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Perspective: Iowa State's reach is worldwide

Posted on June 15, 2020 at 3:00 PM by Ben Mayer

My name is Ben Mayer, I am a Junior studying Anthropology, and I have been an intern for Iowa State's University Museums for a semester now. While school was still in session, I worked at the Farm House Museum. From the beginning, I knew I was going to have a great time learning about the ins and outs of working at a museum, however, that wasn't exactly what I was tasked to do. While there are many different aspects to running a museum, I was tasked to work in collections and work on a project called the Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary. While the former is what I was truly excited for, I found that working on the Biographical Dictionary graced me with some interesting facts about just how far Iowa State's reach goes in this world. I also learned about several people who, while they didn't have the biggest impact directly on Iowa State's history, they did some very intriguing things.

For example, an alumni named Vance Dean Coffman was the overseer of many aerospace-related projects, including the construction of the Hubble Space Telescope. Another interesting figure of note is Carrie Chapman Catt, a famous women's suffragist. Catt was not only good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, she was also featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1926. Finally, a man named John Cooper (image) was once a part of the famous "Dirty Thirty" football team at Iowa State, and went on to coach many bowl-winning teams and many hall-of-famers and other exceptional football players.

I knew we had some pretty awesome people attend Iowa State, but when I started working on this project, I had no idea just how legendary some of our alumni are. I will keep working on this project from home over the summer and hope to get back to hands-on collection work in the fall. If you want to learn more, the Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary will be free to explore with a phased online launch in early next year. This project includes over 550 bios of impactful Iowa Staters! 

Image of John Cooper courtesy of Iowa State Athletics Communications.

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