At the end of January of 2021, NBC News Anchor and Correspondent Tom Brokaw announced his retirement after a remarkable 55 years of journalism.
Brokaw started his television career right here in Iowa, working at KTIV in Sioux City. He moved on KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska and then to WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. By 1966, Brokaw joined the NBC News team reporting out of Los Angeles for KNBC. This move would launch of a long and successful career for the journalist.
By 1973, NBC made Brokaw a White House correspondent, just in time to cover the historical Watergate scandal and follow the resignation of President Nixon. After three years, NBC made him co-host, along with Jane Pauley, of the Today Show.
Brokaw would remain cohost of the Today Show until 1981, when he was moved to co-host Nightly News with Roger Mudd. However, Brokaw was made sole anchor a year later in September of 1983. While with Nightly News, Brokaw covered some of the largest stories of modern history, including the Challenger disaster, EDSA Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Clinton’s Impeachment, and 9/11.
After the 2004 Presidential Elections, Brokaw stepped down as anchor of Nightly News. During his time as anchor, he had made the program the most popular news network in the United States, ranking first in the Nielsen ratings since 1996. He stayed on as an analyst for NBC News and anchored and produced various documentaries for the network.
Brokaw, who turned 81 in February, is the only NBC reporter to led all three of NBC’s primary news shows: Nightly News, Today Show, and Meet the Press. Brokaw hosted Meet the Press on an interim basis after colleague and friend Tim Russert suddenly passed away in 2008.
Now Tom Brokaw is taking the time to rest and enjoy retirement. Although, Brokaw continues to be on boards of several organizations, is still writing, and continues to work on projects for various organizations.
In 2016, University of Iowa Libraries became home for the Tom Brokaw Papers, residing in Special Collections & Archives. Along with the news of this retirement, Special Collections & Archives has received more items from Brokaw’s NBC office that will join the his papers and collection, continuing the story of this historic career. The items include date books, photographs from in the field as well as his time on Meet the Press, election guidebooks from the 2000s, and several records of various events and projects Brokaw was involved with. Arriving with these new materials are also 5 of Brokaw’s Emmys (he’s been nominated 39 times for an Emmy, winning 10 and receiving 1 honorary).
The new material is being processed and will soon be open to the public. As we go through the items, though, we are reminded of the 55 years of history passing from Brokaw’s hands to ours.
This bit of ephemera, this flattened Cellophane envelope, with its cheerful “Good Morning!” greeted me as I opened to page 41. I love that this colorful advertisement served as a book mark in Print, a journal of the graphic arts, for a library reader investigating “Lasansky and the Iowa Print Group,” by Roy Sieber. This article about University of Iowa printmaker, Mauricio Lasansky, was published in January 1952.
Lasansky studied at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York under a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1943. The grant was renewed the following year, allowing him to study intaglio printing, a printing process for which he became famous. In 1945 Lasansky joined the faculty at the University of Iowa School of Fine Arts, where he founded the renowned Iowa Print Group. Professor Mauricio Lasansky retired in 1986 and died in 2012.
A clue to the age of this advertisement is found at the website of the Chock full 0’ Nuts Company. They charged $0.35 for a cup of coffee in 1955, while this bit of advertisement offers a cup for $0.10. This wrapper may have been put to use as a book mark shortly after the publication was bound in 1953, where it has made its home for more than 60 years.
By Jacque Roethler, Manuscripts Processing Coordinator
In the firestorm that was the desegregation movement of the nineteen fifties and sixties, the experiences of two women of color makes a nuanced statement about race and its implications. Dora Lee Martin attended the University of Iowa and sixty years ago on December 10, 1955, the seventeen year old freshman from Texas was elected “Miss SUI”. Arthurine Lucy was admitted to the University of Alabama but was denied entry in March of 1956 and suffered many abuses. The two experiences are a telling contrast that was remarked upon in several news clippings from the time.
Dora Lee was raised by her grandmother as only child of a partially paralyzed mother. She had an aunt who had no children, so she was surrounded by relatives as the only child of the entire family. She lived in Loving Canadan, a black enclave in the Third Ward of Houston, where the whole area functioned as an extended family. She rarely left this enclave until she went to Jack Yates High School. There she had a hard time at first because she was coming from a two room schoolhouse to a school that served about a thousand students. Also, she says in her oral history recording that she was fat and they called her “doughbelly”. Between the second and third years, however, she lost weight and in the fall of her third year, she became very active in school. In her senior year she was elected “Miss Jack Yates.”
She came to the University of Iowa on a scholarship and within months she had been elected by her dormitory mates to participate in the Miss State University of Iowa 1955 contest. In an oral history she emphasizes that this was not a beauty pageant, but rather a contest involving performance, poise and popularity. She and her dorm mates and her campaign team worked hard, creating a unified presentation (what would be called a brand today) around “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” She was a singer who sang with a band at parties in Iowa City so, as part of her campaign she went to boys’ dormitories and fraternity houses and sang this song for them. They made paper roses to hand out as favors. Martin said that none of the gowns were hers, but her dorm mates would lend her theirs. She had overwhelming support from the Black community. She has said of this experience:
Never before had I been a part of anything where there was such single-mindedness and such dedication – it really felt special to have all these people working together for the same goal. And there was such harmony and unity. It made me appreciate what it meant to be a proud Black American in 1955. What we could accomplish if we all . . . put our efforts together and work for something.” (IWA0331 Oral history transcription, page 19)
She won the contest by fifty votes. Her election made international news. The University of Iowa Archives has clippings in the vertical files from various towns in Iowa (Oelwein, Humboldt, Mason City, Storm Lake, Sioux City, to mention a few), Kansas City, Des Moines, London, New Delhi. One clipping from Cedar Rapids even states that a woman from Cedar Rapids living in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo reported, “The natives were flocking into the office asking all sorts of questions. Could she speak French, did they think she would adopt them to be a godmother and would she be able to come over here on a trip?” Special Collections even has one publication in Arabic, possibly from Libya.
Contrast this to Authurine Lucy’s experience just a few months later. She was born one of ten children born to farmers in Shiloh, Alabama. She graduate from high school in 1947 and attended Selma University, a school for blacks, and then transferred to Miles College, another all black institution. She wanted to be a technical librarian so she applied to, and was accepted, by the University of Alabama in 1952. That is, she was accepted until school administrators discovered she was black. They then told her state law did not allow her to attend. She sued and it took three years for the case to make its way through the courts, but in 1955 the US Supreme Court ruled that she could attend the University of Alabama. However, she was told that she could not stay in the dormitories or eat in the dining hall. She would have to live in Birmingham and make the 51 mile commute each day to Tuscaloosa and faced expulsion and egg peltings. (See Washington Post article below).
On the third day of classes — time enough for word to get out that a black student was taking classes — upon arriving on campus she was met with an angry crowd of about 500 people. She was whisked into an auditorium. Meanwhile the crowd had grown to some 3000 people, some of them not connected with the University. She was pelted with rotten produce and eggs. At the end of the day she was suspended, supposedly for her own safety. The student body protested the suspension, and she sued the University again. Sometime during the intervening time, her lawyers accused the administration of colluding with the anti-desegregation protesters, which would have dire consequences later. The courts decided in Lucy’s favor and ordered the school to accept her again. They used the accusation of collusion to say that Lucy had slandered the school and thus she could not be accepted. Exhausted from all the court battles, Lucy decided not to sue again.
The two women’s experiences were often compared in the news at the time. Below are three clippings from The Washington Post, The London Daily Mail, and from Mason City, Iowa that make the comparison:
But that’s not the end of these stories. Martin says she never heard anything positive from the administration of the University. This letter from President Hancher may explain some of this silence but Martin says that the events in which previous campus queens had participated were simply silently cancelled. The rules of the pageant were changed so that there was faculty oversight.
Martin has said in her oral history interview,
“. . . my experience had demonstrated that while laws may be different, people are still the same. The only difference being in the South we knew where things stood. We knew what to expect, while in the North people say one thing, but behave in a very different way. And so we were constantly finding ourselves having to figure out where we were wanted and where we weren’t. . . On the campus at the University it was very, very clear in 1955 that institutional racism was still very prevalent at that University.” (Oral History, page 21)
She got on with her education, but left Iowa before she graduated. She married and followed her husband to Chicago, where she attended Roosevelt University, and finally Rutgers, where she received a Master’s in Social Work in 1969. She worked as a social worker in schools.
Lucy also taught as a profession. In 1988, the University of Alabama reversed her suspension and she returned to the University, and in 1992, she finally received a Master’s degree in Education. The University also named an endowed fellowship after her and unveiled a portrait of her in the student union.
These two scenarios played out during roughly the same time period. They look like different ends of the spectrum. But were they really? A closer look at the situation reveals that there’s more to each one than meets the eye.
References come from these collections in Special Collections:
Clippings from Dora Lee Martin Berry’s file in Alumni and Former Students Vertical File in the University of Iowa Archives, RG01.15.01.
Cover of the New Challenge is in the Progressive Party Papers, 2015 Addendum – The Progressive Party of Massachusetts. MSC0160.
Oral history recording with Dora Lee Martin is part of the Giving Voice to their Memories: Oral Histories of African American Women in Iowa project. IWA0331.
1. Saying Farewell to Olson Graduate Assistant Jillian Sparks
Jillian Sparks will complete her two years as Olson Graduate Assistant here in Special Collections this week. The Olson GA’s participate in the department as junior staff for twenty hours a week; working at the reference desk and answering email reference questions, teaching classes, planning events, writing about collection items for social media, and assisting with a myriad of other duties that come up in day to day life here in Special Collections. Above and beyond those duties Jillian worked on a project adding copy specific notes about types of bindings, marginalia, and provenance information to our catalog records for the earliest English language books in the collection and prepared an exhibition about her work that can still be seen in the cases outside Special Collection on the 3rd floor of the Main Library, or online here. Jillian recently completed her Masters of Library Science here at the University of Iowa along with a certificate in book studies from The Center for the Book, and is seeking employment in the field. Her contributions to this department over the past two years cannot be measured. It was an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented librarian.
1. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa
“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”
Friday, September 4, 2015
2032 Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA
This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.
2. Iowa Bibliophiles First Meeting for 2015-2016, Wednesday September 9th
The first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season will feature University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen speaking about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.
6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk
6:30PM – Refreshments served
7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk
Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.
Recently on the Web and Social Media:
1. Olson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg’s IFLA Conference Report
Jillian wrote a farewell Tumblr post about the History of Hydraulics collection that you can see here. You can also view all of the posts she made for our Tumblr in her time in Special Collections here.
3. U. Iowa Curriculum Featuring Special Collections Materials Featured in “In the Library with the Lead Pipe” Article
Tom Keegan, Head of the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio in the UI Libraries, and former Undergraduate Services Librarian Kelly McElroy published an article about Archives Alive!, the primary source based curriculum for the Rhetoric Department that has students transcribing, analyzing, and interpreting historic documents from Special Collections in DIY History, the University of Iowa Libraries volunteer-based document transcription site. The curriculum was originally developed in partnership with a campus curriculum development project, Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL).
4. “Weekly Squint” On Tumblr
Several libraries on Tumblr this week featured a “Weekly Squint” which includes a close up view of a collection item. The Huntington Library Tumblr began the “Weekly Squint” feature on Tumblr and invited other libraries and institutions to participate. Our post was a close up view of the Columbian Press in the 3rd Floor hallway.
1. Early 20th Century Astronomy Slides
With the July 14 New Horizons flyby of Pluto, there has been a surge of interest in astronomy. A recent acquisition by the Special Collections department shows that interest in the heavens has been with us for a long time.
These slides were used by Bishop Simeon Arthur Huston (1876-1963), Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia, WA from 1925 to 1947. He had a life-long love of astronomy and after his retirement, he wrote a regular astronomy column in his local newspaper on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He gave frequent talks on astronomy, using these slides to illustrate his talks. There are approximately 50 slides in the collection.
These slides were generously donated by Simeon Huston’s grandchildren Matt Huston, John Huston, Jr., and Elisabeth LeLion.
2. The Gazetteer
The Map Collection’s merge with Special Collections in 2013 has resulted in a heavier focus on the history of cartography. Although Labbé didn’t advertise this work as a gazetteer, it is one of the earliest works on place names in France. Nicolas Sanson, a famous cartographer, heavily criticized the book for plagiarism; perhaps that explains why this was the only edition!
Contestants in the Szathmary Collection of Historic Recipes competition, judged Tuesday at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, were part cook, part historian and part detective. Entrants were challenged to interpret a recipe from 1874, maintaining the original recipe’s integrity, while filling in the gaps and adapting to modern measurements, equipment and ingredients
Celeste F. Bremer of Urbandale won first place. Natalie Ridgway of Johnston earned second place and Lindsey Pepper of Boone claimed third place.
“Put two eggs into the scale, then take their weight in flour, butter and lump sugar; first beat the butter in to a cream, powder the sugar and mix with it, beat in the eggs and lastly the flour, butter some little moulds and take ½ an hour in rather a quick oven.”
The Iowa State Fair Food Department is the largest of any state fair in the country. There are 228 divisions, 850 classes and over 10,600 entries at this year’s Fair. Food Department judging is held in the Elwell Family Food Center sponsored by Wells Blue Bunny.
The judges for the contest were members of the “Historic Foodies” group in Iowa City.
Congratulations to all the winners!
2. A Final Reminder to Sign Up for Fall Semester Class Sessions or Group Visits
Special Collections and University Archives already has 40 professors scheduling classes with us this fall. You should bring your students too! We have a staff of librarians with expertise in areas ranging from medieval manuscripts to science fiction, all available to help design curricula to complement your learning objectives. Submit your request here to learn more: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/forms/speccoll_class/
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We depend on weather satellite images daily for our forecasts and travel plans. Without the groundwork laid by the National Earth Satellite Service beginning in 1972, though, these images would not be possible today. A distinguished UI alumnus, George H. Ludwig (BA ’56, MS -59, Ph.D. ’60) was a founding director of NESS and led its operations throughout the 1970s. It is part of Mr. Ludwig’s long and significant career in physics and environmental research, now documented in his papers recently donated to the University Archives.
Mr. Ludwig, a native of rural Johnson County, Iowa, was a graduate student under James Van Allen during the pioneering Explorer space exploration missions in the late 1950s. He was the principal developer of the cosmic ray and radiation belt instruments for the successfully launched Explorers I, III, IV, and VII. He was also a research engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for a five month period following the 1957 launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union.
His papers chronicle his research in physics as a doctoral candidate at UI as well as the many projects he supervised or consulted while with NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other organizations throughout his 40-plus year career. The guide to his papers is at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG99.0004.html; the guide does not yet account for the most recent materials received by the Archives.
George Ludwig’s contributions to space exploration and environmental research are invaluable, and the University Archives is honored to document his achievements.