Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

RS 21/7/219
Robert Jack Sharps
Letters, 1899

Descriptive summary

creator: Sharps, Robert Jack
title: Letters
dates: 1899
extent: 0.21 linear feet (1 half-document box)
collection number: RS 21/7/219
repository: University Archives, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: Robert Jack Sharps Letters, RS 21/7/219, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Biographical note

Robert Jack Sharps of Eldon, Iowa, attended Iowa State College (University) in 1899. He was enrolled in the mechanical engineering program.


Collection description

This collection (1899) contains letters between Robert Jack Sharps and his family while he was attending classes at Iowa State College (University). The letters are primarily from Sharps to his family though there are a few in the collection from his mother and father. The letters span from August, when Sharps first arrived on campus, to November, when Sharps was preparing to finish up his coursework and return home. The letters are not a complete set of correspondence during this time period and some of the letters themselves are incomplete. The last letters do not indicate whether or not he planned to return to Iowa State, but they do hint that the family was struggling to finance his education.

The letters provide a limited yet vivid portrayal of the life of a freshman college student in 1899. In his letters Sharps describes things that would be familiar to current college students: concerns about passing examinations and requests for money from home. His biggest expenses throughout the months he is at school are for rent and for clothes. Some things contained in Sharps’ letters are unique to the time period. He describes the military drills he and other students participated in under the direction of General Lincoln. He also describes in detail the banquet he attended in which the freshman class was dubbed the “Erehas” by the sophomores. He also mentions the Sunday chapel services that students were required to attend at the time.


Related materials

For information related to the military drills Sharps participated in on campus see the Department of Military Science Records, RS 13/16/1.


Container list







Letters (15) from Robert Jack Sharps to family




Letters (4) from family to Robert Jack Sharps