Unless we have rain and that very soon the corn crop in this state will be almost a complete failure … The last rain that we have had to amount to any thing or wet the ground more than to lay the dust fell last April. So you may judge for your self whether we need any rain in Iowa. The women say if we do not get rain that there will be no “inyens nor beens, nor potatoes,” if that be so we will have to live without the vegetable matter, over which they do the principal superintending – the women I believe generally “boss” the affairs in the garden, and I suppose they have a right so to do …
Iowa Digital Library Category
Recent temperatures in the 100s here in Iowa have us cowering in our climate-controlled offices, but a browse through past heat waves documented in the Iowa Digital Library helps to put things in perspective. Worst of these was the summer of 1936, the hottest on record, marking the end of the Dust Bowl years. A July 16th Daily Iowan story put heat-related fatalities in those pre-air-conditioning days at 3,500; according to government figures, the death toll rose to 5,000 by the end of the summer.
Despite the heat, some Iowa Citians still found the strength to indulge their intellectual curiosity, as shown in this D.I. investigation of whether it really is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. (Answer: Not really.)
In a twelve-page letter from soldier Sam Clark to his sweetheart Tillie Wise back in Iowa, a paean to the power of correspondence to lift the spirits of the troops:
“I do think it does Soldiers the most good of any other race of beings to get letters. If you could only see them gather around when the camp mail is being distributed, each one trying to be the nearest to the mail man whoes province it is to distribute, and should any of them happen to receive more than one letter on the same day it is more than the mind can digest, until the excitement produces a kind of reaction on their mental digestive organs. It seems to me that I can go through camp after the mail has been disbursed, and by the fallen chops and broad grins, I think I can point out nearly every man who has been fortunate enough to receive a “friendly scratch” from the dear ones left behind. Soldiers are with letters
like gold seekers “If an ounce of diamonds were to fall into their hand every day they would hold out the other hand just as eager for more.” I think that will apply to the Soldiers in regard to receiving letters
University of Iowa alumna Mildred Wirt Benson — journalist, pilot, amateur archaeologist, ghost writer, and the original author of the Nancy Drew mystery series — was born on this day in 1905. To mark the anniversary, we’re featuring a gallery of her book covers, from the iconic to the unintentionally terrifying, on our Iowa Digital Library Pinterest account. View even more digitized artifacts at the Mildred Wirt Benson Digital Collection.
This week on Twitter, we’ve been featuring 4th of July-related excerpts from the Civil War Diaries and Letters digital collection, as transcribed by our crowdsourcing volunteers. Unfortunately for the soldiers, the holiday typically held business as usual — the fatigue, discomfort, and anxiety of life on the battlefield — mixed in with the occasional historic event.
In contrast are letters from home, detailing 4th of July picnics, concerts, and various other “selebrations.” A favorite, written to Tillie Wise Clark from her niece Bell, is excerpted at length below. While sparing a few lines for her brother Lycurgus, a captain in the 101st Colored Infantry Regiment, Bell shows a preoccupation with parties, dresses, and beaus that’s worthy of Scarlett O’Hara herself.
Dear Aunt Tillie,
…Aunt Bell and Jessie went to Winona, [for] a festival of some kind there in the afternoon. I could not go, as I was so fortunate as to get my face poisoned Wednesday, consequently it is about as big as two faces ought to be, with the exception of the eyes, which are uncommonly small. Aunt Bell wants me to get my Photo now, but I do not think twould be pretty so I will not follow her advice…
Curgus is coming home in July, and perhaps when he goes back will come by Winona. Seems to me I’ll be kinder glad to see him, wish mother and all the rest of the folks would come with him. I rather think from the way he writes, he has a notion of joining the regulars. I don’t want him to, dear knows, but of course he will do as he likes.
By the way I have been to Deer Park. Went Wednesday last in a buggy or carriage with nineteen others. Had ever so much fun, Colvins, all but Herve McCartys, Wilsons, Grays, and some others, made quite a respectable load. “Nely” Colvin and I were on the seat with the driver, Frank McCarty. Aunt Bell did not go. Consequently there were but about three I was acquainted with, didnt have any introductions either, but I don’t care. Enjoyed myself the best kind. The folks from about Uncle Abner have not gone yet, I may get to go again, possibly.
I had almost forgotten to tell you I have such a very pretty new dress, not quite made yet. I just know I will get a beau the fourth of July, as I’m most determined to wear it. Am going to get a hat this week also if I can find any thing in Winona or Lostant pretty enough for me to wear, know I’ll look awful handsome if my face should happen not to get well. Guess I will get a letter from somebody this week, wouldn’t you like to see it. I’m getting anxious myself. The cherries are turning red, will have pies of them this week, Grandmother says, the strawberries are all gone, were not very many in the first place…
Much love to all the folks, and please look over all errors.
This and other images of 4th festivities, now featured on the Iowa Digital Library Pinterest site:
During a war conducted without telephones, Skype, or even reliable mail delivery, Civil War soldiers treasured their letters from home – and lucky for us, because they kept them all their lives and passed them down through their families to us. William Titus Rigby expresses his gratitude to his correspondents eloquently:
“I never received a letter in my life which gave me as much pleasure as these two did. You must remember how we are Situated away from home of course & without any mail for two weeks… when we are not expecting them comes those messages from home. It is a poor comparison to say they came like “Sunbeams in a Shower” It is as though a person completely lost in a dark night Should suddenly recognize the light burning in his own home.”
Celebrate the solstice with this selection of summery items from the University of Iowa Museum of Art Digital Collection:
The University of Iowa Libraries is pleased to announce the release of the Office of the State Archaeologist Photographs Digital Collection: digital.lib.uiowa.edu/osa. This unique digital collection currently includes over 23,000 original photographs and slides from the State Archeological Repository curated by the Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), the University of Iowa. Digitization is ongoing and will grow the online collection to over 46,000 digital images by the project’s end. These photographs provide critical visual field information on archaeological investigation at 2,023 archaeological sites recorded in the official Iowa Site File. The digitization of this collection will support and enhance the wide range of research and teaching activities offered by OSA staff and will expand access to these valuable historic resources for all Iowa citizens.
Ranging from 1952 to 2007, the photographs document the history of the last half century of archaeological research in Iowa and serve as a record of many of the cultural artifacts associated with many historically significant sites. Fort Atkinson (Winneshiek County), a historic military outpost in the Neutral Ground occupied between 1840 and 1849, Blood Run (Lyon County), the site of one of the largest Oneota villages in Iowa, and Cherokee Sewer (Cherokee County) the site that yielded Iowa’s oldest musical instrument are a few of the historic sites represented in the digital collection.
Digitization of this collection was made possible by a grant from the Historical Resource Development Program (HDRP) of the State Historical Society of Iowa.
The collection is the latest edition in the Iowa Digital Library, which features more than a half million digital objects created from the holdings of the University of Iowa Libraries and its partners. Included are illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, fine art, political cartoons, scholarly works, and more. Digital collections are coordinated by Digital Research & Publishing.