Collecting Areas

Agriculture and Rural Life

Archival collections in agriculture and rural life cover sixteen broad categories, including business, agribusiness, and marketing; cooperatives; engineering and technology; extension; the farm crisis of the 1980s; farmers and farming; farmers organizations and protest groups; government agencies and public officials; historians and social scientists; journalism and broadcasting; producer and distributor organizations; professional and scientific organizations; scientists and scientific research; soil, water, and wildlife conservation; town and rural life; and veterinary medicine and animal welfare.

Life Sciences

Archival collections in the life sciences cover biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, and related the subjects of conservation and environmental science, and veterinary medicine. The collections include papers of individuals active in the sciences as well as records of professional and scientific organizations. 


Archival collections in engineering cover the major areas of engineering: agricultural, aerospace, biological, biosystems, chemical, civil, construction, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical, and nuclear engineering. The collections document the teaching and research in engineering since the early days of the university through departmental records and faculty papers, as well as individuals and associations not affiliated with the university.

Women in Science and Engineering

The Archives of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) includes personal and professional papers of women in all areas of the sciences and engineering, except that of the medical sciences, as well as records of women’s organizations in these fields. The collections include both the papers of Iowa State alumni and faculty and women not affiliated with the university. 

University Archives

The University Archives is home to collections that document the history of Iowa State University and the people that are part of the Iowa State community. This history is recorded in a variety of ways and on a number of formats including paper, photographs, publications, moving images, artifacts, and digital files.

Rare Books

The Special Collections Department currently possesses 50,000 rare volumes, focusing on agriculture, science, and technology.

Special Formats

Audiovisual Collections

ISU's Special Collections and University Archives maintain an extensive audiovisual collection,r oughly twenty thousand items, including film, magnetic, grooved recording, optical, and digital formats.

Web Archives

Special Collections and University Archives crawls and preserves interactive versions of old and outdated webpages that date back to around 2007. Our web archiving is grouped in two collections: Iowa State University websites and Manuscripts Collections websites. Our collecting initiatives for the University Archives have revolved primarily around preserving subdomains of the website. However, the collection also contains crawls from ISU-affiliate websites, digital versions of Iowa State Daily, and social media crawls documenting ISU student activism. The Manuscripts Collections websites are primarily the websites of organizations not affiliated with the University whose records we actively collect.


Digital Collections

Special Collections and University Archives has a tradition of digitizing and providing online access to its collections. Here you can search these digital objects, many of which represent materials that can be found in Special Collections and University Archives.

Research Projects

Learn about what materials have been part of a digital research project or online exhibition.

Finding Aids (CARDinal)

CARDinal is a keyword searchable database of all our archival material as described in finding aids (i.e. descriptions of contextual and structural information about a record group, collection, or series of archival materials).