George Washington Carver: Celebrating His 150th Birthday

Graduation image

Born a slave, George Washington Carver received two degrees from Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University), and gained an international reputation during his career at Tuskegee University. Although the exact date of Carver’s birth is unknown, he was born around the year 1864 and many are celebrating this year as the 150th anniversary of his birth.

As an agricultural scientist, Carver’s research resulted in the creation of 325 products from a variety of food items such as peanuts, sweet potatoes, and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land.

The George Washington Carver Collection in the University Archives holds information on his life and work. In addition, Digital Collections at the Iowa State University Library maintains a digital collection which includes a selection of materials from the University Archives documenting his time here at Iowa State (primarily images) and his correspondence with Iowa State colleagues after he was at Tuskegee: The majority of correspondence is to Carver’s mentor, Dr. Louis Pammel, on a variety of scientific topics.

Only a portion of the George Washington Carver collection housed in the Special Collections Department is represented in the digital collection. The finding aid for the complete list of Carver materials available through Special Collections can be found here:

Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be hosting a George Washington Carver Life and Legacy Symposium on April 23, 2014 which will focus on encouraging future “George Washington Carver” students at Iowa State. The Special Collections Department will be participating in the Symposium, creating a booth which will highlight a selection of the diverse students who followed in Carver’s footsteps here at Iowa State. For more information about the Symposium, see

They Went for the Gold (and Got It): Cyclone Olympians

The Olympics are here! Which makes this the perfect time to highlight our very own Cyclone Olympians, information on and photos of whom can be found right here in the Special Collections Department. Originally I wanted to write about all of our Olympians, but there are just too many – we had four in the 2012 London Olympics alone! So, for sanity’s sake, I’m going to feature only our gold medalists. We have had seven gold medalists over the years, six of whom wrestled for the gold, and one who overcame many hurdles for it (literally). Banners dedicated to them currently hang in Hilton Coliseum. Read on to learn about our Iowa State Cyclone Olympic Gold Medalists.

Glen Brand, 1950

Glen Brand, 1950

Glen Brand (Wrestling, 174 lbs, 1948): Originally from Clarion, Iowa, Brand (1950, Civil Engineering) wrestled for the Cyclones from 1946-1950. During that time, he lettered in 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1950. He placed 3rd in the NCAA Wrestling Championship in 1946, followed that up with 2nd place in 1947, and won the title in 1948. Also in 1948, he earned a spot at the London Olympics and later won gold in the 174 lb. class, returning home as a legend.

Dan Gable, 1969

Dan Gable, 1969

Dan Gable (Wrestling, 149.5 lbs, 1972): Perhaps our most famous Olympian and wrestler, Gable (1971, Physical Education) was one of two Cyclones who won the gold  in wrestling in the 1972 Munich Olympics. He never gave up a single point at the games that year. His college career was stellar as well: he was defeated only once, and that was in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable came to ISU from Waterloo, Iowa, and wrestled for the Cyclones from 1966 to 1970, becoming a three-time Big 8 Champion (1968, 1969, 1970) and two-time NCAA Champion (1968, 1969). After graduating from ISU, he became head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, where his star continued to rise as he became the U of I’s all-time winningest coach from 1976-1997.

Ben Peterson, 1970

Ben Peterson, 1970

Ben Peterson (Wrestling, 198 lbs, 1972): Peterson (1972, Architecture) was also a Cyclone gold medalist at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. He later went on to win the silver in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. From Comstock, Wisconsin, Peterson joined the ISU wrestling team in 1968 and wrestled through 1972. During his time here, he became a two-time NCAA Champion (1971 and 1972), a three-time Big 8 Champion (1970, 1972, 1973), and an Olympic gold medalist (1972). He is currently (2014) the only Cyclone wrestler to win 2 medals in the Olympic games.

Nawal El Moutawakel, 1984

Nawal El Moutawakel, 1984

Nawal El Moutawakel (Track and Field, 400 Meter Hurdles, 1984):
Our only non-wrestling Olympic gold medalist was El Moutawakel (1988, Physical Education), who won the top prize in the 400 meter hurdles at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She came from Casablanca, Morocco to Iowa State University in 1984. She ran track at ISU beginning that year until 1987. During that time, she won the 1984 NCAA 400 meter hurdle championship and became the second woman to win the Relays Triple (Texas, Kansas, and Drake relays). She overcame real-life hurdles as well while at ISU, losing her father, losing her coaches in a 1985 plane crash, and suffering a knee injury. On a happier note, however, she was not only the first Cyclone woman to win gold, she was the first African woman, Muslim woman, and Moroccan woman to win it as well.

Kevin Jackson, 1985

Kevin Jackson, 1985

Kevin Jackson (Wrestling, 180.5 lbs, 1992):
ISU’s current wrestling coach, Jackson (1991, Human Sciences), won gold in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Jackson started his college career at LSU but when the school dropped their wrestling program, he transferred to ISU as a senior. He red-shirted at ISU during the 1985-1986 season and wrestled in the 1986-1987 season. That season he helped the Cyclone wrestling team win their most recent NCAA championship. Not only is he an Olympic gold medalist, but he is also a two-time World Champion in wrestling. He is one of just five wrestlers in United States history to have three career world-level titles. Jackson took over the head wrestling coach position from fellow Olympic champion Cael Sanderson in 2009.

Cael Sanderson, from the 1999-2000 media guide

Cael Sanderson, from the 1999-2000 media guide, RS 24/12/0/6, Box 1

Cael Sanderson (Wrestling, 185 lbs, 2004):
From Heber City, Utah, Sanderson (2002, Art and Design) joined the Iowa State wrestling team in 1997, red-shirting for that first season. He never lost a single match while wrestling for the Cyclones, breaking Dan Gable’s record. He also became a four-time NCAA Champion (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002) and four-time Big 12 Champion (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002). Sanderson won his gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. After graduating in 2002, Sanderson stayed on with the Cyclones and became head wrestling coach in 2004, leaving in 2009 for Penn State where he currently coaches.

Jake Varner, from the 2008-2009 media guide

Jake Varner, from the 2008-2009 media guide, RS 24/12/0/6, Box 2

Jake Varner (Wrestling, 211.5 lbs, 2012): Varner (2010, Criminal Justice) came to us from Bakersfield, California, in 2005. He red-shirted in the 2005-2006 season, and then wrestled for the Cyclones from 2006-2010. While at Iowa State he became a two-time NCAA Champion (2009, 2010), and a two-time Big 12 Champion (2008, 2010). Varner won his gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, becoming our latest Olympic champion.

With these seven and Iowa State’s many other Olympic athletes – including silver and bronze medalists – the Cyclones have a proud Olympic tradition going. More information on our Olympians can be found in an earlier blog post. We also have an entire blog post devoted to Dan Gable. Want to learn more about Iowa State’s wrestling program in general? We have programs, media guides, news clippings, and various subject files in RS 24/12 for your viewing pleasure. If women’s track and field is more appealing, we have news clippings, media guides, and subject files in RS 24/23. The finding aids for these and other Department of Athletics collections can be found here. Contact us or stop by, and we’ll happy to help you out! In the mean time, go enjoy the Olympics. USA! USA!

Iowa State’s First Student: Charles N. Dietz

Dietz, C.N. 2

Charles N. Dietz, Iowa State graduate and lumber businessman

Have you ever wondered what classes were like in Iowa State University’s early days? The Charles N. Dietz Papers, RS 21/7/58, can enlighten you. As the first student to enroll at what was then known as Iowa Agricultural College, Dietz took many notes during classes, several notebooks of which he left behind and are now stored in the University Archives.

Born July 18, 1853 in Oneonta, New York, Charles Dietz and his family relocated to Anamosa, Iowa, when he was just a small child. In the fall of 1869, Dietz drove his lumber cart to campus, arriving several days before it officially opened, and enrolled in the first classes at ISU. In his obituary in the July 1933 issue of The Alumnus, Dietz is mentioned as having described his first impression of the school as “a big, unfenced farm.” During his time at Iowa State, he was captain of one of the military-like student units that planted and harvested crops and performed all sorts of other labor in the early days. His group helped to build some of the early buildings, fence the college farm, dig ditches, and unpack textbooks. Later, he worked in the treasurer’s office where he helped correct entrance exams and was paid eight cents an hour. In addition to all of this, he did, of course, take classes. Among the classes he took were Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, Psychology (referred to as “Intel Philosophy” in one of the notebooks), Landscape Gardening (taught by President Adonijah Welch), Organic Chemistry, and Pathology. The notes Dietz took during these classes are all in the collection. In an entry dated May 22, 1871 in the Landscape Gardening notebook, Dietz took the following notes on a lecture on the distinction between science and art given by President Welch:

“Science is knowledge systematically arranged. Art is science applied in practice to some specific purpose. Landscape Gardening is an art. There are two great divisions of art viz Fine Arts and Useful Arts. Useful Arts apply science to the attainment of convenience, comfort and profit. Fine Arts have a single purpose in view, that is the realization of beauty.”

In 1872, Dietz became part of Iowa State’s first graduating class and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree at the age of 19.

After college, Dietz moved to Chicago to work for a lumber business. Due to the panic of 1873 and the subsequent layoffs of some high salaried personnel, Dietz quickly became one of the lumber company’s chief executives. After eight years in Chicago, he moved with his wife Nettie Woodford Dietz to Omaha to go into the lumber business for himself, starting the C. N. Dietz Lumber Company. Soon a wealthy man, he went on to establish the Sheridan Coal Company in Sheridan, Wyoming, which he owned until 1903. The coal mining town of Dietz, Wyoming was named after him. In 1890, the Dietzes built a home in Omaha, where they entertained such notables as Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Helen Keller. Aside from entertaining, in their spare time the couple traveled the world, meeting other notables including future Egyptian president Mahmud Fuad, Herbert Hoover, and J. P. Morgan. Dietz was also quite involved with the Omaha Public Library and served on the library board for many years, later becoming president of the board. After a decline in health, Dietz passed away on June 18, 1933.

Dietz during his college years [check this]

Charles Dietz’s graduation photo, circa 1872

The Charles N. Dietz collection contains a folder of biographical materials and five notebooks from the classes previously mentioned. For more information, take a look at our finding aid and stop in to view the collection! As it’s only one document box, it will take a relatively short amount of time to look through. If you’d like to find out more about Iowa State student life through the years, we have many collections of alumni papers that you are more than welcome to explore. Come on in and see us!

Student Life at Iowa State and After: Alumni Papers at the University Archives

Commencement 1936

Commencement 1936

With Commencement taking place a few weeks ago, and orientation beginning this week, Iowa State has been experiencing both the beginning and ending stages of a student’s life here on campus.  As an archivist, we might wonder how many of these Iowa Staters are carefully saving records documenting their experiences here at Iowa State?  How many of those pictured above in the 1936 Commencement carefully saved those dance cards, VEISHEA programs, photographs of fellow students, and other memorabilia from their life here at Iowa State?

The University Archives receives the papers of former Iowa State students on an annual basis, and each documents their experiences here at Iowa State, and sometimes their life after, in different ways.  Below are brief summaries of just a few alumni collections which we have either received recently, or which we have recently put the finding aids for their collections online. The collections cover a variety of topics including student life at Iowa State, 4-H, the temperance movement, and service during World War I.

Austin Robert (Bob) Koch (1915-2008) was born near Ida Grove, Iowa. A. Robert Koch received his B.S. (1940) in agronomy from Iowa State College (University). He later worked for the United States Department of Agriculture for 33 years in various supervisory positions within the Farm Security Administration, later known as the Farmers Home Administration. This collection contains biographical information, college coursework, photographs, and class reunion materials for the Iowa State class of 1940. Koch’s college coursework includes reports, notes, and exams in botany, geology, crop breeding, animal husbandry, soil science, and bacteriology.  The finding aid for his papers can be found online:


A Golden Diploma given to Austin Robert Koch in 1990 by the ISU Alumni Association “in recognition of many years as a loyal alumnus of Iowa State University”.

Susan Carberry Drtina was born in 1957 and raised in Newhall, Iowa. She joined 4-H as a member of the Eldorado-Ettes and, later, the Eldorado Early Birds in Benton County. This collection includes Drtina’s 4-H record book and other memorabilia documenting her time as a member of the Eldorado Early Birds 4-H Club. The finding aid for her papers can be found online:


Drtina’s Benton County 4-H Home Economics blue ribbon (first place) (RS 21/7/243).

Della Neal was born on November 22, 1862 in Hamilton, Pennsylvania. She earned her B.S. (1882) from Iowa Agricultural College (Iowa State University). Neal eventually completed training in nursing and became active in the state and national temperance movement. This collection includes some of Neal’s writings, including college course work and writings on the temperance movement.  The finding aid for her papers can be found online:

21-7-28 neal

A letter noting the influence of young girls on young men.

R. E. McCurdy was born in Cass County, Iowa on Octber 15, 1887. He received his undergraduate education from Iowa State College (University), graduating with a B.S. (1916) in civil engineering. These reminiscences were written by McCurdy and describe events as they unfolded in his life, including his service in World War I. McCurdy also writes about his many engineering jobs that took him around the world.  The finding aid for his papers can be found online:


The first page of McCurdy’s reminiscences in which he describes his first memory, the morning of his third birthday.

Virgil D. Kirby of Sioux City, Iowa, was born in 1895. He received his B.S. (1917) in mechanical engineering from Iowa State College (University). As a student, he was a member of the Colonials (Theta Delta Chi), the Delphian Literary Society, and the Mechanical Engineering Society. This college scrapbook (1913-1917) was compiled by Kirby while at Iowa State. The scrapbook contains 222 black and white photographs, campus postcards, dance cards, and other college memorabilia. There are a significant number of images of classmates, fraternity brothers, and the interior and exterior of the Colonials’ fraternity house at 217 Ash Avenue. Other materials include picture postcards of campus buildings and scenery, football team photographs, homecoming souvenirs, literary society programs, picture postcards of St. Patrick’s Day parades, and several photographs of the band on the field at the University of Nebraska football stadium.  The finding aid for her collection can be found online:


Two 1926 postcards from Ames and London. Catt Hall (in 1926 known as Botany Hall) can be seen in the top postcard.

Mary E. (Graf) Speer was born and educated in Elkader, Iowa. She received her B.S. (1946) in food and nutrition from Iowa State College (University) and became a consulting dietitian with small hospitals and nursing facilities throughout Central Iowa. This collection consists of loose scrapbook pages of memorabilia compiled by Speer during her college years at Iowa State. These materials include newspaper clippings, dance cards, athletic programs, concert programs, VEISHEA programs, Frisbie Fellowship Club materials, travel brochures, and her membership certificate for joining Sigma Eta Chi. The newspaper clippings cover various topics including student life, women’s fashion trends, the integration of blacks into Big 6 athletic competitions, and World War II. The finding aid for her collection can be found online:


Mary E. Speer’s 1946 senior prom dance card (RS 21/7/250)

Interested in seeing more of the alumni papers above, or perhaps other papers of Iowa State alumni we might hold?  Please feel free to visit our department on the fourth floor of Parks Library (M-F, 10-4).  Additional alumni papers held by the University Archives can be found listed here:

New Collection Documenting the Black Family and Henry M. Black, Veteran and Engineering Professor at Iowa State

The Special Collections Department is lucky to have some wonderful students working here, and they do a lot of work processing our collections. Rachel Kleinschmidt, a graduate student in History, recently processed the Henry Montgomery and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers (RS 21/8/12) and has written the blog posting below.  Since the 68th anniversary of D-Day is coming up in a few weeks on June 6, and Memorial Day is today, we thought this would be a good time to highlight this collection.

On Memorial Day, we think about the sacrifices that men and women have made by serving in the military. The Special Collections Department is home to the collections of many important ISU alumni and veterans, including Henry M. Black.

Henry M. Black (above), member of VII Corps Headquarters, 9th U.S. Army, receives oak leaf cluster to his bronze star medal from Lt. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commanding general, VII Corps, at a ceremony in Leipzig, Germany (photograph from Box 16, Folder 4).

Henry Montgomery Black was an Iowa native, born in Reinbeck, Iowa in 1907. He attended Iowa State University (then Iowa State College) from 1925-1929, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He then furthered his education with a Master’s degree from Harvard University in 1934.

Following his time in college, Henry Black served in the United States Army. His experience as an engineer was put to use by the Army Corps of Engineers, and Henry served as the chief engineer of the Utah Beach landing during the Normandy invasion in 1944. His service was rewarded with a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit, and a Croix de Guerre (pictured below).

Henry Black’s Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and Croix de Guerre (Artifact number 2010-214.001-003)

Henry would eventually retire from the army at the rank of Colonel. In the meantime, he returned to his alma mater (Iowa State) to serve as the Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department from 1946-1972. Because of his impact on the Iowa State Engineering Department and campus (he was instrumental in helping build the university’s mechanical engineering program into one of national prominence), a building was named in his honor. Black Engineering Building was named in 1987.

Henry Black in front of Black Engineering Building (photograph from Box 18, Folder 1)

Henry Black was not the only member of his extended family to have a distinguished military career. His father-in-law, Ransom Drips Bernard, served in World War I in the Army medical corps, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. Ransom was not an Iowa State graduate, but his wife, Bernice Corlette Bernard graduated with the class of 1904.

Ransom Drips Bernard (photograph from Box 40, Folder 10)

Both Henry and Ransom documented their service through letters to family back home.  These letters, along with many photographs and artifacts like those mentioned above, can be found in the Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers, RS 21/8/12, in the Special Collections Department. The collection documents several generations of the Black and Bernard families through artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks, and correspondence.

Bernice Black Durand (left) and Rachel Kleinschmidt (right) going through the Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers (RS 21/8/12), which Bernice donated to the department and Rachel processed.

Rachel (right) showing Bernice (right) the processed Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers in the storage area.

Interested in finding out more about the collection?  You can read the finding aid online, and then come visit the Special Collections Department (open M-F, 9-4) and let us know which boxes you would like to see!

Trudy Peterson, ’67 ISU Grad and former Acting Archivist of the United States, Speaks at the University of Iowa

Interested in learning more about archives from an Iowa State grad (’67)?  Trudy Peterson, who has had a fascinating career in archives, will be speaking about the importance of archiving on February 29 and March 1 at the University of Iowa.  If you are interested in learning more about her career, we have a biographical folder which contains an assortment of articles related to Peterson (RS 21/7/1).  You can also read more about her on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences webpage on featured alumni.

Peterson to speak on importance of archiving Feb. 29 and March 1

Trudy Huskamp Peterson, one of the leading archivists in the world and the 2011 International Impact Award recipient at the University of Iowa, will present two upcoming workshops on the UI campus. Both events are free and open to the public.

Peterson will present ?Unfinished Business: Transitional Justice and the Role of Records? Wednesday, Feb. 29, from 4-6 p.m. in 1117 University Capitol Centre. In this workshop, Trudy considers the fate of archives in post-conflict situations, such as Bosnia, Rwanda, and other places where the integrity of records are central to the possibility of reconciliation.

Additionally, Peterson will present “Trash, Treasure, and the Act of Archival Appraisal” Thursday, March 1, from 4-6 p.m. in 302 Schaeffer Hall.

For the last 10 years, Peterson has made a career as an archivist for human rights, often at real risk to her own physical safety, consulting on the records of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, records of International Criminal Tribunals, and problematic police records.

For more information on these events, contact Linda Kerber at or 319-335-2299.

For African American History Month: George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver’s graduation photograph.

Wondering who was Iowa State’s first African American graduate?  First African American faculty member?  Well, look no further!  Scholar, scientist, teacher, and former slave George Washington Carver was Iowa State’s first African American graduate (1894) and faculty member.  If after reading this post you’re interested in learning more, we have a variety of resources available both here in the Special Collections Department and online.  These are listed at the end of this post, and includes the George Washington Carver Digital Collection.  The biographical information below has been selected from our finding aid of the George Washington Carver Collection, which is available for research here in the department.

George Washington Carver became one of the nation’s greatest educators and agricultural researchers. He was born in about 1864 (the exact year is unknown) on the Moses Carver plantation in Diamond Grove, Missouri. His father died in an accident shortly before his birth, and when he was still an infant, Carver and his mother were kidnapped by slave raiders. The baby was returned to the plantation, but his mother was never heard from again.

Carver grew to be a student of life and a scholar, despite the illness and frailty of his early childhood. He first enrolled at Simpson College (in Indianola, Iowa). He excelled in art and music, but art instructor Etta Budd, whose father was head of the Iowa State College Department of Horticulture, recognized Carver’s horticultural talents. She convinced him to pursue a career in scientific agriculture and, in 1891, he became the first African American to enroll at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, which today is Iowa State University.

Through quiet determination and perseverance, Carver soon became involved in all facets of campus life. He was a leader in the YMCA and the debate club. He worked in the dining rooms and as a trainer for the athletic teams. He was captain, the highest student rank, of the campus military regiment. His poetry was published in the student newspaper and two of his paintings were exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Carver pictured as Quartermaster (staff officer of the campus military regiment), from the 1895 Bomb (photographs after page 102).

Over the next two years, as assistant botanist for the College Experiment Station, Carver quickly developed scientific skills in plant pathology and mycology, the branch of botany that deals with fungi. He published several articles on his work and gained national respect. In 1896, he completed his master’s degree and was invited by Booker T. Washington to join the faculty of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute.

Pictured above in 1928 are Tuskegee Institute President Robert R. Moton, Mrs. Pammel, Louis H. Pammel, and George W. Carver. Carver and Iowa State botany professor Louis Pammel maintained contact after Carver left Iowa State for Tuskegee, and their extensive correspondence can be found online in the George Washington Carver Digital Collection. The originals are located in the Louis Hermann Pammel Papers (RS 13/5/13). Copies are also available in the George Washington Carver Collection (RS 21/7/2).

Carver’s professional work resulted in the creation of 325 products from peanuts, more than 100 products from sweet potatoes and hundreds more from a dozen other plants native to the South. These products contributed to rural economic improvement by offering alternative crops to cotton that were beneficial for the farmers and for the land. During this time, Carver also carried the Iowa State extension concept to the South and created “movable schools,” bringing practical agricultural knowledge to farmers, thereby promoting health, sound nutrition and self-sufficiency.

Curious to learn more about George Washington Carver, and his time here at Iowa State?  You have a few options.  We have a digital collection available online, which contains a selection of materials from our collections (including the George Washington Carver Collection, Louis Hermann Pammel Papers, University Photograph Collection, and others). The Digital Collection includes photographs and correspondence between Carver and his mentor, botany Professor Louis Pammel.  You can also come here to the Special Collections Department and look through our George Washington Carver Collection and the books in our rare book collection.  A list of resources on George Washington Carver is available here, and this includes a link to a listing of books in both the library’s General Collection and here in the Special Collections Department.  Iowa State’s 1894 and 1895 yearbooks, the Bomb, are also available online.

Iowa’s Own Mushroom Expert: Lois Tiffany

Last week, some of you may have listened to Terry Gross interview botanist Nicholas Money on Fresh Air about his research of molds, mushrooms and other fungi. Did you know that Iowa State’s own Professor Lois Tiffany was highly regarded as an expert in mushrooms and other fungi here in Iowa?  The papers of Iowa native and long-time Iowa State University professor Lois Hattery Tiffany were processed last year, and the finding aid for the L. H. (Lois Hattery) Tiffany Papers is available online.

Lois Tiffany

Fondly called “The Mushroom Lady,” Tiffany specialized in mycology (the study of fungi) and taught botany at Iowa State for over fifty years beginning in 1950. Her research included studies of fungal diseases of native prairie plants in Iowa, a 10-year survey of Iowa’s morels, and a study of the fungus flora of Big Bend National Park in Texas. She also participated in the Midwestern mushroom aflatoxin studies of both corn and soybeans (aflatoxins are toxic substances produced by a certain kind of mold, and are most often found on certain types of grains). Her continuing commitment to research led to the naming of a recently discovered Iowa truffle in her honor. The fungus, named Mattirolomyces tiffanyae, was discovered in 1998 in several locations of Story County’s oak woods.

Tiffany also made significant advancement for a woman in the sciences, despite the significant challenges of being a female science professor during the early years of her career. She was the first woman president of the Iowa Academy of Science, the first woman president of the Osborn Club, and the first woman scientist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be awarded the title of Distinguished Professor.

Tiffany dedicated her professional life to helping students. She advised hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and was the long-time advisor of the Botany Club, taking students on field trips all over the country with her colleague George Knaphus. Tiffany also was a supporter of the Girl Scouts, and helped to found and advise a collegiate chapter at Iowa State. Her dedication to her students is evident in the number of her students who went on to careers in the botany field.

Louis Tiffany’s specimen satchel which she used to carry mushrooms and other specimens she collected during her research and other botany trips.

The collection (1940-2010) contains Tiffany’s professional papers. Starting with her own course notes and dissertation research, the collection spans her entire professional career. The collection contains field notes, conference proceedings, academic writings, departmental committee minutes, and many notes and photographs used in her teaching career. Dr. Tiffany was known for her work as advisor to the Botany Club, and included in the collection are photographs and diaries from over thirty years of annual Botany Club field trips all over the country. The papers also include notes from Tiffany’s many professional organizations, her many summers teaching at the Lakeside Laboratory, her participation in Campus Girl Scouts, and records from the Ten Year Morel Study conducted with George Knaphus.

Pictured above is Tiffany at the 2001 Adult Nature Weekend at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (a field station for Iowa’s state universities located on the west shore of West Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa).  Tiffany is speaking on Ocheyedan Mound, located about 25 miles northwest of the Lakeside Laboratory.  (photograph can be found in box 20, folder 23)

For more information on the Lois Hattery Tiffany Papers, please see the online finding aid:  (If you would like to look at any of the material in the Tiffany Papers, please contact our department in advance.  The materials are stored offsite, and we will need a few days’ advance notice to bring them to our Reading Room.)

New Collection: Papers of Iowa State alum involved in Stars Over VEISHEA

VEISHEA is fast approaching – in fact, the fun and excitement of the largest student-run celebration in the country will begin next week on April 11.  The Special Collections Department has VEISHEA records documenting former celebrations, in addition to a variety of other resources.  For more information on VEISHEA records you can find here in our department on VEISHEA’s history, visit last year’s VEISHEA blog post.

However, if you are looking for the personal perspective of Iowa State students during VEISHEA, a good place to look are the papers donated by our alumni, and a listing of these collections (however – please note – not all of these necessarily mention VEISHEA!) can be found here under RS 21/7: Alumni and Former Students.  The Special Collections Department recently took in a new collection documenting student life here at Iowa State in the middle of the twentieth century, and the letters in this collection mention VEISHEA. The Donald Elwood Larew Papers (RS 21/7/232) contain letters, theater programs, and Iowa State University memorabilia.  A graduate of Iowa State University, Larew received his B.S. (1963) in applied art with an emphasis in interior design.  For more on Larew’s career in theater design, see the biographical note in the collection’s finding aid.

Pictured above is the 1963 Stars Over VEISHEA production, The Music Man, performed during Larew’s senior year at Iowa State.  Larew helped design the set for this, along with other Iowa State theater productions.

The majority of the collection contains letters Larew wrote home to his parents, which includes descriptions of his involvement with the fraternity Delta Upsilon and as a cast member and set designer for a number of campus theatrical productions.

Page 324 from the 1959 Bomb (ISU yearbook).

Before joining the fraternity Delta Upsilon, Larew was a member of the Bennett House in Friley Hall his freshman year.  The description found here in the Bomb helps one figure out certain references Larew makes in his letters to the activities described above. Click on the image above to read the description.

Larew frequently mentions the theater in his letters home. He mentions plays he appeared in and the ones he helped design sets for.  While at Iowa State, Larew was involved with both the Iowa State Players and Stars Over VEISHEA.  In fact, the first Stars Over VEISHEA production with which Larew was involved was Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew (this year’s Kiss Me Kate is in part based on this Shakespeare play).

From pages 168-169 of the 1959 Bomb (ISU yearbook).

In his letters, Larew mentions being a cast member of the Iowa State Player’s  “Stalag 17” production.  Click on the image to read about the Iowa State Players.

To find out more about Donald Elwood Larew and the papers he donated to Iowa State, please take a look at the collection’s finding aid.

An Iowa State Professor’s Holiday Tradition


The end of the year, and the holidays that come at this time of year, are definitely upon us.  And winter and the snow that comes with it are here as well.  In honor of the first day of winter (December 21), pictured above is one of my favorite Iowa State winter campus photographs – a horse drawn sleigh in front of Catt Hall (formerly Agricultural Hall and then Botany Hall) and the old greenhouses.

As you may have noticed, we have taken a bit of a break here on the Departmental blog to catch up on things.  However, it seemed fitting to highlight one of our collections during this holiday season.  There are a number to choose from.  Winterfest was celebrated here on campus earlier this December, and hopefully there will be a blog post on this in future years.  Earl Stout, featured in an earlier blog post, probably has some Iowa related sayings and proverbs in his collection.  In fact, many collections here at Iowa State probably have at least one reference to the end of the year and the holidays that come at this time.

Since it is now so close to Christmas, I thought I would highlight one of our University Archives collections of an Iowa State Professor of Textiles and Clothing, Donna Danielson.  Every year, beginning in 1961, Professor Danielson created her own Christmas cards.  In fact, her tradition was inspired by several Iowa State professors she had studied under.   Danielson received her B.S. (1957) and M.S. (1961) from Iowa State University in applied art.  In 1964, Danielson joined the Iowa State University faculty as Assistant Professor of Textiles and Clothing.  She was promoted to Associate Professor (1971) and Professor (1976), and retired from Iowa State in 1991.

Danielson in front of the bookshelf showcasing the Christmas cards she created.

Danielson describes her experiences of creating Christmas cards in a talk, “Variation on a Poem by Phyllis McGinley: Lady Selecting Her Christmas Card Theme,” which is included in the collection of her papers.  The majority of the small collection, however, contains the Christmas cards she created for each year from 1961 to 2001.  The collection includes her first Christmas card from 1961, which, as she describes in her talk, were created individually “using pen and brush-applied white ink on a textured blue surface…the form, that is the lettering itself, was a reflection of my personal and professional interest in lettering and calligraphy.”  As I looked through her Christmas cards, I found myself glancing at her lettering and calligraphy just as much as the illustrations.  She even has a wonderfully clear handwriting style in her everyday handwriting, found on the forms in the biographical files in her collection.

The inside of her first Christmas card from 1961, with the simple message “Christmas Greetings.”

Her cards all have an illustration paired with a saying or verse…however, soon after her first year she no longer created each card individually, but had them printed instead!  We even have one of the printing blocks (shown below), used for her 1963 Christmas cards, in the artifact collection.

As she explained in her talk, most of the verses and sayings she used on her Christmas cards were not written by her.  However, when creating her 1980 Christmas card with her selected theme of Norwegian Christmas cookies and other baked goods, she could not find an appropriate verse, song, poem or saying and so she created her own.

The outside of Danielson’s 1980 Christmas card, with its Norwegian Christmas cookies and other baked goods.  The illustration includes the first line, in Norwegian, of the verse she wrote for the card.

The inside of Danielson’s 1980 Christmas card, containing the verse (in both Norwegian and English) she created to go with the theme.

Other Christmas cards and records related to holiday and winter related festivities can be found here in the Special Collections Department, although this is the only collection we have that is centered around one artist’s Christmas card creations.  Danielson’s papers are preserved in an archival box and archival folders in our storage area.  However, Christmas cards are now being created electronically, such as this year’s card from President Geoffroy.  These electronic cards from President Geoffroy will be in our Web Archive, such as last year’s from 2009.

If you are interested in finding out more about Donna Danielson and her Christmas cards, please take a look at the finding aid of her collection, available online, or come visit us in the Special Collections Department!  Please note, however, that Parks Library, including the Special Collections Department, will be closed for a portion of winter break (from Thursday, December 23, 2010, through Sunday, January 2, 2011).