#HistoryOntheMove @IowaMuseum Traveling RV Exhibit

Last week, the “Iowa History 101” multimedia exhibit housed in a custom built Winnebago RV made its way to Iowa State University. The traveling exhibit comes from the State Historical Museum of Iowa. The RV was parked in front of the Parks Library all last week & library staff volunteered to serve as museum docents. I’ve included their comments and favorite things about the exhibit below.

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From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

Spent two hours in the RV today. I spoke with one visitor who was surprised to learn that Iowa had a coal mining industry. Personally I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of Iowa history that are on display.

From Kris Stacy-Bates, Science and Technology, Associate Professor, Research and Instruction

I enjoyed learning that Iowa is the best thing since sliced bread—as the home of the patent holder for the first successful commercial bread slicer. My favorite artifact was the crayon-on-fabric prototype for the Iowa state flag. I did wish that exhibit had included a small graphic of the final flag, as a pair of visitors commented that they did not remember exactly how it looks now.

Bonus fact mentioned later in the week: I spotted a reference today to International Space Station news, noting the fact that Peggy Whitson, the Iowa astronaut mentioned in the Iowa History traveling exhibit, is currently on the space station and just completed a spacewalk yesterday:
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition50/index.html
https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2017/03/30/spacewalkers-successfully-connect-adapter-for-commercial-crew-vehicles/

Dr. Whitson has spent more time in space, and more time on spacewalks, than any other American woman.

From Linda Snook, Resource Sharing and Acquisitions Management, Library Assistant, Collections and Technical Services

The information in the RV display is interesting. I hope a lot of people take the chance to browse the display. I didn’t realize that more Iowans trace their heritage back to German ancestors than any other foreign country. Also, I discovered that the developer of the Eskimo Pie was an Iowan.

From Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator, Special Collections & University Archives

I think having a mini-museum on a Winnebago is such a great way to bring history to people who would otherwise not be able to make it to the museum. People don’t have to go out of their way, it’s brought to them!

From Lori Kappmeyer, Metadata and Cataloging, Associate Professor, Collections and Technical Services

One of my observations is that I didn’t realize that some things I grew up with are now considered appropriate for museums. I never imagined that a Cabbage Patch doll, a Game Boy, a Gateway laptop computer and a 1965 telephone would someday be on exhibit as “historic.” Another observation is that I hadn’t realized as a volunteer that we were going to be given so much responsibility for managing the opening and closing of this expensive vehicle on its maiden trip outside of Des Moines. I now know how to arm a security system and check a propane tank, something I had never done before.

From Greg Davis, Assessment and Planning, Assistant Director, Library Administration Services

I liked the “Rose of Sharon” pattern quilt made by Elsie Smith. One of my grandmothers, here in Iowa, was a quilter. I can remember going to her home and seeing her in her rocking chair, working on her latest quilt project. She’s passed on now, but the rocking chair is in my home with one of her quilts draped over it.

I also thought the exhibit about the Consolidated Coal Company in Buxton, IA, was a really good example of how diverse cultures, in this case African Americans and Euro-Americans, have lived and worked together in Iowa.

 

For more information on the traveling exhibit, visit: https://iowaculture.gov/history/museum/exhibits/history-on-the-move.


Rare Books Highlights: Squire on the Longitude

A book open to two pages showing interspered text and rows of symbols.

Pages of Squire’s Proposal showing symbols of her own invention.

Squire, Jane. A proposal to determine our longitude. London: Printed for the author, and sold by S. Cope … and by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1743. Call number: QB225 S66x, 1743.

Women’s History Month was established to honor the contribution of women to society, and Jane Squire was not at all shy about putting herself forward as a women with a contribution to make.

Squire was an eighteenth century British woman and the only woman to participate openly when the British Parliament passed the Longitude Act in 1714 that offered a reward to whomever could establish a workable method for determining longitude at sea. Latitude was much easier to calculate than longitude, and the inability to accurately determine a ship’s east-west location sometimes resulted in shipwrecks.

Jane Squire boldly put forward her proposal, expecting it to be taken seriously, even though it was not considered proper at the time for women to engage in navigation and mathematics, especially for monetary gain. In a letter to Sir Thomas Hanmer, published in the book, she counters the objection with a hint of sly wit:

The Term Mathematick, I with great Ease resign to Men; but to count, to measure, &c. which are now generally suppos’d to be included in it; are so naturally, the Properties of every reasonable Creature, that it is impossible to renounce them, and deserve that Honour. (30)

And later she writes, in a frequently-quoted passage, “I do not remember any Play-thing, that does not appear to me a mathematical Instrument; nor any mathematical Instrument, that does not appear to me a Play-thing: I see not, therefore why I should confine myself to Needles, Cards, and Dice; much less to such Sorts of them only, as are at present in Use” (31).

If you are interested in learning more about Squire’s unusual and sometimes difficult life, I highly recommend the blog post, “The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire,” from the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.

Our copy of Squire’s Proposal is a second edition, bound in leather and decorated with some unusual symbols that seem to be Squire’s invention and can be seen within the text in the image that heads this post. According to the aforementioned CRASSH blog post, this is the common binding for this book, which is interesting at a time when most books were sold unbound.

Shows front cover of book bound in leather with a black circle in the center fo the cover with cross-shaped symbols stamped in gold into the circle.

Front cover of Squire’s Proposal, showing symbols stamped into the leather binding.

Inside the front cover, there is evidence of an interesting provenance, or ownership history, for our copy, indicating that it was owned by at least two notable people.

Inside front cover of a book showing a bookplate in the center with a coat of arms of a birth of pray with wings extended rising out of a crown surrounded by a ring with the words White Wallingwells. Second bookplate is a simple name in white on gray reading Harrison D. Horblit

Two bookplates inside ISU’s copy of Squire’s Proposal.

The round armorial bookplate in the center has the words “White” and “Wallingwells” in the circle and appears to belong to the White Baronetcy of Tuxford and Wallingwells in County of Nottingham, England. Sir Thomas Woollaston White, 1st Baronet, lived from 1767-1816, and could easily have added this book to his library. The plain name plate reading “Harrison D. Horblit” indicates the noted collector of rare books in the history of science, navigation, and mathematics. Horblit is the author of One hundred books famous in science: based on an exhibition at the Grolier Club (call number: Q124 H781o), now a common reference book for rare book collectors and librarians–though it does not include Squire’s Proposal. It is pretty exciting to have a book with such an interesting provenance!

The copy also includes the fold-out summary of the proposal.

Unfolded large sheet of paper with many sections of text and charts of symbols

Fold out summary of Squire’s proposal bound into the front of the book.

This summary gives a visual demonstration of the proposal’s complexity. The CRASSH blog post describes the proposed method as based on “real astronomical research and intellectual trends” but not easy to put into practice. “The scheme centred on dividing the heavens into more than a million segments which could be recognised visually, so that young sailors would not need advanced mathematics, and which were described through a new universal language.”

This book presents an interesting element in the history of navigation and a woman who was not afraid to tread in new paths.

Cited

“The Lady of the Longitude: Jane Squire.” CRASSH blog, Posted 1 Dec. 2014, CRASSH: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities, www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/post/the-lady-of-the-longitude. Accessed 28 March 2017.


#TBT Iowa State team designs, builds, & races solar cars

Team PrISUm competing in the Sunrayce, July 1990. (Team PrISUm (Iowa State University) Records, RS 22/5/0/30, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

The Iowa State University solar car team, Team PrISUm, is a student organization that designs, builds, and races solar cars in the American Solar Challenge (previously known as Sunrayce). ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a collection of the team’s records (RS 22/5/0/30).

The car pictured above finished the 1800+ mile race in just over 109 hours; the winning car, by the University of Michigan, made it in under 73 hours.


#TBT Sigma Alpha Epsilon bunny party

Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members partying in 1978 or 1979. (Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Iowa Gamma Chapter Records, RS 22/11/2/33, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.)

ISU Special Collections and University Archives has a wealth of information about student organizations over the years. Here is a rare late-70s photo of SAE fraternity members dressed as bunnies and staying out of trouble. The ISU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (“Iowa Gamma”) was established in 1905. For more images and documents, see RS 22/11/2/33.


National Ag Day 2017

black-and-white photograph, young woman on tractor in field.

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Today is National Ag Day 2017. National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA), you can check them out on their Facebook page. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community. The ACA was founded in 1973, and their mission is:

To educate all American’s about the importance of American Agriculture.

In celebration of National Ag Day, check out some of our agricultural collections.

4-H boys and girls posing with their sheep

Extension photograph from University Photographs

Drop in some time to do some research. Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


#TBT Spring Break Fashion

swimwear_1917

RS 21/7/9, box 18

To celebrate Spring Break, I present the most fashion-forward swimwear of 1917. 100 years ago, this is what the young ladies of Iowa State may have worn on their beach vacations.  Of course, spring break as we know it now did not exist in 1917, though there was a 3 day Easter vacation.  This picture is a magazine cover found in the collection of covers and fashion prints collected by Mary Barton.  You can browse the digitized images of fashion plates from this collection.

I know everyone will be clamoring to get their hands on this swimsuit! Have fun and be safe as you finish up Spring Break!


History of the Library

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


To kick off this series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State, we’re going to take a look way back to nearly the founding of Iowa State University. Starting in 1868, the library was housed in Old Main. As Old Main held the entire college, it had a lot of functions including classrooms, museums, a chapel, dining halls, and housing for both faculty and students (to learn more about Old Main, visit our online exhibit). In 1880, the library had 6,000 volumes and was open from 2 pm to 9 pm. The library was run by students in the earliest days until 1876 when some professors were tasked with the double duty of scholarship and running the library. “From this time [1884] the position was added to that of women teachers in mathematics, modern language, or elocution” (pg 80, The History of Iowa State College by Earle Dudley Ross).

Old Main

Old Main, pictured 1888,  University Archives Photos

In 1891, the library was moved to Morrill Hall, which was designed to house the library and a museum.  It was in that same year that library instruction at ISU began.  Freshmen took a 1 credit course during the second term titled “Library Work.”  In 1893, the library had 10,200 volumes and was open from 8-9:30, closing over the noon and dinner hours.

Morrill Hall Library

Students studying in the library of Morrill Hall ca. 1910. University Archives Photos

Morrill Hall was the home of the library for just 23 years, and in 1914, the library was moved to Beardshear Hall, which was deemed to be more fireproof than Morrill. The library quickly outgrew all of the buildings it occupied, so plans were laid for the library to have a permanent home of its own that could hold all of the volumes in one place.

In the next post (coming in May), we’ll look at the beginning of the library in its current location (though much smaller than the library of today!)

There are many places in the archives to learn about the history of the library and other buildings on campus.  A good place to start is the online exhibit From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History or the reference books found in the reading room.  You can also check out some quick facts from the library’s website.  To dive a little deeper, look through our finding aids and records in RS 4/8/4.


#TBT Women and Nutrition

Did you know that March is both Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month? It seems only appropriate that this week’s #TBT photo is from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Department of Human Nutrition.  A woman is pictured with a table full of jars and test tubes, looking through a microscope.  The photo was taken in 1928.

March 22, 1928

University Photos, RS 12/6 Box 965

To learn more about the Impact of Women Nutritionists, please visit our online exhibit or stop by the Special Collections and University Archives reading room between 9 and 5, Monday-Friday.


NHPRC Awards Grant for Finding Aid Migration Project

The Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is pleased to announce that the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) has awarded the University Library with a $118,825 grant supporting a two-year project to migrate nearly 1,700 finding aids into a new archives management system that complies with EAD (Encoded Archival Description).

The project, entitled “Modern Tools for Modern Research: Migrating Old Finding Aids to a New Archives Management System,” will transform the way researchers explore and interact with SCUA’s unique collections. In addition to brief catalog records, SCUA uses detailed finding aids to describe its archival collections. (An example of one of our finding aids for an archival collection can be found here).  Archival collections can range in size from a small folder to hundreds of boxes. The finding aid facilitates the discovery of information within an archival collection, and researchers and archivists alike would spend many, many extra hours searching for information without such a tool!

FA top

Snapshot of a current online finding aid.

Currently, the department’s finding aids are discoverable online through a Google search bar, in addition to various subject guides. With the migration of our finding aids to our new archives management system software (CuadraSTAR’s SKCA), researchers will have an enhanced mechanism for discovering and searching applicable finding aids during their research.

Migrating finding aids to a new system is no small task, and the grant will ensure the project’s timely completion. The grant funds will support a two-year term staff member and a student assistant to execute this project, which will begin in June 2017 and runs through May 2019.

The upcoming project is an exciting milestone for the department, and SCUA would like to thank the National Historical Publications & Records Commission and other supporters for their help with the grant proposal. A complete list of 2016 NHPRC awarded grants is available online.

nhprc-logo-l

About NHPRC: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States.


Focus: Student Art #TBT

I came across this photo a little while ago and thought it’d be fun to share. The image below is of a temporary art installation from 1977 that was located southeast of the Campanile.

Art installation on lawn, shows human figures in white running than at some point they leap into the air, curl up, and land as balls.

University Photographs box 1670.

It was a part of Focus, which is an organization that supports student artists here at ISU by providing grants to students. The funding for the Focus grants are provided by the Government of the Student Body. The artists’ work is then exhibited in the spring. In the past, Focus included a fine arts festival here at Iowa State. The first festival that was held in March 1959 (RS 22/7/0/7, box 1).

Drop by the reading room to learn more about the history of Iowa State University. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.