#TBT Bicycle Club

Bicycle Club, circa 1898. University Photographs, box (#).

Bicycle Club, circa 1898. University Photographs, box (1644).

This weekend, one of Iowa’s biggest events begins. No, not the Iowa State Fair (that’s in August). Rather, it’s that huge bicycle ride across the state, RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is a statewide event run by the Des Moines Register that began in 1973. Bicycle enthusiasts have been at Iowa State University since, judging by this photograph, at least the turn of the 20th century. ISU has had a student cycling club for years, currently called the ISU Cycling Club (in the 1970s, it was the ISU Bicycle Club).

Some information on the ISU Bicycle Club in the 1970s is available in the Iowa State University, Student Organizations, Recreation and Special Interest Groups General File, RS 22/7/0/1. Stop by sometime!



Staff Pick!

Today’s post puts the spotlight on a staff member and she puts the spotlight on a collection. Meet Whitney Olthoff. She is a Project Archivist here in Special Collections and  University Archives.

Project Archivist Whitney Olthoff (standing far right) during a SCUA workshop for the 4-H Youth Conference this July

Project Archivist Whitney Olthoff (standing far right) during a SCUA workshop for the 4-H Youth Conference earlier this month

How did you get started in Special Collections & University Archives at Iowa State University?

I graduated with my MLS (Master of Library Science) degree from Indiana University – Bloomington in May 2012. After moving back to my parents’ house (about 30 miles from Ames), I continued my full-time job search while working part-time at a public library. This job (project archivist position) popped up, and I was lucky enough to get it! It took just over a year of job searching, but I got hired at my undergrad alma mater – I was pretty excited. I’ve been here for almost three years now, and I’ve gained experience in several aspects of the archival profession during that time. So far, so good!

What do you do?

Primarily what I do is process archival collections. This means that I go through a given collection and organize it – sometimes I physically rearrange the files and sometimes files are rearranged intellectually, that is, in the finding aid, while maintaining original order physically. Depending on the collection, I will re-folder materials, give new and improved titles to folders, number boxes and folders, sleeve photographs and negatives, and enter descriptive information into finding aids. This way, the materials are accessible to researchers. There’s a lot to archival processing, so for more information, take a look at a post one of our former project archivists, Stephanie, wrote a couple years ago: https://isuspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/3379/

I also contribute to our blog, handle the occasional reference request, and archive the university’s websites. Not to mention various other things that are asked of me as needed. I keep pretty busy around here.

What collection would you like to highlight?

This is tricky… it’s difficult to choose just one! I guess I’d like to highlight something lesser-known.  In the Elizabeth “Betsy” Hoffman Papers, there is a series devoted to, oddly enough, Russian WWI photographs and materials  – the   Andrew Kalpaschnikoff Memoirs and Photo Albums. Kalpaschnikoff was Hoffman’s grandfather. Hoffman was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences here at Iowa State, as well as Professor of Economics. Eventually, she served as Executive Vice President and Provost of Iowa State University and is currently a Professor of Economics here.

Kalpaschnikoff led quite an exciting life. He was raised in Imperial Russia’s upper class, served as Ambassador to the United States, was a member of the Russian Army during WWI, and spent time in a Communist prison after the Bolshevik Revolution. Eventually he escaped and returned to the U.S. He also encountered notable figures including Czar Nicholas II and Leon Trotsky. Kalpaschnikoff’s materials include two photo albums depicting the Russian army in WWI (available to view online here and here), loose photographs, and memoirs.

Why’d you pick this collection/item to highlight?

This was the first collection (well, part of a collection) I ever wrote about for our blog. It was my first-ever post for our blog, as a matter of fact. The materials were newly processed back in 2013. Kalpaschnikoff’s story is fascinating and the photos give you a rare glimpse into life in the Russian army in WWI (fair warning: a few of the photos depict wounded and dead soldiers, some of which are graphic). For whatever reason, I like to highlight collections that most would not expect to find in the ISU archives – I also wrote blog posts on our science fiction and Underground Comix collections. Russian WWI materials and photographs certainly fall under that “unexpected” category in my opinion. Of course, this is just one of many collections worthy of highlighting. Anyone who wants to know what else we hold should check out our website and/or ask us!

Any other comments you’d like me to include?

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes about libraries and archives:
“To me every trip to a library or archive is like a small detective story.” – Erik Larson


Iowa State University Library #TBT @ISU_Library

Today a group of library staff, including University Archivist, Brad Kuennen, and myself, took a tour for library staff given by library staff member Mark Forbis (pictured below).

Mark Forbis at the beginning of our library tour

Mark Forbis at the beginning of our library tour

The tour focused on the original library building and the purposes for which rooms were originally designed, as well as their subsequent uses. Some interesting spaces that no longer exist or are used for different purposes include: a janitor’s apartment in the basement of the library, currently used for storage; a basement-level loading dock in what is now the front of the library; and Bookends Cafe occupies space that used to be a ladies’ lounge!

Mark also talked about where the different library additions met the original building. Photographs, floor plans, and information culled from The Library at Iowa State helped tell the story. Mark and some other library staff attending the tour were also able to fill in some blanks.

The photographs below show the different views of the library from 1925 through 1999. These photographs can be found online in the University Library’s Digital Collections in University Photographs. You can also drop by the reading room to see more photographs of the library and other historical ISU pictures. We’re open from 10-4!

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The Dinkey’s 4th of July debut #Flashback Friday @IowaStateU

The Ames & College Railway, better known as “the Dinkey,” made its first run between Ames and the ISU campus on July 4, 1891.

Ames & College Railway Dinkey circa 1900s

Undated photograph of the Dinkey (University Photographs box 233)

To learn more about the history of the Dinkey drop by the archives! We’re open Monday-Friday from 10-4. Except for this upcoming Monday — we’ll be closed for the 4th of July!


In honor of #NationalPollinatorWeek @ReimanGardensIA @ISUExtension

It is National Pollinator Week, and several groups at ISU are partnering with Reiman Gardens to celebrate Pollinator Fest tomorrow, June 25.

hummingbird and feeder

Hummingbirds are pollinators too! This ruby-throated hummingbird picture is from the Iowa Ornithologists Union Records (MS 166), box 12, folder 23.

More than a hundred years ago, Iowa State College Agricultural Extension recognized the importance of bees as pollinators. If more Iowans kept bees, they suggested, “the presence of such large numbers of bees would result in the better cross pollenization [sic] and fertilization of blossoms, which would indirectly add very much more in the production of fruits and seeds of various kinds” (Bee Keeping in Iowa, Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913, Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17).

"Bee Keeping in Iowa," Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913. From Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17.

“Bee Keeping in Iowa,” Extension Bulletin no. 11, March 1913. From Bee Keeping Extension Publications, RS 16/3/0/17.


Tulip Gardening #TBT

It’s officially summer, and gardens are in full bloom. With the heat that we’ve had lately, aren’t you glad that dresses like the one below are no longer in fashion? Tulips typically bloom around May in Iowa – in fact, there are festivals devoted to the flower in Pella and Orange City during that month every year. Hopefully it was an unusually cool late spring/early summer day in this photo, otherwise that dress had to be stifling.

Woman in a tulip garden, undated. [collection/box #]

Woman in a tulip garden, undated. University Photographs, RS 16/3

While it’s far too late to plant tulips for this year and too early for next year, the sight of tulips in bloom over the last month or so might have you considering them as an addition to your own garden. If that’s the case, ISU Extension has some tulip planting tips. Happy gardening!


Out milking the cows #TBT #DairyMonth @iastate_cals

Dairy science students at ISU have been getting practical experience working with dairy cattle throughout the history of the program.

Here is a picture of students at the Iowa State Dairy around 1905-6:

Nine male students and 3 men in period clothing standing or sitting holding rakes, brooms, or milking pails.

Iowa State Dairy students, circa 1905-6. University Photograph Collection, box 639.

Students were involved in everything from herd development, to milking, to feeding trials.

Student milking a cow at Iowa State Dairy Farm, undated.

Student milking a cow at Iowa State Dairy Farm, undated. University Photograph Collection box 620.

The image below shows two students, George Gast of Osage and John Cavitt of Des Moines, that started a herd for the Iowa State College dairy farm in the 1940s.

Two men stand next to 4 cows inside dairy barn.

University Photograph Collection, box 639. Circa 1940s.

According to the caption on the back of the photograph, “The men, taking part in the class in Farm Operations, had to do the planning, investigation and buying of the herd to the satisfaction of the rest of the class. The actual operation of the dairy herd, soon to get underway will provide a project for still other members of the class.”

Stop by to check out more photos of Dairy Science students at Special Collections and University Archives!


Welcome Freshman! #TBT @IowaStateU

Freshman Orientation kicked off this week. Let’s celebrate the arrival of future Cyclones with a picture from the past! The photograph below is from Freshman Days in 1946. “Freshman Day” was first instituted at Iowa State College (University) during the fall quarter of 1926. The next year the program was expanded to three days.

Freshman Days 1946. Lee Bradish photographing freshmen during Freshman Days (University Photographs box 454.1)

Lee Bradish photographing freshmen during Freshman Days (University Photographs box 454)

In 1960, two significant changes occurred in regards to Freshman Days. One was the change of name from Freshman Days to Orientation Days. The other was the creation of a summer orientation program. The summer program was in addition to the fall program. The summer orientation program eventually became the main orientation program for students in the coming years.

Drop by the reading room to check out other historical University Photographs! We’re open Monday-Friday 10-4.


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.