Iowa State University has the oldest veterinary college at a state school in the United States, founded in 1879. It is fitting, therefore, to examine the University Library’s oldest book in veterinary medicine, Jean Ruel’s Veterinariae medicinae libri II, published in Paris in 1530.
The work’s title page credits Jean Ruel as the work’s “interpreter,” and indeed, the text is a compilation of ancient Greek texts on veterinary medicine, translated into Latin. Ruel, born in 1474, was a French physician and botanist, and in 1509 he became physician to King Francis I, who commissioned the work. Ruel taught himself Greek and Latin, and he published a number of compilations or translations of classical scientific texts. He is best known for authoring his own treatise on botany, De natura stirpium, published six years after the veterinary medical work.
The work was published by Simon de Colines (c. 1480-1546), a Parisian printer and one of the first of the French Renaissance. Colines was connected to the famous Estienne printing family and likely worked under Henri Estienne. When Estienne died in 1520, he took over his print shop until Estienne’s son Robert took it over in 1526. At that point, Colines had set up his own print shop and printed works for the University of Paris. He printed a number of prominent scientific texts, including Charles Estienne’s De dissection partium corporis humani libris tres (1545), and Ruel’s later publication De natura stirpium (1536).
Today, when we think of nonfiction or scholarly books, we expect to see features that help us navigate these texts, such as tables of contents or indexes. These features did not always exist, however, and Colines made important contributions to the development of these textual structures in early printing. This work includes a table of contents (pictured above), which he labels an “Index.”
The text is organized by malady, beginning with fever in horses, and presents texts on that subject by various classical Greek authors. At the end, Ruel has included a glossary of terms.
Front cover of ISU’s copy of Veterinariae Medicinae
The most unique feature of our copy of Veterinariae medicinae is its binding. It is rather inexpertly covered in in three separate pieces of waste manuscript vellum — the spine and the front and back covers. Take a look at the turn-ins (pictured below), or the part of the covering material which is turned over the outer edges of the boards. See how sloppily they are done? A little bit like how I covered my high school text books using an old brown paper grocery bag. A more neatly crafted binding would have mitered corners that come to a point in the corners, rather than this overlapping one, and the turn-ins will usually be neatly covered by the paste-down endpapers.
Do you see “amour” circled in red?
The waste manuscript material is of interest, too. I plead ignorance of all things manuscript-related, but this does not look to me like a typical medieval manuscript piece. To begin with, I don’t believe this is Latin. It looks like French to me. At least, I clearly see the word “amour” (shown above, circled in red). Is this a love poem? It looks like it could be lines of poetry. It is written in a large hand with a lot of space between lines and fairly wide margins. Do you have a guess what this piece of writing is? Do you recognize the hand, and could you hazard a guess at the time period it was written? If you have any insights please share in the comments section below.
Jean Ruel. Veterinariae medicinae libri II. Parisiis: Simonem Colinaeum, 1530. (Call number SF743 H612v)
This semester, members of the SCUA staff have been visiting different parts of campus in order to see other types of repositories and libraries at Iowa State. As a new SCUA staff member, this has also been a good opportunity for me to learn my way around campus and about Iowa State.
A few weeks ago, Rosalie and I toured the College of Veterinary Medicine. Our tour guide, a second year student, showed us around the school and the animal hospital. Part of the tour included visiting their library and seeing the R. Allen Packer Heritage Room. A former faculty member helped create the exhibit, which displays the history of veterinary medicine. It was interesting to see the different advancements and to try to guess how some of the instruments were used. The library has two separate study spaces, one side of the library is reserved for quiet studying and the other side is for group study. This summer the Vet Med Library will undergo renovations as the school expands the women’s locker rooms, which will take over a portion of the library space. The locker rooms are being expanded because the school has outgrown the space as women’s enrollment has increased.
One thing that struck me throughout the tour was the support provided to the vet students and the different classroom spaces they had. When showing us the student lockers and mailboxes, our tour guide mentioned that on big test days the administration puts candy in their mailboxes. There is also an on-site administration and financial aid office. All of the classes are filmed so that students can go back and watch lectures as needed. Another highlight was walking through the anatomy lab while a class was in session and getting to see specimens like an inflated section of a cow’s stomach. For privacy reasons, we could not take photographs in the labs or in the animal hospital. Additionally, the Clinical Skills Laboratory allowed students to practice their sutures using different material that resembled animal skin and organs. Also in the lab is a life-size Holstein dystocia simulator, named Frosty, to help students learn how to deliver calves. There was also a life-size calf replica, named Snowflake. Snowflake was laying on a table and we were able to lift her head in order to judge how heavy a new calf is. It surprised me how heavy her head was!
Touring the College of Veterinary Medicine was a nice
opportunity to see a part of campus that we normally do not get to see. If you
get the opportunity, I would highly recommend taking a tour.
For information about Vet Med, visit their about page or read their news releases. The archives also has information from Vet Med in the RS 14/1 and in the RS 22 collections.
Today’s TBT photo was taken in front of the Vet Med clinic in 1963. As you can see, a camel is being led to the building, perhaps for treatment or an examination. That is quite the departure from the cats and dogs you usually expect to see at the vet’s office!
To learn more about veterinary medicine at Iowa State University, please see our finding aid or stop by the reading room, open 9-5, Monday-Friday.
You may have missed it, but yesterday was National Puppy Day. Yes, there is a national day for puppies. Why shouldn’t there be? Just look at these faces:
National Puppy Day was founded in 2006 to not only celebrate the wonderfulness of puppies, but to also encourage responsible adoption and raise awareness of puppy mills. Just remember, “with cute puppies, comes great responsibility.” (I might’ve paraphrased a little).
Want to see more puppy pictures, or pictures of other animals? Ask about University Photographs RS 14/1 (Veterinary Medicine). If you’re more interested in livestock, we have plenty of those photos in University Photographs RS 9/11 (Animal Science). For wildlife, give University Photographs RS 9/10 (Animal Ecology) a try. Hope to see you soon!
It’s Women’s History Month and perfect timing for another post in our Notable Women of ISU series. This time we’ll take a look at Margaret Sloss, the first woman to graduate with a D.V.M. at Iowa State (1938).
Margaret Wragg Sloss was born in October 28, 1901, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She and her family moved to Ames in 1910, where her father, Thomas Sloss, was hired as the superintendent of buildings, grounds, and construction at what was then Iowa State College. Sloss House, the home of the Sloss family for 11 years starting in 1925, is now the home of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.
Sloss spent her entire career at Iowa State, working her way up from Technician in Veterinary Pathology (1923-1929) to Professor (1965-1972), and Professor Emeritus upon her 1972 retirement. She was the author of many publications and was active in several professional associations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Phi Kappa Phi, and helped establish the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association (1947) for which she served as president (1950-1952).
In one of her writings, she made the following observation (from a shortened paper or possible speech derived from her publication “Women in the Veterinary Profession,” undated, RS 14/7/51, box 3, folder 10):
The question presented most frequently to the woman veterinarian is, “Why did you decide to study veterinary medicine?” This question always puzzled me as I am sure it has puzzled other women veterinarians. Should, I ask myself, one have to have a reason for taking the course that seems logical to everyone, simply because they belong to the female sex? Are men veterinarians plied with this question as constantly as women? It seems just as illogical to ask a woman why she decided to study veterinary medicine as it would be to ask a man why he took up dancing, singing, costume design or any number of other things as a profession.
Undoubtedly, many female veterinarians have been asked that over the years, and women in other traditionally male-dominated careers have encountered (and still encounter) the same. Being the first woman to graduate veterinary school at Iowa State, Sloss helped pave the way for future women veterinarians – who now dominate the profession.
Sloss received much recognition for her achievements, including an honor by the Women’s Centennial Congress as one of 100 women in the United States to successfully follow careers in 1940 that were not followed by women 100 years previously. She also earned the Iowa State Faculty Citation (1959) and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service (1974), as well having Iowa State’s women’s center – the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center – named after her (1981).
She passed away on December 11, 1979 and is interred in the Iowa State University Cemetery.
Margaret Sloss knew what she was talking about when she told the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society the following:
When you are working toward some dream, the first thing you must do is wipe out all the reasons why you cannot have or achieve it. Keep your mind only on the things that must be done to realize it. Toss out all the reasons why you think you cannot have what you want. For it will profit nothing to think up what you want if you are going to think immediately of doubts that you can attain it. (Margaret Sloss Papers, RS 14/7/51, Box 3, Folder 1)
Sloss’s own dream had been to become a veterinarian, and, indeed, she was the first woman to graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State College in 1938, and only the 27th such woman in the United States.
Pioneer in her field
A sheet of data on women students in veterinary medical programs around the United States found in the Margaret Sloss Papers (RS 14/7/51) paints a vivid picture of the environment that Sloss was working in. This data shows a total of 37 female applicants to ten veterinary medical programs surveyed for the year 1937, of which nine had been accepted; the total number of female students that had ever graduated from those schools was 16. The “policy toward acceptance” category (seen below in the far right column) is even more revealing. The most positive comment is, “Favored but realize hazard of short professional careers.” The rest range from “not enthusiastic” to “Discourage to extent of ability.” Iowa State’s policy? “Not favored. No out-of-state applicants will be accepted” (Box 1, Folder 10).
Sloss had a battle to fight on her own behalf. Initially rejected as an applicant, she successfully argued that the land grant charter for Iowa State stipulated that admission to the college could not be refused based on sex. In 1939, Lois Calhoun became the second woman DVM to graduate from ISC, but it was another 25 years before the next woman graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1964! For the subsequent decade, there were only two to three female graduates out of each class of 60 students; beginning in 1975, women started to make up 25-30% of each class. Since then, the percentage of women studying veterinary medicine has increased significantly. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in its Annual Data Report, 2013-2014 shows the current enrollment of women in US veterinary medical colleges to be 79.6%.
Sloss was clearly a pioneer in her field, but she spoke very moderately when discussing her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated profession. In a letter to Charles Paul May dated February 8, 1963, she writes of herself and fellow graduate Calhoun, “Perhaps neither one of us is a very good judge of how prejudice [sic] people were as far as women in the profession is concerned. We went on the assumption that we were medically and scientifically minded and would rather be in veterinary medicine than in human medicine.” She goes on to say, “As far as our classmates and professors were concerned, sure we took a lot of kidding but since being on the staff here at I.S.U. I realize we didn’t take anymore than some of the fellows did or do now” (RS 14/7/51, Box 1, Folder 10).
Women’s movement–Carrie Chapman Catt and Eleanor Roosevelt
This is not to say that she did not recognize the difficulties faced by women in the profession. In 1939, she wrote a paper titled “Women in Veterinary Medicine” whose purpose was “to disprove a current theory that it is useless to spend time and money educating a woman in this science” (RS 14/7/51, Box 3, Folder 6). In a letter to Iowa State alumna and woman’s suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt the following year, she describes wanting to publish the paper. However, “its nature is such that it must almost of necessity appear in a women’s journal, preferably a women’s medical journal. So far as I have been able to learn, there is none such. I am sure that it would never be accepted by any of the man-published scientific journals, and probably would lead to a mild furor if it were” (Box 1, Folder 13).
This letter was written on the occasion of the Women’s Centennial Congress, organized by Catt to commemorate one hundred years of progress in women’s rights. Catt had written to Sloss to announce that Sloss had been selected as one of 100 women honored for success in various fields. Sloss wrote back to convey “the great honor” she felt of being recognized and to express her regret at not being able to attend. “I know of nothing from which I would derive more benefit and pleasure,” she wrote. “However, since it is impossible to be with you, I can only assure you that I shall be thinking of your group, officers and delegates, frequently and earnestly next week, and wishing for you the most successful and inspirational meeting possible” (Box 1, Folder 13).
Catt wasn’t the only prominent woman of her time to recognize Sloss’s early achievement. Four years later, in 1944, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited Sloss to a luncheon at the White House on October 6.
After graduating with her veterinary medical degree, Sloss began teaching at Iowa State as an instructor in 1941. In 1943, she was granted tenure as an Assistant Professor, but here she seemed to reach a glass ceiling. It took fifteen years for her to be promoted to Associate Professor in 1958, and finally to full Professor in 1965. When she retired in 1972, she was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus. Although recognition came slowly, she made important contributions to the department. Former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Norman F. Cheville wrote, ” As a new faculty person in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Margaret Sloss moved the established discipline of pathology into a newly developing area of clinical pathology, the study of blood, urine and other body fluids to aid the diagnosis of disease. Before her time, clinical pathology had not been used nor taught in the curriculum” (letter dated March 1, 2002, box 1, folder 17).
Sloss retired from ISU in 1972 at the age of 70. To mark the occasion, Professor F.K. Ramsey, head of the Department of Veterinary Pathology, organized a celebration in her honor, which he entitled “This Is Your Life.” He invited family and friends of Sloss to contribute a letter as well as a monetary gift to present to Sloss. So many letters and donations came in that the letters fill up four bound volumes, and she received a check for $2,071.00! (Considering inflation, that amount would come to over $11,000 today.) This is truly a testament to her influence and popularity as a professor, colleague, mentor, and friend. One letter-writer describes her as one “who always wore a radiant smile and greeted me in the corridors with a pleasing twinkle in her eyes.” Another noted her “patience, sincerity, joviality and always a good humor.” Still another writes, “I just wanted to write this letter to one of the truly nicest persons that I once had the pleasure of being associated with” (Box 5, Folders 1-3).
Sloss has received many recognitions from Iowa State University and in Iowa; only a few are noted here. During her lifetime, she was awarded the Iowa State Faculty Citation in 1959 and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service in 1974. After her death in 1979, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center on ISU campus was named in her honor in 1981. She was also posthumously inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
The College of Veterinary Medicine here at ISU has a long and storied history. It the first state-funded veterinary school in the United States and continues to be a well-regarded college 136 years after its founding. It has been headquartered at multiple locations on the ISU campus and it’s current home was built just south of campus in 1976. A great deal of information on this “new” facility is available in the recently processed College of Veterinary Medicine Administrative Records, RS 14/1/8, along with general administrative correspondence, committee minutes and reports, annual reports, accreditation records, awards given out by the college, and materials regarding brucellosis.
The first building to house the vet school was South Hall in 1879. In 1881, it moved to North Hall, and in 1885 relocated to the Sanitary Building (Cranford Hall), now the site of the Memorial Union. The school’s headquarters moved to Old Agricultural Hall (now Catt Hall) in 1893 and remained there until 1912, when the Veterinary Quadrangle (now Lagomarcino Hall) was completed. The Quadrangle consisted of four buildings with a courtyard in the middle. A fifth building to the north was expanded into the Stange Memorial Clinic in 1938, now Industrial II. In 1956, the Veterinary Diagnostic Building was completed. However, by the 1950s, the Division of Veterinary Medicine, as it was known at the time, was outgrowing its facilities. It wasn’t long before plans were being made to create a new complex for what would become the College of Veterinary Medicine.
An early 1960s proposal entitled “Proposal for New Veterinary Medical Facilities” (Box 26, Folder 1), outlines reasons and proposed plans for a new complex for the College of Veterinary Medicine. According to the proposal, demand for veterinarians was at the highest it had ever been at that point, and was about 3 or 4 times the supply and their was a “critical need for more veterinarians in Iowa.” Teaching facilities at the time were inadequate, and enrollment was projected to increase, the combination of which would put the college’s accreditation at risk. It pointed out that previous reports indicated that $10 million would be needed for the remodel of its established facilities and predicted that new facilities could be built for the same price. This would free up the Quadrangle for use by other colleges on campus.
It was proposed that the new facilities be built just north of the existing Veterinary Medicine Research Institute near Highway 30, and highlighted the many advantages of this location. These included proximity to existing research facilities and the nearness of Highway 30, which would better enable vets to get out to the country for emergency visits and would be more accessible to out-of-town clients. The only disadvantages addressed were the physical separation of Vet Med from other teaching facilities, isolation from the library, and the possible hindrance of interdisciplinary efforts.
Ultimately, it was concluded that the college would eventually be removed from campus. As we know, new facilities were indeed built in the proposed area. The disadvantage of the distance of the campus library was remedied by establishing the Veterinary Medicine Library at the new complex, plans for which can be found in Box 26, Folder 8. Plans for improving the Vet Med facilities evolved over the course of the 1960s, and many, many grant applications were submitted over the years, which are also in this collection.
After years of planning and securing funds, the College of Veterinary Medicine complex was completed in 1976 for $25.6 million – a notably higher price tag than initially proposed. The dedication ceremony was held on October 16, 1976 in conjunction with an academic symposium on October 15th. George C. Christensen (Vice President for Academic Affairs and former Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine) presided over the ceremony, with speeches given by Durwood L. Baker (Associate Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine), Frank K. Ramsey (Distinguished Professor, Veterinary Pathology), Mary Louise Petersen (President, State Board of Regents), and W. Robert Parks (President of Iowa State University). Philip T. Pearson (Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine), gave the acceptance speech. A map of the Vet Med complex today can be viewed here.
For more information, please come in and look through this collection and any of our other Vet Med collections. We’d love to see you!
It’s African-American History Month and it’s past time that we featured Frederick Douglas Patterson (’23 and ’27) – an alumnus who had a significant and continuing impact on educational funding and college attainment. He is most known for his work with the Tuskegee Institute (now University) and as the founder of the United Negro College Fund (now UNCF).
This week’s featured photo comes from the early days of the School of Veterinary Medicine (now College of Veterinary Medicine) of Iowa State College (University). This veterinary ambulance was likely used to transport injured horse and cattle to the veterinary lab for treatment.
Iowa State University has been a leader in the field of veterinary medicine from the beginning. In 1879, what was then Iowa Agricultural College opened the first state-funded veterinary school in the country, offering a two-year program. Eight years later, it was expanded to a three-year program, and in 1903 became a four-year program, once again becoming the first in the country to offer such a program.
As the semester winds down, exam season is in full force across the Iowa State University campus. Let us all take a moment to appreciate the plight of this puppy, who is undergoing an exam of his own: veterinary medicine students are examining him (or her) for mange mites under the watchful eye of their professor.
More photos of veterinary medicine across the ages – including one featuring a camel – are available at the Special Collections Department Flickr site. More information about the history of the College of Veterinary Medicine is available on the College’s web site. We warmly wish a successful (and mite-less) exam season for all faculty and students!