ISL program helps connect incarcerated with family, build literacy skills

Since 2000, the Indiana State Library (ISL), in partnership with the Indiana Department of Corrections, has supported the Read-To-Me program. The objectives of Read-To-Me are as follows:

  • Break the cycle of incarceration and low literacy
  • Educate parents to become their child’s first teacher
  • Instruct parents in the use of children’s books to teach the children in their lives
  • Make personal connections with the children during the period of incarceration

Through the program, incarcerated individuals are able to select books to read aloud and send recordings of the readings to family members, whether it’s children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.

Terry Black processing materials for the Read-To-Me program.

The program was spearheaded by passionate and resourceful former ISL librarians like Marie Albertson and Marcia Smith-Woodard. I now currently serve as the lead coordinator. There are currently five Indiana correctional institutions participating in the program, serving both men and women. I work with the program coordinators inside each of the participating facilities providing the books and supplies needed to record them.

Most books are donated to the state library. Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funds cover the purchase of CDs, DVDs or Hallmark Recordable books, as well as the shipping materials and postage for each book. A publishing company provides many chapter books and teen-level books. However, donations of new or slightly used preschool level or early reader books are always appreciated.

Materials coming in and going out.

The service is in high demand and growing. In 2016, over 421 incarcerated individuals read and recorded for their children. Within the first nine months of 2017, I have mailed 502 packages.

According to the on-site coordinators, incarcerated individuals and their families are appreciative of the service. Here are some recent anonymous comments:

“My children love the attention I give to them and I’m amazed by the questions they ask. Plus, they are growing, regardless, and the personal connections help their understanding in my incarceration.” – CIF

“It made a difference in my life because I’m showing my sons that I still love them no matter what and I’m still here for them. My love will never change how I feel about them.” – Westville

“I was shy to read; especially into the camera, but now that I did this for my kids I feel a lot better about it.” – Westville

“My grandchildren love seeing me on the big screen TV and when I am reading to them it brings back memories to them. We used to read books all the time.” – Madison

“The Read-To-Me program has kept my grandchildren busy for hours, not only enjoying the story, but remembering the times that I’ve read to them in the past. It keeps us in touch with each other on a different level, and for that, I am grateful.” – Madison

“This program has allowed me to build a relationship with my grandchildren, some I have never met. They can hear my voice and get the opportunity to get a book read to them by their grandma/nana. It has been a true blessing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program.” – IWP

After 17 years of the program, I think the program is going very well. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Hopefully, we can continue to support and educate parents to be better readers for themselves and for the children in their lives. I hope to find new avenues to increase interest in the program with positive promotions and incentives. The program could benefit from more funding to provide better quality equipment and supplies. Finally, our goal is to expand the program to the state’s juvenile facilities in some way.

Read-to-Me is supported in part through an LSTA grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This blog post was written by Terry Black. Black is the administrative secretary for the Statewide Services Division. She can be reached at via email

Services for LGBT patrons

National Coming Out Day was Oct. 11, a day to honor civil rights for people who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, non-binary or otherwise gendered.

This presents an opportune time to ask the question, “Is Your Library Doing Enough for LGBT Patrons?,” as proposed in a blog post by Sandra Stacey on EBSCOpost last year. Stacey suggests tips to increase the value of your library for patrons who are LGBT+. Her suggestions include:

  • Include content with positive representations of LGBT history, themes and events
  • Enhance book displays with diverse faces and families
  • Label spines with genre (such as putting a rainbow sticker on the spine of books with LGBT content)
  • Present LGBT-genre reading lists
  • Decorate with welcoming posters
  • Display pamphlets from LGBT organizations
  • Include LGBT-related materials in other events (Banned Books Week, Holocaust Remembrance Day, etc.)
  • Provide both fiction and nonfiction resources
  • Encourage community involvement in collection development
  • Participate in Pride celebrations by having book displays or exhibits
  • Provide meeting space for LGBT organizations
  • Ensure that pro-LGBT websites are accessible
  • Offer career resources for LGBT patrons

While the LGBT+ community has unique library needs, the American Library Association (ALA) provides help in several ways, including directories to LGBT+ legal resources, outreach ideas and ideas for LGBT-friendly materials for children and teens. ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table released a 2017 Rainbow Book list in January to help with collection development. The School Library Journal published a story in 2014, “LGBTQ & You: How to Support Your Students,” that discusses the importance of “finding materials in which LGBTQ students can see themselves—resources that reflect the stories of their lives and the themes that mirror their own questions and concerns.” It mentions that a collection title can be “a book that simply features an LGBTQ family within its story line. As many as six million American children and adults have an LGBTQ parent, according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute.”

As we strive to ensure all members of our communities are represented in our collections, remember that help is out there!

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.

Progress, nostalgia and the Hoosier farm wife

Over the course of the 20th century, innovations in technology revolutionized the lives of rural dwellers throughout the United States. Many authors documented these changes and the effects they had on rural society. Among them were Hoosier authors Gene Stratton-Porter and Rachel Peden, who wrote about their own everyday lives and experiences. Writing in Adams County, Stratton-Porter documented the natural world in novels and non-fiction alike. Her work showed the effects of the demand for increased farm acreage as woods were felled and swamps drained to create new farmland. Peden, a Monroe County resident, wrote a long-running column for the Indianapolis Star as well as several books. Writing from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, she captured the end of one era in rural life and the beginning of another.

Advance Rumely combine-harvester, ca. 1920; Advance Rumely trade catalog, Indiana Pamphlets Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library

One of the greatest technological innovations of the twentieth century for farmers was the mechanization of farm equipment, which made field work faster and easier. With the increased productivity of the new farm equipment, farmers could work larger acreages, enabling them to realize larger harvests and thus larger incomes. They often reinvested their money in their farms, purchasing more and bigger farm equipment, adding electricity to their homes and barns and increasing the types of equipment and appliances they owned.[1] The new technology also changed the farm equipment industry, as improvements to the equipment kept the farmers coming back to buy the latest machines.

Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter

Despite the practicality of the farm machinery, some farm wives resented having to roll their extra income into the purchase of tractors and corn pickers while they had to do without modern appliances in their homes. Early machinery purchases accentuated the traditional gender roles, as the male head of the household often controlled the family expenditures. Stratton-Porter addressed this inequality in “Michael O’Halloran,” in which Michael explains to a farmer that:

“if there was money for a hay rake, and a manure spreader, and a wheel plow, and a disk, and a reaper, and a mower, and a corn planter, and a corn cutter, and a cider press, and a windmill, and a silo, and an automobile—you know Peter, there should have been enough for that window, and the pump inside, and a kitchen sink, and a bread-mixer, and a dish-washer; and if there wasn’t any other single thing, there ought to be some way you sell the wood, and use the money for the kind of summer stove that’s only hot under what you are cooking, and turns off the flame the minute you finish.[2]”

Although somewhat exaggerated for dramatic effect, Stratton-Porter’s statement illustrates the resentment women felt when their desires appeared to be of secondary importance within the family. Even women who understood the need for machinery thought that the emphasis farm experts placed on the need for the latest machinery was ridiculous. What farm women really wanted were electric appliances to make their housework more convenient and allow them a better standard of living. Through rural electrification projects, over 90 percent of farms in the United States had electricity by 1960, up from 10 percent in 1935.[3] Like farm women across the country, most Hoosier women got electricity during this time. For these women, finally getting what they had wanted and waited for so long was an “unbelievable dream.”[4]

Rachel Peden’s “The Hoosier Farm Wife Says” column documented rural life and entertained readers of the Indianapolis Star for nearly 30 years.

For farm wives, their new household tools brought one major advantage: less time spent on housework and more time spent on leisure. Prior to electrification, women spent much of their day preparing meals on a wood-fueled stove, doing laundry with a washboard or hand-cranked wringer washer and mending clothes by hand or with a treadle sewing machine. Their housework was labor-intensive and very hands-on. By purchasing appliances to aid them in their work, rural women bought more free time for themselves.  They could also multitask more effectively. For example, automatic washing machines allowed women to put their laundry in the machine and then go do other tasks while the clothes were washed.[5]

At first, modern conveniences were wonderful luxuries. As time progressed, however, women came to view their appliances as necessities.[6] They described their appliances as something they could not live without. Although some women felt that their appliances were making them lazy and causing them to complain about minor inconveniences, they also overlooked the fact that this process of the normalization of luxury occurred throughout the past. The wringer washer and wood stoves that twentieth century farm women abandoned were once considered great luxuries by their grandmothers and great-grandmothers, accustomed as they were to washboards and open hearths.[7]

As farming became more mechanized, specialized, and commercialized, the higher expenses required to keep up with the technology caused many farmers to give up farming and seek other employment.[8] For those who stayed, the technological changes led to less cooperation among members of rural communities as combines and store-bought food replaced shared tasks such as harvesting or butchering. As rural communities and rural work changed, rural dwellers reported a loss of the sense of community that they had shared in the past.[9]

Hoosier communities were not immune to this trend. Before mechanization, the men of the community would get together and harvest each farmer’s crops, each man bringing his own wagons, horses and hand tools, while the women gathered to prepare meals for the workers.[10] Despite having more social opportunities in the latter part of the twentieth century due to improved cars and roads and more leisure time to join clubs and other social groups, farm women still regretted the loss of the annual harvest time. Harvest lingered in women’s minds as something good that they had lost because working together built community in a way that a social club never could. When the members of a rural community engaged in a difficult, yet essential, task that no one family could accomplish by itself, the members of the community learned to rely on one another in a way developed only through hard work toward a common goal. This spirit of interdependence created community between often-isolated rural dwellers and created a web of social support and goodwill as farm families knew they could turn to their neighbors in times of trouble or hardship.

By the end of the twentieth century, many rural dwellers expressed fond feelings toward the “good old days,” particularly in reference to what they saw as a simpler rural life before machines, off-farm jobs and commercial farmers. Much of this nostalgia stemmed from their memories of the past and things they missed from their old lifestyles. Although no one missed the harder work of the past, many farm women saw the complications and losses of the modern world and wanted to return to the simpler times of their youth.[11]

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, genealogy librarian. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.

[1] Rachel Peden, “Tractor Makes Possible Luxury of Riding Horse,” Indianapolis Star, January 15, 1964, page 12.
[2] Gene Stratton-Porter, Michael O’Halloran (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1915), 356.
[3] David B. Danbom, Born in the Country: A History of Rural America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 222.  United States Department of Agriculture, “Rural Electrification,” United States Yearbook of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 1940.
[4] Rachel Peden, “Summer Lightning Jumps out of the Cold Storage,” Indianapolis Star, February 12, 1965, page 14.
[5] Rachel Peden, “Now Home Making Has Become a Luxury Work,” Indianapolis Star, May 13, 1953, page 14.
[6] Katherine Jellison, Entitled to Power: Farm Women and Technology, 1913-1963 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).  The entire book documents the shift in perspective from luxury to necessity.
[7] Rachel Peden, “Man’s History Written in Tools of Yesteryear,” Indianapolis Star, January 6, 1964, page 14.
[8] Rachel Peden, “Progress Arrives as Farmers Depart,” Indianapolis Star, February 22, 1961, page 14.
[9] Mary Neth, Preserving the Family Farm: Women, Community, and the Foundations of Agribusiness in the Midwest, 1900-1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 181.
[10] Rachel Peden, “Silo Filling Day is Red Letter Occasion,” Indianapolis Star, September 30, 1947, page 14.
[11] Rachel Peden, “Too Much Efficiency is Mighty Depressing,” Indianapolis Star, August 18, 1958, page 12.

The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Indiana State Parks

Have you ever been to an Indiana State Park, like the one in Brown County? Maybe took in the toboggan ride at the Pokagon in Angola? Hiked the trails at Spring Mill? Ridden your bicycles on the trails? Camped? Swam? If so, give thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program of Indiana of the 1930s.

After the stock market crash of 1929, and under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the federal government created the New Deal. It consisted of programs to help the country’s economy get back on its feet and working again. One program was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was also the most popular.

The program enlisted young men between the ages of 18 and 25. They could sign up for a renewable six-month term and earned $30 (of which $25 was sent to their families) and lived in company camps. During the life of the program in the 1930s, about 64,000 enlistees helped to build Indiana’s state parks.

Under the command of the U.S. Army, the CCC’s mission was to teach land management, soil conservation and park construction. Indiana benefited greatly from this program, giving us a wide array of state parks.

The Indiana State Library has a large collection of newsletters from various CCC camps.  You can find some of them in our growing digital collections. These rare newsletters, often printed by the camp’s journalism group, provided information about the camp, events, activities, educational opportunities, poetry, short stories, cartoons, humor and sports.

For further information, check out these websites about the CCC program in Indiana:
Indiana State Parks: History and Culture
Building Indiana State Parks – Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration
“We Can Take It!”: Race and the Civilian Conservation Corps in Indiana, 1934 to 1941
The Civilian Public Service Camp Program in Indiana (Indiana Magazine of History)
Indiana State Parks

This blog post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Christopher.

Professional conferences – There’s an app for that!

Professional conferences are a great way to refresh, get inspiration, meet new people and see new places and things. In graduate school I attended my first professional library conference and was totally lost. Which sessions should I attend? How do I figure out this big bulky book that has anything and everything I ever wanted to know about the conference in it? What is the exhibitor’s hall and why should I care? I was so overwhelmed! Twenty eight years later – conferences haven’t fundamentally changed.  You still need to bring the essentials: a sweater, refillable water bottle and comfortable shoes. But what is relatively new is the conference app! They are amazing! No more carrying that big bulky book or tearing out pages – yeah! This year’s ALA Annual Conference was my first time using a conference app.

With this app you could view exhibitor information, contact information and location of their booth, all easily accessible. It also included a floor plan of the exhibit floor. You could also browse the speakers, poster presenters and other attendees. Forget your business cards? No problem! Each attendees’ badge had a QR code so you could scan other attendees’ badges with their QR code when making connections. And you could also send messages to other app users. The app would also send alerts and updates for the conference right to the app.

Best of all, you could create a personal schedule by starring the sessions you planned to attend. You could see exactly what you want to attend, what time and where the session located. Having back up sessions starred was a must just in case the session you wanted to attend was full. Presenter’s slide presentations were also available on the app. You could draw on presentation slides, highlight text and take notes. It was even better if you had the conference app on a tablet or iPad.

The upcoming Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference on Nov. 13-15 also has an app. Search the Google Play or Apple App stores for “2017 ILF Annual Conference” to download this app. Like the ALA conference app, it also includes links to attendees, favorites, notes, schedule, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, interactive map and more!

Want to learn how to get even more out of attending conferences? Be sure to sign up for this upcoming webinar: It’s Not Just Packing a Cardigan: How to Attend a Conference to Get the Most out of Your Experience on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 from 9:30 to 10:30 am, EST. No LEUs will be offered, but we still hope this is a great event to get ready for all the library conferences!

This blog post was written by Paula Newcom, northeast regional coordinator, Indiana State LibraryFor more information, contact the Professional Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email.

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