Spring water cure-alls

Many of us have probably already broken our New Year’s resolutions. If one of your resolutions was to live healthier in 2018, you may be interested in some of the health “cures” of yesteryear.

Two of the most popular Indiana historic hotels and spas, the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel, heavily advertised the healing properties of “taking the waters” during the early part of the 20th century. This involved bathing in the spring water and imbibing the sulfur-smelling water several times per day. French Lick Springs bottled the water and sold it internationally as Pluto water. West Baden’s version was Sprudel water. The spring waters were thought to help health conditions like diabetes and arthritis, as well as everyday ills such as irregularity and fatigue.

If you were thinking of trying to lose weight this year, you are not alone. In fact, this resolution is nothing new.

In his pamphlet from 1931, How to Slenderize the French Lick Way (Ip 613.12 no. 11), William Edward Fitch, MD, prescribed a plan which includes taking French Lick Salts mixed in water each day.

Two of the ingredients of French Lick spring water include sodium chloride and magnesium sulfate, both of which have laxative properties. The French Lick slenderizing program includes a low-calorie diet and some calisthenics, some of which are similar to yoga poses that are still done today. This pamphlet illuminates notions about diet and exercise popular during that time period. How to Slenderize the French Lick Way is digitized in the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections.

The French Lick Springs Hotel, bought by Thomas Taggart in 1901, published regular advertising brochures touting the water cure. Here is an example from our digital collection:

This early 20th century brochure for the hotel featured indoor and outdoor springs so that people could take the water cure no matter the weather. The brochure includes a very detailed list of the ailments the water can help heal along with beautiful photos of the hotel and grounds. Other amenities advertised included a lush golf course and even a bowling alley. Exercise was strongly encouraged as part of the “cure.” There was even an outdoor pool that was put under a dome so that guests could swim outdoors in wintertime. The dome has been removed in recent years.

The West Baden Springs Hotel developed by Lee Sinclair was advertised as the “Carlsbad of America,” in trying to align the hotel with famous European spa resorts. In this digitized pamphlet, West Baden Springs: The Carlsbad of America (Ip 613.12 no. 52) published in the early 1900’s, Sprudel Spring Water as a health aid and an onsite medical facility are advertised.

You can still visit many of the outdoor springs at the West Baden Springs Hotel today.  The grounds have been partially restored, including some of the spring houses. The main attraction to the West Baden Springs Hotel was then, and still is, the beautiful and unique indoor dome, nicknamed the Eighth Wonder of the World. This hotel is regularly named one of the most luxurious both in Indiana and in the United States.

Both hotels still have spas attached in which you can still bathe in the spring water. The spas also feature massages and skin treatments among many other amenities. Even if you abandon your New Year’s resolutions altogether, visiting French Lick and West Baden will appeal to your interests in history and architecture. The beauty and glamour of these resorts will restore your spirit even if you decide not to “take the waters.”

More information is available at the Indiana State Library about French Lick and West Baden among other Indiana health spas. See this Indiana Collection Subject Guide to Mineral Spring Spas in Indiana.

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


Education, not censorship: The Indiana Indorsers of Photoplays

Organized by Mrs. Gertrude Ross of Indianapolis in 1915, the Indiana Indorsers of Photoplays, a volunteer organization, had one mission – promote, support and advertise motion pictures of good quality, especially for children.Beginning with only twenty members, by 1917 the Indorsers grew and incorporated in 1922, influencing other the creations of similar groups across the state and the nation. Working together, the members would attend motion pictures, then meet and vote as a group rather than as individuals to determine which ones they would endorse or not.

The Indorsers invited speakers to their meetings and to general groups to educate people of how to judge motion pictures for themselves and published pamphlets listing recommended movies.

They published The Bulletin News, a monthly bulletin with information about the motion picture industry, reviews of films and listings of local theatres. It was sent to homes, libraries, colleges, universities and other interested organizations.

Eventually, the Indorsers worked with Will Hays, the first chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America.

In her 1945, biography, “Coming Down the Highway: Recollections of Mrs. David Ross,” she recalled their work as educational rather than censorship. “…We were the first to start a constructive program of motion picture appreciation, which has been taken up all over the country. We were not reformers, but educators.” Ross would serve as the group’s president for 19 years until her death.

The Indorsers lasted until the 1970s with their motto being “We indorse the best and forget the rest.”

To learn more about the Indiana Indorsers of Photoplays, you can find materials published by them in our digital collections. Annual reports, issues of The Bulletin News, and Ross’ autobiography are all available here.

In our Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, we have the Will Hays Collection, which houses materials from his time as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). The collection includes meeting minutes, statements about censorship, annual reports and speeches regarding the motion picture industry. The collection also includes information about the motion picture industry during World War, the use of motion pictures for educational purposes and much more. You can find our collection finding aid here.

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

Old Settlers and pioneers in Indiana

Throughout the year many Hoosiers visit local festivals, heritage days and other events celebrating pioneer settlers. It is an opportunity to learn about history and share a spirit of community. While Indiana was not settled in the same manner as the original colonies, there were many pioneering people who moved into the territory that would become the Hoosier state. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a pioneer is “one of the first to settle in a territory.” By the mid-1800s, Indiana was mostly settled, and many of those first pioneers began gathering at “old settlers” meetings where they recalled their history and honored the oldest among them.

According to the September 1907 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History, the earliest recorded old settlers’ meeting in Indiana took place in 1852 at the city of Madison, inviting all who had lived in Jefferson County as of 1820 or before. Old settlers’ meetings were announced in town and city newspapers around the state. Luckily for researchers, it is becoming easier to find accounts of those meetings as more and more historical newspaper issues are added to digital collections such as Hoosier State Chronicles, Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com.

As the old settlers’ meetings were organized into formal associations and societies, this drew the interest of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, the organizers of the Indiana State Fair. In the summer of 1878, the Board of Agriculture formed a committee to plan a State Pioneer Convention for Oct. 2, 1878 during the state fair. The announcement of the Pioneer Association of Indiana stated that “all pioneers seventy years of age, who have been residents of the state forty years, will be admitted free to the state fair.” This was the first statewide effort to recognize and enumerate Indiana’s pioneers. Notable speakers attending were poets James Whitcomb Riley and Sarah T. Bolton, and their poems were reprinted in the 1878 proceedings that were included within the Board of Agriculture’s annual report. Of particular interest to family researchers is the “List of applicants for membership,” twelve pages listing, name, address, age and years in state.

The success of the inaugural meeting led to another gathering of the renamed Indiana Pioneer Society at the 1879 Indiana State Fair. Four pages of members are listed in the 1879 proceedings. While the Indiana Pioneer Society did not have a third convention, its board continued meeting at least through 1885. The organization’s legacy continues because it raised the profile of local old settlers’ associations and promoted their efforts to compile county histories, many being printed in the 1880s. Various other relics of old settlers’ meetings can be found in the Indiana State Library’s collections, including souvenir programs, proceedings, pamphlets and bound compilations. In addition, look for links to digitized books in the County History Holdings guides.

A letter printed in the May 13, 1896 Indianapolis Journal from J. W. Hervey, of Indianapolis expressed a wish to restart the state pioneer association. However, this did not happen until the 1916 state centennial celebration, when an interest was re-kindled by descendants of Indiana’s old settlers. As a result, the Society of Indiana Pioneers was formed and exists to this day.

This blog post was written by Indiana Division Librarian Andrea Glenn. For more information, contact the Indiana Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Libraries in World War I

During World War I both private organizations and public institutions mobilized the American people to collect and produce millions of dollars’ worth of resources and contribute thousands of hours of volunteer labor to the war effort. Libraries across the nation led drives to collect books and magazines to fill fort and camp libraries as well as to send to troops stationed in Europe.

Leading the effort was the American Library Association (ALA), which was granted oversight powers by the federal government to collect books and money. However, the ALA depended on state library commissions to do the heavy lifting. Indiana formed a special war council to handle the logistics, which, in turn, issued directives to the county libraries under its umbrella. Extensive instructions and guidance were sent out to all libraries. Individual counties were expected to raise a certain percentage of funds and books based on their population.To aid in this effort, a series of form letters were issued to libraries for them to mail out to solicit donations and support. Each letter was tailored to community leaders: Newspaper editors, church pastors and local politicians. Newspapers collaborated by printing column after column advertising book drives, requesting contributions and offering anecdotes from grateful soldiers.

Nearly all war efforts were framed as patriotic duty. Anti-war speech was discouraged. Libraries were also asked to restrict access to potentially “dangerous” information for the duration of the war.

In the space of two years, Indiana raised almost $3,500,000 and collected tens of thousands of books. But what to do with all these materials once the war ended? Rather than attempt to retain the books it had collected or return them to their original libraries, the ALA turned over ownership of the contents of all camp libraries to the federal government.

The Indiana State Library has a number of scrapbooks concerning the war effort in Indiana during World War I, both of counties, in general, and libraries, in particular. To browse all digitized materials related to Indiana in World War I, visit our War War I and the Hoosier Experience collection.

This blog post was written by Ashlee James, Indiana Division volunteer digitization intern and IUPUI Museum Studies graduate student.

The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Indiana State Parks

Have you ever been to an Indiana State Park, like the one in Brown County? Maybe took in the toboggan ride at the Pokagon in Angola? Hiked the trails at Spring Mill? Ridden your bicycles on the trails? Camped? Swam? If so, give thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program of Indiana of the 1930s.

After the stock market crash of 1929, and under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the federal government created the New Deal. It consisted of programs to help the country’s economy get back on its feet and working again. One program was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was also the most popular.

The program enlisted young men between the ages of 18 and 25. They could sign up for a renewable six-month term and earned $30 (of which $25 was sent to their families) and lived in company camps. During the life of the program in the 1930s, about 64,000 enlistees helped to build Indiana’s state parks.

Under the command of the U.S. Army, the CCC’s mission was to teach land management, soil conservation and park construction. Indiana benefited greatly from this program, giving us a wide array of state parks.

The Indiana State Library has a large collection of newsletters from various CCC camps.  You can find some of them in our growing digital collections. These rare newsletters, often printed by the camp’s journalism group, provided information about the camp, events, activities, educational opportunities, poetry, short stories, cartoons, humor and sports.

For further information, check out these websites about the CCC program in Indiana:
Indiana State Parks: History and Culture
Building Indiana State Parks – Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration
“We Can Take It!”: Race and the Civilian Conservation Corps in Indiana, 1934 to 1941
The Civilian Public Service Camp Program in Indiana (Indiana Magazine of History)
Indiana State Parks

This blog post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Christopher.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” The company employee newsletter

If you worked at a major company during America’s post-war prosperity, you read “the latest scoop” in the company newsletter. You learned about company activities, fellow employees, marriages, births and deaths, as well as the latest on the company’s sports leagues, such as bowling, golf or baseball, all while the company encouraged loyalty and involvement. The Delco Remy Clan, and others, advertised the Red Feather drives to raise money for United Way.

General Motors’ Delco-Remy company newsletter. The company was located in Anderson, Ind., from 1896 to 1994. Newsletter includes individual plant information, employment anniversaries and retirements, employee information and photographs, classified ads, corporate events, contests, classes and a comic strip. Includes information about the United Way of America donation drive. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

During World War II, you were encouraged to participate in war work and bond drives and keep up with “our boys” overseas. Ayrograms from the L.S. Ayres Company included sections on enlisted men from the company.

The weekly newsletter for the L.S. Ayres Department Store employees. Includes information about individual departments, employees, photographs and classifieds. During World War II, the newsletter featured enlistee information. The store was headquartered in Indianapolis from 1872 to 2006. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

In the years after the war, you were expected to keep the “company secrets” safe and not let the “enemy” get them. With Bendix working on space missions, you would often find inserts about keeping company secrets secret.

Bendix company newsletter. The company was located in South Bend, Ind., from 1924 to 1983 and known for making brake systems. Newsletter includes plant information, employment anniversaries, employee photographs and classified ads. Includes an insert about security. Credit: Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

By the late 1970s, the shift to efficiency and cost-savings brought an end to the printed newsletter and the era of electronic communications began.

The library’s collection has runs of several company newsletters from the 1920s to the 1970s. You can find many of them in our growing digital collection, Company Employee Newsletters.

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

A delayed divide: Crispus Attucks High School and segregation in Indianapolis public schools

If you are familiar with Indianapolis history, you know that Crispus Attucks High School was the city’s first, and only, all-black high school. But did you know before Crispus Attucks opened, Indianapolis high schools were not formally segregated? Before the fall of 1927, when Crispus Attucks opened its doors, black high school students attended Shortridge, Washington and Arsenal Tech High Schools with white students.

A post card printed in the mid-twentieth century depicting the seven IPS high schools.

In May of 1869, the Indiana State Legislature passed a law ordering that all property should be taxed for the benefit of public school systems, without regard to the property owner’s race, and that all children, black or white, should be able to matriculate at their local public school. Still, section three of the act states “The Trustee or Trustees of each township, town or city, shall organize the colored children into separate schools, having all the rights and privileges of other schools of the township.” While this act was a huge positive step for black children, who beforehand were not guaranteed a free, public education, the law called for school segregation. In general, segregation came more naturally to elementary and middle schools, which were more numerous and served the children living closest to them. At this time, however, there was only one high school for all of the young men and women of Indianapolis. According the 1869 law, if there were not enough black students to justify separate schools, it was up to the trustees to find another means of education for these children. In 1872, although the superintendent and not a board trustee, Abraham C. Shortridge did just that.

After retiring from his position as IPS superintendent, Shortridge became the president of Purdue University, a position he held for just the 1874-1875 term. This picture appeared in the 1895 “Debris,” Purdue’s yearbook.

In a 1908 article penned by Shortridge for the Indianapolis News, the former superintendent explained how Indianapolis High School, today known as Shortridge High School, gained its first black student. In the early 1870s, there were only about six black teens looking to attend high school, so a segregated high school defied practicality. A group of local men prominent in the black community came together with a plan to file suit against Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and force them to admit black pupils to Indianapolis High School. Shortridge had a simpler idea. He asked the men to send their brightest, high-school age child to him on the first day of the new school year. On that day, Mary Alice Rann appeared before Shortridge and asked to enroll in the high school. He took her to the principal, George P. Brown, and plainly said, “Mr. Brown, here is a girl that wishes to enter the high school,” and then went back about his day. Shortridge would wait and see if anyone protested.

Miraculously, no one did; however, that does not mean that people weren’t against the admittance of Rann. In his article, Shortridge goes on to tell the story of one such dissenter. Editor of the now-defunct Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, and member of the IPS school board, J. J. Bingham, came to the high school to confront Shortridge about admitting a black pupil. After making a derogatory remark, Bingham said, “I have a long communication in my pocket now in regard to it.” He was threatening to publish his feelings in his new paper, which would surely stir up additional protesters. Shortridge replied, “That is a good place for it; better let it stay in your pocket.” In the end, Bingham published nothing. After four years of study, Mary Alice Rann graduated from Indianapolis High School.

The part I find the most fascinating about history is how we can see facts within material culture and through archival documents. I found proof of the beginning of segregation in Indianapolis high schools on a whim. I wondered, would I be able to see segregation by looking at Shortridge High School yearbooks? Look at the images below. Notice a change? The first clump of senior photos are from the 1926-1927 term yearbook at Shortridge High School. Below that are several pages worth of senior pictures from the following term, 1927-1928. In this yearbook, you will find nothing but white faces, save one young man from the Philippines.

A collection of senior pupils at Shortridge High School, 1926-1927 term.

A collection of senior pupils at Shortridge High School, 1927-1928 term.

People often associate the decision to build Crispus Attucks High School with the Ku Klux Klan. This association is based on the fact that multiple IPS board members elected in 1925, along with Indianapolis city councilors, Governor Edward Jackson and Indianapolis Mayor John Duvall, were members of the KKK; however, it was actually the school board elected in 1921 who began the preparations for building Crispus Attucks. Sentiment for white supremacy was running rampant in the state well before 1925.

Many, if not most, in the black community in Indianapolis were against the creation of Crispus Attucks. They argued that this new school could not possibly provide the same opportunities, academically or vocationally, that the city’s three other high schools offered. Shortridge High School was considered one of the best in the nation, after all, and the majority of Indianapolis’ black high school students were enrolled there. Even with local protest and pending court cases, construction on the new school commenced. In the end, the school became one of the crown jewels of the neighborhood surrounding the Indiana Avenue corridor. It provided jobs for black teachers who were otherwise barred from teaching at white or even integrated schools. Because of the high level of competition for black teaching jobs, the teachers at Crispus Attucks were the best of the best. Many had advanced degrees and were better qualified to do their job than white teachers, and Crispus Attucks became a first rate school despite the circumstances that caused its founding.

Crispus Attucks High School, 1928. This photograph is part of the Bass Photo Co. Collection at the Indiana Historical Society.

In 1949, Indiana outlawed segregation in its schools; however, segregation continued in Indianapolis. Crispus Attucks began admitting white students in 1967, but the pupils remained more than predominantly black. In 1968, the federal government filed a complaint and took the IPS school board to court for continuing de jure (by law) segregation, while the school board argued that they were innocent and that IPS schools only suffered from de facto (by fact, or chance) segregation. In reality, there had been gerrymandering of school boundaries, which perpetuated segregation. After multiple appeals by the IPS school board, the federal court ordered that the city and IPS needed to facilitate a busing program to help reverse the years of segregation. The program bused black students living closer to the city center to township schools in more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods. It began on a small scale in 1973 and then transitioned to a large-scale program over several years; many of the affected township schools did not begin participating in the program until 1981. White students living in the townships were never bused to predominantly black schools in the inner city. The federal court order mandating this program expired in 2016.

This blog post was written by Caitlyn Stypa, Indiana Young Readers Center assistant, Indiana State Library.

Mineral springs of Indiana

What do the small Indiana towns of French Lick, West Baden, Martinsville and Kramer have in common? In the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, in these towns, you could find relief from what ailed you; especially digestive issues and rheumatism. If you lived during these times, you might find refuge from your ailments at many of the mineral springs found in rural Indiana.

You might have found their main advertising focused on the curing properties of the mineral springs’ water via their natural healing content in relaxing surroundings. With “the combination of magnificent scenery and pure, bracing mountain air, with the medicinal virtues of the springs and the comforts of a palatially equipped and perfectly conducted hotel,” you could have been one of the thousands of tourists and health seekers seeking the “veritable Elixir of Life.”

Today, you can still visit French Lick and West Baden and stay at their popular resorts, but you won’t be able to partake in their famous waters. The Pluto Water of French Lick, with its devilish likeness, and the Sprudel Water of West Baden, with its friendly elf, are now bygone images.

Both waters had high native content of mineral salts, making them an effective laxative usually within one hour of ingestion, a selling point emphasized in the company’s promotional literature. Sodium and magnesium sulfate, both known as natural laxatives, and lithium salts were the active ingredients in the water. Sorry, you can’t buy Pluto Water anymore. The sale of Pluto Water ended in 1971 when lithium became a controlled substance.

Meanwhile, you could defeat your rheumatism at the Martinsville Sanitarium, as their motto “Where Rheumatism meets Its Waterloo” expresses, or at the Mudlavia Resort in Kramer. Both spas offered relief from the pain of rheumatism, referred to today as osteoarthritis, through soaking in mineral waters or using the method of being lathered from head to toe in hot mud.

In the Indiana Pamphlet Collection, the Indiana State Library has many brochures and pamphlets about these and other bygone mineral spring spas and resorts. Some of these rare and fragile materials are now available in the Indiana Historical Print Collection of the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections. In the collection, one can find pamphlets from West Baden, White Sulphur Springs in Montezuma, Ind., Nature’s Rest and Water Cure in Trinity Springs, Ind. and the Dillsboro Sanitarium Company in Dillsboro, Ind.

For more information, visit the Mineral Springs Spas in Indiana page of the state library’s website. Information about Mudlavia, Indiana’s “other resort” can be found on the Indiana public media page. Finally, one may browse the “26th annual report of the Department of Geology and Natural Resources of Indiana, 1901” for a detailed report on the mineral waters of Indiana.

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

Meet Chris Marshall, Indiana Division Digital Collections coordinator

Since Jan. 30, 2017, Chris Marshall has been the digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library. He’s previously held positions at Conner Prairie, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indiana State Museum and the Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL). Recently, he took time to answer some questions and here are the responses.

Chris Marshall, smiling and working.

Describe some of your work duties?
I answer reference questions, either in person or by email or chat, but the biggest part of my job is digitizing materials from the Indiana Division’s collection and building digital collections.

How does this job compare to previous jobs?
When I worked at the Indiana State Museum, I worked with objects in the Decorative Arts Collection. This was in the pre-digital world. I also curated a major exhibit about early 19th century furniture and architecture. This required researching and searching for furniture in the collections.

This position reminds me of part of my previous job at IndyPL’s Central Library. Here, I’m focusing on the digital access of the collections by providing information and research materials to patrons all over the world. I often wonder how many people in Frankton, New Zealand might be researching something in Frankton, Indiana. I don’t really know if they are, but it amazes me that just twenty years ago, the access would have been limited and required more time and patience.

Educational background?
I have a B.A. in American History and French from Ball State University. I have an M.A. in Museum Studies, also known as Historical Administration, from Eastern Illinois University, with an internship at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last but not least, I got my Master of Library Science at IUPUI/Indiana University.

What sparked your interest in collections?
When I was in middle school, I was a history geek. We took a trip to the Anderson Public Library and there we learned about genealogy. That sparked my interest. In hindsight, I was glad that I started working on it then because it gave me the chance to talk with the older members of my family and I learned a lot about the family. From that, I found my love of research and cultural history and learned what it was like to live during the times I was researching. I was always more interested in the social and cultural aspects of history, as opposed to political or military histories.

Better than Guy Fieri.

Julia Child vs. Guy Fieri?
Julia Child without a doubt! She pioneered teaching cooking and look at what that lead to.  She knew who to teach and encourage and do it in such a way that made me smile and want to actually learn to de-bone a duck. No, I have not done it yet.

Guy seems to be more of the celebrity chef. Julia was humble in her work and career.

If I’m not writing or working on my books that I have yet to find an agent for, I’m being crafty. During my Conner Prairie days, I learned to knit, so I have a lot of yarn stashed away for future projects. I usually knit while catching up on movies that I didn’t see at the theater or while binge-watching television shows like “Grace and Frankie” or “The Twilight Zone” or “The Simpsons.” Gotta get back to “The Walking Dead;” not my favorite, but it grabbed my attention. I’ve also learned simple bookbinding.

The books I’ve written range from a middle-grade time-traveling trilogy to a haunted hotel in upstate New York to a secret love affair. Some are complete and some are in the works. I also maintain a blog with some of my short stories and miscellaneous posts about my observations on life. I am also a Lego maniac and I’m working on a series of blog posts using my Lego sets. My favorite books are ones set in museums. I’m currently reading “Relic.” I re-read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” but I definitely prefer the 1970s movie version over the book.

Best album of all-time?
I don’t have one. My parents had a huge record collection and I would listen to variety of music. I like individual songs more than one particular artist, so I listen to a variety ranging from Benny Goodman to Rufus Wainwright to the Boston Pops to Doris Day to Frank Sinatra to the Beatles to Elton John. The list goes on…

What do you hope to gain from your experience here at the state library?
To learn more about Indiana history. My goal as the Digital Collections coordinator is to have a least one digitized item from each county of the state in the digital collection. So far, so good on that one. I also hope that this might lead to a high-level position; maybe manage a whole digital department somewhere someday.

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library. For more information, email the communications director at communications@library.in.gov.

Materials using the phonetic alphabet

An unusual item from the Indiana State Library’s original print newspaper collection is Di Anglo Sacsun (ISLN Newspaper Room), a newspaper published in Boston from 1846-1848. Our holdings include a scattering of newspaper issues from the publication period of this phonetically-spelled newspaper. The paper states its mission as being “Devoted to the diffusion of knowledge and news, through the medium of phonotypy, or the true system of spelling words: that is, just as they are pronounced.” It was thought that material printed in phonetic spelling would be easier for non-native English speakers, or those who learned the English language by rote, to master.

This newspaper is written using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) which utilizes syllables that stand for different phonetic sounds that are common to all spoken languages.

On the left and right sides of the newspaper’s masthead are printed keys to pronunciation.

The International Phonetic Association (International Phonetic Association) is devoted to representing and promoting the International Phonetic Alphabet and championing its use by linguists, speech-language pathologists, classically trained singers, actors, and others.

Another item in the state library’s collection that utilizes the IPA is the Primer of Phonetics by Henry Sweet (ISLM 414 S974P).

This book, published in 1906, serves as an in-depth phonetics pronunciation key.

Pages from the Primer of Phonetics showing English sounds.

We also have a phonetic translation of the Book of Psalms from the Bible, De Buc ov Samz From de Oturizd Verzun:  Printed Foneticali in Paraleliz’mz (ISLM BS 1422 1849).

Although the phonetic alphabet did not become a popular spelling format for newspapers, it is used in dictionaries with pronunciation keys and serves as a standardized approach to language learning.

This blog post was written by Leigh Anne Johnson, Indiana Division librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.