Behind the Scenes – Homecoming 2016

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

Dry Run

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

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

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

Two weeks out

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

The week before before Homecoming

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

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

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

The week of Homecoming

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

Friday of Homecoming!

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

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


CyPix: New Year’s Eve 1944

A page from Lorris Foster's scrapbook commemorating New Year's Eve 1944. (RS 21/7/147)

A page from Lorris Foster’s scrapbook commemorating New Year’s Eve 1944. (RS 21/7/147)

2015 is rapidly winding to a close, so I thought it might be nice to see how students of years past celebrated. We have an extensive collection of alumni scrapbooks to choose from. At left is a page from Lorris Foster‘s scrapbook of her time as an undergraduate (Child Development ’48).

Lorris saved her train tickets, a note about a mistaken meeting spot, and a paper beanie in cardinal and gold from New Year’s Eve 1944. The annotation under the paper hat reads “New Years in Chicago with girls from college and Jerry.” 1945 would prove to momentous – Lorris met her future husband, Jim Foster, in fall of 1945 after he returned to his studies following V-Day.

Wherever your travels take you at this time of year, we wish you a safe and happy journey.


Cutting and pasting: alumni scrapbooks

A trip to your local craft store will tell you that scrapbooking is a popular American activity. But this is not just a recent phenomenon. In fact, scrapbooking has been popular for the last century or more, and this is made evident by the number of alumni scrapbooks we have here in the University Archives.

Scrapbooks provide a unique window into the history and culture of a time period. They save many of the things that would otherwise be lost to time, such as newspaper clippings, dance cards, theatre programs, and flyers. Early 20th century Iowa State College students, like many of their cohort around the country, kept scrapbooks to capture their experiences and memories of the fun times they spent outside of classes.

Pages from the Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81, showing dance cards and sports score charts, circa 1913-1919.

Pages from the Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81, showing dance cards and sports score charts, circa 1913-1919.

Scrapbooks also capture the larger historical and cultural environment in which the individuals lived out their lives, such as the scrapbook below from Mary (Graf) Speer, who attended Iowa State College in the 1940s. The first page of her scrapbook includes a newspaper front page headline proclaiming victory in Europe during World War II–obviously a huge concern to the students of the day, who had friends and family members fighting both in Europe and in the Pacific Theater.

From Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, 1945.

From Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, 1945.

Raymond T. Benson’s scrapbook from World War I documents the military activity on campus.

Page from Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Page from Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Scrapbooks also present unique challenges to archivists in terms of storage and preservation. Because scrapbooks often contain 3 dimensional objects, this can strain the binding, as with Raymond T. Benson’s Scrapbook below.

Cover of Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

Cover of Raymond T. Benson Scrapbook, RS 21/7/81.

While the photograph above shows a scrapbook placed in a box to protect it, other scrapbooks required more extensive housing treatments. Mary Graf Speer’s scrapbook came to the archives missing a cover, so spacers were placed inside the box to keep the individual pages together, while some material was removed to a separate folder.

Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, in box with spacers and separated material in folder.

Mary E. (Graf) Speer Scrapbook, RS 21/7/250, in box with spacers and separated material in folder.

Sometimes a scrapbook needs special treatment, not because it is in bad condition, but in order to keep it pristine. Lottie M. Rogers, who attended Iowa State College in 1901-1902, created a beautiful scrapbook. Library conservators created a special box to maintain it in its originally beautiful condition.

Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook, RS 21/7/149, circa 1901.

Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook, RS 21/7/149, circa 1901.

Box created to house the Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook.

Box created to house the Lottie M. Rogers Scrapbook.

More alumni scrapbooks and other papers can be found in RS 21/7, Alumni and Former Students.


CyPix: Pen and ink

Samples from P. A. Westrope's penmanship scrapbook.

Samples from P. A. Westrope’s penmanship scrapbook (MS 613)

Perry Albert Westrope was a self-taught ornamental penman who lived in Iowa for many years. An avid penmanship enthusiast, he traded samples with other penmen and mounted both his own and others’ samples into a penmanship scrapbook. The above bird was made when Westrope was 70 years old. He noted next to it “Some of my best at 70.”

Westrope clipped an article from The Business Educator (1912) about himself and his brother, another penman:

When the love for penmanship gets a good grip on young persons, it is usually retained for life, no matter in what lines of work they may engage. That fact is exemplified in the Westrope brothers, P.A. and N.S. The former, now a bond salesman residing in Denver, Colorado, and past sixty, still swings a very skillful pen, and never loses an opportunity to see a penmanship scrapbook.

Come to Special Collections to view the rest of the scrapbook in MS 613.


“House Babies” at Iowa State

"Jack" (RS 12/5/4, 1925-1936, box 7)

“Jack” (RS 12/5/4, 1925-1936, box 7)

Imagine that it’s your last year in college. Before you can graduate you have to move in with 8 or so roommates (plus a resident advisor) to a single family house on campus. You will have to keep the house spotless, host a dinner or birthday party, decorate, manage accounts, schedule leisure time, continue with your other classes, and take care of an actual baby for six weeks. You and your new roommates will take turn being cook, accountant, hostess, manager, and “child director,” and you have to do it all for a grade! For over thirty years (1924-1958) female Iowa State students and “borrowed” children formed temporary families in the Home Management houses. By the time the program was over, Iowa State students had participated in raising 257 children.

Read More


Philip McConnell Scrapbook: A Retrospective on WWI

“We’ve been given a glimpse of the ensuing years,
And these are a few of our hopes and our fears.”

It’s hard to imagine how Philip McConnell, an Iowa State College (University) student in Agricultural Engineering 1914-1917, felt when writing these lines – part of a poem he composed in 1915 – and whether he could have predicted just how large of a ‘glimpse’ it really was. With the recent centenary of the Great War, it’s interesting to look at just how much the young people of the early 20th century – Iowa State alums included – would end up going through over the course of their lives.

My name is Andrew Fackler and I am a freshman at Iowa State University who recently began working as a Student Assistant here in the Special Collections Department. One of the first pieces I was tasked with processing is a scrapbook (circa 1914-1922) created by a former student named Philip Cecil McConnell. McConnell arrived at Iowa State in the autumn of 1914 – right after the onset of World War I (WWI) in Europe. The collection, RS 21/7/260, documents his life from arrival at Iowa State through his eventual draft into the Armed Forces and into his post-war acceptance to the University of California. The ability to view what an Iowa State student’s life was like 100 years ago is truly inspirational, and the scrapbook that McConnell produced captures this time in history beautifully.

Cover of Philip McConnell's scrapbook containing his college seal. Circling text reads "Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts." Center text reads "Science with Practice." RS 21/7/260, box 1.

Cover of Philip McConnell’s scrapbook featuring the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts seal. (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

McConnell was a student in the former College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts and a member of the Dramatic Club and the Glee Club. His scrapbook documents many of the fun times he had with friends during his Iowa State years, not unlike the students of today. Though he would only attend Iowa State for a couple years before America entered WWI, when McConnell was drafted into the military and sent for training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

An entry in Philip McConnell's scrapbook highlighting his new journey from Ames to Fort Snelling. RS 21/7/260, box 1.

An entry in Philip McConnell’s scrapbook highlighting his sudden journey from Ames to Fort Snelling. Text reads “The rookie goes from [ISC] to [Fort Snelling].” (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

McConnell’s adventure at Iowa State ended there, but his journey was far from over. Soon after basic training at Fort Snelling, Philip was sent to Nice, France, and spent about a year of training and working there as the war wore to an eventual end. McConnell survived the conflict, but surely the effect of being part of something so large and foreign at such a young age stuck with him.

Training for the Reserve Corps at a school in Nice, France. Philip is pointed out by the blue arrow. Note the bikes that student soldiers used. RS 21/7/260, box 1.

Training for the Reserve Corps at a school in Nice, France. Philip is pointed out by the blue arrow. Note the bikes that students used to get around. (RS 21/7/260, box 1)

The war eventually came to an end when an armistice was signed in November, 1918, and McConnell was honorably discharged from the Reserve Corps in France in February, 1919. Philip returned to Iowa but would not return to Iowa State. In 1920, McConnell was admitted to the University of California, where he finished his education in 1922. He stayed in California until his passing at the age of 99 in 1995.

McConnell’s life is one of hundreds of millions directly affected by the destructive events of the early 1900s, though not all were documented so well. Philip would go on to see the world ravaged by many more foreign conflicts over the years, as well as other dramatic changes in American culture. Although Philip’s story may not be unfamiliar, it comes to us in the form of a tactile document that concretely connects Iowa State to one of the greatest events in world history, and one that should be remembered.

In his scrapbook, McConnell included his letters of both draft and honorable discharge. Much of the collection includes notes about the images and McConnell’s feelings about them, but he wrote very little of the war itself. The only comment he included about the war is the haunting message:

“Censorship makes the war look pleasant.”

I believe this quote to be disquieting, but it also shows a complex side of humanity. There’s much to be learned from the people of the past, and part of what makes the archives wonderful is its commitment to ensuring those voices will still be heard another hundred years from now.


Women’s History Month: Online Collections

March is Women’s History Month, and today (March 8th) marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (1911-2011).  As the International Women’s Day press release states, “International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.”

The Special Collections Department here at Iowa State University holds numerous collections documenting the history of women here at Iowa State, throughout Iowa, the United States and sometimes even the world.  A listing of selected collections related to women can be found in our subject guide found online.

Ada Hayden taking a photograph.

In the last few years, we have put a number of items related to women’s history from our collections online.  One of these is a scrapbook from the Ada Hayden Papers which contains beautiful black and white photographs, including brief captions, of prairie scenes and flora in Iowa.  In addition to being an Iowa State graduate, Ada Hayden was also an Instructor and Assistant Professor (1910-1950) of botany for many years here at Iowa State, and later Curator of the Herbarium (1947-1950).  In addition to studying Iowa’s prairies and flora, she devoted herself to prairie preservation.  Iowa State’s Herbarium was named after Ada Hayden, and contains many specimens collected by her.  For more on the Ada Hayden Herbarium, please visit the herbarium’s website.  You may also recognize her name from Ada Hayden Heritage Park on the north side of Ames.  The finding aid for Hayden’s papers can be found here.

The collection of quilt historian and Ames alumna Mary Barton is also available online through Digital Collections.  The Fashion Plates Collection (1776-2003) contains plates of general fashion dating back to the 18th century and continuing through the 20th century.

Mary Welch’s cookbook and several suffrage cookbooks can be found through the Cookbooks link on the Digital Collection’s homepage.  Mary Welch was the wife of Iowa State’s first president, Adonijah Welch and was the organizer and head of the Department of Domestic Economy at Iowa State from 1875 to 1883.  In addition to this cookbook, the Special Collections Department also holds Mary Welch’s papers.  The finding aid to her papers can be found online here.  Her collection contains interesting writings and lectures from an influential Iowa State woman from the early part of Iowa State’s history.

The online suffrage cookbooks (the originals are housed here in the Special Collections Department) in the library’s Digital Collections are also are also fun to look through.  The “Woman Suffrage Cook Book, containing thoroughly tested and reliable recipes for cooking, directions for the care of the sick, and practical suggestions, contributed especially for this work”  was edited and published by Mrs. Hattie A. Burr in 1886.  In addition to the normal sections of a title page still present today, I was surprised to find on the title page Hattie’s street address in Boston (or at least that is what I am assuming the address refers to)!

Catt’s graduation image

The final online suffrage cookbook in our Digital Collections, “The Suffrage Cookbook, ” was compiled by Mrs. L.O. Kleber and published in 1915.  In addition to the information and recipes this particular book contains, it also has additional value (sometimes referred to as “intrinsic value“) in that it was owned by our own suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt (Iowa State graduate and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association).  The book was once owned by Carrie Chapman Catt, and according to the note at the front of the book by her niece to Dr. Hilton [Helen LeBaron Hilton] “Aunt Carrie checked some of the recipes she liked and sometimes wrote figures on the side to show cost.  Her own favorite desserts were cranberry souffle and strawberry shortcake-biscuit style.”  An example of one of these checked recipes (Inexpensive Spice Cake!) can be found on page 124.  Pie for a Suffragist’s Doubting Husband (page 147) is also an interesting read.

Last year we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote and for which Carrie Chapman Catt had worked towards for many years.  Ninety years ago this year, the 1921 Bomb (Iowa State’s yearbook) was dedicated to Carrie Chapman Catt:


The Cosmopolitan Club!

International Week, organized by the International Student Council and various other international campus student organizations, began last week and will be coming to a close this Friday with International Cultural Night.  Although perhaps only a coincidence, International Cultural Night is very similar to the International Nights (see below for one of their programs) held by an early international student organization here at Iowa State.  While the ISU campus now hosts dozens of international groups, in its early days as a small college campus there was a single international student group – the Cosmopolitan Club.  And the University Archives holds its records!

Please note:  cosmopolitan here does not refer to the cocktail!  According to the wonderful Oxford English Dictionary, cosmopolitan means “belonging to all parts of the world; not restricted to any one country or its inhabitants.”  And, according to one of the documents in the Cosmopolitan Club’s records, the definition of the Cosmopolitan Club is:

One of the fun promotional materials found in Box 1, Folder 3 of the Cosmopolitan Club (Iowa State University) Records, RS 22/3/2.

The National Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs began as a national organization in 1903.  Soon after, Iowa State College (now University) began organizing its own chapter in 1907, and was officially admitted to the National Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs, as its tenth chapter, in 1908.  The purpose of the club was to encourage friendship, respect and understanding among men and women of all nationalities, and its corresponding motto (the national motto for all cosmopolitan clubs) was “Above all nations, humanity.”  Membership was open to all students, faculty, and staff of Iowa State University, and members were both from the United States and from around the world.

The above image comes from one of the scrapbooks in the collection, and shows the cast for a Cosmopolitan Night Play from November 28, 1928.

The club hosted a variety of events each year, including international food fairs, talent shows, hayrides, barn parties, international films, and the MYCE BAAR (co-sponsored with the YMCA, the MYCE BAAR featured coffeehouse gatherings which often included presentations, shows, music and food of a specific country).  These events were fun ways to acquaint club members and the community to the diverse cultures of the Cosmopolitan Club’s members.  The club also served as a supportive group for international students, and often had orientations for new international students at the beginning of the school year.  The Cosmopolitan Club ceased to exist on campus during the mid-1990s; the last year it is listed in the campus directory is in the 1995/1996 school year.

Although a rather small collection of records, the contents almost span its entire years of existence, 1908-1992 (there are no records from its final years).   The collection documents the club’s activities on campus, in the Ames community, and nationally and include historical narratives, scrapbooks, financial accounts, constitutions, membership lists, brochures, posters, programs, newsletters, and yearly records produced by the club.

Pictured above is the program of an International Night held on March 28, 1931, showing the wonderful variety of international students and programs put on by the organization in 1931.   According to an undated history of the club found in the collection, “International Night,  a prominent activity of the club for many years, served as a means of acquainting other students with the dances, music, clothing, etc. of people in other lands.”  Not very different from the description of this Friday’s International Cultural Night:  “International Night is one of the biggest events organized by International Student Council to celebrate different cultures and traditions through a variety of performances! A night filled with laughter, culture, tradition, dance, music and FUN!!” (the entire schedule can be found on the International Week 2010 events page).

To find out more about the Cosmopolitan Club’s records housed in the University Archives, please take a look at the collection’s finding aid.


Iowa and Japan as Partners in Agriculture

Beginning this March, a series of events will mark the 50th anniversary of agricultural cooperation between Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan and Iowa (for some of these, see the Partners in Agriculture website).  2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the Iowa hog lift (see below for more), the establishment of the Iowa-Yamanashi sister state relationship and the founding of the U.S. Grains Council.

The pigs arrive at Tokyo International Airport.

In 1959 Yamanashi prefecture had experienced two typhoons in less than a month, devastating agricultural production in the region.  An Iowan working in public relations for the U.S. Air Force in Tokyo, Master Sergeant Richard Thomas, thought that sending pigs from Iowa to the prefecture might help the agricultural industry in the area.  Sergeant Thomas’ idea came to fruition in January 1960 when 36 meat breeding hogs (one died along the way), donated by Iowa farmers, were flown to Japan on a plane provided by the U.S. Air Force.

Sergeant Thomas viewing the pigs he helped bring to Japan.

The Special Collections Department is lucky to hold the papers of one of the participants in the hog lift event, Walter Goeppinger, then president of the newly created National Corn Growers Association.  Goeppinger was an important supporter and chairman of the project.  His collection (RS 21/7/34) contains a scrapbook given to him by the Yamanashi Governor, Hisashi Amano.  The scrapbook includes photographs of the prefecture before the typhoons, damages from the flooding, celebrations of the hog lift, and images of the pigs in Yamanashi.  The collection also contains materials from Walter Goeppinger’s time as president of the National Corn Growers Association.  Included is the Association’s newsletter, National Corn Letter.  When paging through these newsletters, one can find brief articles which document the relationship between the Association and Japan, brought about in large part as a result of the hog lift.

First page of scrapbook.

To the left is the first page of the scrapbook given to Walter Goeppinger by Yamanashi’s Governor Amano.   At the top left is a copy of the letter written to Iowa’s Governor Loveless from Governor Amano.  In it, Governor Amano thanks Governor Loveless and the people of Iowa for their generosity after Yamanashi’s typhoons and the devastating floods which followed.  The photograph is of the Prefecture Building and the gathering of Yamanashi representatives to greet Iowa’s Goodwill Ambassador.

For a more complete description of Walter W. Goeppinger’s Papers, please visit the online finding aid, RS 21/7/34.