Happy 50th! The Origins of Special Collections & University Archives

2019 marks the Special Collections & University Archives’ (SCUA) 50th year in existence. This blog post is the first in a series of blog posts celebrating SCUA’s 50 years at Iowa State University. The Department of Special Collections at Iowa State University consolidated the already existing College History and Rare Books collections. The College History Collection was a cooperative effort, led by the University Library and the College History Committee, to preserve Iowa State University’s history.

Photograph of person wearing suit reading files standing in front of a filing cabinet. Caption to photo reads: "Robert Orr, director of the Iowa State College Library, looks over part of the college history collection now stored in Building N. The materials will be moved to the library and organized, with aid from the Alumni Achievement Fund. Title of article: "College History Collection." The project of organizing Iowa State's voluminous history files will soon be started. A $2,500 grant from the Alumni Association's Achievement Fund, requested by President James H. Hilton and approved by the alumni board of trustees, will be used to employ a part-time assistant and to buy materials for processing part of the collection. Now stored in Building N, the materials will be moved to the library for safekeeping. Photographic prints and negatives are earmarked for early attention. They will be cleaned, repaired, mounted if necessary, and classified and filed for easy reference. Other parts of the collection in Building N will be processed later. These include correspondence, selected printed works, notebooks, and other memoranda. Some bulky items, of no sentimental value, may be microfilmed to conserve space. A major part of the college history collection is already housed in the library's book stacks. It includes the life works of noted alumni and former faculty members. Lack of space prevents the library from assembling the collection into a single unit at the present time. The plan for organizing the history materials was recommended by Robert W. Orr, '29, library director, and approved by R. E. Buchanan, '04, chairman of the Alumni Association's memorials and traditions committee, and E.D. Ross, chairman of the college history committee. Plans are being made to gather a complete record of the centennial anniversary of the founding of Iowa State College. The event will be observed in 1958. Complete records of other similar obsevances are included in the history collection. "The projects will insure preservation of materials relating tot he development and growth of Iowa State College since its founding on March 22, 1858," Orr explained. "As the years pass the faculty, alumni, and students can be expected to have an increasingly keen appreciation of the history and traditions of Iowa State College."

On page 7 of the January 1954 Alumnus of Iowa State College. Call Number LH1 lo9a.

Back in July 1919, the Alumni Association tasked Dean Edgar W. Stanton to prepare a history of Iowa State College in preparation for the College’s upcoming semi-centennial celebration. Edgar Stanton was the natural choice to pursue this undertaking.  He had served the College in various capacities—Economics Department Chair, Head of the Department of Mathematics, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Dean of the Junior College, Vice President, and Acting President—since he graduated with the first graduating class in 1872. Tragically, Stanton died in 1920 from influenza, before he could complete his charge. In 1922, Louis H. Pammel, professor of Botany, was appointed as committee chair, and the committee renewed its work. In 1942, A History of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was published by then Chairman of the Committee on History of the College, Earle D. Ross.

All of the documentation compiled by Stanton, Pammel, and Ross were put in storage in a temporary building, presumably “Building N” referenced in the  “College History Article” above. In 1953, President Hilton requested $2,500 from the Alumni Association’s Achievement Fund to process the materials from the College History Collection. Dorothy Kehlenbeck was hired as the College History Collection Curator, and the materials were moved to the Parks Library.

Please click on pictures to see full caption information.

In 1969, the Special Collections Department was established. Stanley Yates was appointed Head of Special Collections, Dorothy Kehlenbeck was appointed the University Archivist, and Isabel Matterson was the Manuscript Curator. The new department was located in 162 Parks Library and its hours of operation were 8 AM – 12 PM, 1 – 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Not too different from our hours today.

If you’d like to drop in and learn more about the history of SCUA or the university, come visit us in 403 Parks Library. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9 – 5.


Spring Break!

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

Spring break has officially begun, and ISU students can be found relaxing by the beach, hiking in the mountains, and getting caught up on their homework here on campus. With Spring Break finally being here, we hope that soon the spring weather will follow as well!  Until it does, we can at least enjoy these pictures of former ISU students relaxing in the sunshine. Each of these photos were found various editions of the Bomb. Have a great Spring Break everyone!

 

Click on photos to see full caption information.


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Obnoxious Fish

It’s time for my second installment of Weird, Wacky, Wonderful. You can see my first post about the Milk Maid Contest here!

While looking through our records from the Works Progress Administration (MS 409) from the 1930s, I stumbled upon an interestingly named project that took place in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.  While glancing through the paperwork, Project # 1286 caught my eye:

ObnoxiousFish409B1F42 0001

MS 490, Box 1, Folder 42

ObnoxiousFish409B1F42 0002

MS 490, Box 1, Folder 42, Map of projects in Cerro Gordo County

The work to remove the offending fish took over 2 months in the spring of 1936.  While logically, this was likely the removal of an invasive fish species, it is still fun to think of ways a fish could be obnoxious.  Perhaps they were keeping the lakeside inhabitants up all night with loud parties?

Come to the archives to see what weird, wacky, wonderful things you may stumble upon 9-5, Monday-Friday.

 


Reflecting on 150 years of Student Life at Iowa State University

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

The newest exhibit to be featured at Special Collections and University Archives is arriving in just a few short days! Titled “We are ISU: Snapshots of Student Life” the exhibit will feature photos, clothing, scrapbooks, yearbooks, and other mementos from ISU students over the last 150 years. With the help of both the Preservation Lab and members of Special Collections and University Archives, I have photographed some cool parts of the collection, and even learned some interesting facts along the way. The exhibit is set to open March 13th, so when you have a chance, come visit the reading room to learn more about student life here at Iowa State!

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I had the chance to sit down with University Archivist Brad Kuennen and Assistant University Archivist Rachael Acheson, to learn a little more about the exhibit and what people might get to see. Brad and Rachael worked together as curators to create the exhibit. They planned the layout, selected the items, and wrote descriptions for both the physical and the online exhibits.

Are there any specific types of pieces included in the exhibit? What were the requirements for selecting pieces?

Brad: We wanted to select items from the University Archives that focused on the student experience. Since this is a look at 150 years of student life (Iowa State officially welcomed the first freshman class on March 17, 1869) this is intended to be a reflection on just some of the milestones that happened throughout the past 150 years. The window timeline will highlight 30-40 events over this entire span while the cases will reflect on six individual students highlighting some activities that they participated or events that were taking place on campus while they were here.

Rachael: We decided fairly early on that we wanted to sort of focus in on re-imagining the ISU experience of individual students from various eras, rather than pour all of our effort into constructing some broad, sweeping survey of the entire history of student life. And there were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, “student life” isn’t really a singular thing, when you stop to think about it. Each student’s experience is going to be very different and influenced by different institutional milestones, depending on their interests, their identities, their level of involvement, the context of the era they grew up in, and so many other factors. And, secondly, focusing exclusively on some kind of broader narrative would necessarily attract attention away from the day-to-day, experiential aspects of living on campus at a given point in time. And that’s what we really wanted to highlight: student experience, not without context, but within it.

The hope, then, is that these “spotlight” students, encountered immediately after the timeline, will serve as a focal point for viewers. We hope that students of today can see something of themselves in the lives of these individuals, get a fuller sense of what it might have been like to go to school with them, and come away better able to reflect on their own contributions to the portion of ISU history that’s still being written.

When did SCUA officially open? Could you give me a brief history?

Brad: SCUA was officially established as the Special Collections Department in 1969. Prior to this, there was a much smaller Iowa State History collection in the Library that was the precursor to today’s University Archives. This Iowa State History collection was initiated by staff sometime around 1918 or 1919 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening. The project was spearheaded by Edgar Stanton until his death and then taken up by Louis Pammel. The collection was enlarged in the 1950s under Dorothy Kehlenbeck in the run-up to the Centennial anniversary of the school’s founding.

Rachael: Brad is more qualified to answer this question! I only started working here last year, so I’m still learning both the institutional and departmental histories. However, for this exhibit, Rachel Seale has put together a case on SCUA’s 50-year history. The idea behind including it in this exhibit is a nod to how we’ve been able to preserve the materials you see throughout the rest of the exhibit. In other words, how are we able to tell these kinds of stories?

Do any of the pieces included have interesting backgrounds?

Brad: One item on display is a laundry mailer. This large aluminum box was used by students to mail laundry home to parents for washing. In many cases this was cheaper than using the few laundry services in and around campus. We have a photo album from Fan-Chi Kung (RS 21/7/49), an international student from China. His story has a tragic ending as he died in an automobile accident while he was at Iowa State studying for his master’s degree. He is actually buried in the College Cemetery.

Rachael: I am also a fan of the laundry mailer. I sort of wish I’d had one of those when I was in college. I also really enjoy the photographs of classrooms and classroom technology that we picked out. I love how serious all the 1920s students look as they stare down their apples, learning how to judge them for a state fair. And I love the weirdness of the 1960s “reading machines.” I included this for no reason other than because one of the 1960s/’70s student spotlights was an English major and because I found them delightfully bizarre.

What is your favorite piece in this exhibit? Why?

Brad: My favorite pieces in the exhibit are the early photographs of campus and trying to imagine what it must have been like to arrive on campus as a student for the first time. One of the cases has an image from the 1890s of Old Main that gives some clue as to how remote campus was. I often explain to students that in its early years, Iowa State was in many ways like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, except on the plains of Iowa and with a little less magic.

 Rachael: That’s a hard one. I’m torn between Loris Foster’s World War II-era scrapbook, because she documented her residential and social life in such painstaking detail, and our photos of the Vietnam War protests. I’m interested in student activism, and these capture both a lot of high tension and also many diverse parts of campus coming together on a single issue.

Brad and Rachael worked with many different departments here at the library to make this exhibit happen. As curators, they worked together to pick out the material that you will see in the exhibit, figure out where it will go in each case, write the accompanying labels, and essentially function as the storytellers. Thank you to Rachael and Brad for helping me with this blog post, and thank you to everyone involved in creating such an interesting exhibit!

The reading room hours are M-F from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, so once the exhibit is up and running, come see us on the fourth floor of Parks Library. If you are interested in learning more about student life at Iowa State University, Douglas Biggs will be giving a lecture at the MU on March 13th, the same day the exhibit opens!  Don’t forget, if you can’t make it to us in person, there will be an online version of the exhibit as well, which you will be able to find the link to on our website, https://archives.lib.iastate.edu/.


CARDinal Scavenger Hunt Answers

Our CARDinal Scavenger Hunt has officially come to an end! Thank you to everyone who participated. We will be reaching out to the winner by email, so keep an eye on your inbox. We’ve received some great feedback and will use it to continue to make improvements to CARDinal!

Here are the answers:

1. RS 16/3/4/60 Box 1, Folder 1-2: Luella Naylor 4-H Scrapbook

item1

2. MS-0613 Box 1, Folder 2: Perry Albert Westrope penmanship scrapbook

item2b

3. RS 8/6/168 Box 3, Folder 9: Report on Making of the World’s Largest Rice Krispies Treat

item3a

4. RS 2/1 Box 1, Folder 16: Adonijah Strong Welch papers – Graduation Address to First Class, 1872

item4

5. RS 11/1/11 Map Case Drawer C409 D19, Folder 1: Blueprints for Marston Watertower

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As always, if you have any questions or comments about CARDinal, please contact NHPRC Project Archivist Emily DuGranrut at emilyd1@iastate.edu.

NHPRC logo

This project has been generously funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


Celebrate Black History All Year-Round!

Today marks the end of Black History Month. I would like to highlight some selected posts we’ve done that celebrate the history of Black students, faculty, and staff here at Iowa State.

Over the years our knowledge about the accomplishments of Black students, faculty, and staff at Iowa State has grown and, as a result, we are able to share that information. We will continue to work to document and share the history of Black people, and other underrepresented communities, here at ISU, but also strive to post year-round to celebrate the impact that Black students, faculty, and staff have had on our campus, and not just limit our recognition to one month.

I hope you enjoy reading or rereading these posts. If you would like to learn more about this topic, please visit us. We’re located on the 4th floor of the Parks Library, open M–F 9 to 5.


A Welcome to Kahlee Leingang, a Processing Archivist

Photo courtesy of Kahlee

Kahlee Leingang joined the SCUA team as a Processing Archivist on January 22, 2019.  She is originally from the Chicago suburbs, but called North Carolina home for the past four years while she completed her graduate education. Kahlee earned a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in Public History from North Carolina State University.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and visiting local museums.


Early History of Multicultural Student Affairs at Iowa State

Tracking down administrative histories can be a difficult process. Even after working in the archives for many years these fact-finding missions can be a challenge. For this blog post I wanted to look at the early history of what we now call the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. This office had its origins in 1968 with the eight grievances presented to campus administration by Iowa State’s Black student athletes. You can read more about that event in an earlier blog post.

The results of this conversation between administration and the students was a better understanding of the University’s responsibility in supporting underrepresented groups on campus. One of the first steps the administration took was to hire staff to develop programs to highlight and support Iowa State’s minority student populations. These programs were initially overseen by staff in the Dean of Students Office and geared towards Iowa State’s Black student population. It is unclear exactly when the Office of Minority Student Programs was established; resources point to 1972 or 1973 as the most likely year though. What is certain is that Robert Lott was the first coordinator of this office. The following individuals played key roles in the development of these early programs at Iowa State.

Portrait of William Bell

William Bell, Associate Dean of Students, circa 1968, was Iowa State’s first administrator hired to develop and oversee programs geared specifically for students of color. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/3/A, Box 457)

William Bell was hired as Associate Dean of Students in September of 1968 as a direct result of the demands submitted by the Black students. Bell came to Ames from his previous position as professor of physical education and director of athletics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Bell was instrumental in establishing a number of programs during his two years at Iowa State. At his urging, the University initiated projects in coordination with historically Black colleges and universities including a faculty exchange program with Prairie View State College of Texas and fellowships in the Department of Agronomy aimed at increasing the numbers of Black graduate students in that department. Bell also helped organize Iowa State’s first Black Cultural Week, assisted in the establishment of the Black Cultural Center, participated in the recruitment of Black students and faculty, and assisted with the student counseling program. Bell also oversaw the Martin Luther King, Jr., Scholarship Fund, established in 1968, which helped students of color attend college. In 1970, Bell left Iowa State to return to his home state of North Carolina.

Iowa State Daily news clipping announcing the hiring of Harold Pollard and Willis Bright.

Article that appeared in the Thursday, November 12, 1970, issue of the Iowa State Daily announcing the hire of Harold Pollard as Assistant Dean of Students and Willis Bright who would split his duties as Program Adviser in the Dean of Students Office and Counselor in the Student Counseling Service. (Willis Bright, Dean of Students Office biographical files, RS 7/3/2)

The fall of 1970 saw the hiring of Harold Pollard as Assistant Dean of Students. According to the November 12, 1970 article in the Iowa State Daily, Pollard’s role specialized in human relations programs, with an emphasis on programs for the Black Cultural Center and assisting with recruitment of minority students and faculty. Although student affairs programming was not yet a specific unit within the Dean of Students Office, the scope of the activities was growing. The 1971 Dean of Students Office annual report notes that this was the first year in which the university specifically recruited minority students to campus although other sources note that this recruitment started in 1967. This same report notes that there were approximately 175 students of color on campus at this time (out of a total student population of around 19,300). Pollard left Iowa State after a year.

1970 also saw the hiring of Willis Bright who served as a part-time Program Advisor in the Dean of Students Office and as a Counselor in the Student Counselling Service. Bright would advise and work closely with Iowa State’s Black students, serve on the Affirmative Action Committee, and develop programs associated with the Black Cultural Center. Bright resigned in the summer of 1973.

Portrait of Robert Lott

Robert Lott, circa 1972, was hired as Assistant Dean of Students and became Iowa State’s first Coordinator/Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/3/A, Box 457)

Robert Lott was hired as Assistant Dean of Students in December 1971 to replace Pollard. He was given responsibility for minority student programs, the Black Cultural Center, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship fund. Lott was also placed in charge of administering the student orientation program. During his time at Iowa State, the University would develop an Affirmative Action Program and hold its first Black Awareness Week on campus. Lott would help develop the Advanced Preparation Program, an orientation program aimed at assisting incoming Black students transition to the University community. He also supported recruitment of more students of color. With the formation of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs in 1973, Lott was named Assistant to the Vice President and Director of the Office of Minority Student Programs.  Lott resigned from his post in September 1974.

From this point on there would continue to be an office on campus dedicated to improving the lives and experiences of Iowa State’s students of color. However, it would not be until George Jackson arrived on campus in 1978 that the Office had sustained and stable leadership. The name of the office may have changed over the years, but their mission is largely the same. According the their website, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs “supports and empowers Iowa State University’s students who self-identify as African American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Latinx, Native American/Alaskan Native and/or Multiracial, and advocates for their holistic development across the University.”

There are many others who helped develop these early programs for students of color, I have just highlighted a few. You can learn more of this history by doing your own research in Special Collections and University Archives. We would love to see you!


Rare Book Highlights: Illustrated editions of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Black and white photograph of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an influential Black American poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio to former slaves from Kentucky, Dunbar excelled in school and was considered the class poet in high school. Unable to afford college, he looked for work, but was rejected by Dayton businesses and newspapers because of his race. He finally took a job as an elevator operator. Continuing to write poetry, he was invited by a former teacher to read his poetry to the Western Association of Writers meeting in Dayton in 1892. This experience brought him wider recognition and led him to publish his first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, in 1893. Included in this book were some of his earliest dialect poems that he came to be famous for.

Plain gray cloth cover with titel and author stamped in gold. Speckled with white areas of possible insect damage.

Cover of Majors and Minors by Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Dunbar published a second book of poetry in 1895, Majors and Minors, one of the several Dunbar books that we hold in Special Collections. This second book included both poems written in standard English, grouped under the heading “Majors,” and poems written in dialect, under the heading “Minors.” Dialect poetry developed out of the Plantation tradition genre of writing in which white writers presented a romanticized vision of the Antebellum South and used dialect in a way that reinforced negative racial stereotypes. But Dunbar and other Black dialect poets “sought to use the problematic plantation-tradition background in a way that rescued both the form and its subjects from the more demeaning aspects of the tradition on which they drew,” as described in the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. “In so doing, the poets moved dialect poetry away from caricature and even, in the view of some writers and critics of the time, toward the presentation of a distinctive African-American cultural heritage rooted in the folk life of the rural South.”

Pages showing on left a black man hunched over in front of a wood shack; on right, the text of the poem, "Philosophy."

Dunbar’s dialect poem “Philosophy” from the book “Joggin’ Erlong” is an example of his use of the genre to subvert the negative racial stereotypes associated with the Plantation tradition of writing. (click for larger image)

Special Collections has nine of Dunbar’s 20 books of poetry and fiction. Including his second book of poetry, Majors and Minors, shown above right, and his final published book of poetry, Joggin’ Erlong, shown above (1906). We also hold three of his works of of fiction: The Strength of Gideon, The Love of Landry, and The Uncalled.

I’d like to focus on a set of photographically illustrated works of Dunbar’s dialect poetry: six books published almost annually between 1809 and 1906 by Dodd, Mead & Co. These editions were collaborative artistic works, illustrated with photographs by the Hampton Institute Camera Club and other Art Nouveau-style decorations. ISU Special Collections owns three of these: Candle-Lightin’ Time (1904; first published 1901), When Malindy Sings (1906; first published 1896), and Joggin’ Erlong (1906).

The Hampton Institute Camera Club, which ran from 1893-1926, was a group of predominantly white faculty and staff at the Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, a historically Black university in Hampton, Virginia. They practiced a form of photography  known as Pictorialism, in which photographers used their medium to create fine art images, emphasizing beauty, composition, and tonality over creating a strictly documentary visual record. Although predominantly white, the Camera Club members portrayed members of the African American community in Hampton, recreating scenes described in Dunbar’s verse. Ray Sapirstein, who has done research on these illustrated volumes, argues that, not only did the Club illustrate some of Dunbar’s racially subversive poems, like “When Malindy Sings,” but also that their artistic choices in illustrating the poem “actually makes explicit some of Dunbar’s subtly subversive content” (“Out from Behind” 172).

The poem pokes fun at one singer, Miss Lucy, who sings with proficiency, but cannot compare to the untaught but wholehearted singing of Malindy. Sapirstein points out that the poem does not specify the racial identity of Miss Lucy but implies that Malindy is African American based on the gospel songs that make up her repertoire. However, in the photograph that illustrates the first three stanzas of the poem, the photographers made the decision to depict a white woman at the piano facing a black man. Sapirstein writes, “The illustration from the photo-text makes Dunbar’s statement about the inferiority of Lucy’s ‘nachel o’gans’ far more racially explicit and transgressive. … In this specific instance, it was the Hampton photographers who were responsible for making Dunbar’s subversive implication explicit, as well as depicting a young white girl in a domestic interior with a self-possessed, well-dressed (and married) young black man, potentially as social equals. Published in 1901, the tension and uncertainty on the models’ faces also reveals the transgressive nature of their proximity. The headpiece of the poem depicts Malindy as a joyous singer in a homespun vernacular calico dress” (ibid, 173).

Left page has a black and white photograph showing a Black woman kneading dough in a kitchen. Left page has the second stanza of the poem.

Pages from the poem “Dinah Kneading Dough” illustrated in “Candle Lightin’ Time.”

As Sapirstein points out, these illustrated editions were largely compilations of poetry previously published by Dunbar, with a few exceptions, and they appear to be largely assembled by the Camera Club and later approved by Dunbar, as indicated by documents held in the Hampton University Archives. For example, a mockup of the first book of the series, Poems of Cabin and Field, held in the Hampton University Archives, contains a note reading, “‘Mr. Dunbar says no to the first print'” (198), indicating that Dunbar exercised some editorial jurisdiction over the work. Still, there is little evidence of Dunbar’s feelings about the Camera Club’s overall project with the illustrated editions. He did benefit from them in multiple ways, however. The editions were very popular and allowed him to support himself through his writing. He received a thousand dollars in royalties from each publication, which enabled him to cover medical expenses as he grew ill with the tuberculosis that ended his life at age 33. Beyond that, the illustrated editions had an influence on later African American writers and photographers, including Langston Hughes, Roy de Carava, Gordon Parks, Richard Wright, and Walter Dean Myers, who worked on similar collaboratively illustrated books of poetry (Picturing 327).

The last of the editions, Joggin’ Erlong, was published in 1906, just after Dunbar’s death that same year. A note on one of the pages indicates that “Slide Along” was the last dialect poem written by Dunbar.

Left page gives first stanza of poem along with a black and white photograph of a well-dressed Black couple stopped at a fence under trees. On right page a black and white photograph of the same coule, but closer up. The man and woman are facing each otherk, the woman wearing a nice dress and fancy hat, the man wearing a suit and hat.

“Sling Along,” from book, “Joggin’ Erlong,” was the last dialect poem written by Dunbar.

Bibliography

(note: The information on the illustrated editions of Dunbar’s poetry came from the following two sources.)

Sapirstein, Ray. “Out from Behind the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar, the Hampton Institute Camera Club, and Photographic Performance of Identity.” Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. 167-203.

Sapirstein, Ray. “Picturing Dunbar’s Lyrics.” African American Review, vol. 41, no. 2, Summer 2007, 327-339.

 


Black History Month at Iowa State University

Photograph of white female student, long hair with glasses, close-up in a library office setting (cubicle & book shelves filled with books visible in the background).

Photograph courtesy of Cassandra.

This blog post was authored by Curation Services Student Writer Cassandra Anderson.

Black History Month is celebrated from February 1 through February 28 starting in 1976 when the celebration was extended from a week to an entire month. Here on campus, we have a number of student organizations that celebrate Black History Month and work year round to educate campus on issues black students face today. The Black Student Government was a name that I found occurring repeatedly in the “Black History Month” folder of RS 22/03/001, so I decided to see if I could learn more about them.

On campus, the Black Student Government organized educational events, speakers, and more for the students at ISU. Their mission was to help black students on campus feel safe and at home on campus while also fighting for a better life. In 1992 the “Black Student Government” changed their name to the “Black Student Alliance” and continue to use this name on campus today.

Newspaper clipping of an article from the ISU Daily, Oct. 6, 1988, titled “Program for new Black Students discusses surviving ISU” Photograph included with article shows two female black students talking.

ISU Daily article on program sponsored by the Black Student Government. 10/6/88

During Black History Month, student organizations often work together to bring speakers, workshops, and other activities to campus. In 2000, seventeen campus groups, including the Black Student Alliance, worked together to create a range of activities celebrating Black History Month.

Flyer from February of 2000 titled “Celebrate Black History Month at Iowa State University” advertising the events for Black History Month.

Lastly, like any student organization, the Black Student Alliance is also about having fun and building a community. They often host events for students to hang out, like this “Show Me What You Got” game night! The organization is still active today with 97 student members. Each year the organization has an opportunity to attend the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, hosted by a different Big XII school each year.

Handout advertising “Show me what you got game night” hosted by the Black Student Alliance depicting a black male holding a video game controller.

For more information on Black History Month, the Black Student Alliance/Black Student Government, or other student organizations, check out RS 22/03/001!  All of the documents from this blog piece came from Box 1 of the collection, folders “Black History Month”, “Black Student Alliance”, and “Black Student Government”.