Two World War I stories: Newly digitized collections from World War I and the Hoosier Experience

With the World War I centennial upon us, library staff have been hard at work digitizing the collections of Hoosier heroes of all walks of life from wartime. While we are taking the time to highlight collections of those who served both at home and abroad, here are two new additions from the past few months: S0091 Joe Rand Beckett Collection and L359 Franklin Newton Taylor Collection.

A 1912 advertisement for Franklin N. Taylor as a voice teacher at the Metropolitan School of Music.

Both men were from Indianapolis, though Taylor was originally born in Danville, Ind. Taylor was a singer and, as part of the Y.M.C.A., traveled France entertaining the troops mostly throughout the Bordeaux region. Aside from his war work, he served as music director at the Central Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, choir director at Irvington Methodist Episcopal Church and was a voice instructor at Metropolitan School of Music (later Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music at Butler University) from 1908 until 1949. His collection includes a plethora of personal correspondence and newspaper clippings, as well as Y.M.C.A. and World War I travel ephemera and interesting personal effects that he collected.

Seashells collected by Franklin Taylor in La Rochelle, France while overseas with the Y.M.C.A., dated Jan. 30, 1919.

Beckett was an Indianapolis architect, lawyer, philanthropist, member of the Indiana Senate and captain of the 326th Field Artillery, Battery D during World War I. Shortly before the war, he had passed the bar and formed the law firm, Beckett and Beckett, with his father. At the beginning of his service, Beckett’s rank was first lieutenant and rose to captain in August 1918. The battery sailed from New York to Scotland the following month, arriving in France at the end of September only a few weeks out from Armistice. His senatorial career took place during 1929 and 1931; afterwards he became known for pioneering low-income housing in Indianapolis, specifically Lockefield Gardens. His collection contains several photographs, correspondence during and after the war and military papers, including the roster and movements of 326th F.A., Battery D.

A photograph of Joe Rand Beckett (right) in uniform in 1918; location unknown.

This postcard was sent to Captain Joe Rand Beckett’s wife, Mary Ann Beckett, to notify her that he had arrived safely overseas; ca. September 1918.

 

Sources:

“Joe Rand Beckett.” Indiana Legislator Database. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

Barrow, Robert G. “The Local Origins of New Deal Housing Project The Case of Lockefield Gardens in Indianapolis.” Indiana Magazine of History 103, no. 2 (2007): 125-151, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government

Ben’s Guide is a scholastic website hosted by the Government Publishing Office (GPO), designed to inform and educate students, parents and teachers about the federal government. The site includes learning activities about Ben Franklin, his life and legacy and information on the government and how it functions. As the first public librarian of the U.S., as well as a printer, Ben Franklin was the natural choice as “guide.” Ben’s Guide utilizes historic documents and resources found within GPO to create this interactive instructional tool.

Enjoy as Ben leads on various learning adventures! Through the completion of games and activities, one will have a better understanding of how our country was founded, how laws are made, the difference between federal and state government and so much more. The learning activities are broken down into age groups: Apprentice (ages 4-8), Journey Person (ages 9-13) and Master (ages 14+). Ben’s Guide features three games: Play the States, Printable Activities (crosswords and word searches) and Branch-O-Mania. The site also includes a glossary to help children understand government terms and teaching activities for educators.

Ben’s Guide was recognized by the American Library Association as a Great Website for Kids. The resource is wonderful for educators wanting to teach children about our country’s founding and how our government functions. The website is another example of how GPO is raising awareness on how the government works for you. Users can make any comments or suggestions relating to Ben’s Guide here. Please take a moment to explore this fun and educational site.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Federal Documents Coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

The InLLA Leadership Toolkit

When you go to build something or make repairs, you grab a toolkit, right? Toolkits have the basic tools you need to accomplish your goal: Repairing or building things! When you need resources about management, leadership or both, where do you look? Library? Work? Friends? Now you can go into your Leadership Toolkit! This toolkit gives you the tools to help you become the best leader you can be.

The toolkit is the culmination of a project from the Indiana Library Leadership Academy (INLLA).

The Toolkit is free and contains resources such as books, articles and videos about leadership and how to improve or supplement current leadership skills. Have other ideas and resources that should go into the toolkit? Contact us and let us know. We can all lead from where we are; position or title is not a requirement for the toolkit. We look forward to see the growth of leaders in the Indiana library community! It’s time to build.

This blog post was written by Kimberly Brown-Harden, northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Kim.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” The company employee newsletter

If you worked at a major company during America’s post-war prosperity, you read “the latest scoop” in the company newsletter. You learned about company activities, fellow employees, marriages, births and deaths, as well as the latest on the company’s sports leagues, such as bowling, golf or baseball, all while the company encouraged loyalty and involvement. The Delco Remy Clan, and others, advertised the Red Feather drives to raise money for United Way.

General Motors’ Delco-Remy company newsletter. The company was located in Anderson, Ind., from 1896 to 1994. Newsletter includes individual plant information, employment anniversaries and retirements, employee information and photographs, classified ads, corporate events, contests, classes and a comic strip. Includes information about the United Way of America donation drive. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

During World War II, you were encouraged to participate in war work and bond drives and keep up with “our boys” overseas. Ayrograms from the L.S. Ayres Company included sections on enlisted men from the company.

The weekly newsletter for the L.S. Ayres Department Store employees. Includes information about individual departments, employees, photographs and classifieds. During World War II, the newsletter featured enlistee information. The store was headquartered in Indianapolis from 1872 to 2006. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

In the years after the war, you were expected to keep the “company secrets” safe and not let the “enemy” get them. With Bendix working on space missions, you would often find inserts about keeping company secrets secret.

Bendix company newsletter. The company was located in South Bend, Ind., from 1924 to 1983 and known for making brake systems. Newsletter includes plant information, employment anniversaries, employee photographs and classified ads. Includes an insert about security. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

By the late 1970s, the shift to efficiency and cost-savings brought an end to the printed newsletter and the era of electronic communications began.

The library’s collection has runs of several company newsletters from the 1920s to the 1970s. You can find many of them in our growing digital collection, Company Employee Newsletters.

This post was written by Chris Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.

What do the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library and the popular book series “Outlander” have in common?

Would you like to learn more about your ancestral heritage? Do you think you might be of Scottish descent? Are you more than slightly intrigued with the popular historical fiction book series “Outlander,” a time-travelling series that commences in the Scottish Highlands in the years 1743 and 1946 and written by author Diana Gabaldon?  Did you know that Gabaldon included many real-life historical people in her book series? The start of season three of the hit TV show “Outlander” will air on Starz on Sept. 10, 2017 and will closely follow the third book, “Voyager,” so now is a great time to do some research.

Come visit us in the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library and dig into your own Scottish genealogical heritage. You might also want to come and research the many historical figures woven into the “Outlander” books. Who knows? You might find that you have Scottish Highland ancestors who fought in the last Jacobite Uprising of 1745 that culminated at the Battle of Culloden in April of 1746. The Jacobites were strong supporters of the Catholic Prince Charles Stuart monarchy. They were fighting to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne, then controlled by the Protestants in England. 1,500-2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded on the moors of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands in a massacre that was concluded in less than an hour.

In our Genealogy Collection, I recently discovered the beautiful family tree of William Cumming and Sarah Coppage. Underneath their names and family crest it reads:

“Born in Inverness about 1725, made a prisoner at the Battle of Culloden, reached Maryland the year thereafter, married Sarah Coppage, of an old Eastern Shore family, who died in 1765, became a large landed proprietor in Frederick County, and died near the end of March, 1793, at his home in the Linganore Hills.” From William Cumming ~ Sarah Coppage Family Tree

Cumming family crest and motto

One can only imagine my surprise at discovering this family tree in our Genealogy Collection, as I’m a loyal follower of the “Outlander” books and television show where the Battle of Culloden figures heavily in the second and third books of the series. In the first book of this series, “Outlander,” it is 1946 and one of the main characters, Claire Randall, unknowingly “goes through” an ancient stone circle in the Scottish Highlands and is transported back in time to the year 1743 where soon thereafter, in order to save her life, she very reluctantly marries James (Jamie) Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. In time, she learns to love Jamie but on the cusp of the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Jamie takes his now pregnant wife, Claire, to the stone circle and makes her return to her own time, because he believes he will die on the battlefield.

Forward to the second book, “Dragonfly in Amber,” in 1968 and Claire and Brianna, her daughter with Jamie, are in Scotland piecing together genealogical records to ascertain who survived the Battle of Culloden. They are mainly searching for information about the character, Jamie Fraser, Claire’s love, who fought in this battle and was thought to have died alongside his clansmen.

Much to Claire’s surprise and shock, her research shows that Jamie was not killed on the battlefield as she had believed for the past twenty years. Thus, in the third book, “Voyager,” they conduct a deeper genealogical search into what became of Jamie Fraser. Through diligent work, Claire and Brianna discover that Jamie was imprisoned as a traitor to King George II of England, along with many other Highlanders after the Battle of Culloden. Further, they find a newspaper article written by A. Malcolm, one of Jamie’s pseudonyms, and printed in 1765, Edinburgh, Scotland. With agonizing deliberation, Claire decides to return to the stone circle to be transported back to 1765 Edinburgh in hopes of finding Jamie. This sets the beginning of the book, “Voyager” and the upcoming season three of the TV show, “Outlander.” By the end of “Voyager,” Jamie and Claire have landed on the shores of the American Colony of Georgia in the year 1767. They eventually settle in the colony of North Carolina and later in subsequent books, they become involved in the American Revolution. Not surprisingly, many of our Scottish ancestors arrived in America under similar circumstances.

So, let’s take a look at Scottish emigration to America.

“Scottish immigration to the Americas during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries tended to be spasmodic and generally small-scale, with certain notable exceptions. These exceptions consisted of several attempts to establish independent Scottish colonies, and, on several occasions, the mass transportation of political prisoners.”1 History has shown that after 1747, around 1,600 men, women and children were put on ships to the colonies in America as indentured servants. William Cumming, whose family tree was noted previously, was one of these political prisoners sent to the American colony of Maryland.

The earliest known Scottish emigration to America dates to Colonial times around 1650.

“There seems to have been a continuous trickle of emigrants across the Atlantic from the mid-seventeenth century onwards to staff the tobacco warehouses in Virginia… or as felons banished to the Plantations. Economic forces generally determined emigrant routes from Scotland: Ships sailed to Georgia and the Carolinas for cotton and rice, to the Chesapeake for tobacco, to the Canadian Maritimes for timber and carried with them innumerable emigrants, many as indentured servants.”2

The Scottish people left their homeland mainly for economic, religious and political reasons.

“If the origins of your Scottish ancestors are unclear, no matter where they went, you can draw useful insights from accounts of migration to the area where first they settled. It is extremely important that you identify the ancestor(s) who made the trip, but almost as important is an understanding of the context of their migration. Knowing the place of first settlement is particularly important because its history may offer clues about the region, perhaps even the parish, of birth.”3

Back to William Cumming: In 1775 he served as a private in the Maryland Line of the Continental Army, defending his new homeland, America, against the British Soldiers and Loyalists in the American Revolution. The Maryland Line was a formation in the Continental Army. It was formed and authorized by the Second Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia, June 1775. William Cumming received a land grant for his service as a Patriot.

At the Indiana State Library, we have hundreds of books, maps, microfilm and resources available to research your Scottish ancestors and/or research and learn more about the historical characters of the “Outlander” series. We can show you how and where to locate genealogical information about your ancestors worldwide, not just in Indiana. Come in and let your origins catch up to you!

Some obvious and “not-so-obvious” historical people in the “Outlander” book series:

Prince Charles Stuart: Charles Edward Casimir Maria Sylvester Stuart, the Young Pretender, son of the Old Pretender, James III of Scotland, VIII of England. Heir to the exiled Catholic royal dynasty.
James Stuart: The Old Pretender, James III of Scotland, VIII of England. Exiled Catholic monarch.
Simon Fraser: Lord Lovat, The Old Fox
Simon Fraser: Lord Lovat, the Young Fox
Flora MacDonald: Helped Prince Charles Stuart escape from Scotland to France after the Battle of Culloden.
Farquhar (Farquard) Campbell: Highlander who immigrated to the American Colony of North Carolina.
Archibald Bug: Highlander who immigrated to the American Colonies. Presented a petition for Patent of Land, 320 acres in North Carolina, 1740.
Clanranald: A prominent Jacobite chief.
George II: King of England
George III: King of England
Comte St. Germain: A member of the French Court; a noble with a reputation for dabbling in the occult. Charles Stuart’s business partner.
Lord Kilmarnock: One of the Jacobite earls, later executed for treason.
Louis XV: King of France
Duke of Perth: A commander in Prince Charles Stuart’s army.

There’s so much more to genealogy than names, places and vital statistics. Once this general information is known about an ancestor, then it’s time to “dig into” their lives. It can be fun and very interesting to learn about the history of the time period and the places your ancestors may have lived as well as the historical events in which they may have participated. Delving into your cultural heritage might shed some light on a family custom or heirloom that has been passed down through time. Once ancestors have been traced back to when and where they departed to America, the reasons for emigrating can be studied and give a fuller picture of your ancestor’s life, and consequently, yours, also.

Learning about the “rest of the story” can practically bring one’s ancestors to life!

This blog post was written by Alice Winslow, librarian, Genealogy Division. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or email awinslow@library.in.gov.

1. Dobson, David. “Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations, 1650-1775.” Baltimore, MD. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1983.

2. Dobson, David. “Ships from Scotland to America, 1628-1828.” Baltimore, MD. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 2004.

3. Irvine, Sherry. “Scottish Ancestry: Research Methods for Family Historians.” Provo, UT. Ancestry. 2003

Indiana State Library welcomes new public libraries and federal programs consultant

The Indiana State Library welcomes Angela Fox as the new public libraries and federal programs consultant. As liaison to the IMLS public library programs, she’ll be fielding questions on LSTA grants and the annual public libraries report. Additionally, she’ll work in conjuncture with others in the LDO to provide training to public library staff.

Angela has a vested interest in public libraries, having spent the last fifteen years as an employee with the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. She’s worked a variety of jobs within that system, most recently as the children’s and teen librarian at a large branch location. When she’s not getting lost in the tunnels beneath the state library, she enjoys reading narrative nonfiction, walking the world’s sweetest dog and trash-talking opponents in her fantasy-football league.

Angela can be reached via email or by calling (317) 234-6550.

This blog post by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director.

Preserving Indiana’s memories for the future

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Sam Meister, program manager for the MetaArchive Cooperative, sent out the call to six member organizations1 to trigger the ingest of four archival units (AUs) prepared by the cooperative’s newest member, Indiana Digital Preservation (InDiPres). Within minutes, the systems administrators managing the specified local servers within the LOCKSS-based distributed preservation network began to respond in the affirmative, “AUs added at … .”

This action culminated 18 months of preparatory work undertaken by the Indiana State Library (ISL) and the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University to create a sustainable digital preservation solution for Indiana’s cultural memory organizations, especially those of modest size and resources. Using Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, the libraries established a fee-based collaborative group for the sole purpose of joining the MetaArchive Cooperative, a community-owned and governed distributed digital preservation network founded in 2004. As a collaborative member of the MetaArchive Cooperative, Indiana Digital Preservation provides InDiPres participants the means to securely store master digital files in multiple copies at geographically dispersed sites in the United States and Europe for an affordable price. Start-up costs, which includes a three-year MetaArchive collaborative membership and the purchase of the LOCKSS server housed at Indiana State University, were covered by monies received through the 2015-2016 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant.

From left to right: Connie Rendfeld (ISL), Cathi Taylor (American Legion Auxiliary), Eric Spall (Lebanon Public Library), Ryan Weir (Rose Hulman), Brooke Cox (DePauw) and Cinda May (Indiana State) at the InDiPres Foundational Meeting on May 17, 2016 at the Indiana State Library.

By working together, Indiana’s heritage organizations are able to store multiple copies of master files throughout a global network that monitors the integrity of the files to ensure the survivability of digital content into the future. Members of Indiana Digital Preservation share in the expense of long term storage and preservation of digital assets created by these institutions; particularly those that contribute to Indiana Memory. Based on a model of 20 members, the InDiPres membership fee is $325 per year with a three-year commitment, plus $.59 per GB of storage space based on individual needs. The $325 breaks down to a required $100 participation fee, $125 for a member’s share of the MetaArchive Collaborative membership which costs $2,500 per year and $100 for a share of the InDiPres LOCKSS server at three-year refreshment cycle. These costs are likely to be reduced as more organizations join the endeavor. Membership in InDiPres is open to any Indiana institution creating digital content whose principles and guidelines are consistent with those of Indiana Digital Preservation. This includes, but is not limited to libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, community groups, research centers and state and local government agencies.

The 2016-2017 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant included funding to hire a metadata specialist to work with InDiPres partners to perform necessary data wrangling tasks and preparation for the ingest of content into the MetaArchive Preservation Network. To date more than 656 GB of digital files created by InDiPres members are stored within the network.

Indiana Digital Preservation will celebrate its first anniversary at a meeting of its membership on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. This meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at the Indiana State Library from 1-4 p.m. For more information about how to join InDiPres please contact Connie Rendfeld via email or at (317) 232-3694.

This blog post was written by Cinda May, chair, Special Collections, Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University.

1. MetaArchive Cooperative members storing InDiPres submitted content are: HBCU Library Alliance, Consorci de Biblioteques Universitaries de Catalunya; and the libraries of the University of North Texas, Oregon State University, Purdue University, and Carnegie Mellon University.

A delayed divide: Crispus Attucks High School and segregation in Indianapolis public schools

If you are familiar with Indianapolis history, you know that Crispus Attucks High School was the city’s first, and only, all-black high school. But did you know before Crispus Attucks opened, Indianapolis high schools were not formally segregated? Before the fall of 1927, when Crispus Attucks opened its doors, black high school students attended Shortridge, Washington and Arsenal Tech High Schools with white students.

A post card printed in the mid-twentieth century depicting the seven IPS high schools.

In May of 1869, the Indiana State Legislature passed a law ordering that all property should be taxed for the benefit of public school systems, without regard to the property owner’s race, and that all children, black or white, should be able to matriculate at their local public school. Still, section three of the act states “The Trustee or Trustees of each township, town or city, shall organize the colored children into separate schools, having all the rights and privileges of other schools of the township.” While this act was a huge positive step for black children, who beforehand were not guaranteed a free, public education, the law called for school segregation. In general, segregation came more naturally to elementary and middle schools, which were more numerous and served the children living closest to them. At this time, however, there was only one high school for all of the young men and women of Indianapolis. According the 1869 law, if there were not enough black students to justify separate schools, it was up to the trustees to find another means of education for these children. In 1872, although the superintendent and not a board trustee, Abraham C. Shortridge did just that.

After retiring from his position as IPS superintendent, Shortridge became the president of Purdue University, a position he held for just the 1874-1875 term. This picture appeared in the 1895 “Debris,” Purdue’s yearbook.

In a 1908 article penned by Shortridge for the Indianapolis News, the former superintendent explained how Indianapolis High School, today known as Shortridge High School, gained its first black student. In the early 1870s, there were only about six black teens looking to attend high school, so a segregated high school defied practicality. A group of local men prominent in the black community came together with a plan to file suit against Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and force them to admit black pupils to Indianapolis High School. Shortridge had a simpler idea. He asked the men to send their brightest, high-school age child to him on the first day of the new school year. On that day, Mary Alice Rann appeared before Shortridge and asked to enroll in the high school. He took her to the principal, George P. Brown, and plainly said, “Mr. Brown, here is a girl that wishes to enter the high school,” and then went back about his day. Shortridge would wait and see if anyone protested.

Miraculously, no one did; however, that does not mean that people weren’t against the admittance of Rann. In his article, Shortridge goes on to tell the story of one such dissenter. Editor of the now-defunct Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, and member of the IPS school board, J. J. Bingham, came to the high school to confront Shortridge about admitting a black pupil. After making a derogatory remark, Bingham said, “I have a long communication in my pocket now in regard to it.” He was threatening to publish his feelings in his new paper, which would surely stir up additional protesters. Shortridge replied, “That is a good place for it; better let it stay in your pocket.” In the end, Bingham published nothing. After four years of study, Mary Alice Rann graduated from Indianapolis High School.

The part I find the most fascinating about history is how we can see facts within material culture and through archival documents. I found proof of the beginning of segregation in Indianapolis high schools on a whim. I wondered, would I be able to see segregation by looking at Shortridge High School yearbooks? Look at the images below. Notice a change? The first clump of senior photos are from the 1926-1927 term yearbook at Shortridge High School. Below that are several pages worth of senior pictures from the following term, 1927-1928. In this yearbook, you will find nothing but white faces, save one young man from the Philippines.

A collection of senior pupils at Shortridge High School, 1926-1927 term.

A collection of senior pupils at Shortridge High School, 1927-1928 term.

People often associate the decision to build Crispus Attucks High School with the Ku Klux Klan. This association is based on the fact that multiple IPS board members elected in 1925, along with Indianapolis city councilors, Governor Edward Jackson and Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall, were members of the KKK; however, it was actually the school board elected in 1921 who began the preparations for building Crispus Attucks. Sentiment for white supremacy was running rampant in the state well before 1925.

Many, if not most, in the black community in Indianapolis were against the creation of Crispus Attucks. They argued that this new school could not possibly provide the same opportunities, academically or vocationally, that the city’s three other high schools offered. Shortridge High School was considered one of the best in the nation, after all, and the majority of Indianapolis’ black high school students were enrolled there. Even with local protest and pending court cases, construction on the new school commenced. In the end, the school became one of the crown jewels of the neighborhood surrounding the Indiana Avenue corridor. It provided jobs for black teachers who were otherwise barred from teaching at white or even integrated schools. Because of the high level of competition for black teaching jobs, the teachers at Crispus Attucks were the best of the best. Many had advanced degrees and were better qualified to do their job than white teachers, and Crispus Attucks became a first rate school despite the circumstances that caused its founding.

Crispus Attucks High School, 1928. This photograph is part of the Bass Photo Co. Collection at the Indiana Historical Society.

In 1949, Indiana outlawed segregation in its schools; however, segregation continued in Indianapolis. Crispus Attucks began admitting white students in 1967, but the pupils remained more than predominantly black. In 1968, the federal government filed a complaint and took the IPS school board to court for continuing de jure (by law) segregation, while the school board argued that they were innocent and that IPS schools only suffered from de facto (by fact, or chance) segregation. In reality, there had been gerrymandering of school boundaries, which perpetuated segregation. After multiple appeals by the IPS school board, the federal court ordered that the city and IPS needed to facilitate a busing program to help reverse the years of segregation. The program bused black students living closer to the city center to township schools in more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods. It began on a small scale in 1973 and then transitioned to a large-scale program over several years; many of the affected township schools did not begin participating in the program until 1981. White students living in the townships were never bused to predominantly black schools in the inner city. The federal court order mandating this program expired in 2016.

This blog post was written by Caitlyn Stypa, Indiana Young Readers Center assistant, Indiana State Library.

Solar eclipse 2017

Imagine you are unfamiliar with electricity and the only light you know is from the sun. Your family has lived this way for centuries. The sun rises in the morning and sets at night. Most daily activities occur when the sun is out. Night is a time for stillness and rest.

One day, the bright sun suddenly develops a dark shadow. In that moment, the stars are visible as if it were night and the air begins to cool. All light disappears and a thin, glowing ring surrounds the moon.

What would your thoughts be? How would you feel? Would all be lost? Would your family be afraid, or would they accept it?

In 2013, National Geographic collected various myths and misunderstandings from around the world which explained the occurrence of solar eclipses. One myth among the Batammaliba people of Togo and Benin, West Africa, is that during a solar eclipse, the sun and the moon are fighting and need to resolve old conflicts.

Arguing aside, during a solar eclipse, which will happen for us on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a New Moon will completely block out the sun’s light for two minutes or so. This is significant because the total eclipse will be visible in a 60-70 mile path across North America beginning in Newport, Oregon and ending on the coast of South Carolina. The last time the total eclipse was visible across the country was 1979. The remainder of the U.S., Canada and Mexico will see a partial eclipse. The National Weather Service’s interactive map of the Path of Totality can help you discover where your own location relates to the path.

NASA describes the science and beauty of the upcoming solar eclipse on its new website Total Eclipse 2017. There, you’ll find facts about how an eclipse works, maps of where to view it, locations of celebrations and resources for education and activities.

The Indiana State Library federal documents collection contains a U.S.A. War Department “Report on the Solar Eclipse of July, 1878,” published roughly 140 years ago. Within this report are observations made by the Signal Service of the Total Eclipse of the Sun on July 29, 1878. Field notes, letters, and other documents were collected from over 100 stations across the country, including seven Indiana locations.

“Shortly after 4 p.m. the sky cleared and showed the eclipse progressing. About 4:30 p.m. there was about one-half of the sun’s disk covered. Was prevented from timing the beginning and ending of the eclipse by occasional clouds. Temperature in the shade not affected during eclipse, but light toned down to a peculiar yellowish light.”1 

Some observations are quite poetic and colorful:

“The white lines shot out and flickered uniformly; the inner circle of light during totality was of a purple hue, around which was a circle of pale yellow skirted with a circle of orange, from the edge of which the irregular striae were observed. During totality there was no appreciable change in the color of the striae, which color was white with a yellow tinge, and no red flames were observed.”2 

You can see more Solar Eclipses of Historical Interest on the NASA Eclipse website. Historical records of eclipses dating beyond 3000 B.C. can be found at NASA’s Solar Eclipses: Past and Future webpage which provides a catalog of eclipses over the last five millennium throughout the centuries all the way back to 2000 B.C.

For a current description of what happens ‘When the Sun Goes Dark,’ check out the new illustrated book published by the National Science Teachers Association and written by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, reviewed here by Space.com. It’s recommended that you order it no later than Monday, August 14 to ensure delivery before the eclipse. It’s also available as an e-book.

You can view this month’s solar eclipse in a number of ways, but remember to protect your eyes!

On Monday, Aug. 21, 10 different Indiana state parks have programs for solar eclipse viewers. Find out which 10 parks are having viewing programs here on the IN DNR calendar. A handy online guide from the American Astronomical Society will show you how to safely view the solar eclipse.

If you’re not sure where to view the solar eclipse, read the article The road to watching this summer’s solar eclipse starts in the library? and view the map of participating libraries for viewing events.

Enjoy the myth and the magic behind stories of solar eclipses while observing this fantastic scientific event!

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference & Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

1. Report on the Solar Eclipse of July, 1878. Indiana: Indianapolis. July Journal, C.F.F. Wappenhans, sergeant, Signal Corps, U.S.A.

2. Report on the Solar Eclipse of July, 1878. Indian Territory: Fort Sill. – Special report by John McCann, private, Signal Corps (O.C.S.O. 4389, Obs., 1878).

 

Geekspotting 2.0

The annual Indiana Library Federation (ILF) conference is right around the corner which means it’s time to check-in with Alex Sarkissian of the Allen County Public Library and Jocelyn Lewis of the Indiana State Library to see what’s going on in the ever-changing world of pop culture. Join us Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at 1:15 p.m. for “Geekspotting 2.0: Building a Popular and Diverse Collection for Your Library.”

This year’s topic will focus on diversity and representation in pop culture. Diversity has been a major concept lately and the demand to include traditionally marginalized voices in comics, movies, TV and gaming has led to an explosion of material. We’ll help you sift through it all and make collection development recommendations that are sure to be a hit with your local community.

Registration for ILF 2017 is now open.

For those who can’t make it to ILF this year, we will also be offering a live webinar version of this program on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 at 10 a.m. You can register for this event here.

Both presentations are LEU-eligible!

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”