Iowa State Alum, Landscape Architect, Wilderness Idea Pioneer: Arthur Carhart

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?

Arthur  Carhart’s folder in our alumni files, RS 21/7/1.

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.

In addition to supplying information about students at the time, the Bomb also provides a window into what life was like at that time. Above is a passage about a December Christmas Carnival which took place on campus (from 1916 Bomb).

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).

Carhart’s page from the section on seniors from the 1916 Bomb.

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!)

Title page from Carhart’s bachelors thesis (call #: Cob 1916 Carhart)

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.


CyPix: Spring Is Here!

It’s officially spring! The world may still be brown and gray, but we’re that much closer to green grass, verdant trees and shrubs, and rainbows of flowers all around. Excuse the flowery language, but what’s more perfect for a spring post? The lantern slides below, from the Warren H. Manning Papers (MS 218), offer a “before” and “after” example not unlike the one we’ll see soon.

House of S. B. Green, St. Anthony Park, Minnesota, before planting, undated.
House of S. B. Green, St. Anthony Park, Minnesota, before planting, undated. [MS 218, box 12, lantern slide #373]
House of S. B. Green, St. Anthony Park, Minnesota, after planting, undated.
House of S. B. Green, St. Anthony Park, Minnesota, after planting, undated. [MS 218, box 12, lantern slide #374]
Manning was an influential landscape architect in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The lantern slides above show an example of his work and the dramatic difference landscape architecture can make (although I think the house itself is beautiful too). If these slides have piqued your interest, we have an array of landscape architecture collections available for your research needs (or wants). Other blog posts on landscape architecture can be found here and here. Curious about the landscape architecture program at ISU? We have some collections on that, too!

On the upcoming spring days, take a stroll through campus and come up and visit us on the 4th floor of Parks Library! Not only will you get a lovely view of campus, but you might find something inspiring in our collections.

Harvey Library of Landscape Architecture: How it was collected

Special Collections would like to announce the recent acquisition and cataloging of an additional resource related to the Robert Harvey Rare Book Collection of rare landscape architecture publications. Robert R. Harvey, Professor Emeritus of the Landscape Architecture Department at Iowa State University, donated nearly 100 volumes from his library to Special Collections in 2010.

Title page of Harvey's book.
Title page of Harvey’s book.

Earlier this year, Special Collections received Robert Harvey’s self-published essay Collection Development: How the Library of Robert R. Harvey Was Assembled, giving background on Harvey’s work in landscape architecture and the experiences that influenced his book collecting. Many of the books were purchased while living and working in England and cannot be easily found in the United States. Harvey developed his book collection for personal research and teaching needs, and as his career developed, so did the subject matter in his library. Throughout the essay he describes the influences and experiences that led to his purchase of specific titles.

Scattered through Harvey’s essay are personal anecdotes, which make it an amusing, as well as informative, read. For example, he describes a time when he was teaching at Thames Polytechnic School of Architecture, Hammersmith, London, during the 1970s. His daughter Suzanne was two years old, and he would often carry her on his back in a baby carrier while he was shopping in London book stores. One day, the family was “headed for the entrance to the Tube at Tottenham Court [when] I felt a sharp bump on the back of my head. Suzanne had thumped me with a book. When [wife] Ann and [daughter] Beth examined the baby carrier on my back she had about three books in the pack…. It turned out that when I leaned over to examine books on a lower shelf she probably had helped herself to books on the shelf above me. They were books on architecture and art. At least she had the right subjects in mind” (22). They returned the books to the bookseller and had a good laugh about it.

Some books of note from the Harvey Collection include…

One of the engravings from Venturini.
One of the engravings from Venturini.

Le Fontane ne’Palazzi e ne’Giardini di Roma, con li loro prospetti et ornamenti (1675) by Giovanni Venturini.

Harvey was offered the Venturini book by the descendants of a friend, Professor Phillip Elwood, which “contained engraved pages that an unscrupulous dealer could break up and sell as individual prints for framing,” in order to make more money (36).


Plate XXXII from McCormick's Landscape Architecture, Past and Present, show the pergola feature of the Walden estate.
Plate XXXII from McCormick’s Landscape Architecture, Past and Present, show the pergola feature of the Walden estate.

Landscape Art, Past and Present by Harriet Hammond McCormick.

Harriet Hammond McCormick was married to Cyrus McCormick, Jr., a wealthy businessman and president of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, who owned a large estate called Walden in Lake Forest, Illinois. Walden was designed by the renowned landscape architect Warren Manning, whose papers reside here in Special Collections. The copy of McCormick’s Landscape Art, Past and Present donated by Harvey appears to be Cyrus McCormick’s own copy, with his calling card inserted into the front endpaper of the book.

Calling card inserted into front endpaper of McCormick's book. Reads, "Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, 50 East Huron Street"
Calling card inserted into front endpaper of McCormick’s book. Reads, “Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, 50 East Huron Street”

For a complete listing of books in the collections, see the Robert Harvey Rare Book Collection webpage.

For more information on the collection and the conservation work done on many of its volumes, see the Parks Library Preservation blog post on the Robert R. Harvey Rare Book Open House.

For more information on landscape architecture, check out the following collections: Warren H. Manning Papers (MS 218), Landscape Architecture Photographs (MS 392), the American Society of Landscape Architects, Source File, Women in Landscape Architecture Printed Materials (MS 598), the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation Records (MS 618), and the Department of Landscape Architecture record series (RS 26/5) in the College of Design.

CyPix: Merry-Go-Round

The semester and school year are winding down at Iowa State. Students catch up on sleep after exams, get ready to graduate, and set off for summer plans; we here on campus are prepping projects for the summer months that are sometimes not possible to do when fall and spring classes are in session.  And we all, regardless of our roles here at ISU, get to enjoy some warmth and recreation. Merriment in 2014 may look a little different than it did in the early 20th century, pictured below, but those chaps have got the right idea.

Merry-go-round (Manning Lantern Slide: 404)

The undated photo is from the Warren H. Manning Papers, MS 218. Manning was a landscape architect who worked at the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, who is perhaps most well-known for his work on New York City’s Central Park. Manning later went on to start his own landscape architecture firm, based in Boston, Massachusetts, and surrounding towns. The collection contains documents such as correspondence and reports, as well as a number of visual items such as landscape plans, site surveys, and lantern slides and lantern slide prints that depict various structures, parks, and flora. To see more of Manning’s visual works, check out the Manning Lantern Slides set on ISU Special Collection’s Flickr site or come visit the collection in person, on the University Library’s fourth floor.

Navigating Your Research Using Special Collections and University Archives Resources

Crowds watching canoes navigate Lake LaVerne during the 1934 VEISHEA.

As American Archives Month draws to a close, we thought we would write one final post about how to find materials here in the Special Collections Department.  Our previous post provides examples of online resources for figuring out what archives are all about, but we thought we should provide you with something specifically for our department here at Iowa State!

We receive a whole wonderful variety of questions here.  Sometimes researchers know exactly what they want, and at other times only a general idea.  We sometimes receive questions such as “what do you have about the history of agriculture?” and “what do you have on the history of the university?” (the entire University Archives contains records and books documenting the university’s history).  However, more often than not they are more specific questions such as “what can I find out about the person Lake LaVerne is named after?”  Hopefully after reading this post everyone will be more familiar with the resources we have to help researchers find what they need in the Special Collections and University Archives!

LaVerne Noyes (from University Archives Photographs, Box 1532)

This post will focus on that last question:  what can I find out about the person Lake LaVerne is named after?  Let’s assume we do not know the LaVerne’s full name.  On our homepage, if you simply type “LaVerne” into the search box, the Laverne and Ida Noyes Collection is one of the first collections which appear.  After reading the finding aid for this collection (from which you will learn that LaVerne was a member of Iowa States first graduating class (1872)!), you may wonder about the history of Lake LaVerne itself.  Are there any photographs, films, or other records about Lake LaVerne?  One place you might want to take a look at are our subject guides, which can be found from our homepage (these are an especially good place to go if you just want to see the types of collections we may have on a certain topic; they often contain brief abstracts on the collection and its creator(s)):On the subject guides link, you will see a broad range of subject areas.  Once you click one that fits your research area, there will often be a variety of subject guides from which you can select.  For Lake LaVerne, the “ISU Campus Master Planning Resources in Special Collections” would be a good one to select.  There you will find that the Facilities Planning and Management, Buildings and Grounds Division Records (there you will find a folder on swans and ducks – which primarily contains news clippings on the Lancelots and Elaines which have graced Lake LaVerne since 1943). The Philip Homer Elwood Papers have a number of papers about the Iowa State campus, and you might find something in there about Lake LaVerne or about the campus planning which was going on at Iowa State in the early part of the 20th century.  (You will also find this mentioned in the Laverne and Ida Noyes Collection.  Box 1, Folder 10 has a letter which mentions the report written by the Olmsted brothers – for more on the Olmsted Report read this blog post.)

Landscape architecture students sketching at Lake LaVerne in 1942.

Another place to go for information on our collections and the history of Iowa State is our exhibits page.  For Laverne Noyes and the building and history of Lake LaVerne, a good place to go would be the Iowa State University Sesquicentennial Exhibit, where the second link on the right will bring you to Iowa State University Campus and Its Buildings, where you can go to the section about Lake LaVerne.

Interested in finding out about other alumni collections we may have, or finding other papers of people associated with Lake LaVerne?  (For those who are not aware, archives keep papers and records of creators together for a whole variety of reasons.  Here in the United States this is often called the “principle of provenance” and more on this can be found in the Society of American Archivist’s Glossary of Archives and Records Terminology).  People associated with Lake LaVerne include President Raymond Pearson (who was president during Lake LaVerne’s construction and his papers contain the Lake LaVerne-O.C. Simmonds report; Simmonds was the landscape architect Noyes hired to investigate possible improvements to the campus) or Anson Marston (Marston helped restore Lake LaVerne, and a number of documents relating to this are in his papers).  You can either search our website or look at the appropriate record series (arranged hierarchically) under our University Archives listing.

Looking for photographs?  You can visit our Flickr site.  Other sites can be found from here. On Flickr, if you type “Special Collections Department, ISU Photostream” into the search box and click on our name in the selection which appears, you can search the photographs we have upoaded.  You will then see all of the photographs of Lake LaVerne we have on Flickr (however, please note that we HAVE NOT scanned all of our over one million university photographs; if you would like to see more, please come and visit our department). Although most photographs are on Flickr, you might also find some (including documents) on the Digital Collections website.

Lake LaVerne area under construction in 1933, when attempts were made to reduce the silt and other sediment build-up in the lake.  This photograph, along with many others, can be found on our Flickr site.

How about films?  You can either search our Films subject guide available here, or just check out our YouTube channel (however, please note again, that this channel DOES NOT contain all of our university films, but only a small selection).  You will find a variety of films, such as this one from around 1946 which includes Lake LaVerne:

Or this one of campus scenes from around 1936 which shows the filling of Lake LaVerne:

In addition to the University Archives, our department holds manuscript collections.  Our manuscript collections contain records by creators not necessarily related to the university, but often are related to the university’s research strengths such as agriculture, science and technology.  In your search for collections related to Lake LaVerne, you may want to just search the search box on the manuscript collections listing page, or take a look at our manuscript subject guides and look under landscape architecture.

There is a lot to explore on our website, so please do so if you are interested!  Of course, you could also search the library’s search system (where you can find books, films, and other resources on Lake LaVerne…or your research topic) or come on up to the fourth floor of Parks Library to visit our department and/or ask us your question(s)!  If you are interested in finding out about our main collecting areas, you could also take a look at our mission and collecting policy, available online.

Iowa State’s Central Campus: A Brief History (and a Myth)

Central campus (more or less the area around present day Curtiss Hall, Beardshear, Catt Hall, and the Campanile/Memorial Union)as it appears today.

Fall Semester classes began almost a month ago now!  New Iowa State students have hopefully become more familiar with the campus and its buildings, and may have even established their favorite places to study, relax, or chat with friends.  Most students have probably hurried mulitiple times through central campus on their way to a class, meeting or campus event.

As a new or long-time Iowa Stater you may or may not have taken the time to ask how and why our central campus was designed the way it is.  If you did…and you are still wondering…or if you never did, and now would like to know…the Olmsted Brothers’ recommendations for campus design and improvements has recently been made available online.  The report might shed at least a little light on the history of central campus, and at least one impassioned controversy involved in its development!

Iowa State’s central campus area in 1904.  In the distance one can see Margaret Hall (girls’ dormitory) to the left and Catt Hall (then Botany Hall) to the right.

The Olmsted Brothers (landscape architects and son and stepson of the famed Frederick Law Olmsted who designed New York City’s Central Park – and not Iowa State’s campus, as one century-old myth goes) were hired as consultants in 1906 to to give recommendations on the future plans for the campus design and layout.  In A. T. Erwin’s 1966 reminiscence (Professor of Horticulture, and member of the Public Grounds Committee) entitled “The Days of Yore at Iowa State”, Erwin related that the passage of a mileage tax around 1900 had provided funds for major buildings of Iowa State’s central campus (the reminiscence can be found in the Arthur Thomas Erwin Papers, RS 9/16/16).

According to Erwin, the number of students attending Iowa State had grown drastically from its beginnings almost fifty years ago, and even in just the previous ten years.  He says that the student body was approaching the 1,000 mark in 1900, and had only been at 300 about ten years before.  The campus needed additional buildings for the increased size.  Erwin relates that the Buildings and Grounds Committee had discussed an overall landscape plan for an orderly development of campus, and an agreement had not been reached.  Erwin then suggested to President Storms that an “outstanding landscape architect” be hired, and the Olmsted Brothers were chosen to provide recommendations.

Another view of central campus (a campus horse carriage can be seen in the foreground) in 1906, the year the Olmsted Brothers submitted their report.

Their report, which recommended that the proposed location for the Agricultural Hall be moved so that it lined up with Beardshear and recommended modifying the location of campus roads and the railway to create a more pleasing aesthetic, upset many in the campus community.  In addition to the report itself, the University Archives holds the records of the Public Grounds Committee (RS 8/6/69) which contains reactions to the report, correspondence with the Olmsted brothers, and a summary of a conversation held with the Olmsted Brothers.  Included is “An Appeal to the Alumni” from the Alumnus, which is the “bearer of unwelcome news” and decries the proposed changes and the destruction of the beautiful campus.  The article states:

“Every graduate of the college must regret the radical change in plans for our loved, beautiful campus.  This change from the natural or English-park style so carefully planned, and tried for nearly forty years on our grounds, to the formal or French style, so artificial and as we believe so unsuited to a room situation like our own, has been accepted by the authorities and the first ground was broken the latter part of September.”

The controversy involved in the Olmsted brothers’ report not only sheds light on people’s love for the campus in the early part of the 20th century (which definitely continues today!), but is also an interesting window into one of many debates which probably occurred in this country when architectural and landscape changes were taking another major shift.

Above is a well-loved image of sheep on the central lawn near the Campanile.  The photograph was taken around 1905, close to when the Olmsted Brothers wrote their report.  Even though this photograph was taken over 100 years ago, when major changes were taking place on campus, one can almost picture a similar scene in the same place today.  Despite all the changes, new buildings, and major increase in the number of students attending Iowa State, the central lawn has remained for students to enjoy!

In conclusion, I must point out one major misconception often stated about who designed Iowa State’s early campus.  Myths will inevitably start about an institution, and Iowa State is no exception!  In the “Appeal to Alumni”, the author mentions that the Iowa State campus was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  As stated above, this is in fact not the case.  Iowa State’s first president, Adonijah Welch, designed much of the original campus.  It is interesting, however, to see the long-standing assertion in an article written over 100 years ago.  This myth still continues to this day, but hopefully readers of this blog post can help straighten the record!  It is just one example among many of how people need to double and triple check their facts, no matter how much closer a statement was written to when the supposed fact occurred!

Another view of central campus, this time from 1897.  In the distance Old Main, which burned in 1902, can be seen to the left. Morrill Hall is to the right.

To find out more about the history of the Iowa State’s central campus, please take a look at the Olmsted Brothers’ report now available online.  The University Archives has a variety of resources for finding out more about the history of this report and other campus plans including news clippings and articles about the campus located with the Public Grounds Committee Records (RS 8/6/69), minutes of the Public Grounds Committee, 1911-1928 (RS 8/6/69), K. A. Kirckpatrick’s bachelor’s thesis from 1909 entitled “A Landscape Plan for the Campus of Iowa State College,” (call number C Ob 1909 Kirckpatrick) and reminiscences written by Public Grounds Committee member and Professor of Horticulture Arthur Thomas Erwin which can be found in his papers (RS 9/16/16).  A wonderful resource on the history of the campus and its buildings prior to 1979, H. Summerfield Day’s Iowa State University’s Campus and Its Buildings, 1859-1979, can be found online.  We also have a collection of articles, news clippings, and other publications on campus buildings (RS 4/8/4).  Writings by Iowa State’s first president, who had a significant role in planning Iowa State’s original grounds, can be found in the Adonijah Strong Welch Papers (RS 2/1).

Now available online: Films of landscape architecture Professor Philip Elwood

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and last week the availability of the largest online digital collection of presidential papers (that of John F. Kennedy) was announced.  However, as the search page for the digitized collection makes clear, the majority of the library’s collections remains undigitized and are available in their original, physical form only.  As at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, libraries and archives all over the world are struggling to find the time and money to make even a small portion of their collections available online.  Despite these obstacles, we here at Iowa State have been in the process of digitizing our collections over the past few years, and there are a number of new collections online which this blog hopes to highlight in the coming months.

For instance, a new blog post from our Preservation Department’s blog describes the lantern slides from the Warren Manning Papers (prominent landscape architect), which are now available in our Digital Collections.  Please take note that this is only a part of his collection, and the entire collection is available here in the Special Collections Department.  If you would like to find out more, the collection’s finding aid/description can be found here.

Philip Homer Elwood

We have a variety of digitized portions of our collections in Digital Collections, in addition to photographs on Flickr, documents and publications on Scribd, audio on iTunes U, and films on our YouTube channel.  We recently uploaded a number of films made by Iowa State landscape professor Philip Elwood (some of you may recognize the name from the former Elwood Drive, now University Boulevard).  In 1923, Elwood was hired as a Professor of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State College (now University) and helped to organize the new Department of Landscape Architecture. He was made head of the department in 1929 and served in that capacity until 1950.

During his time at Iowa State, Elwood conducted several summer travel tours for students to Asia and Europe, and throughout North America.  These films document these travels, and I highly recommend you visit our YouTube channel to see them all since this would have to be quite a lengthy post if I were to highlight them all!  You can limit the selections to only the Elwood films by searching for “Elwood” in the searchbox.  However, please take note:  if you are looking for exciting music and sounds with color images, please be aware that these are silent and in black and white.  Even so, they are an interesting window into the early part of the 20th century both here and abroad, showing a different way of life (and landscape architecture!).

One of these films include a trip from Japan to Hong Kong.  Professors Elwood and Popham took 4 students (Bethane Carpenter, John Hall, Max Bird, and Norman Morris) on a tour of Japan, China, the Philippine Islands, and Hawaii in 1929. This videodisc covers highlights of the Korea, China and Hong Kong portions of that trip and includes footage of a train ride between Kamakura and Kyoto showing rice farms, the sacred island of Miyajima (Itsuku-Shima), a willow pattern tea house, temples, the harbor of the Whang-poo River in Shanghai, scenes of Hong Kong, the upper deck of C.P. SS Empress of Russia, and views of Hong Kong from the docks at Kowloon.

There are also a number of films of Elwood’s travels throughout North America, including Tennessee (this film is in 2 parts).

Elwood took students on a tour of the southern and eastern United States. In Tennessee they view a Confederate statue, homes in a small town, and boys playing football in a yard.  From there they traveled on to view a new power plant with its lake, dam, and new community for its workers, dam construction, rural communities where girls are doing laundry outdoors in tubs, and a woman is standing over a tub on a fire. They also see a waterwheel working at a mill, logging, and mining operations. Then the group travels through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Part 1:

Part 2:

As mentioned above, please visit our YouTube channel to view more of these films, as well as many others.  Also remember to keep in mind that if you are not finding what you need online, it is not necessarily because it does not exist but just might not be digitized!  Search our website or the library’s catalog, or ask us, to find out what might be available.

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