Best wishes for Becky Jordan!

Becky Jordan, reference specialist in Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), is retiring and today is her last day. Becky is an ISU alumna, and she has been with SCUA since she graduated in 1975! She worked in the Parks Library as a student and began work in SCUA right after graduation. If you’ve ever had a research request or visited the archives, it is likely Becky Jordan provided you with assistance.

You can read more about Becky in our Staff Pick! post from last summer.

Please join us in congratulating Becky on her much deserved retirement. We will miss her very much and wish her well!


Rare Book Highlights: Carver’s Travels

Title page of Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North America in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768.

Carver, Jonathan. Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768. London, 1781. Call number: F597 .C32 1781x

This month I would like to highlight one of our recent acquisitions. For those of us living in the Upper Midwest, this book gives a glimpse of the region just before the time of the American Revolution.

Portrait of Jonathan Carver from the fontispiece of his Travels.

Jonathan Carver was born in Massachusetts in 1710 when it was still an English colony. He joined the Massachusetts militia in 1755 and fought in the French and Indian War. At the end of the war, he set out west to explore the new territory that the British acquired as a result of the war.

He traveled into modern day Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas, finding his way to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and traveling around the Great Lakes.

His book is part travelogue, part natural history text. He describes not only the land he passes through, but also the native peoples he meets, including their customs and way of life. The second half of the book describes the animals and plants he discovers along the way.

Colored illustration of a male Native American on the left, dressed in a loin-cloth and leggings and carrying a musket and ax, with a woman and child on the right. The child is nake, and the woman is wearing a white dress with a pink skirt underneath.

Colored plate depicting “A Man and Woman of the Ottagaumies.”

In the text, Carver describes coming upon “the Great Town of the Saukies,” or Sauk people–one of the Native American tribes that moved into Iowa in the 1700s. This particular town was located on the Wisconsin River (“Ouisconsin River”) in that what is now Wisconsin, but perhaps it gives a sense of how these same people may have lived in Iowa (through the lens, of course, of a European colonial of the time). He writes,

“This is the largest and best built Indian town I ever saw. It contains about ninety houses, each large enough for several families. These are built of hewn plank neatly jointed, and covered with bark so compactly as to keep out the most penetrating rains. Before the doors are placed comfortable sheds, in which the inhabitants sit, when the weather will permit, and smoak their pipes. The streets are regular and spacious; so that it appears more like a civilized town than the abode of savages. The land near the town is very good. In their plantations, which lie adjacent to their houses, and which are neatly laid out, they raise great quantities of Indian corn, beans, melons, &c. so that this place is esteemed the best market for traders to furnish themselves with provisions, of any within eight hundred miles of it” (46-47).

Detailed view of map showing Carver’s planned travel area. In the lower right quadrant of the image is shown “Saukies Chief Town.”

Carver also describes the animals he encountered, including the “Tyger of America,” which, he says, “resembles in shape those of Africa and Asia, but is considerably smaller. Nor does it appear to be so fierce and ravenous as they are. The colour of it is a darkish fallow, and it is entirely free from spots” (442). Which American cat is he describing, do you think? My guess is the bobcat.

Colored image shows the stalk, leaves, and flowers of the tobacco plant, as well as the caterpillar that feeds on the plant.

Although there are no plates illustrating the animals listed in the book, there is a colored plate illustrating the Tobacco Plant.

In addition to describing the native plants and animals of the region, Carver also describes the starchy plants that the Native Americans grew or harvested, including maize, wild rice, beans, and squash. The New England colonists may have been familiar with corn from their early interactions with the natives in the area, but for Carver’s audiences in England, the plant was likely still a strange exotic. Given its importance to the Iowa economy, it may be interesting to see how he describes this early species of “MAIZE or INDIAN CORN.” The stalks grow “six to ten feet high.” The kernals he calls “seeds,” describing them as “large as peas, and like them quite naked and smooth, but of a roundish surface, rather compressed. One spike generally consists of about six hundred grains, which are placed closely together in rows to the number of eight or ten, and sometimes twelve.”  “This corn is very wholesome,” he continues, “easy of digestion, and yields as good nourishment as any other sort” (522).

Wouldn’t Carver be surprised to see Iowa today with its acres and acres of corn fields?

This book was purchased with funds from the Margaret Mae Gross Memorial Endowment.


#TBT Living Mannequins

Ladies in cabinets-1926

University Photographs, 12/10/F, Box 1006, 1926

Today’s TBT photo was taken in 1926 as part of the coursework for the Department of Textiles and Clothing (now part of the Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management). Two students are in cabinets, modeling design work. In between them are three dolls, also wearing student designs.  As you can see, they are wearing designs that greatly predate 1926, so perhaps the students were tasked with designing historical costumes.  To learn more, check out our history of costume collection or our files from the Department of Textiles and Clothing (12/10).


Spotlight on the J. Stuart Russell Papers #TravelTuesday

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA)  “collects, preserves, and shares documentation of the experiences, achievements, and memories of people and organizations reflecting the university’s major research areas, with a special commitment to documenting the history of the university” (SCUA’s mission statement). The bulk of our collections are from within the state of Iowa. However, sometimes we’re treated to collections that document other parts of the world. The J . Stuart Russell Papers (MS 12) is one of those collections.

J. Stuart Russell was a Grinnell College graduate (1913) and Iowa farmer until he joined the U.S. Army in 1918. While serving, he operated a weekly newspaper in Sac City from 1920-1925. In 1925, he became Farm Editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune and held this position until his death in 1960. From 1925-1960, Russell was affiliated with numerous farm oriented organizations. He also traveled abroad several times to report on food and agricultural conditions in other country.

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Drop by to learn more about this collection or any of our collections. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9-5.

 

 

 

 



History of the Library, Pt. 2

This is the second in a series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State.

When we left off in 1914, the library was in Beardshear Hall, and the collection was bursting at the seams.  As early as 1911, money was allocated by the legislature to build a library building.  However, the process was slow-going, especially when it was discovered that in order to build a building of adequate size, much more funding would be needed.

Finally in 1923, construction on the new library building was started, and the first cornerstone was laid on October 11.  Construction was complete in 1925, though not all books were moved until early 1926.  One of the major benefits of the new library was that the materials were consolidated into one space instead of being spread out between Central (Beardshear), Agriculture Hall, Chemistry Building, Engineering Hall, and the Veterinary Building.

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Southeast view of the library, 1925, University Photograph box 313

The building had space to store 200,000 books.  At the time of opening, the library had “about 160,000 carefully selected volumes” (Catalogue, 1927-1928).

The library hours during regular sessions were:

Monday-Friday 7:50 am-6pm and 7-9:30pm
Saturday: 7:50am-2 and 1-6pm
Sunday: 2-5pm (no procrastinating until Sunday night!)

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South end of Periodical Room, 1927 University Photographs box 146

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Periodical Room (Main Reading Room), 1925, University Photographs box 170

In 1925/6, the library offered 4 courses; classes in library usage specifically for agriculture, home economics, and industrial science students, and a course in bibliographic research.    A 5th course in library methods had been added by the next year.  The dean of the library was Charles Harvey Brown. Brown served as dean of the library from 1922-1946.  In 1927, the library had 10 staff members and 12 assistants listed in the catalogue (compared to today’s 143 staff between librarians, support staff, and students).

The Alumnus had a rather interesting take on the new library building in their November 1924 issue:

“Officials say that the library will be ready for occupancy some time in January.  Some time early in the year, six libraries will be consolidated into one, and the amorous youth will no longer wend his away to Central, but to the new white structure beyond it, there to seek out his fair bibliophile and divert her affections to something more substantial than books.” (RS 4/8/4, box 12)

Sounds like the library staff had their hands full!

1925 Library Staff

Library Staff 1925, University Photographs box 2040

From 1925 to the present the library has been in the same location but has grown.  Join us for the next installments to see how the library has expanded in the last (nearly) century!



“The University and Tolerance”

In deciding which topic to write about for this blog, I’ll admit, I struggled to find inspiration. I knew I wanted it to be a topic that related back to the 1960s and that it should have some connection with current events. I checked the usual sources that were readily available to me such as the Iowa State yearbook, the ISU history timeline on our website, and previous posts that appeared on this blog.

And then the thought occurred to me to skim the finding aid for the papers of President W. Robert Parks and explore some of the events that were taking place on campus 50 years ago. One folder title caught my attention, “Speech – commencement address: ‘The University and Tolerance'” from 1967.

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This portrait of W. Robert Parks was taken in 1965, just one year before he was named Iowa State’s 11th President. (University Photograph Collection, RS 2/11/A, box 67)

Parks delivered this speech on tolerance on February 25, 1967, at the graduation ceremony denoting the end of the winter quarter (Iowa State would not move to the semester system until 1981). The speech touches on the challenges of living in a modern and changing world and explores how tolerance is a necessary part of our system of government and our civil society. Parks believed that it was the university’s responsibility to develop educated minds that understood the meaning of and the need for tolerance. It was also his expectation that these people, so educated, would become leaders in developing a climate of tolerance in all aspects of national society.

“The tolerant mind, then, is a tough mind, which does not require the psychological security of absolutes. It does not need to find single causes, or to have single answers. Rather, it can live with the free interplay of differing opinions, differing goals, differing ways of life. It is, in short, tough enough to accept the psychological frustrations which accompany the rich diversities of a pluralistic society.” — “The University and Tolerance” commencement address, February 25, 1967, by W. Robert Parks, President, Iowa State University

Full text of Parks’ commencement address “The University and Tolerance”

Though there may be more eloquent passages in Parks’ speech, the above definition of what Parks believed a tolerant mind to be struck a chord with me. As I read this speech I started to wonder why Parks felt that this message of tolerance was necessary at this point in time in the University’s history. I knew that generational changes were taking place on the Iowa State campus. Female students were starting to demand greater equality with regards to curfews and visitation rules in the residence halls. The civil rights movement was gaining strength nationally, but it would be another year before the black students at Iowa State would truly make their voices heard. These issues were all certainly present at the time, but I believe the impetus for this speech was the result of the student body election that took place just weeks earlier. The campus was unprepared for the ensuing uproar when a nonconformist by the name of Don Smith became president of the Government of the Student Body–but that is a story for a future blog post!

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Spring commencement in 1967 was held in the Armory.  Unfortunately, our collections do not contain any photos of the winter commencement ceremony. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/2/E, Box 452)

Although the election of Don Smith may have been at the forefront of Parks’ mind when he presented this speech, I also think that the president, in his own way, was preparing the Iowa State community for the challenging years he knew were coming. The next several years of Parks’ presidency saw him navigate the university through the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, and the Vietnam War protests. He may not have moved the university at the speed some students preferred or responded to student agitation as firmly as some legislators would have wanted, but by most accounts Parks approached many of the significant issues of his time with care, thoughtfulness, and, of course, tolerance.

The W. Robert Parks papers, RS 2/11, are rich in correspondence, news clippings, and administrative files that document how university leaders approached some of these often contentious issues. To learn more about how President Parks responded to events and addressed the Iowa State community during these times of change, stop in and visit us!



Say “Hello!” to our new Audiovisual Preservation Specialist!

Rosie Rowe is the Audiovisual Preservation Specialist for Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA)  at Parks Library. Rosie has more than 20 years of experience in audiovisual fields and has worked extensively with the preservation of analogue and digital media formats. In her previous role as the Audiovisual and Film Specialist at Archives New Zealand, she was responsible for building and maintaining a new audiovisual lab, where they preserved more than 20TB of at-risk, historical media for the national archives.

She aims to provide similar guidance and preservation workflow to the film and audiovisual collections at SCUA. We are very pleased she is here. Please join us in welcoming Rosie!