Here in the Conservation Lab, I am currently treating the original of the photo shown above, a silver gelatin print of a football game at ISU on August 21, 1930. Thanks to my oh-so-discreet arrows and captioning, you’ll notice two young men in the crowd wearing beanies. These beanies, with alternating triangles in cardinal and gold, are ISU freshman beanies (also called “prep caps”). The beanies were worn by ISU freshman (emphasis on the men only) from 1916 until 1934.
The Library Special Collections and Archives holds a rare example of such a beanie from 1918. Since campus tradition dictated burning the freshman beanies in a bonfire at an end-of-the-schoolyear “moving up” ceremony, surviving examples are few and far between. This past spring, our undergraduate intern Alex Menard designed a special box for the beanie which would allow this artifact to be viewed by Library visitors — and even removed from its box for exhibit — without the beanie itself being handled.
First, Alex built a few miniature mock-ups to test her design. The first design was simple and elegant, but was not as structurally sturdy as she wanted it to be. The second design added some reinforcements that worked beautifully, but also added a complicated drop-down front that Alex ultimately decided was unnecessary.
Next, Alex ordered a museum-quality hat stand to support the beanie, and measured off the stand to get the exact measurements to use for the final box. The sturdy final box functions easily, and allows a dramatic presentation of one of our treasured artifacts of ISU history. Great work, Alex!