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: Camping

A student preparing firewood at Forestry Summer Camp in Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, 1954. [collection/box]

A student preparing firewood at Forestry Summer Camp in Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming, 1954. [University Photographs, RS 9/14/F, Box 717]

It’s officially summer! The student sporting a cowboy hat in the photo above clearly knows how to take advantage of a nice summer’s day. Camping is of course a popular summer pastime and has been for many years. Not only is it a fun recreational activity, it can also be educational. In fact, Iowa State has required Forestry majors to participate in camps for years. A great deal of information on this can be found in Digital Archivist Kim’s blog post from several weeks ago.

Whether you enjoy camping or glamping, get outside and enjoy the warm the weather! Too hot outside? Then stop by Special Collections and University Archives – not only do we have air conditioning, but lots of interesting collections and photographs to explore!


CyPix: Summertime and Softball

Women playing intramural softball, 1915. RS 22/7/[letter], box [number].

Women playing intramural softball, 1915. RS 22/7/G.

It’s summertime – well, maybe not officially, but in the academic world it is! Summer session classes have begun, and traffic on campus has drastically decreased since the spring semester ended. What’s a student to do with the extra time? One idea: get outside and pick up a new hobby. For well over 100 years, baseball and softball have been favorite summer sports. In the photo above, we see four college women playing intramural softball in 1915. Can you imagine what the game must have been like in those long skirts?

Another activity for those with some time to spare – student or not: come in to Special Collections and University Archives and exercise your brain! We have plenty of materials for research, just let us know what you’re interested in and we can help you out. See you soon!


CyPix: Weighing Duroc Pigs

A. W. Dahlgran work with an FFA high school student on his Duroc pig project. Undated. (University Photographs RS 9/6/F box 544)

A. W. Dahlgran works with a high school student on his Duroc pig project. Undated. (University Photographs RS 9/6/F box 544)

The caption on the back of the photograph reads:

Those preparing to teach vocational agriculture assist high school pupils to improve their home projects as part of their training program. This agricultural education student, A. W. Dahlgran, left, is assisting one of his pupils in the weight of his Duroc Pigs at weaning time. An analysis of these weight records shows the value of management practices followed. The modern movable type hog house was built in the high school farm mechanics class from plans secured from Iowa State College.

Fun fact: the champion boar raised last year on the Allen E. Christian Swine Teaching Farm was a Duroc!

The teacher education program in agricultural life sciences is one of the older programs on campus. Begun in 1911, as part of Agricultural Education, the program prepares educators for teaching high school agriculture as well as other career options. Special Collections has many photographs of student teachers working with FFA (formerly “Future Farmers of America”) and other agriculture students in University Photographs RS 9/6. Here is a sampling of some of our collections related to swine, swine husbandry, and agricultural education:

  • 4-H Youth Development Records (RS 16/3/4)
  • Iowa Hog Cholera Eradication Committee Records (MS 202)
  • Iowa Pork Producer’s Association Records (MS 158)
  • J. Marion Steddom Papers (RS 21/7/65)
  • National Swine Grower’s Council Records (MS 235)
  • Paul C. Taff Papers (RS 16/3/56)

CyPix: a robot beverage service

Iowa State has its own celebrity robot. CyBot, the famous robot in question, once poured Alan Alda a drink on national television.

Cybot pouring water from a Mountain Dew can. (RS 11/1/8 box 10, folder 28)

Cybot pouring water from a Mountain Dew can. (RS 11/1/8 box 10, folder 28)

In 1996, seniors in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program developed Iowa State University’s first interactive robot as part of their Senior Design class. Cybot, at a height of 6 feet and a weight of between 200 and 460 pounds (sources disagree), was a mobile robot equipped with sonar and speech capabilities.

Cybot was programmed to find its way around a room and offer people it met a drink, which it then poured and served. Cybot uses sonar (sound waves) to find obstacles and avoid them and to find potential drink customers. It is fully autonomous, has rudimentary intelligence, and it communicates by voice.

A library of acceptable user commands guides Cybot’s actions, and it answers by voice as well. “If Cybot asks ‘Would you like something to drink?’ and you say ‘No thank you,’ it moves on. If you say ‘Yes, please,’ it will pour you a Coke,” Patterson said.

– “Spotlight Shining on Iowa State’s Cybot,” Iowa State Daily, September 3, 1996.

Two students calibrate CyBot. (Engineering Communications, RS 11/1/8)

Two students calibrate CyBot. (Engineering Communications, RS 11/1/8)

Learn more about CyBot in the Engineering Communications records (RS 11/1/8).


CyPix: Ode to the Card Catalog

The card catalog. That gargantuan set of filing cabinets with drawers full of catalog record cards was oh, so useful in the days before wide-spread internet access. Now, of course, we search for the library items we want or need on the online catalog, which is easier in many ways. Many of you probably remember using the card catalog to find the books you wanted, not unlike the student in the photo below.

A student using the card catalog, 1948. [location]

A student researching near the card catalog, 1948. RS 25/3/F, Box 2046

This is how I learned to navigate libraries, too, and am part of the last generation to do so. Card catalogs bring about feelings of nostalgia in people – you can even purchase old ones to use for storage or conversation pieces in your home! However, moving the catalog online provided major benefits like saving space that can be used for other things like study areas or more stacks, and convenience – we can just type in a title and see right away if it’s available. Still, although the card catalog is more or less extinct in its natural habitat, it is an iconic piece of library history.

Feeling nostalgic? More photos of card catalogs in Parks Library can be found here. Also, in case you want to know about its origins and some fun facts, here is a history of the card catalog. Many more photographs involving the library or other buildings and departments on campus can be found in our University Photograph Collection – come in and see what we can find for you!


CyPix: An Old-Fashioned Sing-A-Long

Students gathered around a piano, 1944. [add collection/location]

Students gathered around a piano, 1944.

Sometimes we like to share photos purely because we like them. This is one of those photos. I love it, even though I know little about it. All I know is that it is an example of student life at ISU in 1944 – but whether this is part of a class, extra-curricular activity, or just a regular social sing-a-long, I can’t say. Some of the reasons I love it include the era (the 1940s is one of my favorite decades, if not my favorite), the fashions, and the idea of an old-fashioned sing-a-long around a piano. Yes, today we have karaoke machines and video games that serve the same purpose, but it’s not quite the same. For a bit of extra fun, here’s a recording found online of the song next to the one they are playing in the photo (if I only knew what the open sheet music is!). Enjoy!

This photo and many others involving student life can be found on our Flickr page and in our photograph collection. Also, feel free to stop in and take a look at any of our student life-related collections!


CyPix: student vaudeville

Vaudeville is a type of theatrical entertainment consisting of variety acts that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Student-produced vaudeville shows were popular at Iowa State during that same time period, such as the one shown in the photograph below.

Student vaudeville performance, 1926. Photograph Collection, box 1669.

Student vaudeville performance, 1926. Photograph Collection, box 1669.

This is from the college’s fourth-annual student vaudeville performance in 1926, called “Going Down.” It followed the round-the-world flight of a high-powered plane, “Daphne,” which visited Alaska, the Indonesian island of Java, and Cairo in Egypt, before finally ending in Spiritland. It featured a ballet and several other musical and dance numbers along the way.

The performance was a hit. According to the 1926 Bomb, the ISU yearbook which was published from 1893 to 1993, the show played to capacity houses for each of its two performances. It raved, “‘Going Down’ has been acclaimed the greatest student vaudeville staged at Iowa State College.”

To browse through copies of the Bomb, or to learn more about student activities throughout ISU history, stop by Special Collections!


CyPix: Morrill Hall Library

Ever wonder what the ISU Library was like in the early days? Well, I’m about to shed some light on that mystery with the photo below.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall. (University Photographs, 4/8/H, box 157)

Originally, the Library was located in Old Main. In 1891, it was moved to Morrill Hall, where it resided on the first floor, south of the central stairway. In 1914, it was relocated to Beardshear Hall, and the Agricultural Extension Offices and Document Room took its place in Morrill. Construction of the Library’s very own building began in 1923. It was dedicated in 1925, and is still there today. Of course, it looks quite a bit different now due to renovations and additions.

This information and more can be found in our online exhibits, Morrill Hall: A Brief History and From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History. Also have a look at RS 4/8/4, Buildings and Grounds Records, for more information on the buildings in which the Library has resided. The photo above can be found on our Flickr site along with other library photos!


Barjche, you say? The history of the modern dance production at ISU

Tonight Orchesis I, ISU’s modern dance company, presents Barjche, the company’s annual modern dance production. The performance has a long history at ISU. Let’s see what we can find in the archives about it, shall we?

Program for first Barjche production in 1944. RS 10/7/3, Box 2, Folder 11.

Program for first Barjche production in 1944. RS 10/7/3, Box 2, Folder 11.

The first production

First things first. What’s up with the name?!? Barjche (pronounced “bar-shay”), came from combining the initials of the officers of the Women’s Dance Club in 1944, the year of the inaugural performance. The dance was initially performed as part of the VEISHEA celebrations, though later on it became a separate event, performed at different times over the years during winter quarter.  The first production included two original dance-dramas, “The Shakers” and “This Life.”

Inside of the program from the 1944 Barjche. RS 10/7/3, box 2, folder 11.

Inside of the program from the 1944 Barjche. RS 10/7/3, box 2, folder 11.

In a letter to the editor of The Iowa Stater from May 1987, Trymby Calhoun Stickels, the president of the dance club in 1944, describes her contributions to the production:

Letter to the Editor of The Iowa Stater, May 1987. RS 10/7/51, Box 3, Folder3.

Letter to the Editor of The Iowa Stater, May 1987. RS 10/7/51, Box 3, Folder3.

“I was a better writer than a dancer, so Miss Moomaw [the club’s advisor] asked me to write a story line and she did the choreography for one of our big numbers. It was based on the Shaker religious group, and, of course, had all the drama that a strict religious theme could offer. Men and women were forbidden to have any contact with each other so we had a forbidden love story and a big tragic ending. It was great fun!” –Stickels, Trymby (Tim) Calhoun. “The ‘c’ in Barjche.” The Iowa Stater May 1987: 9.

Betty Toman

Betty Toman dancing, 1988. Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51, box 4, folder 12.

Betty Toman, 1988. Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51, box 4, folder 12.

One person who has had a significant impact on Barjche is Betty Toman. Toman came to ISU in 1948 as a dance instructor and later became a professor in the Department of Physical Eduction. She served as Barjche’s director for 22 years, eventually expanding the production to include students from three departments: theater, dance, and music. In 1965, she took over advising the dance club, which became known as Orchesis. Orchesis I continues to produce Barjche today.

Barjche production, 1967. University Photograph Collection, box 804.

Barjche production, 1967. University Photograph Collection, box 804.

Although most of the dance pieces in Barjche were choreographed by students, over the years Betty Toman also brought in well-known professional dancers as guest choreographers. One of these was Bill Evans, who was commissioned to choreograph a piece for Barjche 1975 called “Salt Lake City Rag.”

Photograph and program for "Salt Lake City Rag" by Bill Evans, 1975. From RS 10/7/3 and RS 10/7/51.

Photograph and program for “Salt Lake City Rag” by Bill Evans, 1975. From RS 10/7/3 and RS 10/7/51.

More information about Barjche and Orchesis I can be found in the Orchesis Records, RS 10/7/3, and in the Betty Toman Papers, RS 10/7/51. Stop by Special Collections to check them out!