Automobile Camps for “tin can tourists” in Indiana

With automobiles becoming more accessible to Americans in the 1920s, Hoosiers – like many Americans – hit the road for tourism, travel and vacationing like never before. However, there was a lack of places for automobile tourists to stay overnight. Car travelers would pull over and “camp” along the roadside. Firepits, camp cooking trash and other evidence of camp were left behind. These automobile adventurers were sometimes referred to as “tin-can tourists.” I can’t determine if that references the cars they were driving or the trash they left behind.  

Indiana tourist camp map, 1922.

Indiana Director of Conservation, Richard Lieber, advocated for federal funding so states could develop safe places for motorists to stay along the road. In 1922, the Indiana Department of Conservation, still led by Lieber, published a map showing automobile camps across the state. You can view the map online in the Indiana State Library’s Open Space Historic Places digital collection. 

Riverside/Taggart Park, in Indianapolis, is listed as one of these urban automobile camps. The entrance was at 18th Street. It had only a few amenities but was in a beautiful and accessible corner of the park. This Hoosier Motor Club map from the 1920s shows the camp and proximity to main routes. View the full map here in the Indiana State Library’s Map Collection. 

A wonderful May 13, 1922 Indianapolis Star newspaper profile of that camp mentions that there were 15-18 cars a day using the camp that year; and those visitors came from across the United States. At the time of the article, there were campers from Nebraska and Florida.

There are 30 other automobile camp sites listed on the Indiana map. Some were run by local municipalities, local chambers of commerce and some were state parks. There’s also a plea not to destroy wildflowers, most likely written by the staff of the Indiana Department of Conservation.  

The countryside had not seen many tourists prior to the automobile. City dwellers could now explore the pristine countryside. The back of the map includes a Manual for Automobile Tourists written by AAA, which includes tips for selecting a campsite, when a campground for motor tourists isn’t available. “Towards evening select a suitable spot that appeals, near a farmhouse, where usually may be procured fresh milk and eggs and probably a loaf of homemade bread or a jar of home-preserved fruits.” 

It was an opportunity to show hostility or hospitality. Dr. Morrison, of Clinton County, urged hospitality. He wrote to the Indianapolis Star, “forty-seven miles north of Indianapolis there is a church yard of about one acre that contains 85 shade trees. At the approach from both ways you will see the following signs: ‘Tourists Welcome, drive in.’ Tourists from most all parts of the United States and Canada have accepted the invitation of welcome.” He continued in his letter to the editor, “let us all do what we can to help Mr. Lieber in bringing about the roadside camp for the tourists all over the grand old state of Indiana…” 

The map and articles about the development of the autocamps are fascinating. They sit in an idyllic sweet spot of the automobile era – seemingly full of optimism, freedom, comradery and adventure. Happy trails and cheers to that! 

The Denver Public Library has some photographs of what the autocamps looked like. This photo shows the City Park motor camp in Denver. This one shows the Overland Park motor camp, also in Denver. Find more images online through the Digital Public Library of America 

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

Save the Date: Difference is You Conference!

This year’s Difference is You Conference will be held on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Indiana State Library. The DIY Conference is a training event for support staff and paraprofessionals created by the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Committee. The theme this year is “Refresh and Recharge.”

The keynote speaker will be David Seckman, Jeffersonville Township Public Library director. He’ll be presenting “Build a Better World with Kindness and Gratitude.” Seckman has been researching and studying the effects of kindness and gratitude on well-being and relationships for 15 years and speaking on these topics for the last 12 years. He is especially interested in how kindness and gratitude can transform the culture of an organization to bring a sense of fun and joy to the workplace. With over 10 years of experience as a library administrator and manager, he puts these concepts into practice on a daily basis.

Keynote description
Have you ever wondered why some teams are highly productive, creative and innovative while other teams with similar levels of talent and experience seem to be stuck in neutral? Science has shown that people who practice gratitude in their lives show an increase in enthusiasm towards life, make more progress towards their personal goals, sleep better, show less symptoms of illness and depression and have more energy. In this keynote, presenter David Seckman will discuss how cultivating kindness and gratitude can improve work and personal relationships, as well overall well-being.

Below is the proposed schedule:

2022 DIY Schedule

  • 10:00-10:50 a.m. (50 minutes) Welcome and keynote
  • 10:50-11:00 a.m. (10 minutes) Announce DIY Award winner/Break
  • 11:10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 1
  • 12:00-1:00 p.m. (60 minutes) Lunch
  • 1:00-1:50 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 2
  • 1:50-2:00 p.m. (10 minutes) Break
  • 2:00-2:50 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 3
  • 2:50-3:00 p.m. (Wrap up and evaluations)

Registration fee is $25 per person. If you have any questions, you can contact Kara Cleveland.

This blog post was written by Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator from the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office.

The marrying kind; or, the tale of Indiana’s Gretna Greens

Once upon a time, Indiana was considered the hot destination to elope in the eastern Midwest. In the late 19th century, many states enacted stricter stipulations for obtaining marriage licenses, requiring long waiting periods, higher age limits, officiant qualifications, and later, medical examinations, before a couple could wed. That was not the case in Indiana. On February, 6, 1883, suffragist and author Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch wrote to businessman Henry Douglas Pierce of Indianapolis, saying she had informed an Englishman interested in American marriage laws that “Indiana is our most liberal state.” In the Hoosier State, a couple could get married without delay, so long as they could find an officiant to do the deed. Several shrewd entrepreneurs sensed a ripe business opportunity and “marriage mills” sprung up in several Indiana border towns as early as the 1870s. Although these businessmen formally held the office of justice of the peace, they were known by other epithets, such as magistrates and “marrying squires.”

Magistrate waits expectantly outside Jeffersonville marriage parlor, ca. 1931 / Cejnar family collection, ISL

While these matrimonial market towns evoke visions of Las Vegas to the modern reader, they were often referred to as “Gretna Greens” at the time, alluding to the notorious Scottish town just over the border from England where many young men and women of England and Wales ran away to get married. Like Indiana, Scotland had less strict marriage laws than its neighbors during the 1770s to 1850s and local business owners, like blacksmiths, capitalized on the demand for speedy weddings. Indiana experienced a similar phenomenon. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of keen couples from Kentucky flocked to Jeffersonville; from Chicago to Crown Point; and from Cincinnati to Lawrenceburg, as well as to many other border towns in the state, to tie the knot posthaste. In 1877, the Hoosier marriage age of consent was 18 for women, 21 for men; 16 and 18 with parental consent, respectively. Couples could be legally married by judges, justices of the peace and certain types of Christian clergy without any waiting period, in contrast to neighboring states’ stringent statutes

Squire Ephraim Keigwin – the first marrying squire of Jeffersonville, who married 9,000 couples during his career – opened his marriage parlor in 1877, complete with a boudoir for the bride to ready herself before the ceremony. Such premises often functioned like wedding chapels in Las Vegas today. The marriage parlors were generally open 24/7 and frequently offered services and amenities a betrothed couple might purchase, including rings, flowers, clothing, and sometimes, lodging for the wedding night.

Illustrations of Squire Keigwin, his office and the steamboat to Jeffersonville, 1893 / Daily Democrat (Topeka, KS)

In the early days of its matrimonial trade, the Jeffersonville “marrying squires” would drum up business by meeting the steamships crossing the river from Louisville and offering their cards to lovestruck couples on the quay. As business boomed, the officiants began employing matrimonial agents, known as “runners,” “touts,” “steerers,” or most disturbingly, “bride grabbers,” to accost couples at the railroad station, ferry landing or courthouse and chivvy them to the marriage parlor of their employer. Runners, who also often engaged in perjury by swearing to the age of a stranger before the magistrate, were not well-loved by locals or visitors. In fact, rivalries between the runners of competing magistrates became so contentious that fights would erupt over hapless elopers as they stepped off the boat from Louisville. In 1899, Jeffersonville passed an ordinance making it illegal to work as a runner or to accept their services, but it did not appear curtail the practice, which spread to other Gretna Greens.

Business card of a “marrying squire” of Jeffersonville, ca. 1930 / Cejnar family collection, ISL

Some crafty matrimonial magistrates in southern Indiana even hired “pluggers” – women who would ride the steamboat from Kentucky identifying promised couples – to sidle up to potential brides and subtly endorse their employer’s place of business. As some ladies found employment through the marriage trade, women across the United States were seeking empowerment of another kind: the right to vote. As the women’s suffrage movement experienced a resurgence, the Hoosier matrimonial trade witnessed one of a different sort. In a rather sensational 1912 article in the Indianapolis Star, Jeffersonville magistrate James Keigwin claimed:

Every vote for suffrage is a vote for Dan Cupid… I have found many cases where the bride has taken the initiative. Just a few weeks ago a girl from Clark County, Indiana, entered my parlors, and after the ceremony confessed that she had not only proposed marriage to her blushing groom, but had purchased the railroad tickets and obtained the license, and then she produced her purse and handed me my record fee for 1912.

The accompanying cartoon paints a rather unflattering portrait of the assertive wives-to-be. It depicts the women as domineering figures seizing, dragging and even schlepping their unwilling, prospective grooms down the gangplank towards Jeffersonville’s altars. If said fiancés had not managed to jump overboard into the Ohio River, that is.

Part of a cartoon from Nov. 24, 1912 article in the Indianapolis Star.

During the Great Depression, the marriage business suffered like enterprises everywhere. In Jeffersonville, five justices of the peace – Benson R. Veasey, John M. Madden, Ryan Gannon, William Dorsey and Clarence Parsley – decided to join forces to cut costs. The quintet of “marrying squires” opted to combine their operations under one roof, opening a marriage parlor together in 1931. The new location was strategically close to the new municipal bridge from Louisville and while the parlor continued to operate every day at all hours, the magistrates no longer did, splitting shifts between them. By eliminating competition with the merger, the elopement entrepreneurs raised the price of a wedding from $2.50 to $3.00 and no longer needed to hire runners to drum up customers.

Five “marrying squires of Jeffersonville, ca. 1931 / Cejnar family collection, ISL

In southern Indiana, Jeffersonville’s matrimonial market still far outpaced the number of marriages in an average Hoosier town. During the 1920s and 1930s, Clark County annually issued between 2,000 and 3,500 marriage licenses, though this number may have been higher due to irregular reporting practices. Even during the early Depression years, the figures never dipped below 2,000. These figures stand in sharp contrast to Cass County’s statistics, as seen in the chart below, which had a higher population than Clark County in 1930 while its marriage licenses numbered in the low triple digits. In Lake County to the north, the Crown Point marriage mart outstripped Jeffersonville’s by 1916, never dipping below 4,000 marriage licenses into the 1960s, to the utter delight of its matrimonial business community.

Indiana League of Women Voters chart, 1937 / ISL

Not everyone was so enamored with Indiana’s Gretna Greens, however. Government officials, concerned citizens and religious leaders made numerous attempts over the decades to tighten up the state’s loose marriage statutes, concerned with sexual immorality, inebriation, high rates of divorce and sexually transmitted infections. Under pressure from irate parents of underage elopers, state legislators attempted to pass a bill in January 1895, which would require the endorsement of a resident property owner on license applications. They hoped the law would make runners think twice before committing perjury, but it failed to pass.

In 1901, Indiana Attorney General W. L. Taylor cracked down on marriage mills, particularly the ones in Jeffersonville, after a lawyer called attention to an old marriage license statute requiring the bride to reside within the county for 30 days before a license may be issued. Four years later, an Indiana state senator named Smith introduced a bill that would introduce a 10-day waiting period to stop elopements in 1905. It failed, but a subsequent eugenics marriage bill prohibiting people with mental illnesses, incurable or transmissible diseases, or epilepsy from marrying passed that same year. It was not repealed until 1977. The law required engaged couples to answer a long list of questions about themselves and their families before obtaining a license. The new requirements raised protests and alarm among entrepreneurs engaged in the marital trade, who predicted ruin.

Cartoon in the Evansville Courier and Press, 1905

As a result of these legal issues, matrimonial business in Indiana’s Gretna Greens lagged for a time during 1902-1906. In Clark County, the attorney general’s campaign against Jeffersonville’s marriage mills caused the number of marriage licenses issued to drop more than 50 percent in 1902. Between that and the new 1905 marriage law, the county’s numbers didn’t return to the status quo until 1907. In contrast, Lake County, which was not as popular a wedding destination as Clark County at the turn of the century, witnessed a dramatic increase in 1903. Crown Point and neighboring towns saw record numbers of weddings in 1906, on par with Clark County’s 1901 figures, thanks to Illinois’ own new marriage and divorce law of 1905.

In 1923, Representative Elizabeth Rainey of Indianapolis, the first woman officially elected and second to serve in the state legislature, introduced a bill to impose more rigorous conditions on the state’s marriage and divorce laws. The new statute would require a lengthy two-week waiting period after posting notice of the marriage and prohibit divorcés from remarrying for a year afterward. It did not pass. Outside Indiana, the judges and journalists of Chicago appeared to despise their neighboring state’s marriage mill. One such judge insisted he was “sick and tired of undoing midnight marriages” to the point of launching an investigation into nearby Gretna Greens like Crown Point in 1934. Of a similar mind, in 1936, the mayor of Crown Point made it illegal to marry between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. or if the intended bride or bridegroom were intoxicated.

Celebrities taking advantage of the marriage mills only increased the popularity and infamy of the places. Crown Point was the popular elopement spot in the 20th century with many prominent individuals, including silent film star Rudolph Valentino and designer Natacha Rambova in 1923; boxer Kingfish Levinsky and fan dancer Roxana Sand in 1934; and starlet Jane Wyman and then actor Ronald Reagan in 1940. The added notoriety likely contributed to the eventual downfall of Indiana’s Gretna Greens.

However, all statewide efforts to curtail ill-conceived weddings ultimately failed until 1938 when the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the 1852 statute requiring women to reside in the county for 30 days before being issued a marriage license from said county. The impetus behind the decision was Lake County prosecutor Fred Egan’s suit against county clerk George W. Sweigart to stop Gretna Green marriages in Crown Point. The following year, the Indiana General Assembly passed the Premarital Health Examination Law, requiring blood tests with mailed results certifying both participants were free of syphilis, going into effect March 1, 1940.

Indiana Premarital Health Examination Law blood test application and flier, 1939-1940 / Small broadsides collection, ISL

Thus ended the most lucrative era of marriage mills in Hoosier cities like Jeffersonville and Crown Point, but it did not stop the practice. County clerks found ways around these restrictions by taking a woman’s alleged local address, such as a hotel, at face value and providing rapid-delivery blood test results. By 1951, marriage mills like those in Lawrenceburg were doing a brisk business of 60 weddings on an average weekend.

Finally, on January 1, 1958, Indiana introduced its first mandatory waiting period, which required applicants to wait 3 days after laboratory testing to receive their results and obtain a marriage license. The three-day waiting period could still be waived if the couple brought test results from another state, as happened in the case of boxer Mohammed Ali and Sonji Roi on August 14, 1964 in Crown Point. A 1970 statewide referendum removed justices of the peace as constitutional officials, thus removing the final variable that had once allowed Indiana’s Gretna Greens to spring up and flourish a century earlier.

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

Sources:
“Bill to Prevent Hasty Marriages.” Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, Jan. 11, 1923. Newspapers.com.

Cavinder, Fred D. “Gretna Greens.” Indianapolis Star, Feb. 14, 1988. ProQuest.

Cejnar family collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

Crosnier de Varigny, Charles Victor. The Women of the United States. Translated by Arabella Ward. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1895.

“Crown Point’s Marriage Business to Close Up Shop.” Kokomo (IN) Tribune, Jan. 12, 1938. Newspapers.com.

“Evansville No Longer a Gretna Green.” Evansville (IN) Courier and Press, April 30, 1905. Newspapers.com.

“Gretna Green Bill.” Indianapolis Journal, Jan. 22, 1895. Newspapers.com.

“Hasty Marriages End Here March 1.” Garrett (IN) Clipper, Jan. 22, 1940. Newspapers.com.

Indiana League of Women Voters. “A Chart Showing Increase or Decrease of Marriages and Divorces in Indiana.” Indianapolis: Indiana League of Women Voters, 1937.

Indiana State Board of Health. Indiana Marriages, 1962-1965, with Some Data from Other Years Since 1900. Indianapolis: Indiana State Board of Health, 1967.

“Join in Campaign Against Crown Point Marriage Mill.” Garrett (IN) Clipper, Oct. 11, 1937. Newspapers.com.

“Marriage Mill Breaks Record.” Hammond (IN) Times, Dec. 31, 1906. Newspapers.com.

“’Marrying Squires’ Link Own Hands When Slump Hits Matrimonial Mart.” Daily Mail (Hagerstown, MD), Jan. 24, 1931. Newspapers.com.

“Matrimonial Runners.” Bedford (IN) Times-Mail, June 17, 1908. Newspapers.com.

“Midnight Marriages.” Tipton (IN) Daily Tribune, Oct. 6, 1934. Newspapers.com.

Mitchell, Dawn. “Indiana Was a Scandalous Marriage Mill and Valentino Took Advantage.” IndyStar, July 4, 2019.

“New Law Effective; Weddings Prevented.” The Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), July 2, 1905. Newspapers.com.

“Our Gretna Green.” Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, Feb. 1, 1893. Newspapers.com.

Pierce-Krull family papers, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

Small broadsides collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

“Valentine Marries Winifred Hudnut the Second Time.” The Republic (Columbus, IN), March 15, 1923. Newspapers.com.

Government Information Day 2022

Registration is now open for Government Information Day 2022. The free one-day in-person conference will take place on Friday, May 20 at the Indiana State Library. GID22 will feature presentations on topics relating to state, federal and census data information.

This year’s theme is “Building Connections. Discovering .GOV” and features speakers from the U.S. Government Publishing Office, Indiana University Wells Library and the Indiana State Library. The keynote speaker for GID22 is GPO director Hugh Halpern, the agency’s chief executive officer. The other GID22 presenters are:

  • Suzanne Walker, Indiana State Library – “Quick Guide & Helpful Resources for Indiana Homeschooling”
  • Kate Pitcher, Government Publishing Office  – “Learning to Love Federal Documents”
  • Katie Springer and Jamie Dunn, Indiana State Library – “Swinging into the 1950s! NARA Releases 1950 Census”
  • Andrea Morrison, Indiana University – “Science.Gov: Gateway to U.S. Government Science Information”
  • Chris Marshall, Indiana State Library – “State Documents in the Indiana State Library Digital Collections”
  • Emily Alford, Indiana University – “Sustainable Strides: Efforts & Open Resources toward Environmental Preservation”

The conference will feature three concurrent presentation sessions, a keynote address and two conflict free breaks to allow attendees the opportunity to meet with exhibitors. The first sessions begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time with the keynote address scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. After lunch, there are two more concurrent sessions, followed by the closing remarks.

The conference program will be forthcoming. Government Information Day is an excellent opportunity learn about new government information resources, improve one’s literacy of government information or network with other Indiana librarians. Additionally, Indiana public librarians will be eligible to earn up to four LEUs at the event. For more information about the conference, click here to get the latest updates. Please contact Indiana regional depository coordinator, and GID22 Planning Committee chair, Brent Abercrombie with any questions, or if you are interested in volunteering at GID22.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library federal documents coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at 317-232-3678 or via “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Looking for staff training? Let us help!

Did you know that the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office provides free training for library directors and their staff? Continuing education is a vital part of the success of any library professional. There are dozens of ways to earn library education units (LEUs), network with others in the profession, and learn new skills to help advance the field of libraries in Indiana. We encourage you to stay on top of current trends and deepen foundational library knowledge by taking advantage of the free resources on our Continuing Education page.

Our available training spans a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to the following: communication, customer service, difficult situations, challenging coworkers, soft skills, teambuilding and many technology-related trainings. Some examples of technology-centered offerings are Google Drive, Google Apps, Google Docs and INSPIRE training. Another exciting new offering we have are Oculus Quest 2 VR Kits, which can be borrowed for 30 days for library use for staff to test drive and/or use for library programming. To reserve a kit, please contact your regional coordinator. On the Continuing Education page are upcoming webinars, a face-to-face training menu (which can be adapted to virtual), archived webinars, information about the Difference is You Conference for library support staff, information about the Indiana Library Leadership Academy, youth services centered training and so much more.

Maybe you have a staff training day or professional development day set up annually, but you need a few sessions filled at no additional cost to your library. Look no further than your regional coordinator from the Indiana State Library. Your regional coordinator can provide training sessions over a wide range of topics at no charge, either in person (we come to you!) or virtually. Below is a chart showing which regional coordinator you should contact based upon your library location, as well as the coordinator’s contact email.

Northeast Regional Coordinator – Paula Newcom, 317-447-0452, pnewcom@library.in.gov
Acts as liaison for the Indiana State Library and libraries of all types in the following counties of Indiana: Adams, Allen, Blackford, Dekalb, Elkhart, Grant, Hamilton, Howard, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marion (Speedway), Miami, Noble, Steuben, Tipton, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

Northwest Regional Coordinator – Laura Jones, 317-691-5884, laujones@library.in.gov
Acts as liaison for the Indiana State Library and libraries of all types in the following counties of Indiana: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Montgomery, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke, Tippecanoe and White.

Southeast Regional Coordinator – Courtney Brown, 317-910-5777, cobrown@library.in.gov
Acts as liaison for the Indiana State Library and libraries of all types in the following counties of Indiana: Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Dearborn, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Harrison, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Madison, Ohio, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union, Washington and Wayne.

Southwest Regional Coordinator – George Bergstrom, 317-447-2242, gbergstrom@library.in.gov
Acts as liaison for the Indiana State Library and libraries of all types in the following counties of Indiana: Clay, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Fountain,  Gibson, Greene, Hendricks, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Putnam, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren and Warrick.

Southwest regional coordinator, George Bergstrom

Additionally, contact information for the PDO supervisor/regional coordinator for the Indianapolis Public Library system and the state children’s services consultant is listed below.

PDO Supervisor – Kara Cleveland, 317-232-3718, kcleveland@library.in.gov
Oversees the work of the Professional Development Office. Acts as the regional coordinator for the Indianapolis Public Library.

Children’s Services Consultant – Beth Yates, 317-517-1738, byates@library.in.gov
Provides consulting and programming support in the area of children’s and young adult services.

Again, our trainings can be completed either in person or virtual,  and they all qualify for pre-approved LEUs. Whether your staff size is small or large, we can accommodate all your training needs. If you have a small staff, you might even consider partnering up with a similar sized library in your area to host training with a few more individuals together. All offered free training opportunities, including upcoming webinars as well as many archived past webinars and trainings can be found on our Continuing Education page here.

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

Books to inspire your next family history project

There is no time like the present to celebrate the fascinating lives your ancestors lived, share their stories and discover new approaches to preserving treasured memories. If you are looking for some guidance or need help getting started, here is a list of some great books to inspire your next family history project:

“Finding True Connections: How to Learn and Write About a Family Member’s History”
Interview a family member and share their story with future generations. If you need help, the book “Finding True Connections: How to Learn and Write About a Family Member’s History” by Gareth St. John Thomas includes a comprehensive list of questions to delve into. There are even tips for expanding on questions to gain more meaningful responses. An added benefit to learning about your ancestry is the quality time you get to spend with your loved one. March is Women’s History Month and learning the life story of a female relative can be a great way to celebrate her! You never know what you may discover about her life.

“The Art of the Family Tree: Creative Family History Projects Using Paper Art, Fabric & Collage”
If you enjoy crafting and you want a creative way to show off your family tree, the book “The Art of the Family Tree: Creative Family History Projects Using Paper Art, Fabric & Collage” by Jenn Mason is full of family history crafting inspiration. Preserve your treasured memories as a work of art you can display in your home or give as a gift. Use copies of photos and documents to create wreaths, sculptures, books and more.

“Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions”
Nothing sparks memories quite like the aromas and flavors of the foods shared during family celebrations. Even without realizing it as we are gobbling it up, culture and family history is passed down with every bowl full of grandma’s arroz con leche or auntie’s famous molasses cookies. “Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions” by Valerie J. Frey offers more than tips for archiving family recipes. You will also learn how to make necessary adjustments to inaccurate recipes, collect oral histories and document food traditions.

“Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries”
Break out that box of old family photos to identify mysterious people and places. The book “Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries” by Maureen A. Taylor offers convincing evidence those family photos are deserving of more than just a quick glance. Each photo contains fascinating details that, when spotted, give us more information about the lives of ancestors.

“Visiting Your Ancestral Town: Walk in the Footsteps of Your Ancestors”
Plan a voyage to witness the same sights and sounds that your ancestors once did. Town halls, churches or local archives may contain records that help you piece together your genealogical puzzles. “Visiting Your Ancestral Town: Walk in the Footsteps of Your Ancestors” by Carolyn Schott can help you learn how to do genealogical research on your travels in order to get the most out of your trip.

“Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher”
While you are digging through family memories, you can also organize your photos and documents. “Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher” by Drew Smith will provide you with instructions on how to set your organizing goals, save physical documents as digital files, keep track of notes and more.

“The Family Story Workbook: 105 Prompts & Pointers for Writing Your History”
You don’t have to be a professional author to write the history of your family. With the help of “The Family Story Workbook: 105 Prompts & Pointers for Writing Your History” by Kris Spisak, anyone can learn to write their family history. This book also includes other creative ways to share family stories, like through poetry or music.

“The National Geographic Kids’ Guide to Genealogy”
Involve the younger generation in your family history exploration. “The National Geographic Kids’ Guide to Genealogy” by T.J. Resler is an exciting introduction to the topic. In addition to explaining the basics, this book also includes project ideas like building a time capsule, interviewing family members and making your own board game.

If you would like more help researching your ancestors, plan a visit to the Indiana State Library. You can also schedule a one-on-one family history consultation or a family history tour of the building. Click here to learn more about events at the library and how to register for them. Call 317-232-3689 for more genealogy information.

The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Click here for hours and directions.

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

Indiana Digital Library, Indiana’s new statewide e-book consortium, launched

The Indiana State Library has announced the formation of a new statewide e-book consortium, the Indiana Digital Library, that launched on March 1. Nearly 200 public libraries in the state will all share the OverDrive platform to create a statewide consortium of e-books and magazines. This new consortium – made up of libraries that serve populations under 150,000 – will benefit libraries, taxpayers and library users. Patrons of consortium member libraries will have the ability to borrow materials from both their own library’s collections and the member library collections. The State Library is paying the platform fees for the consortium and 100% of the member libraries’ fees will be spent on materials.

A volunteer library team will also assist with collection development for libraries and will help ensure the efficient usage of the consortium’s funds. Libraries may either purchase titles for their collection on their own or may chose to assign their funds to the collection development team.

The new Indiana Digital Library consortium will be a great service and benefit to Indiana libraries and the customers of Indiana libraries. This collaboration is a great example of Indiana libraries working together to provide high quality services to library users.

More information about the consortium may be found on the consortium’s website.

Additionally, users of the OverDrive app should be aware that, as of Feb. 23, the app is no longer available for download from the Apple App Store, Google Play or the Microsoft Store. Moving forward, Libby will be the primary way for users to enjoy OverDrive’s digital library and the name OverDrive will refer to the company that provides libraries with the digital reading platform. The current OverDrive app will remain in use until the end of 2022 when users will be migrated to the Libby app.

Click here to read more about the transition from the OverDrive app to the Libby app.

This blog post was written by Jacob Speer, Indiana State Librarian. 

Savings opportunities for Indiana libraries

Indiana Public Libraries can save money on commonly purchased goods and services by leveraging the power of quantity purchasing agreements. Here are several opportunities that libraries may not be aware of:

LibraryIndiana
LibraryIndiana is a purchasing portal created by the Indiana Department of Administration and Spendbridge for use specifically by Indiana Public Libraries. School libraries can make their purchases through K12Indiana.

LibraryIndiana allows users to shop statewide-negotiated contracts, organized into convenient online catalogs. Some of the items available through LibraryIndiana include:

  • DEMCO Library supplies – Library supplies, furniture, carts, books and more.
  • Office Depot – Office supplies, computers and electronics, cleaning supplies and more.
  • Verizon – Wireless plans and accessories.

There are even contracts for janitorial supplies, rental cars, maintenance and other services. There is no cost for libraries to use the portal, and they may even enjoy cost savings.

Library staff interested in browsing the offerings should send an email to request a login.

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS)
The Midwest Collaborative for Library Services works with more than 70 library vendors to provide central licensing and discounted pricing on over 2,000 library products and services including databases, eJournals, eBooks, library supplies, software and equipment.

More than 200 Indiana libraries are currently MCLS members and can take advantage of these savings. For more information, contact Chrystal Pickell Vandervest at via email or at 800-530-9019 ext 401.

Indiana Department of Administration QPAs
Many of the State of Indiana’s general quantity purchasing agreements (QPAs) are open to other governmental units like public libraries. Some of the purchasing agreements include: interpretation services, office equipment and copiers, wireless service, and vehicles. A list of all current state QPAs can be browsed here.

NASPO
Finally, libraries who send a lot of books and packages out of state may be able to take advantage of reduced rates on small package delivery services through NASPO, the National Association of State Procurement Officials. FedEx and UPS currently have contracts to provide discount shipping services through the State of Indiana. More information can be found here.

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

Find your ancestors using the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collection of Company Newsletters

Company newsletters can provide details about your ancestors’ lives. The details are not just limited to work life, either. Company newsletters contain wedding and birth announcements, obituaries and reports on employee sports teams, employee clubs and other social events.

The Indiana State Library Digital Collection contains 43 company employee newsletters to explore for information about your ancestors, including: Bell Telephone News, Dodge News, MagnaVoice and Studebaker Spotlight.

To start searching, it helps to know the following: the name of the company – or at least the industry – your ancestor worked for, the residence of your ancestor and the approximate time period your ancestor would have worked for the company. If you do not already know this information about your ancestor, you may be able to find their place of work mentioned in an obituary. Also keep in mind that variations of names could be used in company newsletters, such as initials or nicknames – and don’t forget to search those as well.

I will use my own family as an example of how to search the collection. I knew that my great grandmother worked for Perfect Circle in the 1950s and I knew that the Indiana State Library had the Perfect Circle company newsletter featured in the digital archives; however, I didn’t want flip through each and every issue with hopes that I would find her. How was this going to work? It turned out that it was super easy, barely an inconvenience.

So, how did I do it?

I just went to the Indiana State Library’s collection of Company Employee Newsletters and in the search bar in the upper left hand corner, I typed her name, “Sara Martin.”

My returned results showed three issues of The Circle – the company newsletter for Perfect Circle – at the very top of the results.

I clicked on one of newsletter titles, “The Circle, 1952-12-19,” and I saw the exact page – or pages – where my search results could be found. To the right of the page are the thumbnails of pages in the newsletter that I’ve selected. At the top of the thumbnails is the phrase “2 Results found in.” This lets me know that my two keywords “Sara” and “Martin” were found together on a page. There is also a vertical red bar to the left of the page where those results were found.

On this page, I clicked on the blue expand button at the top right of the page. I can see my search result is a photo of my great grandmother in the EEA Women’s Chorus that was formed at Perfect Circle.

The Circle, Dec. 19, 1952, page 9

I was inspired to try other names from my family, like Brammer and Swank. I found a baby photo of my dad.

The Circle, March 7, 1952, page 8

And a photo of my grandmother.

The Circle, July 1956, page 14

I even found out where the whole Brammer family went for Thanksgiving in 1952.

The Circle, Dec. 19, 1952, page 7 and 8

The Circle, Dec. 19, 1952, page 8

Sometimes what is found isn’t all that exciting, but rather more informative, such as service years anniversaries. The International Harvester 20 years service award for my grandfather is seen below.

I H News, Sept. 9, 1966, page 3; Allen County Public Library Digital Collections

Explore the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collection of Company Newsletters, and I hope with a few easy clicks you will find your family, too!

Other online Indiana company employee newsletters to explore:

Allen County Public Library Digital Collections
International Harvester Employee Publications
The Co-worker (Wolf & Dessauer)
GE News
Candid Camera (General Electric news supplement.)

Ball State University Digital Media Repository
Gear-O-Gram Magazine (BorgWarner Corporation)
IUPUI Digital Collections/Indiana Memory:
AllisoNews (Allison Transmission)

Indiana Historical Society Digital Collections
Bursts and Duds (Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center Newsletters)

Michiana Memory Digital Collection
The Oliver Bulletin (Oliver Chilled Plow Works)
Chatter (South Bend Lathe Works)
Red Ball (Ball-Band, later known as Uniroyal)

This blog post is by Angi Porter, Genealogy Division librarian.

The Booker T. Washington Grade School in Shelbyville, Indiana

For much of its early existence, Shelby County maintained a very small population of African American citizens. Prior to the Civil War, their number was less than 100. The 1851 Indiana Constitution prohibited the settlement of “Negro or Mulatto” people in the state which caused the African American population of Indiana to stagnate for over a decade. However, with the conclusion of the Civil War and the removal of the 1851 restriction, Blacks began to migrate into the state. By the early 1900s, Shelbyville was home to over 600 African Americans.1

Picture of students in front of an unidentified schoolhouse from the late 1800s. From the Indiana Picture Collection, Rare Books and Manuscript Collection.

The Indiana General Assembly mandated that separate schools be set up for Black communities in Indiana and the first such school for Shelbyville was created in 1869. By the early 1900s, this school was renamed Booker T. Washington School No. 2 and was located at the corner of Howard and Harrison streets where it served the community for several decades until it became so dilapidated it was officially condemned by the State Board of Health in 1914.

Photo of the Booker T. Washington School. From “Getting open: the unknown story of Bill Garrett and the integration of college basketball” by Tom Graham.

Despite suffering from official condemnation, the school continued to operate as both funds and perhaps the inclination to repair or replace the building were not forthcoming. The situation was so dire that a journalist for the African American newspaper the Indianapolis Recorder declared in 1930, “There is a number of citizens in our city who have stables that are palaces beside this old building.”

Indianapolis Recorder, May 10, 1930. From Hoosier State Chronicles.

In response to the situation and at the urging of the school’s principal Walter S. Fort – often affectionally called “The Professor” – plans to create an entirely new school building were put in place in October 1931. A copy of the proposed building’s specifications is held in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection at the Indiana State Library.

Cover, Booker T. Washington Grade School building collection (S3327), Rare Books and Manuscript Collection.

The specifications for this building were diligently typed up into a 78-page booklet created by the architecture firm of Henkel & Hanson from Connersville, Indiana. This plan maintained the school’s location at the corner of Harrison and Howard streets. The new school building would have a stage, a gymnasium, skylights, stone window sills made of “Indiana Oolitic limestone” and “jade green American method asbestos shingles.” The document describes a utilitarian and modern building that would have been a vast improvement over its predecessor.

Indianapolis Recorder, Dec. 26, 1931. From Hoosier State Chronicles.

While the old school enjoyed an outdoor basketball court behind the building, the inclusion of an actual gymnasium would have delighted students such as Bill Garrett, who attended Booker T. Washington in the 1930s and would later go on to have a successful basketball career first at Shelbyville High School and later at Indiana University where he became one of the first Black basketball players in what would become the Big Ten Conference.2

Unfortunately, this building was never actually constructed. No definite reasons can be discerned as to why the project got so far along in the planning process only to be abandoned, but it can be surmised that by 1932 the economic fallout from the worsening Great Depression made utilizing public money on a school intended for African American children a low priority for the city of Shelbyville. It’s also possible that Shelbyville school officials knew that complete school integration was on the horizon. By the end of the 1930s, older students were already integrated into the local high school and Booker T. Washington functioned solely as an elementary school. While the new building was never constructed there is evidence that the City eventually secured money to fix the old one through the Public Works Administration, a federal program intended to both fund building projects and provide employment to thousands of workers during the Great Depression. Instead of building an entirely new building, the PWA money was used to make some basic repairs to the already existing structure. The school remained in operation until it was closed in 1949 when all Shelbyville schools were officially integrated.

The man labeled 33 in the above picture is possibly principal Walter S. Fort, a well-loved and respected advocate for his pupils. He was instrumental in attempts at improving the school building. From “Shelbyville: a pictorial history” by Beverly Oliver.

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.”

Sources
2. Graham, Tom. “Getting open: the unknown story of Bill Garrett and the integration of college basketball.” New York:  Atria Books, 2006. (ISLI 927 G239gr)

1. McFadden, Marian. “Biography of a town: Shelbyville, Indiana, 1822-1962.” Shelbyville: Tippecanoe Press Inc., 1968. (ISLI 977.201 S544sm)

3. Oliver, Beverly. “Shelbyville: a pictorial history.” St. Louis: G. Bradley Publishing, Inc., 1996. (ISLI 977.201 S544Zso)

Shelby County Historical Society. “Shelby County, Indiana: history & families.” Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Company, 1992. (ISLI 977.201 S544sc)