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Herman Knapp papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 4/1/11

Scope and Content

The collection (1882-2008, undated) contains personal documents including correspondence to and from Knapp, correspondence to and from other family members, family photos, news clippings, and Mary McDonald Knapp's diaries. In addition there are materials related to Knapp's work at the university such as correspondence to and from Knapp regarding academic and financial matters, manuscripts of Knapp's speeches and presentations, financial ledgers, shipping documents, and leases. Documents specifically related to the campus carillon in the Campanile include correspondence with the bell manufacturer about the order, shipment, and installation of the bells; correspondence related to customs paid for the bells and to lobbying Congress to have the fee waived; and research Knapp did on other carillons, including pamphlets from bell manufacturers.


  • 1882-2008, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Herman Knapp was born in Poultney, Vermont, on December 28, 1863, to Seaman A. and Maria Elizabeth Knapp. He received his B.S.A. (1883) in agriculture from the Iowa Agricultural College (Iowa State University). Knapp was hired by Iowa State as Deputy Treasurer (1883-1884) before he even graduated from college. His career at Iowa State continued for more than fifty years.

Knapp held several teaching jobs and numerous administrative positions at Iowa State. Following his time as deputy treasurer, he was named Assistant Professor (1885-1887) and placed in charge of agriculture. He then took on the jobs of Recorder (1887-1908), Treasurer (1887-1935), Registrar (1908-1920), and Business Manager (1920-1933). Knapp was named Acting President (1926-1927) of the college and later named Vice President for Business and Finance (1932-1935). Knapp also served in the Iowa National Guard and was commissioned as captain in Company "C" (Ames) in 1905. He received an honorary L.L.D. degree (1928) from the University of Iowa.

Knapp was heavily involved with expanding the campus carillon. The carillon, erected in 1899 to honor Knapp's sister-in-law, Margaret McDonald Stanton, originally held 10 bells. In 1928, Knapp ordered 26 additional bells for the carillon. The new bells were inaugurated with a concert in October 1929. The Iowa State carillon was considered one of the best in the country, and others contacted Knapp for advice on building similar structures elsewhere.

Herman Knapp married Mary McDonald in 1885. Mary was an 1883 graduate of Iowa State and also the sister of Margaret McDonald Stanton, Edgar Stanton's wife. The Knapps had four children: Seaman Arthur, Hermine, Jeannette, and Byron McDonald.

Herman Knapp died on March 22, 1935, and was buried in the Iowa State University Cemetery.


1.68 Linear Feet (4 document boxes and 1 map case folder)


Herman Knapp was an educator and administrator at Iowa State College (University) for more than fifty years. Throughout his career at Iowa State he held the positions of deputy treasurer, assistant professor of agriculture, recorder, treasurer, registrar, business manager, vice president for business and finance, and acting president. One of his more notable achievements was expanding the number of carillon bells housed in Iowa State's Campanile. This collection contains personal and university correspondence to and from Knapp, photographs, news clippings, manuscripts, and financial records. A major sub-topic in the collection is the development of the campus carillon, which honors Knapp's sister-in-law, Margaret McDonald Stanton. The collection documents the history of business processes at the college, Knapp's various roles and responsibilities in the life of the college, and the life of a family that was integrally involved in the history of Iowa State.


The collection is organized Alphabetically.

Items in related collections

RS 4/1. Iowa State University. Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance records, 1937-2012 RS 2/2. Seaman Asahel Knapp papers, 1867-2011, undated RS 21/4. Iowa State University. Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation records, 1926-2012 RS 4/8/4. Iowa State University. Facilities Planning and Management records. - Buildings Records, 1859-2015 RS 13/14/13. Edgar W. Stanton papers, 1869-2011, undated

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 4/1/11. Herman Knapp papers, 1882-2008, undated
December 3, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672