Title IX in the Indiana State Library’s Manuscript Collections

June 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1972 passing of Title IX, a crucial section of the Education Amendment of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education for institutions receiving federal funding. Hoosiers, of course, have a special connection to the law as it was formally introduced in Congress by Indiana Senator Birch Bayh. Born in Terre Haute in 1928, he served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1954-62 and the U.S. Senate from 1963-81 and his work during this time had a powerful and lasting impact on this country. Remembered also for authoring the 25th and 26th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution – which laid out presidential succession and lowered the voting age to 18 – as well as the Bayh-Dole Trademark act, he is best known for his work on equal rights for women. His support went beyond his role as co-author of Title IX, which was co-authored by Representatives Patsy Mink and Edith Green.

The collections at the Indiana State Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Division provide a number of contemporary artifacts that help make the culture that led to the passing of Title IX more tangible 50 years on.

Senator Bayh
The State Library’s holdings include both the Birch E. Bayh, Jr. collection (S0083) and photographs of him in the General Photograph Collection (P000). Though the collection does not include materials directly related to the passing of Title IX, the Birch E. Bayh, Jr. collection (S0083) contains campaign materials from 1975-76 that emphasize his continued commitment to equal rights for women, declaring “No other member of Congress can equal Bayh’s active and effective support for women’s rights legislation.”

1975 campaign materials, Birch E. Bayh, Jr. collection (S0083)

1975 campaign materials, Birch E. Bayh, Jr. collection (S0083)

The photographs of Bayh in the General Photograph Collection mirror Bayh’s commitment to family, which has always informed the way he viewed women. He has said that commitment to equal rights was strengthened by his wife Marvella Hern Bayh.

He said of her:

“From time to time, she would remind me what it was like to be a woman in a man’s world. Without her, I would not have been in a leadership role.”

After Marvella died of breast cancer in 1979, Bayh married another formidable woman: Katherine “Kitty” Halpin, an ABC news executive, who continues her husband’s work to educate the public on the importance of Title IX in his absence.

Marvella and Birch Bayh in the 1970s, General Photograph collection (P000)

Reactions
First-hand reactions to Title IX survive among the Indiana State Library’s manuscript collections and provide insight into the number of misconceptions there were about the law. The Earl F. Landgrebe papers (L625) contain numerous letters from concerned constituents. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969-74, Landgrebe received correspondence from organizations and private citizens on the subject. They provide an interesting snapshot of fears which time has proven false. One such letter, for example, states: “one of the apparent effects of the Title IX requirement is that athletic departments will not be able to spend as much money as they previously had on athletic programs offered to men.” This was a common cry from detractors of the law, which also went further to suggest that Title IX would destroy college sports altogether. Yet, 50 years on the business of college sports continues to thrive.

Earl F. Landgrebe letter to constituent, Earl F. Landgrebe collection (L625)

Fears about sharing equal funds between athletes are expected; less obvious were fears that Title IX would prohibit all manner of programs frequently separated by sex: sororities and fraternities, men’s choruses, women’s clubs, scholarships and other programs created explicitly to aid women, and even separate sex education for young boys and girls. This reflected a basic misconception of how the law would be applied and, like college sports, Greek life and sex-based organizations continue today unharmed.

Letter from constituent to Earl F. Landgrebe, Earl F. Landgrebe collection (L625)

Impact
Most people have grown accustomed to a post-Title IX America and many are not old enough to remember education before its passing. It is difficult to talk about the impact because no statistics truly reflect the way in which it has changed the day-to-day reality of education and subsequently high school and collegiate sports. In remarks published in the Fordham Law Review, Katherine Bayh said “Title IX grew out of listening,” listening to stories of women’s struggles for sometimes basic access to education.

Christopher, Katherine and Birch Bayh at the dedication of the newly-named Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse, Oct. 24, 2003.

She recalls that he was touched by a story from a constituent whose daughter was rejected from Purdue Veterinary School on the basis of sex. It’s something that is unthinkable now, but even after American universities began admitting women, many instituted limitations on how many could be in a given class. What’s more, even once women were admitted, the expectations for them were lower and women lived with the stereotype that higher education was merely a place to find a husband.

Graduation postcard, Agnes E. Hinkle Ostrom collection (L692)

The nature of archives is that they provide primary sources that can be used to better understand history. These snapshots of the past are only a small part of the story. For more information, the Indiana Historical Bureau will be celebrating a whole week of Title IX facts spanning the June 23 anniversary date. Don’t miss it! Follow IHB on Facebook and Twitter @in_bureau.

References:
Bayh, K. (2020). Remarks. Fordham Law Review, 89, 13-20. http://fordhamlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Bayh_October-.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indiana League of Women Voters chart, 1937 / ISL

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

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

Cartoon in the Evansville Courier and Press, 1905

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry from the collections of the Indiana State Library

There is no shortage of poetry in the collections of the Indiana State Library, from published works to ephemeral poems, many tucked away in letters or scrapbooks. This is a look into pieces left by the amateur poets of Indiana – every day Hoosiers creating with language based on their lives, loves and experiences.

Many of the poems within the Manuscripts Division exist as collections unto themselves. They are often a single poem with little information about their creation or author. This further lends to the idea that they existed solely as a personal exercise for their creator or perhaps a gift to someone. The themes represented in a selection of the poems in the Manuscripts Division are some of the most quintessential in poetry: love and relationships, war and loss. These are all topics that have driven humans to create songs, ballads and other forms of poetry throughout history.

The following two poems are examples of themes on love and relationships – mostly the complicated variety. They are both anonymous. “Song of a Fellow” is signed by “Eva” and tells of an unimpressive suitor who failed to woo her. “The Reconcilement” is about the ups and downs in a marriage. Both poems are also written on small scraps of paper.

“The Watchmen of Dover” is a poem about England in World War II by Wilbur Sheron of Marion, Indiana. Sheron’s biography indicates he wrote a number of poems. It’s likely that this may have been intended for other readership as he lists himself as the author as well as his contact information.

“At Early Candlelight” tells the tale of an older man reminiscing in the early evening about his lost family and how he will meet them in heaven. It is on two small scraps of paper, but is also entitled and signed by the author, Robert McIntyre. No information is available about him.

This next poem was found in the scrapbook of Caroline Furbay, saved from her friend Charles William Alber, both also from Marion, Indiana. What a pleasant way to say, “It’s the thought that counts!”

Poets have formed groups in Indiana to share their work, such as the Poetry Society of Indiana, first formed as the Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs in 1941. The Manuscripts Division holds collections from some of these groups and the writers involved, such as the aforementioned club and the Poets’ Study Club of Terre Haute. The INverse Poetry Archive is also part of the Manuscripts Collection and collects poems submitted by Hoosiers on an annual basis.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Conservation of a 1913 panoramic photograph

In July and August, Marissa Bartz, the Indiana State Library’s 2021 graduate conservation intern, worked on a panoramic photograph from the Rare Books and Manuscripts division which had become adhered to glass in multiple locations. It’s common for photographic prints to become stuck to the glass they have been framed in over time when exposed to water, which is why they should be properly mounted to prevent them from touching the surface. In addition, the conditions of the framing and other factors had caused tears, cockling and staining, so the photograph was in poor shape overall.

Before treatment

This particular panorama captures the flooding of the White River in March 1913. Often referred to as “The Great Flood,” this event displaced thousands, with an estimated 7,000 Indianapolis residents and around 200,000 Hoosiers altogether losing their homes. The peak of the White River flooding was estimated at over 30 feet above the flood line.

Photo adhered to glass

Commonly called a “cirkut” photo, this shot was taken by North H. Losey, located at 539 N. Meridian St. It is a particularly large example, over 62 inches wide, so it was no small challenge for Marissa!

Cardboard used as backing frame

It was discovered that the photograph was also adhered to the corrugated cardboard that was used as backing in the frame, causing additional problems. Marissa began by removing the backing mechanically with a spatula and scalpel.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the corrugated board from the back of the photograph

After this, areas that were stuck to the glass were be humidified from the back to soften and swell the gelatin emulsion. A piece of mylar was inserted between the glass and the photograph to gently release the emulsion from the surface of the glass.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz washing a section of the photograph to remove staining

A solution of methylcellulose was applied to the emulsion and left to dry. Then a flat blade was used to carefully scrape the emulsion film off the glass and re-adhere it back to the photograph.

Tears were then repaired with wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue. Areas of loss, particularly in tears, were consolidated using warm gelatin.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the photo from the glass

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz putting the pieces of the photo back together

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz surface cleaning the photograph

In-painting with watercolors was also done in areas of loss.

After treatment

The photograph is now stable and was returned to the original frame, this time with sheet of mylar protecting it from the glass. Now free from stress and protected from acidic conditions and soiling from the environment, this photograph is now stable and preserved for the future.

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

Adventures in photo sleuthing

Have you ever stumbled upon a stack of old family photographs and found yourself fascinated by informal snapshots and formal portraits taken decades before you were born? Your eyes take in their outmoded dress and staged poses and scan their faces looking for a flicker of recognition and find none. You wonder who they were, flip over the images and learn, much to your dismay, that the back is blank. After a moment’s disappointment, you decide you’re going to rectify your ancestors’ oversight and find out who these nameless people were, even if you’re a little fuzzy on the how.

As an archivist, I work with a lot of family photograph collections. If I’m very fortunate, some enterprising relation took the time to label a good portion of the photographs with names, dates and even locations. Most of the time, I’m not that lucky.

So, where do you start when you can’t identify most of the people in your photographs? Just keep reading. I’ll walk you through my process for researching and caring for enigmatic family photographs with examples from the recently processed Lucile Johnson photograph collection.

1. Rage at the skies

"Thor," Disney/Marvel; Imgur

Quickly move through the stages of grief.

  • Denial: No way an entire box of photographs only has seven identified photos!
  • Anger: I can’t believe no one thought to get more information from the owner when they were alive!
  • Bargaining: “Hey, Bob. You like unnecessarily complicated puzzles and hate cleaning the breakroom. I’ll trade you! No?”
  • Depression: Stare at photos hopelessly for 10 minutes. Maybe shed one lonely tear.
  • Acceptance: After you’ve sufficiently lamented, accept your fate. You’re doing this thing.

"Thor: Ragnorak," Disney/Marvel; Tenor2. Get to know the family

“The King and I” (1956); 20th Century Fox; Tenor

I was fortunate when it came to the Lucile Johnson photo collection because a previous staff member had already assembled a brief bio for Lucile – also spelled Lucille – so I knew she was born in Vincennes, Indiana in 1908 and her mother’s name was Bertha Johnson. She also worked at Wasson’s department store in Indianapolis. While I generally give my predecessors the benefit of the doubt, I always try to verify such facts, especially when they don’t include sources, because people make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. Regardless, surveying the photographs before taking a deep dive into a family history is good practice.

Lucile Johnson working Coty counter at H.P. Wasson’s, 1946; Indiana State Library

Flip through the photos
Keep in mind who, what, when and where as you do this. Are you noticing the same faces or places over and over again? Do certain people appear together in multiple photographs and do they look like family (e.g., multiple generations, similar facial features, etc.)?

Make an effort to keep the photos in original order – it could be important
Someone may have had a very good reason for organizing them the way you found them. Or someone could have just tossed them in a box. Either way, you should pay attention to it and decide whether you should retain that order or reorganize the photographs later.

Gather low-hanging fruit first
Handwritten notes or printed information may be even more important if they’re scarce. Many older photographs such as cartes de visite and cabinet cards have information about the photographer printed on the fronts or backs, often including the location of the studio. A handwritten caption noting an event or a person’s name on one photograph could be the key to identify several images in a series.

In the Johnson photo collection, the only consistent notations I found were estimated dates in square brackets a previous librarian must have assigned in pencil. Square brackets are often used to denote information added by archivists to differentiate them from notes written by creators or owners.

3. Form connections

“Sherlock,” BBC; Hartswood Films; Kansas City Public Library

When I’m trying to connect the dots, I look for obvious relationships and repeating clothing and backgrounds. If you’ve elected to reorganize your photographs, you can begin by physically grouping the photographs based on event, place, time period, format or another factor that makes sense to you.

Find familiar faces
Identify commonalities. If you have recognized the subjects in one or two photographs, search for them throughout the images. Make note of dates, locations, their companions and events.

Right away, while looking through Lucile’s photographs, I could see that many of the snapshots were part of a series taken together based on the people, clothing, places and/or time period. A photograph identifying a man named J. H. Moyer, allowed me to pick him out in several other photographs and later, make educated guesses as to his companions.

Left: J.H. Moyer (green) walking street, 1941; right: J.H. Moyer with group, including Lucile, (yellow); Indiana State Library

Pay attention to notable places
Based on several snapshots, Lucile and a group of friends seemingly went on holiday together when they were young ladies. For many Hoosiers, the round building in the background is instantly recognizable as the iconic West Baden Springs Hotel in Orange County. Your own familiarity with common landmarks, legible signage or even a Google reverse image search can all lead you to successfully identifying places in your photographs.

Lucile (yellow) with five friends at West Baden Springs Hotel, ca. 1922; Indiana State Library

Date the images
You can narrow down or even pinpoint when a photo was taken by observing details such as fashion, architecture, insignia, signs, photo formats and more. This blog post from the National Archives walks you through the process step-by-step.

Draw a family tree
If you’re faced with a convoluted family or you’re a visual person, creating a family tree is a must. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I do recommend using a pencil with an eraser if you’re doing it by hand because you’re going to make mistakes. You can also find family tree templates to print out or take advantage of online tools or software. Unless you have an eidetic memory like Barbara Gordon, notes and family trees may be crucial for the next step.

4. Investigate

"Sherlock," BBC, Hartswood Films; ImgurSearch genealogy databases
Once you have a person’s name and a few other details – an approximate birth or death date, a place they may have lived, a close family member – you can start online sleuthing. Genealogy databases, newspapers, digital collections and cemetery projects are the bread and butter of this research. If you don’t want to spring for subscription databases, which is legit, start by searching free databases like FamilySearch and Find A Grave to find your person and identify their social bubble.

While researching Lucile Johnson and her mother, Bertha, I easily located birth and early census records and discovered a mystery. At first glance, the birth certificate was just like any other, informing me Lucile Marie Fox Johnson was born in Vincennes, in Knox County, Indiana on Aug. 12, 1908. Her mother’s name was listed as Bertha L. Johnson and her father’s name was listed as O.W. Wait, what?

Lucile Johnson birth certificate, 1908; ancestry.com

Now, I’m a manuscripts librarian, which is just another term for archivist, so only a small fraction of my job is doing genealogical research, unlike our dedicated and talented genealogy librarians. I must confess I had to Google the acronym to figure it out. If you, like me, have never encountered this before, O.W. on an old birth record means “out of wedlock.” And that’s when I knew this research was going to get a lot more interesting. A baby born to an unmarried young woman in a small town in the Heartland in the early 20th century? There’s a story there. I just had to hope I could find the records to tell it.

"Detective Pikachu," Warner Bros. Pictures; TenorThe question became, how do I discover the identity of Lucile’s father when his name doesn’t appear in most typical records? One possible clue came from Lucile’s own name – Lucile Marie Fox Johnson. A middle name of Fox in the early 1900s was less likely to be a parent’s attempt at whimsy or an indication of their love of vulpine creatures and far more likely to be a surname, usually familial. It seems important to note that a surname as a middle name was often the maiden name of the mother, when a child’s parents were married. In Lucile’s case, it could indicate a pointed statement from her mother to ensure the world knew, as the people in Knox County surely did, who her father was. Keep this in mind, as we’ll come back to it.

While continuing to gather more information on Lucile M. Johnson, I also came across Lucile Moyer Pasmas’ death certificate and gravestone. In the photo collection, there are a few photographs of people identified as Moyers, so I looked closer. The birthdate, birthplace, mother’s name, profession, and place of residence – Indianapolis – on the certificate match Lucile M. Johnson. What caught my attention was the father line, which listed Unknown Moyer. It lines up with the O.W. on her birth certificate, which made me certain I had found the right Lucile. However, her father was a Moyer? I supposed it could be true. I did have those photographs, but then what was the origin of Fox on her birth certificate? And if her father wasn’t a Moyer, Lucile may have married one instead.

Lucille (Johnson) Moyer Pasmas death certificate, 1993; ancestry.com

Crowdsource and consult the experts
About this time, I enlisted the aid of the library’s incomparable genealogy supervisor, Jamie Dunn, to help me locate marriage records for Lucile’s presumed first marriage to Ford D. Moyer. I’m not going to get into that saga here, but you can view the results in the collection finding aid’s biographical note. Jamie didn’t locate the elusive marriage record I hoped to find, but she did discover the identity of Lucile’s father, which brings us to the next resource to utilize – other people. Take advantage of living memory and ask your older relatives what they remember. Message your cousin group chat. And don’t be afraid to contact local genealogy pros at the cultural institutions in your area.

Check local newspapers
Newspapers contain much more than news articles. They also publish birth and marriage announcements, obituaries and legal proceedings. In my case, small town newspapers proved they are, in fact, excellent sources for tidbits about local families. Jamie discovered several notices in the Vincennes Commercial and other papers, which tell us that Bertha Johnson was in fact not pleased with the behavior of her baby’s father and sued him for bastardy in Knox County the same year Lucile was born. He was, it turns out, named Fox — Frank P. Fox, to be precise.

The case was moved to Daviess County at Fox’s request, possibly hoping for a more impartial jury since he and Bertha were both from Vincennes. If that was his intent, it backfired. The jury ruled in Bertha’s favor and awarded her $500 in child support. The Daviess County Weekly Democrat, reporting on the story, also noted that Fox was the same man who hit a child with his car near Wheatland, Indiana, killing him. The newspaper ended by saying, “He is quite well known here.” Absolutely savage.

Left: Vincennes Commercial, Nov. 25, 1908, p. 3; Center and right: Washington Weekly Democrat, May 22, 1909, p. 4;  June 5, 1909, p. 3.

If you’re researching someone from Indiana, Hoosier State Chronicles allows anyone to search dozens of Indiana newspapers at no charge. To use subscription databases like Newspapers.com and Ancestry, avoid paying for individual memberships and contact your public library or historical society. They often maintain database subscriptions you can use in-house or from a state IP address for free, as well as collections of newspapers in print or on microfilm, in addition to other resources.

Don’t trust everything you read online
Treat everything you read on the internet with at least as much suspicion as the expired yogurt in your fridge. No database is perfect or will have every record. The records they do have are often rife with errors, which is often why you’ll see so many different spellings for the same person’s name. Database volunteers are human. Census takers are human. So are journalists and coroners and amateur genealogists. And as we all know, humans aren’t perfect.

Don’t just assume that the Bertha Johnson you found listed in a marriage record is your Bertha Johnson. Johnson is almost as common a surname as Smith and Bertha was a very popular first name among the Gilded Age set. Like a bank verifying your identity, recognize key distinguishing information for your person like birth date, mother’s name and birthplace and check them against the sources you find as much is possible. And if you can’t confirm something, even when you’re 99% certain about it, allow for uncertainty. ::hops off soapbox::

5. Get organized

"Mary Poppins," Disney; GiphyWhen you’ve reached a stopping point in your research, don’t quit there. Organizing and taking care of your old photographs means that they’ll still be there for your son or granddaughter.

If you’re not maintaining the original order, try grouping them in a logical way. I often organized photo collections by subjects arranged from specific to general, then chronologically within each subject, as I did with Lucile’s collection. Subjects included Lucile’s childhood photographs, portraits of her and her mother, Johnson extended family photos, vacation snapshots, pictures of pets and miscellaneous photographs as a catch-all for the random or unidentifiable images. At other times, I might organize by format or date, separating the more fragile tintypes, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes from paper photographs.

A few housekeeping notes

  • Photographs are light sensitive and will fade if left out so they should be stored flat or upright to prevent bending in opaque, acid-free enclosures, envelopes and sleeves.
  • Always handle photographs by their backs or edges as the oils on our skin can damage the image.
  • Don’t store photographs in musty basements or hot attics. Keep them in spaces with mid-level humidity, 15% at the lowest and 65% at the highest, and below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you can, avoid doing anything permanent to the photos like writing in pen or using adhesives to stick it in a scrapbook. For more information, check out this blog post from the National Archives on the care and storage of photographs.
  • And lastly, consider donating your photo collection to an archive. If you’re downsizing, lack storage space or don’t have anyone to leave your collection to, an archive could be a viable option depending on the content. Archives keep the materials safe, ensuring their survival for future generations, while allowing the public, including your family and researchers, to access them as needed.

"Parks and Recreation," NBC Universal; TenorThis blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian Brittany Kropf. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at 317-232-3671 or by using “Ask-A-Librarian.” 

Explore Brown County

Brown County can be found in the center of the southern half of Indiana. It is known for its arts and crafts, food and wine and beautiful hilly vistas. The area was formed from two treaties regarding land ceded by Native Americans – the Treaty of Fort Wayne and the Treaty of St. Mary’s. Many of the early white settlers were from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas and already had familiarity living in mountainous or hilly country. Until the railroad and cars arrived in the area in the early 20th century, the whole of Brown County was very rural. People farmed and harvested lumber from forests to survive. As transportation opened more options for the county, the beginnings of the art community began to form as well.

T. C. Steele and Selma Neubacher Steele built their home, House of the Singing Winds, in 1907. It is now a state historic site. Adolph and Ada Schulz relocated to Nashville, Indiana from Chicago around 1917 and founded the Brown County Art Association. Two organizations, the Brown County Art Gallery and Museum and the Brown County Art Guild still work today to build the legacy of fine art in the community.

Brown County Art Gallery, 1926.

Interior of T. C. Steele’s home and studio.

In 1931, the Brown County State Park opened, inviting visitors to explore the Yellowwood State Forest, Hoosier National Forest and Lake Monroe amongst many other natural and recreational activities. This cemented the area as a tourist destination and that reputation continues to grow to this day.

Picnickers in Brown County State Park.

Explore more of Brown County in our Digital Collections.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Charles H. Kuhn, Hoosier cartoonist

Charles Harris “Doc” Kuhn was not a native Hoosier, but much of his career as a cartoon artist occurred during his more than 40 years of residence in Indiana. He was born in 1892 in Prairie City, Illinois and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He worked for the Chicago Journal and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before joining the staff at the Indianapolis News in 1922 as an editorial cartoonist. Here’s one of his first cartoons for the News:

Indianapolis News, Jan. 21, 1922. Available from Newspapers.com.

If you are an adult of a certain age, you probably remember advertisements for drawing contests like this one:

The Kokomo Tribune, Jan. 19, 1969. Available from Newspapers.com.

In 1934, the Indianapolis News offered its readers a chance to get free drawing lessons created by Kuhn. A coupon like the one below was printed each day in the newspaper. After clipping six coupons, readers could send them in to receive a chart containing two lessons. The lessons continued for 10 weeks, for a total of 20 lessons.

Indianapolis News, March 29, 1934. Available from Newspapers.com.

With cold weather and continued social distancing, this winter might be a great time to try your hand at learning to draw cartoons. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division has digitized all twenty lessons and they available to view and download here.

Charles H. Kuhn collection (S0792), Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

For 25 years, Kuhn’s editorial cartoons appeared in the Indianapolis News. He was often quoted as saying that “the main thing in a cartoon is the idea. If you haven’t got a good idea, you’re just drawing a pretty picture. Political cartoonists have to read all the time and keep up with current events.”

Indianapolis News, April 19, 1947. Available from Newspapers.com.

He left the Indianapolis News in 1947 and began creating comic strips for Richardson Feature Service of Indianapolis. His drew a two-column panel called “Hoosier Life” (published as “Sparks of Life” in newspapers outside of Indiana) and it ran for a couple years.

Indianapolis Star, May 4, 1948. Available from Newspapers.com.

The Daily Oklahoman, Jan. 30, 1948. Available from Newspapers.com.

Kuhn is best known for his “Grandma” comic strip. Originally published using his middle name, Harris, he went back to signing his work as Chas. Kuhn after King Features Syndicate picked it up in 1948.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 4, 1947. Available from Newspapers.com.

The Hammond Times, Sept. 21, 1950. Available from Newspapers.com.

According to the World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, his “Grandma” comic depicted the adventures of a “tomboyish, mischievous old lady who was a friend to the neighborhood boys.” His own mother was his model for Grandma, and he noted that she “was always full of pep and vigor. One time at 75 years of age, she dressed up in my old Navy uniform, danced a jig and played a piece on her French harp just to help the neighborhood kids put on a backyard show.” He also credited his wife, Lois Stevens Kuhn, with supplying many of the ideas for the comic strip.

“Grandma” was syndicated nationally until Kuhn’s retirement in 1969.  He died at his home in Florida on Jan. 16, 1989 at the age of 97.

This blog post was written by Laura Eliason, Rare Books and Manuscripts assistant, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Explore the Will H. Hays Collection online

The Indiana State Library is pleased to announce that the Will H. Hays Collection is now accessible for online research in the ISL Digital Collections. A native Hoosier from a small town, Will Hays became a mover and shaker in Republican party politics, business and the motion picture industry in the first half of the 20th century.

Will Hays at Directors Club banquet, 1925

For the past two years, the entire Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of the Indiana State Library has worked diligently to digitize the most significant part of the collection. The project was made possible by a generous digitization grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives in 2018. A labor of love for Manuscripts staff, the grant came to an end on Aug. 31.

Lucille Ball and Will Hays at Film Critics Circle reception, 1940

The grant allowed for the hiring of two digitization and metadata assistants who, alongside full-time staff, worked tirelessly to review, scan and edit over 100,000 pages of correspondence, papers and photographs, the bulk of which ranged from 1921 to 1945. They then researched and created metadata to describe the materials, uploading 927 folders to the digital collection. The primary assistants for the project shared their favorite items discovered in the collection, in short interviews about their experiences on Sept., 13 and Sept. 25, 2019.

Telegram to Clark Gable on tragic death of Carole Lombard, 1942

The papers in the digital collection comprise Hays’ time as campaign manager for then presidential candidate, Warren G. Harding, service as Postmaster General under Harding from 1921 to1922 and his long reign as “czar of the movies,” while he held the position of president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributers Association from 1922 to 1945. Learn more about Will Hays through this in-depth timeline chronicling his life and career in politics and the nascent film industry.

Snapshot from “Will H. Hays: A Chronology of His Life” timeline

For more information about the project, including the collection’s usage and scope, contact Brittany Kropf, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, at 317-234-9557 or via email.

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

Defunct summer fun in Indianapolis

With COVID-19 currently afflicting the nation, many fun summer activities have been altered for sanitation and social distancing purposes or have been cancelled completely. As a result, many Hoosiers have been left with rather lackluster summer options, devoid of family vacations and fun excursions. Undoubtedly, this has caused a certain degree of wistfulness as people recall past summers and good times.

Compiled here are a few fun summer excursions in Indianapolis that no longer exist. Fortunately, there can be no fear-of-missing-out because you absolutely could not visit any of these places, even if you wanted to!

Riverside Amusement Park
This amusement park existed from the early 1900s until 1970. The park land still exists under the name Riverside and fun can be had there, but the current park is nothing like it was during its heyday when it boasted of having multiple roller coasters, a massive roller skating rink and a bathing beach.

From an item in the Program Collection (L658), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

From the Postcard Collection (P071), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Wonderland Amusement Park
Another Indianapolis amusement park was Wonderland. Located on the east side of the city, the park was relatively short-lived, operating from 1906 until 1911 when it was destroyed by a fire.

Image shows park entrance in 1910. Program Collection (L658), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Like many amusement parks of the time, Wonderland hosted a variety of traveling performers who plied their death-defying feats at fairs and festivals throughout the country. In the summer of 1907, Indianapolis citizens could see stunt cyclist Oscar V. Babcock ride his bike through his thrilling Death Trap Loop.

Before and after picture of Babcock performing at Wonderland. From Oscar V. Babcock Photographs Collection (SP054), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Cyclorama
Cycloramas were a popular form of diversion in the late 19th century. They consisted of a platform surrounded by a 360 degree panoramic image. The goal was for viewers to stand on the platform and feel immersed in the scene depicted in the image, as though they were there in real life. Many popular cycloramas depicted battle scenes from the American Civil War and traveled from city to city. In 1888, the Indianapolis Cyclorama hosted a painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta. Standing at 49 feet tall and spanning over 100 yards, the painting must certainly have impressed visitors. Alas, by the turn of the century the fad for cycloramas had waned and the Indianapolis cyclorama building was eventually torn down. However, the Battle of Atlanta panorama still exists and can be viewed in person at the Atlanta History Center.

Program from Indiana Pamphlet Collection (ISLO 973.73 no. 35).

Visit the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections to see more.

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.”

Introduction to Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at the Indiana State Library includes an estimated 3 million manuscripts in 5,200 different collections ranging from the early 15th century to present day. People often ask, “What is the earliest item in your collection?” Believe it or not, the earliest items are cuneiform (kyoo-nee’-uh-form) tablets dating from 2350-2000 B.C. The division hosts many more treasures, including Civil War-era letters and diaries, family papers and the records of many political figures from the Hoosier state.

Uruk votive cone, circa 2100 B.C.

Our unit comprises of four full-time staff, two volunteers and one part-time contract position. We provide reference services, instructional sessions, scanning and photocopying, collection guides and digital resources for anyone to use. The Manuscripts Catalog, a new database to search our collections, allows patrons to receive generated citations, print PDF versions of collection guides and request materials using an online form.

Rare Books and Manuscripts staff at Crown Hill Cemetery, 2019. Left to right: Lauren Patton, Bethany Fiechter, Brittany Kropf and Laura Eliason.

In 2018, the division was awarded a National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant to digitize the papers of Will H. Hays. Hays served as the Republican National Committee chairman during 1918-21, campaign manager for President Warren Harding in 1920 and later became president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922-45, where he established the Hays Code of acceptable content for motion pictures. Providing digital access to this collection will enable researchers unlimited access, leading to more research and discovery across multiple disciplines. To view our progress, visit the Will H. Hays digital collection.

Lucille Ball and Will Hays at the Film Critics Circle Reception, 1940.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division continues to acquire material defining Indiana’s history and culture. Help us preserve it by donating to the collection. For more information, visit our new Donating Manuscripts page.

For more information, please contact  Rare Books and Manuscripts at 317-232-3671 or via email.