Spring is in the air

This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection that remind us of spring. I know it’s probably a little premature to start thinking of spring, but tell that to this week’s forecast!

Baseball bat (Artifact 2005-R010)

1890s Silver Baseball Bat Trophy (Artifact 2005-R010)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

Nothing says spring like baseball! That’s why I choose this metal baseball bat from our archives collection for this post. This bat is a special one. It has nine engravings that indicate which schools won this special trophy bat over the course of ten years. In chronological order: Grinnell 1892, IAC 1893, IAC 1894, SUI 1895, Grinnell 1896, Cornell 1898, Grinnell 1899, SUI 1900, SUI 1901, and Grinnell 1902. SUI stands for State University of Iowa, our rivals in Iowa City, and IAC stands for Iowa Agricultural College, the name for Iowa State University from its founding until 1959. The bat also includes an engraved baseball game scene surrounded by a leaf border. What a fun piece of history from early higher education in Iowa!

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

Spring is all about getting back outdoors and enjoying the return of sunshine and warm weather. And for some people, that means going out to the ballpark and enjoying a friendly game of baseball. Iowa State no longer has a baseball team, but this silver bat traveling trophy, dating from the 1890s, is a reminder of the excellent Cyclone teams of years past.

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

With major league pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training on February 14, my thoughts are with the coming season for my (reigning World Series Champions) Chicago Cubs.  As a result, the Silver Bat is the artifact that makes me think most of spring.  The bat was a trophy awarded to members of the Iowa Inter-Collegiate Base Ball Association.  The Association, formed in 1892, originally included Drake University, Iowa College at Grinnell (now Grinnell College), Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University), and the State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa).  Cornell College joined in 1893.  The bat has an engraving of a baseball game in progress and the following inscriptions:  Grinnell 1902, SUI 1901, SUI 1900, Grinnell 1899, Cornell 1898, Grinnell 1892, Grinnell 1896, SUI 1895 on the handle; and on the end of the bat, IAC 1893, IAC 1894.

Woven picture “Bluebirds Herald Spring” (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Woven picture entitled "Bluebirds Herald Spring" by Shirley Held (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Woven picture entitled “Bluebirds Herald Spring” by Shirley Held (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This woven picture by Shirley Held is entitled “Bluebirds Herald Spring.” To me, it strongly resembles an Impressionist painting. Monet could have put these colors together. This nearly-abstract scene truly sings of Spring.

Shirley Held (1923-2014) earned a B.S. and M.S. in Home Economics and Applied Art at ISU before joining the faculty of the Department of Art and Design in 1953. She was promoted to full professor in 1975 and retired in 1990.

ISU Special Collections and Archives has the Shirley E. Held Papers (RS 26/2/53) in addition to dozens of textile artworks like this one. I’m making a mental note to learn a bit more about Held, her career, and her artistry.

Lithographic plate (Artifact 2000-105.002 )

 

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

One of our artifacts which definitely makes me think of spring is the lithographic plate (Artifact 2000-105.002) of a bird’s nest with eggs, and then right next to it the hatched baby birds.  I also love that not only do we have the original plate, but also one of the prints which was made from the plate (2000-105.001).  Lithographic plates have always intrigued me since I first learned about them – who would have ever thought to create a print from stone and a water-resistant drawing substance such as wax?  This artifact comes from Iowa State University’s Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Records (RS 9/10/04).

Link for collection:  http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/arch/rgrp/9-10-4.html

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VEISHEA button (Artifact 2012-120.001)

button gray background with orange swan and orange dots above swan's tail, splashes of dark gray and yellow in background, white text says "VEISHEA" then 2012 in black text.

VEISHEA button (2012-120.001)

Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator

This button reminds me of spring for a couple of reasons.  VEISHEA, of course, was celebrated in the spring.  This button invokes memories of the parade, cherry pies, and dirt dessert from the Agronomy department.  While there are many VEISHEA artifacts, photographs, and documents in the archives, I chose this button because of the depiction of one of ISU’s swans.  Spring is a great time to walk around our beautiful campus; and specifically, take a break by Lake LaVerne to visit Lancelot and Elaine.  To learn more about VEISHEA, see our online exhibit or by visiting the archives to look at RS 22/12: VEISHEA.

Hand Fan (Artifact 1993-002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

This hand fan was presented to Martin Jischke, Iowa State University’s 13th president, in May 1993. The hand fan includes birds and butterflies.  It makes me think of spring because of the artwork on the fan. Of course, a fan also comes in handy as the temperatures heat up in spring.” This fan is associated with the Martin C. Jischke Papers (RS 2/13).


This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection related to food. After all, one of the key components of this holiday season is celebrating with food. We hope you enjoy these collection highlights from our Artifact Collection.

Teacup and Saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Top view of teacup and saucer, white embellished around edges with purple, orange and blue flowers with green stems and leaves.

Top view of teacup and saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I was drawn to this teacup and saucer because my mom and grandma both collected tea cups. I used to love examining the patterns of all the different teacups in my mom’s china cabinet when I was growing up and feeling the thinness of the fine bone china they were made of. This particular teacup and saucer in our artifact collection belonged to the mother of H. Summerfield Day, University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980). It was collected and donated to the archives by a former library employee in the Cataloging Department, Dennis Wendell.

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Wooden cheese box 9.25 inches wide, text on box "2 Pounds net weight, Iowa State College, pasteurized process cheese, Manufactured by Dairy Industry dept., Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa."

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This wooden cheese box is interesting because it’s much sturdier than I would expect. It’s only 9.25” wide, so card stock would have sufficed. I think it would make a cool pencil box. Pasteurized process cheese is not my favorite kind, but I have such high regard for cheese that I can’t help liking the box. “Process cheese” notwithstanding, it was an ISC product so it was probably of exceptional quality. I’m inspired to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup this weekend.

Wax Apples (Artifact 2008-153.001)

Bowl filled with various wax apples (yellow,pink, red)

Artifact 2008-153

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I have chosen the bowl of wax apples, originally shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, as this month’s food-related artifact.  I had heard of its existence here, but had never had the opportunity to see these first-hand until working on an artifact housing project earlier this year.  I was amazed at how shiny and fresh these 140-year-old wax apples looked, and at the same time being terrified of causing damage to these amazing artifacts!  Colonel G. B. Bracket, who created the wax apples for the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s exhibit, received a gold medal for the wax Iowa apples. The apples represent the 300 varieties of apples grown in Iowa at the time.

Iowa State milk carton (from Accession 2014-312)

Iowa State Skim Milk Carton, has "Iowa State" and picture of Food Sciences building originally Dairy Industry building. Colors on carton are yellow, black and white. It's a half-gallon carton.

This milk carton came in with accession 2014-312. It has not yet been assigned an artifact number in our artifact database. Note the illustration of the Food Sciences Building, originally known as the Dairy Industry Building, on the front of the carton.

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

In a slight departure from the theme of food for this week’s blog, I have selected this Iowa State milk carton as it represents a long history of producing dairy products at Iowa State. This milk carton would have been filled with milk during the 1960s, but the dairy program at Iowa State began much earlier than that. Iowa State started operating a creamery in the 1880s to provide a place to store and process milk and dairy products for the benefit of the students and staff of Iowa State. Any milk left over was processed into butter and sold to the neighborhood surrounding the school. Of course, in those days milk was not delivered in attractive paper cartons like this! In 2007 Iowa State renewed its support of the dairy industry in Iowa when it opened a new dairy farm south of campus. Although the days of Iowa State selling its own milk are long gone, you can still buy homemade ice cream from students in the Dairy Science Club as they carry on the tradition of preparing dairy products on the Iowa State campus.

Kenyan Fat Pot, 1944 (Artifact 2010-009.005)

Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

One of the most fascinating food-related artifacts we have is a fat pot from Kenya. According to the catalog record, this pot was “used for collecting the fat from meat as a result of cooking or for cosmetic purposes by the natives of the Turkana-Tribe from Northern Kenya.” This doesn’t sound all that different from what we do in America today, in which we collect the drippings from meat to make gravy or broth. The pot is made of wood, twine, and leather, with a leather cap. I suppose this item intrigues me largely because we don’t have a lot of artifacts from around the world, and I don’t know of any other African artifacts in our collections. It’s associated with the Shirley Held Papers (RS 26/2/53). Held was a faculty member of what is now the College of Design.

ISU Beer Can (Artifact 2012-207.002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I was browsing items in our internal artifact database and was tickled to see this beer can. Believe it or not, this is just one can of at least three other beer cans I could have selected that we have in our collection. I picked this can because it includes an image of Cy. I feel like I can justify selecting beer as a food-related artifact because, to some, it is food. All kidding aside, beer can be enjoyed with food just like wine and it even enhances some food. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretzels or nuts are often served with beer. Below is the description of the beer can from the catalog:

The can is a gold color, with red and black lettering. There is an image of Cy holding a mug of beer in one hand, and a football in the other. On the can itself reads, in red lettering, “CYCLONE BEER.” Underneath the slogan, there is black lettering that reads, “Not associated with Iowa State University.” There is a makers mark that describes the nature of where the beer was brewed and canned. On the top of the can reads: “Iowa Refund, 5 c.” There is still liquid inside of the can.

This beer can, with an assortment of other materials, came to the archives from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Chocolate Set (from Accession 2010-009)

Pot and two teacups and saucers, for drinking chocolate. Colors are white embellished with pink and yellow roses.

Chocolate set (from Accession 2010-009)

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

This image is of a chocolate pot and two cups which carries the mark of Wheelock China, a large Midwestern importing firm which flourished from 1855 until the early 1920s.  Wheelock is best known for their souvenir china, depicting local scenes and buildings and marketed to tourists.  Most of their products were imported from Germany.  These items are marked with the Wheelock Imperial Eagle stamp, which was used on china the company imported from Austria.

Black-and-white photograph of woman, in her 30s or 40s, short brunette hair and glasses, sitting at a loom.

Photograph of Shirley Held ca. 1950s (University Photographs RS 26/2/A)

The chocolate pot belonged to Shirley Held, a member of Iowa State’s Art and Design faculty for more than thirty years.  She received a B.S. in Home Economics Education from Iowa State in 1945.  Following graduation, she taught home economics in several towns in northwest Iowa. She returned to graduate school at Iowa State, earning the M.S. in Home Economics-Applied Art in 1951.  After a year teaching at Utah State College, she returned to Iowa State as a member of the Applied Art faculty, teaching design, lettering, weaving, and wood and metal crafts.   Weaving was her true calling, and she was the author of Weaving:  Handbook of the Fiber Crafts, which was published in 1973, with a second edition in 1978.  Her pieces were exhibited both in Iowa and nationally, and she promoted the art of weaving through workshops and lectures. She received a faculty citation in 1979 in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the University.  Active locally as a member of the Ames Choral Society and the Collegiate United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, she also participated in community theater, both acting and designing costumes for a number of productions.  She retired from Iowa State in 1990, and passed away in 2014.

Artifacts in the Archives – Celebrating food!


Sneak Peek! Exhibit Preparation

On Monday and Wednesday afternoon this week, HIS 481X was busy in 405 Parks working on the layouts for their exhibit cases. Staff from the Conservation Lab created mounts and reproduced original materials, selected for the exhibit, so that students could play around with the layout design for the exhibit cases.

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The exhibit opens on January 18. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Drop by and see our current exhibits! We’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5.


Behind the Scenes – Homecoming 2016

Have you ever wondered what it takes to put together a pop-up exhibit? Last Friday, Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) exhibited about two dozen items for three hours for Iowa State’s Homecoming. The temporary exhibit was open to the public, but our focus was alumni visiting for Homecoming. Today’s post is about our process.

Dry Run

Back in mid-August, we invited the Alumni Center to drop by and see what items we thought we’d include in the October Homecoming exhibit. This dry run entailed staff from the department brainstorming on what items would be best to put on exhibit and what order they should be displayed. Labels were made and the classroom was rearranged into an exhibit space. Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, dropped by and gave us feedback on how we set the room up and what kinds of materials may engage alumni more. We also discussed what reproductions SCUA could provide for digital display over at the Alumni Center.

Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, looks at our oldest book with Amy Bishop, Rare Book and Manuscripts Archivist. University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, and Collections Archivist, Laura Sullivan, in background.

Heather Botine, Associate Director for Constituent Engagement, looks at our oldest book with Amy Bishop, Rare Book and Manuscripts Archivist. University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, and Collections Archivist, Laura Sullivan, in background (Photo by Rachel Seale)

Two weeks out

We made sure to promote our Homecoming event in the library and in our social media. We enlisted the help of Monica Gillen, the Communication Specialist for the library, and Jody Kalvik, Instruction, Program Coordinator. Monica helped get the word out and Jody designed flyers, posters, a banner, and our signage.

The week before before Homecoming

We did one last practice run. We tweaked our list of items on display and took into account Heather’s set-up advice. We also invited Sonya Barron, Conservator, to drop by. Sonya ensured our items were sturdy enough to display, offered to provide mounts, and advised us how to safely display materials. We also made final decisions on what would be in the temporary exhibit and what order we wanted to display items, there was some rearrangement.  Pictures were taken of materials so we’d know how to set up the following week.

Two of our rare books propped up in book cradles (Photo b Rachel Seale)

Two of our rare books propped up in book cradles (Photo by Rachel Seale)

The week of Homecoming

Now that we had our exhibit finalists, we had to finish drafting and mounting the labels.

Friday of Homecoming!

We spent the morning setting up and our doors opened at 1 pm. We were so pleased at the opportunity to show off our treasures.

Thank you to everyone who visited us last Friday at 405 Parks Library. To those that missed seeing our treasures on display, drop by and see us sometime. We’re open from 9-5, Monday-Friday.


The Archives — Satisfy your Curiosity

Today’s blog post was authored by Margaret Weber. Margaret is PhD candidate for the Department of History at Iowa State University.

Margaret Weber talking about her experiences in the archives with HIST 195 students in the Special Collections & University Archives classroom in 405 Parks during their class visit to the archives in Spring 2015

Margaret Weber talking about her experiences in the archives with HIST 195 students during their visit to SCUA in Spring 2016 (photograph by Rachel Seale)

Why go to the archives? This is a question that has been asked of me a lot, especially by my students. I have often witnessed many Iowa State students pass the Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) on the fourth floor of the library.  A few brave souls venture in. Some spare a quick glance at the glass exhibit case and closed door. Most though pass by without another thought. What exactly is behind that closed door? And perhaps more importantly, what can the Iowa State archives offer to its students, faculty, staff, and the public at large? The answer…a place to satisfy your curiosity. For behind that closed door is a gateway to documents and artifacts that magnify our past and help us understand the present.

 

In a world of digitization and computer screens, what value is there in a stuffy place where old documents exist? Can’t the answer just be found online? Despite many advancements in digital collections in the past several years, those online documents pale in comparison to the type and variation offered at Special Collections across the country, including Iowa State’s. Lots of one of a kind videos, books, pictures, scrapbooks, artifacts, and other archival material can only be found here. There is something special about holding a document in your hands, seeing the text itself. It is a chance to truly get a feel for the quantities of our collective past. To use those documents to create a narrative of your own.

 

Nowhere else on campus offers such an in-depth look into the university’s history and life. Want to find out what university life was like in the roaring 1920s? Go to the archives to look at dance cards and homecoming pictures. Was there student unrest in the 1960s? Find the answer in the archives by reading through the Daily’s opinion section. Want to locate your grandfather’s or grandmother’s master thesis? It’s here in the archives, along with all of the other theses and dissertations. From the Manhattan Project to Morrill Act, there is lots explore on the fourth floor.

Woman conducting research in the Special Collections & University Archives reading room in the Parks Library.

Margaret Weber conducting research in the SCUA reading room this fall (photograph by Petrina Jackson)

But it is not just Iowa State history documented here. The library’s archives also hold vast collections on technological and scientific advancements, developments in agriculture, political history, and much more. In my own personal research on agriculture in the postwar period, the various non-ISU manuscript collections have proven to be invaluable. Very few other archives cover such a wide range of rural life and the development of America’s food system. All archives, including Iowa State’s, play an important role in preserving pieces of our history.

 

And finally, while the university is a place to ask questions, its archives represents an opportunity to formulate your own answers. One of the greatest things about academic life is the expansion of the mind, the ability to ask questions, and find possible solutions. Curiosity is the fuel on the fire of learning. And the archives, like its classrooms, computer labs, and scientific laboratories, are just another resource for students to use to satisfy that inquisitiveness.


CyPix: Did you say archives?

October is American Archives Month, when archivists around the country spread the word about how exciting, informative, even life-changing archives can be. The two images today are from past events when the Special Collections Department invited people to get a deeper view of what archives are all about.

This first image shows the Special Collections Open House from 1971, only two years after the department opened. Visitors are viewing archival documents in display cases.

Special Collections Open House, October 31, 1971. University Archives Photograph Collection box 2053.

Special Collections Open House, October 31, 1971. University Archives Photograph Collection Box 2053.

The second photo is a little more recent, the History Day event from 2001, where students came from area schools to get the behind-the-scenes tour of what goes on in Special Collections and learn how to do archival research.

Students examining documents from archival collection during the Special Collections History Day, February 22, 2001. University Archives Photograph Collection, box 2047

Students examining documents from archival collections during the Special Collections History Day, February 22, 2001. University Archives Photograph Collection Box 2047.

Wondering how to do archival research yourself? Please check out the new Archives Overview LibGuide created by our department’s Digital Archivist, Kim Anderson! It answers questions like, What are archives? How do I find archival collections? and, How do I care for my own archives?

As always, we would love to see you in our department. Stop by and see us!


Upcoming: You know you want to #AskAnArchivist

Information desk in Iowa State College library. Ida Robertson, cataloger, helps student look up reference in card file. Kathryn Renfro, cataloger, at information desk looks up some information in a reference book, 1945. University Archives Photograph Collection, box 2046.

Information desk in Iowa State College library, 1945. University Archives Photograph Collection, box 2046.

Have a burning archives question? Always wondered just what it is we do around here, anyway? Want to know how to do your own personal digital archiving or take care of those treasured family documents? Well, you’re in luck because #AskAnArchivist Day is just around the corner!

On October 1, the archivists here at Iowa State University Special Collections and University Archives will be joining our colleagues around the country on Twitter to answer your questions about any and all things archives. This day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists in your community—and around the country—to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy your curiosity.

To participate, just tweet a question and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. If you want to reach us, include our Twitter handle (@ISU_Archives).

We hope to see you there! It’s going to be awesome!


Archives in Five Words

The President of the Society of American Archivists, Kathleen Roe, recently called for archivists to come up with a 5 word phrase for engaging people in conversations about archives and archivists. Here at Iowa State University, we’ve decided to focus our five word phrases on why archives are important and what the ISU Special Collections Department can do for you.

Here are the options – vote for your favorites and/or add your own!


Special Collections bids farewell to Stephanie

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Here is a special post to announce some exciting news.

A little over a year ago, Stephanie introduced herself and the two other project archivists to our readers. Now, Stephanie will be the first of us to leave ISU as she moves on to a new Collections Archivist position at Wake Forest University Special Collection and Archives. Congratulations, Stephanie!!!

Stephanie’s many contributions to the Special Collections department can be quantified in numerable ways—from processing almost 400 linear feet of archival collections, to greeting and assisting patrons over hundreds of hours at our public services desk, to composing more than 30 interesting and informative blog posts. But there are many other ways that Stephanie has contributed to the department over the last year-and-a-half that will be greatly missed: her quick wit, her enthusiasm, and her insights on all things archival.

Thanks for the laughs and for all the hard work, Stephanie! ISU will miss you *sniff*, but we know you will rock your next job!

Stephanie’s last day is tomorrow, so please join us in wishing Stephanie all the very best in her new endeavors in a warmer climate.


Celebrate American Archives Month

Special Collections staff hard at work, RS 25

Special Collections staff hard at work, date unknown, RS 25

Every October is American Archives Month – a time to celebrate the work of archivists and the physical and digital items that benefit from our care. There are as many ways to celebrate Archives Month (or #archivesmonth, on Twitter) as there are archival repositories. Larger archival institutions have a full range of activities to showcase their work. The National Archives and Records Administration profiles staff members and favorite items throughout the month on social media. Smithsonian Institute Archives covers its work through a number of virtual and in-person opportunities. Here at ISU Special Collections, we celebrate by working: accepting university records and donated materials relating to our collecting areas; working with donors; processing materials; answering questions from the wide variety of folks who enlist our help; educating students through tours and classroom talks; and providing access to our collections through our website and Reading Room.

The Society of American Archivists, our professional organization, is observing Archives Month, of course. The association president, Kathleen Roe, recently wrote a blog post and asked the question “Who have you met on your journey through archival records?” She posed her question in reference to people whom she met through the historical record – such as the faculty and staff, students, and alumni whose collections we hold.

Special Collections Open House

The Special Collections reading room and exhibit space in 1971, RS 25/3

But as I sit in the Reading Room with a researcher hard at work and one of our student workers making preservation reproductions, I think of the meaningful interactions and lessons that I learn from the living people that I interact with in and around the archives. For example:

  • Students of all ages, from middle school on up to retirees who are curious about something and have the time to pop in. And of course academic scholars from ISU as well as other institutions who seek the rare and unique information that we hold. Even the questions that they ask, about the archives or about their interests, teach me lessons about my work all the time!
  • Our student workers, who bring their perspectives and questions to work every week. It’s nice to hear what student life is like in 2014 when I’m used to fielding questions and handling materials that are often older than today’s students.
  • Donors who generously hand their memories, or their loved ones’ memories, over for care-taking. It is a privilege to assess a lifetime’s worth of accumulated materials and process them to allow others to benefit from all the knowledge within.
  • Colleagues who have fielded my questions, encouraged and mentored me, introduced me to other archives colleagues in their network, and so on and so forth through the six degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon. No, wait, between me and famed archivist Theodore Roosevelt Schellenberg.
  • Archivists of the wider world who I meet through graduate school, or at regional conferences, or at the SAA Annual Meeting – which was held with two other records-centric organizations this year. There is an unending supply of new people to meet, share stories with, and learn from.

Much appreciation goes out to all those who make our work as archivists possible – especially the archivists ourselves. You can celebrate American Archives Month by coming by to see our new exhibit on Homecoming, doing research, or checking out all the resources we have available through our [newly updated] website!