Save Woodruff Place

On Sept. 18, 1953, residents of Woodruff Place were invited to attend a town hall meeting via a flyer proclaiming that “time is of the essence.” The flyer – a copy of which can be found in the Small Broadsides Collection at the Indiana State Library – provides a glimpse into the hard-fought battle that ultimately resulted in the annexation of Woodruff Place into the city of Indianapolis.

Now a near-east side neighborhood, the town was established in the 1870s by James O. Woodruff, best known for creating the city’s water system, and it remained an independent town within city limits after it was incorporated in 1876. Councilman J. Wesley Brown introduced the annexation ordinance multiple times in 1953 before it was passed in September, but it was formally enacted only after nine years of protests and legal battles. The final blow to resistant Woodruff Place residents came in February 1962 after the Supreme Court decided not to review the case, the next logical step after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the annexation the previous year. At the time of annexation, it comprised around 1,700 residents.

The reason for annexation cited by the city was the need for Woodruff Place residents to pay their share of taxes, though the incorporated town did already pay the city fees for trash, sewage, education, police, fire and the General Hospital. Residents cited concerns over losing zoning power amid increased industrialization of the surrounding area and control over the features that typified the area, such as the iconic fountains. The debate was often heated, with one resident in the Sept. 4, 1960 issue of the Indianapolis Star comparing the city’s views on their right to annex Woodruff Place to “what the Russians think about the people of Hungary.” The press could also be critical of Woodruff Place in turn. In an Indianapolis Star op-ed supporting annexation in Oct. 22, 1953, for instance, the author likened the city to a Roman town, referring to both as “tombs of entanglement.”

One of the fountains in Woodruff Place. From the Indiana State Library’s Oversize General Photograph Collection.

In 1954, amid a drastic increase in service fees levied after annexation was initially challenged by residents, the town agreed only to pay for fire and for a period the city was only served by county sheriff’s office. Later, after it was determined that the Indianapolis treasury could not be used to fight the legal battle, Woodruff Place residents raised the money via donations from both resident homeowners and renters. This fund was referred to as a “War Fund” in the press.

With many residents now only ever knowing Woodruff Place as a charming neighborhood, it is now perhaps best know for its flea market, which has taken place the first week of June as a neighborhood fundraiser since 1975.

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

Indiana resource sharing update – May 2024

A lot of positive things have been happening in resource sharing these past few months, so we wanted to provide an update on how books are currently moving around the state.

InfoExpress courier service
We are pleased to report that the InfoExpress Courier Service, currently operated by Indianapolis’s NOW Courier, has almost completely recovered, and over 90% of expected stops are being made weekly. The Indiana State Library truly appreciates everyone’s patience and willingness to help with the recovery process, whether it was reporting missed stops, or visiting the Indianapolis warehouse to collect items.

The renewal period is open for participation for the 2024-2025 service year, with registrations being due June 1. Claims for lost materials are still being collected for any materials that were lost last summer during the courier transition. Indiana State Library staff encourage any libraries with extra shipping bags to return those to the State Library at their convenience, as supplies are running low. Finally, please let the InfoExpress coordinator know if your library will be closed for any portion of the summer.

Discovery to Delivery Conference
Plans are underway for this year’s Discovery to Delivery Conference, tentatively scheduled for Friday, Oct. 11, 2024. Two big changes this year will include a change of venue – Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington – and a new virtual attendance option for many sessions. State Library staff are happy to be working with members of ALI and their Resource Sharing Committee on plans for the conference. A save the date announcement will be shared widely soon, as well as a call for proposals for conference sessions for anyone interested in presenting.

SRCS
The current SRCS contract with Auto-Graphics, Inc. expires Sept. 30, and the Indiana Department of Administration is currently completing the request for proposals – also known as an  RFP –  process for the continuation of the service which is required to be bid out periodically. A committee of State Library staff and volunteers from public and academic libraries statewide have reviewed the proposals, have participated in product demonstrations and have submitted recommendations to IDOA. The results of this RFP are still forthcoming, and the State Library will notify libraries about any upcoming changes to the service or its providers as soon as they are known.

Evergreen
Evergreen Indiana continues to grow, most recently welcoming the Morrisson-Reeves, Jasonville and Owensville Public Libraries, for a total of 132 of Indiana’s 236 public libraries sharing a catalog and transiting materials between each other.

The consortium also welcomes Courtney Brown, previously the Indiana State Library’s Southeast regional coordinator, as the new Evergreen Indiana Consortium director. We truly thank Ruth Davis for all her years of service and dedication to the consortium and Resource Sharing Committee, and wish her well in Virginia!

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

Indiana State Library’s new Digitization Lab

On April 17, 2024, the Indiana State Library held an open house for its staff in our new digitization lab. Many attended and were impressed with the new setup, which brings all of the Indiana State Library’s major internal digitization devices into one roomy, comfortable space.

The process started two years ago, when the Indiana State Library purchased a new Phase One camera system, which beautifully digitizes large items such as maps, posters and broadsheets. Our conservator, Seth Irwin, had envisioned installing it in the old digitization lab, but its small size could not accommodate the new camera system. One room that was for consideration was the fourth-floor computer lab, room 428, which provided a space for state government employees to conduct training seminars. Unfortunately, the computer lab wasn’t going to be decommissioned in time to install the Phase One system, so we settled on installing it in the conservation lab. Additionally, the Indiana State Library purchased a state-of-the-art archival box making machine, which could only be installed in the old digitization lab. That made the room even more crowded.

Cut to last year, when the administration team of the Indiana State Library informed Irwin, Indiana Division supervisor Monique Howell, internal digitization librarian Chris Marshall and myself that the computers would be removed from 428 in the spring of 2024. We were ecstatic! We were finally going to move the digitization lab to the room we all wanted after all.

The Digitization Equipment Committee, composed of myself, Marshall, Irwin, Howell, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division librarian Brittany Kropf and Genealogy Division librarian Sarah Pfundstein, all began planning the move to the new digitization lab. We decided which devices were moving, the layout of the room, which tables and shelving we would need and any modifications of the devices. Our three Bookeye overhead scanners, which are primarily used for books, newspapers and pamphlets, would need larger tables to accommodate their weight and size. Fortunately for us, the State Library decommissioned some of the old microfilm readers on the second floor, and the tables for those devices were perfect for the Bookeye scanners. We had Damon Lawrence, our director of building operations, move those tables into 428. We also repurposed many of the tables used for the computer lab, as they were sturdy and provided ample space for the Epson flatbed scanner and the two desktop computers needed for the Bookeye scanners.

The computers were removed on March 20, way ahead of our schedule for moving our equipment. Once they were gone and the old microfilm tables were moved to 428, we transferred all of the digitization equipment from the old lab into our new one on March 28. Irwin and Marshall moved the Phase One system out of the conservation lab into the new digitization lab on April 1, weeks in advance of our original plan.

The new digitization lab now houses our three Bookeye scanners, our PlusTek photographic slide and negative scanner, our Epson flatbed scanner, the Phase One camera system and all of our other equipment we lend to libraries pursuing digitization projects. Other than the cost of installing new locks and self-closing mechanisms on the two outside doors, we were able to do this move without additional costs to the Indiana State Library.

The new digitization lab will provide library staff with an opportunity to learn more about our equipment and how they can use it for their respective divisions. It also provides space for growth when the Indiana State Library decides to acquire new digitization equipment, especially for audio/visual digitization, an area where we anticipate growth in the coming years. All of us at the Indiana State Library are proud of our new digitization lab and look forward to our continued work digitizing the history of the great state of Indiana.

If you’re interested in learning more about our digitization division and the services we provide, please reach out to me via email.

This blog was submitted by Justin Clark, digital initiatives director at the Indiana Historical Bureau, a division of the Indiana State Library.

10 years of the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award

On Oct. 1, 2014, the Indiana Center for the Book announced their new Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award in the Indiana State Library’s weekly newsletter, the Wednesday Word. Later in 2015, the first book to win the award was announced. In the first year of the award, over 1,200 Indiana children ages 0-5 voted on one of eight books nominated by Indiana librarians and selected by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee as being worthy of consideration for this award. The first year, the book “Don’t Push the Button!,” written and illustrated by Bill Cotter, took home top honors and won the award. Each year since, a different book has won the award, based on votes from Indiana children, ages 0-5.

Some things about the award have changed. Starting in the second year, only five books appeared on the ballot, as it was determined that young children could more easily choose from a group of five books versus a group of eight. During the pandemic, remote voting was added. Also, starting in 2018, the Firefly Committee began creating program guides to go along with the award, providing parents, caregivers, teachers and librarians with dozens and dozens of developmentally appropriate activities to support each title appearing on the ballot. The program guide is what sets the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award apart from other state book awards.

This year’s program guide includes songs, book lists, rhymes, magnet boards, full-body activities, fine-motor activities and much more to support the program and encourage parents and caregivers to not just read the books, but to immerse their children in activities about the books.

Since the award’s inception, over 27,000 votes have been cast for the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. This year, the committee is hoping for another crop of votes from young children, ages 0-5 to usher in the next 10 years of the award. Of course, it is assumed that children ages 0-5 will need assistance in casting their ballots. Some libraries provide voting programs where children each get a bean bag that they put directly on the cover of their favorite book. Other libraries provide ballot boxes that parents can use to log their child’s vote. No matter what book wins, everyone wins when they participate in the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Why? Because it’s just the cutest book award in the land.

Voting for this year’s award is now open. Votes can be submitted online through the remote voting form or can be submitted through any local library in Indiana that is participating in the award.

The 2024 nominees are as follows:

  • “Bear Has a Belly” by Jane Whittingham.
  • “Firefighter Flo!” by Andrea Zimmerman.
  • “Let’s Go Puddling!” by Emma Perry.
  • “I Was Born a Baby” by Meg Fleming.
  • “One, Two, Grandpa Loves You” by Shelly Becker.

For more information about the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award, reach out to Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

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

The longest, shortest, darkest race: The 1973 Indianapolis 500

Since the inaugural race in 1911, the Indianapolis 500 has provided racing fans with fast thrills in the month of May. Some years have provided more drama than others and 1973 was certainly such a year.

Poster advertising the 1973 time trials. Medium Broadsides Collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

1973 was the 57th running of the race and going into it, fans were excited to see cars possibly reach 200 mph speeds for the first time ever. Qualifications began on Saturday, but before they could even start, driver Art Pollard crashed on a practice run and would eventually die from his injuries. The time trials continued with Johnny Rutherford posting the fastest time at 199.071 mph, tantalizingly close to the coveted 200 mph, but still short.

The race was scheduled for Monday, May 28. After an initial four-hour rain delay, the race officially started but things went horribly wrong on the very first lap. Caused in part by a car moving extremely slow due to a mechanical failure, a 12-car crash put an immediate halt to the race. A massive fireball from the wreckage of driver Salt Walther’s car reached spectators in the stands and several were rushed to local hospitals with serious burns. While he survived the wreck, Walther would have to undergo a very lengthy recovery and, in the process, became addicted to pain medication, a condition he struggled with for the rest of his life until dying from an overdose in 2012. Perhaps fortuitously, another torrential rainstorm began shortly after the wreck and the race needed to be postponed to the next day.

Front page of The Indianapolis Star, May 29, 1973.

Racing conditions did not improve the following day. Despite over 200,000 fans showing up for the second attempt at the race, another postponement was announced. This was the first time in the race’s history that a race had to be postponed two days in a row. Spirits were low among drivers, crews and fans with some hoping the race would be completely cancelled.

Sheltering from the rain on Pit Row. Picture from the official yearbook for the 1973 Indianapolis 500 (ISLI 796.7 I388i 1973).

The third and final attempt at running the race occurred on Wednesday, May 30. The weather continued to threaten rain but the sun came out briefly and dried the track enough to start the race. Racing resumed and was a typical Indianapolis 500 for over 50 laps until a wreck on the 57th lap trapped driver “Swede” Savage in yet another huge fireball. Pit crew members from various teams ran on foot towards the accident and one of them, Armando Teran, was accidentally killed by an emergency vehicle which was also speeding towards the wreck. While initially surviving the inferno, Savage would ultimately succumb to his injuries several weeks later.

Spectators near the wreck were understandably traumatized. They had to watch both Savage moving around in the remains of his car, desperately trying to get out while completely engulfed in flames, followed by witnessing the violent death of Armando Teran. Several fans, including women from the 500 Festival court, fainted.

From The Indianapolis Star, May 31, 1973, page 19.

Once the accident had been cleared away, the race trudged on but when rain began to fall yet again, a final red flag was flown at lap 133, 67 laps short of the normal 200. The leader, Gordon Johncock, was named the winner and the 57th running of the Indy 500 mercifully came to end. Only 11 of the original lineup of 33 cars managed to finish the race.

The Indianapolis Star, May 31, 1973.

The troubles of the 1973 race and the collective anger of drivers and teams resulted in the creation of several safety measures. Due to the numerous large fires caused by crashes, cars were no longer allowed to carry so much fuel and it was recommended that fuel tanks be on the left side of the car, to avoid damage and explosions when hitting walls. Another change required pit crew members to remain at their posts in order to keep out of the way of safety crews.

Cover of the 1973 yearbook featuring winner Gordon Johncock.

Ultimately, it took the 1973 Indy 500 three whole days to complete a mere 332 miles making it both the longest and shortest race at the time. Even though Rutherford came very close to reaching 200mph during qualifications, race fans would have to wait four more years to witness a driver achieve that particular feat, which Tom Sneva did in 1977.

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.”

INLLA 2023 is a wrap!

The Indiana Library Leadership Academy recently held their final check-in meeting to celebrate the accomplishments of the participants in 2023. Participants shared how their projects were progressing and how many of them are a work in process. Several of the INLLA participants also shared that they have been promoted to branch managers, assistant directors and directorships in the past year.

It is always hard when INLLA ends, but friendships and having a network of library leaders across the state is invaluable and, because of that, the magic of INLLA doesn’t have to end. I would like to share some of the projects initiated by the 2023 participants.

First up is Elyssa Everling, Adult Services librarian for the Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library, who wanted to do more outreach to share with community members the many services that the Johnson County Public Library offers.

“For my INLLA project, I created a program and presentation called ‘JCPL 101: An Introduction to Your Library.’ I did this in hopes of introducing people to more of the services that JCPL offers,” Everling said. “I’ve noticed that so many people have no idea of the breadth of services, programs and events that we offer. They think we’re still just dealing in books. The PowerPoint highlighted several areas, including Project Prom, LitLoot, Authors @ JCPL, JCPL on Wheels, as well as smaller things we offer such as wireless printing and notary services.

“I first presented this at the local school during the teacher’s wellness day. I had several people interested in resources, as well as two new library users. I then took it to the local JobCorps. All the kids got library cards and will have monthly visits to our branch, as well as visits from our JCPL on Wheels. For my final presentation, I went along with another librarian to the twice monthly book discussion at the juvenile detention center. I talked to two groups of teens about all the cool things the library does and resources they can use once they are no longer there. Overall, the program was successful, and I look forward to taking it to other groups as needed.”

Next is Wynn Zetterberg, programming director at the Sheridan Public Library, who offered a description of his INLLA project in addition to a new program started recently.

“My project was to establish outreach at the Sheridan Public Library. We now have two outreach stops within the Sheridan community and each month the program continues to grow with more patrons using the services,” Zetterberg said.

“While I was establishing outreach, I was also working with our local Greek’s Pizzeria and The Farmers Bank to create what we called The Sheridan Public Library Reading Challenge. Students in our community in grades K-5 with an active library card can read for 20 minutes a day 20 times throughout the month and earn a free pizza. This program promotes literacy and creates partnerships in our community. We are hoping to expand it in the future to different age groups and into other library communities, too.”

Finally, Carmen Clark, Adult Services team leader for the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, took her passion for readers’ advisory and created a toolkit to guide others to deliver great readers’ advisory services.

“The idea for my project sprouted from my experience and affection for readers’ advisory. I had been writing book reviews for Booklist and Library Journal since 2020 and I joined the American Library Association’s Reading List Committee in February of 2024. The focus of the project is to provide library staff with resources, training and tools in an effort to make providing readers’ advisory more approachable, thus creating a cohesive knowledge base and team atmosphere between reference and circulation staff. This project will continue to grow and develop, broadening to affect collection maintenance and access, marketing strategies and the library’s ‘What Should I Read Next’ program,” Clark said.

Stay tuned for more 2023 INLLA project updates in the future.

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

Have you heard about Twin Vision Books?

Did you know that the Indiana Talking Book Library has a robust collection of Twin Vision braille books? The Talking Book Library houses hundreds of Twin Vision braille books for you to enjoy, but what exactly are Twin Vision braille books?

Here is just a small example of the many Twin Vision books we have in house.

In 1960, Jean Dyon Norris had the idea to create a way that blind children could read with their sighted parents, or blind parents could read bedtime stories to their sighted children. Norris found a way to create books that contained print with pictures along with the same text in braille.

Two book in the collection: “Stack the Cats” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

“I heard this blind mother talking about her children,” Norris recalled. “She said, ‘My children just don’t understand why I can’t read books to them.’” She went home that night and dug out a copy of a book her son had loved as a child, “Fuzzy Wuzzy Puppy.” Using a slate and stylus, the most labor intensive of braille transcribing methods, she created the first Twin Vision braille book (Colker, 1990).

The interior of “Stack the Cats.”

Norris started creating Twin Vision braille books on her kitchen table and distributing them to friends that needed them. Her work grew into creating libraries that included Twin Vision books. Eventually, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Library Service followed her lead and started manufacturing these books.

The interior of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” with the braille overlay pulled up so it is visible.

All this history leads us to today, and our collection. We have the old classic Twin Vision books, as well as newly-published books for kids and adults alike to enjoy together.

If you are interested in any of our twin vision books, give us a call at 800-622-4970.

This post was written by Abby Chumin, librarian in the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library.

Colker, D. (1990, March 29). “Once more, with feeling: Twin vision translates classic children’s stories into Braille.” Los Angeles Times.

 

 

 

 

 

What to expect when you visit the Indiana State Library in 2024

The Indiana State Library offers books for people of all ages, and much, much more. The State Library is a peaceful, beautiful place for learning and exploring. We have something for everyone to enjoy. Visitors can walk around and look at the beautiful architecture and stained-glass windows, or they can simply find a book and make themselves comfy for a while. The library has public computers or tables where one can sit and study.

How can someone get a library card?
Every Indiana resident can have an Indiana State Library library card. Just stop by and see us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Any citizen of the state of Indiana is eligible to obtain a State Library library card. When a patron requests the issuance of a card, they will be required to complete the information on the Indiana State Library Card Registration Form – state form 44689 – and provide a picture ID. This ID may be a valid Indiana driver’s license; valid Indiana state identification card; valid U.S. Government issued identification (e.g., passport, military ID, permanent resident card, other employment ID with a current address or other picture ID of this type).

Hours of operation
The Indiana State Library is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, with some exceptions. For a complete list of library hours, open Saturdays and holiday closures, click here.

Parking information
Many downtown garages within walking distance of the State Library offer commercial parking. Metered parking is available on most downtown streets, including Ohio Street. and Senate Avenue. An interactive map showing parking in downtown Indianapolis is available from Indianapolis Downtown, Inc.

Please note that construction of a new Indiana State Archives building on Ohio Street, across from the State Library, began in August of 2023. Construction will last approximately 2.5 years and will affect street parking. During this time, please park in the Senate Avenue parking garage directly across from the library and bring your ticket in for validation.

Indiana Statehouse Tour Office and Education Center Native Plant Garden at the Indiana State Library.

Directions to the Indiana State Library
The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis near the Canal Walk. Click here to get directions.

Patrons should enter through the entrance on Ohio Street. The door on Senate Avenue is not a public entrance.

So, plan a trip to your Indiana State Library. We look forward to seeing you soon!

This blog post was written by Rayjeana Duty, circulation supervisor, Indiana State Library.

Cultivating a family history garden

Spring has arrived and many genealogists will be putting their research aside to spend more time outdoors, but did you know you don’t have to choose one over the other? Take your genealogy outside by growing plants with ties to your family heritage.

Children working in a garden during World War I. From the Indiana State Library Digital Collection.

In addition to reaping the benefits of spending time in nature and beautifying your outdoor space, gardening with ancestors in mind brings family history to life. It may come naturally to those who don’t even realize starting the seeds an aunt passed down or planting grandma’s favorite tomato variety is a connection to their heritage. Others may be interested in learning more about the flowers, fruits and vegetables their ancestors raised so they can grow them as well.

The simplest way to get started is by taking inventory of your own memories and noting plants which are meaningful to you and your family. For example, my grandmother grew grapes and hot peppers in the backyard garden of her small ranch-style home in Speedway. In the limited space she had, she chose those specific plants for a reason. She probably learned to raise them from her own mother while she was a young girl. Planting them in my garden doesn’t just remind me of my grandmother’s loving kindness, it’s a connection to those ancestors that passed along their knowledge of growing those plants for generations.

Next, reach out to family members and ask about their gardens or what they remember growing in their childhood. In these conversations you may discover that your relatives still have access to some prized family favorites. They may be willing to gift you a clipping from a raspberry bush that’s been in the family for generations or share seeds from prize-winning pumpkins. Maybe you’ll learn there are treasured plants at the family homestead that you could transplant into your own space.

After harvest jubilee, ca. 1929. From the Indiana State Library Digital Collection.

Before you abandon your genealogy research to start planting, use it to learn about the crops ancestors once grew. There are many helpful resources to search for information. For example, the U.S. agricultural censuses inventory the livestock and produce raised by farmers. If your ancestors are from Indiana, the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 Indiana agricultural censuses are available at The Indiana State Library on microfilm. Ancestry Library Edition can be searched for free on the library’s computers and includes agricultural censuses from various other U.S. states. For example, I learned from this 1860 Pickaway County, Ohio agricultural census my ancestor grew corn, oats, potatoes and wheat on their farm.

1860 U.S. Federal Census Agricultural Schedule. From Ancestry.com.

The U.S. federal census is another potential resource. For example, the 1920 census of Kosciusko County, Indiana identifies Frank Stellingworf of 52 Chapman Road as a celery farmer. While it is often overlooked, it’s rare to have a holiday meal that doesn’t include one or more dishes with celery as an ingredient. It was also commonly grown by Dutch immigrants, like Mr. Stellingworf. If you have Dutch ancestors that grew celery, you could connect to that heritage by growing it in your garden.

1920 U.S. Federal Census. From Ancestry.com.

In another example, Oscar Fredrick and Ora Poe are listed on this 1920 Knox County, Indiana census as melon farmers. There are few things sweeter than fresh Indiana melon in the summertime.

1920 U.S. Federal Census. From Ancestry.com.

The library’s newspaper databases include news about local farms, gardeners or gardens. By searching these databases, you may learn interesting tidbits about your family, like that your relative grew the largest pumpkin, planted the sweetest strawberries or raised the fattest carrot in their town. For example, Earl Grider is shown below with an impressive ten-pound cucumber that is taller than his 3-year-old son.

The Republic, Aug. 19, 1964. From Newspapers.com.

Mike Vulk, is pictured standing inside of the plot he grew on a small strip of land on Maryland St. in 1934. He didn’t allow the lack of a yard to stop him from growing carrots, beans, cabbage, and corn in his city garden.

From the June 23, 1934 Indianapolis Times:

“Trucks and automobiles whiz by Mr. Vulk’s garden daily; just across the street, workmen in a factory have watched its progress with interest. But Mr. Vulk doesn’t think it anything unusual. He eyes the green, flourishing rows of vegetables with satisfaction.

 

‘A fine garden!’ Mr. Vulk comments. ‘There’s many a good kettle of soup that will come out of that garden.’

 

And the scarecrow doesn’t answer a word.”

Indianapolis Times, June 23, 1934. From Newspapers.com.

During wartime, many people planted Victory Gardens to support the effort and supplement groceries. Victory Gardens were reported on in the newspapers frequently to promote them within the community. According to this article in Evansville Courier Sun featuring a lovely Mrs. Kenneth Miller working in her Victory Garden while inexplicably wearing fine clothes and pearls, “Mrs. Miller digs into the soil which she hopes will fork over plenty of corn, beets, potatoes and what have you in the vegetable line to chase away the ration point blues.”

Evansville Courier Sun, April 22, 1945. From Newspapers.com.

County histories often include details on early farm life and the local flora and fauna. By researching the history of the area you may discover the plants your ancestors were likely to encounter or grow. For example, “The History of Hancock County, Indiana; Its People, Industries and Institutions” by George J. Richman describes the principal crops, soil types, native plants and animals and area farms. The Indiana State Library has numerous county histories in the collection, and you may find some digitized online you can read for free on websites such as Archive.org or Familysearch.org.

There are few things more satisfying than harvesting fresh ingredients from your own garden and incorporating them into family meals. Pass those memories on to the next generation by preserving your connections to those home-grown foods. Books like, “From the Family Kitchen: Discover Your Food Heritage and Preserve Favorite Recipes” by author Gena Philibert-Ortega and “Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions” by Valerie J. Frey offer insights and ideas on how to share that history with your family.

Now is a perfect time to share the gift of your garden with your loved ones while connecting it to your family story.

However you choose to celebrate springtime with your family, I wish you a very happy and fruitful season!

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

Lindke v. Freed and O’Connor-Ratcliff v Garnier: Balancing free speech and social media moderation

In the digital age, social media platforms have become virtual town squares where citizens engage in robust discussions, express their opinions and interact with public officials. The cases of Lindke v. Freed and O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier delve into the delicate balance between free speech rights and the authority of public officials to moderate their social media pages.

In Lindke v. Freed, James Freed, the city manager of Port Huron, Michigan, maintained an active Facebook presence. His page served as a platform for both personal posts and official communications related to his role as city manager. Like many public figures, Freed received comments from constituents, including Kevin Lindke. Lindke expressed his dissatisfaction with the city’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Freed’s Facebook page. Initially, Freed deleted Lindke’s comments, and later, he blocked Lindke from commenting altogether. Lindke argued that Freed’s actions violated his First Amendment rights, asserting that the page was a public forum.

In O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier, two individuals, O’Connor-Ratcliff and T.J. Zane, created public Facebook pages to promote their campaigns for election to the Poway Unified School District Board of Trustees. Both also had personal Facebook pages they shared with friends and family. After winning the election, O’Connor-Ratcliff and Zane continued to use their public pages to discuss school related business. They also used their pages to solicit feedback and communicate with constituents. Christopher and Kimberly Garnier had children attending the Poway Unified School district. The Garniers often criticized the school board members and posted repetitive negative comments on the school board members’ social media posts. Initially, the negative comments were just deleted but then the Garniers’ were blocked from commenting altogether. The Garniers sued, saying their First Amendment rights were violated when they were blocked.

The central question before the Supreme Court in both cases was whether blocking the commentators constituted state action under 42 U.S.C. §1983. This statute allows individuals to seek redress when their federal constitutional or statutory rights are violated by someone acting “under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State.” The Court clarified that §1983 applies only to state actors. Private individuals’ actions do not fall within its scope. Thus, the critical issue was whether Freed, Zane, and O’Connor-Ratcliff’s management of their Facebook pages constituted state action.

The Supreme Court established a two-pronged test:

Actual Authority: the individual must possess actual authority to speak on behalf of the state regarding a specific matter.

Exercise of Authority: the individual must have purportedly exercised that authority in relevant social media posts.

The Court held that because his Facebook page was used for personal and business-related posts, Freed’s actions did not indisputably amount to state action under §1983. The Court remanded the case back to the Sixth Circuit so that the Sixth Circuit could analyze the posts Lindke commented on using the new two-prong test to determine if Freed was exercising his authority to speak on behalf of the city. If so, the blocking would be problematic.

In O’Connor-Ratcliff v Garnier, the Court remanded the case back down to the Ninth Circuit to analyze the case under the new two-pronged test established by the Court. It is likely the Ninth Circuit will find as they did initially, that O’Connor-Ratcliff and Zane possessed actual authority to speak on school board matters and that they were doing so when using their public Facebook page to share school news and discuss school issues.

These decisions underscore the distinction between public and private actions on social media. Public officials must tread carefully when moderating their pages, balancing their personal rights with their official responsibilities. Citizens, too, should recognize that not every online interaction with a public figure constitutes state action. In the clash between free expression and social media moderation, it is important to remember that, while outright blocking could be problematic, public officials still have the right to moderate comments that violate their social media policies or that are not protected speech in the first place, such as obscene language, threats, fighting words, defamatory language, fraud, child porn and language that incites violence or implicates criminal conduct.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia.