Richard Wiggington Thompson, politician, orator, lawyer and judge

Politician, orator, lawyer and judge Richard Wiggington Thompson was born in 1809 in Culpepper, Virginia. He moved to Lawrence County, Indiana in the 1830s and began practicing law in Bedford. Thompson began his political career in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1834, moving into the Senate after one term. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1841 and 1847. He was a noted orator in Terre Haute and served as city attorney in 1846 to 1847. With a political career spanning 40 years, he saw many changes in the country. His political affiliations changed from Whig to American Party (Know Nothing) from the 1850s-1860 to Constitutional Union from 1860-1861, and finally, to the Republican Party from 1861-1900.

Table of contents in a notebook of Thompson’s writings.

In addition to having a long career, Thompson was also serving the country during one of its most contentious periods. He was the commander of Camp Thompson in Indiana and provost marshal of the Terre Haute district during the U.S. Civil War. Then President Lincoln appointed him collector of internal revenue for the 7th Indiana District from 1864 until 1866. As judge, Thompson presided over the 5th Circuit Court before President Hayes appointed him to the cabinet as Secretary of the Navy. In 1881, he resigned to become chairman of the American Committee of the French Panama Canal Company and a director of the Panama Railroad Company  from 1881-1889.

Letter on Union troop needs.

His digitized collection contains personal and official correspondence, speeches, his writings on various topics including slavery, suffrage, and Reconstruction, his wife, Harriet’s, diary, certificates and commissions, newspaper clippings and legislation. Major correspondents include Joseph A. Wright, John D. Defrees, Oliver P. Morton, Walter Gresham, John W. Foster, Rutherford B. Hayes and others.

Appointment letter.

Ranging from 1818 to 1931, this collection documents major changes in the American political landscape in the 19th century.

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.”

Hibben artworks on digital display

The Hibben family papers are a tremendous gem in the Indiana State Library. With records, correspondence, pictures and artworks from 1840 to 1937, there is a wide breadth of material among the collection. However, today we are going to look at the artists of the family whose works the Indiana State library is lucky enough to have: Louise Douglas Hibben, her brother Thomas Entrekin Hibben, Sr., and his son, Thomas Entrekin Hibben, Jr.Louise Hibben was born in 1867 and was the youngest of three children born to James Samuel Hibben. Taking after her older brother Thomas, Hibben would see art as a way to showcase the natural world around her, though her portrayals tended to get more abstract the longer she worked. Primarily specializing as a painter, Hibben has a range of pieces that have been collected by the State Library and her works have been shown in galleries from The Indiana Museum of Art at Newfields to the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Thomas Entrekin Hibben, Sr. was a successful businessman and artist working in both Rushville then Indianapolis. Mainly focusing on etchings and lithographs, Hibben would work on improving the etching process of the time himself but have an artistic drive to capture real life scenes as still lives or landscapes. Inspiring both his little sister and his son, Hibben, Sr. was a force for the artistic endeavors in Indiana in the two communities he was a part of, becoming known as an acknowledged patron of the arts and was the first artist at the Indianapolis News.

Thomas Entrekin Hibben, Jr. was an architect by trade, studying at Princeton, Penn and schools in London and Paris, but like his father before him loved capturing the buildings and landscapes around himself in the form of drawings and lithographs. Hibben, Jr. also helped design buildings for Butler University and was involved in the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. He served in both world wars, would act as a governmental advisor for several New Deal and foreign economic development programs, and would represent the United States as an ambassador to Pakistan.

These aren’t all of the artists in the Hibben family lineage, as Thomas Entrekin Sr.’s daughter Helene Louise Hibben would be quite talented artist herself, specializing in sculptures, particularly bronze. Helene Hibben studied under well-known sculptures Lorado Taft and James Earle Fraser and even had some of her art purchased by the Library of Congress, a couple of her bas-relief portraits. The Indiana State Library does not currently have any pieces by Helene Hibben, but the materials collected about the Hibben family that the library currently houses can be viewed here.

This blog post was submitted by A.J. Chrapliwy, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. 

One document, many Hoosier voices

It is the summer of 1926, and the United States Senate is worried that money is being misused to nominate candidates, so they have established a committee to investigate. Their findings bring them to Chicago – where they interview a variety of voices from Indiana – and to Indianapolis where they interview more.

For reasons not altogether clear, the League of Nations plays a critical role in who is called to testify.

Credit: U.S. Senate Collection.

There is the engaging Mrs. Lois Thomas Lockhart, 322 N. Ritter Ave., of the Indiana Council on International Relations. A woman called before the committee because she supports the controversial League of Nations and the idea of world peace. When admonished for thinking globally, rather than locally and America First, she replies:

We feel it is improving America for America to know national and international problems. We were particularly interested in sending our speakers into the rural sections of Indiana, that our rural people might have this information without getting it from partisan sources. I do not know whether the members of our committee are Republicans or Democrats, or whether they are for the League of Nations or the World Court. I do not know. We just feel that is an educational work we are in.

After reading the testimony of Indiana attorneys and businessmen from that same summer, one understands better Mrs. Eckhart’s impulse to educate.

Her voice, for example, stands in stark contrast to those of Hugh Pat Emmons and Walter Bossert. Emmons operated in St. Joe County, and presided over the Valley Tabernacle Association, a group of 800 or so disgruntled klansmen, who left the organization for fear of having “to go down the line” for one W. Lee Smith, a candidate for the senate of the United States. Emmons achieved some renown for his depictions of behind-the-scenes operations of the Ku Klux Klan.

Walter Bossert, a lawyer from Indianapolis, with offices in Liberty, previously held the office Grand Dragon of Indiana. Like Emmons, he resigned “on principle,” refusing to be told for whom to cast his vote. His testimony underscores the deep connection between the Klan and Indiana politics and power.

Mr. Clyde Walb of La Grange, and chairman of the State Republican Committee, is outraged by the money pouring into Indiana, none of which he has seen or can trace, and programs tricking Indiana women and children into supporting the League of Nations.

Letter from Clyde A. Walb. Read the entire letter in the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Digital Collections.

Professor Amos Hersey of Bloomington, excites particular ire in Walb, but Walb’s list of Hoosiers for and against the League is revealing.

While subcommittee hearings are valuable political resources, they are also rich in genealogical information, as they include stories of individuals from every state and across the centuries. Many can be searched electronically, including this one, at HathiTrust.

“Senatorial campaign expenditures: hearings before a Special Committee Investigating Expenditures in Senatorial Primary and General Elections, United States, Sixty-ninth Congress, first session [Seventieth Congress, first session] pursuant to S. Res. 195, a resolution authorizing the president of the Senate to appoint a special committee to make investigation into the means used to influence the nomination of any person as a candidate for membership of the United States Senate. Pt. 2-3.”

This blog post was written by Kate Mcginn, reference librarian, Indiana State Library.

Indiana Library Leadership Academy 2023 wrap-up

The Professional Development Office, along with the Professional Development Committee, recently wrapped up the 2023 Indiana Library Leadership Academy. We had 13 participants and five coaches this year. Our facilitator for the Academy was Cathy Hakala-Ausperk, who has written several books about library leadership. She also teaches for the iSchool at Kent State University in Ohio.

The five coaches shared their library leadership journey with the participants and gave tips for growing as a leader. The 13 attendees will be working on and completing a project they have chosen to help their library and community. There will be three check-in meetings with the coaches and attendees where they can share their progress as well as ask for advice, if needed. The attendees were divided into groups and each group worked with one coach. These relationships will be ongoing as they work on their projects throughout the year. I feature the projects in additional blog articles as they complete them as well as our Indiana Library Leadership Academy webpage. The projects are due by May 2024.

The Indiana Library Leadership Academy participants come from all over the state of Indiana and allow valuable networking experience, not only with their coach but also the other INLLA participants. These relationships last and the benefits to the Indiana library community are great as they grow in their career. We have had several participants go on to be library directors or managers and the ripple effects and benefits of the Indiana Library Leadership Academy continue long after the program is finished.

This blog post was submitted by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Statewide library courier service update

A new statewide library courier contract began on June 26. Over these past two months, the Indiana State Library has received feedback on the new service from the entire library community, including everyone from library patrons to directors and deans of academic libraries. Unfortunately, the new company was unable to keep up with the volume and complexity of Indiana’s public library routes. While their administration was capable and communicative and some promising progress was made during the two months, the impact on libraries was felt widely. Many deliveries were made in error or not at all, mostly due to staffing and driver issues. For these combined reasons, the Indiana State Library will be pivoting back to the previous courier service to carry out the current contract. NOW Courier will assume ownership of all library materials currently in transit on Sept. 1. They will utilize the week of Sept. 4 to sort materials received, and then begin delivering to library locations the week of Sept. 11.

In an effort to help the new courier start smoothly, resource sharing in state – including Evergreen Indiana, SRCS and Indiana Share – will be paused temporarily. Evergreen patrons may still borrow in person from all member libraries and place holds, but interlibrary transits will not be occurring until Sept. 17. Evergreen users will also have full access to the Indiana Digital Library eBooks and audiobooks during that time.

While not all details are known at this time (e.g., how long it will take resource sharing to return to normal), Indiana State Library staff will communicate these to library staff when known. Libraries are encouraged to make sure their contact information in InfoExpress is up to date, as well as subscribe to the InPubLib or INLibraries listservs. Unfortunately, this new contract will result in added expenses for the state library and subscribers. The Indiana State Library will assume the additional costs for the remainder of the 2023-24 service year, and State Library staff will communicate next year’s rates as soon as they are known.

Please note that there will be no InfoExpress pickups and deliveries the week of Sept. 4. Please enjoy the Labor Day holiday and continue to communicate any known issues with State Library staff via email.

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Get your Sammy fix with poets laureate and Indiana children’s authors

Sammy the Interviewing Toucan, who works out of the Indiana Young Readers Center, is back with a whole load of content for all the Sammy fans out there patiently waiting for more of this sassy bird. Sammy was hard at work this summer catching up with all kinds of literary types. The corduroy puppet has put together two series of videos. The first features five of Indiana’s poets laureate, including current Poet Laureate Matthew Graham and the second showcases five Indiana authors who write for children.

First to hit the airwaves will be five interviews with the poets laureate available on the Indiana State Library’s YouTube channel the morning of Sept. 5. When asked what it was like to talk to poets, Sammy said, “Of course I was delighted. I especially liked the fact that so many of them talked about birds. Except Matthew. He talked about James Dean, but that was cool too. James Dean is about as famous as I am, so there’s that.”

Then on Sept. 11, five more videos will be released featuring Indiana authors who write for children including an interview with award-winning Margaret Peterson Haddix. “That was just a dream come true,” Sammy said. “I mean, MPH is legendary in children’s literature. And it was great getting to talk to so many authors about how reading books – all kinds of books – is great for kids!”

When asked what’s next for this busy bird, Sammy said, “Oh, I’m going to be the star of some Escape Rooms that my staff is working on. They’ll be available for Indiana librarians to check out starting sometime in 2024. There’s always something keeping me flying!” Mark your calendars and tune in to catch up with Sammy, authors and the poets laureate of Indiana.

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

Indiana’s Dutch roots

The names Banta, Demaree, Terhune, Voris and Van Arsdal are familiar to many Hoosiers. The roots of these names lie in an intrepid group of pioneers who immigrated from Pennsylvania to Kentucky in the late 18th century. The group was led by Hendrick Banta, who was seeking to form a colony that would preserve Dutch culture, language, and religion.

Hendrick Banta was descended from Epke Jacobs, who came to the then Dutch colony of New Netherland in 1659 from the village of Minnertsga in the Friesland province of the Netherlands. He was accompanied by his wife, Tietske Dircksdr (also spelled Sistske Dirksda), and five young sons. After first setting in what is now Flushing, Queens, the family had relocated to Bergen County, New Jersey. The first recorded instance of the surname Banta came in 1696, as the family had previously followed the Dutch tradition of patronymic naming. For example, Epke Jacobs was Epke, son of Jacob. After the British gained control of the Dutch colonies in America, settlers adopted the practice of hereditary surnames. It appears that “Banta” was the name of the farm in the Netherlands owned by Epke Jacobs’ grandparents.

New Netherland, 1600s. Courtesy of the New York State Library Digital Collections.

Epke’s great-grandson, Hendrick, or Henry, was born in Bergen County in 1718, and married Rachel Brouwer, or Brower, in 1738, with whom he had six children. Rachel died in 1749, and Hendrick married Antjin, or Ann Demarest, in 1751. The couple went on to have 13 surviving children. Hendrick’s concern that the Dutch community was being influenced by other cultures led him to move his family first to Somerset County, New Jersey, and then onto Conewego outside of York, Pennsylvania.

By the 1770s, the area that we now know as Kentucky was opening to settlement. However, getting there was far from easy. Settlers faced two treacherous options. The first involved crossing the Appalachian Mountains via the Cumberland Gap. The second used the Ohio River, and this was the route taken by Henrick Banta and his travelling party. The group included 12 of his 19 surviving children and 19 of his grandchildren, many of whom were younger than 12-years-old. As well as Hendrick’s immediate family, representatives of the Van Arsdale, Demaree, Riker, Westervelt, Voris and Dorland families were part of the travelling party. The first part of the journey began in late 1779 with a 200-mile trek to the source of the Ohio River near what is now Pittsburgh. They traveled in canvas covered wagons drawn by horses or oxen, also transported sheep, cattle and hogs. Here they constructed flatboats, which they then used to float down the river to the Falls of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky. The journey was nearly 600 miles through dense forest and took about nine days to complete. The Banta party arrived on April 6, 1780.

A flatboat floating down the Ohio River. Engraving by Albert Waud.

They first settled near the Ohio River, in many cases using the lumber from the flatboats to build cabins. However, the Native Americans in this area were hostile to European settlers, and the group moved southeast to Harrodsburg in Mercer County. In 1786, Squire Boone, brother of Daniel, sold over 12,000 acres of land in Henry and Shelby Counties to the Dutch. This became known as the Low Dutch Tract. Individual families were given 200 acres of land, but the entire tract was held collectively by the Low Dutch Company.

The Old Mud Meeting House, Harrodsburg, KY.

Despite Hendrick’s best efforts, members of the Dutch colony began to intermingle with settlers of other backgrounds and religion. In 1795, he and other elders of the community wrote to the leadership of the Dutch Reformed Church with a plea for a minister to be sent out to them. Indeed, two of Hendrick Banta’s sons became Baptist preachers, and others joined the burgeoning Shaker movement.

Hendrick Banta died in 1804, and in the following years large numbers of settlers left the original Low Dutch Tract, including many who moved to southern Indiana as well as Johnson County. One of the many descendants of these settlers was David Demaree Banta, who was the first dean of the Indiana University Law School.

To learn more about Indiana’s Dutch roots, please contact the Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library. They can be reached at 317-232-3689 or by using the Indiana State Library’s Ask-a-Librarian service.

This post was written by Laura Williams, genealogy librarian at the Indiana State Library.

The Academy Girls

They called themselves “The Academy Girls.” This group of graduates from The Old Academy in Franklin, who at a May 26, 1905 meeting at the house of Mrs. Sarah Briggs Sloan, elected Sarah Deitch Sibert their president and Martha Coleman Johnson, nicknamed Mattie, their secretary and treasurer. Their mission was to organize reunions of classmates and friends to reminisce about their school years.

Built in the influence of Greek Revival, The Old Academy in Franklin lasted only twelve years, from 1858 to 1870, when it was sold and used as a furniture factory until it burnt down. However, the boys and girls of the Old Academy continued to gather and remember their years there. The boys organized first, but by 1905, the girls had started to their own reunions.

In our Digital Collections at the Indiana State Library, we recently added “USM U.S. Mail Composition Book no. 702,” used as a scrapbook to organize and document the history of The Academy Girls reunions from their first in 1905 up to 1914. You will see on the inside cover a newspaper article with a sketch of The Old Academy followed by general notes from their first meeting. It is here that we learn that their first reunion, “an all day affair” would be held at the Greenwood Park on June 6, 1905. Total attendance would be 36 members, a number that would rise and dwindle over the years following their first reunion.

You can read the article that appeared in an unknown newspaper about the reunion. It recounts their activities, meeting and help of the chivalrous old academy boys in the organization of this first event. The scrapbook contains letters, newspaper clippings and ephemera such as ribbons.

The Academy Girls continued to meet me many years after, at least until the late 1920s as the group began to shrink. The venues included Garfield Park and the Old Academy grounds on Monroe Street in Franklin. The Franklin Evening Star recounted the history of the Old Academy and their reunions in an article on Nov. 12, 1963.

This scrapbook is a part of a larger collection called Education for Women. This new collection has materials as early as the 1850s about the various academies and school across Indiana.

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

‘In the matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer;’ the saga of a government publication

Publishing a book is normally a very lengthy and complex process. Texts must be read thoroughly, proofread, checked for accuracy and edited accordingly. Printing machinery must be calibrated and prepped with enough ink and paper. In the pre-internet era, instant publication of important information in print form faced many hurdles.

The Government Printing Office has always been accustomed to confronting this dilemma. Founded in 1861 as the official publisher of all federal government materials, the GPO has a considerable amount of experience in quickly churning out print materials for consumption by the American public. However, in June of 1954 they faced a particularly difficult challenge. The physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was undergoing a hearing in front of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. At the heart of the hearings was whether Oppenheimer, the man who was selected by the U.S. military to helm the top-secret laboratory at Los Alamos where the atomic bomb was developed, should continue to hold a high-level security clearance and have access to the country’s most sensitive data on atomic weapons. Oppenheimer’s war record, post-war activities and the events leading to his hearing with the AEC in 1954 have been discussed in greater detail elsewhere. In summation, the hearing involved testimony from several dozen witnesses, many of whom were prominent men in political, military and scientific fields. This was not a public hearing and all witnesses were assured by the AEC that their statements would remain confidential.

Logo of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

The chief instigator of the hearings was the chair of the AEC, Lewis Strauss. For a variety of political and personal reasons, Strauss had developed an intense dislike of Oppenheimer and displayed an obsessive fixation on removing him from a position of decision-making power. Concerned that Oppenheimer enjoyed too much public goodwill due to his part in developing the first atomic bombs and helping end the war, Strauss desperately wanted to portray Oppenheimer in as negative a light as possible. The result of the hearing was a foregone conclusion: Oppenheimer’s security clearance was going to be revoked regardless of any testimony for or against it and Strauss felt that making the hearing public would help show the American people that Oppenheimer was not the “atomic age” hero they all believed him to be.

Op-ed from the June 8, 1954 issue of The Indianapolis Star in support of Oppenheimer. From the article: “Dr. Oppenheimer is one of America’s most brilliant scientists. His country owes him a tremendous debt for his work on perfecting the atomic bomb, and later the hydrogen bomb. Certainly America owes him the greatest possible consideration for his services. Certainly we must bend over backward, even to the point of taking some risk, to uphold him now.” This is an example of the kind of sentiment Strauss was desperate to quash with the release of the transcripts.

Sometime shortly after June 11, 1954, Strauss strongly urged, and was able to convince, other members of the AEC to publish the transcripts of the hearings in their entirety and to do it as soon as possible. The AEC desperately tried to reach each witness and alert them that statements they had made under the assurance of confidentially would shortly become public knowledge and fodder for the press.

The transcript of the hearing ended up comprising a whopping 3,000 pages. Much of the discussions held within revolved around confidential national security issues and therefore someone would need to read through everything very carefully and redact any information deemed too sensitive for public consumption. Someone else would need to go through the entire transcript and perform basic editing. The final product, titled “In the matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” ended up comprising 993 pages and was officially released on June 15, 1954, mere days after Strauss convinced the AEC to go ahead with publication. It was no small feat that the GPO was able to produce this massive volume so quickly and thus make important information available to the American public.

The final product from GPO. Note the date stamped in the upper corner. The volume was released June 15, 1954. The Indiana State Library received their copy several weeks later on July 8, 1954.

The release received a front page headline in the Indianapolis Star.

Ultimately, the swift publication of the hearing did not have the affect Strauss wanted. Instead of damning Oppenheimer in the mind of the American public, many were alarmed at what they perceived as governmental bullying since parts of the hearing veered into salacious aspects of Oppenheimer’s personal life. Others noted that most of the security-related objections to Oppenheimer were well-known prior to his war work on the Manhattan Project. Essentially, the government had known most of the information released in the hearing and still trusted him to oversee the largest top-secret military project in history. The motivation to remove him from playing any role in the further development of atomic weapons was deemed political and petty and would eventually factor into Strauss’s own political downfall several years later.

The full unredacted transcript of the hearing was declassified in 2014 and is available in its entirety from the U.S. Department of Energy here.

In 2022, the decision to revoke Oppenheimer’s security clearance was officially vacated. The full text of the decision made by the Department of Energy is available here.

Curtis, Charles P. “The Oppenheimer case: the trial of a security system.” New York: Simone and Schuster, 1955. (ISLM QC16.O62 C8)

Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M. “The Oppenheimer case.” The Atlantic, October 1954.

Stern, Philip M. “The Oppenheimer case: security on trial.” New York : Harper & Row, 1969. (ISLM QC16.O82 S69)

U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. “In the matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: transcript of hearing before the Personnel Security Board.” Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office, 1954. (ISLM p.d. 925 O62i)

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.”

Solar eclipses on the horizon

The coming year is a big one for astronomy enthusiasts – the United States will see two solar eclipses in the span of just six months! An annular eclipse will occur on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, and a total eclipse will occur on Monday, April 8, 2024.

An annual eclipse takes place when the moon is further away from the earth in its orbit, and it cannot completely cover the sun. In this case, while most of the sun is covered, there will be a bright ring around the moon. This October, the western U.S. will be in the path of this annular eclipse; in Indiana, it will appear as a partial eclipse, meaning a large portion of the sun will always be visible.

2023-24 eclipse map, courtesy of NASA.

In April 2024, however, Indiana is directly in the path for a total eclipse. A total eclipse takes place when the moon is just the right distance from the Earth, and it covers the entire sun when it moves between the sun and Earth. In this case, the path of the total eclipse will move from Northeast to Southwest Indiana; just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time, Indianapolis will experience the total eclipse. See what time the eclipse will occur over your town, as well as whether it will be a total or partial eclipse from your position, on this website.

Eclipses capture the attention of everyone, young and old alike, and many libraries want to offer programming surrounding this exciting event. STARnet, part of the Space Science Institute, has created a program called SEAL (Solar Eclipse Activities for Libraries) to assist with this. Funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, SEAL is offering in-person and virtual trainings that highlight activities libraries can do with their patrons.

While Indiana’s in-person SEAL training is now full, library staff can access virtual resources provided by SEAL in several places:

Additional resources include:

  • This webpage about the eclipses on NASA’s website.
  • Info on the eclipses, including an eclipse simulator, can be found on the Eclipse2024 site.

No matter where your library is located within Indiana, you’re sure to have patrons interested in the eclipses. With STARNet’s resources, your library’s programmers can “shoot for the stars!”

Submitted by Beth Yates, Indiana State Library children’s consultant.