A lot can change in a hundred years! This is Stange Road, Ames, Iowa, heading south towards the college, circa 1910.
For more campus scenes, check out our Flickr album.
In the late 1800s, Professor Joseph L. Budd commissioned renowned botanical artist Wilhelm H. Prestele to illustrate from nature several apple varieties. Special Collections and University Archives holds 8 of these in its collection of 58 of Prestele’s lithographs (MS 70). These beautiful and finely detailed works were created during Prestele’s tenure as the first artist in the Pomological Division of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Should you wish to try your hand at botanical illustration, we also have a copy of Répertoire de couleurs pour aider à la détermination des couleurs des fleurs, des feuillages et des fruits which offers guidance on the colors found in flowers, foliage, and fruit such as apples.
Here are the “honey yellow” tones found in some pears and apples:
Other materials on apples and pomology include:
Joseph L. Budd Papers (RS 9/16/13)
Charles Downing Pomological Variety Notes (MS 220)
Last week’s European farmers protests brought to mind a number of the collections in our department documenting protests organized by farmers, and in particular the image above from our National Farmers Organization Records (MS 481). The National Farmers Organization (NFO) was founded in 1955 to combat low prices farmers received from food processors. The more intensive aspects of the organization’s activities, demonstrated by the image above, receded by 1979, when its focus turned to collective bargaining for better prices. The NFO, which now has its headquarters in Ames, Iowa, is organized on county, Congressional district, state, and national levels.
A selection of additional collections documenting protests and other political actions can be found in our Political Action Subject Guide. In particular, the National Farmers Organization Records and Charles Walters Papers both document the National Farmers Organization, in addition to a variety of other collections found in the subject guide.
In 1971 The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University competed in the first intercollegiate concrete canoe race. “Clyde Kesler of the University of Illinois gets credit for starting the whole thing, by having his civil engineering students build a ferro cement canoe in 1970. Purdue students learned about it, built their own canoe, and challenged Illinois to a race. That’s how it all got started … but spontaneous enthusiasm has caused the idea to mushroom all across the country.” (1973 race report, MS 275, box 3, folder 3). These events continue today as the National Concrete Canoe Championship hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The concrete canoe race is a way for engineering students to work with concrete, practice fluid analysis, use design software, and work in a team. Iowa State University was not present at the 1973 competition pictured here, but the ASCE Iowa State Student Chapter does have an active concrete canoe team.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of concrete canoe racing, stop by the Special Collections and University Archives Department to examine the other materials in the Mary Krumboltz Hurd Papers (MS 275). Hurd was an Iowa State University alumna (BS Engineering 1947), consultant, writer, and staff engineer for the American Concrete Institute. This collection, part of our Archives of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), documents Hurd’s involvement in setting up the races and has many other photographs of concrete canoe racing in the early 1970s.
If you are familiar with conservation or American nature writing, you have probably heard of Aldo Leopold. Author of A Sand County Almanac, he has been called the father of wildlife management. Born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1887, he worked for many years for the U.S. Forest Service before accepting a position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in Game Management, the first such position in the country.
But you may not have heard of his younger brother, also a conservationist, Frederic Leopold. Frederic was born June 16, 1895, nine years after Aldo, and he grew up looking up to his eldest brother. Their father was an outdoorsman and would take his sons on trips into the country, teaching them to identify birds and plants and to observe nature. Frederic writes of his older brother’s already developed sense of ethics while hunting:
“…Aldo never shot sitting game with anyt[h]ing but a 22 rifle. His first scatter gun was a single barreled one to teach him to aim each shot with care because he would have only one chance.
“Game birds were shot on the wing. In case a downed bird was c[r]ippled, every effort was made to find that bird before going on hunting.” (from “Historical Development of the Land Ethic,” speech given to Student Wildlife Conclave, Ames, Iowa, March 9, 1974, MS 113, Frederic Leopold Papers, Box 7, Folder 14).
As an adult, Frederic worked for the family business, the Leopold Desk Company, first serving as vice president under his brother Carl, and later taking over as president. With the example of his conservationist brother Aldo, however, it is not surprising that he was also active in conservation efforts and wildlife ecology. Specifically, he became concerned with the survival of the wood duck, which had become threatened with extinction during the early part of the 19th century. He designed wood duck houses and spent almost forty years studying the mating and nesting habits of wood ducks, many of which made their home in his Burlington backyard. In 1951 he published “A Study of Nesting Wood Ducks in Iowa” in the scientific journal The Condor.
Frederic received recognition throughout the state of Iowa for his important contributions to conservation, including an Honorary Doctor of Science from Iowa Wesleyan College, the Iowa Wildlife Conservation Award in 1966, and the Iowa Academy of Science Centennial Citation in 1975.
The Frederic Leopold Papers (MS 113) here in Special Collections document Frederic’s wood duck studies, travels, and relationship to his brother Aldo and other family members. More information on Aldo can be found by consulting the Aldo Leopold Archives in the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
Over the course of his career Dwight Isely was a USDA Bureau of Entomology researcher, an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Arkansas, and Associate Director of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. His historical marker at the University of Arkansas refers to him as the “father of insect pest management in the United States.”
At left is a drawing attributed to Isely which portrays the pupa of one of the beetles he studied, perhaps the Southern Corn Rootworm (aka Spotted Cucumber Beetle), D. undecimpunctata howardi.
Isely’s papers document his research activities through lecture notes, chart recorder papers, lab notebooks, correspondence, and publications.
Special Collections and University Archives also holds the papers of Duane Isely (Dwight Isely’s son, RS 13/5/56), in addition to Iowa State University entomologists Robert E. Lewis (RS 9/12/51) and J. L. Laffoon (RS 13/25/57) .
Long lines at the college bookstore have been a hallmark of the start of term for many years. The fall semester just began yesterday here at ISU, so for the past week students have been moving onto campus, buying textbooks, obtaining ID cards, and many other tasks that frequently involve standing in line.
Here at Special Collections and University Archives, we wish you a good semester! Remember to check out our resources for your research papers and projects. Stop by and see us on the fourth floor of Parks library–we’ll be happy to help you find interesting things for your projects!
With the plethora of dating websites out there–OKCupid, Match, eHarmony, and even some more niche sites like FarmersOnly or Geek2Geek–you may think that the idea of having a computer match you up with a date developed in tandem with the internet age. Not so. At least since the 1960s, computer programmers have been working on algorithms to match people up. Take, for example, the IBM computer dances held at ISU in the 1960s.
The first dance was held October 12, 1963, in the ballrooms of the Memorial Union. It was sponsored by the Ward System, the residence organizations for off-campus students. As with online dating sites, students who wished to participate in the dance filled out long (120 questions) questionnaires in advance. Staff at the Iowa State Computation Center transferred the answers to punch cards that were fed into a computer for processing.
According to one Des Moines Register article from October 4, 1963, “After basic sorting, according to male and female, short and tall, plump and thin, younger and older, the computer will consider such ingredients of compatibility as: What subjects each student likes to talk about; preferences in books, television programs and movies; their religion, politics, and family background; academic ability, dating preferences and personality traits” (from the Clair George Maple Papers, RS 6/2/12, box 5, folder 10).
The system gave each student three matches, the first match being the student’s “ideal partner” from the group of participants, and the dance was divided into three sessions, to allow all of the matches to meet.
And what did the participants think of the event? All-in-all, it got good reviews. According to an Iowa State Daily article from October 15, 1963, “Several WRA [Women’s Residence Association] and sorority social chairmen reported general pleasure expressed by girls attending the dance. Some girls have accepted dates with their matches; others said they enjoyed the evening but did not particularly care to continue the relationship” (from the Clair George Maple Papers, RS 6/2/12, box 5, folder 10). There were even reported to be four couples that got engaged as a result of the dance. (See image below.)And just like those who have sat through terrible online dates, there were some who complained about their IBM dance experience. Complaints ranged from incompatibility, to being paired with wallflowers, to personal jabs. Most notably, one male described his date as “‘not only built like an elephant but danced like an elephant.'”
As you might expect, such a novelty as computer-picked dance partners drew national attention, and the event was covered by The New York Times, Associated Press, United Press International, the Wall Street Journal, and Life magazine, as well as WOI-TV, Omaha TV, and ABC-TV.
After that much press, other colleges and universities across the country were eager to get in on the novelty, too, so the Iowa State Computation Center agreed to process the punched questionnaire cards sent in by other universities who wanted to hold their own computer dances.
For more on the history of the IBM computer dances, check out this Iowa State Daily article. Documentation of the dances can also be found in the Clair George Maple Papers (RS 6/2/12) (see box 5, folder 10 and map case items), newly processed at Special Collections and University Archives. Stop in and see us!
The 1959-1961 Iowa State University General Catalog describes short courses as being conducted for two purposes: “To enable men and women in the same field to meet for a discussion of mutual problems, and to give them an opportunity to discuss and study their problems with college specialists in the light of most research findings.” The courses were open to anyone and were of limited duration and practical in nature.
In addition to masonry, the University has offered courses on school lunches, English grammar, custodial work, wind energy, seed analysis, sausages, tropical biology, soil fertility, and many other topics.
For more on short courses, see:
Thirty years ago, rural America was in the midst of a farm crisis, one so significant that it’s often simply referred to as “The Farm Crisis.” During this time, things were so bad that many farmers left their profession and sold their farms. For some, the whole situation was more than they could handle. Those that stuck it out endured a long, hard struggle, one that is far from forgotten in the rural Midwest. The Center for Rural Affairs Records, MS 413, now available for research, contains subject files on the farm crisis and illustrates the work that the Center did to help those affected by the crisis.
How did it all start? It seems there were many causes, not the least of which was a “boom and bust” economic cycle. In the early 1970s, an economic boom in agriculture occurred, and by late in the decade signs of a bust became evident. Loan interest rates skyrocketed, less demand from foreign markets helped drive crop prices down, and as a result many farmers couldn’t pay back the loans they were able to take out so cheaply in the ’70s. The impact on the agricultural community was huge, with farms being sold or abandoned and many people moving to urban areas to make a living. The stress on farmers and their families was horrific. It was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but only the agricultural community bore the brunt this time.
The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) was established in 1973 as a non-profit organization to advocate for rural interests in politics and to improve the welfare of rural Americans. Naturally, the farm crisis fit right in to their work (and provided new challenges). CFRA conducted research on how to help farmers get through these tough times and worked hard to change policies that had led to the bust, such as those regarding tax subsidies and cheap credit. Not everyone followed the organization’s recommendations on how to get through the crisis, but CFRA labored to guide farmers and policy makers through it nonetheless. While all of this was occurring, CFRA was working on various other projects, which you can read about in the previous link as well as here. CFRA has kept quite busy over the years with various agricultural issues, and their passion is evident throughout their manuscript collection.
More information on the work that CFRA has done can be found in the collection, along with more information on the farm crisis and many other matters pertaining to agriculture and rural America. Special Collections and University Archives has many other resources on the farm crisis, which can be found in this collections guide. In addition, we have a copy of Iowa Public Television’s 2013 documentary “The Farm Crisis,” also available for viewing here. Stop in and have a look at our resources!