Collection Highlight: 1930s Indiana State Fair Broadsides

As we recover from the crush and hubbub of this year’s Indiana State Fair (not to mention snarfing all those elephant ears and fried pickles), take a gander at a few gems from the fairs of the early 1930s in the Indiana State Library’s broadside collection.

The 1930 and 1931 Indiana State Fair broadsides (sheets of paper printed on one side, often mass-produced for wide dissemination, such as posters) were simple but vibrant, using only two colors in addition to black and very little text. The subjects, a rooster and a farmer with his scythe, demonstrate the original intent behind state fairs as primarily agricultural exhibitions.

But like the fairs nowadays, those of the early 20th century featured many of the traditional entertainment staples we have today: Ferris wheels, cotton candy, and contests. The fairs of old just did it on a smaller scale. (Those in the 1930s only lasted about a week. Inconceivable!) Here are two broadsides from 1931 and 1932, respectively, announcing specific activities at the fair—the horse show and racing.

Better Babies

The last broadside is from the Better Baby Contest at the 1930 state fair. While friendly competition is a longstanding tradition at all fairs, the Better Baby Contest at the Indiana State Fair, and others across the nation, represented something altogether more sinister. Between 1920 and 1932, white mothers entered their babies and toddlers in the contest, where the children were weighed, measured, and judged for mental and physical health using baby growth charts (which were later criticized as oversimplified and inaccurate). Those children rated the best were awarded ribbons and prizes, rather like livestock and baked goods. Although on the surface, the contest encouraged parents to take maternal health and early childhood development more seriously, in reality, the competition was fraught with the pseudo-science, racism, and ideology of the eugenics movement.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, let’s think back on all the fun we’ve had at the state fair over the past 17 days. This year’s highlights included:

  • Riding the Tilt-A-Whirl to the point of nausea and (hopefully) no further;
  • Cheering on 4-H barrel riders;
  • Gawking at the World’s Largest Male Hog;
  • Cooing over the fluffy rabbits and baby chicks;
  • Inhaling a delicious sundae from Hook’s Drug Store;
  • Gazing at glowing hot-air balloons sailing the night sky;
  • Learning something new about Indiana history on the Indiana Bicentennial Train; and
  • Bidding farewell to the fair— until next year!

All these broadsides and more are publicly available online. This collection and many others continue to grow, so be sure to check back from time to time to see the newest additions to the ISL Digital Collections, found at

This blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian Brittany Kropf. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

The Talking Book Repair Group – Fort Wayne

We recently had the opportunity to visit the new home of the Talking Book Repair Group in Fort Wayne. The group, which repairs all of the digital talking book players used by patrons of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library, recently found themselves looking for a new home when the old General Electric plant in Fort Wayne closed its doors. The group, which was originally one of many Elfun Societies around the county made of of GE retirees, reached out to the Allen County Public Library about a possible new space for their work. Generously, the library found space in the library services center.

With a grant from the Indiana State Library Foundation, a space was created for the Talking Book Repair Group. The space needed plumbing for cleaning machines and lots of outlets to charge batteries and test players before sending them back out to patrons around the state.

The maintenance of talking book machines is an integral part of our ability to provide the best service possible to our patrons. Already in their new home they have repaired hundreds of players for us and for other Talking Book libraries in the country. We look forward to them repairing thousands more players for us in the future.

Here is a video produced by Access Fort Wayne detailing the Talking Book Repair volunteers’ move from GE to the Allen County Public Library.


Indiana IV-D Child Support Program

Child banner

In conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of the Indiana Child Support Program, the Indiana Department of Child Services, Child Support Bureau (CSB) is pleased to partner with Indiana Libraries in an effort to reach more Hoosier families. Our celebration will kick off August 30 with the start of our year-long program and a press release announcing that CSB is waiving the $25 application fee for our services through June 30, 2017.

In 1975, Congress approved Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, mandating that each state create and manage a child support program. Indiana passed implementing legislation effective July 1, 1976, making 2016 the 40th anniversary of the Indiana Child Support Program. In Indiana, the Child Support Program is carried out by the Child Support Bureau in partnership with the prosecutor’s and clerk’s offices in each county.

Our goal for the 40th Anniversary Celebration is to get more money to the kids. Our focus is improving custodial and non-custodial parties’ knowledge of child support services available to all Hoosiers. We know the nature of a librarian’s work is such that educating you is a very good first step toward educating the public.  Therefore we will be offering a webinar through ISL this month, on Friday, August 26 at 10:00 AM.

Meet the presenter:


Susan Shambaugh, JD, MLS, has been a Policy Analyst with the Child Support Bureau since 2011. Susan will provide a high-level overview of our services and explain who can benefit from the program. She will elaborate on the goals of our 40th Anniversary Celebration and explain how Indiana libraries can best participate.

Our 40th Anniversary promotional material will be delivered across the state beginning the first week of September to every local library on InfoExpress with the Indiana State Library.  Additionally, we can have speakers made available to participate in your related conferences or local public outreach efforts.

For all inquiries, including requests for a speaker and reorders for 40th Anniversary promotional material, please contact Eric Durnil at the Department of Child Services Child Support Bureau:

Children Reading

Indiana State Library Participates in “Bison-Tennial Art Project” with Foundation Sponsorship

The Indiana Association of United Ways developed and coordinated a unique, statewide public art display titled, “Bison-Tennial Art Project” during Indiana’s bicentennial. As a nod to the Indiana State Seal, over 100 fiberglass bison, measuring 5-feet tall and weighing approximately 100 lbs. were created for artists to capture local and state-wide history.

In early 2016, the Indiana State Library Foundation sponsored a bison for the library. “We are excited to be a part of such a unique opportunity to showcase the library’s collection and dedication to preserving Indiana history in such a fun manner. Troy [the artist] did an amazing job of blending collection items, Indiana State Library building symbols, and Indiana history. His vision was perfect for our library and he is a truly gifted artist,” stated Connie Bruder, Associate Director of Public Services.

Library staff held an internal competition to name the bison and after two rounds of voting, “Cookie” was chosen unanimously. Christy Franzman, Young Readers Center Librarian, suggested the name to commemorate Indiana’s first State Librarian, John Cook (1841-1844).

Library administration released a request for proposals to local artists and received five submissions. On May 10, 2016, Troy Fiechter (FEEK-ter) was commissioned to complete “Cookie” by the end of July 2016. Fiechter, a native Hoosier, previously studied and works in a variety of media. He proudly served as a Combat Veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns and is currently employed as an Automation Specialist at Progress Rail Services in Muncie, Indiana.

Troy with Bison Incomplete

After meeting with Jacob Speer, State Librarian, and Connie Bruder, Fiechter envisioned a multi-faceted design using historic photographs and documents from the library’s rich collection. He intended to showcase Indiana’s heritage with a past to present composition, using sepia and variations of muted colors. Fiechter wanted the “piece to represent the library and its history inside.”

TFiechter Bison Sketch Left TFiechter Bison Sketch Right

The artwork and imagery on “Cookie” is representative of Indiana’s history, the library’s collection, and architecture found within the historic building. The bison’s head and neck are covered with the American flag and the State flag of Indiana.

A mural of the Corydon, Indiana ‘Constitutional Elm’ is located on the left side; James Whitcomb Riley’s book cover of “Poems of Childhood” can be found on the right side. Below each mural are symbols of Indiana, including the state bird, flower, and tree.

Bison Right Side Complete

Staff from Genealogy, Indiana, Reference, and Rare Books and Manuscripts Divisions provided over 140 digitized items for the proposed decoupage on its mid-section. Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts Supervisor, selected and edited over 50 digitized photographs, newspaper clippings, and documents.

The hind legs are covered with the iconic limestone and brass owls found on the exterior and interior of the State Library, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Troy and Bethany, husband and wife, worked a total of 120 hours on the project. “Cookie” was painted with acrylic, airbrushed with an ink/dye mixture, and varnished using a matte, water-based polyurethane.

Troy with Bison Complete

After a brief appearance at the Indiana State Fair, “Cookie” will be on permanent display in the Education Center of the Indiana State Library. For more information on the “Bison-tennial Public Art Project,” visit or follow the hashtag: #IndianaBisonArt or #Indiana2016.

They actually pay me to do this


I am often assigned questions from the Ask-a-Librarian service that involve helping people locate birth, marriage, or death records. I enjoy helping patrons with reference questions because it can be like a puzzle or mystery to solve. I am a big fan of mysteries and suspense thrillers. I love books with a twist like Gone Girl, and patiently await the latest by Jeffery Deaver and John Sanford. I also enjoy mysteries with local or historical connections like Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, so you can only imagine my surprise when I was assigned a reference question about a victim of H.H. Holmes!  Holmes was considered one of America’s first serial killers.

devil in the white city

For those who have read Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City, they will remember that H.H. Holmes was a serial killer who committed his crimes in Chicago, Northern Indiana, and Philadelphia. The book is reportedly to be made into a movie, and actor Leonardo DeCaprio will play the murderer. H.H. Holmes operated a horror hotel during the Chicago World’s Fair, and lured a lot of his victims by placing advertisements in local papers for workers. One of his victims, Emeline Cigrand, was from Lafayette, Indiana; and, the last victim, Howard Pitezel, was killed in Irvington, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Emeline Cigrand plays a part in the research by Adam Selzer. Adam Selzer is a tour guide and author of several books about Chicago’s mysterious past. Selzer’s latest book, to be published by Sky House Publishing, is about H.H. Holmes.  Selzer utilized the Ask-a-Librarian service to find a wedding announcement for the marriage of Emeline Cigrand and Robert Phelps that was, according to the Chicago Tribune, placed in a Lafayette newspaper around the second week of December 1893.  I used our newspapers holdings guide (a list of the Indiana newspapers that we have for certain counties) to identify the paper published during this timeframe. I located the Lafayette Daily Courier, and found our copy on microfilm. I then searched a two week time frame of the paper. I was unable to locate the wedding announcement. I suspect that the announcement was never published and that it was a rouse by Holmes, but this is just my theory.

Library patrons and the general public can submit questions to our Ask-a-Librarian service. The Ask-a-Librarian services are available to anyone seeking help with a question. You can fill out the online form and the question will be assigned to a reference librarian who will be in contact with you about your submission.

If you would like to read more about H.H. Holmes, please check out the following books.


Recipes that Rule


Wait a minute, we aren’t in an election year yet, are we?

Hmmm… let’s check the date… could it be 2016 already?

How exactly did this happen so fast? The last thing I remember, we were all dancing to Prince and partying like it was 1999. But today, I peek around the corner in my mental dancehall, and the Prince music is still playing, but it is as a memorial to the artist. If you are in the same shoes and don’t know how this happened, and if time has moved a bit too swiftly for you, then have a look at these 1789-2012 Historical Presidential Election Results from NARA as proof that we have indeed reached another election year.

Most of us could talk all day about who we want to win during an election. Many of us so thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of debate and the excitement of the American political process that it doesn’t matter who is running. It matters more that we have someone to root for. Our American Presidents have each held distinct roles in history. Their ideals generate for us emotion, patriotism, and a unique opportunity to take a stand for how we feel the public should be led. But one thing our American Presidents all did the same as anyone else… was eat. Do Presidents not need food while they play a role in the democratic process? For that matter, don’t we need sustenance to endure the three more months of this year’s election process? Doesn’t it make you hungry?

Each of the American Presidents dined on American fare, and this is food that any of us can make ourselves, from grand feasts to fancy desserts to homemade Mac and Cheese. Below you’ll find food fit for the U.S. Presidents. Please enjoy your chance at eating part of history!

Food Fit for a President, Library of Congress blog

Presidential Food: Selected Resource Guide, Library of Congress

White House Holiday Recipes, NARA

White House Recipes: Favorite Presidential Meals

Of Iron Chefs and Healthy Eating, The White House blog

White House Apple Cake

For good eats during a certain U.S. administration, here are some favorite dishes in order of presidency,

Thomas Jefferson’s Recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream, Library of Congress      

Mrs. Elizabeth Truman’s Mac and Cheese

Mrs. Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge’s_Million_Dollar_Fudge.pdf

Lady Bird Johnson’s recipes, including LBJ Ranch Pickled Okra

Mrs. Bush’s Recipes




Rare Book Basics for Support Staff at “The Difference is You: Your Service Matters!” Conference, August 10, 2016


Do you feel nervous when you’re handling the older stuff in your library? Do you wonder why some of the other older stuff isn’t kept with the special collections books in your library? Do you worry that maybe these items are not protected as well as they could be? This talk is for you!

Join ISL Conservator Rebecca Shindel for a down and dirty rare books basics talk on Wednesday, August 10th, 3:40-4:30PM where you’ll learn about what gives a book rareness or value, why some books are selected for special collections and others not, basic condition issues these books might have, how to handle and store older, fragile volumes with care, and how to keep your eyes peeled so you know when to sound the alert.

This talk is part of the full day conference titled “The Difference is You: Your Service Matters!”, a conference that caters specifically to Indiana library staff members who do not hold a master’s degree.  Held on August 10th, at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Branch, it is a deal at only 25.00 per registrant.  And that includes lunch!  Registration is available through the Indiana Library Federation, which is partnering with the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Committee to produce this event.  There is still time to register for the conference, but the deadline for registration is August 2nd.

Click here to access this year’s brochure.  If you have questions about Difference is You: Your Service Matters, please reach out to Kim Brown-Harden, at the Indiana State Library:

A Brief History of the Indiana State Fair

In celebration of the Indiana State Fair, which runs from August 5 – 21, 2016, let’s explore several historical items in the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Collection. These documents help tell the story of the Indiana State Fair.

On February 14, 1851 the Indiana General Assembly passed a law, “An act for the encouragement of Agriculture,” which included the formation of the State Board of Agriculture (Indiana Acts 1850-51, Chapter 3, ISLR 345.1 i385). The primary goal of the Board was to create the first Indiana State Fair, which premiered in 1852. The Board believed that holding a State Fair would place Indiana in a prominent position, as only the sixth state in the nation to hold an annual state agricultural exposition.

The first Indiana state fairgrounds were located in what is now known as Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. At that time, Military Park was the familiar name for Camp Sullivan. We are fortunate to have a copy of a pictorial map of the 1856 Fair Grounds ([Map Rm-s] ISLZ 912.772 IMAI561)

In an effort to include other cities, the State Fair was held outside of Indianapolis five times: Lafayette in 1853, Madison in 1854, New Albany in 1859, Fort Wayne in 1865, and Terre Haute in 1867. With the increase in railroad transportation throughout the state, it became easier for fairgoers to converge on a central location, namely Indianapolis.

For the 1860 State Fair, the fairgrounds were moved a larger tract of land that had been donated to the State Board of Agriculture. This location on the old Northside was bounded by Delaware, Nineteenth, Twenty-Second, and New Jersey Streets, approximately encompassed by the present-day Herron-Morton Place neighborhood. No State Fair was held in 1861 due to the Civil War and the fairgrounds being requisitioned for military use. Contrary to some historical accounts, the annual event was indeed held in 1862, 1863, and 1864 according to the 35th Annual Report of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture 1885 (ISLI 630 I) and information contained in “A Table showing the Officers, Place and Receipts of each Fair Held by the State Board of Agriculture.” The Board leased the old Military Park tract for the fair. These Board reports contain proceedings of the Board meetings, lists of premiums awarded, detailed crop reports, and information about county-level agricultural societies, all topics of interest to Indiana’s farming and agricultural history.

75 years of Progress

1870 Fair

The booklet Indiana State Board of Agriculture: 75 years of progress, 1852-1927 (ISLH 606 no.1) contains a wealth of information about the State Fair, including a bird’s eye sketch of the old Camp Morton location of the fairgrounds.

The State Fair eventually outgrew its second location, and it opened in 1892 at the third and much larger site on 38th Street, west of Fall Creek Parkway. The site is the current location of the State Fairgrounds. Many of the buildings indicated on the 1939 Plat of the Indiana state fair ground (ISLO 606 NO. 15) still exist today, albeit under slightly different names. During World War II, the State Fairgrounds was needed for Army Air Forces use. For the years 1942, 1943, 1944 the State Fair was not held in its usual festival format; it was scaled-back to 4-H competitions only.

Plat fair ground 1939

The Indiana State Fair continues to be a tradition for everyone to enjoy. The theme for the 2016 Indiana State Fair is Celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial. Come stop by the Indiana State Library’s booth in the Visit Indiana Bicentennial Pavilion building. See you there!

This blog post was written by Andrea Glenn, Indiana Collection Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana Collection Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at

Trend Spotlight: Pokémon GO, Explained


Has Pokémon GO taken over your life yet?  The augmented-reality game is everywhere, and tales both good and bad are popping up in the news cycle daily.  But what is it, exactly, and why is it so appealing to so many people?

While plenty of adults play Pokémon GO, I decided to ask the biggest Pokemon fan I know—my 13 year-old stepson, Liam—to explain the game in his own words. To get a slightly wider picture, I decided to ask a few additional kids to chime in, also.  Here’s what I learned.

What is Pokémon GO?

Liam, 13: Pokémon Go is a new game made for mobile phones and tablets where you travel and find Pokémon and catch them and you can battle with other people.

Montez, 10: Pokémon Go is an app that you have to walk around and catch some of the Pokémon characters, it has a little tab that will have a Pokémon on it. 

Hazel, 13: Something where people can explore and find Pokémon, where you’re not just sitting on the couch, but you have to go outside and do it.

Holly, “almost 14”:  It’s an app where you walk around outside or in public places and “catch Pokémon” which appear sometimes based on the environment, weather, or time of day. You can battle with other people, and join one of three teams.

How do you play it?

Holly: A Pokémon will appear on the map, you click on it, and it appears on your screen with the actual background of where you are in the background. Gyms are controlled by a team, but that changes based on who wins what battles. (You battle at gyms.) PokeStops are significant areas that show a picture of the area. You can spin the picture to get either Pokeballs, eggs, or other things to heal your Pokémon.

Liam: You enter the game and look for Pokémon.  When one pops up, tap it and enter a battle with it.  Pokémon will be in middle, ball at bottom, flick the ball up toward the Pokémon.  It will shake three times, and then stars will appear if you catch it.  The smaller the circle, the more accurate the catch is.  Green is easy, yellow is average, and red is hard.

Gyms are these spots like PokeStops that are at certain locations.  If there’s an empty gym, you can claim it.  Battling and defeating a gym member will kick that member out of the gym because they have been defeated.  And once you beat all the gym members, then it will be empty and you can claim it.

There are three teams.  Red is Team Valor, their goal is to reach the hidden powers of Pokémon and break limits and to make Pokémon do the best they can do and reach their hidden abilities.  Blue is Team Mystic. They are trying to find out what is the cause of Pokémon evolution, and how many there are.  Yellow (Instinct) focuses on speed in battling.  They like high speed Pokémon.

(Editor’s note: From my own research, it looks like Team Valor is driven by thirst for power, Team Mystic is driven by wisdom and logic, and Team Instinct is driven by trust in the Pokemon. Read more about it here.

What’s the best thing about Pokémon GO?

Hazel: That you can find trails that you wouldn’t normally go on, and go places where you wouldn’t normally explore.

Holly: The best part, in my opinion, is that it’s getting people to go with their friends and walk around. It also is helping many people with anxiety, depression, etc. by improving their mental health.

Montez:  The best part of Pokémon Go is that people get to walk around and communicate with people who are also playing Pokémon Go. You can just go up to some of the people and ask if they are playing Pokémon Go and they will either tell you yes or no.

Liam:  The best part is the collecting and the battles because it’s fun and competitive, just like a videogame should be.  Because if it’s competitive, people get into it and are addicted, and it’s fun!

Pokemon screen

What’s your least favorite part about it?

Liam: The fact that they don’t have any Legendary Pokémon in it yet.  That would really get people hooked onto the game.  Legendary Pokémon are extremely rare Pokémon that can be caught in special ways.  They are extremely powerful and they each have their own advantage.

Holly: My least favorite part is the fact that servers crash a lot, some PokeStops have incorrect info from other apps, and there are barely any Pokémon near my house.

Hazel: That you can’t see other players, like when you’re playing with your friends. You can’t see their avatar.

Montez:  My least favorite part about Pokémon Go is that you need to go to some locations that are called a Pokestop or a gym and that may be in a police station or even a cemetery.

Where is the coolest (or strangest) place you’ve gone to capture a Pokémon? 

Holly: I haven’t gone to many crazy places yet, but I have walked around my neighborhood and Hamilton Town Center.

Montez: Well I haven’t been too a lot of places only to the park, the coolest Pokémon that I caught was a Pikachu.

Liam: I’d say right in the middle of the road.  It was a Pikachu!  (Editor’s note: Don’t worry, he caught it from the sidewalk!)

Hazel: I found one on the street, which was strange, because it was a really busy road.  (Editor’s note: Hmmm…this seems to be a common occurrence! Please be careful, everyone!)

Who is your favorite person to play the game with (i.e., mom, friend, etc.)?

Hazel: Friends.

Montez: My favorite person to play Pokémon is my mom, she is always there when I need her.

Holly: My favorite person to play with is any of my friends.

Which Pokemon is your favorite?  And/or, which is the best one to capture?

Liam: My favorite is Mew.  It’s not in Pokemon GO, but it should be because it’s so adorable.  It’s rated #1 Cutest Pokemon Ever.  You can look it up on the internet!  The best one to capture in this game is Tauros.  I’d say that because I hatched it from an egg and it was 163 combat power (that’s really good for a newborn Pokemon)!

Montez: My favorite Pokemon character and the best Pokemon to catch is a Snorlax.

Holly: So far, my favorite is Eevee and I don’t know much on which ones are best yet, I apologize.

Hazel: I can’t get my favorite one, which is Glacion, because they don’t have that in the game yet. But I do have an Eevee, who evolves into Glaceon. The best one to capture is Magikarp, because Magikarp is boss.

If you are interested in learning more, please register for our upcoming webinar: Pokémon GO @ Your Library!

Date: Friday, July 29th, 2PM-3PM EDT

To register, visit our Evanced calendar or the event registration page at:

We want to know what your library’s doing! Please fill out this survey if your library is participating in Pokemon GO:

This blog post was written by Beth Yates, Professional Development Librarian.

Digital Collections from the Genealogy Division

The Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library shares items from its collection through Indiana Memory.  We add new items monthly, focusing on our Bible records, but also featuring interesting items from our Genealogy Manuscripts.  Digitizing items from our collection allows the items to be more widely shared and helps to preserve delicate items through less exposure to light and handling.

Here are just a few recent additions:

1 laughing baby

We don’t know much about this laughing baby, but he is adorable! (Photo from the Jackman collection)

2 Stout Field airport

Stout Field in Indianapolis is an airport built in 1926 and used during World War II by the U.S. Army Air Corps. It is now the Joint Forces Headquarters of the Indiana National Guard. (Photo from the Katherine P. Mondor collection)

3 court document

One of the oldest original documents in the collection is this court document from 1545 in Somerset, England. (Document from the Hadley collection)

4 mortality schedule

The full set of U.S. Census Mortality Schedules for Indiana, 1850-1880, document individuals who died during the census year in Indiana.  They are organized by year, then by county.