#FlashbackFriday – Postcards

Today I took a look at the Iowa State University Archives Postcard Collection. I’ve been wanting to check out this collection for a while and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint. There were hundreds of postcards in just this box and at least six boxes in the collection. Here are a few of my favorites from box one.

I look forward to exploring more of this collection in the future! Materials from Box 1 of the ISU Archives Postcard Collection.

“Alice Doesn’t Day” by Research Assistant Amanda Larsen

The following post was written by Amanda Larsen, who is working at SCUA this year as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). Her project revolves around historical feminist activism on the ISU campus. Regarding today’s article, note that the Monday after next, exactly two weeks from today, will mark 43 years since the “Alice Doesn’t Day” strike.

-Rachael Acheson
Assistant University Archivist


Alice Doesn’t Day

October 29th, 1975 was one of the first days to show the nation how much women contribute to society. The National Organization for Women (NOW) created a national strike day for women in order to emphasize how important women are for society. They called it “Alice Doesn’t Day,” a reference to the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  NOW called for every woman to refrain from work or spending any money. The alternative for women who could not skip work was to wear an armband and discuss its purpose.

On campus, the Government of the Student Body (GSB) was asked to support the strike by on campus women’s organization. The bill to support Alice Doesn’t Day was sponsored by Roxanne Ryan, a student in sciences and humanities.

Image of Roxanne Ryan with members of her residence hall, Miller. Image from the Bomb 1975, page 308.
Roxanne Ryan with members of her residence hall. Image from the Bomb 1975, pg. 308.

Various groups scheduled programs supporting Alice Doesn’t Day on the Iowa State campus according to news articles. For those who wished to participate in the event, the YWCA had seminars on women’s health, practical consumerism, pampering ourselves, and women and the law. If the participants had young children, there were male-run daycare and babysitting services provided. GSB passed the bill supporting Alice Doesn’t Day, to the dismay of some. In the community, Ames Mayor William Pelz showed support for Alice Doesn’t Day by signing an official proclamation naming October 29th as “Alice Doesn’t Day.”

Not everyone supported Alice Doesn’t Day. The Iowa State Daily’s “Point of View” section notes that some believed calling for women not to go to work was not the best tactic for showing women’s roles in society. While it might have shown how much women contribute, it could also have shown unprofessionalism and little regard for their work. Others felt that women should double their efforts on the 29th with the same goal of showing how much they can contribute to society. A group opposed to Alice Doesn’t Day vowed to wear pink dresses and call for the firing of any woman protesting. In terms of students, most told the Daily that the reason they could not participate in the strike was that they had classes and “school is more important than my ethical views.” Since they could not miss classes, many of the women interviewed said they would refrain from spending money that day.

Cartoon on student activism (or lack thereof). The Bomb 1975, pg. 504.
Cartoon on ISU student activism (or lack thereof). The Bomb 1975, pg. 504.

Rosl Gowdey, one of the publicity workers for the project, stated that the goal of the day was to “focus on what happens to the women who participate, than on the number of participants. If only one or two women get something out of it, then that’s great, and we’ve accomplished our purpose.” While most think that the day was a failure, others viewed the event as successful because of the awareness: “In terms of awareness and talking about women’s contributions, it was successful,” said by Susan Newcomer, the president of the Ames chapter of the National Organization for Women.

If you or anyone you know has any information about women activist from 1960-1979 here at Iowa State, please feel free to contact Special Collections to discuss preserving the material.

Image from page 19 of the Ames Daily Tribune, October 25th, 1975.
Image from page 19 of the Ames Daily Tribune, October 25th, 1975.

 

CyPix: Mathematics and Community

Since Pi Day (you know, 3.1415926…) was on Friday, I figured I would dedicate this week’s photo to something mathematics-related, possibly from one of our collections regarding the Department of Mathematics or its current and long-time home, Carver Hall. However, in doing research, I stumbled upon the papers of Edward and Minne Allen (RS 13/14/51) and could not resist sharing a little slice of their lives.

RS 13/14/51, Allens
The Allens with unidentified people, on the steps of Steiner Hall, Grinnell College, circa 1960-1962.

Edward Allen was a native of Kansas City, Missouri, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. From 1921 to 1985 – more than 60 years – Allen was a Professor of Mathematics at Iowa State. Minne Allen, a native of Sondershausen, Germany, also taught here in the subjects of economics and sociology until the early 1930s, when Iowa State passed a law forbidding family members to be employed simultaneously. Together, the couple were active members of a small Religious Society of Friends (also referred to as Quaker) group here in Ames. The pair was also very involved in the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which they helped found in 1935; Edward also served as president for three terms. Edward wrote about his work in peace and civil liberties, vocations shared with Minne, in his 1977 book Freedom in Iowa. Minne passed away in 1980, and Edward in 1985.

So, if you missed Pi Day, cut yourself a slice of pie and toast to the communities in Ames and in Iowa that flourished under the care of mathematician Edward and sociologist Minne. And when you’re done eating, come and check out their papers, RS 13/14/51, in the archives. The records consist of lecture materials, Iowa Civil Liberties Union materials, publications, course materials from Edward’s time at Harvard, and biographical information – including items in German.

Curl up by the fire with a good book: Serendipity Club

For many students, winter break means a welcome vacation from books and reading, but for others, it is a long-awaited opportunity to crack open that new, juicy novel. If you belong in the latter category, and if you are looking for a new book to sink your teeth into, this post is for you!

Today we are taking a look at the Serendipity Club, an organization that was founded in Ames in 1936 by a group of women to promote reading and friendship. The fifteen founding members were the wives of Iowa State College professors and administrators. Among them was Mrs. Vera Friley, wife of the Charles E. Friley, president of the college from 1936-1953.

Serendipity Club members in 1963. Ames Tribune, April 9, 1963.
Serendipity Club members in 1963. Ames Tribune, April 9, 1963.

The name for the club was suggested by Mrs. George Godfrey, who discovered the word coined by Horace Walpole (1717-1797), an English earl and man of letters, when he referred in a letter to a fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. Elizabeth Wilkinson, first chairman of the club, writes in the minutes from the meeting:

These princes in their wanderings were always discovering, either by chance or sagacity, desirable things which they did not seek.

Hence, the word has come to mean the art of acquiring something that is both pleasurable and profitable without any seeming conscious effort” (Box 1, Folder 1. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 6. April 30, 1936. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

The ladies unanimously voted to adopt the name. They decided that, in order to vary the reading, each member would choose her own book to purchase through the club each year and that the books would be passed around amongst the members. At each monthly meeting, there would be no discussion of the books read; instead, the ladies would present information on the author of their chosen book.

Although the ladies did not review their books, there was no lack of lively discussion. At different times, letters would be read aloud that members had sent back from various exotic vacation spots, like California and Italy, or members would show off their souvenirs, such as the time Mrs. Buchanan brought “a most interesting display of textiles who [sic] had been woven in Egypt and it gave us a very definite idea of the garb worn by the shepherds” (Box 1, Folder 2. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 35. November 22, 1949. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

At other times, the discussion would verge on news and scandals of the day, such as when

“Mrs. Buchanan entertained the group with an account of her visit to Father Divine, and his heavens in West Harlem N.Y.–how his obscure theological reasoning confounds his followers; how he manages the financial side of his enterprise and how the advent of one of Father Divine’s “heavens” in Harlem means a moral cleanup of the entire block.

“The description of his Peace Mission[,] a stone house of fifty rooms, his huge Duesenberg sedan, 22 ft in length[,] his numerous important angels, his habit of midnight banqueting and his Pinninah, the only one of his women followers who is permitted to sit beside him, was of interest to all of us” (Box 1, Folder 1. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 60. November 26, 1939. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

The meetings always included refreshments and a social hour. Chairman Dorothy Elwood summed up one meeting: “We had a lovely noisy meeting–the kind Serendipity thoroughly enjoys” (Box 1, Folder 2. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 12. September 24, 1947. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

Pages from Journal of Activities, showing Gone with the Wind at the top of the list. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.
Pages from Journal of Activities, showing Gone with the Wind at the top of the list (left). The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

Each year, the members chose their new books from those that had been published in the previous year. It is interesting to see which books have had staying power and are still read today. One of the books chosen during the club’s first year, 1936-1937, was Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling Gone with the Wind (find it in the ISU catalog) which had just been published in 1936 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Here is just a selection of some other well-known books and authors, chosen by Serendipity Club members throughout the years:

Now doesn’t that just make you want to curl up in front of the fire with a good book?

To learn more about the Serendipity Club, check out the finding aid for MS 358, The Serendipity Club Records, or come look at it in Special Collections.

%d bloggers like this: