Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) staff invites you to participate in two exciting opportunities during and after the NPHC Reunion on Saturday, April 2:
An exhibit that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center is available to view on the 4th floor of Parks Library. Greg Bailey, University Archivist, will be on hand from 10 a.m. – 1.p.m. Saturday to give attendees a tour guided tour of the exhibit and answer questions about the exhibit and University Archives operations, including how alumni can help preserve ISU history. Original materials related to the Center and Black student organizations will also be on display.
An oral history project is underway in an effort to document ISU student life. Alumni may sign up to schedule an interview and share their ISU experiences, whether in attendance at the reunion or not. In addition, alumni are encouraged to explore other recent projects, that document student life, including HBCU Connections, COVID Stories, Voices in Color, and Tracing Race at ISU.
More from University Archivist, Greg Bailey, about Saturday’s exhibit talk.
Why is SCUA hosting an exhibit talk for the NPHC Alumni Reunion and Plaza Ribbon Cutting Celebration?
Community Engagement Specialist, Susan Gent, had brought this together as she had heard there was interest in the history of the Black Cultural Center, and knew SCUA had an exhibit on display, from some of the folks that were attending the NPHC Memorial Dedication weekend. We figured this would be a great way to share the exhibit and network with alumni from the Black fraternities and sororities at ISU. These alumni are folks we are hoping to make a connection with as we work to be more inclusive in our holdings.
What kinds of materials will be on display in 403 Parks?
We will have original materials also on display from the Black Cultural Center records, Black Student Organization and Black Student Alliance records, and material from the NPHC fraternities and sororities.
Brittany Allen, PhD student currently enrolled in Iowa State University’s Apparel, Merchandising, and Design program, is one of the contestants on the current season of Project Runway. Project Runway, in its 18th season, is a highly competitive show in which contestants push themselves to the limit for a chance at $250,000 dollars.
Allen’s goal as a designer is: “to bring fun and excitement back into the fashion industry, and…to make women feel more empowered and beautiful.”
Iowa State University’s Apparel, Merchandising, and Design program is one of 15 highly ranked programs offered by the Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM), under the College of Human Sciences.
In 2011, the name of this department was changed from Department of Apparel, Educational Studies and Hospitality Management to Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, though it is still abbreviated as AESHM. The name change was prompted by the programs move to the College of Human Sciences. According to the department’s website, the mission of AESHM is to: “create, share, and apply knowledge to provide consumers with products, services, and experiences to enhance overall well-being.”
One of the things AESHM is best known for on campus is the annual Fashion Show, which has been an Iowa State Tradition since 1982. The first Fashion Show was actually put on by the Textiles and Clothing club on the steps of the Memorial Union. The event ended up being such a big hit that the fashion show became an annual tradition that continues to give AESHM students the opportunity to showcase their designs today. Here are a few photos from the show that started it all.
We’ve posted about the Fashion Show previously, and will likely post again come April, when this year’s show will be held. We also have some additional posts about AESHM for anyone interested.
I stumbled upon this document when looking at the papers of Frank Paine, an alumnus who graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1909.
This document is a “warning” to the “Prep” class (freshman) from the Sophomore class of 1909. I would venture a guess that this was made all in good fun to “rib” the new kids on the block. The text is small and a little difficult to read. Here is a highlight:
“Be it therefore known that we hold these truths self-evident that all “preps” are created brainless, that they are endowed by their creator with certain depraved hallucinations, among which are the following: That their milk brained babble can impress their natural superiors, the sophomores; and that their cheap, long delayed, crack-brained squash tops are a real terror to the world.”
I was struck by the imagery on this poster as I was flipping through the documents. While tensions between classes may be a thing of the past, this poster is a reminder that things were not always so copacetic. For more, see this post about freshman beanies.
Hello again! This is the third entry in the blog series about visiting special collections and archives from the perspective of someone who is pretty new.
Today I will be talking about how to find student records at the archives. Often we have visitors who are interested in finding out information about their relatives who went to school at Iowa State sometime in the past. Or, perhaps you’re interested in information about one of Iowa State’s more famous alumni. We have quite a few resources with information about students (naturally). I will highlight just a few of the most fruitful areas of information.
A great source of information on students is the yearbook, The Bomb. All of the yearbooks have been digitized, and they are also available in the reading room. The Bomb covers every year from 1894-1994. Often, in the back of the yearbook every senior will be listed along with the activities they participated in while at Iowa State. Looking up information on the clubs a particular person participated in may also offer some clues and interesting information.
A second helpful resource is the school directories. In the reading room, we have directories from 1901 to 2010. The directories list the majors, year in school, on campus address, and hometown. If you know the general time period that someone may have gone to school here, you can use the directories to pin down more exact dates.
A third resource are our alumni files. The alumni files can be rich sources of information, depending on the graduate. It’s also important to note that not every graduate will have an alumni file and there are some student files for individuals who attended but never graduated. The only way to find out if a student has a file is to have a member of SCUA staff take a look at the boxes in the closed stacks and check, which we are more than happy to do for you. If you want to know in advance whether you might find information on someone, you can always send us an email to email@example.com. Some of the alumni files have just an article or two while others are much larger.
Alda and Elmina Wilson were sisters and Iowa natives who held the distinction of being the first female graduates from Iowa State‘s Civil Engineering program. Neither was the first woman in the United States to formally study Civil Engineering – that honor belongs to Elizabeth Bragg of California. Nevertheless, Elmina was the first woman in the country to earn a master’s degree in Civil Engineering, and she and her sister were also the first women to earn their living as successful full-time professionals in the field.
Elmina Wilson was born on September 29th, 1870 and Alda Wilson on September 20th, 1873. They lived in Harper, Keokuk CountyIowa with their parents, John Chesney and Olive Eaton Wilson and six older siblings. Both their parents and grandparents were apparently very progressive and encouraged pursuit of higher education for boys and girls alike. It is unclear whether all of the older children did so (though onesister named Olive studied Agriculture at Iowa State before marrying). But Elmina, at least, seems to have settled on her career choice early in life. In a 1905 interview with the New York Sun, she mentions her love of mathematics and surveying as motivational factors, as well as of the necessity of having a degree to teach. She also speaks abouthaving spent time doing railway field workas a teen, “walking the ties for miles, carrying transit and chain, whenever a fence crossed the path of the surveying party of which I was a member, the men went over it, but, of course, I went under.”
Elmina earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Iowa State in 1892.
Alda soon followed in her footsteps, earning her B.S. in 1894, the same year Elmina made history by graduating with an M.S. and becoming the first female instructor in the department. During their time in school, both sisters were members of Pi Beta Phi, and both supplemented their ISU coursework with practical summer internships for various architectural and engineering firms in Chicago. Elmina also took advanced courses at Cornell, and Alma completed a masters at MIT, after which she took a job in Chicago, where she worked until 1904.
Elmina’s time as an instructor at ISU spanned over a decade post-graduation. She worked as an Assistant of Civil Engineering from 1892-1897, as an Instructor of Civil Engineering from 1898-1902, and an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering from 1902-1904.
While an instructor at ISU, Elmina also periodically collaborated on design projects with her supervisor and mentor, Anson Marston, the head of the Civil Engineering department. Most notably, she contributed to designs of the Marston Water Tower, now on the National Register of Historical Places.
From 1903 to 1904, Elmina took a sabbatical from teaching to reunite with her sister Alda (who had been working for some time in Chicago) for a trip to Europe. The sisters took the opportunity to study and draw, as well as marvel at, great European architecture. Happily, the ISU University Archives collection of Alda and Elmina’s papers contains all of their sketchbooks and journals from this period.
Following their trip, the Wilson sisters decided to move to New York City together to pursue more hands-on work experience, as well as to become active in the movement for Women’s Suffrage. While there, Alda designed architecture, and Elmina first took a job with the James E. Brooks Company and then, several years later, with Purdy and Henderson. The latter company was associated with the era’s foremost innovators in engineering design and headed by a man nicknamed the “father of skyscrapers.” Among other projects she completed at P&H, Elmina is rumored (though, sadly, I have no evidence with which to corroborate) to have collaborated with another newly-minted female engineer, Marian Sarah Parker, on designs for the Flatiron Building.
Elmina’s life was cut tragically short in 1918 due to illness. She was 48 years old, childless, unmarried, and at the height of her career when she died. A 2010 article in the journal Leadership and Management in Engineering points out that she also just missed the passing of the 19th Amendment, for which she fought actively, by a mere two years.
Alda, however, lived a long and varied life — also without ever marrying or having children, as far as I know. Despite having spent much of her career in her sister’s shadow, and despite having been deprived, by an accident of birth-order, the historical notoriety of being “first,” she continued to prove herself resourceful and innovative, even in the wake of her grief. She moved back to Iowa after Elmina’s death, only to find that the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) was suffering from a shortage of competent drafters, as most of the men who had previously been employed in the office had shipped overseas to fight World War I. So Alda became the superintendent of the first ever Department of Women Drafters in Ames.
Shortly thereafter, having strengthened a friendship with fellow ISU graduate and women’s rights leader Carrie Chapman Catt, Alda became Catt’s personal secretary in addition to her other professional responsibilities. By the time her own death arrived in 1960, Alda, aged 87, had advanced to the powerful position of executive secretary and executor of Catt’s estate. It is thanks to her that many important documents related to the women’s rights movement from the early 20th century now reside at the Library of Congress.
As the University Archivist, I frequently hear from loyal Iowa Staters from across the country who inquire about donating materials to the University Archives. Often people are trying to find an appreciative home for some Iowa State memorabilia or seeing if there is any interest in a future donation of materials. This past fall I received a call from an Iowa State alum and former ISU professor regarding a small collection of materials in his possession that he was ready to part with.
Howard P. Johnson, three-time graduate of Iowa State University (we were just a College at the time he received his degrees) and former Professor and Head of ISU’s Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department, was contacting me regarding some World War II letters that he had. Dr. Johnson explained that he grew up on a farm near Odebolt, Iowa, and in 1943 was inducted into the military like many young men at that time. He served as a technician in the 69th Infantry Division and entered the war in Europe at the end of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945. All during his military training and his service in Europe, young Pfc. Johnson wrote to his family back home in western Iowa–often several times a week–and his family wrote back. Howard would describe his daily routine, the duties he was assigned during training, and his experiences in Europe. His parents and siblings would respond with stories of family and community events, activities on the farm, and, of course, the weather.
As Dr. Johnson was explaining this to me over the phone, he questioned whether anyone would be interested in this collection of letters–nearly 400 in total. Although I recognized that these letters would not hold the same meaning to others as they do to him, I assured Dr. Johnson that people will certainly be interested in reading these letters for generations to come.
It is not every day that I am privileged to speak with a World War II veteran, nor is it often that such a complete collection of letters with so many connections to Iowa State and rural life in Iowa are offered to the department, so I was thrilled to accept the donation. The Johnson family letters offer an intimate snapshot of one Iowa farm family’s experience during a major turning point in American history. Similar stories played out thousands of times across the state and the country, but relatively few of those stories are so well documented.
Today, as we mark the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, it is important to reflect upon those men and women who bravely served in World War II. Some names, like Eisenhower and MacArthur, will forever be associated with winning the war for the Allies. There are many more thousands of names, names like Howard P. Johnson, whose contributions are often overlooked. At least in this case his story will be preserved in the archives.
The Johnson family World War II letters are part of the Howard P. Johnson papers, RS 9/7/15, located in the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives. The department is open to researchers from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Part of our mission is to preserve the history of Iowa State University and the stories of its faculty, staff, and alumni. If you have questions about whether we are the right home for your Iowa State story, give us a call, we would love to hear from you.
Becky Jordan, reference specialist in Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), is retiring and today is her last day. Becky is an ISU alumna, and she has been with SCUA since she graduated in 1975! She worked in the Parks Library as a student and began work in SCUA right after graduation. If you’ve ever had a research request or visited the archives, it is likely Becky Jordan provided you with assistance.
Becky installing our most recent exhibit on Iowa State’s role in establishing Iowa’s State Parks.
Becky Jordan giving a tour of the collection storage area for HIST 195 class, April 2016.
Becky Jordan giving instruction on researching in archives for AMD 257 last fall.
You can read more about Becky in our Staff Pick! post from last summer.
Please join us in congratulating Becky on her much deserved retirement. We will miss her very much and wish her well!
This slideshow documents a little bit of the massive amount of work that went into the exhibition opening tomorrow, “For Married Students”: Building a Community in Pammel Court, 1946-1978.” This project is the culmination of a collaboration between the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and Preservation departments in the University Library and the Department of History. Students in Asst. Prof. Mark Barron’s Public History class (HIS 481X) spent the 2016 fall semester in the SCUA Reading Room and the library general collection conducting research.
The opening reception is tomorrow, January 18, 6-8 p.m. in 198 Parks Library. Refreshments will be provided by the Department of History. The exhibition will be available for viewing tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. on the 4th floor of Parks Library. If you are unable to attend the opening, the exhibit will be available through the 2017 spring semester.
This blog post authored by Rachel Seale and Monica Gillen.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Cyclone Beer can (Artifact 2012-207.002)
Top view of can (Artifact 2012-0207.002)
Picture of Cy holding a mug of beer on this side of 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 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.
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.
As the holiday season is here, and the cold weather has descended upon us in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest, many are spending more time indoors with family and friends. The end of the year and the beginning of the next is when we frequently receive an upturn in questions regarding alumni, many likely arising during conversations during a winter get-together or as people think about family at this time of year. What resources do we have in the university archives to look into Iowa State alumni?
I’ll use a 1916 graduate, Arthur Carhart, as an example to walk readers through the possibilities. Why did I choose Arthur Carhart? This past year, I visited the Gila Wilderness Area in New Mexico, which was established in large part due to the efforts of Aldo Leopold, a native Iowan (and, as a side note, we hold the papers of his brother, Frederick Leopold) – and Leopold’s ideas were probably influenced by Carhart, since they conversed on the wilderness idea at least once. I am repeatedly reminded that even as a state which has significantly changed its landscape, Iowa has had many people who are passionate about conservation and preserving the land…as a perusal of this subject guide for our collections will reveal.
One such person I recently learned about was, as you all know by now, Arthur Hawthorne Carhart. One hundred years ago this year (1916), Carhart graduated with Iowa State’s first degree in landscape gardening (later landscape architecture), and became the first landscape architect for the National Forest Service. Carhart’s vision for wilderness preservation had a lasting impact here in this country. One of his first projects was to survey Trappers Lake in Colorado’s White Pine National Forest for development. After his visit, he recommended instead that the area be designated as a wilderness. Trappers Lake became the National Forest’s first wilderness preservation area. Before leaving the Forest Service to work in private practice, Carhart recommended that an area of northern Minnesota be designated as a wilderness area, and this is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Carhart later became a successful writer, drawing upon his earlier experiences. The Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa holds the Papers of Arthur Carhart, which contain his literary manuscripts.
What was Carhart’s life like here at Iowa State while a student, and what do we have which documents his accomplishments after graduation? As our genealogy subject guide reveals, we have a variety of resources with which to begin.
The Bomb, the student yearbook, can often be a rich source of information and a great place to begin – especially if the alum was involved in a variety of student organizations, as Carhart was. During his senior year alone, the 1916 Bomb reveals that he was a member of Acacia, band, glee club, horticulture department club, and the Iowa State College Chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club (an international student group; more on the Iowa State chapter can be found in this earlier blog post).
In addition to physical copies here in the department and the general collection, the Bomb is now available online through Digital Collections.
We also have his bachelors thesis (call number: Cob 1916 Carhart) entitled “Landscape Materials for Iowa.” As Carhart states in his forward, he has compiled a listing of plants hardy enough to use in the middle west state of Iowa. No single book, or even group of books, existed at that time which did so for midwest states. This groundbreaking work of an Iowa State senior is a great view into Carhart’s work as a budding landscape architect, in addition to preserving an annotated list of plants available for such work in the early part of the 20th century. (Please note: we are in the process of cataloging our bachelors theses. His thesis will soon be discoverable through the library’s search system…just not yet!)
There are multiple other resources one could go to to find other windows into Carhart’s life here at Iowa State – but I will leave those up to you to find, if you’re so inclined. The student directories would reveal where he lived while here, as well as his hometown and major. This would also be a good place to start if you had a basic idea for when someone attended, but not the exact date. The records for the student groups he was involved with here on campus may have photographs, scrapbooks, programs, and other materials documenting what he may have done within those organizations.
His file in our alumni files (RS 21/7/1) reveals what he accomplished after graduating from Iowa State – and this included quite a lot, far more than I knew about him before examining the file! In addition to his accomplishments mentioned above, a 1969 letter to President Parks (from a nomination packet for Iowa State’s “Distinguished Achievement Citation”) says that he “conceived and carried through to establishment” the Conservation Library Center (now the Conservation Collection, Denver Public Library), and saved Dinosaur National Monument from a proposed dam. Carhart’s alumni file is full of additional information, including news clippings, resumes, articles, correspondence, updates to the alumni association, among others.
Incidentally, Dinosaur National Monument has at least two Iowa State connections. In addition to Carhart’s work, the large array of fossils which eventually became Dinosaur National Monument was discovered by another Iowa State alum, Earl Douglass. I’ll leave it to the curious among you to find out what we may have on Douglass! I hope this post has given everyone a better idea about the resources we have in the University Archives related to former students.