Decade team: Nathaniel Knutson, Erin McCuskey, Katie Piepel, Janet Schenk, Christina Thomas and Chris Mackey (captain).

The Iowa State Daily was largely void of hard news issues during the 1950s. Despite important national and world issues such as the Korean War and the Cold War, The Daily focused largely on soft news events.  The cover of The Daily was generally full of briefs and university announcements.  In fact, the paper even seemed to be viewed as a university bulletin board by students of the time, as noted in a March 23, 1950 editorial: “There have been charges in the past that the Daily is a ‘mouthpiece’ for the administration. This is not true. On various occasions, the Daily has attacked the administration for its policies that have seemed contrary to your best interests.”

In searching the paper, there were very few instances in which it appeared as though The Daily “attacked” the administration.  The editorial went on, however, to state that the editorial intent of the paper was meant to justify the highly internal focus of the news content: “It is also our aim to find praiseworthy objects and issues wherever and whenever possible.  We feel that this is especially important in this world of today where men are constantly finding fault with each other.”

During the 1951-1952 school year, The Daily gained nationwide attention for one story.

“We did something that K.R. Marvin, head of the department, said was one of the greatest things The Daily ever did,” said Don Muhm, editor of TheIowa State Daily during the 1951-1952 school year. “We had a World Peace Contest.”

Muhm said The Daily asked students to submit an essay in which they wrote what they would do to further world peace. The Dec. 12, 1951 issue of the newspaper included a two-page spread of the top three winners’ essays as well as excerpts from other entries and a “meet the judges” article. The winner of the contest was Richard Stanley, whose essay was published in the Post-Dispatch in St. Louis as well as The Christian Science Monitor. Muhm also said The Chicago Tribune was interested in printing it, but he doesn’t know if that paper ever did.

In 1953, Iowa State College gained national attention again, but this time for riots caused by the loss of a Monday holiday in late October. The riots were covered in Life Magazine.

In 1954-55, a story addressed the threat and changes brought by communism.  The article was titled “Says We Must Keep Alert…Polish Escapee a Student Here.” Vladimir Dvorak escaped the Iron Curtain with his young wife in 1952.  He had powerful comments in the article: “Americans are rushing madly through life in pursuit of the dollar and are failing to observe the world crisis of spreading Communism.” Dvorak continued: “Seeing through the eyes of a European, it appears that many of the people in this country are interested in two things-money and automobiles. They seem to have little time for their neighbor, much less the rest of the world.” Dvorak made some cogent observations. However, he didn’t want to be interpreted as anti-American. He continued to say that he had applied for citizenship and would, without the least hesitation, put his life on the line for this country in the face of a communist threat.

News in The Iowa State Daily covered Women’s Day on Feb. 4, 1958.  Women were let out of class early so that they could attend lectures and activities throughout the day. Many outstanding women scholars were also presented with awards for their achievements. The Iowa State Daily celebrated this day by having an all female staff.  For this event, the paper also concentrated more on stories concerning women.  Two headlines of interest were “Women Find Careers in Scientific Fields” and “Sports, Dance Interest Jan.” The former headline shows a change in why women came to college.  During this time, many women attended college to get an education and to meet their future husband. They would then get married, have a family and never use their education again.  This headline hints that women would start going to college to get an education and enter the work force.  The latter headline is of interest because it is the only mention of women in the sports section of The Daily during this time period.

Queen contests did not only make headlines on the front pages, they also made their way into the editorial pages of The Iowa State Daily.  Editorial writer Thomas Emmerson wrote an editorial titled “Campus Queen Contests Need a Thorough Evaluation.” This editorial was brought up because not only were women starting to run campaigns, but others were taking it as far as stuffing ballot boxes so their candidate would win.  Even though Emmerson, later a journalism professor at Iowa State, wrote that he would like to see the contests discontinued, he realized that he was in the minority on this topic.  He instead urged the Cardinal Guild to look into how the queen contests were run.  He even offered suggestions like having Homecoming queen nominations come from men’s residences instead of women’s residences.

In the end of his editorial, Emmerson summed up his thoughts and announced a change by writing, “We think queens are an unnecessary aspect of college life.  With this in mind the Daily will adopt a new policy starting this fall.  We will…print pictures of only the Homecoming queen, Veishea queen and Bomb’s beauties.  We hope the day will come when queen contests become so numerous that ‘everyone’s a monarch’ and the whole business disintegrates.”

Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, visited Iowa State Sept. 23, 1959.  His tour was not without protest. David Pate, furniture store manager form Denver and chairman of Committee Freedom for All Peoples, wanted to stage a peaceful protest against Soviet Premiere. He was organizing local groups all across the country in every city he visited to stage their own protests. Pate called Khrushchev “A Master Salesman of Atheism.” On the day of his visit the Daily ran a headline in Russian saying “To Mr. Khrushchev.”

Also in 1959, Albert Robinson, a graduate student and assistant in the Psych department was hired by the athletic department to tutor athletes in a Psych 104 help class.  After being needled by some of the athletes, he revealed one answer off of the final exam and then talked about 10 concepts from his notes that closely resembled questions from the final and another 27 that showed signs of similarity. A Daily reporter who posed as a basketball player discovered him. In the end, Robinson had his assistantship taken away but was allowed to continue his studies in psychology.

During the 1950s, The Daily maintained a similar appearance. The “Socially Speaking” section contained engagement and wedding notices, parties, sorority-fraternity events and church notes. It also contained “The Women’s Pages,” published up to three times weekly. This feature frequently focused on advice for “young men,” which advised them to determine what type of wife a woman would be by becoming well acquainted with her mother. It also contained information on women’s sports, which sports department rarely covered. 

The editorial section usually blended into the news section. It sometimes was longer, and sometimes was missing completely. The editorials were generally meant to be humorous, with titles like, “Combating Sophmoritis.” This section always included a column called “Ballytrot,” which was made up of random musings “From the Wastebasket,” jokes and riddles.







About this Project Iowa State Daily Greenlee School Iowa State University Centennial Site