COVID 19 exhibit

Back in March, as life across the world and at IWU’s campus changed dramatically, I sent out an open call to the IWU community, inviting reflections on their lives in this pandemic era.

covid exhibit page

An exhibit with contributions from 15 students is now available. I  also added content from IWU’s webpages and made a personal contribution to the exhibit as a way of breaking the ice.

Students were given an option to answer as many of a set of pre-determined questions (see below) as they wanted to. They were also given the option of remaining anonymous online with the understanding that their identity would be associated with their remarks in the archives’ offline files.

Additions to this collection are welcome, and anyone who wants to keep their reflections offline may still participate. Participants may use the questions below if they’d like some ideas on how to start, but truly any way that people are comfortable expressing themselves for sharing their experiences is fine. Visit the project description for details or contact me (mminer@iwu.edu) if you have questions.

[Questions on student submission form]

Name (indicate if anonymity online is desired)
Class year
Major(s)/Minors(s)
Where are you living during the Pandemic of 2020?
How did you feel when you were informed the remainder of the semester would be held online?
What has been your experience with moving classes online?
If applicable, tell us a little about your thoughts and reactions to moving off campus or out of town.
How are you staying connected to your friends and wider community, through IWU or elsewhere?
How has the virus or the precautions taken to prevent it spreading impacted your daily life?
What is giving you hope and/or strength right now?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about what you’re feeling or experiencing right now?
Share a photo of yourself, or any photos, videos, or audio recordings you’d like to add to this historical record!

Happy Preservation Week!

ALA Preservation Week logo

Cultural heritage preservation may not seem like an important topic in the midst of a global pandemic but bear with me! The purpose of this post is to inform you about some positive, low- to no-cost actions you can take during your stay-at-home time. You can preserve your heritage while staying out of the way for the benefit of all levels of workers who are directly involved in this healthcare crisis.

This is the week the American Library Association (ALA) promotes activities and shares advice to help individuals preserve the things that are important to them. In short, you can learn how to make decisions and take steps to Save Your Stuff and Pass It On!

The easiest way to approach preservation at any time is to remember that only YOU can decide what’s important to your legacy. Taking that first step is the most important part of a preservation. The basic factors to consider are temperature, relative humidity, light, pests, mold, water leaks and risk of flooding, and handling. ALA makes these factors easy to understand on this Quick Tips handout.

This year’s theme is “Preserving Oral History” and the honorary chair is author, activist and cultural critic Roxane Gay. You are invited to attend these free Preservation Week 2020 webinars

ALA also maintains a page with links to webinars from previous years and a page for how-to videos on working with different materials.

Worried about COVID-19 on being transmitted on paper-based materials? We DO NOT recommend cleaning agents of any kind! As we hear so often, our knowledge about this virus is still evolving, but check out this page for recent developments.

This isn’t all about material culture; an important element in your responsibility to the future is acting now so that objects from your digital life last, too.

Did you know that digital materials can be more difficult to preserve than physical ones? Take this quiz to test your digital preservation know-how.

Digital objects are not durable–threats to them include losing account access (third party providers can disappear at any time) and losing the ability to read file formats and media due to obsolescence. Anybody remember Gold CDs?

Check out the handy tips in the poster below and remember, I’m always up for a conversation about preservation so feel free to contact me if you have questions!

NDIIP Personal Archiving poster

Click to enlarge or download as a pdf at http://digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/documents/NDIIP_PA_poster.pdf

Earth Day @ 50

Argus issue with complete schedule for IWU Earth Day events (click all images to enlarge)

On April 17, 1970 Argus writer Paul McVicker (’72) introduced readers to the IWU activities planned for the first-ever United Nations Earth Day by saying, “The purpose of the program is to educate students and the community…about what they can do to help solve environmental problems.” McVicker was also a member of the College Republicans and the Chairman of the Intercollegiate Information and Programming Commission and so must also have been at the planning meeting for the event on March 20th.

March 20, 1970 announcement, briefly previewed on page 3.

The meeting announcement in the Argus on that date shows this was a student-driven effort organized by a “Special Pollution Committee” but that group is only mentioned once in IWU’s digitized news sources and the extent of its members is not know. The April 24, 1970 Argus reported on all the campus activities that took place that first year.

Curiously, the only student to list Earth Day as an organization he wanted commemorated in his yearbook list of activities is Kevin Jones, whose entry in the 1971 Wesleyana shows he was a Sophomore.

clip from 1971 WesleyanaThe 1971 Wesleyana carries a story by Kathy Larey Lewton (’70) that sets Earth Day into the larger context of student activism taking place in the 1969-70 academic year. The close ties between IWU and ISU are apparent in this article, and IWU also holds primary sources that we can consult to get a broader view on community activities involving the environment.

 

This April 23, 1971 issue is the first time The Argus reports on the community-based organization Operation Recycle.

Sophomore Vicki Wenger is the only student who lists Operation Recycle among her activities in the 1971 Wesleyana or any of the yearbooks that were published afterwards. But Anne McGowan (’76), community activist and spouse of Emeritus Professor of English Jim McGowan, provided an interview in 2013 about her experiences. The excerpt below contains just the part of her remarks that include her involvement with the community-based Operation Recycle and the origins of her interest in recycling.

IWU’s archival holdings also include contributions from Abigail Jahiel, Professor of Environmental and International Studies, who led a May Term 2003 course on Environmental History in which her students interviewed local citizens who influenced the ecological health of our community. Dr. Jahiel deposited these materials to complement IWU’s existing special collections that are related to Environmental Studies. An online collection is now available of the recordings that could be digitized and whose subjects gave permission for their interviews to be released:

If you have additional information about these people or groups, comment on this post or send an email to archives@iwu.edu. And visit this page if you would like to know more about the records of local organizations that are held in Tate Archives & Special Collections.

Share your thoughts and experiences with the future!

sharing-thoughtsIllinois Wesleyan University’s archives is creating a digital record of IWU community members’ (students, staff, faculty, alumni and trustees) experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning with the first campus communication on February 3, 2020 (or earlier, for Titans who are further afield!) and extending through the time that in-person activities resume on campus.

CURRENT IWU students may complete this brief form and/or submit reflections by the methods below. (Note that the form allows you to request a copy of your responses.)

Everyone in our community is invited to share reflections on this global public health emergency:
What are you doing during your time away from campus? How are you staying connected with people you care about? Where are you getting information from about IWU, your extended community and the larger world? How is distance learning affecting your perspectives on your classes? How is telecommuting affecting the way you view your work? Anything else you’d care to share?

Other ideas are welcome and physical items may be accepted at a later date, but here are a few ideas on how you can make contributions now:

  • recollections–in text, audio or video (for video, please limit submissions to <5 minutes);
  • photographic images of physical art you create; and/or
  • copies of digital art or performances.

You may only submit material created entirely by you and not copied from or based, in whole or in part, upon any other photographic, literary, or other material, except to the extent that such material is in the public domain, or you have permission of the copyright owner, or its use is allowed by “Fair Use” as prescribed by the terms of United States copyright law.

Please include a signed copy of this form with your submission to archives@iwu.edu. IWU’s archives is not obligated to include your content in this project or preserve it in perpetuity.  Decisions to decline submissions will adhere to the guidelines of our collecting policy.

If you would like to refer or nominate material which you do not own, please contact Meg Miner at mminer@iwu.edu.

June and William Eben Schultz Collection of Juvenile Literature in Special Collections

Within The Ames Library’s 4th floor department called Tate Archives & Special Collections are thousands of unique materials and all are available to benefit people in the IWU and surrounding communities.

Selections from the Schultz Juvenile Literature Collection (Click to enlarge)

This image shows selections of from the Schultz Collection of Juvenile Literature. The link opens a pdf that lists the titles comprised in this uncataloged collection of magazines, textbooks, fiction, and non-fiction works published from the late-19th to the early-20th Centuries (24 linear feet).

The books pictured are, from left to right: “Frank Merriwell’s Frolics or Fun and Rivalry at Fardale”, “Science in Your Life”, “Tip Top Weekly, The ideal publication for the American Youth”, and “Frank Merriwell in Europe.”

The collection is named for two people:
1) W.E. Schultz, who was Professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University from 1934-1964. He is the author of the “Alma Wesleyana,” written in 1935, and sung at every major campus convocation. Schultz also donated his collection of 18th and 19th century British plays, including several editions of The Beggar’s Opera. (All of the books in this collection are cataloged.)
2) Professor Schultz’s daughter, June E. Schultz, Class of 1944 and Alpha Gamma Delta member, who taught in Bloomington, Illinois and received IWU’s Loyalty Award in 1995. She also donated an autograph collection.

The items displayed in these posts are just a small portion of the kinds of materials found in Tate Archives & Special Collections. These collections are in a variety of languages and formats (artifact, book, manuscript, and media) and creation dates range from the 11th-21st centuries. Some collections are completely described and identified and some have yet to be thoroughly organized or examined.

Although many holdings do have a direct connection to the University, many are distinct and unrelated to the others such as the supporting materials for research on the people who created and collected the pottery and basketry items displayed in the entry level rotunda.

Curious minds seeking inspiration for creative works and original research are welcome to stop by and explore the possibilities!

 

The 50th Anniversary of “The Last Shot”

ISU_scoreboard

Scoreboard image captured from the film linked in this post.

January 13, 2020 marks an historic day in Titan Basketball history. Fifty years ago IWU’s annual cross-town rivalry came to an end with a last second shot by team Captain Tom Gramkow, Class of 1970. His top-of-the-key jumper was called “The last second, last shot, last game!” by the editors of the 1970 Wesleyana.

According to the January 16, 1970 coverage in The Argus, “This victory gave the Titans a final 69-42 .series lead. In coach Jim Collie’s first year at ISU and in this his last year, the Titans beat State by one point. In 1958, Collie’s first year, the score was 62-61, IWU.”

This silent film shows segments of the last half of the last game IWU played against ISU. The creator of the film is unknown but at some point a copy was made on VHS and this file contains all of the game that was donated to the archives.

This link leads to photos of the team in the locker room after the game and an additional link to the film. The film is also briefly shown during an interview Dennie Bridges and Coach Jack Horenberger recorded in 1991 about the history of IWU athletics. Other items related to athletics history are available online through the University Archives’ collections of photos and documents as well as the official IWU Athletics website.

If you have additional photos or more information about this event, please contact archives@iwu.edu or 556-1538.

 

Evans’ time capsule contents

Although many more are known to exist, only three time capsules have been opened in IWU’s 169-year history. One was discovered accidentally when the iconic arch that still led into Duration Hall, last remnant of Hedding Hall/Old Main, was torn down. All that remains of the contents of that box are pieces of bank notes it contained and the description of its other contents as reported in the 1966 Wesleyana (p. 23).

The second was a much more purposeful removal from Sheean Library.The contents of this box were in excellent condition and are reported on in previous blog posts. The third was also a planned removal, this time in honor of the 50th anniversary of its placement rather than being due to the building’s destruction. This post describes the discoveries made as a result of this recent unveiling.

As previously reported, when the Evans Observatory’s time capsule was opened in preparation for the official unveiling at Homecoming 2019, much of the content was too deteriorated to salvage. Moisture interacted with a battery and food inside the copper box and the to the other material damage was extensive!

poster of damaged objects

A poster of several of the damaged objects (clockwise from top right): the thermal battery, a microfilm reel with the Bloomington phone directory (rolled and unrolled), close-up of a rolled map (enclosed in a plastic sleeve and closed by a metal snap; unrolled map in center), a long shot of the capsule’s damaged contents. (click any image in this blog post to enlarge)

Everything that was paper-based was congealed into a solid mass but fortunately, most of these were all widely distributed publications from the University and local businesses. We were able to separate two unique paper items:

Several unique objects survived their 50-year odyssey and one even went on the Apollo 8 mission, circling the moon ten times! Astronaut Frank Borman personally added the medallion picture below before placing the capsule in the Mark Evans Observatory.

Other items found in the capsule were donated by the Bloomington branches of several companies. Noteworthy among the survivors are a miniature engine, supplied by Caterpillar Tractor Co.; a vacuum tube and circuit board from the Admiral Corporation; a selection of electric relays from General Electric; and an integrated circuit, the kind which made putting a computer on the Apollo 8 flight possible, supplied by General Telephone.

Other views of the objects contained in this post are available in our Historic IWU photo collection. The objects themselves will be on permanent display in the Mark Evans Observatory.

list of time capsule contents

Contents list that was read by President Eckley on the day of the time capsule’s placement.

IWU alum’s “astronaut food” discovered in time capsule

Guest post by Anthony Romanelli, Class of 2023

Illinois Wesleyan’s Founders’ Day of 1969 was a momentous occasion. Apollo astronaut Frank Borman was being hosted by the University. His entire Apollo 8 crew were presented with honorary doctorates and Borman placed a time capsule in the newest building on campus. Borman, the University, and local Bloomington-Normal businesses all contributed to an extensive list of items to place in a time capsule in the Mark Evans Observatory. Some of the notable items on the list include an audio tape recording of a Christmas message by the astronauts, an integrated circuit identical to the ones on Apollo 8 (provided by the General Electric division in Bloomington), and perhaps most noteworthy, a medallion that had joined the astronauts on the first crewed flight to reach the Moon’s orbit. [A post about the time capsule contents is available here.]

But when the capsule was opened during Homecoming of 2019, many of the perishable objects had been completely destroyed, including much of the papers. Moisture had somehow penetrated the copper box and corroded the material. Upon closer inspection, one of the culprits may have been a packet of “space food” contributed to the capsule by the local candy company Beich Industries. The food itself was gone; all that remained was a label from the company and a product description by its head researcher, one Mr. Alikonis. The man behind the space food had a story of his own, one that eventually led to his product in space.

Justin J. Alikonis was born in Johnston City in southern Illinois on December 7, 1912. When he was 18, he hitchhiked to Bloomington during the Great Depression looking for work to pay for college. He found a job at the Quality Café at 426 Main St in downtown Bloomington. There, he worked as a busboy, a waiter and a short-order cook as needed to pay his tuition. Luckily for him, IWU president Henry McPherson had instated in 1932 a “livestock for tuition” plan, where students could trade in live animals or produce from family farms as tuition payments. The controversial policy was enacted to keep young Central Illinoisans in school in the wake of the Depression, and this video shows Alikonis trading in a pig for his first semester of 1932. (While family relatives of Alikonis confirmed his appearance in the film, it is unknown why he uses the name “Isaac Rosenburg” in it.)

Justin Alikonis with lab equipment

Justin Alikonis ’35 with lab equipment

Alikonis graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1935 as a chemistry major, and completed graduate school at the University of Illinois. By the late 1930s, Alikonis had a lab in Bloomington and respected reputation as a preeminent chemist. Alikonis provided Bloomington with a variety of services using his homemade equipment, from manufacturing stain removers for the local laundromat to providing forensics for the McLean County Sheriff’s Department in a suspected poisoning case.

It wasn’t until World War II that Alikonis began working for the Beich Candy Company, his employer for the next 40 years. Paul F. Beich was born in Wehlen, Prussia (now part of the German town of Bernkastel-Kues), a German immigrant to New York. He moved to Bloomington to live with his aunt, and in thirty years went from not knowing a word of English to being one of the most notable businessmen in Blommington. It was Beich who convinced John Hershey to set up a factory in McLean County to be closer to the dairy supply, and Beich himself later bought the factory. Beich Co.’s then-owner, the elder Beich’s great-grandson William, employed Alikonis as a researcher and designer in his candy factory in west Bloomington (since sold to Nestle) and the young chemist began working on high-energy candy bars to feed the G.I.s in the Pacific. During the war, over 95% of sales went straight overseas to the Armed Forces. In 1951, Beich and Alikonis participated in a rations design conference hosted by the United States Army Quartermaster Corps, and Beich helped supply the candy for homesick troops.

Justin J. Alikonis (fourth from left) participates in a candy taste test at Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station with other representatives of the industry on behalf of the Quartermaster General of the United States Army, October 1952.*

Alikonis quickly realized how valuable his caloric little bars were, and as the Cold War dawned, Alikonis began making bars designed for long-term storage in bomb shelters. At the height of the Space Race, Beich rebranded its bars and sold them to NASA for consumption during space missions. During the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, astronaut Wally Schirra ate Beich bars made with Alikonis’s patented formula, and on Apollo 8, Frank Borman shared them with his crewmates. The Beich bar recipe was also contained in the IWU time capsule, which reveals the new technologies Alikonis was working on. Determined to create an inexpensive, non-perishable candy, Alikonis was one of the first to use sorbitol, a natural sugar substitute, in his candies. Sorbitol, along with aspartame, is one of the most common natural flavorings used in diet soda today.

Alikonis was equally successful in the civilian market. He designed and patented, among other things, a marshmallow-making machine, the “Whizolater”, named after the Beich flagship candy bar, the Whiz. With no moving parts and operating solely on pressurized air, the Whizolater could make 1,400 gallons of marshmallow or nougat per hour. Curtiss Candy Company, the original makers of the Baby Ruth (then called the Kandy Kake), bought several Whizolaters for their Chicago-based plant. In the 1970s, “Beich’s Caramels”, which in reality were fruit-flavored taffy squares, became a hit once jokes (submitted to the company by children) were added to the wrappers. Beich’s Caramels became known as Laffy Taffy, a popular candy to this day.

Alikonis returned to IWU during Founders’ Day ‘69 to advertise his “space food” rations, and place a sample of his famous ration bar in the time capsule. While the bar may have rotted away, IWU will always have the story behind it, of the curious chemist-turned-candymaker who made history, on Earth and beyond.

Survival ration instructions found in the 1969 time capsule.

This informational leaflet concerning the Beich survival bar was found in the 2019 after the 1969 time capsule was opened, but was unfortunately moisture damage deteriorated it beyond preservation. Alikonis’s name can be seen towards the bottom of the decayed paper.

*Group photo credit: Quartermaster General of the Army. Activities Report of the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute for the Armed Forces. Vol. 4, No. 3, pg. 257. Research and Development Associates, Food and Container Institute, Inc., 1952. https://books.google.com/books?id=svDhVf4KeDAC&lpg=RA1-PA98&dq=beich rations&pg=RA2-PA163#v=onepage&q=beich rations&f=false.

Presidential Biography: S. Georgia Nugent

After serving as interim president since August 2019, S. Georgia Nugent has been appointed to serve as Illinois Wesleyan University’s 20th president by the Board of Trustees. Nugent is president emerita (2003-2013) of Kenyon College, OH and served as interim president at The College of Wooster, 2015-16.

A widely published scholar of the classics and of higher education, Nugent earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate from Cornell University. At Princeton she was assistant to the president, associate provost, and dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning. She was professor of classics at Princeton and Brown universities and also taught on the classics faculties of Cornell, Swarthmore College and Kenyon.

Dr. Nugent is the first woman to officially hold the presidency at IWU. There have been two previous interim presidents: Wendell Hess, 1988-89 and Janet McNew, 2003-04.

President Georgia Nugent

Named places: Munsell Hall

Munsell Hall is named for two brothers: Charles W. C. Munsell and Oliver Spencer Munsell. Both are credited with seeing IWU through its first financial crisis in 1857, growing student enrollment, and securing funds for the second campus building (1870). Charles served as IWU’s financial agent, in charge of raising funds for the struggling school, and Oliver served as second president of the University. President Munsell’s tenure also saw positive Board of Trustee action on admitting African American students (1867) and female students (1870). He resigned in 1873 due to questions raised about inappropriate contact with student. No criminal charges were brought but the incident was investigated by both the Methodist Conference and the Board of Trustees. Minutes of the latter are available in the University Archives.

Charles W. C. Munsell

Oliver Spencer Munsell