Wounded Veterans at ISC Following World War I

With today being Veterans Day, I thought I would take a look at how Iowa State worked with wounded Veterans following the Great War.  

Group of men standing on the steps of a building on the Iowa State campus. Some men are visibly missing limbs.
A group of disabled ex-service men trained along different lines in Agriculture. Each took over a farm of some kind on March 1, 1922. These farms varied in acreage from two to two hundred, Iowa State University. Department of Military Science, [RS13/6/1]. Box 7, Folder 14.

After the United States entered the war in 1917 the American Red Cross founded the Institute for Crippled and Disabled Men, but was soon overwhelmed by the number of veterans who had survived the war and had been disabled in some form. A year later in June 1918 the Veterans Rehabilitation Act (Smith-Sears Act) passed Congress and would provide federal funds to assist disabled veterans and the promotion of vocational rehabilitation with the goal to return these men to civil employment. The plan was to assist disabled veterans, both physically and mentally wounded during the war.  

Administered by the Federal Board of Vocational Education, the program looked to schools (many of them Land Grant institutes like Iowa State) to administer the training. Iowa State College had years of experience running vocational programs and Veterans could receive training in things like dairy manufacturing, beekeeping, mechanic work, corn breeding, welding, orchard management, floriculture, poultry husbandry, seed analysis, drafting, and meat cutting.  If students exhibited the skills and desire, they were given the option to enroll as full time students and pursue a bachelors degree.

The one of the first disabled veteran students who arrived for the Spring 1919 semester was Frank Paladin of St. Louis, Missouri.  Paladin was wounded while in combat at Chateau Thierry by an exploding shell that left shrapnel is his left leg and torso and caused him to lose his left arm just above the elbow. He studied drafting and would serve as president of the Government Students Club, an organization to form close fellowship among the disabled veterans and to aid in gaining financial support from the Federal Board for Vocational Education.  

Man standing at a table with drafting instruments and vehicle part. Man has a prosthetic left hand.
Frank Paladin, first Veterans Bureau student to arrive at ISC. Lost left arm in France, Iowa State University. Department of Military Science, [RS13/6/1]. Box 7, Folder 14.

Iowa State would see over 2000 Veterans go through the program, with the peak being in 1921-22 with 819 enrolled. The program ended when the Iowa State Office of Veterans Bureau closed on July 1, 1925, and the last veteran from the program left in March 1926 when he moved to his own little farm.  

To learn more about the WWI Veterans who participated in the rehabilitation program access the Iowa State University. Department of Military Science records [RS 16/16/1].

The World Wars at Home: Guides and Recipe Books

As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, November 11th was Veterans Day, a day in which we honor all those who have served our country. During WWI and WWII, guides and recipe books were published for the housewives left at home, which provided tips on feeding children, meal planning, home improvement and management, and practical recipes for wartime. Here at the ISU Special Collections and University Archives, we have a collection of these guides and recipe books in the Wartime Guides and Recipe Books Collection, MS 380.

Preface to Best War Time Recipes, by Royal Baking Powder Co., 1918. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 1.
Preface to Best War Time Recipes by Royal Baking Powder Co., 1918 (click to enlarge). MS 380, Box 1, Folder 1.

During the World Wars, food shortages were common. These would make certain foods such as butter and sugar much more expensive and impractical for heavy use in most households. These recipe books focused on maintaining a healthy diet – or at least, making delicious food – while using alternatives to scarce ingredients.

A dessert recipe booklet, (year).
A WWII-era dessert recipe booklet, undated. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 10.

Here is a WWI recipe for something called War Cake from the Liberty Cook Book (Box 1, Folder 1):

2 c. brown sugar; 2 c. hot water; 2 T. lard, 1 package or less of seeded raisins, 1 t. ground cinnamon, 1 t. ground cloves, 1 t. soda, 3 c. flour, 1 t. salt

Boil all ingredients but the flour, raisins and soda together for 5 minutes. Cool. When cold add soda sifted in 1/2 the flour. Bake in a loaf 45 minutes, in a slow oven, or in a sheet 30 minutes.

From WWII, here is a recipe for Corn Bisque from Wartime Recipes from Canned Foods (Box 1, Folder 7), which was created to help homemakers stretch canned foods farther:

1/2 no. 2 cream style corn; 3 c. milk; 1 small onion, sliced; 1 T. butter or margarine; 1 T. flour; 1/4 t. salt; dash of pepper

Cook corn and 2 cups of the milk in top of double boiler for 20 minutes. Add onion; continue cooking 10 minutes longer. Mash through coarse sieve if desired. Melt butter in saucepan; add flour and seasonings; blend. Add remaining 1 cup milk; cook until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add milk-corn mixture; return to double boiler; heat thoroughly. Garnish each serving with sprig of parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. 4 servings.


A proposed cleaning schedule for housewives, (year). MS 380, Box 1, Folder (?).
A proposed weekly cleaning schedule for homemakers, 1944. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 6.

Housekeeping also was (and is) a large part of being a homemaker. The 1944 booklet above, House Cleaning and Home Management Manual by The Hoover Company, offers many suggestions on housekeeping, including possible schedules to follow and equipment to have on hand. Without actually reading the cleaning schedule above, you can see how extensive cleaning duties could be. Examples in the booklet of things to be done daily include preparing and serving meals, washing dishes, packing lunches, planning menus, going to the market and running errands, light cleaning and dusting, caring for children and other family members, and apparently care of fires. Weekly housekeeping work includes washing, ironing, cleaning every room, washing windows, mending and sewing, special baking and cooking, and cleaning the cleaning equipment.

From (title) by (someone), (year). MS 380, Box 1, Folder (?)
From Real Ideas of Real Housewives on Wartime Living, undated. MS 380, Box 1, Folder 3.

Of course, helping the boys from home was also a priority. The above image highlights suggestions on how to help soldiers overseas, provided by actual housewives for other housewives. Some advice includes tips on mailing packages, buying stamps, and sending cakes. This booklet also includes ways to save time around the house, keep clothes looking new, and tips on going to the market.

For more WWI and WWII collections, see our manuscripts subject guides. Looking for more wartime recipes? Recipes from these eras can also be found in the Iowa Cookbook Collection, some of which can be viewed online.

Thank you to all our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us!

CyPix: V-12 Navy training program

In honor of  Veteran’s Day, November 11, here is a picture of Navy recruits from World War II who were part of the U.S. Navy’s V-12 College Training Program at Iowa State College (ISC).

Members of the U.S. Navy's V-12 College Training Program during World War II performing a training exercise, 1945.
Members of the U.S. Navy’s V-12 College Training Program during World War II performing a training exercise, 1945. University Photograph Collection, box 1098.

The V-12 program was designed to train officer candidates for combat duty in the war. They were taught college courses and kept a military schedule. The first group of trainees, numbering 200, came to ISC in June 1942; by 1943, according to the campus yearbook the Bomb, there were 3,100 men in various Navy training programs on campus, including electrical and diesel training programs and the Bakers’ and Cooks’ School. Dorms in Hughes and Friley Halls were converted to resemble ships’ quarters. As the 1943 Bomb states, “There are no doors on the rooms, double and triple decker bunks are used and, according to navy regulation, clothing and gear are kept in ship shape and in the smallest space possible in the ship’s quarters” (149).

Iowa State University continues to have a strong Navy ROTC program, as well as Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs. You can learn more about the history of military training at ISU in the Department of Military Science Subject Files, RS 13/16/1.

CyPix: Ames Ambulance Unit

In honor of Veteran’s Day, and in the ongoing commemoration of the centennial of World War I, today’s post features the Ames Ambulance Unit. This unit consisted of 36 Iowa State College (University) students who volunteered and served on the Italian-Austrian front from 1917-1919.

Photo shows two men carrying a stretcher on which another man is laid. Several other men are engaged in various tasks.
Wounded being removed from bottom of aerial cable way in the Valley of Santa Felicita, Italy, circa 1918, RS 13/16, photo collection box 1103.

On April 6, 1917, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany, officially entering World War I. In May, U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker authorized the formation of the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps and looked to universities across the country to organize volunteer units. Iowa State University was asked to raise a unit of 36 ambulance workers. Nearly 100 men applied and underwent physical examinations as well as tests of their mechanical knowledge, specifically relating to Model T operation and repair. After the 36 men were selected, they began training in first aid, military tactics, automobile operation, and elementary French.

Photo show sthe back of an ambulance open with a stretcher being lowered onto the ground from the air against a background of mountains.
Wounded coming down the aerial cable way in the Valley of Santa Felicita, circa 1918. RS 13/16, photo collection box 1103.

The men enlisted on June 4, 1917, and left for training in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on June 10. Training continued in Allentown for a year before being deployed in Italy. The unit served in Italy until early April 1919, transporting sick and injured soldiers from the front. Harold Benson and Eugene McKibben, drivers in the unit, wrote a chronology of the events of the unit, in which they describe a period of intense action, beginning October 24, 1918: “Offensive opens along entire Italian Front from Lake Garda to Adriatic – Fourth Army spearheads attack up Brenta River – Every ambulance kept busy for next two weeks, Pierce and Dodge trucks pressed into action hauling sitting wounded. As fast as Italians advanced, our posts left Col del Gallo San Felicite and Pove, and moved up Brenta to Feltre, Cismon Primolano, Grigno and Strigno over shell-pocked, camouflaged roads packed with italian infantry and artillery, and miles of Austrian prisoners being marched out of the mountains” (RS 13/16/1, Department of Military Science Subject Files, Box 1, Folder 19).

Photo shows a lare tent with a man standing in front with two ambulance trucks parked to the side.
Ames Ambulance Unit post in Valley of Santa Felicita, Italy, Near Mount Grappa, circa 1918. RS 13/16, photo collection box 1103.

Armistice was declared November 4 on the entire Italian Front, but the ambulance unit continued its work evacuating soldiers until early April 1919, when they left Italy for France to ultimately return to the United States, to be discharged May 7. In recognition of their service, the Italian government bestowed on the unit the Italian Cross of War.

Photo shows ten men in suits, members of the ambulance corps, posing outside. In the background is the campanile on the ISU campus.
Reunion of the Ames Ambulence Unit in 1963. Printed in the December 1963 Alumnus.

For more information on the Ames Ambulance Unit, see the Department of Military Science Subject Files (RS 13/16/1).

100 Years Since the Great War

If there had been any doubt as to the advisability of the creation of the Land Grant institutions, that doubt was destroyed for all time by the Great War. – War Records Committee. “A Short History of Iowa State College in the World War.” (RS 13/16/1, box 2 folder 1)

World War I began in the summer of 1914 and ended in 1919. The United States joined on April 6, 1917 with a declaration of war on Germany. When the United States joined it had a standing army of 133,000. By early June 1917 approximately 9.5 million men had registered for service.

114,000 Iowans enlisted and Iowa State students, staff, faculty, trainees, and alumni formed around 6000 of those serving in World War I.

A service flag dedication in State Gym for 1500 active duty students and alumni, ca. 1918. (RS 13/16/1 box 1, folder 1)

Training Specialists for the War Effort

Iowa State University responded by providing space, expertise, and infrastructure for training soldiers in a number of areas the largest being infantry, engineering, artillery, aviation, and “special.” The majority of these were men, but 29 women from Home Economics also served. 11 were nurses, 10 were dietitians, two were laboratory technicians, and one was a yeoman. One of these women, Pearl Wesley Yates, is remembered with a Gold Star.

The Story of the Gold Star

If you’ve been to Memorial Union you have probably passed through Gold Star Hall which lists the names of Iowa Staters killed in World War I and subsequent wars.

The symbol of the Gold Star was chosen to represent fallen soldiers when President Wilson approved a suggestion by the Women’s Committee of National Defenses for women to wear black arm bands with a gold star for each family member who had died during the war. The campus community in the post-war period formed a not-for-profit corporation (the Memorial Union Corporation) to raise the funds for the building of the Union. Near the Union is a rock plaque inscribed “Dedicated to the men whose lives were lost in World War I.” 119 Iowa Staters killed during World War I are remembered in Gold Star Hall. You can find out more about the lives of the 119 through the informational kiosk at the Union. The kiosk is intended to provide more context and personal information about each person memorialized in the Hall. It was developed by Iowa State graduate student Stelios Vasilis Perdios and based in large part on material found in Special Collections.

Service to Veterans

Cover of Bulletin entitled "Special Training for Disabled Ex-Service Men"
Campus Bulletin detailing the special programs in place to support vocational training for WWI veterans. (RS 13/16/1, Box 2, folder 14)

Iowa State continued working with the military after the war was over by developing retraining programs for disabled veterans. These courses were designed to provide support to veterans who had not previously had college preparation. The classes were primarily focused on agriculture with topics such as “Elementary Beekeeping” and an individualized course of study in Animal Husbandry.

Veteran learning beekeeping
A selection from the Bulletin on Beekeeping training. The original caption reads “Following his completion of work in beekeeping this world war veteran took up work for himself in honey production. (RS 13/16/1, box 2, folder 14)


Want to Learn More?

Iowa State University Special Collections has many manuscript collections relating to World War I: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/collections/MSsubject.html

Our Department of Military Science Subject Files (Record Series 13/16/1) is a great resource for understanding the University’s role in the War. The collection has multiple folders of correspondence related to the World War I (as well as other wars), including several folders of correspondence with soldiers on active duty: http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/arch/rgrp/13-16-1.html

Don’t miss our previous posts in this blog:

Continue reading “100 Years Since the Great War”

CyPix: The Sounds of History

Whitney’s recent post regarding the poetry of Iowa-related music has me in a musical mood. Studies have found that music can be motivating, which comes in handy on April mornings that arrive with snow on the ground. And the benefits of music education are widely espoused. The group crowded around the piano below are demonstrating the social benefits of music in 1944.

Students at Piano, 1944

Students at piano, 1944, RS 7/2

In addition to the Iowa Sheet Music Collection, MS 474, Special Collections is home to a number of other music-related collections including:

  • Ames Town and Gown Chamber Music Association Records, MS 350. This collection documents the administration, activities, and performances of this local group that has been operating since 1949.
  • Extension Music Program Records, RS 16/3/3. This collection documents Iowa State University’s Cooperative Extension programming that brought musical and cultural activities to the homes of rural Iowans.
  • John H. and Helen Wessman Sheet Music Collection, MS 377. John H. Wessman is an ISU alumnus (1941) who played viola in the ISU Symphony and sang with the Chicago Swedish Glee Club for eleven years. This collection contains sheet music from the 1850s to the 1880s.
  • Jimmie Howard Reynolds Papers, RS 13/17/61. This collection contains biographical information, College Band Directors National Association materials, professional correspondence, and teaching materials from Jimmie Reynolds, who served as ISU’s director of  bands and an associate professor of music for ten years, 1972-1982.
  • Roger M. Goetz Papers, RS 21/7/223. Roger M. Goetz, a graduate of ISU (1962, 1967), had an active career in Lutheran ministry. In addition to sermons, clippings, and biographical information, his collection contains sheet music and programs that document his career as an organist.

Department of Music collections are listed here, and other manuscript collections from are listed here.  And of course, you can always come visit us in Parks Library to get inspired by the music!

Veterans in the Archives: Learning More about Henry Black

Today, the United States observes Veterans Day, which commemorates veterans of all wars. If you’re familiar with Iowa State University, you probably know Henry Montgomery Black – even if you don’t think you do. Professor Black, a World War II veteran and the head of the Mechanical Engineering department from 1946 until 1972, is the namesake of the Black Engineering Building. Special Collections hosts the Black Family papers, and we have recently processed Henry Black’s professional papers from his tenure at ISU.

Box 2, Folder 7, Henry Montgomery Black Papers
Black in his role as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, circa 1950s (Box 2, Folder 7, RS 11/10/19)

As is to be expected, the Henry Montgomery Black Papers provide insight into the field of mechanical and professional engineering, particularly at Iowa State University, his alma mater (1929) and employer. Dr. Black was very interested in the direction of engineering education; this interest led him to roles in a number of engineering organizations, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development, and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Since many, if not all, of his students aimed to become licensed professional engineers, Black kept a hand in professional engineering standards and examinations, serving in a leadership position on the Iowa State Board of Engineering Examiners for several years. The collection reflects all of these associations and his contributions to them.

Henry Black was a man of many interests, and his papers sketch a more nuanced picture of his contributions outside of engineering leadership. As an example, for nearly 20 years Black worked on the annual ASME design problem contest, a challenge aimed at inspiring creativity from engineering students that is still in existence today. He was interested in practical applications of engineering, not just its study, and the contest was a way to help students apply their knowledge. The papers show that the professors who wrote the test questions were challenged to develop difficult problems for students to solve!

He was also an amateur historian who collected historical information for the institutions to which he claimed allegiance. His papers contain notes on the history of mechanical engineering at ISU, which he used as department head and professor; the history of mechanical engineering in the United States, which was relevant as a member of ASME’s Centennial Committee and its the History Subcommittee; and the Army Reserve’s history at ISU, which was important to him as an alumnus and a World War II veteran.

Box 1, Folder 25, Henry Montgomery Black Papers
Black and students pictured during an inspection trip, gaining first-hand, practical knowledge of the mechanical engineering field (Box 1, Folder 25, RS 11/10/19)

Black’s military career is represented in his professional papers as well. A famous saying goes, “once a Marine, always a Marine,” and the sentiment applies to Black’s Army service as well.  His Army career started in 1929, when he joined the Reserves upon graduation from Iowa State. This led to his role as chief engineer of the Army’s landing at Utah Beach during the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Black resumed his reservist status when he returned to Iowa State and did not retire until 1960. Over those nearly 15 years, as the commander of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers group, he attended and led training for other soldier-engineers. These case studies and problems appear in his Iowa State files, indicating that perhaps the Army Corps of Engineers were not the only one to benefit from Black’s time in its employ.

Black’s contributions extend to the community of Ames as well. He was active in the Tall Corn Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, using his engineering insight to help maintain various Boy Scout camps in Iowa. As evidenced by a scrapbook and newsletters in his papers, Black served year-long presidencies of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and the Ames Rotary Club and was a long-time member of both organizations. Curious about the history of these business and community service organizations in Ames? The Henry Black Papers can satisfy that craving.   For more information about the Henry Montgomery Black Papers (RS 11/10/19) or our other faculty and alumni collections, please visit us online or on the fourth floor of Parks Library in the Special Collections department, open M-F, 10 am to 4pm. A copy of the paper’s finding aid, listing all the materials and providing more background on the collection, is also available online here.

New Collection Documenting the Black Family and Henry M. Black, Veteran and Engineering Professor at Iowa State

The Special Collections Department is lucky to have some wonderful students working here, and they do a lot of work processing our collections. Rachel Kleinschmidt, a graduate student in History, recently processed the Henry Montgomery and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers (RS 21/8/12) and has written the blog posting below.  Since the 68th anniversary of D-Day is coming up in a few weeks on June 6, and Memorial Day is today, we thought this would be a good time to highlight this collection.

On Memorial Day, we think about the sacrifices that men and women have made by serving in the military. The Special Collections Department is home to the collections of many important ISU alumni and veterans, including Henry M. Black.

Henry M. Black (above), member of VII Corps Headquarters, 9th U.S. Army, receives oak leaf cluster to his bronze star medal from Lt. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commanding general, VII Corps, at a ceremony in Leipzig, Germany (photograph from Box 16, Folder 4).

Henry Montgomery Black was an Iowa native, born in Reinbeck, Iowa in 1907. He attended Iowa State University (then Iowa State College) from 1925-1929, majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He then furthered his education with a Master’s degree from Harvard University in 1934.

Following his time in college, Henry Black served in the United States Army. His experience as an engineer was put to use by the Army Corps of Engineers, and Henry served as the chief engineer of the Utah Beach landing during the Normandy invasion in 1944. His service was rewarded with a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit, and a Croix de Guerre (pictured below).

Henry Black’s Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and Croix de Guerre (Artifact number 2010-214.001-003)

Henry would eventually retire from the army at the rank of Colonel. In the meantime, he returned to his alma mater (Iowa State) to serve as the Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department from 1946-1972. Because of his impact on the Iowa State Engineering Department and campus (he was instrumental in helping build the university’s mechanical engineering program into one of national prominence), a building was named in his honor. Black Engineering Building was named in 1987.

Henry Black in front of Black Engineering Building (photograph from Box 18, Folder 1)

Henry Black was not the only member of his extended family to have a distinguished military career. His father-in-law, Ransom Drips Bernard, served in World War I in the Army medical corps, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. Ransom was not an Iowa State graduate, but his wife, Bernice Corlette Bernard graduated with the class of 1904.

Ransom Drips Bernard (photograph from Box 40, Folder 10)

Both Henry and Ransom documented their service through letters to family back home.  These letters, along with many photographs and artifacts like those mentioned above, can be found in the Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers, RS 21/8/12, in the Special Collections Department. The collection documents several generations of the Black and Bernard families through artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks, and correspondence.

Bernice Black Durand (left) and Rachel Kleinschmidt (right) going through the Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers (RS 21/8/12), which Bernice donated to the department and Rachel processed.

Rachel (right) showing Bernice (right) the processed Henry Montgomery Black and Bernice Bernard Black Family Papers in the storage area.

Interested in finding out more about the collection?  You can read the finding aid online, and then come visit the Special Collections Department (open M-F, 9-4) and let us know which boxes you would like to see!

A World War I Experience, In Honor of Veteran’s Day

We have a number of veteran’s collections here documenting both alumni and other Iowans’ service to our country.  In addition, we also have records related to Iowa State’s Department of Military Science (see the 13/16 listing in our online inventory).  One way of finding some of our veterans collections is through our subject guides, which contain a listing of manuscript collections related to the Civil War, World War I and Word War II.  One of our veteran’s collections include the Fred O. Gordon Papers (MS-666).  Gordon served during World War I, and we have a small collection which provides a brief view into his service in Europe.

Fred Otto Gordon was born October 24, 1894.  His parents were George and Martha (Hyde) Gordon, and the family lived in Arlington, Iowa.  He enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 9, 1918.  After completing a training course for electricians at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and sent to Europe in July 1918.  He was assigned to Battery F, 119th Field Artillery.  Wounded on October 1, 1918, he returned to the United States in April 1919 and was discharged from the Army on May 20, 1919.

Two pages from the collection’s photograph.  In addition to the photograph album, there is also folder of loose photographs.

The World War I material includes a diary, correspondence, selective service and training certificates, a pay record book, newspaper clippings, and photographs.  The diary covers the time from Gordon’s enlistment until his discharge and records events such as the sinking of a submarine while on ship for Europe, artillery action, and being wounded and taken to the army hospital.  The diary, containing very brief entries at the back of the notebook, also includes notes about conventional signs and army codes.  Although only a few pages in length, Gordon’s diary contains enough detail to give the reader a window into one Iowa veteran’s experience.  For instance, one day’s entry states that he was in Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower, and the next entry (thirteen days later – August 29) he has experienced his first bomb and shell fire.  In addition, many of his entries contain the length of marches, or “hikes,” as he often calls them.  Many were impressively long for a single day, and there are quite a number which were done in the rain.

If you are interested in taking a look at this collection here in our department, please visit the collection’s online finding aid, which will provide you with a more in-depth description and folder listing of the collection’s contents.

We have a few personal papers of our veterans here in our department, but the national military service records are housed at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO.  Check out the blog post by our Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, to find out about the process of requesting a copy of a military service record – and a little about Ferriero’s own military service record housed at the NHPRC.

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