Conservation of a 1913 panoramic photograph

In July and August, Marissa Bartz, the Indiana State Library’s 2021 graduate conservation intern, worked on a panoramic photograph from the Rare Books and Manuscripts division which had become adhered to glass in multiple locations. It’s common for photographic prints to become stuck to the glass they have been framed in over time when exposed to water, which is why they should be properly mounted to prevent them from touching the surface. In addition, the conditions of the framing and other factors had caused tears, cockling and staining, so the photograph was in poor shape overall.

Before treatment

This particular panorama captures the flooding of the White River in March 1913. Often referred to as “The Great Flood,” this event displaced thousands, with an estimated 7,000 Indianapolis residents and around 200,000 Hoosiers altogether losing their homes. The peak of the White River flooding was estimated at over 30 feet above the flood line.

Photo adhered to glass

Commonly called a “cirkut” photo, this shot was taken by North H. Losey, located at 539 N. Meridian St. It is a particularly large example, over 62 inches wide, so it was no small challenge for Marissa!

Cardboard used as backing frame

It was discovered that the photograph was also adhered to the corrugated cardboard that was used as backing in the frame, causing additional problems. Marissa began by removing the backing mechanically with a spatula and scalpel.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the corrugated board from the back of the photograph

After this, areas that were stuck to the glass were be humidified from the back to soften and swell the gelatin emulsion. A piece of mylar was inserted between the glass and the photograph to gently release the emulsion from the surface of the glass.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz washing a section of the photograph to remove staining

A solution of methylcellulose was applied to the emulsion and left to dry. Then a flat blade was used to carefully scrape the emulsion film off the glass and re-adhere it back to the photograph.

Tears were then repaired with wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue. Areas of loss, particularly in tears, were consolidated using warm gelatin.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the photo from the glass

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz putting the pieces of the photo back together

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz surface cleaning the photograph

In-painting with watercolors was also done in areas of loss.

After treatment

The photograph is now stable and was returned to the original frame, this time with sheet of mylar protecting it from the glass. Now free from stress and protected from acidic conditions and soiling from the environment, this photograph is now stable and preserved for the future.

This post was written by Victoria Duncan, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor. 

‘Indiana’s Great Outdoors’ Statehood Day essay contest now accepting submissions

The Indiana Center for the Book is hosting an essay competition to commemorate Indiana’s 205th Statehood Day. This year’s theme is “Indiana’s Great Outdoors.” The Statehood Day Essay Contest takes place annually in the fall and is open to all Indiana fourth graders. The essays are judged by a panel of Indiana State Library staff and volunteer educators.

Essays should be well organized and reflective of the theme “Indiana’s Great Outdoors.” Judges are looking forward to seeing students’ interpretation of the theme. Some ideas to help them include: Why is nature important? How do you enjoy nature in Indiana? Why are water and other natural resources important? What outdoor recreational spots in Indiana are special to you? Why is nature important to a great state?

Winners of the essay contest will be honored on Friday, Dec. 10 in a ceremony that may be in-person or may be virtual. The winners will be expected to record their essays for a virtual ceremony. In-person ceremonies may take place at the Indiana Statehouse or other locations, pandemic permitting.

The first-place winner receives a CollegeChoice 529 deposit of $250, while the second, third and fourth-place winners receive CollegeChoice deposits of $150.

Essay Contest Rules

  • The competition is open to any Indiana fourth grade public, private or homeschooled student in the 2021-22 school year.
  • A panel of judges will choose the first, second, third, and fourth place winners.
    Essays must range from 100 to 300 words; handwritten or typed.
  • Essays must be submitted with an entry form.
  • Individual entries should use the 2021 Individual Entry Form.
  • Class sets should use the 2021 Group Entry Form. The following information should be included on each essay for class sets: student name, teacher name and school name.
  • All entries may be mailed or emailed.
  • Mailed entry forms can be sent to: Indiana Center for the Book Indiana State Library 140 N. Senate Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46204.
  • Mailed essays must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
  • Emailed entry forms can be sent to this email address as an attachment.
  • Emailed entries must be received by Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.
  • Click here for additional information about the 2021 Statehood Day essay contest, including lesson plans for teachers, and to view the 2020 winning essays.

Please contact Suzanne Walker, Indiana Center for the Book director, with any questions.

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center librarian Suzanne Walker.

Get more from Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition is the library version of Ancestry.com, which has one of the largest genealogy collections available online. Their database includes vital records, censuses, city directories and military and immigration records to name a few! Some of the library’s most popular collections are the digitized Indiana marriage certificates from 1960-2005, Indiana death certificates from 1899-2011 and Indiana birth certificates from 1907-1940. Records like these are a goldmine for those with Indiana ancestors.

Ancestry Library Edition is available for free on any of the Indiana State Library public computers. Currently – courtesy of ProQuest and Ancestry – it is also available to many public library cardholders from home until December 2021. Please note that this option is not available through your Indiana State Library card account, but if your public library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition check with them about getting remote access while it lasts.

In addition to genealogical records, like the Indiana birth, marriage and death certificates, Ancestry also includes an abundant photograph collection to enrich your family history research. Photos bring family history to life and reveal details about our ancestors that we just can’t get from documents. Through pictures we can learn how an ancestor styled their hair, how they dressed, items they had in their home or what their hometown looked like. Here are a few of the unique photo collections you’ll find in the Ancestry catalog:

U.S., Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993

If you like to imagine the various odds and ends that could have made their way into your ancestor’s home, look no further than “The U.S., Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co.” collection. You can page through these catalogs on Ancestry just like you were holding a print copy. With many of the catalogs containing over a thousand pages each, it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon poring through them. Find bizarre products once sold to consumers, such as the deadly sounding “Arsenic Complexion Wafers” or the “Asbestos Stove Mat” for sale in the spring of 1897 catalog. These catalogs sold more than you could possibly imagine like clothing, tools, games, tableware, candy, houses and so much more!

Fall 1921

Because they were so expansive, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs are also helpful to date a photo of an ancestor. Flip to the women’s or menswear sections to explore fashions or housewares during certain years and look for similar styles to those represented in the picture.

U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999

Shortridge 1922

Ancestry is home to the world’s largest searchable online yearbook collection. With over 10,000 yearbooks, you are certain to find a photo of an ancestor included. You can also search for a favorite celebrity or flip through the yearbooks from a favorite era. Did you ever wonder what Indiana native John Mellencamp looked like in his high school yearbook photos? Search the collection for his name to find out!

Many of the yearbooks contain details that offer us a glimpse into our ancestor’s personalities. In this Shortridge Annual from 1922 Rezina Bond is described as, “A cute little girl with bobbed hair, who doesn’t like very much to go to school.” Like the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. catalogs, these images and details are useful for dating family photos. One advantage they have over the catalogs is they depict what people actually wore in a specific time and place, rather than the idealized fashions in catalogs.

U.S., Identification Card Files of Prohibition Agents, 1920-1925

Prohibition agents were responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Their duties included making investigations, arresting bootleggers, closing down speakeasies and breaking up liquor rackets. Sometimes their work even involved run-ins with organized crime.

The collection contains identification card files for prohibition agents, inspectors, warehouse agents, narcotics agents and more. Search for ancestors who worked as agents or browse through the collection to see the faces and names of the individuals who held these positions. Famous prohibition agents such as Isador Einstein and partner Moe Smith, who would wear over-the-top disguises like a gravedigger or opera singer, are represented in this collection.

Motion Picture Studio Directories, 1919 and 1921

1921 Motion Picture Studio Directory

If you are interested in silent film era history, or have an ancestor who worked in the business, the 1919 and 1921 Motion Picture Studio Directories are right up your alley. These directories don’t simply include actors, they also list directors, writers, cinematographers and more. Discover wonderful biographical details like addresses, birth dates, career summaries, physical description and skills. Learn more about your favorite Hoosier actors, such as Pomeroy Cannon from New Albany and Monte Blue from Indianapolis.

U.S., Historical Postcards, 1893-1960

This collection has over 115,000 historical postcards searchable by state, keyword or location. If you are interested to know what your ancestor’s hometown looked like during a certain time you can search here for a postcard of it. This is also an interesting collection to look for historical images of your own city or town. This postcard captures Washington Street, a few short blocks away from the Indiana State Library.

To access these collections and to explore everything Ancestry Library Edition has to offer, visit the card catalog. Hit the search field in the menu along the top of the homepage and select Card Catalog. From there, browse through the collections, use the search boxes or check out the new stuff featured on the page. Filter your results by collection types, locations or dates in the menu on the left side of the page. If you click on Pictures in the left menu, you’ll be taken to most of the collections I’m featuring in this blog post, in addition to the various other photo collections in Ancestry.

I hope you enjoy taking a trip back in time and explore these collections the next time you visit the Indiana State Library or at home while it lasts.

This blog post is by Dagny Villegas, Genealogy Division librarian.

This woman’s work

It is easy to forget that women’s rights and suffrage efforts in the U.S. began much earlier than most of us realize. One such intrepid pioneer for women’s rights was the indomitable May Wright Sewall. Although born in Wisconsin, she and her husband moved to Indiana in the early 1870s. She was well-known around the state for being a proponent for equal and better-quality education for women. She later established the Indianapolis Classical School for Girls, which became a prestigious preparatory school.

May Wright Sewall, standing at the left end, and a group of women at Mount Vernon in Virginia. from the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections.

Sewall believed women should have lives outside the home that included educational and cultural opportunities. She was a founder and first president of the Indiana Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1888. Sewall was instrumental in establishing the Indianapolis Propylaeum, which was a house built specifically for the cultural and educational edification of women’s clubs, including the Indiana Woman’s Club. A patron of the arts throughout her life, she was an officer in the Art Association in Indianapolis and was instrumental in helping establish the John Herron School of Art. Sewall was also a nationally known suffragist, and from 1899-1904, she was president of the International Council of Women.

In 1881, Sewall started writing a bi-weekly column in the early iteration of the Indianapolis Times. The column’s title was Woman’s Work. In the first article, which ran on Oct. 29, 1881, she states the reasons for the existence of the column and her goals in creating it. She notes that often, women’s names were not mentioned in newspapers or indeed in public unless they were the subject of a scandal or had died. She hoped that through her column, she could bring the importance of women’s “invisible” work in and outside the home to the forefront of the public’s attention.

This blog post was written by Leigh Anne Johnson, Indiana Division newspaper librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana Division at 317-232-3670 or via  “Ask-A-Librarian.

Redistricting data from the Census Bureau

The Indiana State Library’s Government Information Minute on Aug. 18 detailed the Census Bureau’s redistricting data release and gave the locations of several sources for the new data.

While it’s clear this data matters to demographers, local leaders and policy-makers, how does it apply to us as lifelong learners, the general public and the library community?

A first look at the data shows significant changes in the U.S. population taking place over the last ten years, from 2010 to 2020. While it is too early to tell the impact of COVID and new privacy methods on the national census, the new data says:

  1. The number of people who identify as Native American or Alaska Native – in combination with another race – rose more than any time in history between censuses. See 2020 Census Illuminates Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Country: “…the American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination population comprised 9.7 million people (2.9% of the total population) in 2020, up from 5.2 million (1.7%) in 2010.”
  2. The number of people who describe themselves as two or more races has increased more than any time in history, while the number of people who describe themselves as white has decreased. See 2020 Census Statistics Highlight Local Population Changes and Nation’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity: “The Multiracial population was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and is now 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase.”

What makes these population changes so pertinent right now? The nature of diversity in the United States is expanding. Our identity as Americans, in a place where 331.4 million people made their homes in 2020, is reckoning with its past and looking toward its future. These new numbers inform the news we read, the fiction that entertains us, and the media we absorb. Recent events tell us the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the nation’s population affect each of us.

Use the 2020 Census Demographic Data Map Viewer to look for yourself. It allows you to see diversity in race, Hispanic/Latino ethnicity and age groups state by state. You can also read recently released publications and view the following data visualizations from the Census Bureau about population changes between 2010 and 2020.

Publications:
2020 Census: Racial and Ethnic Diversity Index by State
2020 Census Statistics Highlight Local Population Changes and Nation’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity
2020 United States Population More Racially Ethnically Diverse Than 2010
Improvements to the 2020 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Question Designs, Data Processing, and Coding Procedures
Measuring Racial and Ethnic Diversity for the 2020 Census
Race and Ethnicity in the United States: 2010 Census and 2020 Census

Data Visualizations:
Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the United States: 2010 Census and 2020 Census
U.S. Decennial Census Measurement of Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790–2020

In Indiana, according to the Census Bureau’s Diversity Index, there is a 41.3% chance that two people chosen at random in this state will be from a different racial and ethnic group from each other. While this is not as high on the Diversity Index as California, near the top at 69.7%, it is a much greater chance than in Maine, near the bottom at 18.5%. Hoosiers are in the middle of a shifting state of demography which varies county by county. See the Census Bureau’s map, Second-Most Prevalent Race or Ethnicity Group by County: 2020, from The Chance That Two People Chosen at Random Are of Different Race or Ethnicity Groups Has Increased Since 2010.

As states participate in the redistricting process, decisions matter at the local level. Indiana’s General Assembly website details Indiana’s redistricting process. Public meetings were held at cities across the state from Aug. 6-12 representing each of Indiana’s nine U.S. Congressional Districts. You can watch the meetings on the website. Members of the public can also draw their own maps to contribute to the process. Locations for this will be at 19 Ivy Tech campuses. Ivy Tech librarians will help people use special software. Video instruction will be available on the website as well. More details will follow on the website.

Indiana libraries participated fully in the U.S. census despite COVID disruptions. As the pandemic changed everyone’s plans, we changed our approach to census outreach. Librarians directed energy and knowledge toward census promotion from 2019 through a census year with a changing timeline. Our displays were up. We posted on social media instead of having live events to encourage response. We showed our communities how important it was to answer, and how much easier it was to complete online. When it was safe, we welcomed the public to use our computers to fill out the census. These sincere efforts during disquieted times are what make our libraries the best.

The changing face of diversity, as the story is told by the census, continues its thread through our libraries as well. Following in the steps of the corporate world, libraries are hiring diversity and inclusion officers and holding programs that challenge patrons to think seriously about current events. We all have a role to play in the future of our communities. What will yours be?

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

Dorm life

As summer draws to a close, thousands of college students will begin their migrations to campuses throughout the state. Both Indiana University and Purdue anticipate having their largest incoming freshman classes ever with Purdue expecting over 10,000 new students and IU planning for over 9,000. Many of these students will be moving into dorms and some of those dorms have seen multiple generations of students pass under their roofs. While the basic tenants of dorm living remain the same – providing a place for students to eat, sleep and study – much has changed in dorm life over the years.

Purdue University’s Wood Hall – now part of Windsor Halls – housed female students and in the 1940s featured several unique amenities:

“Much care has been given to meeting the personal needs of the residents. The laundries are equipped with electric washers, clothes driers, stationary tubs, ironing boards and electric irons… The shampoo rooms contain convenient sprays and electric hair dryers. The sewing rooms are equipped with electric machines, cutting tables and panel mirrors for those who do their own sewing or are majoring in clothing in the School of Home Economics.”

Additionally, the dorm featured a dedicated radio room as students were not allowed radios in their own rooms.

From Residence halls for women at Purdue (ISLO 378 P985 no. 175 [1942]).

Dorms often have their own set of rules and codes of conduct and these often reflected the social norms of the time. According to a 1950s-era guide for residents of the Cary Quadrangle at Purdue – which continues to exclusively house male students – each resident had to ensure his bed was made by noon each day. Since this particular dorm featured maid service, failure to make one’s bed or to leave the room untidy would result in the maid reporting the student which could ultimately lead to disciplinary action.

Another rule from the Cary Quad guidebook set out strict dress guidelines for eating at the dining hall:

From Men’s residence halls: guide for residents (ISLO 378 P985 no. 500).

Oddly, the 1971/72 issue of Indiana University’s guidebook to dorm living contains a very specific entry on its rules for serenading which must have been a popular enough social endeavor to warrant inclusion in the guidebook:

From Your key to residence hall living (ISLO 378 Iu385 no. 212).

Students have always been encouraged to personalize the small amounts of living space allotted to them. In past eras, this often involved decorating the walls with posters and maybe having a few personal items out on display. By necessity, modern students must cram much more into their rooms. Mini refrigerators, computers, televisions and gaming systems now all compete for space.

Dorm room at Indiana State College ca. 1964. From Opportunities for you (ISLO 378 IS385 no. 38).

Dorm scenes at Indiana University, early 1970s. From Your key to residence hall living (ISLO 378 Iu385 no. 212).

Dorm room at Valparaiso University, ca. 2004. From The Beacon (ISLI 378 V211be 2003/04).

One aspect of dorm life which hasn’t changed much over the years is the tradition commonly called Move-In Day where hundreds of students haul all their personal belongings to their new home. Often chaotic, sometimes emotional, and usually requiring the extra hands of parents and other family members, Move-In Day marks the official beginning of the school year for many students.

Move-In Day at Ball State University, ca. 1980. From The Orient (ISLI 378 B187o 1981).

The Indiana State Library contains an extensive collection of materials such as yearbooks, course catalogs, promotional materials and other publications related to the many colleges and universities in the state.

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.”

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The Indiana State Library is pleased to announce that it has received $3,471,810 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to support libraries and library services in the State of Indiana. The Institute of Museum and Library Services distributed $178 million to state libraries, who were then tasked with putting the funds to good use. The Indiana State Library opted to put more than half of their allocation directly in public and academic libraries’ hands by awarding ARPA sub-grants.

This isn’t the first grant the State Library created in response to the COVID pandemic. Last year’s CARES Act mini-grants helped libraries to defray the unexpected expenses necessitated by the COVID pandemic: masks and plexiglass dividers, stanchions for curbside pick-up, additional e-books and streaming movies for the times the buildings were closed, etc. 335 mini-grants were awarded to the tune of more than $650,000. While CARES addressed immediate needs, ARPA grants ask libraries to look into the future and consider what they can do to welcome back and safely serve the public moving forward.

So, what does that look like? For many, that’s finding a way to increase remote and outdoor access to library services. Some libraries envisioned outdoor areas equipped with Wi-Fi and furnishings to allow people to access the internet even while the doors might be closed, or to offer safer, open-air venues for programming. Others hope for some sort of bookmobile or delivery vehicle to make home services a reality. Many see the value in remote locker systems that would allow the public to pick up library materials after hours or during closures with no staff interaction. There are projects that expand the technology infrastructure, projects revolving around easily sanitized furnishings and better HVAC systems, and projects centered on staff training for a post-pandemic reality. In total, we received 154 applications detailing projects costing anywhere from the $5,000 minimum to even more than the $100,000 maximum possible award.

Now begins the challenging task of reviewing each project and deciding how much to award. While the state library aims to offer at least some assistance for all eligible projects, more than $7 million dollars was requested against the $2.4 million dollars allocated for aid. Grants should be awarded in October – which means there might be some exciting things happening at your local library later this year and through 2022!

All questions regrading ARPA grants may be sent here. The State Library’s ARPA Grants for Indiana Libraries page offers more information on the grants.

This blog post was written by Angela Fox, LSTA grant consultant in the Library Development Office at the Indiana State Library.

Post road map of Indiana, 1904

Two regular questions that come across the reference desk can be answered using post office resources. The first common question is about a place name. The researcher may have a reference to a place, but that “place” is not a city or town. We often discover it’s a post office name. The Indiana State Library has a card file of post offices in Indiana. The card contains details including date the post office opened and when it may have been discontinued. These post office cards were used in making the handy reference book “From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folklore and History” (Baker, 1995). Perhaps your library has this book.

The other request is to locate a modern address when all they know is the rural route, which is often the only detail a county farm directory would have listed. This is much more difficult to answer. There are a couple maps we can use to help find the mail route, but not the exact home. We have two sets of Post Office department maps by county, we have a set from about 1910 and another set from about 1940. The State Library has made the set from 1910 available online here. Additionally, a 1904 statewide post route map of Indiana is available online here.

The 1904 post route map is nice because one can get a larger picture of the mail system than the county maps offer. The map shows post offices, mail routes and frequency of service. According to this map, most post offices and rural routes were getting mail up to six times a week; however, some little hamlets got mail only three times a week. Mail routes were added from year to year. Using a searchable newspaper database, one may be able to find detailed route descriptions. Take for example the Salem Democrat in 1903. They published the postmasters’ detailed reporting of how many houses are on the route, how many people are served and the length of the route. Here is an example of how Rural Route 11 out of Pekin is described.

Visit the USPS website for more history about rural routes. The development of the postal system is interesting and gives context to rural life and road improvements. Rural mail delivery was thought to help keep young people on the farm since they could receive reading materials and catalogs, perhaps diminishing the appeal of town.  Additionally, rural postal routes are credited with road development throughout the nation. This article from the Fort Wayne News makes sure to lay the blame for lack of mail service on the road supervisor. Once the roads are improved, mail service will resume.

Finally, for the adventurous researcher, National Archives holds the records from the Post Office Department. Among the records are correspondence, reports and supporting documents regarding proposed rural route establishments and changes, filed by state and county. These unique tools will offer researchers geographic information for years to come.

This post was written by Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor.

Indiana’s Carnegie libraries

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon this earth as the free public library.” -Andrew Carnegie

One of my favorite parts of my job as a regional coordinator at the Indiana State Library is traveling around to the public libraries of Northwest Indiana. Though I value and appreciate each and every unique library, Carnegie libraries have always been my favorite. It is for this reason that I chose to research Carnegie libraries of Indiana as one of my projects for my library master’s program. I hope you’ll appreciate the interesting history which I discovered during my research.

The state of Indiana received the greatest number of Carnegie library grants of any state. Between the years of 1901 to 1918, Indiana received a total of 156 Carnegie library grants, which allowed for the creation of 165 library buildings. Indiana received a total of over $2.6 million from the Carnegie Corporation. These library buildings were constructed from 1901 to 1922. Goshen received the first grant in 1901, and Lowell received the final grant in 1918. Additionally, Indiana was provided two academic libraries funded by Carnegie, at DePauw and Earlham. Indiana also has their own “Carnegie Hall” located at Moores Hill College. The Carnegie grants received by Indiana ranged in size from $5,000 given to Monterey – a community of under 1,000 residents – to $100,000 given to Indianapolis to construct five library branches. The year that the most Indiana Carnegie grants were given was 1913, wherein 19 grants totaling $202,500 were awarded. One thing Indiana can be proud of is that none of the communities receiving a Carnegie grant defaulted on their pledge to provide for the library building once it was initially constructed.1

Goshen Carnegie Library sign. Courtesy of Groundspeak, Inc.

“A. Carnegie.” 19 October 1912. Bain News Service. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Prior to receiving grants from Andrew Carnegie, the public-funded township and county libraries in Indiana were “limited in literary selection, poorly housed and often meagerly staffed.”1 However, libraries were in high demand by literate, reading Hoosiers. The only public book collections in the state before 1880 were William Maclure funded Mechanic and Workingmen’s Libraries, and most Indiana counties had one. William Maclure was the first library philanthropist in Indiana, providing for 146 libraries in 89 counties by the year 1855.1 However, it is believed that without Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy, many of the smaller Indiana communities would have experienced long delays in establishing public libraries, or not even have had a public library at all. Andrew Carnegie was invited to many of the library building dedications in the state of Indiana, but he never attended any. Carnegie’s library grants ended the day that the United States entered World War I, on Nov. 7, 1917.1 The last Carnegie building to be completed in the state of Indiana was in 1922 at North Judson.1

While researching this topic, I came to wonder why the state of Indiana had so many Carnegie grants; more than any other state. Part of the reason is due to the variations in branch donations. Many communities, including Indianapolis, Gary, East Chicago and Evansville, received grants to divide up among multiple branches. Also, once Goshen received the first library grant – and the General Assembly passed the Mummert Library Law which permitted “local units of government to levy tax for the perpetuation and maintenance of all libraries built in Indiana by Mr. Carnegie”2 – other Indiana communities were able to secure Carnegie grants, while meeting Mr. Carnegie’s stipulations, with not as much tedious effort as Goshen. As more and more communities received Carnegie grants and constructed public library buildings, neighboring towns would take notice and then start the application process for their own Carnegie library grant. From the time period of 1900 to 1929, “a strong public library fervor rolled across Indiana.”1 At this time, Indiana became “culturally ready and geographically positioned for more libraries.”1 The Indiana Library Association began in 1891. Later, in 1899, a legislative act permitted towns to levy taxes for library purposes and also established the Public Library Commission.1 The Public Library Commission, in operation from 1899 to 1925, was paramount in assisting Indiana communities to apply for and secure library funding from Andrew Carnegie during what was known as the Carnegie Era. McPherson writes that “libraries were landmarks of public and private achievement and pride.” Hoosiers especially cherished libraries as “intellectual and democratic institutions that were ‘free to all.'” Women’s literary clubs also played an invaluable role in the amount of Carnegie libraries established in Indiana.1

Very few of the towns requesting grants from Andrew Carnegie were refused, as long as they agreed to his terms. However, there were still some Carnegie grant requests that were denied, and usually for administrative reasons. For example, Greenfield requested a Carnegie grant and received a response from James Bertam, Andrew Carnegie’s private secretary, stating that “A request for $30,000 to erect a library building for 5,000 people is so preposterous that Mr. Carnegie cannot give it any consideration.3

Most of the Carnegie funded libraries were designed to have a community meeting space on the main floor and the library’s book collection on the upper floor. In 1908, the Carnegie Corporation circulated a pamphlet called “Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings,” which standardized the design of Carnegie buildings “in order to prevent costly design errors.”1 Therefore, prior to 1908 when library boards had more leeway on building design and spending, “the more grandiose and elegant building were constructed.”1 Carnegie emphasized simplicity, functionality and practicality in order “to reduce wasteful spending of the earlier years” and in turn had the final sign-off on any architectural plans.1 An Indianapolis architect, Wilson B. Parker, designed over 20 of the Carnegie funded libraries in Indiana, more than any architect of Carnegie libraries in the state. The most widely used architectural styles of the Indiana Carnegie library buildings were the Neoclassic Greek and Roman style and the Craftsman-Prairie Tradition style. The buildings were normally constructed along or near the main street of town, where community members were likely to gather. Intentionally built with steps, Carnegie libraries encouraged “patrons to ‘step up’ intellectually when they walked up the main entryway, entering ‘higher ground’ through the temple like portal into the rooms of knowledge.”1 Once a Carnegie building was completed, the community would hold a dedication, especially around a holiday. Many of Indiana’s Carnegie library buildings have been added to The National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Indiana State Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

Corydon Carnegie Library, 2006. Courtesy of Indiana Landmarks. Accessed through Indiana Memory Database.

As a strong testament to the lasting legacy of Andrew Carnegie, 100 of the original 164 buildings are still in use as libraries today. Many have been renovated or have additions, but continue to serve the community out of at least some part of or all of the original Carnegie funded library building. The buildings not currently serving as libraries have a wide array of purposes, including two restaurants, six town or city halls, museums, three historical societies, four art galleries, condos, a police station, a fraternity headquarters, courthouse, a church, private residences and various commercial offices such as real estate, law and an architectural firm. Sadly, 18 of the original Carnegie library buildings in Indiana have been destroyed through the years; one by the tornado of 1948, three by fire and the rest demolished or razed. Click here to see a list of Indiana’s Carnegie libraries and their current status.

Coatesville Library Destruction from 1948 Tornado. Courtesy of Coatesville-Clay Township Public Library.

Woody’s Library Restaurant, present day. Courtesy of Woody’s Library Restaurant.

Sources
1. McPherson, Alan. “Temples of Knowledge: Andrew Carnegie’s Gift To Indiana.” Indiana: Hoosier’s Nest Press, 2003.

2.Goshen Public Library Beginnings,” retrieved form the Goshen Public Library website.

3. Bobinski, George S. “Carnegie Libraries: Their History and Impact on American Public Library Development”. ALA Bulletin, 62.11 (1968):1361-1367.

Carnegies 2009 Update.” Indiana State Library. 6 June 2012.

Indiana’s Carnegie Libraries website, created by Laura Jones.

Submitted by Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library.

Invitation to participate in the National Book Festival

The Library of Congress is presenting the 21st National Book Festival from Sept. 17-26, and Indiana’s libraries and cultural institutions are invited to participate.

Indiana is home to a deep and rich literary heritage stemming from our long-ago classic writers like Gene Stratton-Porter and James Whitcomb Riley to the big names of the ’60s and ’70s – Kurt Vonnegut, Mari Evans, Etheridge Knight and many others – all the way up to today, where everyone knows names like John Green and Meg Cabot. Additionally, characters like Garfield, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Clifford and Little Orphan Annie are all Hoosier creations. It’s impossible to keep track of a list of Indiana writers because new ones emerge and succeed daily. Today, Maurice Broaddus is writing Afrofuturist science fiction. Ashley C. Ford writes about race and body image. Kaveh Akbar’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker. Kelsey Timmerman’s investigations lead to books about responsible consumerism. What draws all these voices together? Being from Indiana. Being Hoosiers.

Thankfully, there are ample opportunities to celebrate our Indiana writers. The Indiana Authors Awards elevate Hoosier literary voices through prizes, programs and initiatives designed to connect readers to authors. Our Indiana media outlets frequently release stories and articles about top Hoosier writers, past and present. The Indiana Center for the Book even has a YouTube series where a “Hoosier Toucan” interviews contemporary Indiana authors, along with a light-hearted show and tell segment. That being said, it’s especially exciting when Indiana authors get the chance to be showcased on a national, and indeed international, stage.

The National Book Festival is a premiere event on the literary calendar. During the course of its 20-year history, the festival has become one of the most prominent literary events in the nation. In 2020 and in 2021, the festival has gone virtual and organizers hope that Indiana libraries and cultural institutions will participate in the festival in a myriad of ways. Watch parties of author talks, book discussions about one of the featured speakers and podcast parties are all possibilities.

The Indiana State Library and Indiana Humanities have partnered together to create a toolkit that encourages meaningful participation in the festival at a local level. Who better to present this national event to our local communities than the librarians, teachers and cultural leaders who connect to Hoosiers every day?

We invite you to use this toolkit to connect to the National Book Festival. Explore the writings of an author you’ve never heard of before. Learn more about the Library of Congress, your national library. Listen to a podcast interview in a group and discuss it afterwards. Share the ways you use the toolkit so that others can benefit from your creative ideas in the future. Above all, enjoy connecting with Hoosier literary heritage. The Golden Age of Indiana literature isn’t in the past. It’s here right now!

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.