Romm and Nicholson: The book thief and the Hoosier author

Book inscriptions are a common find among the thousands of volumes held by the Indiana State Library. Some are mundane: An author’s hastily scribbled signature dedicated to a fan or a generic holiday greeting from the previous owner’s grandmother. Others are more intriguing and can lead a researcher down some interesting paths. Within a collection of books by Hoosier author Meredith Nicholson are five bearing inscriptions to a certain Charles Romm, Esq. A few of these books also have typed letters from Nicholson directed to Romm at an address in New York City pasted within the inside cover. So who exactly was Charles Romm?

A quick internet search led to the book “Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It” by Travis McDade (ISLM Z1029.M33 2013).1 The answer, in short, is that Charles Romm was a prominent New York bookseller who specialized in rare and valuable editions, while at the same time helming a wide-reaching gang of book thieves who plundered libraries of their literary treasures, which he later sold to his customers.

While it is impossible to ascertain that the Charles Romm referenced in the Nicholson inscriptions and correspondence is the same Romm described in McDade’s book, it seems highly likely that both men are the same person. Romm’s New York bookstore was located at 110 4th Ave. The address Nicholson sent his correspondence to was 224 E. 12th St., a mere two blocks away. Moreover, some of the correspondence speaks of publishing and other literary concerns, indicating that Romm was somehow involved in the business of books and not merely a fan. It is unlikely that Nicholson, who was a best-selling author in the early 20th century, knew anything of Romm’s more underhanded dealings and merely assumed he was corresponding with one of New York’s most preeminent booksellers.

Letter from Nicholson pasted inside the cover of “The Madness of May.” The Mayfield-Thompson feud is also mentioned in a biography of James Whitcomb Riley.2 Riley publicly accused the poet Mayfield of plagiarizing fellow Hoosier author Thompson. However, another source3 indicates that Frank Mayfield was a pseudonym used by Daniel W. Starnes and not, as Nicholson states, by Thompson himself.

The more unsavory side to Romm’s business is as fascinating as it is upsetting. His book theft “gang” consisted of men who would go to public libraries and universities, pose as patrons or students and either steal books directly from the shelves or borrow them and never return them. According to McDade, “There was no collection of books too small to escape the attention of the gang. From archives to athaneaeums, from local libraries to historical societies, the men in the ring scouted, indexed and pilfered them all.”1

Clipping from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), Jan. 5, 1932. Available from newspapers.com.

Many libraries attempted to counter this type of theft by moving their more valuable items to closed stacks and non-circulating collections. However, this only caused Romm’s thieves to pivot operations and they managed to continue their thefts through careful observation of libraries, librarians and security systems. Eventually, the law caught up with Romm and in November of 1931 he was indicted on grand larceny charges. He ultimately ended up serving a little over a year in New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison before dying a couple of years after his release.1

Inscription from Otherwise Phyllis (1919). “Inscribed with all good wishes, and with my thanks for his kind interest in my work, to Charles Romm, Esq.”

It is unknown why Nicholson inscribed so many books to Romm. Perhaps Romm truly was a fan of Nicholson’s work. Or perhaps – and this seems more likely – he sought inscriptions on first editions to make them more desirable for his customers. Whatever the reason, it seems remarkable that this small set of books all bearing inscriptions to Romm has managed to stay together for almost a century, making their way from Nicholson in Indianapolis to Romm in New York and somehow making the trek  back again to Indianapolis, ultimately to reside in the Indiana State Library.

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.”

[1] McDade, Travis. Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

[2] Van Allen, Elizabeth J. “James Whitcomb Riley: A Life.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

[3] Zach, Karen Bazzani. “Crawfordsville, Athens of Indiana.” Charleston, SC: Aracadia, 2003.

Nelson and Gilly Ann Perry in antebellum Indiana

When Indiana was established as a state in 1816, its very first constitution explicitly banned slavery. Decades later, attitudes had soured. While many white Hoosiers disavowed the institution of slavery, they did not necessarily want populations of free blacks living in the state. Thus, when citizens convened for a constitutional convention in 1850, this issue was hotly debated. Many delegates, all of whom were white, expressed concern at the influx of blacks migrating to the state, particularly from southern slave states. The result was Article 13 in the 1851 Indiana Constitution which declared “No negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution.” A further stipulation of this exclusionary act “instructed the county clerks to notify all Negroes who were residents before November 1, 1851 to register, ordered the creation of the register of negroes and mulattoes, and empowered the clerks to subpoena witnesses and to issue certificates attesting to the registration of legal residents.”1 In addition to name, age and place of birth, these registers also listed physical descriptions of each settler. The registration certificates served as proof that the bearer was a citizen of Indiana and therefore allowed to be in the state legally, but it’s impossible to ignore that the creation of these registers served as further persecution against an already marginalized group, making them even more vulnerable in a country that was bitterly divided over the issue of slavery.

Notice alerting Gibson County citizens of the registration requirement. From the Princeton Clarion-Leader (Princeton, Indiana), May 14, 1853

On Aug. 23, 1853, two settlers named Nelson and Gilly Ann Perry registered with Andrew Lewis, the county clerk of Gibson County, and received their official registration certificates. These documents are now in the Indiana State Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts collection. According to the papers, Nelson was 33 years old, slightly over 6 feet tall, of stout build and dark complexion and was born in Pennsylvania. Gilly Ann was 28 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, of light build and light complexion. She was born in North Carolina.

Nelson and Gilly Ann Perry registration certificates, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library (Collection S1906)

Not much is known about Nelson and Gilly Ann, but some of their life together can be reconstructed from public records.

Years before they were required to register as free blacks, they were entered in another official Indiana registry, albeit for a more innocuous and mundane reason: On July 26, 1848 they were married in Posey County. According to the official registry, Gilly Ann’s maiden name was Eddy.

Marriage record from Familysearch.com

A couple of years later, they appear in the 1850 Census living in Mount Vernon in Posey County, Indiana. Nelson’s occupation is listed as a “cooper” which is a person who made wooden barrels and tubs. They also are living with a 50-year-old black female named C. McCalister,  but no further information could be found on her. Unfortunately, it is very probable that if she registered as a free black in Indiana, it was in Posey County and that registry is known to be missing.

Census entry from Ancestry.com

On Jan. 4, 1864, Nelson Perry enrolled in the United States 28th Colored Infantry Regiment, Company D. By this stage of his life, Perry was in his 40s but still willing to serve for the Union cause. A note on his military record indicated he had been “absent sick in hospital at New Orleans, LA since 7/15/65.” He was officially discharged on Nov. 8, 1865.

Later, Nelson’s name shows up in miscellaneous military paperwork including a list of Union Civil War veterans who were given official government-provided headstones.

Headstone application from Ancestry.com. Photograph of Nelson Perry’s tombstone from findagrave.com

 

No date can be found for his death. Presumably, he died prior to 1894 since that is the date on the headstone application. He is buried in Princeton, Indiana in Gibson County.

Gilly Ann is largely unaccounted for during the Civil War years and there is no evidence that she and Nelson had children. She shows up again in public records in the 1875 Wisconsin State Census, living in Beloit, Rock County near the Illinois border. She also appears in the 1890 United States Census of soldiers and widows, again in Beloit.

Image from ancestry.com

Interestingly, the Indiana State Library was given both Nelson and Gilly Ann’s Indiana registration papers from Beloit College where, presumably, Gilly Ann had donated them for posterity.

Official documents provide merely a rough outline of the lives of Nelson and Gilly Ann. What we know about Indiana history during the antebellum era can help flesh out their story even if, ultimately, any conclusions we draw are pure conjecture. For example, we know from her registration papers that Gilly Ann was born in North Carolina. Many free blacks and former slaves migrated to Indiana from North Carolina with assistance of North Carolina’s Quaker community. Quaker led caravans – sometimes made up of hundreds of people – made the long trek west. Migrating in such a manner was a safer alternative to escaping through other means, such as the Underground Railroad, because travelers were under the protection of their Quaker traveling companions. When the caravans reached Indiana, the free blacks would either continue to head further north to Michigan or Canada or they settled in Indiana, often within or near Quaker communities. It is quite possible that Gilly Ann was brought to Indiana from North Carolina in such a caravan.

In 1848 and 1850 we know that both Nelson and Gilly Ann were in Posey County. Based on the 1850 census, we know they were living in Mount Vernon, Indiana, a town situated directly on the Ohio River with Kentucky – a slave state – nearby on the other side of the river. In September of that year, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which further compromised the rights of free blacks in northern states and made them more susceptible to kidnapping and being sold off to southern slave owners, even if they had never been enslaved before in their life. Being situated on the Ohio River, Nelson and Gilly Ann’s home was located in an especially perilous place as bounty hunters constantly roamed the area surrounding the river looking for escaped slaves or others who they could bring in for a financial reward. Bounty hunters could abduct people suspected of being runaway slaves with little or no evidence.

Clipping from Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Ind.), Jan. 25, 1848

Living so close to the Ohio River, it is entirely possible that the Perrys were involved in the Underground Railroad to some degree and like many other free blacks were instrumental in assisting others on their journey north. However, in 1853 the couple had moved a bit north to Gibson County. Perhaps they wanted to get farther away from the Kentucky border. Or perhaps they made the move because Gibson County was home to a larger number of free blacks and had several established black rural settlements. According to the 1850 census, Posey County’s black population was 98 while Gibson County’s was 217, almost double the size. Whatever the reason, it seems to have been a permanent relocation since we do know that Nelson Perry eventually ended up being buried near Princeton, a town located in Gibson County.

While all this is merely speculation, contextualizing what little is known about Nelson and Gilly Ann from public records within the broader narrative of general U.S. history allows for a richer and more complete story to emerge. That these registration papers were saved for decades, journeyed from Indiana to Wisconsin and were left in the care of a local college only to make their way back to Indiana is remarkable and a testament that Nelson and Gilly Ann must have wished their story to be remembered.

The Indiana State Library has numerous resources documenting this period of Indiana history. Some used for this blog post are:

Brown, Maxine F. “The role of free blacks in Indiana’s Underground Railroad” (2001). ISLI 973.7115 B879r
Hudson, J. Blaine. “Fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky borderland” (2002). ISLI 973.7115 H885f
LaRoche, Cheryl Janifer. “Free black communities and the Underground Railroad” (2014). ISLI 973.7115 L326f
1. Robbins, Coy D. Indiana negro registers, 1852-1865 (1994). ISLR 977.2 I385nr
Thornbrough, Emma Lou. “The negro in Indiana : a study of a minority” (1957). ISLI 325.26 T497n
“Underground Railroad : the invisible road to freedom through Indiana” (2001). ISLI 973.7115 U55

Online resources
Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. Underground Railroad
Indiana Historical Society: Early black settlements

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.”

Dorcas Campbell, banking pioneer

Dorcas Elisabeth Campbell was born around 1896 in Fairland, Indiana. Little is known about her early life, but after completing high school she spent several years doing social work in various places throughout the country. Eventually, she directed her professional interests toward banking and received a degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. This was followed in 1937 by an MBA from New York University, where she also taught.

By the 1940s, Campbell had worked her way up the banking ranks and was elected vice president of the East River Savings Bank in New York City, making her one of the few women in the country to hold such an elevated position at any banking institution, as both banks and financial concerns of all sorts were traditionally seen as residing in the exclusive domain of men. Campbell fervently sought to change that.

In 1944 she published “Careers for women in banking and finance” (ISLI 331.48 C187c), the cover of which features an ancient coin bearing a profile of the goddess Juno Moneta, overseer of all things financial in ancient Rome. The word “money” derives from Moneta and Campbell was distinctly reminding readers that women have long possessed strong ties to the world of finance as protectors of funds.

Campbell prefaced her book by encouraging the reader to take a quiz on personal attitudes regarding women in the workplace and then to re-take the quiz after finishing the book to see if opinions changed after reading the arguments laid out in her book.

While her book mainly focuses on women as potential bank employees, Campbell spent much of her career writing financial advice columns that advocated for women to be more involved in their own finances. Her columns appeared in numerous publications during the ’40s and ’50s, a period which saw many women enter the workforce due to labor shortages caused by the second World War.

In the Aug. 14, 1950 issue of the Dunkirk Evening Observer, out of New York, Campbell says, “Since more and more women are working and since women often outlive their husbands and thus inherit money, it’s essential that they learn how to handle it successfully… On the job, women earn less than men and therefore have to do more with their money. As inheritors, they must know how to hang on to it.”

A May 22, 1946 article in the Coshocton, Ohio Tribune, featuring an interview with Campbell, spent as much time discussing her physical appearance as it did her banking advice, underscoring prevalent attitudes toward professional women. Expressions used in the article to describe Campbell included referring to her as a “diminutive banker in skirts” with “a pretty little finger” and a “tender heart.”

In 1949, Campbell made a guest radio appearance on the “Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt Program,” where the former first lady interviewed her about women and financial literacy. A transcript of that interview is available through the George Washington University’s Eleanor Roosevelt’s Papers Project.

Campbell died in New York City on Sept. 21, 1959 after complications from an operation. She is buried in Franklin, Indiana. In honor of her death, her good friend and fellow female financial pioneer Sylvia Porter wrote an obituary in which she reminisced about the time they first met at a banking convention where they were the only two women present who were not wives of any of the attending bankers. As Potter remembered, “We were viewed as freaks.” Potter finishes the homage to her friend and colleague with this:

Sure, the sex and age barriers still exist. There still are men who won’t accept the obvious fact that the brain has no sex. The discrimination in pay between men and women for identical jobs is still infuriating. Nevertheless, the progress from 1939 to 1959 has been breathtaking. Dorcas Elisabeth Campbell’s career reflected that progress, and by her intelligence and the high standards she set for herself, she helped make that progress. As so many of the men bankers who came to say farewell to her remarked, ‘That was a person.’” 1

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.”

1. The Progress-Index; Petersburg, Virginia, Sept. 29, 1959.

Library service to immigrant communities: Then and now

According to the Pew Research Center, there were more than 40 million foreign-born people living in the United States in 2017, comprising approximately 13.6% of the overall population[1]. However, over a hundred years ago that number was even higher. The United States saw the largest waves of immigration occur during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the peak occurring around 1890 when 14.8% of people were foreign-born.

Then as now, libraries in the United States strove to provide effective library service to immigrant communities. Numerous publications were created to help librarians with this and the Indiana State Library still retains several of these in our collection. According to one 1919 booklet titled “Making Americans: How the Library Helps” (ISLM 21.28 G722m), libraries were well situated to assist recently-arrived immigrants because “The Library… is unbiased and unprejudiced. It seeks to represent all types of thought, culture, or religion, and is unexploited by any one agency. It is one American institution which can preserve the native heritage of all peoples and exclude the literature of none. For this reason, it has an initial point of contact that no other one agency can have.”

A class of Italians at the Fairmount Branch of the St. Louis Public Library in 1919

Of primary concern to libraries was providing reading materials to immigrant communities in their respective native languages. To this end, the American Library Association compiled a series of booklets with foreign language bibliographies.

An excerpt from “The German Immigrant and His Reading” (1929) (ISLM Z711.8 .P47)

Other books in this series included bibliographies for Italian (ISLM 21.28 S974i), Polish (ISLM 21.28 L472p) and Greek (ISLM 21.28 A372g) immigrant groups.

While stressing the importance of curating foreign-language collections, the authors of these booklets acknowledged the concern that such practices would inherently hamper immigrants from acquiring English language skills. In the booklet “Bridging the Gulf: Work with the Russian Jews and Other Newcomers,” (ISLM 21.28 R795b) the author states that “Definitely and emphatically it is our experience that increases in the circulation of foreign books are always accompanied by increases in English book circulation, particularly in books on learning English, on citizenship and American history and biography.”

Almost a hundred years have passed since these booklets were published and librarians continue to produce guides on providing excellent library service to immigrant groups. In addition to the publications created in response to the large wave of immigrants arriving in the United States at the turn of the 19th century, the State Library has plenty of newer titles concerning outreach to more recent immigrant groups.

Some recent titles from the ISL collection:

Additionally, ALA maintains an extensive list of resources for modern librarians which can be accessed here.

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.”

[1] Data from: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/

 

Isamu Noguchi and the Interlaken School

Modernist artist Isamu Noguchi was born Nov. 17, 1904 in Los Angeles. He was the illegitimate son of acclaimed Japanese poet Yone Noguchi and his American editor, Leonie Gilmour.

A book by Yone Noguchi from the Indiana State Library’s collection, which features his signature,
dated Aug. 15, 1910. Call number: Cage ISLM 899 H436n.

Isamu and his mother moved to Japan in 1907 where he spent most of his childhood. In 1918, Gilmour sent her son thousands of miles away to be educated, landing him in Indiana at the Interlaken School. He would later reminisce that “When I was 13 years old, my mother decided that I must go to America to continue my education. She had selected a school in Indiana that she had read about in, I think, the National Geographic. I am sure that she must also have been concerned about the unfortunate situation of children of mixed blood growing up in the Japan of those days – half in and half out. She decided that I had better become completely American, and took me to the American consul, who performed a ritual, mumbling over a Bible, which I believe was my renunciation of Japanese citizenship.”

The Interlaken School was a progressive boys’ school located near La Porte, Indiana. Founded by Edward Rumely, an Indiana native who had received an extensive education in Europe throughout the early 20th century, the school was influenced by Europe’s “New School Movement” which immersed students in a balance of both intellectual and practical life skills training. In addition to a regular academic curriculum, the boys at Interlaken were expected to do the actual work of helping to run the school, often working alongside their instructors at tasks such as farming, gardening and cleaning. Physical exertion and being outdoors were also important components of the school’s ethos.

From an informational booklet dated 1915 located in the Indiana Pamphlet Collection. Call number: ISLO 373 no. 2.

By the time Isamu arrived in Indiana, however, the United States was embroiled in World War I and the school largely had been given over to the military for use as a training camp. According to Isamu, “…while all the other children went home, I was left alone to watch soldiers, trucks, mess halls and barracks take over the grounds. I became a sort of mascot. Then there was the Armistice. Winter came, and I had no place to go, since my mother could not afford to send me elsewhere. Nobody seemed to be in charge of me.”

Eventually, Rumely took Isamu under his wing and set him up with a family in La Porte, where he attended the local public school until his graduation in 1922.

Isamu went on to have an impressive career in the arts. Primarily a sculptor and landscape architect, he is probably best known for a piece of furniture he designed in 1947 which is considered a staple of mid-century modernist design and which bears his name: The Noguchi table.

A Noguchi table. Image: lartnouveauenfrance [CC BY 2.0]

Isamu Noguchi died Dec. 30, 1988 in New York City.

Isamu Noguchi ca. 1950s. From “Noguchi” published by Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha, 1953. Call number: ISLM 735 N778n.

Direct quotations from Noguchi used in this blog are from his book “a sculptor’s world” published by Harper & Row in 1968 and available at the Indiana State Library; call number: ISLM NB237.N6 F8 1698.

Inspiration for this blog post is courtesy of the 99% Invisible podcast which recently featured an episode on Noguchi’s life titled “Play Mountain” and which briefly mentioned his time in Indiana. The podcast is available here.

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.”

Dr. Eliza Atkins Gleason: Librarian and scholar

Dr. Eliza Atkins Gleason, librarian, dean and professor of library science, was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in library science.

Gleason was born in 1909 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and received her undergraduate degree from Fisk University in 1930. Gleason furthered her education by earning a Bachelor of Library Science from the University of Illinois in 1931 and a Master of Library Science  from the University of California – Berkley in 1935.

Gleason began her library career as a librarian at Fisk University. She later worked in Louisville, Kentucky as a librarian at the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes, currently known as Simmons College of Kentucky. She also worked at Talladega College in Alabama.

In 1940, Gleason received her doctorate degree in library science from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation was “The Southern Negro and the Public Library.” She later published her dissertation in 1941 as a book, which the Indiana State Library is fortunate to have in its collection.

“The Southern Negro and the Public Library” by Eliza Atkins Gleason ISLM 027.6 G554

She served as the dean of the Atlanta University Library Science Program from 1941-46. After that, she worked at the Chicago Public Library, Chicago Teachers College, Woodrow Wilson Junior College, Illinois Teachers College and the Illinois Institute of Technology. She also taught library science courses at Northern Illinois University.

Gleason passed away on Dec. 15, 2009 at the age of 100.

The ALA Library History Round Table has a research award named in her honor, The Eliza Atkins Gleason Book Award. This award is given every three years for the best books written about library history:

Gleason was inducted into the University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Honor in 2010. A video of the ceremony is available on YouTube.

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.

Dr. E. J. Josey: A library leader

Dr. E.J. Josey was a librarian, activist, professor and the founder of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Born in 1924, Josey grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia. He received his undergraduate education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in history from Columbia University. Josey later earned his master’s in library science at the State University of New York in Albany, New York.

Josey held several librarian positions in New York, Delaware, and Georgia. He was very active in the civil rights movement and was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He authored a resolution during the 1964 American Library Association Conference forbidding the organization’s staff and officials from participating in state library associations that discriminated against African-American librarians. This action led to the desegregation of library associations across the Southern United States. In addition, Josey became the Georgia Library Association’s first African-American member.

In 1970, Josey founded the Black Caucus of the American Librarian Association during the ALA Midwinter Conference. He was the association’s first president, serving from 1970 to 1971. He also served as president of the ALA from 1984-85. In addition, Josey was a library science professor at the University of Pittsburgh from 1986 to 1995.

Josey authored numerous articles and books during his lifetime. The Indiana State Library has several of his books in its collection:

 

In April of 1998, Josey delivered an address at the National Sankofa Council on Educating Black Children Conference in Merrillville, Indiana. You can read the text of his speech here.

On July 3, 2009, Josey passed away at the age of 85. ALA issued a statement mourning his loss.

In 2012, in honor of Josey and his work, a collection of essays, “The 21st Century Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges,” written by and about African-American librarians and the services they provide to the African-American community was published.

This book is also in the Indiana State Library’s collection. Members of BCALA served as editors and contributors; two of the book’s essays were authored by three Indiana librarians.

As an additional honor to Josey, BCALA offers the E.J. Josey Scholarship Award for African-American library science students. The scholarship is offered each year.

In 2020, BCALA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding by Josey. It will also mark the commencement of its 11th National Conference of African-American Librarians in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To learn more about BCALA, you can visit its website.

BCALA also has affiliate chapters across the country. In Indiana, the BCALA affiliate is the Indiana Black Librarians Network. Founded in 2001, IBLN is an organization for African-American librarians and support staff to network, share ideas, work together on projects and to invest in professional development, research and scholarship to better serve the communities and organizations in which they work.

To learn more about Josey and his work, there is a video from YouTube.

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.

Horne family collection

Edwin Fletcher Horne Sr. (1859-1939) was an African-American journalist who helmed the newspaper Chattanooga Justice and was politically active throughout the late 19th century. Prior to his time in Chattanooga, he resided and taught school in Indiana, living in both Evansville and Indianapolis. While in Indiana, he became a supporter of then Senator Benjamin Harrison. In 1887 he married Cora Calhoun (1865-1932), a college-educated and civically-minded woman from a prominent Atlanta family.

Faced with segregation and increasing racial violence in the South, the couple and their family eventually relocated to Brooklyn, New York where they thrived in the upper echelons of New York’s Black social elite. Cora was a distinguished community leader who was heavily involved in numerous clubs and charities. Edwin eventually finished his career as a fire inspector for the New York Fire Department.

Edwin and Cora Horne around the time of their marriage.

Together they had four children. Through their son Edwin “Teddy” Fletcher Horne Jr. (1893-1970), Edwin and Cora were the grandparents of legendary jazz singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne (1917-2010).

From inscription on back of photo: “Easter 1928, Uncle ‘Bye’ and Little Lena.”

The Indiana State Library’s Horne Family Collection (L327) contains numerous photographs of the family, newspaper clippings concerning Edwin’s career and various correspondence including a letter from Benjamin Harrison dated 1884 which indicates that Harrison was considering a run for the presidency of the United States. Harrison eventually would be elected in 1888. Also among the documents are Cora’s passport, souvenir travel mementos and letters she wrote home while on a lengthy trip to Europe in the late 1920s.

The entire collection provides extraordinary insight into a remarkable and influential African-American family.

Lena Horne on the cover of The Crisis, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

To view the collection or for more information, please contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

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.”

The Tabard Inn Library

Over the course of its long history, many book donations have come to the Indiana State Library and have been incorporated into the collection. These books often contain personal inscriptions, decorative bookplates or other ephemera from previous owners.  A first edition of the novel “The Cost,” authored by Hoosier David Graham Phillips and published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1904, bears the following handwritten note on the inside cover:

“This book traveled all over Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Holland, 1913.”

It also has a colorful bookplate for something called The Tabard Inn Library. The Tabard Inn Library was a membership library founded in 1902. For a fee, people could obtain a membership which would allow them to borrow books from designated book stations throughout the country, many of which were located in public places such as stores. Members could exchange an old book for a new one by depositing five cents into the book station. The books were encased in black cardboard bearing distinctive red bands on the spines, hence the company’s motto: “With all the RED TAPE on the BOX.”

A magazine advertisement for the Tabard Inn Library program from 1905.

It is tempting to imagine the original owner of this book selecting it from dozens of other titles at a Tabard Inn book station located in a hotel lobby prior to embarking on their European adventure.

For more information on the Tabard Inn Library venture, including pictures of the book stations, visit here.

The Library of Congress has an entire special collection of books that, like ISL’s copy, were once part of the Tabard Inn program.

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.”

United States Marine Band materials

United States Marine Band, also known as “The President’s Own,” was created on July 11, 1798 through an act of the United States Congress. The band is made up of active military officers and is part of the United States Marine Corps. It is the oldest military musical ensemble in the United States and the country’s oldest musical organization of professional musicians. The band performs at various government-related events, including the presidential inauguration. In addition, the United States Marine Band has its own concert tour, giving annual performances in various cities across the nation, a tradition since 1891.

Interesting facts:

John Philip Sousa, noted composer and musician, served as leader of the United States Marine Band from 1880 until 1892.

The United States Marine Band played its first inauguration in 1801, when Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States.

Famous songs of the United States Marine Band included “Hail to the Chief,” “Semper Fidelis,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and “The Washington Post.”

The Indiana State Library is fortunate to have in its federal documents collection two of the United States Marines Band’s albums in CD format, “Arioso” and “Picture Studies.”

The following slideshow shows other United States Marines Band items in the Indiana State Library’s federal documents collection.

 

You can learn more about the United States Marine Band here and on Facebook. In addition, you can listen to performances on the band’s YouTube channel and view the United States Marine Band’s full discography here.

This blog post was written by Michele Fenton, monographs and federal documents catalog librarian.