Women’s History Month: New Addition to the Woman Suffrage Collection!

The department recently received a letter, pictured below, that has now been placed in the Woman Suffrage Collection, MS 471.


Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

Letter from Mary Safford to Mrs. E. N. Mann, 1912; MS 471, box 1, folder 6

This letter, written on October 14, 1912, was addressed to Mrs. E. N. Mann of Boone, from Mary Safford, President of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association. Rev. Safford wrote urging Mrs. Mann to accept a position on the Board of Directors of which she was elected after having left an unnamed convention. Rev. Safford wrote:

In any event, I wish to congratulate you on the honor conferred, tho [sic] you may think yourself more in need of sympathy. That is understood, at all times, on my part.

In her effort to persuade Mrs. Mann to take the position, Rev. Safford added the following:

I urge all this for the sake of our common cause, and wish to add my personal urgent request that you do not permit anything to cause you to refuse to serve.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know how this turned out, and what convention this was. The following remark makes me even more curious (the words in brackets are educated guesses – the letter is a bit worm-eaten):

I greatly admired your [action] in [the] Convention and wish to express my personal appreciation of your womanhood as manifest by your frank statement.

What was this “frank statement?” What exactly went on at this convention? Perhaps someday we’ll know more about all of this, but in the meantime we have many other women’s rights-related collections that are worth viewing. These include Iowa State University. University Committee on Women Records,  the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, and the collections within the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering. Also see the Women’s Collections subject guide. If you’re at all curious about the history of women’s rights in Iowa, come in and read the rest of the letter and have a look at any of these great collections!

Women’s History Month: Mary Newbury Adams letters

In celebration of Women’s History Month, today we’re highlighting a newly digitized collection of correspondence: a selection of Mary Newbury Adams letters from the Adams Family Papers found on our Digital Collections website.

Portrait of Mary Newbury Adams

Mary Newbury Adams.

Mary Newbury Adams was born in Peru, Indiana, in 1837 to Samuel and Mary Ann (Sergeant) Newbury. Her father strongly believed that both men and women should be educated, and so she attended Mrs. Willard’s Female Seminary in Troy, New York, where she graduated in 1857. A few months later, she married Austin Adams, a young lawyer who had graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard. They moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he eventually became a judge and was later elected to the Iowa Supreme Court and became chief justice there. The Adams had four children, Annabel (b. 1858), Eugene (b. 1861), Herbert (b. 1863), and Cecilia (b. 1865).

In an early letter, dated February 21, 1857, Mary writes from school to her fiancé Austin (“My dear one”). She suggests that his cousin might come to call on her while she is spending a Sunday with her aunt in Lansingburgh, New York, the following month. “I should be happy to see him,” she writes, adding with maidenly modesty that disappears in later letters, “although I should feel rather embarrassed I fear.”

Mary Newbury Adams was an avid student of science, history, philosophy, and poetry. In a letter to her sister Frances, she explains that she has been studying earlier that day about the formation of minerals. “I have little time to go to the library now,” she writes, “but I manage to keep one or two subjects on hand to think about – just to hang my thoughts on.” She adds, “I never was so driven in household matters” (November 9, 1869).

She established the Conversational Club of Dubuque in 1868 to promote access to education and ideas among women. Club meetings were held in the homes of members, and the topics discussed included education, local progress, political science and economy, mental and moral philosophy, the fine arts, political revolutions, belles lettres, ecclesiastical history, natural philosophy, and physical sciences.

Reflecting on the importance of the clubs to women’s lives, she writes to her sister, “Our literary clubs are getting along finely and their beneficial effects are already evident in society. When women have clubs for study then they will not be driven for amusement to make society a business. Any amusement made an occupation becomes dissipation. All dissipation ends in disease. No wonder our American women are so weak” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, March 18, 1869).

In another letter, however, she attributes women’s weakness to a very different cause: the stress that comes from a very active life. Many women today can relate to Mary’s frustrations!

“I am not very well and then am driven by outside work – our literary club’s preparation for the opening of the Institute of Sciences and Arts. One doesn’t want to go and examine minerals when they know nothing of them[,] nor rocks when one can’t tell the difference between stratified and igneous rocks. Then the papers pile in and one keeps reading and taking notes & making scrapbooks so not to lose it before it is gone[.] Then the sewing, calls, church and one’s own body to care for. It’s no wonder American women are weak. They try to live ten lives in one and vote besides.” (Letter to Frances Newbury Bagley, April 26, 1868)

In 1866, Mrs. Adams became interested in women’s suffrage and did much to promote it through writing and speaking. She was a member of the Association for Advancement of Women, the American Historical Association, vice chairperson of Women’s Branch of the World’s Congress Auxiliary of the Colombian Exposition, and numerous literary societies. She was a founding member of the Northern Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.

Mary Newbury Adams, surrounded by seven grandchildren.

Mary Newbury Adams with grandchildren, circa 1898. Caption reads: [top row] Emily Goan, Adelaide Goan, Olive Adams, [bottom row] Percival Goan, Adele Adams (on lap), Harlow Adams.

She wrote a letter home to her children on October 27, 1898, from the National Council of Women meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, describing her busy schedule, meeting with many people, old friends and new. She writes of her “level headed practical friend by my side Maria P. Peck.” Peck was another prominent Iowa woman from Davenport and founder of the Davenport Women’s Club (see entry: “PECK, Maria Purdy,” Woman’s Who’s Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. ed. by John William Leonard. New York, NY: American Commonwealth Company, 1914. pp. 633).

The Mary Adams letters give a peek into the day-to-day concerns of a prominent Iowa suffragist and intellectual during her most active period. Be sure to take a look at the letters in Digital Collections. You can also come in to Special Collections and take a look at the entire Adams Family Papers, MS-10. To see what is included in this collection, take a look at the finding aid.

And to find other important women you can research in Special Collections, check out our Women’s Collections subject guide.

We always look forward to seeing you in Special Collections–online or in person!

Curl up by the fire with a good book: Serendipity Club

For many students, winter break means a welcome vacation from books and reading, but for others, it is a long-awaited opportunity to crack open that new, juicy novel. If you belong in the latter category, and if you are looking for a new book to sink your teeth into, this post is for you!

Today we are taking a look at the Serendipity Club, an organization that was founded in Ames in 1936 by a group of women to promote reading and friendship. The fifteen founding members were the wives of Iowa State College professors and administrators. Among them was Mrs. Vera Friley, wife of the Charles E. Friley, president of the college from 1936-1953.

Serendipity Club members in 1963. Ames Tribune, April 9, 1963.

Serendipity Club members in 1963. Ames Tribune, April 9, 1963.

The name for the club was suggested by Mrs. George Godfrey, who discovered the word coined by Horace Walpole (1717-1797), an English earl and man of letters, when he referred in a letter to a fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. Elizabeth Wilkinson, first chairman of the club, writes in the minutes from the meeting:

These princes in their wanderings were always discovering, either by chance or sagacity, desirable things which they did not seek.

Hence, the word has come to mean the art of acquiring something that is both pleasurable and profitable without any seeming conscious effort” (Box 1, Folder 1. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 6. April 30, 1936. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

The ladies unanimously voted to adopt the name. They decided that, in order to vary the reading, each member would choose her own book to purchase through the club each year and that the books would be passed around amongst the members. At each monthly meeting, there would be no discussion of the books read; instead, the ladies would present information on the author of their chosen book.

Although the ladies did not review their books, there was no lack of lively discussion. At different times, letters would be read aloud that members had sent back from various exotic vacation spots, like California and Italy, or members would show off their souvenirs, such as the time Mrs. Buchanan brought “a most interesting display of textiles who [sic] had been woven in Egypt and it gave us a very definite idea of the garb worn by the shepherds” (Box 1, Folder 2. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 35. November 22, 1949. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

At other times, the discussion would verge on news and scandals of the day, such as when

“Mrs. Buchanan entertained the group with an account of her visit to Father Divine, and his heavens in West Harlem N.Y.–how his obscure theological reasoning confounds his followers; how he manages the financial side of his enterprise and how the advent of one of Father Divine’s “heavens” in Harlem means a moral cleanup of the entire block.

“The description of his Peace Mission[,] a stone house of fifty rooms, his huge Duesenberg sedan, 22 ft in length[,] his numerous important angels, his habit of midnight banqueting and his Pinninah, the only one of his women followers who is permitted to sit beside him, was of interest to all of us” (Box 1, Folder 1. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 60. November 26, 1939. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

The meetings always included refreshments and a social hour. Chairman Dorothy Elwood summed up one meeting: “We had a lovely noisy meeting–the kind Serendipity thoroughly enjoys” (Box 1, Folder 2. Journal of Activities (Minutes), p. 12. September 24, 1947. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library).

Pages from Journal of Activities, showing Gone with the Wind at the top of the list. The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

Pages from Journal of Activities, showing Gone with the Wind at the top of the list (left). The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

Each year, the members chose their new books from those that had been published in the previous year. It is interesting to see which books have had staying power and are still read today. One of the books chosen during the club’s first year, 1936-1937, was Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling Gone with the Wind (find it in the ISU catalog) which had just been published in 1936 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Here is just a selection of some other well-known books and authors, chosen by Serendipity Club members throughout the years:

Now doesn’t that just make you want to curl up in front of the fire with a good book?

To learn more about the Serendipity Club, check out the finding aid for MS 358, The Serendipity Club Records, or come look at it in Special Collections.

Thanksgiving, Part 2

Since we already have several blog posts related to Thanksgiving items here in the Special Collections Department (available here and here), I had not intended to create a Thanksgiving blog post for this year.  However, I recently received a call from Iowa Public Radio asking me if I would like to speak on the Iowa Public Radio program Talk of Iowa.  I was one of three guests on the program last Wednesday morning, and I spoke about some items in our collections which are related to Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed being a part of the conversation, even though the hour’s program was far too short to share all of the recipes I had put together to speak about!

Did you enjoy last Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal?  Are you all ready to start planning for next year’s Thanksgiving?  If so, this is the post for you!  If not, hopefully you will find some of the recipes below interesting, and perhaps they will inspire you to remember them when planning for the 2013 Thanksgiving meal next fall.  Or you may even find a delightful holiday recipe to add some historical cuisine to your menu (holiday or otherwise)!

Below are some of the recipes I did not have a chance to talk about on last week’s radio program, including links to some recipes you can find online through Digital Collections:

The Suffrage Cook Book, published in 1915, was once owned by Carrie Chapman Catt (Iowa State graduate and suffragist).  The cook book contains a wide variety of recipes, including a nut turkey for Thanksgiving.  As the introduction explains:

“Now that we are entering upon an age of sane living it is important that home makers should be impressed with the fact that good health precedes all that is worth while in life, and that it starts in the kitchen; that the dining room is a greater social factor than the drawing room.”

What better introduction do we need to inspire us to create healthy recipes together in the kitchen?

The section under meats contains a chapter on “Nuts as a Substitute for Meat.”  The introduction to this chapter states that since the “soaring cost” of meat, many had been rationing or eliminating their use of meat.  However, as the chapter notes, nuts “contain more food value to the pound than almost any other food product known” and goes on to explain that peanuts have a significant amount of protein.

Interested in making a Nut Turkey (page 68) instead of the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving?  Below is the recipe from this interesting book – I recommend you take a look at it!  As the note found at the beginning of the cookbook states, the book includes notes and check marks made by Carrie Chapman Catt.  If you are not interested in the Nut Turkey, then peruse the digital version, and perhaps make a favorite of Catt’s instead!

Nut Turkey

One quart sifted bread crumbs

1 pint English walnuts (or any other kind of nuts “will go”)

1 cupful of Peanuts (“simply washed and dried”)

1 level tsp Sage

2 tsp Salt

1 T. Parsley

2 Raw eggs (not beaten)

“sufficient water to bind the mass together”

“Then form them into the shape of a turkey, with pieces of macaroni to form the leg bones.  Brush with a little butter and bake an hour in a slow oven and serve with drawn butter sauce.”

Another interesting cookbook which contains a turkey recipe (and this one for the actual bird!) is Mrs. Welch’s Cookbook.  Mary Welch was the wife of Iowa State’s first president, Adonijah Welch.  Mary Welch had many accomplishments in her own right, including helping start and acting as the first head the Department of Domestic Economy (now better known as Home Economics or Family and Consumer Sciences).  In addition to the recipes, the cookbook also contains explanations and experiments for learning the why of cooking.  For instance, the section on Soups, Meats, Poultry and Game tells the reader to thinly cut a piece of meat and then wash and boil it.  She explains the changes that are taking place to the meat, and why.  The recipes sometimes also contain references to this experiment at the beginning of the chapter in order to provide brief lessons within the recipe itself.

Mary B. Welch

Wondering how March Welch recommends making a turkey?  You can find the recipe online here on page 178-180.

Trying to figure out what to do with your turkey leftovers?  A recipe for turkey soup can be found here on page 154.

Interested in learning more about Mary Welch or Carrie Chapman Catt?  The University Archives also holds the papers of both.  The finding aid for the Mary B. (Mary Beaumont) Welch Papers can be found here, and the finding aid for the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers can be found here.

For Women’s History Month: Barbara Forker, Women’s Physical Education, and Title IX

Dr. Forker (at left) teaching a golf course February 19, 1957 (photograph from the Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10-7-13, box 25, folder 1).

Did you know that the first head of the combined men’s and women’s physical education department (now kinesiology) at Iowa State was a woman, Professor Barbara Ellen Forker?  Dr. Forker was a well respected advocate for women’s physical education throughout her career, and the list of her achievements here at Iowa State and nationally is quite impressive.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX on June 23, 1972.  With Title IX’s 40th anniversary approaching, Dr. Forker instantly sprang to mind as a wonderful faculty member to highlight for this year’s Women’s History Month.

Dr. Forker in 1955 (photograph from University Photograph Collection, 10-7-A, box 782). Wondering what books are on those shelves?  The titles include the expected physical education related books such as Physiology of Muscular Exercise but include others such as Essentials of Reading German, Roget’s Thesaurus, Giant, and The Show Must Go On.

After teaching high school and grade school physical education in her home state of Michigan, Dr. Forker served 22 months in Europe with the American Red Cross during World War II. Dr. Forker began her career at Iowa State College (now University) in 1948, eventually becoming Head of the Women’s Physical Education Department (1958-1974). When the men’s and women’s physical education department were combined to create the Department of Physical Education, Dr. Forker became the first Head (1974-1986). She contributed to the creation, in 1960, of a physical education  major for women here at Iowa State. Dr. Forker was an important part of student groups here on campus, including advisor for NAIADS (synchronized swimming) and “I” Fraternity (honorary for outstanding women athletes). In addition, she taught tennis, golf, swimming, badminton, and bowling.

Dr. Forker (second from left) with other physical education staff, taken around 1950. From left to right: Jane Carswell, Barbara Forker, Virginia Taylor, Germaine Guiot, Harriet Watts, Madge Bowers (photograph from Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10-7-13, box 25, folder 1).

In addition to her achievements listed above, Dr. Forker also worked with the United States Olympics (1975-1984). President Gerald Ford appointed Dr. Forker as a member of the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports (1975-1977). She also was a United States Delegate in the Second Educationists Session at the International Olympic Academy, in Olympia, Greece (1977), member (1980-1984) of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Executive Board and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Education Council, and Chairman (1984) of the United States Olympic Committee Symposium at the Pre-Olympic Scientific Congress in Eugene, Oregon.

Passed on June 23, 1972, Title IX requires (with a few exceptions) gender equity in education programs and activities receiving federal funding (the contents of the law can be found here). Not surprisingly, Forker was concerned about the implementation of Title IX here at Iowa State.  Her papers (Barbara Ellen Forker Papers, RS 10-7-13) contain a written piece detailing reactions she received from a variety of Iowa State administrators during the early years of Title IX. In her words, she sought to receive these reactions “Because I have been frustrated on many occasions to get the show on the road at my university, I decided this would be a good opportunity to find out just exactly what selected members of the administration think has happened as a result of the first printing of Title IX and how do they foresee the future…”  This document is now available online.

In addition, we recently made available a couple speeches by Dr. Forker:  “The Government and Amateur Sports” and “Amateur Sports and the Federal Government”. Very similar in content, these speeches describe the establishment, background, and issues to be addressed by the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports (Dr. Forker was one of the 14 members appointed by the President to be on this commission).

In 1997, Iowa State University renamed the Physical Education for Women (PEW) Building the Barbara E. Forker Building in her honor. Forker is pictured above at the dedication.

As is the case with almost all of our collections, this blog post can only give you a very brief window into the life and work of Barbara Forker. Many of the other documents within the collection, in addition to those described above, will provide a glimpse into both the difficulties and accomplishments of a leader in women’s physical education during the 20th century. If you would like to learn more, please take a look at the finding aid/collection description for the Barbara Ellen Forker Papers. Interested in taking a look at some of the contents of the collection?   Then please come on up to the 4th floor of Parks Library and visit the Special Collections Department (open M-F, 9-4)!

Interested in learning more about women’s history here at Iowa State?  A selection of our collections are listed in our Women’s Collections Subject Guide. We also have a few archival materials available online through Scribd (such as the War Training for Women at Iowa State College) and Digital Collections. In addition, we contributed images of Carrie Chapman Catt’s suffrage buttons (the finding aid to her papers, RS 21/7/3, is located here) to the Women’s Suffrage in Iowa Digital Collection.

How Can You Celebrate Both International Women’s Day and National Agriculture Day? Come On Over to the Special Collections Department!

Today is both International Women’s Day and National Agriculture Day!  Since two of our main collecting areas are related to both agriculture and women, we just had to write up a quick post.  Interested in taking a look at our agricultural collections?  Then take a look at our Agricultural Collections Guide.  Interested in looking at our collections related to women?  We have a selection of these collections listed here, including links to other guides related to women.  This includes a link to the listing of our Archives of Women In Science and Engineering.

Wondering how to celebrate National Agriculture Day (March 8, 2012) or National Ag Week (March 4-10, 2012)?  If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of the day and how it was celebrated in the past, the Special Collections Department holds the National Agriculture Day Records, which contains records documenting the beginning of the celebration through the early 1980s.  More on this collection can be found in an earlier blog post.

Governor Anderson signing the 1974 proclamation for Minnesota Agriculture Day (photograph can be found in MS-66, Box 1, Folder 17).  Other items found in this folder include clippings, newsletters and photographs related to the 1973-1974 Agriculture Day activities of the North Central Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).

In addition to National Agriculture Day, today is also International Women’s Day.  Women played vital roles in the history of agriculture, and the Special Collections Department has collections documenting this history.  This includes family collections, such as the Wayne O. and Gayle Carns Burchett Papers which contains diaries, 4-H record books and other items documenting the women and their contributions to the family’s century farm (an earlier blog post on this collection can be found here).  The Iva Verona Horton Papers includes Iva’s diary entries briefly noting activities on her family’s farm.  Interested other collections?  A selection of our manuscript collections related to women involved in agriculture can be found here.

The Iowa Master Farm Homemaker’s Guild Records contains a variety of records including scrapbooks documenting the activities of the women in this organization.  The Guild gives out the Master Farm Homemaker Award, which is meant to recognize the contribution that farm women make to the nation as homemakers and as voluntary community leaders. Pictured above is a scrapbook from the collections.  The page to the left contains clippings about Vera Shivvers, who was named Iowa Master Farm Homemaker in 1953.  She was the third woman elected to the Iowa Senate (1963).  The scrapbooks include clippings, programs, obituaries, correspondence and other materials about the Guild and the women awarded the Master Farm Homemaker Award (arranged by the year the women received the award).

Iowa’s Own Mushroom Expert: Lois Tiffany

Last week, some of you may have listened to Terry Gross interview botanist Nicholas Money on Fresh Air about his research of molds, mushrooms and other fungi. Did you know that Iowa State’s own Professor Lois Tiffany was highly regarded as an expert in mushrooms and other fungi here in Iowa?  The papers of Iowa native and long-time Iowa State University professor Lois Hattery Tiffany were processed last year, and the finding aid for the L. H. (Lois Hattery) Tiffany Papers is available online.

Lois Tiffany

Fondly called “The Mushroom Lady,” Tiffany specialized in mycology (the study of fungi) and taught botany at Iowa State for over fifty years beginning in 1950. Her research included studies of fungal diseases of native prairie plants in Iowa, a 10-year survey of Iowa’s morels, and a study of the fungus flora of Big Bend National Park in Texas. She also participated in the Midwestern mushroom aflatoxin studies of both corn and soybeans (aflatoxins are toxic substances produced by a certain kind of mold, and are most often found on certain types of grains). Her continuing commitment to research led to the naming of a recently discovered Iowa truffle in her honor. The fungus, named Mattirolomyces tiffanyae, was discovered in 1998 in several locations of Story County’s oak woods.

Tiffany also made significant advancement for a woman in the sciences, despite the significant challenges of being a female science professor during the early years of her career. She was the first woman president of the Iowa Academy of Science, the first woman president of the Osborn Club, and the first woman scientist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be awarded the title of Distinguished Professor.

Tiffany dedicated her professional life to helping students. She advised hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students and was the long-time advisor of the Botany Club, taking students on field trips all over the country with her colleague George Knaphus. Tiffany also was a supporter of the Girl Scouts, and helped to found and advise a collegiate chapter at Iowa State. Her dedication to her students is evident in the number of her students who went on to careers in the botany field.

Louis Tiffany’s specimen satchel which she used to carry mushrooms and other specimens she collected during her research and other botany trips.

The collection (1940-2010) contains Tiffany’s professional papers. Starting with her own course notes and dissertation research, the collection spans her entire professional career. The collection contains field notes, conference proceedings, academic writings, departmental committee minutes, and many notes and photographs used in her teaching career. Dr. Tiffany was known for her work as advisor to the Botany Club, and included in the collection are photographs and diaries from over thirty years of annual Botany Club field trips all over the country. The papers also include notes from Tiffany’s many professional organizations, her many summers teaching at the Lakeside Laboratory, her participation in Campus Girl Scouts, and records from the Ten Year Morel Study conducted with George Knaphus.

Pictured above is Tiffany at the 2001 Adult Nature Weekend at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (a field station for Iowa’s state universities located on the west shore of West Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa).  Tiffany is speaking on Ocheyedan Mound, located about 25 miles northwest of the Lakeside Laboratory.  (photograph can be found in box 20, folder 23)

For more information on the Lois Hattery Tiffany Papers, please see the online finding aid:  http://archives.lib.iastate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/finding-aids-RS/13-05-20.pdf.  (If you would like to look at any of the material in the Tiffany Papers, please contact our department in advance.  The materials are stored offsite, and we will need a few days’ advance notice to bring them to our Reading Room.)

Thanksgiving, Iowa, Corn, and Some Cookbooks

Formation for 1935 4-H Girls Convention at Iowa State College (University).

Thanksgiving is now less than a week away!  What might we have here in the Special Collections Department related to Thanksgiving?  Actually, quite a lot if you are creative about it.  You could search our website to find out all the places where Thanksgiving appears in our finding aids, or pick out a diary or two and see if the writer described Thanksgiving activities.  This post, however, will highlight just one of our rare books from the TX809 call number area (which encompasses books dealing with the cooking of cereals/grains…if the photograph above has not given it away, you’ll have to read more to find out which grain this post will discuss!).

One title which caught my eye as I scanned the TX section for possible cookbooks related to Thanksgiving was  “Indian Corn as Human Food” by Mary S. Scott.  The story of how the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn for food, and was very likely served at that first Thanksgiving, helped justify taking the book off the shelf for a Thanksgiving related post.  The book, published in 1889 in Nevada, Iowa contains an interesting selection of recipes and descriptions about corn by an Iowa woman at the end of the 19th century.  Corn was then, as it is now, an important Iowa crop.  Although we may not agree with everything she writes and the views she has, the book is still an interesting read.  A biography of Mary Sophia Scott can be found here (the book, American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with over 1,400 Portraits…, can be found in the library’s reference section under call number CT3260 .W66a).

If you believe that people’s concern with healthy living is only a recent phenomenon, then this book might help to persuade you otherwise!  One of the goals of Scott’s book is to present an alternative, healthy way of eating a very economic grain.  Scott makes this very clear in her opening chapters.  Her first paragraph states “This hand-book is more in the interest of good living than of mere economy in expenses,-meaning by good living not only by preparation of palatable food, but also food conducive to health, comfort and length of days.”  On page 4 Scott writes:  “To bring the attention of American housewives, economists and philanthropists to the possibilities presented in this immense food supply is the object of this unpretentious book.”

Above is pictured the rebound book, Indian Corn as Human Food (call number TX809.C8 Sco85i )

And another one of her reasons for writing the book was “…there is possibility of danger that some of the customs of the early days that are worth preservation may become obsolete;-and, among others, the making of the very best foods from Indian corn may finally be numbered among the Lost Arts.” (page 29).

Hopefully Mrs. Scott would be happy to know that a copy of her book is housed down the road from her hometown of Nevada here in Iowa State’s Special Collections Department!  If you would like to keep some these “customs of the early days” alive, please feel free to come to our department and take a look at this little book!  Included are recipes for a variety of corn breads, brown breads, muffins, hominy, puddings and other dishes made from corn.  There are even instructions for how to make corn ginger bread, ash bread (cooked in the hearth covered with ashes!) and how to hull corn with potash or wood ash.

If you would like to find out other items we might have related to corn here in the Special Collections Department I encourage you to peruse our website…and narrow down what you are looking for…we have quite a lot of collections and rare books related to corn since it is, and has been, an important research area here at Iowa State for many, many years!  A good place to start might be our subject guide on agricultural collections.

A corn train in 1905.  Iowa State Professor Perry G. Holden established the “corn gospel trains” in 1904 which taught farmers how to select and test seed corn throughout the state.  More on the corn trains can be found here and  in the Perry G. Holden Papers (link to finding aid).

There are also a number of other rare books in our collection specifically about cooking with corn.  In fact, another book in the section had these two tickets carefully tucked among some recipe clippings (found in Corn Products Cook Book, call number TX809 M2 H49x 1910b):

Did the owner of this book attend the Thanksgiving football game?  Or did they tuck the tickets away in the cookbook before the game, only to come across them later?  Perhaps impossible to answer, these bits of ephemera sometimes contained in our rare books, holding their own secret history, are fun to come across and wonder about!

Interested in more about Thanksgiving related items and collections in the Special Collections Department?  Last year’s Thanksgiving post was about recipes from a WOI homemaker’s show, The Homemaker’s Half Hour (scripts from this show can be found in the WOI Radio and Television Records, and throughout a variety of other collections)

For more on the history of Thanksgiving from our National Archives, you can go here to see various government documents which created Thanksgiving!

Women’s History Month: Online Collections

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

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

Ada Hayden taking a photograph.

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

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

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

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

Catt’s graduation image

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

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

An Iowa State Professor’s Holiday Tradition


The end of the year, and the holidays that come at this time of year, are definitely upon us.  And winter and the snow that comes with it are here as well.  In honor of the first day of winter (December 21), pictured above is one of my favorite Iowa State winter campus photographs – a horse drawn sleigh in front of Catt Hall (formerly Agricultural Hall and then Botany Hall) and the old greenhouses.

As you may have noticed, we have taken a bit of a break here on the Departmental blog to catch up on things.  However, it seemed fitting to highlight one of our collections during this holiday season.  There are a number to choose from.  Winterfest was celebrated here on campus earlier this December, and hopefully there will be a blog post on this in future years.  Earl Stout, featured in an earlier blog post, probably has some Iowa related sayings and proverbs in his collection.  In fact, many collections here at Iowa State probably have at least one reference to the end of the year and the holidays that come at this time.

Since it is now so close to Christmas, I thought I would highlight one of our University Archives collections of an Iowa State Professor of Textiles and Clothing, Donna Danielson.  Every year, beginning in 1961, Professor Danielson created her own Christmas cards.  In fact, her tradition was inspired by several Iowa State professors she had studied under.   Danielson received her B.S. (1957) and M.S. (1961) from Iowa State University in applied art.  In 1964, Danielson joined the Iowa State University faculty as Assistant Professor of Textiles and Clothing.  She was promoted to Associate Professor (1971) and Professor (1976), and retired from Iowa State in 1991.

Danielson in front of the bookshelf showcasing the Christmas cards she created.

Danielson describes her experiences of creating Christmas cards in a talk, “Variation on a Poem by Phyllis McGinley: Lady Selecting Her Christmas Card Theme,” which is included in the collection of her papers.  The majority of the small collection, however, contains the Christmas cards she created for each year from 1961 to 2001.  The collection includes her first Christmas card from 1961, which, as she describes in her talk, were created individually “using pen and brush-applied white ink on a textured blue surface…the form, that is the lettering itself, was a reflection of my personal and professional interest in lettering and calligraphy.”  As I looked through her Christmas cards, I found myself glancing at her lettering and calligraphy just as much as the illustrations.  She even has a wonderfully clear handwriting style in her everyday handwriting, found on the forms in the biographical files in her collection.

The inside of her first Christmas card from 1961, with the simple message “Christmas Greetings.”

Her cards all have an illustration paired with a saying or verse…however, soon after her first year she no longer created each card individually, but had them printed instead!  We even have one of the printing blocks (shown below), used for her 1963 Christmas cards, in the artifact collection.

As she explained in her talk, most of the verses and sayings she used on her Christmas cards were not written by her.  However, when creating her 1980 Christmas card with her selected theme of Norwegian Christmas cookies and other baked goods, she could not find an appropriate verse, song, poem or saying and so she created her own.

The outside of Danielson’s 1980 Christmas card, with its Norwegian Christmas cookies and other baked goods.  The illustration includes the first line, in Norwegian, of the verse she wrote for the card.

The inside of Danielson’s 1980 Christmas card, containing the verse (in both Norwegian and English) she created to go with the theme.

Other Christmas cards and records related to holiday and winter related festivities can be found here in the Special Collections Department, although this is the only collection we have that is centered around one artist’s Christmas card creations.  Danielson’s papers are preserved in an archival box and archival folders in our storage area.  However, Christmas cards are now being created electronically, such as this year’s card from President Geoffroy.  These electronic cards from President Geoffroy will be in our Web Archive, such as last year’s from 2009.

If you are interested in finding out more about Donna Danielson and her Christmas cards, please take a look at the finding aid of her collection, available online, or come visit us in the Special Collections Department!  Please note, however, that Parks Library, including the Special Collections Department, will be closed for a portion of winter break (from Thursday, December 23, 2010, through Sunday, January 2, 2011).