Ask Adonijah: Does Iowa State have a college yearbook? Have there always been women’s sports at Iowa State?

A selection of Iowa State’s Bomb yearbooks. These books are available in the Library and on the Library’s Digital Collections website.

Editor’s note: “Ask Adonijah” is a contributed piece from the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives. The piece is named after Adonijah Welch, who was Iowa State’s first president, and seeks to answer community members’ questions about the history of Iowa State. Have a question? Let us know by emailing [email protected].

Dear Adonijah:

Does Iowa State have a college yearbook?

The first question this month comes from Indira. She asks “Does Iowa State have a college yearbook?” The answer is Iowa State used to publish a school yearbook, but it no longer does. The class of 1894 published the first yearbook and named it “The Bomb.” Incidentally, George Washington Carver, Iowa State’s first African-American student, was a graduate of this class and the yearbook is one of the few records that documents his student experience at Iowa State. Up until 1925, the junior class was responsible for publishing the yearbook.

“The Bomb” ran into financial difficulties during the 1990s. Since the yearbook was a student-run endeavor the administration was reluctant to provide financial support and “The Bomb” ceased publication in 1994.

The yearbook remains one of the best sources of information for those wanting to study student life at Iowa State, but there are significant omissions. For example, there is almost no record of the graduate student experience and pages devoted to racial and ethnic minorities are few.

The library recently finished digitizing “The Bomb” so everyone can view the yearbooks through the library’s Digital Collections. Of course, there are still physical copies of the yearbook available in the library, so those of you who like to read books the old-fashioned way still have that option, too!

Have there always been women’s sports at Iowa State?

The next question we received was from Jessie, who asks, “Have there always been women’s sports at Iowa State?” Intercollegiate athletics for women really started in the early 1970s following the passage of Title IX in 1972. The law, which was part of an update to federal education legislation, banned discrimination based on gender at schools that received federal funding. Suddenly, many public universities were hiring coaches and developing formal programs for female athletes, including at Iowa State.

Prior to Title IX, there were indeed opportunities for women to participate in athletics, but the competition was not intercollegiate. When the first students enrolled at Iowa State, compulsory work and military drill left little time for organized sports teams. Although women were not required to drill as the men were, the female students did establish a voluntary drill company in 1878. This represents the earliest organized physical extracurricular activity for women on campus.

In 1908, Winifred Tilden, who was then head of Women’s Physical Education, started the Iowa State Women’s Athletic Association (WAA). The WAA supervised athletic games and team clubs for basketball, hockey and tennis. At this time, games were between the different classes (seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen). Women were able to letter in a club sport and earn athletic jackets and blankets.

Women’s sports teams at Iowa State started playing against other college teams, mostly in Iowa, by the 1950s. This would expand to include playing regional tournaments outside of the state, particularly in golf. With the passage of Title IX, Iowa State’s women athletes received more opportunities and greater recognition. I encourage you to support your favorite team and cheer them on!