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
What do the UI Libraries and UI Athletics have in common? Hawkeye History! In this blog post, Chloe Waryan, Exhibit Design Intern at the University of Iowa Special Collections, interviews Gregg Niemiec, Spirit Coach of the Iowa Spirit Squad. For Herky’s 70th birthday, Gregg and Chloe team up in the Special Collections to discuss the items from the collections pertaining to Herky history. Read the interview below, and be sure to check out the exhibit “Hatching Herky” at the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives opening August 20!
Most days, I am at Carver Hawkeye Arena in my office by 9:00am. I start the day [by] checking emails and voicemails, responding back to questions fans have, organizing upcoming events, traveling for away games, and coordinating any other items for our 50+ members. Usually […] I am either moving bags of things in or out of Carver, to or from my car to keep Herky on the move. In the afternoons, […] I lead the Cheerleaders at practice. On weekends we have games and events. It is kind of a 24/7/365 job.
Do you conduct tryouts for Herky? What is that process like?
We have tryouts each spring. These start in late January with informational meetings [to] give everyone a heads up on what to expect. [F]rom there we do skills days, and get [the Herky candidates] ready for what they are getting themselves into: the walk, ball skills, improvisation, creativity, and movement. We will do a few rounds of these items as [candidates] get used to what is expected of them. Then there is normally a Final Tryout.
How many Herky’s are chosen per year?
There is one Herky the Hawk, who represents the University of Iowa. But Herky has some helpers called Herky Security. These members can usually be found with Herky, protecting the symbol of the University of Iowa. There are usually six Herky Security members each year.
What do you look for in a Herky candidate?
Athleticism, creativity, ability to think quickly on your feet, love of the Hawkeyes, and ability to communicate. During the tryout process all of these items are tested, along with doing an interview with all of them, and lots of time to talk between things at tryouts.
What does Herky do and where can Herky be seen?
Herky can be found just about anywhere – all Hawkeye Athletic events, and most of the larger campus events (ONIOWA!, Homecoming, Dance Marathon, Orientations, Admissions Days, etc)… Craziest [places where] Herky has been seen: rappelling down a building, a few funerals, swimming (with proper lifeguard notification), and pretty much just about anywhere.
You said that you helped with the art installation project Herky on Parade. What was that process like?
The installation of Herky on Parade took place in the middle of the night. [In 2014], they had special shirts made for those helping, with a logo describing the night as a secret installation of Herky on Parade. There were 3-4 teams of people that met at the storage area and helped pull the statues out onto UHaul trucks. We loaded those up with 6-8 people and went to our designated areas around town. The concrete bases were already in place, so we would take the statue out of the truck and place it on the base and fasten it with large bolts to the base. We would place a name plate on each and then cover them up, as the big reveal happened the next morning. It took about three hours. It was neat to see them pop up around campus as we drove to the next one. The next morning, volunteers helped at each of the sites and pulled the covers off. It was great to see the creativity of the artist in what they did. From Hayden Fry Herky, Star Trek Herky, Farmer Herky, to some artistic Herkys that made you think. It was neat to see and be a part of the installation staff of Herky on Parade.
What is one thing about Herky that we might not know?
He has a cousin named Perky. She hangs out at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Perky makes kids young and old happy as they go through some rough times at the hospital.
How do you think libraries and athletics can work together?
There is a lot of history in Athletics around the University, and those events […] can be brought to life at the library, with books and media that reflect what Athletics around the University has done. Libraries are a cornerstone of knowledge, without them we would be lost.
Looking for a fun way to celebrate the University of Iowa’s Homecoming week? Check out our Historical Hawkeyes series, compiled by our Olson Graduate Research Assistant, Kelly Grogg.
We are all very pleased to announce that Lindsay Moen has been hired as our LAIV in Special Collections, taking over Department Liaison responsibilities from Kathy Hodson, following her retirement. Lindsay has worked in Special Collections since she was an undergraduate, and she brings to the position years of experience with all manner of projects, collections, and circumstances. She has spent the past year as a temporary librarian working with our implementation of ArchivesSpace for finding aids.
Firrufino. El Perfeto artillero. Madrid 1648
While the focus of this book is on artillery, we selected it because of its interesting assortment of illustration styles. With 30 engravings and 131 woodcuts, the publisher’s focus on economy, while still maintaining a high quality of work, will start many discussions in classes on book and printing history.
Student Scrapbooks in the University Archives. 1912-1916.
Alveda (Eva) and Jennie Markle, sisters from New Hampton, attended the State University of Iowa between 1912 and 1916. The liberal arts majors were also meticulous record-keepers of their time as students. Recently their family donated the sisters’ scrapbooks to the University Archives, a collection that gives us a closer look at student life from a century ago. Iowa Fights!
John Fifield talk, “A Summer at the Recoleta”
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
6:30PM: Please join us for conversation as light refreshments are served
7PM – Talk by guest speaker, John Fifield
The newly-appointed Olson Graduate Assistant in Special Collections will recount his experience at the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, where he assisted with identifying and cataloging early printed books in the monastery’s collection in the summer of 2015. He will describe the collection and comment on its place in the history of the transatlantic Spanish book trade.
Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA.
Updates from Instruction
This week, we had ten classes visit Special Collections and University Archives. One of these classes was Stephen Voyce’s New Media Poetics, a graduate course in English. This visit was the second of three they are making over the fall semester. First, they came to learn about the Dada Archive from curator Tim Shipe on September 10. On October 6, this Tuesday, they enjoyed hands-on time with objects within the Fluxus collection under the supervision of Amy Chen, the instruction librarian. On October 13, they’ll return for their final session, during which the students will help Jacque Roethler, processing coordinator, arrange and describe Fluxus periodicals. We’re glad to have classes come in for multiple trips to gain a wider understanding of our holdings as well as to complete different types of assignments and learn from variety of expertise we offer.
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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.
This story starts in 1959 when a UI undergraduate student from Centerville, IA, named Simon Estes auditioned for, and joined, the Old Gold Singers, a university chorus made up of non-music majors. The Old Gold Singers was a new organization, formed just two years before. It quickly established itself as a highly-talented goodwill ambassador of the University, thanks in no small part to Simon Estes’ rich baritone voice.
The University Archives had no recordings of the singers from those early seasons until only recently. In 2010, UI alumnus James Crook, a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, donated to the archives a set of phonograph disks featuring the troupe. Mr. Crook was a founding member of the Old Gold Singers and participated in its first three seasons. Mr. Estes, a classmate of Crook’s, went on to an acclaimed operatic and solo vocal career, after completing his UI degree and studies at the Julliard School. He has performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and throughout Europe in a career spanning over 50 years.
Among the phonograph records that Mr. Crook donated is one featuring Mr. Estes as a soloist during his first season with the Old Gold Singers, while a sophomore. The rare recording was made in a Cedar Rapids recording studio in 1959 or 1960, and playing it on a turntable more than 50 years later yielded a lot of scratches and pops with the music. Still, it was a valuable addition to the archives, believed to be the earliest-known recording of a young singer at the dawn of a remarkable and distinguished career.
The UI Libraries’ Preservation Department cleaned the record thoroughly and shipped it to the Media Preserve, a Pittsburgh firm specializing in recovery of audiovisual recordings. There, staff produced a digitally-reformatted version of the recording, one that sounds as good as new. The University Archives now has a digital copy of this rare recording, along with the original phonograph disk.
But the story doesn’t end there. On Sunday, March 17, Mr. Estes performed in Osage, Iowa, at a special dedication program recognizing that community’s new Krapek Family Fine Arts Center. The program was also part of his Roots and Wings tour in which he hopes to eventually perform in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. High school choruses from Osage and nearby Riceville and St. Ansgar also performed with Mr. Estes that afternoon.
Following the performance, UI Archivist David McCartney, representing the UI Libraries, presented Mr. Estes with a CD copy of the recording, housed in a case made for the occasion by staff in the Conservation Lab. The audience of over 600 also heard a one-minute excerpt, featuring a 21-year-old Mr. Estes singing a selection from “Porgy and Bess,” a number he coincidentally sang earlier in the afternoon as part of the program.
The UI Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to honor Mr. Estes and to preserve an early and important part of his outstanding career.