Indiana State Prison trade goods

Indiana’s first state prison opened on Jan. 9, 1821, in Jeffersonville, taking in inmates regardless of age, sex, offense or sentence. In 1847, a new prison was built in nearby Clarksville as well as one in Michigan City. Inmates were divided between the two and they became known as the Indiana State Prison South and the Indiana State Prison North.

By 1897, due to the belief that young males should not be housed with older males, they were divided by age between the southern and northern locations. The Indiana State Prison South became home to inmates between the ages 16 to 30 and was renamed the Indiana Reformatory.

On Feb. 6, 1918, during the night, a fire damaged most of the buildings at Indiana State Prison South. After this, the Governor’s Commission decided to build a new a more centrally located prison in Indiana. A site near Pendleton was selected since the Fall Creek provided a source of running water. The construction commenced in 1922 and opened in late 1923.

As part of the early 20th century prison acts, the offenders at the Indiana State Prison South were taught trades and manufactured various goods for state institutions and agencies across the state. This is the trades building at Pendleton.

In the Indiana State Library’s digital collections, you can explore examples of the printed catalogues. We have ones from 1905-10, 1915, 1925 and 1938.

The catalogs show what was manufactured by the inmates in these trade schools at the Indiana Reformatory in Jeffersonville and Pendleton. They include cooking utensils, clothing, shoes, brooms and furniture. Here are some example pages. The first from the 1905-10 catalog and the second from the 1915 catalog.

In the 1925, wicker furniture was added and probably made available to the various state park inns which were built during this time.

By 1938, old hickory-style furniture appeared, probably also used at the state park inns. Other additions included licenses and tags, soaps and cleaners, brooms of all kinds and bricks.

The Indiana State Agency Documents Digital Collection has publications from various state agencies, including departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, councils and committees that carry out various functions of the Executive Branch of Indiana state government. The Indiana State Library has state publications that span from the 19th century to present. To help preserve the older materials, digitized copies are being made available so the collection will continue to grow, not just in this collection, but also throughout our digital collections.

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

Indiana Letters About Literature writing contest submissions now open

The Indiana Letters About Literature writing contest is now open! Students in grades four through 12 are invited to write a letter to an author, living or deceased, whose one work has made a difference in how the student sees themselves or the world. Indiana students can write about works of literature including fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poems, essays or speeches – including TED Talks.

Last year over 800 letters were submitted to the contest. Students wrote about lots of books including “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper, “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling, and, as students were reflecting upon current events, books about viruses including “The Girl Who Owned a City” by O. T. Nelson and “Five Feet Apart” by Rachael Lippincott. Students were not shy about tackling heavy topics in their letters including the COVID-19 pandemic, racism and immigration. Letters are not actually delivered to the authors, but for the past nine years about 100 letters have been selected for inclusion in an annual anthology. That will continue this year.

First, second and third place winners are selected from amongst the top 100 letters in three levels: grades 4-6, grades 7-8 and grades 9-12. In addition, a special award is given to the top letter written to an Indiana author.

The top letters from the 2020-21 contest are as follows:

Noelle Carey, McCutchanville, was the first-place winner from Level One. She wrote a letter to Kelly Yang, author of the bestselling novel for children, “Front Desk.” This is a selection from her letter:

“Mia Tang and her family went to America to have a better life, but when they arrived it wasn’t anything like what they expected. Her family worked for very little money and willingly did so to hopefully get the ‘American Dream.’ They worked for a boss that repeatedly made them feel meaningless and replaceable. This brings to light another imbalance in our communities. People of color are sometimes forced to take any job available, and sometimes for very little pay, to survive. Immigrant families like Mia’s look for a fresh start but sometimes don’t get what they imagined. Our world needs to be better, know better, and do better.”

Melani Martinez Blanco, Jasper, was the first-place winner from Level Two. She wrote a letter to Alan Gratz, author of the novel, “Refugee.” This is a selection from her letter:

“I was an immigrant, a foreigner to a country where I had no idea of the language or its system. I was made fun of constantly when I didn’t know certain words or phrases, but then I started to get the hang of it. I am now fourteen years old, and I cannot imagine never having come to this country that I and many immigrants call home. Isabel and her journey were the first time I didn’t feel alone in a long time. We would discuss this in class and many students would listen to my family’s journey and how I felt personally connected to Isabel and her many obstacles. Alan Gratz, I want to personally thank you for having this character whose story made me feel stronger and more connected to my roots and the way I came to be the person that I am today.”

Badreddine Bouzeraa, Wheeler, was the first-place winner from Level Three. He wrote a letter to George M. Johnson, author of the memoir, “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” This is a selection from his letter:

“In the first act of ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ your unique storytelling of struggling to find a way to express yourself allowed me to realize that many LGBTQ+ members struggle with the same ordeal. Many are taught that there are only two genders and one sexuality. However, there are a plethora of unique orientations. On page 23 of ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ you state, ‘However, I was old enough to know that I would find safety only in the arms of suppression – hiding my true self – because let’s face it, kids can be cruel.’ Millions in the non-heterosexual orientation continue to suppress themselves, and I beg to question, why must we?”

Jack Egan, Michigan City, won the Indiana Author Letter Prize for the top letter written to an Indiana author. He wrote a letter to Ernie Pyle, war correspondent and author of the article, “The Death of Captain Waskow.” This is a selection from his letter:

As in your day, today we are also combating difficult times due to a pandemic called COVID-19. By describing Captain Waskow’s life and sacrifice so beautifully, you also brought to life all the other men and women who died for the freedom we enjoy today. I am not so sure that the society in which I live today is as willing to sacrifice for others as your generation was so willing to do in your time. Unfortunately, today our society is not even willing to wear a mask to protect others from COVID-19, let alone be willing to be placed on the front lines of a war to protect their freedoms.”

The deadline to enter the 2021-22 contest is Jan. 10, 2022. Details, entry forms and official rules for the contest can be found on the Letters About Literature website.

Get your students excited to enter the contest by sharing this video with them:

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

A map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute

In its collections, the Indiana State Library has a map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The library’s copy of this map is a reproduction made in the 1920s from the original map held at the Library of Congress. The map shows the route of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The base map is compiled from surveys done by the Federal Government in the early 1800s.

The canal ran through the wilderness of a largely unsettled part of Indiana. The canal period was crucial to the development and colonization of Indiana, especially to remote parts of the state north of Indianapolis. Ultimately, the Wabash and Erie Canal would connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River in Evansville.

We realize the map is not beautiful, but take a moment to examine the digitized map closely. The canal period coincides with Indian removal in the state. Clearly mapped are the reserve lands set aside for the Miami during the removal of Indians from the state – Jean Baptiste de Richardville, Little Turtle, Godfroy. Most of the reserve lands shown on these maps can be found in the treaty made at St. Mary’s with the Miami, Oct. 6, 1818 and a treaty signed at the Mississinewa in 1826.

By 1840, all this granted land was recollected, and tribes moved west.

Learn more about the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Indiana Historical Bureau’s “The Indiana Historian: Canal Mania in Indiana.” Especially interesting is an account of early travel along the canal recorded in J. Richard Beste’s published travel book, “The Wabash; or, Adventures of an English gentleman’s family in the interior of America” (London, Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, 1855). They take off from Terre Haute on Aug. 12, 1851. Available in full text from the Library of Congress, beginning on page 191 of Volume 2.

Click here to view a hi-res version of the map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute, and visit the Indiana State Library Map Collection to examine maps, county atlases, plats maps and other land descriptions.

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

This woman’s work

It is easy to forget that women’s rights and suffrage efforts in the U.S. began much earlier than most of us realize. One such intrepid pioneer for women’s rights was the indomitable May Wright Sewall. Although born in Wisconsin, she and her husband moved to Indiana in the early 1870s. She was well-known around the state for being a proponent for equal and better-quality education for women. She later established the Indianapolis Classical School for Girls, which became a prestigious preparatory school.

May Wright Sewall, standing at the left end, and a group of women at Mount Vernon in Virginia. from the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections.

Sewall believed women should have lives outside the home that included educational and cultural opportunities. She was a founder and first president of the Indiana Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1888. Sewall was instrumental in establishing the Indianapolis Propylaeum, which was a house built specifically for the cultural and educational edification of women’s clubs, including the Indiana Woman’s Club. A patron of the arts throughout her life, she was an officer in the Art Association in Indianapolis and was instrumental in helping establish the John Herron School of Art. Sewall was also a nationally known suffragist, and from 1899-1904, she was president of the International Council of Women.

In 1881, Sewall started writing a bi-weekly column in the early iteration of the Indianapolis Times. The column’s title was Woman’s Work. In the first article, which ran on Oct. 29, 1881, she states the reasons for the existence of the column and her goals in creating it. She notes that often, women’s names were not mentioned in newspapers or indeed in public unless they were the subject of a scandal or had died. She hoped that through her column, she could bring the importance of women’s “invisible” work in and outside the home to the forefront of the public’s attention.

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

Post road map of Indiana, 1904

Two regular questions that come across the reference desk can be answered using post office resources. The first common question is about a place name. The researcher may have a reference to a place, but that “place” is not a city or town. We often discover it’s a post office name. The Indiana State Library has a card file of post offices in Indiana. The card contains details including date the post office opened and when it may have been discontinued. These post office cards were used in making the handy reference book “From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folklore and History” (Baker, 1995). Perhaps your library has this book.

The other request is to locate a modern address when all they know is the rural route, which is often the only detail a county farm directory would have listed. This is much more difficult to answer. There are a couple maps we can use to help find the mail route, but not the exact home. We have two sets of Post Office department maps by county, we have a set from about 1910 and another set from about 1940. The State Library has made the set from 1910 available online here. Additionally, a 1904 statewide post route map of Indiana is available online here.

The 1904 post route map is nice because one can get a larger picture of the mail system than the county maps offer. The map shows post offices, mail routes and frequency of service. According to this map, most post offices and rural routes were getting mail up to six times a week; however, some little hamlets got mail only three times a week. Mail routes were added from year to year. Using a searchable newspaper database, one may be able to find detailed route descriptions. Take for example the Salem Democrat in 1903. They published the postmasters’ detailed reporting of how many houses are on the route, how many people are served and the length of the route. Here is an example of how Rural Route 11 out of Pekin is described.

Visit the USPS website for more history about rural routes. The development of the postal system is interesting and gives context to rural life and road improvements. Rural mail delivery was thought to help keep young people on the farm since they could receive reading materials and catalogs, perhaps diminishing the appeal of town.  Additionally, rural postal routes are credited with road development throughout the nation. This article from the Fort Wayne News makes sure to lay the blame for lack of mail service on the road supervisor. Once the roads are improved, mail service will resume.

Finally, for the adventurous researcher, National Archives holds the records from the Post Office Department. Among the records are correspondence, reports and supporting documents regarding proposed rural route establishments and changes, filed by state and county. These unique tools will offer researchers geographic information for years to come.

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

Introducing the born-digital Indiana state documents collection

Archive-It is a web archiving service that the Indiana State Library first started using in the spring of 2020 to collect online publications from Indiana state agencies. Archive-It is built at the Internet Archive, the digital library that is also the home of the Wayback Machine, where old websites are saved. For organizations that wish to save selective online content and create curated collections, Archive-It provides the tools necessary to capture, store and access.

The Indiana State Library collects printed publications from state agencies, but until recently we did not have a good solution for capturing and preserving online versions. Working from a priority list of Indiana state agencies and their web pages with known born-digital publications, we created the separate collections. Then test crawls were done to see if the Archive-It web crawler captured the desired content and linked documents. Test crawls are an opportunity to make sure the web page will play back correctly in the Wayback archive and that the amount of data collected stays within our subscription’s allocation.

Once the Indiana State Library Archive-It collections hold content, metadata is added for specific web pages, continuing publications or specific reports. For example, in December 2020, the Final Report of the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission was issued online. A copy of this born-digital report resides in the collection Governor, Indiana. The screenshots below show the steps to access the report at the Wayback archive.

Click the “Captured 2 times” link

Click one of the date links

Access the full PDF of the report

For our new online state documents collection, we’ve been able to capture many state agency web pages and their linked publications. This is a continual work-in-progress as content is regularly captured through new crawls of the web pages. As this collection grows, we hope that these reports, brochures, newsletters, maps, fact sheets and online content will complement our historical collections of printed Indiana state documents.

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

The No-Tobacco Journal

One might have the impression that smoking was without objection in the 1920s and 1930s. Movies showed stars smoking constantly, advertisements in newspapers had “doctors” recommending brands of cigarettes. It seems you could smoke just about anywhere. However, the No-Tobacco League of America was active throughout this time, pushing back against the smoking habit through a lens of health and moral objection.

Indiana even had a short-lived era of cigarette prohibition. From 1905-1909 it was unlawful to sell, buy or possess cigarettes. Senate Bill 51 was approved on Feb. 28, 1905. The law reads in part, “It shall be unlawful for any person … to manufacture, sell, exchange, barter, dispose of or give away … cigarettes” or any papers intended to be used to roll tobacco.

The law was in place until 1909, when it was amended. The new law narrowed the prohibition of cigarette sales and use to just minors. Currently, Indiana and federal law have the age set at 21.

Luther H. Higley began publishing the No-Tobacco Journal in Butler, Indiana in January 1918 for the No-Tobacco League of America. Higley was the owner and operator of the Butler Record, a local newspaper. He had an established career as a printer and publisher. Higley also had an affiliation with the Methodist Church in Butler and published the Epworth League Quarterly which had national circulation.

Highlights from the No-Tobacco Journal include cartoons, snarky digs at smokers, religious and moral appeals and more than a few photos to Charles Lindberg. The No-Tobacco League appealed to churches, Sunday school groups and church gatherings; much like the Temperance Movement it was as much a moral appeal as for one’s health; if not more moral than health.

The No-Tobacco League of America also published the Prohibition Defender and No-Tobacco Journal in 1931. It was designed especially for Sunday schools. The first issue had Charles Lindbergh on the cover saying, “I do not drink.” In 1934 the No-Tobacco League began publishing the Clean Life Educator, opposing drink and smoke. Again, Charles Lindbergh graced the cover of the third issue, “A young American at his best” it says under his photo.

The publication eventually moved from Higley’s publishing house in Butler to the Free Methodist Publishing House at Winona Lake. Winona Lake was the resort home to many religious revivals and retreats.

World No Tobacco Day was created in 1987 by the Member States of the World Health Organization to draw attention to preventable disease and death caused by smoking. World No Tobacco Day is May 31.

More information on Indiana’s tobacco cessation programs can be found here.

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

From our shelves to your computer screen, part two

“Thank you so much! This is so amazing! I appreciate you so much!,” responded a patron about an item in our digital collections here at the Indiana State Library.

Our digital collections have grown over the past few years to include more and more from our fragile, rare and vast collections. In a previous blog post, we talked about selecting materials and here, in this second part, we’ll show you how materials make it into the collections.

Once we’ve selected materials to add, we evaluate them by asking some questions. Is this fragile? Does it need some conservation work? Or is it ready to go and if so, how do we digitize it? For example, some of our maps need to be cleaned or repaired before being scanned or photographed to get the best quality image for you to see.

It may also go to our catalogers to make sure the bibliographic record is correct and up to date. Once their work is done, the materials come back to the digitization coordinator and are prepared to be scanned. We have a workflow that includes naming the item for the image files, deciding how and what scanner to use and keeping a record of everything we scan.

Here are some photographs of materials and collections after they have been prepped and are waiting to be scanned.

Here at the Library, we have our own equipment for scanning materials.

First, we have our Epson flatbed scanner. It is our workhorse for many items that are small than 11”x17”. We can do pamphlets, photographs and letters, to name a few, on this scanner.

We’ve done a lot of materials on this scanner, including almost all of our Civilian Conservation Corps newsletters found here.

We also have two larger scanners we refer to as the Bookeyes, which is their official name by the manufacturer. These are used for bound periodicals, broadsides and newspapers. For example, we’ve used these to scan many of our items in the Company Employee Newsletter collection.

For maps and broadsides, we use our Pro Scanner. We feed encapsulated items through this scanner and it often requires having two people when working with fragile items. Many of our maps are encapsulated, meaning that they are sandwiched between sheets of Mylar, making them easier to handle.

After we make the scans, we upload them into our digital content management system called ContentDM, a well-known entity in the digitization world. It is in this program that you get to see our digital collections.

This year, we’ll be adding more materials to our county collection in the Indiana Historic Print Collection as well as a great new collection called Open Space, Historic Places: Parks, Memorials, and Landmarks. We hope to launch that collection this summer. We just keep adding more great materials to our collections. Keep checking back – you never know what we’ve found and added.

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

From our shelves to your computer screen, part one

“I want to find out more about the Indiana Council of Defense. What do you have in your collections?”

This is a typical reference question that we get here at the Indiana State Library. In response, we search our catalog to see what we have in our collection. We provide a list of items for patrons to browse and ultimately choose what they want to see. We then retrieve the materials for the patron to view and eventually they get re-shelved.

However, times are changing. Over the past decade, digital versions of those materials have populated the internet. Libraries, museums and historical societies of all sizes across the globe are making their collections available online. Here at the Indiana State Library, our digital collections also continue to grow.

But how? How do materials make it to our digital collections? Let’s look at how that happens by looking at the first part of the process.

Our first step is selection. Or, in other words, choosing what gets digitized. We are often looking for materials that we think patrons might use. This can be hard to determine since, like our collections, research is vast and covers a variety of topics. But, we have some guidelines that help us.

First, what happened on this date? Which historical event anniversaries or bicentennials are coming up? For example, it’s been one hundred years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment. We have recently added over 100 items to our digital collections pertaining to the Suffrage Movement.

Another example relating to anniversaries is the upcoming bicentennial of the founding of Indianapolis. We scoured our collections for materials about the centennial to see how the city celebrated. Here’s a program detailing the pageant they had a century ago:

Another aspect of selection is condition. As materials age, they become brittle, making them fragile. For example, the anniversary of World War I was the perfect time to harvest materials from our collections to scan for researchers and students in order to help them find primary sources created during the war years. Sometimes these materials are printed on cheap paper and that paper was not meant to last long.

Here’s an example of a letter. You can see that it has yellowed over the years and part of it is breaking off:

Maps are another example of materials that are hard to handle. We have a large map collection, some of which require conservation work due to their age and condition. This one is very hard to physically handle, making it a perfect map to digitize.

We also look at requests from our patrons, as well as our community. Back to our question at the top of this blog post, we have lots of materials about the Indiana Defense Council that were created during World War I. In this case, we can refer the patron to our digital collections.

Among the materials, we have a 1917 report from the Indiana State Council of Defense. This would also be a great time to revisit the physical collections to see what else we can digitize.

As for the community, IUPUI has a School of Philanthropy. There are numerous materials about local charities in our pamphlet collections. We hope that the students at the school will find those materials helpful, so we make them available in our collection for them to research. Here’s an example from our Charitable Organizations and Philanthropy digital collection:

One last point that we look at is inclusion. Indiana has 92 counties, and we want to make sure that all 92 are represented. We recently added materials from about 15 counties that had very little representation in our digital collections. Here is an example from Brown County. It’s not only about inviting people to visit Brown County, but also in very fragile condition.

Selecting materials is easy when you have a vast collection like we do at the Indiana State Library. But, it’s also hard to do with so many awesome materials to choose from!

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

Newly-digitized images from the Genealogy Division

Working at home during the pandemic has changed the way we approach our daily tasks. While we can’t do some things that we can do on-site from home, there are still a lot of projects that can be completed. Fortunately, I was able to upload several digitized images from multiple collections in our holdings during this time. Below are some of the images from two of the collections.

Vesper Cook grew up as Dorothy Vesper Wilkinson in Peru, Indiana. She was the curator of the Miami County Museum for 20 years and wrote some local and family histories. Her collection contains some of her research along with numerous photographs.

The photographs are of not only her immediate family, but also of her extended family as well as several her mother’s friends as teens and young adults.

Katherine Parrish was born in Indianapolis in 1921. She attended Shortridge High School and Butler University. She later married Milton Mondor. Her father was John P. Parrish, an architect who help design buildings at Stout Field along with several other buildings around Indianapolis, while her mother grew up in the area known as Nora.

The Mondor Collection has numerous family photographs, both intimate as well as staged. Most of them are of her immediate family but her parents’ extended family is also represented in the collection.

There are also photographs of John P. Parrish’s social life and his career as an architect. There are photographs of buildings around Broad Ripple and Washington Township as well as the hanger and administration building at Stout Field. He also sent many postcards home with images of the Murat Gun Club at Shiners conventions in the 1920s.

To view more digital images from the Genealogy Division check out our Digital Collections page.

Blog written by Sarah Pfundstein, genealogy librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”