In honor of National Dairy Month, above is a photo of students being trained for dairy products judging for a contest in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in October, 1948. Here, some students and their professor are testing cheese products (something I wouldn’t mind doing). Want to know more about dairy production in Iowa and at Iowa State University? Stop by and have a look at the Iowa State Dairy Association Records (MS 65), the Department of Food Technology Laboratory Manuals (RS 9/13/0/5), and the Earl Gullette Hammond Papers (RS 9/13/17). We hope to see you soon!
Everything out of doors is fascinating, inspiring, uplifting. It has been so to me since earliest boyhood. I roamed the fields and woods, watching, wondering, and studying the things that were going on in the various realms of Nature. Everywhere there was life and action. The birds of the air, the squirrels in the tree tops – everything was moving. Even the ground seems to be moving under foot, the ants were carrying their burdens, the tumble bugs were busy rolling their huge balls and each were bound for some destination.
– “Nature Speaks” undated essay by Walter Rosene, Sr. (MS 589, box 13, folder 7)
If you are looking for an interesting museum in Iowa, here is a handy Iowa museum locator, created by the Iowa Museum Association.
More information on ISU’s University Museums can be found in the University Archives, Records Series 5/8.
June is LGBT Pride Month. What better time to highlight LGBT-related materials in our collections? Iowa State University strives to provide an inclusive environment on campus, but it hasn’t always been easy. Homophobia was once rampant, not just on our campus, but everywhere. That’s not to say that it’s been eradicated, but overall there appears to be more acceptance today. In the face of the challenges LGBT individuals have faced, several student groups sprung up on campus in the 1970s. These included the Gay Liberation Front (later called the Gay Men’s Rap Group), the Lesbian Alliance, and the Gay People’s Liberation Alliance.
The first gay student group on campus was the Gay Liberation Front, established during the 1971-1972 academic year (it’s unclear if the ISU group was associated with the national GLF). The organization came together to start a gay liberation movement on campus and became publicly visible for the first time in December 1971, with a letter to the editor published in the Iowa State Daily in protest of the play “Boys in the Band,” which was being performed on campus. The letter complained of the production’s “outwardly homophobic attitudes toward the gay lifestyle.” (“30 Years Is Just the Beginning,” Iowa State Daily, April 1, 2002; RS 22/4/0/1, Box 1, Folder 34). Several response letters critical of the initial letter were sent and published. The following year, the group changed its name to the Gay Men’s Rap Group, a name with less of a political connotation. Membership increased drastically from the first year to the next, with around 25 people at the first meeting that second year. A founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Dennis Brumm, wrote a history of the gay liberation movement at Iowa State on his website, a copy of which we have printed off from 2001 (note: the version in the link above is a bit different than the version in our archive).
LGBT student organizations existing today on campus can be found on the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Student Services (LGBTSS) website, along with resources for LGBT individuals and allies. For more information on the history of LGBT organizations on campus, stop by and see the Iowa State University, Student Organizations, Political and Social Action Organizations Records, RS 22/4/0/1. We’d love to see you!
The library’s contribution to the 1928 VEISHEA was the house made of books that you see above. The sign over the door reads “This is the House That Books Built.” June is Freshman Orientation month at Iowa State and here in the library we are preparing to welcome students and their families by showing them a bit of what we do to support their time at the University. This VEISHEA construction was the 1920s librarian’s way of showing the wealth of knowledge available at the campus library.
We don’t advocate the use of books as building blocks in displays, but we do appreciate the sentiment. As an archivist, I would say “These are the books that archives built” – underscoring that books and publications rely on archives as their foundation – drawing from the observations, evidences, and human experiences found in records, manuscripts, photographs, and other archival materials.
As we welcome visitors over the next month, we encourage you to avail yourself of the wealth of books, databases, manuscripts, records, media, photographs, spaces, technology, and people eager to assist you in both Special Collections and elsewhere in the library.
Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, a federal holiday to remember those that died while serving in the armed forces. It also marks the unofficial beginning of summer, when many celebrate with backyard barbecues. While your celebration may not have looked quite like the photograph below of a 4-H exhibit, I’m sure you will sympathize with the quest to find more time to enjoy your backyard, if you have one–or maybe a park or nature preserve if you don’t.
Wishing everyone living in the northern hemisphere a warm and happy summer!
To see more 4-H photographs, check out our Flickr album, or stop by Special Collections and University Archives and ask for photographs from RS 16/1 and 16/3.
“Before her yet lay her most hazardous journey, to undertake which required the cool, calculating bravery of a heart not insensible to fear, but inspired by that sublime determination which risks danger when duty calls…. Along the high approaches of open timber work, and over the body of the river, thirty feet above its roaring current, she must make her way, stepping from tie to tie. A single misstep would be fatal, and to add to the horror of her terrible venture, just as she reached the bridge her flickering light went out, leaving her in total darkness. Providence must have guided the footsteps of that intrepid girl, for she made her way over in safety.” (Kate Shelley Papers, MS 684, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library, Box 1, Folder 14)
Thus did an 1881 newspaper capture the hazards eighteen-year-old Kate Shelley faced as she crossed the Des Moines River on a trestle bridge to warn the Moingona, Iowa, depot of a washed-out bridge further down the tracks.
If you grew up in Iowa, you probably heard the story of railroad heroine Kate Shelley in elementary school. I did not grow up here, so I was excited to hear this nineteenth century teenager’s story and learn that we have her papers here in Special Collections (MS 684).
It was the night of July 6, 1881. A strong storm was blowing through central Iowa where Shelley lived on her family’s farm on Honey Creek near Moingona in Boone County. Heavy flooding of the creek had weakened the railroad bridge crossing it near the homestead. A pusher engine, used to push trains up steep inclines, had been sent to check the tracks for damage. While crossing Honey Creek, the bridge collapsed, sending the engine and its four-man crew plunging into the creek. Two men died, and two men were left stranded in the creek.
Shelley was at home when she and her mother heard the collapse of the bridge and the men’s cries for help. A regular express train, she knew, was scheduled to come through later that night, passing through Moingona, then over the Des Moines River and on to the collapsed bridge over Honey Creek. Against her mother’s protests, she decided she had to get to Moingona to warn the station. She first made her way down to the collapsed bridge and called down to one of the crewmembers, saying that she would get help. She then followed the train tracks to the Des Moines River bridge.
After the harrowing crossing, she did successfully reach the depot and gave the warning of the collapsed bridge. A rescue party was sent out to save the two men in the creek, Shelley once again leading the way to find a safe crossing to reach the men.
Stirring accounts of Shelley’s heroic deed, such as the one quoted from above, were printed in newspapers across the country, and she became a household name. She received many letters from admirers, especially from other young women, requesting photographs, information, and correspondence from this suddenly famous teenager.
One such writer, a J. M. Noble, writes in a letter dated “October 10, ’81” from Tupper’s Plains, Ohio, “Dear Madam:- It is with timidity that I request of you the pleasure and honor of your correspondence. I enjoy the society of a lady far more than that of a gentleman, and deeming you to be a lady of more than ordinary endowments I should feel proud to consider you as one of my lady friends.” Later in the letter, she provides references, in case Shelley is in doubt of her potential correspondent’s reputation: “In regard to my character, you can address Mr., or Mrs. M. Bowers the teachers at the Plain’s Seminary, or a young lady (whose name I will give if you desire) whom I have been intimately acquainted with for about two years, she will be married soon and is going to Kansas but she can give you more information, perhaps, that any one else, concerning my standing in society.”
The Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway Company was, of course, indebted to Shelley for the deed, for which they presented her with a watch and chain. Our collection includes this letter from E. O. Soule, Train Master in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He writes, “The enclosed ‘watch & chain’ you will please accept on behalf of ‘Valley City Division, NE 318, of the ‘Order of Railway Conductors’ as a sleight [sic] testimonial of our appreciation of your brave and noble deed of July 6th, and I wish to assure you that the name of ‘Miss Kate Shelley’ and the remembrance of her bravery will ever be cherished in the memory of every member of ‘Div. 318.'”
In 1901, the bridge that Shelley crossed was replaced by a new iron bridge, named the Kate Shelley High Bridge. Here is a picture below.
The Boone County Historical Society runs the Kate Shelley Memorial Park and Railroad Museum, marking the site of the original Moingona depot.
ISU Special Collections has several collections about Iowa railroads. Stop by to check out these great collections:
- Iowa Train Photograph Collection, MS 604
- Albert Parks Butts Reminiscences, MS 185
- Iowa Central Railway Company Timetable, Ms 245
- Guyon Whitley Papers, MS 148
- Herbert Gilkey Airline, Busline and Railroad Schedule Collection, MS 217
- Railroad Blueprints, MS 571
Another activity for those with some time to spare – student or not: come in to Special Collections and University Archives and exercise your brain! We have plenty of materials for research, just let us know what you’re interested in and we can help you out. See you soon!
Iowa State College (now University) was the site of the first Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit in the country. Established in 1932, the collaboration between the Iowa Fish and Game Commission (DNR) and Iowa State predated, by three years, the national cooperative program between Iowa State, eight other universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Biologic Survey. In 1941 the unit expanded to include fisheries research.
One of the first accomplishments of the fishery unit, directed by first unit leader Reeve M. Bailey, was the establishment of an Iowa State fish survey, which today’s fishermen will find easily accessible in its online form. Following Bailey, Kenneth Carlander served for nearly two decades as the second unit leader of the unit. During Carlander’s tenure, ISU offered two fishery-related graduate degrees: Fisheries Management (1947) and Fishery and Wildlife Management (1963). Carlander also had students in his “Principles in Fish Management” class take a census of fish in Lake Laverne.
The program has had international impact, drawing both students and visitors from around the world, as well as exchanging knowledge and informing practice in multiple countries.