The Mathematics project features interview with ISU Department of Mathematics faculty. To date, interviews have been conducted with James Cornette, A. M. Fink, and Wolfgang Kliemann. Additional interviews are in the works.
The June 2021 intelligence report to Congress on UFO sightings (now referred to as “unidentified aerial phenomenon” or UAPs) has revived interest in a topic that, since the 1960s, had been relegated almost exclusively to the realm of science fiction and presumed delusion. And this revival has raised questions. If such sightings have indeed been so common, and so well documented by sources as reliable as the US military, and the technology they display does indeed pose a security threat, particularly given UAPs’ unknown origins (are they spyware from China or Russia? are they truly visitors from another world? who knows?), then what has prevented us, as a nation, from studying or discussing them in any serious manner for so long?
Interestingly, two ISU alumni from the 1950s might have been able to answer some of these questions. Both were involved in shaping the conversations that we have (and haven’t) been having about UFOs/UAPs for the past half-a-century.
Both Roy Craig and James Edward McDonald received their undergraduate degrees elsewhere (and McDonald served as a lieutenant in the navy during World War II) before completing their PhDs, within a year of each other, at Iowa State. They would likely not have crossed paths at ISU, however, as they studied with different departments. Craig, class of 1952, completed a PhD in Physical Chemistry (see his dissertation in the ISU Digital Repository here), while McDonald, class of 1951, completed his PhD in Physics (see his dissertation in the ISU Digital Repository here).
Our collections do not contain extensive documentation of either scientist’s time at Iowa State, but we do have a letter/memo providing notice of McDonald’s resignation, when he moved on to a more prestigious appointment at the University of Arizona in 1954, along with a typed draft of a research paper he wrote.
It is unclear exactly what career path Roy Craig took immediately following graduation. However, he was shortly thereafter recruited to the famous government Colorado Project, also known as “The Condon Committee”, by Edward Condon himself to serve as chief field investigator of UFO sightings and reports, which had already been pouring in from numerous sources for decades. The Colorado Project, founded in 1966, constituted the final stage of Project Blue Book , a study created by the United States Air Force in 1947 (perhaps not coincidentally the same year as the mysterious and much-mythologized “Roswell Incident” had occurred) and which had sought, not only to investigate the validity and/or cause of UFO sightings themselves, but to assess any potential national security threat posed by these incidents.
Craig, while reportedly fascinated by the concept of UFOs and their potential to open the public imagination, maintained a firmly skeptical position on their extraterrestrial origins throughout his time with the project. Indeed, his influence at the helm of this committee may have been among the factors that closed the project so quickly. In 1969, he and his fellow investigators released the Condon Report, concluding that there was nothing to be gained from further study on this topic, which led the Air Force to close the project on December 17th of that same year.
ISU’s SCUA unfortunately does not hold any of Craig’s professional papers from his time spent researching UFOs, but Texas A&M University does, and the finding aid for this collection can be found here. Craig also authored a book about his experience working with The Colorado Project in 1995, entitled UFOs: An Insider’s View of the Official Quest for Evidence. It is still in print, and copies can be accessed through Parks Library General Collection TL79 .C86 1995 (see the catalog entry and online version access here).
What Craig and several of his colleagues seemed to view as an open-and-shut case, however, was, in fact, hotly contested amongst the scientific community of his day even before the Condon Report officially dismissed the concept of UFOs’ extraterrestrial origin. And none other than fellow Iowa State alum James. E. McDonald, then a physicist at the University of Arizona, made a name for himself in the public eye by criticizing the Condon Committee’s methods and findings.
According to the July 26, 1968 issue of Science magazine (Vol. 161, No. 3839, pp. 339-342, article accessible via JSTOR at the following link), McDonald was, at that time, also a full-time UFO investigator and had, in conjunction with Air Force chief UFO consultant J. Allen Hynek, expressed concern directly to the National Academy of Sciences in April 1967 about (unspecified)evidence that the Colorado project had and had not taken into account. While the Science article quotes Edward Condon as claiming that “McDonald doesn’t know a damn thing about what we’ve done,” two of Condon’s own Colorado project team members, David R. Saunders and Norman E. Levine, seem to have sided with McDonald’s criticisms and were fired shortly after the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) caught wind of the objections McDonald and Hynek had raised.
A follow up article in Science’s January 17, 1969 issue (Vol. 163, No. 3864, pp. 260-262, JSTOR access available here), which was written after the release of the Condon Report, suggests that Saunders, at least, continued actively publishing criticism of the project even after he was fired from it. His 1968 book UFOs? Yes! Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong is also still available, and its entry in WorldCat indicates that UI, UNI, and Drake all hold copies in their general collections that ISU students could request through interlibrary loan, if interested.
Even more curiously, though, James E. McDonald was found dead in the middle of the desert, north of Tucson, Arizona, in June of 1971, less than two years after the Condon Report had been released and the Colorado project had been closed. The local press coverage of his death (of which we have a photocopy in McDonald’s alumni files, see image below) states that authorities named the cause as “apparent suicide,” which conclusion, at least in my mind, raises more questions than it answers. If nothing else, possibilities for cinematic plotlines abound.
Roy Craig, on the other hand, did not pass away until 2004, when he lost a battle with cancer. You can read the online version of the Iowa State Dailyarticle here, or see the first page of a print-out version imaged below.
As is frequently the case with fascinating historical mysteries, we may never know the full truth of what the Condon Committee did or did not discover, or did or did not obscure. But we do know that the voices and perspectives of these two Iowa State alumni played a critical role in shaping, not only the current mythology of UFOs, alien contact, and secret government conspiracies in the public’s imagination, but also two sides of an ongoing conversation about what is and is not worth the application of scientific study, military resources, and the attention of everyday citizens so barraged with information (and so frequently lacking information literacy) that we already scarcely know who or what to believe, or why.
On April 11th, 1987 Iowa State Students gathered in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for largest game of Twister. The effort required 4,037 participants to be successful but Iowa weather got involved and turned many of the expected participants away. However, 1500 students still showed up to play Twister despite the cold and the rain. Not quite what they needed to break the record but still a massive effort – and from the pictures it looks like everyone had a great time.
Read more about this story on pages 56-57 in the 1988 Bomb.
Almost no one wants to spend their whole day studying. As important as it is to stay on top of assignments and readings, there’s only so long the average student can study before some kind of study break is needed. The authors of the 1985 Bomb likely would have agreed with the need for occasional study breaks, as they gifted us with this two-page spread on the types of study breaks preferred by students at the time.
According to the Bomb, many students looked to watching T.V. shows such as All My Children and General Hospital, to relax after a long study session. Others preferred to take a quick nap to rest their minds and bodies.
However, by far the most popular types of study breaks at the time were ones centered around food. The most iconic of these food centered breaks being what the authors refer to as “the famous “Quick Trip Run.””
All of these certainly sound more fun than studying! Which, if any, would you choose to relax and refresh yourself? If none of these sound quite right, what works for you?
Currently, Iowa State University boasts two recognized Jewish student organizations on campus: Hillel and Chabad. Because we, unfortunately, do not have an abundance of archival documentation on either, my knowledge of their histories is a bit murky. However, I have located some traces of ISU Hillel (a branch of a national organization by the same name) back to 1940, which appears to have been its date of arrival on campus. If this is indeed the correct date, and the club has been active continuously since that point, which seems to be the case, then next year, 2020, will be their 80th anniversary.
The earliest mention I found was a page from the 1942 Bomb yearbook, which featured a full page on the group after they chose to forgo an annual banquet so they could dedicate their entire event budget to the purchase of a patriotic war bond instead. The page details the group’s origins, touches on their weekly activities, and names club officers.
Owing in part to the existence of a campus-wide “Religious Emphasis Week” in the 1940s, many of the ISC ’40s yearbooks feature sections on religious and service organizations, and these include images of the Hillel club sporadically through about 1949.
Researchers will be glad to see that most of these captions identify the individuals pictured, which means it may be possible to reconstruct membership rosters for the club’s early years, if these do not exist elsewhere, and/or look up additional information about graduating seniors’ majors or other campus involvement.
Several yearbook indexes post 1949, in fact, list B’nai B’rith Hillel under entries for senior activities, so we can surmise that the club was still in existence after this point, even if campus publications did not cover its activities as thoroughly.
Within the University Archives collections, however, we have some club ephemera that picks up documentation again in the 1970s.
A number of these documents are internal club records — handwritten accounts detailing yearly activities and budgets. Correspondence included in this folder suggests that ISU student groups were being required for the first time to submit annual paperwork in order to maintain an official affiliation with the university, and/or receive funding. So these single-page accounts may have been drawn up for an early version of what is now the club recognition process.
There are also a few 1970s programs, like the 1974 handout below, which advertises a series of Holocaust memorial events.
There are also a few newspaper clippings that date from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, again evidencing that the group was active on campus throughout that time, if not particularly well-documented in archival records.
If you have more information or documentation regarding the history of ISU’s B’Nai B’rith Hillel club, or of other Jewish organizations or events on campus, please feel free to contact the University Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
Because our classes let out at the beginning of May, ISU tends to celebrate AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) History Month a month early.
Something I’ve noticed about our heritage months posts, which center the histories of specific racial or ethnic communities, is that they tend to front-end very recent history. This makes sense from an archival stand-point, because the records we have preserved for these communities don’t always go back very far. But, sadly, the archival gaps perpetuate an illusion that non-white students were not always present on the ISU campus.
But this was not true! We have photographic evidence to the contrary — at least, we have some senior portraits in the old Bomb Yearbooks. The real issue is that we don’t usually have much documentation beyond these photos, or even about the people in them, and that, if we do, it’s not always clear where this documentation might live. This is why these pictures tend not to be brought forward all that much. We don’t know the story behind them. As archival records, they just exist.
But they do exist.
Here, then, is a sampling of 1940s (decade chosen somewhat at random) yearbook portraits of students whom I believe — based, unfortunately, solely on appearance and name — to be AAPI, along with at least one potentially South Asian/Middle Eastern student. My hope is that someday all of our students will be able to see themselves in Iowa State history very readily, without first needing to pour through tomes of records in order to find a face that looks like theirs. But we are still working on that goal.
As can be seen on his yearbook page below, Tanabe was from Poctello, Idaho and completed a B.S. in Dairy Husbandry.
Not all yearbooks give detailed information on graduating seniors, but, because of the war, classes of the early 1940s were relatively small, so this year’s yearbook made an exception. Woo’s hometown, area of study, undergraduate college, and some of his I.S.C. activities are listed below.
For those students whose yearbook pages were less helpful, I was not, unfortunately, able to do any external research at this time. But, if you are interested in learning more about their stories, feel free to use my post as a jumping-off point!
Another important thing to note is that, because these portraits feature only graduating seniors, and only those who chose to have their pictures taken, it is likely that there were more AAPI students on campus at this time. It is also very possible that I missed people, misidentified people’s ethnicit(y/ies), or both. I did not do extensive research on any of these students, and, because yearbook portraits from this era are black and white and very low resolution, I omitted several ethnically-ambiguous individuals who had German or Anglo-Saxon last names (which might have meant they were multi-racial, bore anglicized family names, were white-passing, were in fact white, or any other number of things). As such, I encourage you to come look at the yearbooks yourself. They are available both in the SCUA reading room and via our digital collections online.
If you happen across additional information (or additions or corrections!) about any of the individuals featured above, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com, and I will update the post. Also, if you decide to do further research on former students who have peaked your interest, please let us know what you find out about them! We are always interested in learning more about Iowa State alumni.
The following post was written by Luis Gonzalez-Diaz, who is working at SCUA this year as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). His project centers around historical LGBT+ communities on the ISU campus. The post today builds upon his previous post, which can be accessed via a link in the text below.
Assistant University Archivist
Early LGBT+ Student Activism / Activismo Estudiantil Temprano LGBT+
[TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.]
[Advertencia: Este artículo, puede contener material sobre asalto sexual o violencia que podría ser desencadenante para algunos sobrevivientes.]
Continuing the narrative of LGBT+ History Month, an aspect of LGBT+ history that greatly influenced campus life for the community was the activism from the various groups on campus in the 1970s. The first presence of LGBT+ activism on campus started in 1971 with backlash to the controversial play “Boys in the Band” being presented at Iowa State. For more information on that particular event, check out my last article.
Continuando en la narrativa del mes de historia LGBT+, un aspecto de historia que gran mente influenció la vida estudiantil en la universidad, fue el activismo de varios grupos en los 1970’s. La primera presencia de activismo LGBT+ en la universidad, empezó en 1971 con la repercusión causada por la obra teatral controversial “Boys in the Band” siendo presentada. Para más información, verifica mi último artículo.
Nonetheless, on October 8th, 1974, students from the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance might have demonstrated one of the biggest acts of activism and resistance in the decade, when they appeared in a local tv station in Ames called WOI-TV. The invitation to participate in the program arose from a controversial episode of Marcus Welby M.D. titled “The Outrage” aired by ABC TV. In the fictional drama, a mother discovers that her teenage boy was sexually assaulted by one of his school teachers when they were out at a camping trip. The teenager nonetheless was too ashamed to admit it to her mother but eventually confessed that it was his male science teacher that had done it.
No obstante, el 8 de octubre de 1974, estudiantes del “Gay People’s Alliance” y el “Lesbian Alliance” demostraron uno de los actos más grandes de activismo y resistencia en la década, cuando aparecieron en una estación de televisión local en Ames llamada WOI-TV. La invitación ocurrió a causa de un episodio controversial de un programa llamado Marcus Welby M.D titulado “The Outrage”, televisado por ABC TV. En el drama ficticio, una madre descubre que su hijo adolescente fue asaltado sexualmente por uno de sus maestros en un viaje estudiantil auspiciado por la escuela. Sin embargo, el niño adolescente estaba demasiado avergonzado para admitirlo ante su madre, pero finalmente confesó que era su maestro de ciencias lo que lo había hecho.
The airing of this episode caused much outrage for LGBT+ communities nationwide because of the perpetuation of negative light over the community, in a time where LGBT+ activism was just starting. The airing of the episode was a direct attack on the activism that was present at that time. The episode was pulled from communities in Boston and Philadelphia.
La emisión de este episodio causó mucha indignación para las comunidades LGBT + en todo el país debido a la perpetuación de la luz negativa sobre la comunidad, en un momento en el que el activismo LGBT + apenas estaba comenzando. La emisión del episodio fue un ataque directo al activismo que estaba presente en ese momento. El episodio fue retirado de comunidades en Boston y Filadelfia.
In Ames, the Gay People’s Alliance and the Lesbian Alliance wanted it to be pulled, but WOI-TV was not doing it. The TV station nonetheless, invited both groups to participate in Betty Lou Varnum’s “Dimension Five” program that aired in central Iowa at 10PM.
En Ames, el “Gay People’s Alliance” y el “Lesbian Alliance” querían que se retirara, pero WOI-TV no lo estaba haciendo. No obstante, la estación de televisión invitó a ambos grupos a participar en el programa “Dimensión Cinco” de Betty Lou Varnum que se emitió en el centro de Iowa a las 10 P. M.
The panelists were Carolyn Czerna, Karen Moore, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, Steve Court, Jim Osler, David Windom, and Dennis Brumm.
Los panelistas fueron Carolyn Czerna, Karen Moore, Kay Scott, Connie Tanzo, Steve Court, Jim Osler, David Windom y Dennis Brumm.
The program talked mostly about the Marcus Welby M.D. episode, as well as many questions that the host had. Further along the night, the phone line was opened for callers, and many people called quoting Bible verses at them, which represented how the LGBT+ community was being perceived in Ames. The segment was viewed so frequently that it had brought back to life the ratings for the show. This broadcast, furthermore, represented how student activism here at Iowa State University has influenced and shaped the views on the LGBT+ community in Iowa, and how they refused to stay silent in the midst of an injustice. The interview is conveniently available to you at the Special Collections and University Archive’s YouTube channel, under “Dimension 5: Gay People Alliance Tape 1”.
El programa hablaba principalmente del episodio de Marcus Welby M.D. así como de las muchas preguntas que tenía el anfitrión. Más a lo largo de la noche, se abrió la línea telefónica para las personas que llamaban, y muchas personas llamaron a citar versículos bíblicos, lo que representaba cómo se percibía a la comunidad LGBT + en Ames. El segmento se veía con tanta frecuencia que había devuelto a la vida las calificaciones para el programa. Además, esta transmisión representó cómo el activismo estudiantil aquí en “Iowa State University” ha influido y configurado las opiniones sobre la comunidad LGBT + en Iowa, y cómo se negaron a permanecer en silencio en medio de una injusticia. La entrevista está disponible para usted en el canal de YouTube de Colecciones Especiales y el Archivo de la Universidad, bajo “Dimensión 5: Gay People Alliance Tape 1“.
Additionally, we have the original Dimension 5 notes for that specific broadcast in the Betty Lou Varnum papers at SCUA [RS 5/6/53].
Además, tenemos las notas originales de Dimensión 5 para esa emisión específica en los documentos de Betty Lou Varnum en SCUA [RS 5/6/53].
If you have any other materials regarding LGBT+ student life here on campus, please feel free to reach out to the Special Collections and University Archives at ISU to talk about how you can possibly preserve and help us develop the history of the community in the university.
Si tiene cualquier otro material relacionado con la vida estudiantil LGBT + aquí en el campus, no dude en comunicarse con las Colecciones Especiales y los Archivos Universitarios en ISU para hablar sobre cómo posiblemente puede preservar y ayudarnos a desarrollar la historia de la comunidad en la universidad.
The following post was written by Amanda Larsen, who is working at SCUA this year as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA). Her project revolves around historical feminist activism on the ISU campus. Regarding today’s article, note that the Monday after next, exactly two weeks from today, will mark 43 years since the “Alice Doesn’t Day” strike.
Assistant University Archivist
Alice Doesn’t Day
October 29th, 1975 was one of the first days to show the nation how much women contribute to society. The National Organization for Women (NOW) created a national strike day for women in order to emphasize how important women are for society. They called it “Alice Doesn’t Day,” a reference to the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. NOW called for every woman to refrain from work or spending any money. The alternative for women who could not skip work was to wear an armband and discuss its purpose.
On campus, the Government of the Student Body (GSB) was asked to support the strike by on campus women’s organization. The bill to support Alice Doesn’t Day was sponsored by Roxanne Ryan, a student in sciences and humanities.
Various groups scheduled programs supporting Alice Doesn’t Day on the Iowa State campus according to news articles. For those who wished to participate in the event, the YWCA had seminars on women’s health, practical consumerism, pampering ourselves, and women and the law. If the participants had young children, there were male-run daycare and babysitting services provided. GSB passed the bill supporting Alice Doesn’t Day, to the dismay of some. In the community, Ames Mayor William Pelz showed support for Alice Doesn’t Day by signing an official proclamation naming October 29th as “Alice Doesn’t Day.”
Not everyone supported Alice Doesn’t Day. The Iowa State Daily’s “Point of View” section notes that some believed calling for women not to go to work was not the best tactic for showing women’s roles in society. While it might have shown how much women contribute, it could also have shown unprofessionalism and little regard for their work. Others felt that women should double their efforts on the 29th with the same goal of showing how much they can contribute to society. A group opposed to Alice Doesn’t Day vowed to wear pink dresses and call for the firing of any woman protesting. In terms of students, most told the Daily that the reason they could not participate in the strike was that they had classes and “school is more important than my ethical views.” Since they could not miss classes, many of the women interviewed said they would refrain from spending money that day.
Rosl Gowdey, one of the publicity workers for the project, stated that the goal of the day was to “focus on what happens to the women who participate, than on the number of participants. If only one or two women get something out of it, then that’s great, and we’ve accomplished our purpose.” While most think that the day was a failure, others viewed the event as successful because of the awareness: “In terms of awareness and talking about women’s contributions, it was successful,” said by Susan Newcomer, the president of the Ames chapter of the National Organization for Women.
If you or anyone you know has any information about women activist from 1960-1979 here at Iowa State, please feel free to contact Special Collections to discuss preserving the material.
Hello again! This is the third entry in the blog series about visiting special collections and archives from the perspective of someone who is pretty new.
Today I will be talking about how to find student records at the archives. Often we have visitors who are interested in finding out information about their relatives who went to school at Iowa State sometime in the past. Or, perhaps you’re interested in information about one of Iowa State’s more famous alumni. We have quite a few resources with information about students (naturally). I will highlight just a few of the most fruitful areas of information.
A great source of information on students is the yearbook, The Bomb. All of the yearbooks have been digitized, and they are also available in the reading room. The Bomb covers every year from 1894-1994. Often, in the back of the yearbook every senior will be listed along with the activities they participated in while at Iowa State. Looking up information on the clubs a particular person participated in may also offer some clues and interesting information.
A second helpful resource is the school directories. In the reading room, we have directories from 1901 to 2010. The directories list the majors, year in school, on campus address, and hometown. If you know the general time period that someone may have gone to school here, you can use the directories to pin down more exact dates.
A third resource are our alumni files. The alumni files can be rich sources of information, depending on the graduate. It’s also important to note that not every graduate will have an alumni file and there are some student files for individuals who attended but never graduated. The only way to find out if a student has a file is to have a member of SCUA staff take a look at the boxes in the closed stacks and check, which we are more than happy to do for you. If you want to know in advance whether you might find information on someone, you can always send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of the alumni files have just an article or two while others are much larger.