact Collection

Next week at the University Library table at WelcomeFest, SCUA staff will be wearing beanies while greeting new ISU Freshman. The talented Science & Technology Librarians Kris Stacy-Bates & Heather Lewin, and Head of Stacks, Kathy Parsons,  constructed the beanies for us and they did wonderful work! Our beanie makers constructed the beanies without any pattern. They couldn’t deconstruct the original beanie and use that as a model, because it is an artifact. They had to develop their own pattern and technique for creating the new beanies. They did a fantastic job!

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Below are the library staff responsible for creating the facsimile beanies.

(L-R): Kris Stacy-Bates, Heather Lewin, and Kathy Parsons wearing facsimiles of freshman beanies they made

(L-R): Kris Stacy-Bates, Heather Lewin, and Kathy Parsons (Photo by Megan O’Donnell)

A round of applause to Kris, Heather & Kathy! We’ll see you next week at the library’s WelcomeFest table. Drop by and get your picture taken! We will be there with our beanies on.

The Table’s Tale #Flashback Friday

This Flashback Friday post is about a table that Special Collections and University Archives received in 2008. The bulk of this Friday’s blog post is authored by Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist.

The table was received as a gift in 2008, and was thought to be part of the original furnishings of Morrill Hall.  However, once Archives staff started to do research on the names and other writings on the back side of the table top, it was apparent that it predated the opening of Morrill Hall in July of 1895.  It may have been in use as early as 1884.

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Here is information collected by Becky back in 2008:

Writings on the Back of the Table Top

Scattered across the table are a number of dates:

May 9 ____

May 14 ‘87

May 29 1889

November 10 89

84 (this is etched in—there is also an 84 on the inside edge of the table itself)


There are three tic tac toe games.


Also scattered are some names:

Orris Roberts—younger brother of longtime faculty member Maria Roberts, he was expelled in 1892 for joining a fraternity after they had been banned by President Beardshear.

Ch_____t______ Esq.  (The name looks as if it was rubbed out—it is smeared, rather than illegible.  The Esq. may not belong to this name)

Grace Axtell—appears in the 1896 Bomb as a class member, but did not graduate.

Rhoda Ryan


There are also 14 names grouped together:

Grace Axtell (again)

Daisee Robinson

Louise Hamilton

Loretta Hamilton

Cora Thompson

Ruth or Faith Thompson

Emma McCarthy

Grant Kirtrow or Kertrow

W.S. Dawson

E.E. Smith

R.B. Armstrong

C.S. Lincoln

_. W. Deaver or Driver

W.D. Mason


I could find no information for Rhoda Ryan, Ruth Thompson or _.W. Deaver.  Following is what I could find about the rest of these names:


Grace Axtell

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in the Ladies’ Course in 1893 and a Sophomore Special in 1894.  She was the daughter of Charles P. and Harriett Adelaide (Ada) Miller Axtell.  Her father was a partner in the firm of Ray & Axtell, a dry goods store on the west side of the square in Newton, Iowa.  Grace married Alfred Herschel (Fred) Munn on October 21, 1897.  Fred was a member of the class of 1894 but did not graduate.  His family owned (and still does) the Munn Lumber Company in Ames.  Their son, Hiram Axtell, was a member of the Class of 1922.


Daisee Robinson

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1893 and a sophomore in 1894. Like Grace Axtell, she was from Newton.  Her father, Ralph Robinson, was the editor of the Newton Journal.  Her mother’s maiden name was Fannie Hamilton.  Both parents were from Ohio.  According to her father’s obituary, Daisee’s husband was Mark Evans.


Louise Hamilton

She is listed in the Catalog as a freshman in 1891, a sophomore in 1894, and a junior in 1895 in the Ladies’ Course.  She appears as a member of the class of 1896 in the 1896 Bomb.  She is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 20, and in the Ames 1st Ward as a student, age 20.  She was the daughter of Charles and Tennetta Hamilton, with siblings Dora, Ethel, Loretta and Charles Jr.  Both parents were from New York.

She married William C. Boardman, September 29, 1897.


Loretta Hamilton

Loretta was Louise Hamilton’s sister.  We have no record of her as a student.  She is listed in the 1895 Census in Nevada 1st Ward with no occupation, age 23 and in Ames 1st Ward as a bookkeeper, age 22.  She married Benton Davis, June 27, 1900.


Cora Thompson

Cora May Thompson is listed in 1895 Census in the Nevada 1st Ward, occupation ?her (perhaps teacher), age 20.  Her parents were F.D. and Abbie Thompson, and siblings were Kate, Sylvia, Clayton, and Olive.  We have no record of her as a student.  She married Charles S. Lincoln (Class of 1894) on September 15, 1898.


Emma McCarthy

A member of the class of 1885, who did not graduate, Emma McCarthy was the daughter of Ames pioneer Daniel McCarthy and his wife Mary Ann Ross McCarthy.  In the 1894 yearbook (published 1893), she is listed as Iowa State’s assistant librarian.  She attended Iowa State for three semesters (1881-1882) then taught school in Story County for eight years.  She then spent two years at the Ames Post Office, joining the Iowa State staff in 1892.  She married Chaucer G. Lee (Class of 1894) on September 23, 1896.  Lee practiced law with Daniel McCarthy and was the judge of Iowa’s 11th District for eight years.  Emma’s name is very familiar in Ames, because her husband presented a park to the city bearing her name in 1949.


W.S. Dawson

He is listed as an Electrical Engineering sophomore in 1893 and a “Special” junior in 1894, but did not graduate.  He was from Nevada.


E.E. Smith

Edwin E. Smith was an 1893 graduate in Science.  He is listed in Iowa State College Graduates as being from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, and deceased.


R.B. Armstrong

Listed as a “special” from Polk City in the 1894 Catalog and the 1895 Bomb, he did not graduate.


C.S. Lincoln

An 1894 graduate, Charles S. Lincoln was the son of James Rush Lincoln, Iowa State’s head of Military Science, 1883-1919.  Charles Lincoln had a distinguished military career, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1894 and retiring as a Brigadier General in 1936.  He married Cora May Thompson (see above) on September 15, 1898.


W.D. Mason

Watson Mason is shown as a member of the Class of 1894 in the 1894 yearbook, but did not actually graduate until 1896.  His degree was in Mechanical Engineering, and he is noted as deceased in the 1912 engineering directory.  His hometown was Toledo, Iowa.


Some Explanations:

Until 1925, Iowa State’s yearbook The Bomb was published by the junior class and called by their class year.  Thus, the 1895 Bomb actually came out in 1894.  The last year this was done was 1924.  Then the yearbook staff was opened to all classes and the book was dated with the year it was actually published.  (This is also why there are two 1925 yearbooks).

The “Ladies’ Course” was a basic course of college study which included Domestic Economy.  For example, the first term of the sophomore year included Domestic Economy, German or Latin, History, One Essay, and the choice of two sciences from Botany, Horticulture, Physics or Trigonometry.  The degree received was the B.L. or Bachelor of Letters.

“Specials” were those taking special lines of study.  The 1894 Catalog describes these students as follows:

“Any person of mature age and good moral character, who desires to pursue studies in any department of instruction of the College, and who is not a candidate for a degree, will, upon application to the president, be admitted on the following conditions:  (1).  He must meet the requirements for admission to the freshman class, and pass such special examinations as the professor in charge of the department selected shall deem essential to a profitable pursuit of the work.  (2).  He shall confine his work strictly to the line of study chosen at the time of admission, and shall take enough class work, laboratory and other practice equivalent to work required of regularly classified students.  (3).  He shall submit to the same requirements in daily recitations and in examinations, with students in the regular courses.

Students who have pursued thus a special line of study in the Institution, will, upon application to the faculty, be granted the College Certificate, showing their standing in such studies.”