We’re proud of who we are and of the people who have come before us. The legacies left by Iowa State’s greats: Carrie Chapman Catt, George Washington Carver, Jack Trice, and John Atanasoff are cherished.
We’re also proud of how we look! We have a tradition of beauty. Our campus has been recognized as one of the most beautiful in the country; in 1999 the American Society of Landscape Architects designated our campus as “medallion site,” one of the most beautiful in the country.
|John V. Atanasoff||George Washington Carver|
|Carrie Lane Chapman Catt||Christian Petersen|
|The Campanile||Farm House|
|The Hub||Lake LaVerne|
|Marston Water Tower||Memorial Union|
John V. Atanasoff
In 1939, an Iowa State alumus and professor named John Vincent Atanasoff began work on a revolutionary machine. Frustrated by the time it took to solve algebraic equations, Atanasoff created a machine the size of a small desk, using 300 vacuum tubes, rotating drums, and cards. It would be 58 years before the world fully credited the Iowa State professor with inventing the first digital electronic computer. Today, you can see a working replica of the computer (the only one in the world!) in the lobby of the Durham Center.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver was Iowa State’s first African American student and faculty member. He received his BS in 1894 and was asked to remain at Iowa State, where he worked on his MS (received in 1896) and directed the botanical greenhouse. In some of Iowa State’s early extension efforts, Carver traveled throughout Iowa, lecturing about plants. When he left Iowa State to join Tuskegee University, he did not forget his alma mater. “I have no words to adequately express my impressions of dear old I.S.C. (Iowa State College). All I am and all I hope to be, I owe in a very large measure to this blessed institution.”
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt—an Iowa State alumna who devoted most of her life to the expansion of women’s rights around the world as well as international peace—is recognized as one of the key leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement. Her superb oratory and organizational skills led to ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote in August 1920.
Catt was born on January 9, 1859, in Ripon, Wis., the second of three children of Lucius and Maria (Clinton) Lane. In 1866, at the close of the Civil War, the family moved to a farm near Charles City, Iowa. Catt entered Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) in Ames, Iowa, in 1877 and completed a bachelor's degree in general science in 1880. She was the only woman in her graduating class. While at Iowa State, she established military drills for women and became the first female student to give an oration before a debating society. She worked her way through school by washing dishes, teaching, and serving as a librarian’s assistant. She also was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
After graduating in 1880 with a bachelor’s degree in general science, Catt returned to Charles City to work as a law clerk and, in nearby Mason City, as a school teacher and principal. In 1883, at the age of 24, she was appointed Mason City school superintendent, one of the first women to hold such a position. In February 1885, she married Leo Chapman, publisher and editor of the Mason City Republican newspaper, at her parents’ Charles City farm.
Chapman died of typhoid fever the following year in San Francisco, Calif., where he had gone to seek new employment. Arriving just a few days after her husband’s death, the young widow decided to remain in San Francisco. In 1887, Catt returned to Iowa to begin her crusade for women’s suffrage. She joined the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association, organized suffrage events throughout the state, and worked as a professional lecturer and writer.
In June 1890, she married wealthy engineer George W. Catt, whom she had first met in college at Iowa State and later during her time in San Francisco. He supported his wife’s suffrage work both financially and personally, believing that his role in the marriage was to earn their living and hers was to reform society. They had no children.
During this time, Catt also became active in the newly formed National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was a delegate to its national convention in 1890, became head of field organizing in 1895, and was elected to succeed Susan B. Anthony as president in 1900. She continued to give speeches, plan campaigns, organize women and gain political expertise. Catt’s organizational, speaking and writing skills established her reputation as a leading suffragist.
From 1902-1904, Catt was a leader in the formation of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, serving as its president from 1904 to 1923 and thereafter as honorary chair until her death. Catt resigned as president of NAWSA in 1904 to care for her ailing husband. His death in October 1905—followed by the deaths of Susan B. Anthony (February 1906), her younger brother William (September 1907) and her mother (December 1907)—left Catt grief-stricken. Her doctor and friends encouraged her to travel abroad. She spent most of the following nine years promoting equal suffrage rights worldwide as IWSA president.
In 1915, Catt returned to the United States to resume the leadership of NAWSA, which had become badly divided over suffrage strategies. In 1916, Catt proposed her “Winning Plan” to campaign simultaneously for suffrage at both the state and federal levels. Key to the final campaign for the vote was a bequest Catt received in 1914 of more than $1 million by New York City magazine editor and publisher Miriam Folline Leslie “for the cause of Woman Suffrage.”
Under Catt’s leadership, several key states—including New York in 1917—approved women’s suffrage. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson converted to the cause of suffrage and supported a national constitutional amendment. Tireless lobbying by Catt and other suffragists, first in Congress and then in the state legislatures, finally produced a ratified 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920.
In 1919, Catt proposed the creation of a nonpartisan educational organization for women voters and on February 14, 1920—six months before the 19th Amendment was ratified—the national League of Women Voters was organized in Chicago, IL. She was honorary president of the League for the rest of her life. The League remains active today and is frequently a training ground for women who later compete for electoral office. In 1923, Catt published “Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement” with Nettie R. Schuler.
In addition to her suffrage work, Catt was active in several other causes, including international peace. In January 1915, after the outbreak of World War I, she joined with Jane Addams to organize the Women’s Peace Party. In 1925, Catt founded the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War and served as chair of the organization until 1932 and thereafter as honorary chair. She supported the League of Nations after World War I and the United Nations after World War II. Between the wars, she worked for Jewish refugee relief efforts and child labor protection laws.
On March 9, 1947, Catt died of heart failure at her home in New Rochelle, New York, where she had moved after her second husband’s death. She donated her entire estate to her alma mater, Iowa State, where, in 1921, she was the first woman to deliver a commencement address. She also delivered the commencement address at Iowa State in 1930.
Catt attained recognition for her work both during and after her lifetime. In 1926, she was featured on the cover of Time magazine and, in 1930, she received the Pictorial Review Award for her international disarmament work. In 1941, Catt received the Chi Omega award at the White House from her longtime friend Eleanor Roosevelt. She was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 1975 and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1992, Catt was named one of the 10 most important women of the century by the Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation. At Iowa State, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics was founded in her honor in 1992 and the Old Botany building on central campus was renovated and renamed Carrie Chapman Catt Hall in 1995.
In the 72-year campaign to win women the right to vote in the United States, several generations of women contributed to the cause. Catt stands out for her superb organizational and oratory skills, which over the span of 33 years, helped unite efforts to work with both major political parties at the state and national levels to achieve women’s suffrage.
Christian Petersen, a Danish sculptor who was Iowa State’s sculptor-in-residence from 1934 to 1955, has made his mark on the campus like no other artist. Works like The Fountain of the Four Seasons in front of the Memorial Union, Boy and Girl in the Parks Library, the Marriage Ring in MacKay Hall, Conversations in front of the Oak-Elm residence halls, and the Gentle Doctor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, illustrate Petersen’s love for the Midwest.
“An artist is one of you,” Petersen said. “Very much one of you. He must be in your hearts, and you in his.”
Jack Trice, Iowa State’s first black athlete, was also the first athlete to die for Iowa State. On the night of his first football game, October 5, 1923, Jack wrote in a letter on some hotel stationery, “My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family & self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part. On all defensive plays I must break thru the opponents' line and stop the play in their territory. Beware of mass interference. Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good.”
During the first half of the game he had so anticipated, Trice suffered a broken collarbone. He continued to play during the third quarter, until he was thrown on his back and trampled by three Minnesota players. He died three days later. Four thousand students and faculty members attended his funeral service on central campus.
The story of the campanile is also a love story. Edgar Stanton graduated with the first class at Iowa State in 1872. He spent 50 years on campus as a student and faculty member, becoming the Head of the Department of Mathematics, secretary to the Board of Trustees, dean of the junior college, vice-president, and on four different occasions, acting President.
His first wife was Margaret MacDonald Stanton, first dean of women. When she died, July 25, 1895, she had been closely identified with the University for almost twenty-five years. Stanton wanted to establish a monument so all students and friends of Iowa State would remember her. He finally decided to purchase and have installed a chime of 10 bells in a detached tower on central campus. President William M. Beardshear helped him choose the site, and the state legislature appropriated $7, 500 for the construction of the tower and its clock.
Stanton died September 12, 1920, and his will provided that after certain bequests were taken out, the residue of his estate should be turned over to the University for furnishing a memorial to him. His second wife, Julia Wentch Stanton, and the children, decided to request that the University install 26 additional bells, thus forming a musical instrument which became known as the Edgar W. and Margaret MacDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon.
The Farm House holds a special place in the hearts of Iowa Staters. It is our first building, constructed in 1865 as both a home and an office building. It was home to deans of agriculture until 1970, when Dean Floyd Andre moved out. There was talk of razing the old building, but the time was right for a rebirth. The Farm House Museum opened its doors on July 4, 1976. Today, the museum attracts more than 8,000 visitors every year and is one of the first ways that Iowa State reaches out to K-12 students.
A cherished tradition is the Farm House’s winter holiday events, including making Victorian decorations, sampling period treats, and taking a horse-drawn wagon ride from the Knoll to the Farm House.
Today, the Hub’s main attraction is its array of food options, but once it really was the hub of student activity. Originally built in 1892 as a station for the Dinky train, which provided transportation between downtown and campus, it was later used as a bookstore and post office. Today’s building has been rebuilt, but it includes a piece of timber from the original train station.
Lake LaVerne, the home of Lancelot and Elaine, was constructed and landscaped in 1916, a gift of LaVerne Noyes, an 1872 Iowa State alumnus. Older alumni remember skating on the lake, but today the practice has been discontinued. Many Iowa Staters remember another tradition: Walk silently around the lake with your beloved, and you are destined to be together.
Marston Water Tower
Surrounded by today’s high-tech engineering buildings, the Marston Water Tower, is a reminder of yesterday’s legacies. Built in 1897 by Anson Marston, the first dean of the College of Engineering, the 168-foot-tall tower supplied water to the campus in its early days and was the first steel, water tower west of the Mississippi. Today, it is on the National Register of Historical Places. On special occasions, flood lights illuminate its hardy structure.
The Memorial Union is the result of a group of students with a dream and an action plan. They believed that they could combine two campus needs; a building for social activities and events and a memorial to World War I veterans. They successfully raised money, and from its beginning in 1927, the organization was a nonprofit corporation, independent from Iowa State, and governed by a Board of Directors, half of which was composed of students. The status of the Union changed in January 2003, when the Union became part of Iowa State.
The Union was been the home of the Alumni Association from 1928-2004. For a complete history of the building, see http://www.mu.iastate.edu/
Morrill Hall has watched the history of Iowa State unfold. Built in 1890, the building was named after Justin Smith Morrill, who introduced the Land Grant Act, making Iowa State possible. The building has watched students climb its steps to attend chapel and to browse in the library. It shuddered, when pranksters of the 1800s sneaked a cow into its chapel. It watched students attend zoology, entomology, and geology laboratories.
The building sat empty from 1998-2005. Construction crews began work in the spring of 2005 to renovate the building. When the renovation was completed in 2007, Morrill Hall became home of the Christian Petersen Art Museum, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, and the Textiles and Clothing Museum. Contributions from more than 3,200 private donors accounted for the majority of the funding needed to give new life to the 114-year-old building.
This site is co-sponsored by the ISU Alumni Association and the University Archives, ISU Library.
The Iowa State University Alumni Association is an independent 501(c)3, self-governing organization charged with the mission of engaging the talents and resources of alumni, students, and friends in the life, work, and aspiration of Iowa State University. Our vision is to become the lifetime partner in engaging all alumni, students, and friends with Iowa State University.