In honor of Homecoming week here at the University of Iowa, we asked our University Archivist David McCartney to pick the top ten favorite historical things here at the University. The items are in no particular order.
10. The Birthplace of Prime-time TV.
Sure, Westinghouse, General Electric, AT&T and other labs were testing television in the 1930s, but from 1933 to 1938, the State University of Iowa was broadcasting regularly-scheduled TV programs, the first in the nation to do so. Experimental station W9XK featured lectures, instruction, and musical and dramatic performances two or three evenings each week. Viewers from as far as Oklahoma and Indiana reported receiving the signal.
9. Nile Kinnick.
By all accounts, an outstanding athlete, gentleman, and scholar. The 1939 Heisman Trophy recipient. A consensus All-American. Phi Beta Kappa. Humanitarian. Kinnick died during a flight training mission while serving as an aviator in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
8. Master of Fine Arts Degrees Were Conferred Here First.
The UI was the first university in the nation to accept creative works in lieu of theses as requirements for advanced degrees in the arts, beginning in the 1920s. In 1940, it was the first in the nation to confer the MFA. Recipients of the newly-minted degree that year were Elizabeth Catlett, Jewel Peterson, and
Harry Edward Stinson. Catlett, a sculptor, was also the first African-American woman to receive the MFA.
7. A Space Exploration Hub.
James Van Allen advanced U.S. space research using satellites beginning in 1958, but did you know that Donald Gurnett of the Department of Physics and Astronomy is likely the only person on the planet to oversee space missions exploring the extremes of our solar system? Helios 1 and 2, which launched in 1976, explored the sun’s characteristics up close, while Voyager 1, which launched in1977, reached interstellar spaced in 2012- the first human-made object to do so.
6. Gay Liberation Front.
In 1970, the university recognized Gay Liberation Front (today, Spectrum) as an official student organization, the first in the nation. A generation later, in 1993, the UI extended spousal benefits to same-sex partners. It was another first among U.S. public universities.
5. The UI Stanley Museum of Art.
To paraphrase UI President Willard “Sandy” Boyd sometime in the 1970s, “Our football team is struggling but we have the best art museum in the Big Ten.” It’s still true today: Over 14,000 objects reflect broad and deep collections from diverse cultures and time periods. Jackson Pollock’s Mural will return to its permanent home for display after the new museum opens on campus adjacent to the Main Library.
4. The Afro-American Cultural Center, Leading the Way for Other Centers.
This year the Afro House celebrates 50 years as a space for African-American students to socialize, mutually support, and grow. Other centers on campus have followed, including those serving Latinx, Native American, Asian, LGBTQ, and other communities.
3. Those Rolaids Guys.
They invented not only Rolaids, but also Bufferin. William D. “Shorty” Paul, M.D., and Joseph Routh, Ph.D., were UI faculty members whose collaboration resulted in the two remedies found in many homes and workplaces today. Dr. Paul was the Hawkeyes’ team physician for over 30 years, beginning in 1939, and tried finding ways to provide safe, immediate relief to injured players. Working with Routh, they devised a formula to “buffer” the effect of aspirin without taking away its strength. Voila!
2. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and UNESCO City of Literature.
Wilber Schramm established Iowa’s creative writing program in 1936, with Paul Engle to follow as its director from 1941 to 1965. Under their tenure, the Workshop became internationally recognized as a locus of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. To date, Workshop faculty and graduates have won 29 Pulitzer Prizes.*
1. The Wave.
It’s been in practice for only a year, but ESPN and other sports sources already call it the best tradition in college football today: The Wave. At Iowa home football games, the crowd- visitors as well as Hawkeye fans- turn east to the UIHC Stead Family Children’s Hospital across the street and wave en masse at the young patients looking on. Need we say more?
Runners up include: Dance Marathon, Soapbox Soundoff in the IMU during the 1960s, Grant Wood, and the power plant whistle.
**Images all from F.W. Kent Collection (RG 30.0001.001), University Archives
Left: Manuscripts class with fifth grade students. Right: Center for the Book class.
Photos: Final tote bag pile, Colleen Theisen and Rebecca Romney speaking at Prairie Lights, Janet Weaver speaking about Mujeres Latinas at Hancher, the Instagram meetup, and a crowd scene from the final plenary session.
NBC Nightly News filmed a segment about the Charlotte Smith Miniature Book Collection. View it here.
Tuesday, December 5, marks the 50-year anniversary of what was to that date the largest anti-war protest on the UI campus. Over 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Iowa Memorial to protest the presence of Dow Chemical representatives who were on campus to interview prospective employees. There were 18 arrests and the day’s events ushered in a new era of protest, both locally and nationally. Less than four months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson, citing eroding public support for his administration’s policy on Vietnam, announced he would not seek re-election to another term.
The day’s events were filmed and recorded by Robert Coover, an assistant professor of English, whose documentary is featured on our online exhibit, “Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the 1960s.” To view the film in the online exhibit, go to https://dsps.lib.uiowa.edu/sixties/, scroll to videos, and click ‘On a Confrontation in Iowa City.’
University Archivist David McCartney presented on “Documenting Activism: How the Digital Humanities Can Uncover the History of Protest” at the American Association of University Professors national conference meeting in Washington, D.C., on June 16.
McCartney, who curated the online exhibit “Uptight and Laid-back: Iowa City in the 1960s,” launched in 2016, described how the web site is used as a discovery tool for UI faculty and other scholars from a range of disciplines, including history, rhetoric, journalism, and English. The exhibit is a collaborative project of the Dept. of Special Collections, the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, and members of the UI community. It features content documenting civil rights activism, the anti-war movement, and other political movements of the era.
He co-presented with Stetson University Assistant Dean for Student Affairs/Deputy Title IX Coordinator Tammy Briant, who teaches the course, “Law and the Civil Rights Movement.” The course includes a road trip to several cities in the South each summer where students have an opportunity to meet personally with veterans of the Civil Rights Movement. Her presentation reviewed lessons of the Civil Rights Movement and how they might be applied to current campus advocacy.
The conference included presentations about the First Amendment on campus, the right to protest, academic freedom, and supporting students from diverse backgrounds. This year’s meeting commemorated the 50-year anniversary of adoption of the AAUP Joint Statement of Rights and Freedoms of Students.
It wasn’t the reason, though, why I was recently divorced by my wife. That is, my first wife. I have had a new one for six months. The first one was a good poker player and the second one is really fine (I call her Little Tennis Face). She can be dealt four natural jacks in straight poker and look very sad. Neither one of the ladies ever cared for freak variations of the grand old game. We have always been one on our objection to that.
You see it really isn’t my loathing for women that comes out in that piece, or Mr. Brush’s loathing for women (you’ll remember he really loathes Mr. Spear (or Spreef or Chevalier) more. It was my loathing and Mr. Brush’s, and the former Mrs Thurber’s and the present Mrs. Thurber’s, for silly, cock-eyed, wild forms of poker. You should have let Mr. Zwart review that piece. But thanks for all the nice things you say.
Host: Colleen Theisen
Guest: David McCartney
Letter: Letter to Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart. : New York, NY., 1935 Dec. 5. Thurber, James 1894-1961. Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart 1904-1983, recipient.
Theme Music – “Handwritten Letters” by Will Riordan
Last week, several members of Special Collections attended the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in Atlanta, Georgia. Two of our staff made professional contributions having a poster and a presentation competitively selected.
Instruction Librarian Amy Chen exhibited her poster on “Twentieth Century Literary Collection Acquisition Patterns.” This poster is the result of her research on the marketplace for writers’ papers, begun when she completed her dissertation on the topic for her doctorate at Emory in English in 2013 and continued here at Iowa. Prior to SAA, she spoke about this research in a presentation for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop back in April 2016. She very kindly shared her poster here.
(Click to enlarge)
University Archivist David McCartney spoke at the same SAA Conference as part of a panel called, “Archival Bonds: Love & Friendship in the Archives” about the emotional work that can be involved in documenting historic lives as an archivist. He related the emotions surrounding his efforts to document the former UI student’s life as an example.
You can view tweets from the session here: https://storify.com/libralthinking/saa16-sesson-406-archives-and
Wednesday, February 10th at 7PM in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Heather Wacha will be talking about a single Medieval manuscript leaf from Special Collections, Msc 542 xMMs.Pr1 and her process identifying it. She will present her findings about this text in the 13th century manuscript edition, 16th century early printed editions, as well as early 20th century history when Otto Ege broke the manuscript apart, and the early 21st century when digital technologies allow us to start to put it back together again.
Jonas Hunt was first corporal and first sergeant of the Iowa 18th Volunteer Regiment, Company B. His grandson, Leland Hunt, has gifted this collection to the University of Iowa.
From notes from his great-great granddaughter we have this history: “Jonas Hunt was born August 7, 1837. On August 6, 1862 Jonas joined the Eighteenth Regiment Volunteer Infantry. Jonas took part in several battles in southern Missouri and Arkansas before being mustered out the first part of August 1865. They [meaning he and his wife Emeline Twombley] apparently built a log cabin in Lacelle, IA (no longer a town) near Osceola and raised nine children. “
The collection consists of a canteen, a certificate, a roster, a family bible, a military record, and a company sick book. This last item, the sick book, is fairly unique to this collection. It is a record of every illness in the company and where the person was serving during his sickness. It is divided into columns as follows: Name, rank, sick in quarters, in hospital, and duty.
New Acquisition Updates from Margaret Gamm
The Glenwood Resource Center in Glenwood, Iowa, was previously named the Iowa Institution for Feeble-Minded Children. This album from around 1910 documents that earlier time period. In some of the first photos, several women show off their Winter attire on a January day declared to be 24 below. Brr! While the creator of the album focused on the teachers at the Institution, the students make many appearances as well.
University archivist David McCartney gave a presentation about the Historical Iowa Civil Rights Network at St. Ambrose University in Davenport on Thursday, 1/18/2016. HICRN is a project of archivists, librarians, historians, and former civil rights workers from across the state to document the civil rights movement, both at home and elsewhere. David co-founded HICRN in 2012 and, to date, 12 institutions have participated.
We are sorry to note that Earl Rogers, the University of Iowa’s archivist from 1970 to 1998, passed away early Wednesday morning at his home in Iowa City following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77.
Earl was born May 2, 1938, in Moline, Illinois. He received the bachelor of science degree in history in 1961 at Iowa State University, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a history graduate student in 1962-1966, and completed his master of library science degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967. After a three-year stint as a cataloguer in the University of Utah Library, he returned to Iowa, joining the UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections in July 1970 to arrange and index the Henry A. Wallace Papers. Over time, he assumed the role of university archivist. He published numerous indexes and bibliographies pertaining to agricultural and UI history. Among his many noted acquisitions are the Papers of James A. Van Allen, which were processed under his supervision.
Although Earl retired in 1998, he continued to maintain two features on the UI Archives’ web site: our online bibliography of UI history-related materials, and a unique page titled ‘Fiction With an Iowa City Setting: An Updated Checklist.’ Earl would, from time to time, submit new entries or annotations for me to add to these sites.
I always looked forward to hearing from Earl, regardless of the nature of his dispatch, whether it was a new list of entries to upload, a report on his and Susan’s latest trips (Galapagos Islands, Turkey, and New Zealand, for starters), or a review of a new local restaurant. Earl often stopped by our department to drop off an obituary, a clipping, or an article for our vertical file. We appreciated his vigilance, not to mention his subscription to The New York Times.
Earl never second-guessed my decisions as his successor, though certainly on many occasions he had good reason to tap me on the shoulder. I would like to believe it was because he trusted me. More likely, however, it was because he and Susan were having a blast in Peru.
I feel a bit stranded right now. Because of Earl’s remarkable longevity as UI’s archivist – 28 years – and the fact that his position was vacant for over two years until I arrived in 2001, I now have no direct forebear from the archives to call on, no predecessor, whether retired or working elsewhere. Archivists value institutional memory, particularly when shared memory and experience pass from one generation to the next within their shop. Those links inevitably break as time passes.
One last round of web page updates from Earl awaits on my desk. I’ll get to them soon.
Thank you, Earl, and our condolences to Susan and family.
New at the UI Archives: 1970s-era posters for events at Hancher Auditorium, the Iowa Memorial Union and the UI Fieldhouse. For a brief but intense time in 1973 and ’74 there was a move afoot to rename the Field House for the Allman Brothers Band, which had a memorable gig there on Nov. 9, 1973. The posters are evidence of this unofficial, ill-fated, but totally sincere effort. CUE, the Commission for University Entertainment, was a student organization that encouraged the campaign. Many thanks to Tim Meier of the Hancher Auditorium office for arranging for transfer of these materials to the Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.