Archivists tour the Campanile!

The Campanile, 1938 (University Photographs box 230)

The Campanile, 1938 (University Photographs box 230)

This past Wednesday the Special Collections & University Archives staff went on a tour of the Campanile. Our tour guide was Cownie Professor of Music and University Carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam. We were lucky to have Professor Tam play a few songs for us.

Professor and University Carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam giving a tour inside the Campanile, playing the carillon (photo by Rachel)

Seated: Prof. Tin-Shi Tam, Standing from left: Asst. Dept. Head Laura Sullivan, Dept. Head Petrina Jackson, Reference Specialist Becky Jordan, Rare Books & Manuscripts Archivist Amy Bishop (photo by Rachel Seale)

The bells first rang in 1899 and were donated by Edgar W. Stanton, an Iowa State University alumnus, who graduated with the first class of ISU graduates in 1872. When Stanton’s first wife, Margaret McDonald Stanton, the university’s first dean of women, died in 1895 he wanted to establish a bell tower with 10 bells as a monument. Upon Stanton’s death in 1920, his will provided for a second memorial. At the request of his second wife, Mrs. Julia Wentch Stanton and their children, an additional 26 bells and a playing console were installed in 1929 and the musical instrument became the Edgar W. and Margaret McDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon. Read more about the rich history of the Bells of Iowa State here.

Carillon bells (photo by Rachel)

Carillon bells (photo by Rachel Seale)

Ira Schroeder was the University Carillonneur from 1931-1969, making him ISU’s longest-tenured carillonneur.

Taken at a Carillon Guild meeting held at ISU, November 1959. From left, seated: Percival Price, Univ. of MIchigan; Ira Schroeder, ISU. Standing: Ronald Barnes, Univ. of Kansas; Dean Robinson, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Charles Ward, Rueter Oregon Co., Lawrence, KS; Milford Myhre, Culver Military Academy; and C.G.B. Garrett, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Morristown, NJ. (University Photographs box 132)

Taken at a Carillon Guild meeting held at ISU, November 1959. From left, seated: Percival Price, Univ. of MIchigan; Ira Schroeder, ISU. Standing: Ronald Barnes, Univ. of Kansas; Dean Robinson, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Charles Ward, Rueter Oregon Co., Lawrence, KS; Milford Myhre, Culver Military Academy; and C.G.B. Garrett, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown, NJ. (University Photographs box 132)

Drop by the reading room to learn more about the history of the Campanile. We’re open Monday-Friday 10 am-4 pm.

 


Notable Women of ISU: Barbara Forker

It’s time for our third installment of Notable Women of ISU! This time we’re going to take a look at physical education expert Barbara Forker. Some of you may know her only as the namesake of the Barbara E. Forker Building, or “Forker” as it’s commonly called. The building, originally the Physical Education for Women (PEW) Building, was renamed in her honor in 1997. Let’s shed some light on why this building was named after her.

Barbara Forker speaking at the Forker Building dedication, 1997. [photo location]

Barbara Forker speaking at the Forker Building dedication, 1997. RS 10/7/13, Box 26, Folder 2

Born in 1920 in Kendallville, Indiana, Dr. Forker earned a B.S. (1942) from Eastern Michigan University, a M.S. (1950) from Iowa State College (University), and a Ph.D. (1957) from the University Michigan. Dr. Forker worked at Iowa State in some capacity from 1948 until her retirement in 1990, beginning as a temporary instructor and eventually becoming Emeritus Professor. She served as Head of the Women’s Physical Education Department from 1958-1974, and was the first Head of the Department of Physical Education (the men’s and women’s departments combined) from 1974-1986.

Barbara Forker, 1955. [photo location]

Barbara Forker, 1955. University Photographs, RS 10/7/A, Box 782

Throughout her career, Dr. Forker was active in many organizations and projects. She served as advisor for NAIADS (synchronized swimming team at Iowa State) and “I” Fraternity (honorary for outstanding women athletes). She was president of the Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (IAHPER), the Central District Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (CDAHPER), and the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER). She was active in several other organizations as well, and was a member of three professional fraternities.

Barbara Forker and President Gerald Ford, signed by President Ford, circa 1977. [photo location]

Barbara Forker and President Gerald Ford, signed by President Ford, circa 1977. RS 10/7/13, Box 25, Folder 2

In addition to presenting over 100 speeches and receiving several awards for her work, Dr. Forker notably worked with the United States Olympics from 1975-1984. She was a member of the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports and in 1977 served as a United States Delegate in the Second Educationists Session at the International Olympic Academy. From 1980 to 1984, she was a member of the United States Olympic Committee Executive Board and the United States Olympic Committee Education Council. In her last year with the Olympics, she was Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee Symposium at the Pre-Olympic Scientific Congress.

For more information about Dr. Forker and her impressive career, come in and have a look at the Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10/7/13. A couple other items of interest are this online feature from Iowa State University’s sesquicentennial celebration and this Women’s History Month blog post we did four years ago. Stop by sometime!

 


National Poetry Month: Ada Hayden

Ada Hayden in College pasture, 1926. RS 13/3/33, Box 4, Folder 4.

Ada Hayden in College pasture, 1926. RS 13/3/33, Box 4, Folder 4.

If you are from Ames, chances are you’ve heard of Ada Hayden. You’ve probably taken a walk through Ada Hayden Heritage Park, or you may have visited the Ada Hayden Herbarium on ISU campus. “But Poetry Month?” you may be thinking. “Ada Hayden?”

Hayden was born in 1884 in Ames, IA, and attended Iowa State College (University), where she worked closely with Professor of Botany Louis Pammel. She graduated in 1908 with a B.S. in Botany and later became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from Iowa State in 1918. She spent her career at ISC as an Assistant Professor of Botany and was named Curator of the Herbarium from 1947 until her death in 1950. As curator, she collected and preserved plant specimens, but she also had spent much time drawing many botanical illustrations and photographing plants in their native habitats. She spent much of her later career working for the preservation of the few remaining native prairie areas in the state, and Hayden Prairie in Howard County is named in her honor.

Rosa arkansana (Prairie Rose), Ada Hayden Digital Collection.

Rosa arkansana (Prairie Rose), Ada Hayden Digital Collection.

While she is best known for her work in prairie preservation, she also did quite a bit of writing. Most of her writings were articles on botany or prairie preservation, but in her Papers here in the University Archives is one rather lovely poem titled “The Iowa Rose.” It begins,

Beyond the Mississippi

Where the slow Missouri flows,

In the land of the Des Moines river

There blooms the Iowa Rose;

Not in the early springtime,

Not when the gold leaves fall,

But the summer’s radiant sunshine

The rose from the rosebud calls.

You can read the entire poem by clicking on the image below.

"The Iowa Rose" by Ada Hayden, undated. RS 13/5/55, box 1/folder 22.

“The Iowa Rose” by Ada Hayden, undated. RS 13/5/55, box 1/folder 22.

You can see slides of Hayden’s plant specimens in our Digital Collections. To see what else can be found in her papers, check out the collection’s finding aid.


Notable Women of ISU: Margaret Sloss

It’s Women’s History Month and perfect timing for another post in our Notable Women of ISU series. This time we’ll take a look at Margaret Sloss, the first woman to graduate with a D.V.M. at Iowa State (1938).

Margaret Sloss, undated. RS 14/7/51, box 4, folder 9.

Margaret Sloss, undated. RS 14/7/51, box 4, folder 9.

Margaret Wragg Sloss was born in October 28, 1901, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She and her family moved to Ames in 1910, where her father, Thomas Sloss, was hired as the superintendent of buildings, grounds, and construction at what was then Iowa State College. Sloss House, the home of the Sloss family for 11 years starting in 1925, is now the home of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.

Invitation addressed to Dr. Sloss from Eleanor Roosevelt to attend a luncheon. Dr. Sloss unfortunately was unable to attend. 1944. RS 14/7/51, box 2, folder 4.

Invitation addressed to Dr. Sloss from Eleanor Roosevelt to attend a luncheon. Dr. Sloss unfortunately was unable to attend. 1944. RS 14/7/51, box 2, folder 4.

Sloss spent her entire career at Iowa State, working her way up from Technician in Veterinary Pathology (1923-1929) to Professor (1965-1972), and Professor Emeritus upon her 1972 retirement. She was the author of many publications and was active in several professional associations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Kappa Phi, and helped establish the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association (1947) for which she served as president (1950-1952).

In one of her writings, she made the following observation (from a shortened paper or possible speech derived from her publication “Women in the Veterinary Profession,” undated, RS 14/7/51, box 3, folder 10):

The question presented most frequently to the woman veterinarian is, “Why did you decide to study veterinary medicine?” This question always puzzled me as I am sure it has puzzled other women veterinarians. Should, I ask myself, one have to have a reason for taking the course that seems logical to everyone, simply because they belong to the female sex? Are men veterinarians plied with this question as constantly as women? It seems just as illogical to ask a woman why she decided to study veterinary medicine as it would be to ask a man why he took up dancing, singing, costume design or any number of other things as a profession.

Undoubtedly, many female veterinarians have been asked that over the years, and women in other traditionally male-dominated careers have encountered (and still encounter) the same. Being the first woman to graduate veterinary school at Iowa State, Sloss helped pave the way for future women veterinarians – who now dominate the profession.

Margaret Sloss, 1960. RS 14/7/51, (locate image)

Margaret Sloss, 1960. University Photographs, box 1286.

Sloss received much recognition for her achievements, including an honor by the Women’s Centennial Congress as one of 100 women in the United States to successfully follow careers in 1940 that were not followed by women 100 years previously. She also earned the Iowa State Faculty Citation (1959) and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service (1974), as well having Iowa State’s women’s center – the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center – named after her (1981).

She passed away on December 11, 1979 and is interred in the Iowa State University Cemetery.

For more information on Margaret Sloss, stop in and see the Margaret W. (Margaret Wragg) Sloss Papers, RS 14/7/51. See also a couple of online exhibits – one created for ISU’s sesquicentennial celebration, and the other on Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State.


Pop Goes the Kernel: John Crosby Eldredge and Popcorn Hybridization

Popped popcorn. By Paolo Neo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Popped popcorn. By Paolo Neo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month! Yes, popcorn popping has its own month. Every year around this time, popcorn is harvested, primarily in the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio are the leading popcorn producing states. Popcorn is of course one of the most popular snack foods in America, with Americans consuming about 16 billion quarts (popped) per year – that’s about 52 quarts per person! With Iowa being a major producer of the stuff, it should be no surprise that we have records regarding the crop here at the ISU Special Collections and University Archives.

John C. Eldredge, undated. University Photographs, RS 9/9/E, Box 585.

John C. Eldredge, undated. University Photographs, RS 9/9/E, Box 585.

John Crosby Eldredge was an alumnus of Iowa State College (University) (Agronomy, 1915) and a faculty member here from 1921 until his retirement in 1960. He was an agronomist whose specialization was research and development of popcorn hybrids. He is best known for developing hybrids identified with the term “Iopop;” Iopop 6 was grown on about 25,000 acres across many states in 1955, and at the time almost all white popcorn produced was either Iopop 5 or Iopop 7, also developed by Eldredge. (Ames Daily Tribune clipping, RS 9/9/51, Box 2, Folder 11). His research included studying the effect storage conditions have on popping volume and moisture content of popcorn. In 1954, he received the Distinguished Service Award of the Popcorn Processors Association and was an honorary member of the Iowa Crop Improvement Association.

John C. Eldredge (left) being presented a weather instrument by Pete Oleson (right), President of the Popcorn Processors Association. Ames Daily Tribune, 1955. RS 9/9/51, Box 2, Folder 11.

John C. Eldredge (left) being presented a weather instrument by Pete Oleson (right), President of the Popcorn Processors Association. Ames Daily Tribune, 1955. RS 9/9/51, Box 2, Folder 11.

In the March 1949 issue of Iowa Farm Science, Eldredge wrote about the research being done to develop improved popcorn. He stated, “We’ve worked to combine several good qualities – flavor, high popping volume, strong stalks for better picking, high yields and disease resistance.” (Box 1, Folder 18). Iopop 5 was released in 1946, and in 1949 was “rapidly becoming the most widely grown hybrid of the Japanese hulless type in Iowa. It is a white popcorn with excellent plant and popping quality.” He judged white popcorn to be more tender and yellow popcorn to be more flavorful.

Want to know the best popcorn to grow in Iowa? Well, with further developments in hybridization in the last 65 years, it has quite possibly changed since Eldredge’s recommendation in the same article mentioned above from 1949. However, at that time he recommended Japanese Hulless (a white variety) and Yellow Pearl (as the name suggests, a yellow variety). For home growers who are okay with a low yield, Tom Thumb (“an unusual variety”) was recommended for its “extreme tenderness and good flavor.”

Unpopped popcorn. By Bill Ebbesen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Unpopped popcorn. By Bill Ebbesen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Once you grow your popcorn, how should it be stored? Here are some more 1949 recommendations: keep kernels at 14% moisture (best popping results occur at this level). This can be done by storing it outdoors in a corn crib or other shelter – according to Eldredge, a typical Iowa winter “will hold popcorn at about 14 percent moisture.” Artificial drying was also an option, but had to be done carefully. If dried too much, it won’t pop well, if dried too fast, the wet ears will come out too wet and the dry ears too dry. Once the popcorn is uniformly dry at 14%, storing it properly is also important. “For home storage the best method we know is to place the popcorn in airtight containers with cover on tight.” Just make sure to put the cover right back on – the corn can dry out too much within an hour or two if the lid is left off. Don’t worry too much, though! Too-dry popcorn can be moistened by setting it outside for awhile to “let the atmosphere correct the moisture content.” Another option is to put a tablespoon of water in a quart jar of popcorn and stir or shake well, then pour from one container to another to until the moisture is spread evenly – this will ensure more even popping.

Of course, today many of us just buy our popcorn in microwaveable bags, which is a pretty recent phenomenon – microwaveable popcorn bags weren’t invented until the early 1980s. Growing your own popcorn is still an option, though, and if you’re looking for more modern tips, here’s a starting point. For more information on John Crosby Eldredge and popcorn hybridization, come in and see the John Crosby Eldredge Papers, RS 9/9/51. As always, we’d love to see you!


CyPix: in a canoe

Where would you like to be on a warm summer day in August? Slipping quietly along the edge of a lake with birds singing overhead and fish moving in and out of the shadow of your canoe?

Paul Errinton, research professor of zoology at Iowa State University from 1932 to 1962, in a canoe. University Photographs 13/25/A, box 1235.

Paul Errington, professor of zoology at Iowa State University from 1932 to 1962, in a canoe. University Photographs 13/25/A, box 1235.

As the author of Muskrat Populations, which was awarded the Iowa State University Press award for faculty publications, Paul Errington may well have spent many an afternoon in a canoe, doing field research on this semi-aquatic rodent. Errington, Professor of Zoology at Iowa State University, came to the university to establish and lead the first Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit in the United States. See what more the University Archives holds on Errington (RS 13/25/51) and the Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (RS 9/10/4).


Earth Day: Louis Pammel and Iowa state parks

Iowa was one of the first states in the United States to adopt a state park system, and it did so in large part due to the efforts of Iowa State professor of botany Louis H. Pammel.

Louis Pammel (right) with Carl Fritz Henning, custodian at Ledges State Park, 1926.

Louis Pammel (right) with Carl Fritz Henning, custodian at Ledges State Park, 1926.

In 1917, the Iowa General Assembly created the State Board of Conservation for the purpose of making recommendations for acquiring land for state parks and to administer the parks. Pammel served as the Board’s first chairman from 1918-1927. Under his tenure, Iowa acquired 38 state parks.

Pamphlet, "State Parks of Iowa," RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8.

Pamphlet, “State Parks of Iowa,” RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8 (click for larger image)

In an article titled, “Iowa Keeps Nature’s Gift: What the State is Doing to Preserve Plant Life and Scenic Beauties,” Pammel makes a case for the beauty of the Iowa landscapes set aside in state parks:

Photo of Palisades on the Cedar River in Linn County, later Palisades-Kepler State Park, Box 51, Folder 4a.

Photo of Palisades on the Cedar River in Linn County, later Palisades-Kepler State Park, RS 13/5/13, Box 51, Folder 4a.

We think of a park as a place where there are trees like the maple and the basswood or the stately elm and the sycamore or white pine and cedar, the oak and the ash and they are all beautiful, but let [us] not forget that in Iowa at least we should have pride in the Prairie Park where the lily and gentian, the golden rod and aster, the blue stem and the switch grass, the pasque flower and Johnny-jump-up vie with each other in brilliant array, for it is to the prairie that we owe all of our greatness as a corn state. (Louis H. Pammel Papers, RS 13/5/13, Box 41, Folder 4)

More than just beauty, however, Pammel was concerned with the resources state parks offered for science, history, and recreation:

The persons who framed the [Iowa state park] law had in mind the preservation of animals, rare plants, unique trees, some unique geological formations, the preservation of the Indian mounds, rare old buildings where Iowa history was made….The framers of this law wished to show generations yet unborn what Iowa had in the way of prairie, valley, lake and river. It was felt that a part of this heritage left to us was not only for the present generations, but that its citizens of the future had a just claim on this heritage. (Box 41, Folder 6)

Program from the dedication of Pammel State Park, 1930. Box 76, Folder 8.

Program from the dedication of Pammel State Park, 1930. RS 13/5/13, Box 76, Folder 8.

On June 30, 1930, Pammel’s contributions to Iowa state parks were honored with the re-dedication of Devil’s Backbone State Park near Winterset in Madison County as Pammel State Park.

Celebrate Earth Day by visiting an Iowa state park or other state park near you. Find out more about Pammel’s fascinating life (including his interactions with ISU alum George Washington Carver!) in the Louis Hermann Pammel Papers, RS 13/5/13.

 


ISU poets and critics: celebrating National Poetry Month

“I have sprung my heavy door aside
so that the sun will not be hindered
sweeping its pattern and its warmth into my room.”

Cover of The Moon is Red by Helen Sue Isely, published 1962. MS-352, Box 2, Folder 8.

Cover of The Moon is Red by Helen Sue Isely, published 1962. MS-352, Box 2, Folder 8.

So begins the poem, “The Open Door,” by Helen Sue Isely in her book The Moon is Red. April is the month to swing open Iowa doors to the growing warmth of the sunshine after the snows of winter. (Never mind this week’s rain!) April is also the time to celebrate “poetry’s vital place in our culture” during National Poetry Month. Iowa State may best be known for its agriculture and science programs, but it is not without its contributions to poetry, one of which is Isely.

Helen Sue Isely was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1917, but she moved to Ames in 1945 with her husband Duane Isely, ISU Professor of Botany, and spent the rest of her life here. She published more than 800 poems in over 200 literary journals and magazines, including such well-known titles as Southwest Review, Antioch Review, and The McCalls Magazine. Her book of poems, The Moon is Red, was published by Alan Swallow in 1962, and won the first place award for poetry from the Midland Booksellers Association. Her other honors for poetry include those from the Iowa Poetry Association (1955-1958, 1961-1963), the Georgia Poetry Society (1954), and the South West Writers Conference (1956, 1959). To learn more about Isely and read her poems, check out the Helen Isely papers, MS 352.

Front cover of the first volume of Poet and Critic under Gustafson's editorship. Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1964.

Front cover of the first volume of Poet and Critic under Gustafson’s editorship. Vol. 1, No. 1, Fall 1964.

Richard Gustafson and Poet and Critic

In 1964, ISU Professor of English Richard Gustafson revived the literary journal Poet and Critic, publishing it through the Iowa State University Press. The journal had been founded three years earlier by William Tillson of Purdue University. Unable to keep it up with multiple demands on his time, Tillson ceased publishing it after only a couple of years. With the aid of a grant from the President’s Permanent Objectives Committee, Gustafson took the journal under his wing and revived it. The magazine’s rebirth was greeted with enthusiasm by those who had been familiar with it under Tillson’s editorship, and many supporters sent in letters of support, such as this beautifully illustrated note from Menke Katz, editor of Bitterroot, a quarterly poetry magazine.

Letter from Menke Katz, editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot, to Richard Gustafson, ca. 1964. Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1.

Letter from Menke Katz, editor of the poetry magazine Bitterroot, to Richard Gustafson, ca. 1964. Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1.

The note reads,

“Dear Editor Richard Gustafson, staff and supporters,

“Congratulations!

“Delighted to know Poet and Critic is living again. Knowing Poet and Critic when William Tillson was editor, I am certain it will again be an inspiration to everything which is just and beautiful in poetry. I certainly feel refreshed to hear the good news! Good luck to you! I enclose $3 for a year subscription and will do all I can to influence others to do the same.

“Best Wishes,

“Menke Katz”

The text around the flower, reads, “A flower for Poet and Critic from Menke Katz.” (Poet and Critic Manuscripts File, RS 13/10/0/5, Box 1).

Poet and Critic had a unique mission, not only to promote the work of lesser-known poets, but also to encourage better craftsmanship among the poets, and to do this, they encouraged the contributors to comment on each others’ work. Each poem published in the magazine was followed by one or two short critiques, thus opening up a conversation around the poem. This explains the title, as well as the journal’s tagline, “magazine of verse/a workshop in print/a forum of opinion.” Contributors include the well-known poet Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, Leonard Nathan, Colette Inez, Robert Lewis Weeks, and the aforementioned Helen Sue Isely.

Ted Kooser

Various issues of The Salt Creek Reader, from the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7.

Various issues of The Salt Creek Reader, from the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7.

A discussion of ISU poets would be incomplete without mentioning Ted Kooser. An ISU alum (1962), Kooser served as Poet Laureate for the United States (2004-2006) and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005 for his book Delights and Shadows. He teaches as a Visiting Professor of English at University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Gustafson and Kooser, both poets, also both edited literary magazines. Copies of Kooser’s The Salt Creek Reader can be found in the Richard Gustafson Papers, RS 13/10/53, Box 1/Folder 7. The Reader contained a single poem per issue and was printed initially as a broadside, or a single sheet printed on one side, and later as a postcard. The first issue of the journal, published 1967, contained a poem by Gustafson titled “Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Plagues and Sultry Deaths.”

As you celebrate National Poetry Month, feel free to stop by Special Collections to examine these and other collections. Happy reading!


CyPix: Alfalfa leaf harvester

March 18 is National Ag Day, founded by the Agriculture Council of America “to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.” Here at Iowa State, we know that the production of agriculture would not be nearly so abundant without the ingenuity and problem-solving expertise of agricultural engineers. One of agricultural engineering’s bright lights is retired ISU Professor Wes Buchele, best known for the design of the large round baler, as well as numerous contributions to the field of agricultural machinery safety.

Alfalfa leaf harvester, circa 1966. Wesley Fisher Buchele Papers, RS 9/7/52, Box 19, Folder 1.

Alfalfa leaf harvester, circa 1966. Wesley Fisher Buchele Papers, RS 9/7/52, Box 19, Folder 1.

Here is a photo of an alfalfa leaf harvester, another of Buchele’s contributions to the design of more efficient farm machinery.

Please join ISU Special Collections in celebrating National Ag Day! To find out more about Wes Buchele, check out this finding aid. More collections related to agricultural engineering can be found in RS 9/7, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.


Women’s History Month: ISU’s first woman Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Margaret Sloss knew what she was talking about when she told the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society the following:

When you are working toward some dream, the first thing you must do is wipe out all the reasons why you cannot have or achieve it. Keep your mind only on the things that must be done to realize it. Toss out all the reasons why you think you cannot have what you want. For it will profit nothing to think up what you want if you are going to think immediately of doubts that you can attain it. (Margaret Sloss Papers, RS 14/7/51, Box 3, Folder 1)

Margaret Sloss working as a Technician in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University, 1927. RS 14/7/51, Box 4, Folder 9.

Margaret Sloss working as a Technician in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University, 1927. RS 14/7/51, Box 4, Folder 9.

Sloss’s own dream had been to become a veterinarian, and, indeed, she was the first woman to graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State College in 1938, and only the 27th such woman in the United States.

Pioneer in her field

A sheet of data on women students in veterinary medical programs around the United States found in the Margaret Sloss Papers (RS 14/7/51) paints a vivid picture of the environment that Sloss was working in. This data shows a total of 37 female applicants to ten veterinary medical programs surveyed for the year 1937, of which nine had been accepted; the total number of female students that had ever graduated from those schools was 16. The “policy toward acceptance” category (seen below in the far right column) is even more revealing. The most positive comment is, “Favored but realize hazard of short professional careers.” The rest range from “not enthusiastic” to “Discourage to extent of ability.” Iowa State’s policy? “Not favored. No out-of-state applicants will be accepted” (Box 1, Folder 10).

Data on women veterinary medical students at ten U.S. programs for 1937. RS 14/7/51, Box 1, Folder 10.

Data on women veterinary medical students at ten U.S. programs for 1937. RS 14/7/51, Box 1, Folder 10.

Sloss had a battle to fight on her own behalf. Initially rejected as an applicant, she successfully argued that the land grant charter for Iowa State stipulated that admission to the college could not be refused based on sex. In 1939, Lois Calhoun became the second woman DVM to graduate from ISC, but it was another 25 years before the next woman graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1964! For the subsequent decade, there were only two to three female graduates out of each class of 60 students; beginning in 1975, women started to make up 25-30% of each class. Since then, the percentage of women studying veterinary medicine has increased significantly. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in its Annual Data Report, 2013-2014 shows the current enrollment of women in US veterinary medical colleges to be 79.6%.

Sloss was clearly a pioneer in her field, but she spoke very moderately when discussing her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated profession. In a letter to Charles Paul May dated February 8, 1963, she writes of herself and fellow graduate Calhoun, “Perhaps neither one of us is a very good judge of how prejudice [sic] people were as far as women in the profession is concerned. We went on the assumption that we were medically and scientifically minded and would rather be in veterinary medicine than in human medicine.” She goes on to say, “As far as our classmates and professors were concerned, sure we took a lot of kidding but since being on the staff here at I.S.U. I realize we didn’t take anymore than some of the fellows did or do now” (RS 14/7/51, Box 1, Folder 10).

Iowa State Grants It's First Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to a Woman

Issue of ISU’s Summer Quarter News from 1938, with article, “Iowa State Grants Its First Doctor of Veterinary Medicine to a Woman.” Box 1, Folder 15.

Women’s movement–Carrie Chapman Catt and Eleanor Roosevelt

This is not to say that she did not recognize the difficulties faced by women in the profession. In 1939, she wrote a paper titled “Women in Veterinary Medicine” whose purpose was “to disprove a current theory that it is useless to spend time and money educating a woman in this science” (RS 14/7/51, Box 3, Folder 6). In a letter to Iowa State alumna and woman’s suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt the following year, she describes wanting to publish the paper. However, “its nature is such that it must almost of necessity appear in a women’s journal, preferably a women’s medical journal. So far as I have been able to learn, there is none such. I am sure that it would never be accepted by any of the man-published scientific journals, and probably would lead to a mild furor if it were” (Box 1, Folder 13).

This letter was written on the occasion of the Women’s Centennial Congress, organized by Catt to commemorate one hundred years of progress in women’s rights. Catt had written to Sloss to announce that Sloss had been selected as one of 100 women honored for success in various fields. Sloss wrote back to convey “the great honor” she felt of being recognized and to express her regret at not being able to attend. “I know of nothing from which I would derive more benefit and pleasure,” she wrote. “However, since it is impossible to be with you, I can only assure you that I shall be thinking of your group, officers and delegates, frequently and earnestly next week, and wishing for you the most successful and inspirational meeting possible” (Box 1, Folder 13).

Letter from Carrie Chapman Catt to Margaret Sloss, announcing Sloss's selection to the "list of one hundred women who are doing things that no woman could have done twenty-five years ago" for the Woman's Centennial Congress, 1940. Box 1, Folder 13.

Letter from Carrie Chapman Catt to Margaret Sloss, announcing Sloss’s selection to the “list of one hundred women who are doing things that no woman could have done twenty-five years ago” for the Woman’s Centennial Congress, 1940. Box 1, Folder 13.

Catt wasn’t the only prominent woman of her time to recognize Sloss’s early achievement. Four years later, in 1944, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited Sloss to a luncheon at the White House on October 6.

Invitation from Eleanor Roosevelt to Margaret Sloss for a luncheon at the White House on October 6, 1944.

Invitation from Eleanor Roosevelt to Margaret Sloss for a luncheon at the White House on October 6, 1944. Box 2, Folder 4.

Academic Career

After graduating with her veterinary medical degree, Sloss began teaching at Iowa State as an instructor in 1941. In 1943, she was granted tenure as an Assistant Professor, but here she seemed to reach a glass ceiling. It took fifteen years for her to be promoted to Associate Professor in 1958, and finally to full Professor in 1965. When she retired in 1972, she was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus. Although recognition came slowly, she made important contributions to the department. Former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Norman F. Cheville wrote, ” As a new faculty person in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Margaret Sloss moved the established discipline of pathology into a newly developing area of clinical pathology, the study of blood, urine and other body fluids to aid the diagnosis of disease. Before her time, clinical pathology had not been used nor taught in the curriculum” (letter dated March 1, 2002, box 1, folder 17).

WVMApamphlet_1-9_resized

Veterinary Medicine as a Professional Career for Women,” published by the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association, 1965. Box 1, Folder 9.

Sloss promoted the status of women in veterinary medicine throughout her career. She helped establish the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association in 1947, and served as its president from 1950-1952.  She was also active in several other professional organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Delta Epsilon and Phi Zeta.

Sloss retired from ISU in 1972 at the age of 70. To mark the occasion, Professor F.K. Ramsey, head of the Department of Veterinary Pathology, organized a celebration in her honor, which he entitled “This Is Your Life.” He invited family and friends of Sloss to contribute a letter as well as a monetary gift to present to Sloss. So many letters and donations came in that the letters fill up four bound volumes, and she received a check for $2,071.00! (Considering inflation, that amount would come to over $11,000 today.) This is truly a testament to her influence and popularity as a professor, colleague, mentor, and friend. One letter-writer describes her as one “who always wore a radiant smile and greeted me in the corridors with a pleasing twinkle in her eyes.” Another noted her “patience, sincerity, joviality and always a good humor.” Still another writes, “I just wanted to write this letter to one of the truly nicest persons that I once had the pleasure of being associated with” (Box 5, Folders 1-3).

Sloss has received many recognitions from Iowa State University and in Iowa; only a few are noted here. During her lifetime, she was awarded the Iowa State Faculty Citation in 1959 and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service in 1974. After her death in 1979, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center on ISU campus was named in her honor in 1981. She was also posthumously inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006.

Undated photograph of Margaret Sloss at work in her lab. Box 4, Folder 9.

Undated photograph of Margaret Sloss at work in her lab. Box 4, Folder 9.

Stop by Special Collections to check out more from the Margaret W. (Margaret Wragg) Sloss Papers!