National Wildlife Week with Frederic Leopold

Sometimes when digging through the archives, we find amazing connections from the past. While sorting through materials in the Frederic Leopold Papers collection for the AvIAn project, a letter written to Frederic Leopold from a student was found, discussing the day he had spent with the Sperry Elementary students during National Wildlife Week in 1973. Fortunately for…

Celebrating Women’s History Month With Mary Bailey

Women’s History Month has officially begun! Women’s History Month originated as “Women’s History Week” in 1982, and continued to be a week-long celebration until 1987, when the National Women’s History Project petitioned for a month long event. From then on March has officially been known as Women’s History Month. Here in Iowa, we have had…

History of the Great Backyard Bird Count

Are you looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day date idea? Why not bird watching? This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count falls on February 15th-18th, perfect timing for a late Valentines Day date! The Great Backyard Bird Count was started in 1998 by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and the National Audubon Society. The count was…

AvIAn collection spotlight: Philip DuMont

The AvIAn project consists of eight collections from the Iowa State Special Collections and University Archives. However, today we are focusing on one collection in particular, the Philip A. DuMont papers. Philip Atkinson DuMont was born on July 9th, 1903 in Rochester, Minnesota. DuMont and his family soon moved to Des Moines where he would…

History of the Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) started on Christmas Day in 1900 as an alternative to hunting during the holiday events. Typically, family and friends would gather for a large Christmas Hunt, bringing in whatever they could as a sort of competition. Frank M. Chapman suggested to his friends that maybe this year, instead of hunting,…

Happy 165th Birthday to Althea Sherman!

Althea Rosina Sherman was born October 10th, 1853 to Mark Bachelor Sherman and Melissa Clark Sherman in Farmersburg Township, Iowa. Althea’s home was built by her father in the middle of the prairie, where she and her four siblings would live for about 20 years until they decided to build a home closer to the up…

Celebrating World Animal Day with the birds of Iowa!

October 4th is World Animal Day, a world wide holiday celebrating our furry and feathered friends from across the globe. Originally founded by Heinrich Zimmermann in 1925 to celebrate and bring awareness to the lives of the animals around us. World Animal Day is always celebrated on October 4th, as it is also the day…

A Glimpse of the Past Through the Eyes of Ornithology.

The history of photography can be traced back much farther than one might imagine. During the 17th century, “magic lanterns” were a frequent pastime for many members of society. Hand painted images on glass plates could be held in front of a candle or other light source, and would result in the image being projected…

Celebrating Women’s History Month With Iowa’s Bird Lady: Gladys Black

Iowa has been home to many influential ornithologists over the years; however, Gladys Black may just be one of the most well known. Born in 1909 in Pleasantville, Iowa she grew up fascinated by birds. Her mother, Jerusha Bowery, encouraged her to learn and explore the world around her. Feeding her curiosity, she helped her daughter…