Academic life:

The faculty begins publishing the Progressive Farmer, an agricultural journal.  Unfortunately, it ceases publication in 1876.

The Bee Department is abolished.


Baseball continues to be popular, as is croquet.


Physical and Chemical Laboratories are added to the east side of Chemical Laboratory at a cost of $16,000.  The Laboratory is located near where Pearson Hall is today.

Brick building old photograph with several windows and chimneys

Chemical Laboratory, n.d.

Student life:

Delta Tau Delta is the first national fraternity at Iowa State.

The commencement supper for I.A.C.'s 20 graduates is held at the Aborn House in Des Moines, and Professor Wynn delivers a presentation.  Afterward, everyone attends the State Oratorical Contest at Moore's Opera House.


Professors' salaries are raised to $1800 and instructors' to $1500.



  Academic life:

Professors Pope (Chemistry), Beal (Civil Engineering), and Morrow (Agriculture) join the faculty.

Domestic Economy establishes the first experimental kitchen opened by any college or university.


A printing office is established on campus.

Student life:

New Yale locks are installed on the dormitory doors and many students are locked out and have to crawl through their transoms to get back inside.

As noted in an 1876 Aurora, "Croquet is on the brain, we should judge; only 12 count on one ground the other evening, playing six different games.  But it is good exercise, keeping out of the ways of the balls."

Students spend time discussing the U.S. Presidential election and the merits of the candidates, Hayes and Tilden.

Several faculty and students attend the Centennial in Philadelphia.


The class exercises for the first time are held on campus in the chapel of Old Main.  In years past, the ceremony was usually held nearby (Ames, Des Moines, Nevada). 

Dr. David S. Fairchild of Ames, is recognized as the College Physician.  He has informally overseen the health of students since 1873.  Miss Margaret McDonald (who later married Edgar Stanton), Mrs. Mary B. Welch (the President's wife), the Proctor, H.D. Harlow, and the Professor of Chemistry, E.R. Hutchins (who was also a doctor) also oversee the care of student health during the 1870s.



  Academic life:

The first graduate degree of Master of Science in botany, is granted to J.C. Arthur (Class of 1872).  Arthur was a student of Charles Bessey's, and becomes a noted authority on rust fungi.


Croquet continues in popularity.


The Board asks the President to select a plot of 5 acres to be surveyed and set aside for a College cemetery.  The College Cemetery (1.7 acres) is currently located on the northwest corner of campus near Pammel Woods (named for Dr. Louis Pammel, botanist).  There are more than 700 graves. Included among them are six university presidents; one acting president; numerous administrators, faculty, staff, their spouses and children; veterans of five wars; two students; and a beloved night watchman and his dog.  A set of criteria consisting of length of service to the university is required to be considered for burial eligibility.

Professor Pope (Chemistry) builds Pope Cottage south of Lincoln Way.  The architect is unknown, but the university is able to purchase it in 1884 for $3,000.

 Two story cabin in snow with trees surroundingPope Cottage, n.d.

  Student life:

The rooms in Old Main are painted and renovated, and for the first time, room rent is imposed.  In May, lightening strikes the flag staff on Old Main, and part of the roof falls in on sleeping students. 

On May 3rd, the students are given a holiday, and spend their time on carriage rides and dinners.  During the summer term, the students amuse themselves with ice cream suppers, fishing parties, buggy rides, and political debates.

Pi Beta Phi (organized as I.C. Sorosis) is the first national sorority on campus.


 Under Dr. Fairchild, the College begins keeping health records on its students.  As noted in his reminiscences sent to Iowa State, "All cases of sickness were entered . . . were classified and analyzed and a report presented to the Board of Trustees."   Students suffer many illnesses due to poor sanitation and close quarters.


  Academic life:

Laboratory work in zoology involves the dissection of crayfish, frogs, and clams.

A periodical, "College Quarterly" is started to impart to the state what was being taught at the College.  It is edited by the department heads and issued 4 times per year.


Football is introduced and is very popular with both students and faculty playing frequently. 

An Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C.) baseball team plays against the "Actives" of Ames, and loses, 33-12.


A ball ground is set aside for the ladies to take military drill (see Student Life).

Student life:

May 3rd continues to be set aside as a holiday, and the students are dispersed to "collect specimens."

A Young Men and Women's Christian Association is founded.

Carrie Chapman Catt (Class of 1880) helps organize the Ladies Military Company G (standing for Girls).  In 1891, the group is divided into two companies, G and L (for Ladies).  Both are disbanded in 1897.

According to the Reminiscences of I.A.C., the following is reported, "A couple were standing at the head of the stairs one noon, when the proctor came along and remarked that "this will never do."  "Why," they both replied at once, "It is not one yet."  "Yes, I know it is two yet," the proctor replied, "but liable to be one before long."  They departed."


The Alumni Association is founded.

The first telephones are installed on campus.

Commencement includes extracts read from genuine graduating theses.


  Academic life:

The "School" of Veterinary Science is organized, the first state veterinary college in the United States (although veterinary courses has been taught since the beginning of the College). This is originally a two-year course leading to a diploma.

In regards to the Department of Botany, Professor Bessey requests of the State Board of Education (overseeing Iowa State at the time), at least 4 rooms for . . . a class or lecture room large enough to comfortably seat one hundred or more students; a well-lighted laboratory . . .; room for the herbarium and cabinet of economic botany . . .; and a professor's study and library."

Domestic Science: Young ladies are instructed for several weeks in washing and ironing.  They also follow a 12-week course in cookery, using Miss Juliet Corson's "Cooking School Text-Book."  The lessons included learning how to make omelettes, chicken pie, hot slaw, apple pie, soups, and fried oysters.  (Come see a copy in Special Collections, call#: TX663 C82 1879)


The military boys hold a sham battle on the morning of June 21st, and the battle rages between the "Pirates" and the "U.S. Troops" for nearly two hours.


A creamery is constructed (size 16 X 24 feet) and 50 cows provided all of the milk and butter for campus.  All of the milking and butter making is done by students.

Student life:

Students are charged the following:  $2.50 for Board, per week; $.40 for Lighting and heating; $.21 for Incidentals; $1.00-3.00 for Room rent; $.50 for Washing; and a $5.00 janitor's fee.  There are no tuition charges, but students have to bring their own bedding.  Students are also not allowed to play cards or use tobacco in any College rooms and are expected to attend Chapel daily.

15 men and 6 ladies graduate.  The courses of study at the time included agriculture, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and the ladies' course in science.


The College expends $300 for the purchase of the Durham bull, "Oneida Prince," from H.B. Adair.  Nearly 10 acres is devoted to experiments in wheat and the varieties sown included Minnesota White Fife, Scotch Fife, Improved Fife, Lost Nation, Golden Globe, and White Russian.  The total yield is 141 bushels valued at $137.39 at a cost of $76.37.  Nearly 1,000 trees are planted in the experimental orchard, consisting of Gros Pomier and Duchess.

The first professional engineering degree is given in Civil Engineering, and is awarded to Charles F. Mount.



 Academic life:

President Adonijah Welch is paid $3,100 with an allowance of $150 for conducting Sabbath services (this is a reduction from his previous salary of $3,500); Professors Charles Bessey (Botany) and Millikan Stalker (Veterinary Medicine) are paid $1600; Mrs. Mary B. Welch (Domestic Economy) is paid $1,100, and Herbert Osborne (Asst. in Zoology and Entomology) is paid $300.

The courses of Study at the College are designated as General and Technical.  The General course focuses on the Course in the Sciences related to the Industries.  The aim, according to the I.A.C. catalog, is to "to give a liberal culture in the sciences and other branches of learning,  which underlie the great industries of the country, without especially confining it to any particular pursuit or profession."

The technical courses of the College are: Agriculture; Mechanical Engineering; Civil Engineering; and Veterinary Science.  There are also lines of technical study: Domestic Economy, Military Science, Literature and Language, Mathematics and Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Philosophy.


North Hall is in the process of being constructed, and is to be for the use of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, as well as Botany.  It is located near where MacKay stands today.  It is later attached to Margaret Hall (the women's dormitory) and demolished in 1926.

Student life:

The lectures committee arrange for a presentation by Will Carleton, the "Science of Home." Unfortunately, he does not show up, and the students are forced to hold an impromptu debate and oration.

Only the freshmen have to participate in the non-instructive (and non voluntary) labor system.  While previously used as a teaching device, the prevalence of the laboratory method eventually becomes predominant.

The course of study for a junior in Agriculture includes the following classes in the first term: Horticulture, Botany, Practices in Agriculture, Vegetable Anatomy and Physiology, Physics-Heat, and English Literature.


 The Alumni Association meets and congregates between Professor Stanton's house and the College, and they later join the students in the dining hall.  It is noted that the classes tend to sit together.

The Library has 6,000 volumes and is open from 2:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.


  Academic life:

During the freshman year, the Agricultural Course of Study includes Practical Agriculture (farm and garden work 12 hours per week); Advanced Algebra; Geometry; Book-keeping; Rhetoric, German or Latin; Drawing; Composition; Botany; Zoology; and Dairy.

The College Herd includes the following types of cattle: Short-horns (19); Holsteins (7); Jerseys (1); High Grades (45) and Common (45).

If there is room, students are also accepted as "sub-freshman" to prepare for entering I.A.C. as freshmen.  Their course work includes algebra, English, drawing, geometry, physiology and hygiene or descriptive zoology.


In baseball, the College Nine defeats the Ames team by a score of 17-16.


The buildings of I.A.C. (in addition to the faculty houses) consists of the Main College Building (Old Main), the Boarding (East) Cottage, Chemical and Physical Hall, North Hall, the Horticultural Buildings, South Hall, Farm House, the Creamery, and a Workshop, Laundry, and Gas-Works behind Old Main. The College Farm consists of 860 acres with 70 set aside for the College Grounds.

The College Catalog notes the following, "The College occupies a pleasant and beautiful location, one and a half miles west of the town of Ames . . .The railroad facilities for reaching Ames from any part of the state are very good. Regular conveyances for passengers and baggage run between the station and the College, three times each day."

 Student life:

There is no charge for tuition, but students have to pay for room and board. Manual labor (in addition to instruction-related labor) is still required, and the catalog states, "This institution can offer no inducements to the idler or self-indulgent."


An entire building at the Iowa State Fair is dedicated to the Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C.) and deemed a great success. There are displays by all the departments, and the college battalion (under the direction of General Geddes) undertakes guard duty for the fairgrounds. I.A.C. students win recognition for their collections of stamps and insects.


 Academic life:

Mrs. Welch gives a course of six lectures on domestic economy to a class of 60 women in Des Moines.

Black and white photo of older white woman in profile  









Mary Beaumont Welch

Professor Budd (Horticulture) travels to Russia and collects specimens for determining which fruit trees and shrubs could best tolerate the Iowa winter.

Black and white image of bearded white man wearing suit  







  J.L. Budd

The Veterinary Course of Study contains classes in zoology, botany, anatomy of domestic animals, veterinary obstetrics, and sanitary science.


The "College Grounds" are expanded to 120 acres, while the "College Domain" has 860 acres.

Old Main houses 200 students and is heated by steam and lighted with gas. The floors are organized in the following way:
Basement: dining room, kitchen, laundry, office and armory
First floor: chapel, President's office, treasurer's office and library
Second floor: recitation rooms and rooms for students
Third and Fourth floors: student rooms and the zoological/geological museums

A cyclone hits the campus on April 8th, causing a great deal of damage, and injuring several people. The President's House (The Gables), a new bridge, South Hall, Professor Budd's house, and North Hall all sustain damage costing between $25,000-$35,000.

Student life:

There are now two proctors for the students, replacing Mr. Harlow, who has graduated the previous fall. Proctor Harlow receives a watch in honor of his years as proctor.

While music is not offered at the College, it is possible to arrange for lessons. The costs for piano or organ lessons are $10 for 20 lessons. There are also choruses and harmony lessons.


Due to health problems (and increasing external pressures for more vocational training) President Welch takes leave to inspect the agricultural colleges of Europe. While he is gone, the Board of Trustees cut his salary (and that of Mrs. Welch) by $300. General Geddes is also removed from his position in military tactics.


  Academic life:

The Mechanical Engineering Course of Study includes classes in algebra, geometry, composition, drawing, botany, chemistry, differential and integral calculus, physics, French, political economy, and geology.

Practical illustration for class purposes includes the following: the vegetable, flower, ornamental gardens and borders, experimental nurseries and orchards, the forestry and small-fruit plantations, and collections of wood, insects, abnormal and diseased growths, fruit casts, and a horticultural museum (herbarium).


Bicycle riding and baseball are popular on campus.


The first Engineering Hall is built at a cost of $4,890.

Osborn Cottage is built and named for Herbert Osborn (Class of 1879), professor of zoology. After leaving Iowa State in 1898, Dr. Osborn was chair of the Zoology and Entomology Department at The Ohio State University until 1916. Osborn Cottage is demolished in 2001 after hosting the Honors Program for 25 years.


Osborn Cottage

Brick cottage with ivy on one wall


House with many windows, two stories, brick

Sloss House

Student life:

There are two cases of scarlet fever, and at least 40 students leave the College in order to avoid the disease.

The term opens on February 27 (Wednesday) and ends with commencement on November 12 (Wednesday).


President Welch resigns, but remains on the faculty as professor of psychology and history of civilization until his death in 1889.

Seaman A. Knapp, a native of northern New York, former superintendent of the Iowa School for the Blind, and professor of agriculture at Iowa Agricultural College, succeeds him as President on December 1.

Black and white image of older white man with mutton chops and mustache, suit

Seaman A. Knapp


 Academic life:

In regards to the two-year course in Domestic Economy, "This course is based upon the assumption that a pleasant home is the surest safeguard of morality and virtue; and one of the essential elements of broad culture. Its aim is to prepare young women for the highest demands of home life," according to the I.A.C. Catalog. The classes included botany, Latin, rhetoric, domestic economy, chemistry, and history.


The Office Building (English Office Building) is erected for the offices of the president, secretary and treasurer at a cost of $3,117. It is later used by the Building and Grounds Department (1904-1933) and the Department of English and Speech (1933-  ). It stood southeast of Beardshear Hall, before it was razed in 2004.

Two story large brick building with people standing outside

English Office Building


 There are also plans developed for the Veterinary Hospital (currently where the Memorial Union is located) and a new Hall for Mechanical and Civil Engineering.

Electric lights are first installed in Old Main.

 Student life:

Candidates for entering the freshmen class must demonstrate knowledge in English Grammar, English Analysis, Arithmetic, Human Physiology, and Algebra.

10 students graduate with engineering degrees.


Seaman A. Knapp resigns, and Professor J.L. Budd is acting president from December 1884 through February 1885. Professor Budd's daughter Etta, later becomes an art teacher at Simpson College where George Washington Carver is one of her students. She convinces him to transfer to Iowa State to pursue a career working with plants.


  Academic life:

Senior students in Geology use Joseph LeConte's Elements of Geology as a textbook (come see a copy in Special Collections, QE28 L496e2). Their time is divided among lecturers, a review of Iowa geology, study of typical fossils, and visits to local quarries. The students also spend time studying the rocks, minerals, and fossils in the College's collection.


The buildings, Veterinary Hospital (approximately where the Pine Room (Memorial Union) is located) and Sanitary Building, are built approximately on the site of the Memorial Union for a cost of $10,600. The Hospital includes all of the "modern appliances for the treatment of diseased animals, and the Sanitary Building houses offices and classrooms," according to the I.A.C. catalog. Both buildings are torn down in 1926-1927 to make way for the Memorial Union.


Many people standing in a line with two horses in front of a large two story building

Veterinary Hospital      

Two story building seen behind several trees

Sanitary Building

The I.A.C. catalog notes 6 houses on the college grounds being used by professors' families.

  Student life:

To be considered for admission, prospective students had to write the President, and request a Card of Enquiry. The Card had a number of questions to be answered considered essential to admission, such as,
1. Are you sixteen years old?
2. Are you proficient in the studies required for admission to the Freshman class?
3. Will you, if admitted, remain one entire term, unless prevent by sickness or unseen misfortune?


The College Hospital is established. It occupies the second floor of the Sanitary Building and is supported by taxing each student 60 cents per term.

Leigh S.J. Hunt, a public school administrator from Des Moines is appointed President on February 1. He resigned in 1886.

Young white man with slicked hair and big necktie

Hunt led an interesting life, and married an I.A.C. graduate, as noted in this University Archives biography:

Leigh S. J. Hunt was born in Indiana in 1855. He obtained his undergraduate degree through Middlebury College in Vermont via correspondence course. Hunt studied law independently and passed the bar in Indiana. He then taught at public schools in Indiana before moving to Iowa and becoming superintendent of schools at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (1880) and East Des Moines Independent School District, Des Moines, Iowa (1882). Hunt became the third president (1885) of Iowa State Agricultural College (Iowa State University). His lack of experience and aggressive style of leadership led to conflicts with the students and faculty and he resigned in 1886 after only one year.

Hunt moved to Seattle, Washington, and over the course of his lifetime participated in a wide variety of successful business ventures. He became a newspaper publisher (1886), real estate developer, and president of a bank while in Seattle. Hunt also would operate a gold mine in Korea (1893), grow cotton in Sudan (1904 -1910), and eventually pursue mining, agriculture, and land development in Las Vegas, Nevada (1923 - 1933).

In 1885, Hunt married Jessie Noble (attended Iowa State, 1882) of Des Moines and had two children: Helen and Henry. Leigh Hunt died on October 5, 1933, in Las Vegas, Nevada.


  Academic life:

A freshman taking the general course in science, had to take the following courses:

First Term: advanced algebra, English language and composition, history or Latin, elocutionary drill, drawing, stockbreeding, and military drill.

Second Term: geometry, applied rhetoric or Latin, botany, zoology, elocution, drawing, practical horticulture, and military drill.

Advanced degrees in home economics are awarded to Nellie E. Rawson and Clara J. Hayes.


Football scores include Building v College, 14-11; and a baseball game between the freshman and sophomores results in a sophomore win, 10-9.


As a marketing strategy, the I.A.C. Catalog notes that the "view of the surrounding country from the upper stories and towers of the Main Building is one of wide extent and great beauty."

  Student life:

The total enrollment of resident graduates, seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, special students, and sub-freshmen is 305. While there is no tuition charge for Iowa residents, a $15.00 fee per term is applied to out of state students.

The contract signed by every student reads as follows:
"I hereby agree, on entering the College, in 1887, that I will respect and obey its laws, and, except in case of necessity, illness or unforeseen misfortune, remain the entire term on which I enter."

The use of tobacco is prohibited, as are intoxicating beverages and profane or obscene language.


William Chamberlain, secretary of the Ohio Board of Agriculture, is named president on July 20.

Slightly older white man with beard and close cropped hair except for a bit at the front that is slicked back

His University Archives biography:

William Isaac Chamberlain was born in Sharon, Connecticut in 1837. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Ohio where he attended Western Reserve College (Case Western Reserve University) and upon graduation (1859) was appointed instructor in Greek. After six years, Dr. Chamberlain returned to his family's farm and proceeded to study and conduct agricultural experiments related to farm fertilizers, drainage, and crop rotation. He published his studies in agricultural journals and became widely known for his investigations of agricultural issues. Dr. Chamberlain was elected State Secretary of Agriculture of Ohio (1880-1886) and was instrumental in setting up Farmers' Institutes in every county of the state.

Dr. Chamberlain's reputation was well-known when he became the fourth President (1886-1890) of Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. However, Dr. Chamberlain's presidency was a turbulent one. He regularly defended the college's curriculum which was often criticized by local citizens for not focusing enough on agriculture. On campus, many students opposed fraternities due to their secretive and exclusionary nature. Thus, his backing of student fraternities would eventually cost him the support of most of the students. He never did gain the favor of the faculty. Dr. Chamberlain resigned in 1890 and moved back to his Ohio farm where he continued to conduct agricultural experiments as well as write and lecture on agricultural issues. He served on the Board of Trustees of The Ohio State University and the Ohio Experiment Station and became Associate Editor of the Ohio Farmer and the National Stockman and Farmer.

William Chamberlain married Lucy Jones Marshall on July 16, 1863 and they had six children. Dr. Chamberlain died on June 30, 1920, in Cleveland, Ohio.



  Academic life:

There are no textbooks to be used by the sophomores focusing on horticulture, as there has been nothing written about Iowa's prairie soil and climate in regards to small fruits, orchards, lawns, flowers, and forestry.

Professor Wynn, Chair of English/Latin/History retires after 16 years of service. General Geddes, Civil War veteran and Professor of Military Tactics, dies. He had been involved with the university since its founding.

The Forestry and Horticulture report to the Board of Trustees discusses experimentation efforts with orchards of apples, pears, cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, almonds, grapes, and other small fruits.


In his report to the Board of Trustees, President Chamberlain notes that a Ladies' Hall, faculty housing, sanitary upgrades are the top needs for the campus, in addition to other student housing, recitation and lecture rooms for the departments.

  Student life:
Students going to town had to register with the President's Office, and make sure their trip did not interfere with any college exercises.

The Health report notes the following illnesses among the students: measles (1); dysentery (3); sore throat (3); and fever (2).

The graduating class numbers 43; 4 of whom were women. President Chamberlain also reports that 31 of those were focused on agriculture, engineering, and veterinary medicine occupations.


The ordinary income of the College from land endowments, state bonds, and mortgages totals $55,359.25 for the year.


  Academic life:

The Course for Ladies requires four years and provided a thorough study of literature, with a smattering of courses in the natural sciences, and mathematics, resulting in the Bachelor of Letters (B.L.) degree. The courses are varied, and include domestic economy and laboratory practice, botany, zoology, French or Latin, history, German, English literature, Geology or Chemistry.


A baseball league is organized with a pennant race between the classes. In the final game, the seniors beat the freshmen, 12-10.


The Experiment Station Building is begun, in order to fulfill the terms of the Hatch Act (1887) to "establish a research organization to advance science to solve problems for the food, agricultural and natural resource systems, and links with other land-grant university research programs across the nation in a vital research chain." An initial experimental project is planting an orchard with fruit tree varieties from Russia and China.

Large two story building with many windows and two chimneys

Bevier House, the first Experiment Station Building

Bevier House, the first Experiment Station Building

   Student life:

Students suffer from both measles and German measles with 41 students afflicted.

The Welch Eclectic Society, a 5th literary group, is organized for gentlemen members only and is named in honor of former President, Professor Welch. The group present a number of "eclectic topics," including why flooding the lower part of the Sahara would be good for the world, and Robert Ingersoll v. Ward Beecher, who was the better man?

May 25, 1888: Animosity between the students who are involved in fraternities (or secret societies) and those who are not finally boils over. As reported by the Aurora, the anti secret society men of the college meet to break up a joint meeting of 3 secret societies. President Chamberlain had given his permission for a dinner to be held in the Chemical and Physical Hall. A group of nearly a hundred students met outside the hall and they supposedly threw stones through windows, shut off the water, and released cyanogen gas into the lower halls in order to drive the participants out.

When it appears that President Chamberlain is siding with the secret society students, the non fraternity students become increasingly agitated. F.E. Davidson was expelled, although later simply suspended, and eventually, he returns to Iowa State and founds the I.A.C. Student (the forerunner of the ISU Daily). President Chamberlain eventually resigns over his lack of control over the students in 1890.


The Agricultural Experiment Station is established on March 1. Robert Speer, former member of the Board of Trustees, is named the first director.

Commencement is held on November 14 with the graduating students' topics ranging from "Science and Poetry," "Women in the Medical Profession," "Street Pavement," and "Blight of Fruit Trees."


   Academic life:

There are 424 volumes added to the Library, and the Dewey Decimal system is implemented.

Professor Pammel, botanist, joined the faculty. From his University Archives biography:

Louis H. Pammel (L.H.) was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1862. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, being the first student to receive a Bachelor of Agriculture degree (1885) from that institution. He graduated with honors for his research of parasitic fungi, including downey mildew of millet. Pammel also received his M. S. (1889) in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph. D. (1898) from Washington University. He obtained training under such distinguished professors as Dr. William Trelease, Professor in the Shaw School of Botany at Washington University; Dr. E. A. Birge, Professor of Zoology and a President of the University of Wisconsin; Dr. C. R. Van Hise, Professor of Chemistry and Minerology, also a University of Wisconsin President (1903-1918).

In February 1889, Pammel came to Iowa State College (University) as Professor of Botany (1889-1929), a position made vacant by the resignation of Dr. Byron Halsted (1884-1888). In addition to teaching botany, he taught courses in Landscape Architecture (1889-1890). Pammel was also the Iowa State College Experiment Station Botanist (1889-1922). During Pammel's tenure, Iowa State became the first school in the United States to offer bacteriology courses to general students.
Pammel was also a well liked and respected by his students, many of which considered him a great influence in their lives. Among these students was George Washington Carver. In 1891, Carver became the first African American to enroll at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (Iowa State University). Pammel encouraged him to stay at Iowa State as a graduate student after he completed his bachelor's degree (1894). Over the next two years, as assistant botanist for the College Experiment Station, Carver quickly developed scientific skills in plant pathology and mycology, the branch of botany that deals with fungi. He published several articles on his work and gained national respect. Carver completed his master's degree (1896) and was invited by Booker T. Washington to join the faculty of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute. Pammel and Carver remained in close contact after Carver moved to Alabama.

Pammel conducted research in plant pathology and in weeds, which resulted in numerous publications, including A Manual of Poisonous Plants (1910), Weeds of the Farm and Garden (1911), and The Weed Flora of Iowa (1913, 1926). Other research activities included the anatomy of seeds and plants of the legume family.

Pammel was a member of numerous professional and honor societies, including the Botanical Society of America, the Ecological Society of America, the American Society of Bacteriology, the St. Louis Academy of Science, the Biological Society of Washington and the Sierra Club. He was twice elected President of the Iowa Academy of Science; was vice president of Section G. Botany, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and fellow of the AAAS. He was active in the creation of Iowa's state park law and served as the first president of the Iowa State Board of Conservation.

Pammel married Augusta Emmel of Chicago, Illinois in 1887 and they had six children, five daughters and one son. He died in 1931 on a transcontinental train traveling through Nevada.


The I.A.C. Baseball Club wins games over the Marshalltown Y.M.C.A. and Boone.

In football, the cottage residents ("cottagers") plays against the boys in the "building" (Old Main). The building boys win.

The students continue to enjoy croquet and lawn tennis, and a Lawn Tennis Association is formed.

The Iowa Agricultural College Athletic Association is formed. The object is the promotion of healthful sports of all kind. There is a large membership and regular meetings are held every 2 weeks. All sorts of field sports are practiced, including running races and tug of war, and prizes are given.


A fruit house is constructed for $600 and a well is drilled near the horticultural barn for $230.25. A road is also constructed leading from the cemetery to the campus, and Herbert Knapp builds his house on campus. The location is on Knoll Road. The house becmes Coburn House in 1928, and is later moved across campus north of Pammel Road. It was razed in 1975.

Medium two story house with covered windows and white paint

Coburn House

   Student life:

Members of the literary societies number 191 students. Students are entertained by musical selections from Iowa Agricultural College Glee Club (men) and the Philomela Club (women). There are 47 students in the graduating class.

For the Fourth of July, the campus celebrates by having a grand procession, dinners, fireworks, baseball, and boat and sack races.

Duff's Restaurant advertises ice cream, fresh oysters, nuts and candies for sale.


Former President and Professor Welch dies on March 14 and funeral services are held in the chapel. A funeral procession leads to his final resting place in the Iowa State Cemetery. The Board of Trustees states that the College "has lost one of its oldest, ablest and most efficient supporters, friends, and instructors."

President Chamberlain, in his biennial report, feels it necessary to respond point by point to a Harper's Monthly article written by former Iowan, Justice Miller, a member of the Supreme Court where he criticizes the accomplishments of the agricultural college. Chamberlain especially focuses on the title of "agricultural college" as an "inadequate and misleading name."

As he states, "Not simple processes in agriculture, horticulture, and the mechanic arts are learned better and more cheaply in shop or on farm; not these do we teach largely, but related science, underlying principles, and processes too intricate or difficult for the unskilled, uneducated laborer. Thus alone can we fulfill our mission."


   Academic life:

J.E. Cobbey (Class of 1876) presents his published work, The Law of Replevin, to the college library as "evidence that I have not been idle since graduation."

The Aurora identified the following "interesting books," in the library's collection:
Ward: Timber and Some of its Diseases
Aitken: Animal Akaloids in Pathology
Rose: Modern Machine-Shop Practice
Bret Harte: Poetical Works
Walt Whitman: Poetical Works
Jonathan Edwards: Life and Ministry


President and Mrs. Chamberlain host students at their home, The Gables, and the afternoon is spent playing lawn tennis.

The Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Association is formed, with 16 Iowa colleges as members. A state field day is held at Grinnell, and the athletes participate in the 50 yard dash, the high jump, tug of war, and the 3-legged race. An I.A.C. representative wins the baseball throw.


Morrill Hall is constructed to fill the need for a library, chapel, museum, as well as recitation rooms. Named to honor the Senator who had sponsored the Morrill Act, which had established the land-grant college system, Morrill Hall is built at a cost of less than $30,000.   It is re-dedicated after renovation in 2007.

   Student life:

In addition to the 5 literary societies, the Directory of the Aurora (the student newspaper founded by those societies) includes the Christian Association, the Veterinary Medical Society, and the Athletic Association.

The senior class motto is "We take no steps backward."


The Iowa Agricultural College Student begins publication. From 1897 through 1947, it is known as the Iowa State College Student, and as of 1947, becomes the Iowa State Daily.

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) are organized at Iowa State, taking the place of the previously founded Christian Association.


   Academic life:

An electrical engineering class is added to the curriculum; Agriculture and Horticulture are removed from the General Course in Science and placed in the Agricultural course. Instruction in library work is offered, and English is now considered a full department with Miss Doolittle as chair.

A general report from the Agriculture Department notes the construction of a dairy which would provide butter, cheese, and cold storage, yet also serve as a laboratory. A new hog barn is also built, and new sheep, cattle and horses are purchased for the College. The Experiment Station is conducting a study of the sugar beet industry, and winter course, scheduled to begin December 1, lasts for 10 weeks and instruction are given in dairying, ag chemistry, horticulture, livestock, veterinary medicine, stock breeding, shop work, and mathematics.

The Library possesses 8,000 volumes and nearly 400 pamphlets.

"Tama Jim" Wilson joins the faculty as the Chair of Agriculture. He later went on to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.


A Field Day is held in Iowa City on June 5, and the events included tennis singles and doubles; baseball throw; track events; middle-weight boxing, and there are exhibitions in boxing, fencing, tumbling, the horizontal bards, and pyramid building. Due to bad weather, certain events are postponed for a week and were completed in Marshalltown.

The College baseball nine plays Webster City and loses, "They could not find the Webster City curves and so they struck out," according to the Aurora.


Morrill Hall is completed and the library and museum are moved to their new locations. The new chapel seats show up late, so the carpenters work overnight to install them in time for the dedication.

At the Morrill Hall dedication in June, Professor Bessey speaks of his first coming to Iowa State in 1870 - there were no trees and only Farm House, Old Main and two professor's homes, "Those were not days of comfort. There were no graceful gravel drives. There were no comfortable walks. There were no gardens. There were no shrubs to give beauty to the landscape. Those were the days of beginnings. They were days of small beginnings . . . It is a noble thing to build Colleges. It is a noble thing to richly endow them with buildings, books, apparatus, and all the material for apparatus, and the material for the study of nature, and man and man's history and development."

The Ames and College Railway is installed, to connect the campus with the town of Ames. Later known as "The Dinkey" the line is built by the A&C Railway as an alternative to the mud road previously used. The Dinkey delivers mail to the post office located inside the Hub, carries building materials used in constructing Marston Engineering Hall, the Campanile, and other campus buildings, and brings loads of boxes and scrap wood for the victory bonfires held after sporting events. And, it offers students the opportunity to go to town!

The fare is five cents each way and ran about every two hours beginning around 6 a.m. and ending about 9 p.m. The track begins at the east end of downtown Ames, continues across Squaw Creek through the wooded lowland, and up the hill to campus. The first stop is behind the Farm House, and the last stop is where the track ended in front of the Hub. The Dinkey runs until 1907 when it is replaced by an electric streetcar. The Dinkey is later dismantled and used for parts during World War II.

   Student life:

The senior girls give a reception and a number of the senior boys attend, dressed in white pants, dark coats, no vests, green satin ties, straw hats, canes and spectacles.

President Beardshear submits a column titled "The Student and the Man," to the Aurora, where he states, "This does not mean that one must possess an extraordinary talent but that in school he awaken the energy and push that will carry him over difficulties. It means that he has learned thoroughly: "Luck is a fool! Pluck is a hero!" Energy is the genius of life."

The class poem for the Class of 1891, included stanza 12:

Let us go to long remember
I.A.C. and strive our best
To make our Alma Mater
Banner College of the West:
While the changing years shall run,
To our Nation, State and College,
And our class of '91.

The Aurora is in debt, and its graduating editors somewhat concerned that the bills should be paid the next year by the literary societies, so the volunteer staff would not need to worry.


William Miller Beardshear, a minister who had been a college president and superintendent of schools in West Des Moines, is appointed president on February 1.

From his University Archives biography:

Born in Ohio in 1850, William Miller Beardshear joined the Union Army at the age of 14 and served throughout the Civil War. He studied for the ministry at Otterbein College and Yale Divinity School. He filled several pastorates before coming to Iowa in 1881 as the President of Western College in Toledo. In 1889, he was appointed Superintendent of Schools in West Des Moines.

In 1891, Beardshear was appointed President of Iowa State, and during his tenure, IAC truly came of age. Beardshear developed new agricultural programs and was instrumental in hiring premier faculty members such Anson Marston, Louis B. Spinney, J.B. Weems, Perry G. Holden, and Maria Roberts. He also expanded the university administration, and the following buildings were added to the campus: Morrill Hall (1891); the Campanile (1899); Old Botany (now Catt Hall) (1892); and Margaret Hall (1895).

He died in 1902 of complications following a heart attack. In his honor, Iowa State named its central administrative building (Central Building) after Beardshear in 1925.

College colors are chosen: silver for students in engineering; yellow for students in agriculture; and black for students in veterinary medicine. As the I.A.C. (Iowa Agricultural College) Student newspaper notes:
May 15, 1891: "The college colors are thought by all to be a wise choice and the committee deserve our praise...The first, a Silver denoting the mechanical department on which is engraved the violet colors the letters, "I.A.C." Next Yellow signifying the golden harvest which is claimed by the generals. Last, Black, denoting death, assigned to the Vet Department who kill but never cure."


   Academic life:

Professor Marston joins the faculty in engineering, and later goes on to serve as Iowa State's first dean of engineering from 1904 through 1932.

A winter course is started in dairying, and 28 students enroll. They practice making butter and cheese, and listen to lectures from Professors Wilson, Budd, Pammel and Stalker. The Experiment Station also publishes bulletins on the effects of various feeds on sheep and hogs, and experiments with cheeses.

Elmina Wilson is the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree from Iowa State, and goes on to receive her M.S. in 1894.  She teaches at Iowa State, serving as an Assistant of Civil Engineering (1892-1897); Instructor of Civil Engineering (1898-1902); and as an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering (1902-1904).  Her sister, Alda, also earns a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1894.


The Iowa Intercollegiate Baseball League is formed, with representatives from Drake, Grinnell (then known as Iowa College), Iowa State, and the University of Iowa. Iowa State won the first game of the season over the University of Iowa - the trophy prize selected was a silver bat. This bat is now part of the Artifact Collection in the Special Collections Department at Iowa State.

The football team plays State Center (a 6-6 tie) and the Des Moines Y.M.C.A. (8-0, a win). The coach is Dr. Ira C. Brownlie.


An elevator is installed in Old Main, but the students comment in the Aurora that they would rather take the trunks up the back stairs.

Appropriations are provided by the state legislature for the construction of a hall for the Agricultural, Horticultural and Veterinary Departments. Originally named Agriculture Hall, it later became known as Old Botany. Renovated in the early 1990s, it is now known as Carrie Chapman Catt Hall.

The Hub, originally a turnaround station for the Dinkey, is built for approximately $1500. It also houses the Post Office and Book Store.

   Student life:

"The more things change. . . (Ed.) "students began creating cow paths between the college buildings, much to the dismay of the landscape gardener. The Aurora notes that "this state of affairs has continued until now the campus is covered with all sorts of radiating and intersecting lines of mud connecting cottages with barns, "Prof's" houses with laboratories and the main building with almost everything else on the grounds."

The class poem included the lines. . .

"And after the heart throbs of parting,
When of college days you dream,
Remember in life 'tis a royal thing
"To be and not to seem.""(which was also the class motto, Esse quam videri)

57 diplomas are given to students in agriculture (4), veterinary medicine (10), mechanical engineering (3), civil engineering (10), electrical engineering (3), sciences (16), and the course for ladies (11).

Orations are made obligatory by the Board of Trustees, for all junior and senior courses.


   Academic life:

The four years course in agriculture includes classes in algebra, live stock, horticulture, chemistry, elocution, principles of heredity, dairying, and entomology.

The Botanical Department contributes a microscope, culture plates, and respiration apparatus for the World's Fair exhibit of agricultural colleges and experiment stations.

The Library obtains a subscription to the "Western Athletic Magazine," which focused on sports, physical culture, and athletics. The general collection now consisted of 10,200 volumes and open hours were 8-12; 1-5:15; and 7-9:30.

The moss herbarium of Dr. S.O. Lindberg is acquired and contains 5,046 species represented by 47,858 specimens. In addition, Professors Pammel and Hitchcock also donate their personal collections to the College.


Baseball scores are now being reported in the Aurora, including detailed descriptions of the league games with the University of Iowa, Drake, Grinnell, and Cornell.

The Field Day is hosted in Ames, and included tennis, the pole vault, hurdles, bicycling, and shot put.


The Board of Trustees sets aside 13 acres west of Morrill Hall for an athletic field (currently where the Library, Durham Hall, and Marston Hall exists).

$12,500 is appropriated for general purposes, and is used to provide for the book department, post office, motor railway, as well as the improvement of the physical and chemical laboratories. In addition, the walls in Morrill Hall are frescoed.

   Student life:

The Class of 1894 publishes the university's first yearbook, "The Bomb."


In his biennial report to the Board of Trustees, President Beardshear stresses the need for expanding the water supply system, a ladies' dormitory and an armory. He also quotes the poet, Robert Burns in his report.

Faculty salaries include $3,850 for President Beardshear, $1,700 for Professor Henry C. Wallace, and $300 for Miss Elmina Wilson. Wilson is the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree at I.A.C. She earned a B.S. (1892) degree in Civil Engineering and an M.S. (1894). Elmina taught at Iowa State from 1892 to 1904, when she moved to New York City to work as a structural engineer.

The Board of Trustees direct the Department of Civil Engineering to prepare detailed maps of the campus, including the locations of buildings, driveways, sewers, drains, water pipes, as well as building wiring and piping systems.


   Academic life:

The herbarium and library of C.C. Parry is purchased for the College.


Construction is begun on the ladies' dormitory, later named Margaret Hall, after Margaret Stanton.

   Student life:

George Washington Carver is the first African American to graduate from Iowa State College, from "The Course in Agriculture." He also wrote the class poem for the class of 1894 (who were known as "The Gourds," ever climbing).




The football team earns the name "Cyclones" following a victory over Northwestern University. An article in the Chicago Tribune newspaper, headlined "Struck by a Cyclone: It Comes from Iowa and Devastates Evanston Town," reads: "Northwestern might as well have tried to play football with an Iowa cyclone as with the Iowa team it met yesterday. At the end of 50 minutes' play, the big husky farmers from Iowa's Agricultural College had rolled up 36 points, while the 15 yard line was the nearest Northwestern got to Iowa's goal."

Glen "Pop" Warner, a well known football coach who developed the double wing back, coaches the football team for a few weeks each year from 1895 through 1899.
For a biography:


A new organ is installed in Morrill Hall.

Margaret Hall, the first dormitory for women students and named for Margaret Stanton, opens.

   Student life:

8 members of the "Class of 1894" remain as assistants at the College, including George W. Carver.


The college closes two weeks early due to drought drying up the water supply of local springs.



   Academic life:

Two engineering lectures are given at the College, on "The Prevention of Electrolysis in Underground Water Pipes, and "The Mississippi River and the Engineering Problems Connected Therewith."


Baseball continues to be popular, and in the state field day, I.A.C. wins the silver cup.


The Marston Water Tower, designed by head of civil engineering (later dean of the college) Anson Marston, is built – the first elevated steel tank water tower west of the Mississippi.

   Student life:

The women students housed in Margaret Hall (the women's dormitory) host a weekly reception for the gentleman students.

George Washington Carver receives his master's degree and is appointed to the ISC faculty as assistant botanist for the Experiment Station.


   Academic life:

Millikan Stalker, Class of 1873, is appointed the first Dean of Veterinary Medicine.

The first Excursion Day is held on Aug. 17 to introduce the work being done at the college to the people of the state of Iowa. The railroads provide special excursion trains for the trip to Ames, and the first celebration draws 6,000 people.

Miss Coburn, head of the Domestic Science Dept., initiates a four-year Ladies' Course, leading to a Bachelor of Letters. The goal is to correlate the other sciences with housekeeping, and laboratory fees were introduced per term: $2 for cooking and $1 for sewing.

The term "Division" is used for the first time by President Beardshear, in regards to Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Philosophy (later Industrial Science), and Veterinary Medicine.


The Board of Trustees adopts the official seal with the inscription, "The Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts—Science with Practice."




A carillon of ten bells is installed in the Campanile (erected in 1898), manufactured by John Taylor and Company of Loughborough, England.  Professor Edgar Stanton (class of 1872) donates the bells in honor of his first wife, Margaret MacDonald Stanton.


The college colors are changed from silver, yellow, and black to cardinal and gold, in order to make it easier to dye sweaters. From the student newspaper. . .:

October 3, 1899: "The matter of colors has proven a stumbling block and this is not to be wondered at. As we have stated before, the silver, gold, and black are approaching their last days. They are pretty, but absolutely impossible to use in any way that would uniform our athletes...so the colors adopted for a college athletic team determine what shall be the colors of the college. It follows then, that we should be very careful in this matter...We should be conservative and careful in this matter. What the Council does now will probably hold for all time and they must not blunder this time."
October 10, 1899: "At Thursday's Council meeting the special committee appointed to investigate and report on suitable colors for the sweaters, reported in favor of a cardinal sweater with a gold letter...This is a commendable improvement and makes a distinctive and striking set of colors. From the prominence of cardinal and gold at the Nebraska game, it is evident that common consent will very soon adopt these as the college colors."


Time line, 1900-1924

Iowa State Sesquicentennial

Time Line


Cyclone Facts and Trivia
Campus Buildings
Student Life
People of Distinction
Oral Histories


This is a historic exhibit and the information provided within it may be out of date. Please contact the Special Collections and University Archives Department with questions about Iowa State history (archives@iastate.edu).