Descartes Pascal, photographer, farmer, and pioneer seed corn breeder, was born in De Witt, Clinton County, Iowa where he farmed, raising corn, shorthorn cattle, and Berkshire hogs. Pascal became interested in corn breeding after 1900 and developed the Grand Champion ear of purebred Reid's Yellow Dent corn in 1907. He also wrote and published articles on corn breeding; spoke at colleges, farmers' institutes, and chautauquas; and judged corn breeding contests in Iowa. Pascal served as secretary to the Iowa Corn Growers Association. He was also a practicing photographer.
The Descartes Pascal Papers (1890-1937, n.d.), located in Special Collections, includes a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and memorabilia related to Pascal's achievements in corn breeding, and corn breeding in Iowa generally.
Also included are 180 glass plate negatives and two tintypes made by Pascal, documenting rural Iowa from the 1880s through the 1910s.
The Descartes Pascal digital collection contains a selection of images from the glass plate negative collection documenting rural life in Iowa around the turn of the twentieth century, including homesteads, buildings, and the Pascal family. Only a portion of the Descartes Pascal collection housed in the Special Collections Department is represented in the digital collection. Refer to the finding aid for the complete list of Pascal materials available through Special Collections.