Archive for November, 2012

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Van Allen Explorer I Data Tapes: Preservation and Digitization

Image of James Van Allen with data tapes

The UI Libraries has been awarded $200,000 from the Carver Trust to digitize the data tapes from the Explorer I satellite mission that led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts. These tapes were recovered from the basement of Maclean Hall through the outstanding efforts of our Preservation Dept. in 2010-2011. During that time, tapes containing the original data from Explorer I, III, IV, and a few subsequent satellites, were cleaned and transferred to the Van Allen collection here in the University Archives. We will be using the funds from the Carver Trust to digitize the data from the Explorer I tapes and make it freely accessible online in its original raw format, to allow researchers or any interested parties to download the full data set. This resource will be complemented by an immersive online site containing material from the Van Allen archive that provides historical context and interpretation for the interested general public. This material includes scans of memos, planning documents, diagrams, correspondence, and diary entries, along with photographs, video, and audio items. The site will tell the story of James Van Allen’s work and the Explorer I mission in an interactive manner, and will also provide curriculum that will harness these unique historical and scientific resources to engage a new generation of students with the possibilities of scientific discovery.
 

For more information on NASA’s recent announcements relating to renaming efforts honoring James Van Allen see the November 12th article in “Iowa Now”  and the announcement from NASA.

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Historic Foodies, Talk of Iowa, and Marlborough Pudding/Pie

Thank you to all who attended last week’s first meeting of the Historic Foodies!  For those of you who missed the meeting, Kathrine’s Moermond from the Old Capitol Museum told tales of tracking down the variations of Marlborough Pudding.  I’ve included her account here and hear her tell some of the tale on this week’s episode of Talk of Iowa 

Marlborough Pudding or Pie

I happened across the recipe as I was looking through Alice Electa Pickard’s recipe book that dates back to 1868 (page 49).  I love to look for new dessert recipes and this one intrigued me because of its unusual name and simple ingredients.  Sure enough, the pie I found to be a traditional Thanksgiving dessert and its praise was beaming on the Old Village Sturbridge Village website where if you’re looking for traditional New England Turkey Day recipes, this would be place to find them.  But, I was intrigued.  Marlborough Pie is very English, calling for nutmeg, lemon, and apple.   And, were some of the Pilgrims yearning for the mother land when preparing and serving this pie?  The recipe listed on the website called for a slightly different preparation and a few different ingredients.  So, I just had to make both. 

Handwritten recipe

 

Marlborough Pie, Alice Electa Pickard, 1868

My first attempt at making Alice’s recipe was exuberant and exciting and I think I took things a little too fast.  I had consulted another recipe online though that recommended grating the apples directly into the batter as to prevent browning, so that’s what I did.  I also had the hunch to melt the butter first before blending.  I prepared the all butter crust first though with a recipe from Sarah Josepha Hale’s book, Early American Cookery, 1841.  I then prepped the ingredients, using a cheap chardonnay for the wine and large brown organic eggs.  Since she said “spice to taste”, I took the liberty of using freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger as well.   I then grated the apple into the mix, stirred, and then placed it in the “undercrust” and then into the oven.  Since she does not reference a temperature, I went for a reliable 350 Fahrenheit and checked it at 35 minutes. And, it turned out just right.  Or, so I thought.  Soon after cutting into it I realized the egg had separated from the apple and there were two distinct layers.  The taste was great, but I thought that this might not be the end goal. 

First Attempt - image of pie 

1st attempt at Alice’s recipe

The following evening I attempted to make Alice’s version again and the Old Sturbridge Village version.   The Old Sturbridge Village version is a modern adaptation of Amelia Simmons’ version from 1796 and includes stewed apples, lemon, cream, sherry, and two teaspoons of grated nutmeg.  Spicy!  In hopes to save time, I stewed the apples for the new recipe first and prepared the filling for Alice’s recipe.  I then made the crusts for each and then put the new recipe together.  I baked the new one first and Alice’s second.  In my timely preparation for both pies, I did not realize that this actually was the key to Alice’s recipe, let the filling do some blending in the bowl before you bake it. 

second attempt - image of two pies 

Old Sturbridge Village pie (left) and Alice’s pie (right).

As I sliced into the second attempt at Alice’s pie I let out a sigh of relief, it wasn’t in two layers!  I realized then that all that time it sat waiting to place in the oven probably helped to make the ingredients blend happily with one another.  Then, I cut open the second and I noticed the texture was much different, almost more of a cooked applesauce custard.  In the Old Sturbridge Village recipe I had only used one teaspoon of grated nutmeg.  However, it was still very alive with nutmeg, and with sherry.  Both turned out to be very tasty, but I have to give my props to Alice’s recipe.  It didn’t call for lemon, probably too expensive at the time to include, and it was very basic with great results.  The texture of the pie hints to apple, but along with the eggs and butter, comes together to make a lovely and delicate dish. 

I like Alice’s recipe so much that I’m sharing it with boyfriend’s family for their Thanksgiving!

 

Next meeting: Tuesday, December 11 at 6PM. Our theme for next month is holiday recipes and cookies so find a recipe from DIY History or the Szathmary printed cookbooks in Special Collections and bring a story of your success or failure, and photos of your dish as well as a sample to share! We’ll start the meeting with hands-on time to explore the handwritten manuscripts from the Szathmary Culinary Collection and tours of the collection.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning I was a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa program, where we discussed Thanksgiving recipes, cookbooks, and traditions. You can listen to an archived version of the program here. Below are links to some of the items from Special Collections that were discussed on the show.

Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cookbooks

DIY History: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu

Mary Shelton, Dec. 7, 1865 (1865-12-07): http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cwd/id/4275

Thomas Rescum Sterns from a letter home dated Nov. 28, 1862: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cwd/id/15325

 

Below are a few other Thanksgiving-food related images from the Szathmary collection:

The Thanksgiving table , from the Pennsylvania Cookbook: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/120/7344

Turkey, from the Pennsylvania cookbook, 1889:  http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/120/7352

James Doak cookbook: The Art of Cookery, circa 1760s, Turkey recipe: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/116/7052

James Doak cookbook: The Art of Cookery, circa 1760s, Sauce for a Boild Turkey: http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/transcribe/scripto/transcribe/116/7074

Ginger Cakes, 1840s (page 24): http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cookbooks/id/2865

Of course carving the fowl is often one of the most challenging steps of the Thanksgiving meal. Look no further than this copy of Pierre Petit’s carving manual of 1647, which has been extensively modified with manuscript additions and drawings:

 

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New Exhibition – Reconstructing ‘The American Reader’

The American Reader Title PageSpecial Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce our newest exhibition Reconstructing ‘The American Reader’ from English Department graduate student Miriam Janechek which highlights a new type of research now possible with access to searchable digitized copies of books online.  The American Reader is a textbook printed in 1808 which, like other readers, combines hundreds of excerpts from different types of published works but includes no citations.  By searching the massive numbers of books now searchable in the Google Books Project, in combination with the wealth of 18th century books in Special Collections, it becomes possible to trace the origins of the passages to find the original publications, collect them together and display them to reveal a snapshot of the types of works that made up The American Reader and more broadly that comprised education in 1808, just as the United States was abandoning European educational models and developing a sense of national identity through education. 

The exhibition can be viewed just outside Special Collections & University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library anytime the library is open and continues until January 3, 2013.

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The Glenn Voting Machine

by Shawn R. Conley –  student worker in Special Collections

Cover of The Glenn Voting MachineWith the election year in full swing and Election Day looming, most of us will be making our way to that legendary voting booth with the fancy curtains to cast our vote and take part in yet another one of our civic duties. Most of all, and assuredly most rewarding, is having the liberty to have taken part in a Presidential election that was established in our country nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. Delusions of Americana aside, many of us are just glad to get that sought-after “I Voted” sticker one we’ve finished.

Why use Glenn Voting Machines?As millions of men and women flood the voting booths across the nation, the arduous task remains: how does one count these millions of votes? The task of an accurate and speedy vote count is something our forefathers have been tackling since our country was founded. During the 19th century, a flurry of new ideas and machines arose to combat this problem. One of these companies attempting to deliver “…a fair vote and an honest count” according to their brochure from over a century ago, was the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While sorting and cataloguing my way through a collection of papers and letters from E.J.C. Bealer, a very prominent businessman and stone quarry magnate from Cedar Rapids, I came across a large number of stock certificates from as far back as 1898 from long defunct companies like the Tykoon Mining Company and the American Gold Production Company. Tucked between these certificates was a little blue book with gold letters titled, “The Glenn Voting Machine.” Mr. Bealer had quite an investment in this company through the many stock certificates I found.

“Why use Glenn Voting Machines?” asks the third page of the brochure. During this time in American history, the entire logistical process of voting was changing directions. Through the evidence exhibited by this brochure, one can see how appealing casting a vote by machine would be. All one must do according to page nine is to “place the pointers on the names of the candidates of your choice — walk out.” Not only would the mechanical voting machine make voting much simpler, but it might even make voting fun or appealing which is something political scientists try to figure out to this day.         

Image of voting machineTaking a look at the illustrations of the machine, one can make out the presidential candidates of the 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker. The simplicity of the machine is hinted throughout the brochure, ensuring that every gentleman’s vote is precise. Sorry ladies, your time hasn’t arrived just yet…give it a few more years. Towards the end of the brochure are many newspaper articles and clippings, exhibiting how the Glenn Voting Machine promises “Fast Returns!” and “desirability” of a mechanical voting machine as compared to old-fashioned paper ballots.

So when you finally do make your way to the voting booth, pull those fancy curtains shut, and cast your vote for President of the United States, remember that it was through the inventions of companies like the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa that allow us to ever so conveniently cast our votes on LED screens and receive “Fast Returns!”