Posted by: Kim | May 1, 2015

Happy 20th birthday Reiman Gardens!

Bird house in Reiman Gardens (RS 5/7/3/0/5, box 1, folder 1)

Bird house in Reiman Gardens (RS 5/7/3/0/5, box 1, folder 1)


Educate, enchant, and inspire an appreciation of plants, butterflies, and the beauty of the natural world.

– Reiman Gardens Mission Statement

Reiman Gardens turns 20 this year. The university’s old horticultural garden (est. 1914), the predecessor to Reiman Gardens, was greatly expanded and moved to its present location to serve as an attractive entrance to the Iowa State University campus. Construction began in 1994 and the garden was officially dedicated on September 16, 1995.

Reiman Gardens is the largest public garden in Iowa.

Read More…

Posted by: Kim | April 28, 2015

CyPix: Jamming with Floyd

We’ve arrived at the end of Jazz Appreciation Month, so I thought it would be nice to draw attention to the Floyd Bean Papers (MS 55). Bean was a jazz pianist from east central Iowa (Ladora and Grinnell). His first professional gig was playing with fellow Iowan, Bix Beiderbecke. However, his big break came in 1939 when he joined Bob Crosby’s band full-time. Throughout the rest of his life, Bean played and recorded with many other jazz musicians as well as composed his own music.

Below is an image of a jam session Bean (not pictured) had with two members of the Duke Ellington orchestra.


Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton (bottom left) and Johnny Hodges (top) jam with Floyd Bean in the Panther Room (Chicago). (MS 55, box 3, folder 5)

“Trickey Sam” & Johnny Hodges – Help make Duke Ellington’s Band – Just before “Pearl Harbor” “41”.. Floyd was on Piano – Panther Rooom – Chi. Jam Session – (Harry Lim sponsor)

[all sic] – transcript of the note on the back of the “Tricky Sam” photo (bottom)

The collection contains Bean’s own arrangements and musical compositions, photographs of Bean and other jazz musicians (including personally addressed photos from Cleo Brown, Sidney “Big Sid” Catlett, and Earl Hines) and a variety of other kinds of materials documenting jazz and jazz musicians. It’s a great resource for Jazz Appreciation Month. We’d love to have you stop by and take a look! Also, be sure and listen to Iowa State’s own jazz band some time.

Posted by: bishopae | April 24, 2015

Earth Day: Louis Pammel and Iowa state parks

Iowa was one of the first states in the United States to adopt a state park system, and it did so in large part due to the efforts of Iowa State professor of botany Louis H. Pammel.

Louis Pammel (right) with Carl Fritz Henning, custodian at Ledges State Park, 1926.

Louis Pammel (right) with Carl Fritz Henning, custodian at Ledges State Park, 1926.

In 1917, the Iowa General Assembly created the State Board of Conservation for the purpose of making recommendations for acquiring land for state parks and to administer the parks. Pammel served as the Board’s first chairman from 1918-1927. Under his tenure, Iowa acquired 38 state parks.

Pamphlet, "State Parks of Iowa," RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8.

Pamphlet, “State Parks of Iowa,” RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8 (click for larger image)

In an article titled, “Iowa Keeps Nature’s Gift: What the State is Doing to Preserve Plant Life and Scenic Beauties,” Pammel makes a case for the beauty of the Iowa landscapes set aside in state parks:

Photo of Palisades on the Cedar River in Linn County, later Palisades-Kepler State Park, Box 51, Folder 4a.

Photo of Palisades on the Cedar River in Linn County, later Palisades-Kepler State Park, RS 13/5/13, Box 51, Folder 4a.

We think of a park as a place where there are trees like the maple and the basswood or the stately elm and the sycamore or white pine and cedar, the oak and the ash and they are all beautiful, but let [us] not forget that in Iowa at least we should have pride in the Prairie Park where the lily and gentian, the golden rod and aster, the blue stem and the switch grass, the pasque flower and Johnny-jump-up vie with each other in brilliant array, for it is to the prairie that we owe all of our greatness as a corn state. (Louis H. Pammel Papers, RS 13/5/13, Box 41, Folder 4)

More than just beauty, however, Pammel was concerned with the resources state parks offered for science, history, and recreation:

The persons who framed the [Iowa state park] law had in mind the preservation of animals, rare plants, unique trees, some unique geological formations, the preservation of the Indian mounds, rare old buildings where Iowa history was made….The framers of this law wished to show generations yet unborn what Iowa had in the way of prairie, valley, lake and river. It was felt that a part of this heritage left to us was not only for the present generations, but that its citizens of the future had a just claim on this heritage. (Box 41, Folder 6)

Program from the dedication of Pammel State Park, 1930. Box 76, Folder 8.

Program from the dedication of Pammel State Park, 1930. RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8.

On June 30, 1930, Pammel’s contributions to Iowa state parks were honored with the re-dedication of Devil’s Backbone State Park near Winterset in Madison County as Pammel State Park.

Celebrate Earth Day by visiting an Iowa state park or other state park near you. Find out more about Pammel’s fascinating life (including his interactions with ISU alum George Washington Carver!) in the Louis Hermann Pammel Papers, RS 13/5/13.


Posted by: Kim | April 21, 2015

CyPix: A 19th century view on books and reading

Letters to Young Ladies, by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, Hartford : Wm. Watson, 1835. (Special Collections LC1441 .S58 1835)

Letters to Young Ladies, by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, Hartford : Wm. Watson, 1835. (Special Collections LC1441 .S58 1835)

When intercourse with living becomes irksome, or insipid, summon to your side the departed spirits of the mighty dead. Would you think it an honor to be introduced in the presence of princes and prelates, or to listen to the voice of Plato or Socrates? Close the door of your reading-room, and they congregate around you. (page 94)

April 23rd is World Book and Copyright Day which is a day to “to recognise the power of books to change our lives for the better and to support books and those who produce them” (UNESCO).

Above is one of the books in Special Collections – an 1835 set of “letters” to young women, advising them on a variety of topics. The image above links to Mrs. Sigourney’s thoughts on books and reading. Here in Special Collections we acquire books that are rare and/or support the teaching and research areas of Iowa State University. To find books in Special Collections, use the library’s Quick Search and change the drop-down box for “all items” to “Books and more.” Once your search results appear, filter the list by choosing “PARKS Special Collections” under “collection” on the left side of the screen.

To see more of our blog posts on our book collection, choose “rare books” from the categories drop-down on the right of this page.

Happy reading!

Note: images and descriptions in the following may be distressing to readers.

Holocaust Remembrance Day – or Yom HaShoah – was just this week (April 16th). Every year, it is commemorated on the 27th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, which correlates to sometime in April or May in the Gregorian calendar, depending on the year. Another remembrance day, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is held on January 27th and commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Yom HaShoah is largely observed in Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world and marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Considering the tragedy that was the Holocaust and the lessons that were learned from it, more than one recognized day of observance seems justified.

It might be a surprise to learn that we in the Special Collections Department at ISU have materials related to the Holocaust. Admittedly, there’s not much, but what we do have is certainly interesting.

Read More…

Posted by: Kim | April 14, 2015

CyPix: a robot beverage service

Iowa State has its own celebrity robot. CyBot, the famous robot in question, once poured Alan Alda a drink on national television.

Cybot pouring water from a Mountain Dew can. (RS 11/1/8 box 10, folder 28)

Cybot pouring water from a Mountain Dew can. (RS 11/1/8 box 10, folder 28)

In 1996, seniors in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program developed Iowa State University’s first interactive robot as part of their Senior Design class. Cybot, at a height of 6 feet and a weight of between 200 and 460 pounds (sources disagree), was a mobile robot equipped with sonar and speech capabilities.

Cybot was programmed to find its way around a room and offer people it met a drink, which it then poured and served. Cybot uses sonar (sound waves) to find obstacles and avoid them and to find potential drink customers. It is fully autonomous, has rudimentary intelligence, and it communicates by voice.

A library of acceptable user commands guides Cybot’s actions, and it answers by voice as well. “If Cybot asks ‘Would you like something to drink?’ and you say ‘No thank you,’ it moves on. If you say ‘Yes, please,’ it will pour you a Coke,” Patterson said.

– “Spotlight Shining on Iowa State’s Cybot,” Iowa State Daily, September 3, 1996.

Two students calibrate CyBot. (Engineering Communications, RS 11/1/8)

Two students calibrate CyBot. (Engineering Communications, RS 11/1/8)

Learn more about CyBot in the Engineering Communications records (RS 11/1/8).

Posted by: bishopae | April 10, 2015

ISU poets and critics: celebrating National Poetry Month

“I have sprung my heavy door aside
so that the sun will not be hindered
sweeping its pattern and its warmth into my room.”

Cover of The Moon is Red by Helen Sue Isely, published 1962. MS-352, Box 2, Folder 8.

Cover of The Moon is Red by Helen Sue Isely, published 1962. MS-352, Box 2, Folder 8.

So begins the poem, “The Open Door,” by Helen Sue Isely in her book The Moon is Red. April is the month to swing open Iowa doors to the growing warmth of the sunshine after the snows of winter. (Never mind this week’s rain!) April is also the time to celebrate “poetry’s vital place in our culture” during National Poetry Month. Iowa State may best be known for its agriculture and science programs, but it is not without its contributions to poetry, one of which is Isely.

Helen Sue Isely was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1917, but she moved to Ames in 1945 with her husband Duane Isely, ISU Professor of Botany, and spent the rest of her life here. She published more than 800 poems in over 200 literary journals and magazines, including such well-known titles as Southwest Review, Antioch Review, and The McCalls Magazine. Her book of poems, The Moon is Red, was published by Alan Swallow in 1962, and won the first place award for poetry from the Midland Booksellers Association. Her other honors for poetry include those from the Iowa Poetry Association (1955-1958, 1961-1963), the Georgia Poetry Society (1954), and the South West Writers Conference (1956, 1959). To learn more about Isely and read her poems, check out the Helen Isely papers, MS 352.

Front cover of the first volume of Poet and Critic under Gustafson's editorship. Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1964.

Front cover of the first volume of Poet and Critic under Gustafson’s editorship. Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1964.

Richard Gustafson and Poet and Critic

In 1964, ISU Professor of English Richard Gustafson revived the literary journal Poet and Critic, publishing it through the Iowa State University Press. The journal had been founded three years earlier by William Tillson of Purdue University. Unable to keep it up with multiple demands on his time, Tillson ceased publishing it after only a couple of years. With the aid of a grant from the President’s Permanent Objectives Committee, Gustafson took the journal under his wing and revived it. The magazine’s rebirth was greeted with enthusiasm by those who had been familiar with it under Tillson’s editorship, and many supporters sent in letters of support, such as this beautifully illustrated note from Menke Katz, editor of Bitterroot, a quarterly poetry magazine.

Letter from Menke Katz, editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot, to Richard Gustafson, ca. 1964. Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1.

Letter from Menke Katz, editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot, to Richard Gustafson, ca. 1964. Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1.

The note reads,

“Dear Editor Richard Gustafson, staff and supporters,


“Delighted to know Poet and Critic is living again. Knowing Poet and Critic when William Tillson was editor, I am certain it will again be an inspiration to everything which is just and beautiful in poetry. I certainly feel refreshed to hear the good news! Good luck to you! I enclose $3 for a year subscription and will do all I can to influence others to do the same.

“Best Wishes,

“Menke Katz”

The text around the flower, reads, “A flower for Poet and Critic from Menke Katz.” (Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1).

Poet and Critic had a unique mission, not only to promote the work of lesser-known poets, but also to encourage better craftsmanship among the poets, and to do this, they encouraged the contributors to comment on each others’ work. Each poem published in the magazine was followed by one or two short critiques, thus opening up a conversation around the poem. This explains the title, as well as the journal’s tagline, “magazine of verse/a workshop in print/a forum of opinion.” Contributors include the well-known poet Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, Leonard Nathan, Colette Inez, Robert Lewis Weeks, and the aforementioned Helen Sue Isely.

Ted Kooser

Various issues of The Salt Creek Reader, from the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7.

Various issues of The Salt Creek Reader, from the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7.

A discussion of ISU poets would be incomplete without mentioning Ted Kooser. An ISU alum (1962), Kooser served as Poet Laureate for the United States (2004-2006) and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005 for his book Delights and Shadows. He teaches as a Visiting Professor of English at University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Gustafson and Kooser, both poets, also both edited literary magazines. Copies of Kooser’s The Salt Creek Reader can be found in the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7. The Reader contained a single poem per issue and was printed initially as a broadside, or a single sheet printed on one side, and later as a postcard. The first issue of the journal, published 1967, contained a poem by Gustafson titled “Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Plagues and Sultry Deaths.”

As you celebrate National Poetry Month, feel free to stop by Special Collections to examine these and other collections. Happy reading!

Posted by: Whitney | April 7, 2015

CyPix: Ode to the Card Catalog

The card catalog. That gargantuan set of filing cabinets with drawers full of catalog record cards was oh, so useful in the days before wide-spread internet access. Now, of course, we search for the library items we want or need on the online catalog, which is easier in many ways. Many of you probably remember using the card catalog to find the books you wanted, not unlike the student in the photo below.

A student using the card catalog, 1948. [location]

A student researching near the card catalog, 1948. RS 25/3/F, Box 2046

This is how I learned to navigate libraries, too, and am part of the last generation to do so. Card catalogs bring about feelings of nostalgia in people – you can even purchase old ones to use for storage or conversation pieces in your home! However, moving the catalog online provided major benefits like saving space that can be used for other things like study areas or more stacks, and convenience – we can just type in a title and see right away if it’s available. Still, although the card catalog is more or less extinct in its natural habitat, it is an iconic piece of library history.

Feeling nostalgic? More photos of card catalogs in Parks Library can be found here. Also, in case you want to know about its origins and some fun facts, here is a history of the card catalog. Many more photographs involving the library or other buildings and departments on campus can be found in our University Photograph Collection – come in and see what we can find for you!

Posted by: Kim | March 31, 2015

CyPix: Pen and ink

Samples from P. A. Westrope's penmanship scrapbook.

Samples from P. A. Westrope’s penmanship scrapbook (MS 613)

Perry Albert Westrope was a self-taught ornamental penman who lived in Iowa for many years. An avid penmanship enthusiast, he traded samples with other penmen and mounted both his own and others’ samples into a penmanship scrapbook. The above bird was made when Westrope was 70 years old. He noted next to it “Some of my best at 70.”

Westrope clipped an article from The Business Educator (1912) about himself and his brother, another penman:

When the love for penmanship gets a good grip on young persons, it is usually retained for life, no matter in what lines of work they may engage. That fact is exemplified in the Westrope brothers, P.A. and N.S. The former, now a bond salesman residing in Denver, Colorado, and past sixty, still swings a very skillful pen, and never loses an opportunity to see a penmanship scrapbook.

Come to Special Collections to view the rest of the scrapbook in MS 613.

Posted by: Kim | March 27, 2015

Camping with the Forestry Program

If you want a job done, the best that it can be,
Just call on any forester, from good old I.S.C.

– Part of the third stanza in “The Forester’s Song.” (Songs from Camp, RS 9/14/1 box 3, folder 2)


Tents along Cass Lake, MN during the first Forestry Summer Camp, 1914. ("Fiftieth Anniversary" booklet, RS 9/14/6, box 1, folder 1)

Tents along Cass Lake, MN during the first Forestry Summer Camp, 1914. (“Fiftieth Anniversary” booklet, RS 9/14/6, box 1, folder 1)

The Iowa State University (then College) Forestry summer camp was first held in 1914. Camp is still a required component of the bachelors degree in Forestry. With the exception of war time, the camps have been run continuously over the past century.

The Early Camps

Students lined up and ready to get to work. (A page from the 1914 summer camp scrapbook, RS 9/14/7, box 11)

Students lined up and ready to get to work. (A page from the 1914 summer camp scrapbook, RS 9/14/7, box 11)

Iowa State University was among the first universities to include forestry camps as part of the curriculum. Former Forestry professor and Iowa State Forester George McDonald explains the rationale:

The camp program has been arranged to come during the summer between the freshman and sophomore years. The purpose being to have the new students get “the smell of the woods,” – meet some of the activities involved in actual forestry work and secure some limited experience early in the training program. It also was felt that a preliminary training of this kind took off some of the “rough edges” and was a distinct aid in securing future temporary summer positions in private, state or federal work. in addition it made it possible for some students to quickly find out that the forestry profession might be able to struggle along without their services.”

– G. B. McDonald. “Evolution of the Ames Foresters,” Ames Forester, 50th anniversary issue, 1954. (Library call# SD1 Am37)

The 1914 curriculum involved four subjects: Silviculture, Lumbering, Forest Mensuration (pdf link), and Forest Utilization. The original texts assigned to the campers are now accessible freely online:

  • Henry Solon Graves. Forest Mensuration. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1908. (The edition assigned for camp was presumably the 1911 edition which is not available online.) Get access via the library catalog.
  • Henry Solon Graves. Principles of Handling Woodlands. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1914. Get access via the library catalog.

Women Foresters

“Mary K. Schwarte estimating a big Lodgepole pine’s diameter in Medicine Bow National Forest.” (University Photographs, RS 9/14/7 1954)

Male students at summer camp, 1960s. (University Photographs RS 9/14/7)




As can be seen from the photo of Mary K. Schwarte (left), women have been forestry students at ISU for at least half of the program’s duration.

By 1979 the number of women students had grown to 28%. In an effort to provide career planning support the Department brought in early career women foresters to speak to the students in a 1977 symposium entitled “Women and Men Working Together – An Attempt at Understanding.” In 2014, women still comprised 28% of the Forestry major.


Iowa State University Forestry Students have traveled all around the country. Here is a map showing just the first 50 years of camps:

Map from the Fiftieth Anniversary Booklet (“Fiftieth Anniversary” booklet, RS 9/14/6, box 1, folder 1)

Map of camp locations from 1914 – 1954 (“Fiftieth Anniversary” booklet, RS 9/14/6, box 1, folder 1) – Click image to enlarge


Despite the intensity of the camps, the annual reports demonstrate that there was still lots of fun to be had. The report for the 1978 trip to Lubrecht Forest, Montana, indicates that students made good use of their 4th of July weekend to see the surrounding areas:

"Going to the Sun" highway in Glacier National Park, 1982. (University Photographs)

“Going to the Sun” highway in Glacier National Park, 1982. (University Photographs RS 9/14/7)


“A few students went to Glacier National Park for the weekend. Others drove up to the Rockies of Canada. The longest trip taken was to the coast of Washington. Again, the weather was not exactly suited for swimming. But then how many times do Iowans get to swim in the Pacific?” (Mark Henderson. “Summer Camp – 1978.” Ames Forester, 1979. Library call# SD1 Am37).








 Learn More

We have over 12 feet of material documenting the forestry summer camps in RS 9/14/7, including many scrapbooks. Find more photos of forestry summer camps in the University Photographs Collection, and for more on the ISU Forestry Department see the collections under RS 9/14/. Come on by!

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