Papers of Indiana Representative Earl F. Landgrebe now available for research

“Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.”[1]

This infamous quote was given by Indiana Rep. Earl F. Landgrebe the day before President Richard Nixon formally resigned. Prior to being elected as representative for Indiana’s 2nd District, Landgrebe had served in the Indiana State Senate from 1959 to 1968. In 1968, he succeeded Charles A. Halleck as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the same election that also put Nixon in the White House.

After Landgrebe was defeated in the 2nd District by Floyd Fithian, the Indiana State Library acquired his political papers from his period at the U.S. House of Representatives from 1968 to 1974. Previously sealed, the papers were recently processed – a project of about 18 months – and are now open for research under the identifier L625.

A piece of correspondence from Nixon to Landgrebe.

Typical hallmarks of 20th century political papers include correspondence with other politicians and notable contemporary figures, correspondence from constituents regarding issues of the day and in-depth discussion and research into issues that were important to the politician and the population they were serving. Besides standard correspondence between Landgrebe, his constituents and other notable Hoosiers and the day-to-day functions of a U.S. representative, the collection includes material on several other notable topics. For example, the Indiana subject files give a snapshot of the strengths and needs of the Hoosier state during the early 1970s. Organized alphabetically by topic or state agency, these papers show how the state was handling anything from education to veterans’ affairs at the time and to what extent Landgrebe was involved.

A draft of a speech on Gold Star Mothers.

Series 2, pertaining to legislative affairs, is the deepest area of the collection. There is extensive coverage on notable issues from Nixon’s administration, including Vietnam, the draft, Watergate, abortion and OSHA. Another area of interest, particularly to Indiana researchers, is the material on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. After 1966, when the National Lakeshore was established, there were efforts to expand the boundaries of the park, which Landgrebe opposed, as he opposed most things! The first expansion bill wasn’t completed until 1976, but there is a great deal of information on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the collection from the years 1969 to 1974 when Landgrebe was in Congress.

A piece of constituent correspondence on Watergate.

In 1974, Landgrebe returned home to Valparaiso and resumed presiding over his family trucking business. He died on July 1, 1986. Despite being a contentious presence in the U.S. House as well as in his district, Landgrebe leaves behind a wealth of information about the legislation and social debates of 1970s America. This collection serves as a fruitful resources for researchers of Indiana politicians, 1970s politics, the Vietnam War, the history of Northwest Indiana and more.

[1] Pearson, Richard, “Obituaries: Earl F. Landgrebe,” Washington Post, July 1, 1986, Accessed September 6, 2018.

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.”

Meet the intern: Abby Currier

Meet Abby Currier, one of the Indiana State Library’s newest interns. Abby grew up in New Hampshire and went to school in Pennsylvania and this is her first time in the Midwest. She says she is “thoroughly enjoying it and am glad that I can now add Indy to places that I have lived.”

Which school are you currently attending?
I am currently at IUPUI, but I graduated from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with my bachelor’s in history and Spanish in May of 2017.

What is your major?
I am a dual degree student in both public history and library science.

What is your job here at the Indiana State Library?
I work as an intern in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

Favorite part of the library or favorite thing about working at the library?
I like having the opportunity to discover new things and learn about the past both here in Indy and across the world.

How will this internship further your career?
I am hoping to work in an archive someday, so this is a perfect experience for me to learn about the profession that I want to enter.

Favorite place to eat here in Indy?
I don’t eat out a lot, but when I do my favorite place to go is Bru Burger downtown.

Favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show normally depends on what I am binging on Netflix at the moment, but I really enjoy “Hogan’s Heroes” and “M*A*S*H.”

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

Indianapolis Times photograph collection now available for public viewing

In October of 2017, the Indiana State Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Division acquired the photograph morgue of The Indianapolis Times, comprising of over 150,000 photographs dating from 1939-65. Also included were thousands of clippings and brochures, relating to international, national, state and local topics.

 

The Indianapolis Times exposed the Ku Klux Klan and its influence on Indiana state politics during the 1920s, resulting in journalism’s highest award, the Pulitzer Prize. It advocated for children’s needs during the Great Depression and helped over 4,000 Indiana residents find jobs by publishing free advertisements during the 1960s. The newspaper ran its final issue on Oct. 11, 1965. Daily circulation totaled 89,374 with a Sunday circulation of 101,000. For more information about the newspaper’s history, the Indiana Historical Bureau created a post within the Hoosier State Chronicles blog.

 

Researchers can request to view the collection by calling Rare Books and Manuscripts at (317) 232-3671 or submitting a question via Ask-A-Librarian. The newspaper is available on microfilm in the Indiana Collection. For more information about the library’s newspaper holdings, visit here.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library.

Indiana State Library awarded NHPRC grant to digitize the papers of Will H. Hays

The Indiana State Library recently received a $74,880 grant to support the digitization of Will H. Hays’ papers ranging from 1914-54. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero awarded 31 grants totaling over $4 million dollars through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The official press release can be found here.

Will H. Hays

Hays served as the Republican National Committee chairman during 1918-21 and was the campaign manager for President Warren Harding in 1920. Harding appointed Hays as postmaster general in 1921. He 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 produced for a public audience. A film from the state library’s collection was recently digitized and can be found here.

The Indiana State Library was the only state library to receive an NHPRC grant in the category of Access to Historical Records. Other awardees in this category included the California Historical Society, Purdue University, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. and more.

“Hays continues to be our most frequently-viewed collection, with scholars traveling from as far as the United Kingdom to view it. Providing digital access to this collection will undoubtedly change its usage levels. Researchers not able to visit the library due to travel implications, such as lack of funding, will have unlimited access, leading to more research and discovery across multiple disciplines,” said Bethany Fiechter, project director.

For more information on the collection of Will H. Hays, contact Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, at (317) 234-8621 or via email.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Beer – It’s what’s for dinner

At least that’s what the United Brewers Industrial Foundation sought to convince the American people in 1937.

When Prohibition ended in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, it signified the renaissance of the legal alcohol industry. In an effort to improve the beverage’s reputation, the foundation published a series of pamphlets, including “At Home with Beer“ and “Beer – The Liquid Food,” hailing beer as a smart and wholesome addition to the daily menu.

Pamphlet published by the United Brewers Industrial Foundation, ca. 1937. Source: Indiana State Library.

The pamphlet entitled “It’s Smart to Serve Beer: Menus and Recipes to Assist the Gracious Hostess” is perhaps the best of the lot. It offers up such gastronomical gems as “Liver Dumplings in Beer” and “Bohemian Beer Soup.”  Yum. Actually, “Chocolate Beer Cake” on page 24 doesn’t look half-bad. The pamphlet’s author, Helen Watts Schreiber, touted beer as “a delightful drink in moderation—yet most inexpensive.” She promised readers, “Your hospitality and your social graces as a smart hostess will be assured if you serve the sparkling amber brew throughout the entire meal.”

Despite this fresh spin, the brewing industry had a tough sell with opposition from organizations like the Indiana Anti-Saloon League, who were still calling all forms of alcohol “a narcotic poison and habit-forming drug” 10 years after Prohibition’s end.

Broadside distributed by the Indiana Anti-Saloon League, ca. 1943. Source: Small Broadsides Collection, Indiana State Library.

Brewing in Indiana

Before Prohibition, Indiana had a respectable brewing industry. In 1879, the Hoosier State ranked 12th out of 43 states, and two territories, with 191,729 barrels of beer sold and 10th in the number of breweries with 76. Some Indiana beers even achieved international renown, such as the Indianapolis Brewing Company’s Düsseldorfer, which won gold medals at the Paris Exposition of 1900, the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and at Liege, Belgium in 1906.

Advertisement for Indianapolis Brewing Co.’s Düsseldorfer beer, ca. 1900. Source: Indianapolis Brewing Company and Excelsior Laundry ads (S1881), Indiana State Library.

After the Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, many of Indiana’s breweries resumed operations, including the Indianapolis Brewing Company, Drewrys Limited in South Bend, Falstaff Brewing Corp. in Fort Wayne and Sterling Brewers in Evansville. In the following decades, many local American breweries, such as these four, eventually closed or were bought out, unable to compete with the national brands like Budweiser and Coors.

25th anniversary report of the Indiana Brewers Association, 1958. Source: Indiana Pamphlets, Indiana State Library.

Old becomes new again

Beer has endured as a staple throughout human history, for both nourishment and enjoyment. The oldest surviving recorded “recipe” for beer making is found in an ancient Sumerian tablet called the “Hymn to Ninkasi”—the goddess of beer and brewing—dated 1800 B.C.E., but brewing practices originated much earlier. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of beer and brewing in Mesopotamia and China going back at least 5,000 years, and suspect its existence as early as the Neolithic period.

Sumerian cuneiform tablet recording beer rations, ca. 3100-3000 BCE. Source: Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Historically, beer making often began in the home. In ancient Sumer, the first brewers were the priestesses of Ninkasi and brewing, typically associated with baking, became part of women’s regular meal preparation. By and large, beer in the Western world was homemade until the Renaissance period when brewpubs and monasteries became the focal point of brewing activities. Brewing practices changed once again when, as in other trades, industrialization made large-scale commercial operations profitable in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The growing trend of home brewing in the 1970s and 1980s, which led to the modern craft beer movement, could be considered a throwback to older brewing traditions, even while employing modern beer making methods. As a result, today’s beer industry is a hodgepodge of massive beer enterprises and thousands of smaller brewing operations, such as microbreweries and brewpubs. The craft beer movement reinvigorated an otherwise stagnant brewing industry, infusing innovation and new flavor into a timeless beverage.

Today’s proliferation of diverse drafts and bottled brews would surely have pleased these Indiana soldiers clearly in need of a pint, if the graffiti is any indication. Ironically, these thirsty Hoosiers in want of beer returned from fighting a war in 1919 only to discover that Indiana had gone completely dry the year before their return.

WWI soldiers returning home to Indianapolis, May 7, 1919. Source: Harry Coburn, World War I, 1917-1918 film, Indiana State Library.

Bibliography:
Kohn, Rita. “A History of Indiana Beer: Repeal through Today.NUVO, September 16, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2018.

Kohn, Rita. “A History of Indiana Beer: Settling Indiana and Indianapolis.NUVO, September 14, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2018.

Ostrander, Bob and Derrick Morris. Hoosier Beer: Tapping into Indiana Brewing History. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011.

Salem, F. W. Beer: It’s History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage. Hartford, CT: F. W. Salem & Company, 1880.

Schreiber, Helen Watts. “It’s Smart to Serve Beer: Menus and Recipes to Assist the Gracious Hostess.” New York, NY: United Brewers Industrial Foundation, ca. 1933.

Smith, Peter. “A Sip from an Ancient Sumerian Drinking Song.Smithsonian.com, June 18, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2018.

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.

Indiana State Library helps create headstone for Civil War veteran

In April, a staff member at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas contacted the Indiana State Library with a special request: In 1916, a Union Civil War veteran from Indiana had been laid to rest without a headstone and they were seeking out information in order to provide one for him.

It became my task to compile as much information as I could on the deceased, Thomas J. Raybell, in order to ensure a proper and accurate headstone.

I set to work on researching Raybell, first verifying his full name: Thomas Jefferson Raybell. I also researched his vital statistics. He was born in 1846, most likely in Miami County, Indiana and died June 22, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas. Ancestry.com is a great resource for finding this kind of information. Although, you do need to know the person’s name and have an idea of where they were born, lived, or died and/or a ballpark of those dates; especially if the name is common.

Photo credit Fred Holroyd

Discerning his regiment and company was more difficult. In order to determine and verify his regiment, I cross-checked a combination of the muster rolls, the military records at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration and the Civil War Index website. Eventually, I was able to confirm that Raybell enlisted in Peru, Indiana, serving in Company F of the 109th. This was more difficult in part because the 109th was only in service for seven days in July of 1863! The 109th was organized to combat Morgan’s Raid, an incursion by the Confederate cavalry into Northern states by Captain John Hunt Morgan. They used two captured steamboats in order to cross the Ohio River and there was a battle in Corydon before the raiders moved toward the Ohio border. In the end, federal troops captured Morgan’s raiders in southeastern Ohio.

I’m proud to say that thanks to Fred Holroyd at the Mount Hope Cemetery, the Sons of Union Veterans Topeka and in a small part, the Indiana State Library—Thomas J. Raybell’s headstone has been created and will be installed after 102 years. I hope this gives a small snapshot into what archivists can do!

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.”

Late 19th century and early 20th century school textbook drawings

As May nears its close, children across the state are getting ready for the end of the school year. Most students in Indiana rent their textbooks and are expected to return them in a condition similar to that in which they were received. Alas, books are often returned with minor additions, such as small artistic drawings doodled in page margins during bouts of boredom. Others may contain acerbic commentary on school life written on any blank spot the student can find.

The need for students to creatively enhance their textbooks is hardly a recent phenomenon. The Indiana State Library holds a large collection of school primers and textbooks from the 19th and early 20th centuries and many of these contain numerous drawings, doodles and humorous anecdotes.

The earliest example comes from a textbook published in 1853 and features several small drawings done in a sort of pointillism style with the images created by small ink dots.

Horses seem to be a popular artistic subject for 19th century students. This image came from a writing primer published in 1886.

Some drawings were very elaborate and were colored with crayons or colored pencils such as this railroad scene dated 1940.

This drawing of a schoolhouse is dated 1938.

This portrait of an elderly man, perhaps the student’s grandfather, was found in a spelling book published in 1901.

Less artistically-inclined students enhanced their textbooks in other ways such as the rather scathing caption on this image from an 1896 English textbook declaring the picture subject as being “not a pretty girl.”

Then there is this example found in the margin of a 1920s spelling book in which the sentence, “Ruth Fox is the best girl in school” is crossed out twice and the words “not so” are added to underscore the point. One can only imagine what poor Miss Fox did to fall from grace!

School textbooks and primers can be found by searching the Indiana State Library’s catalog.

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.”

Donating manuscripts

http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16066coll13/id/1018/rec/483

Sledding in Broad Ripple Park, circa 1900.

This time of year usually brings snow and ice, an overindulgence of baked goods (sugar cream pie, anyone?), tax refund shopping – and hopefully, spending quality time with family and friends. Perhaps you’ve had a conversation with a relative about whether or not to keep Grandpa’s letters from the Korean War? Maybe you opened a couple moving boxes and wondered if you should trash high school photographs?

Think about it.

You are a key part of defining Indiana’s history and culture. Help us preserve it by donating your collection to the Indiana State Library. As the season of spring cleaning quickly approaches, contact us if you find yourself in a dilemma. For more information on what we collect, visit the library’s Donating Manuscripts page.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

The Barbara Stahl Collection’s fascinating journey within the Indiana State Library

We’re often asked, “What happens when materials make their way to Indiana State Library?” In this post, we’ll explore a collection’s journey with a recent acquisition from local artist, Barbara Stahl. The Barbara Stahl collection includes the first abstract work by a female artist to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

Barbara contacted the division in September 2016 after she learned about the library’s services through a friend. At the time, WISH-TV published an article about her work in downtown Indianapolis with the Indiana Pacers. For those of you who might not know, Barbara is the artist and owner behind Stahl Studios Inc., specializing in commercial and public art in Indianapolis and the surrounding area.

In October 2016, staff met with Barbara about the possibility of displaying her artwork at the Indiana State Library. A short time later, we made a site visit to Stahl Studios and discussed her career as well as the process behind creating her new series of large-scale oil paintings titled “Skybridge.” The paintings are a release from her earlier, more chaotic works; a metaphor for reaching one’s higher self.

The exhibit was well-received and led the Indiana State Library Foundation to purchase “Consciousness Rising,” one of six paintings from the series. Notably, this was the first purchase of abstract work created by a female artist for the permanent collection. Stahl mentions “Being included in this prestigious collection is very special and something I am extremely proud of.”

Further conversation led to the acquisition of her drawings, photographic prints and personal papers to the division. At this time, Barbara’s collection includes over four cubic feet of material. Rare Books and Manuscripts staff have thoroughly enjoyed working with her on the project – an opportunity she describes as “creating her legacy.”

The collection items are carefully looked over during the accessioning process. An inventory and record is created with temporary housing selected for the library’s secure, temperature and humidity controlled vault. The conservator creates special housing to ensure the longevity of her complex formats, particularly wax on wood panels and mud paintings completed in Belize.

Simultaneously, staff begin processing and creating the finding aid for Barbara’s collection. The finding aid or guide is a detailed record providing an intellectual overview of the collection as well as a detailed list of its items. Once the finding aid is complete, we add it to the online public access catalog, Evergreen, our Finding Aid Index and digitize the items for our digital repository, the Indiana State Library Digital Collections. These services provide top-notch accessibility to Barbara’s collection in our library and around the world.

Patrons can stop by the second floor of the library during regular business hours to see the Barbara Stahl collection in-person. As a bonus, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division is now open until 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings for research needs. Not only will you love seeing her work up close, you’ll also enjoy sitting in the beautiful, 1930s art deco inspired reading room.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Humor-mongering: Or, an 18th century joke book

The Indiana State Library is home to a number of fascinating items, including an excellent 19th century facsimile of the original “Joe Miller’s Jests.”

First published in London in 1739, the joke book offers 247 of the “most brilliant jests; the politest repartees; the most elegant bon mots, and most pleasant short stories in the English language,” according to the full title. The reprint duplicates the original typescript and title page down to listing the price of one shilling. The book’s compiler, John Mottley, under the nom de plume Elijah Jenkins, Esq., exploited the cachet of the recently deceased actor and comedian, Joe Miller, to sell copies.

“The Wits Vadecum,” as it was alternatively titled, proved quite popular. A vademecum is a handbook or guide, the sort you consult so often you keep it in your purse or on the bedside table. Joe Miller’s Jests grew so well-known that a worn-out or clichéd joke was often called “a Joe Miller.” An example of a Joe Miller today would be:

Q: How do you make a tissue dance?
A: Put a little boogie in it.

Cue eye roll.

Let’s look at a few types of witticisms found in “Joe Miller’s Jests” that still elicit the odd chuckle or guffaw even today.

Fart Jokes

“When the Duke of Ormond was young and came first to Court, he happen’d to stand next to my Lady Dorchester, one Evening in the Drawing-Room, who being but little upon the Reserve on most Occasions, let a Fart, upon which he look’d her full in the Face and laugh’d. What’s the Matter, my Lord, said she : Oh! I heard it, Madam, reply’d the Duke, you’ll make a fine Courtier indeed, said she, if you mind every Thing you hear in this Place.” (5)

Puns (a.k.a. plays on words)

“One of the foresaid Gentlemen, as was his Custom, preaching most exceedingly dull to a Congregation not used to him, many of them slunk out of the Church one after another, before the Sermon was near ended. Truly, said a Gentleman present, this learned Doctor has made a very moving Discourse.” (32)

“A Beggar asking Alms under the Name of a poor Scholar, a Gentleman to whom he apply’d himself, ask’d him a Question in Latin, the Fellow, shaking his Head, said he did not understand him: Why, said the Gentleman, did you not say you were a poor Scholar? Yes, reply’d the other, a poor one indeed, Sire, for I don’t understand one Word of Latin.” (54)

“A famous Teacher of Arithmetick, who had long been married without being able to get his Wife with Child : One said to her, Madam, your Husband is an excellent Arithmetician. Yes, replies she, only he can’t multiply.” (234)

Political Humor

“Sir B—ch—r W—y, in the Beginning of Queen Anne’s Reigh, and three or four more drunken Tories, reeling home from Fountain-Tavern in the Strand, on a Sunday Morning, cry’d out, we are the Pillars of the Church, no, by G–d, said a Whig, that happened to be in their Company, you can be but Buttresses, for you never come on the Inside of it.” (60)

“The Tories and the Whigs – Pulling for a Crown” cartoon, 1789. Source: Library of Congress.

Fat Jokes (on par with blonde jokes and their ilk)

“Dr. Tadloe, who was a very fat Man, happened to go thump, thump, with his great Legs, thro’ a Street, in Oxford, where some Paviers had been at Work, in the Midst of July, the Fellows immediately laid down their Rammers, Ah! God bless you, Master, cries one of ‘em, it was very kind of you to come this Way, it saves us a great deal of Trouble in this hot Weather.” (66)

Religious Humor

“Michael Angelo, in his Picture of the last Judgment, in the Pope’s Chappel, painted among the Figures in Hell, that of a certain Cardinal, who was his enemy, so like that every-body knew it at first Sight : Whereupon the Cardinal complaining to Pope Clement the Seventh, of the Affront, and desiring it might be defaced : You know very well, said the Pope, I have Power to deliver a Soul out of Purgatory but not out of Hell.” (74)

Dirty Jokes

“A Country Farmer going cross his Grounds in the Dusk of the Evening, spy’d a young Fellow and a Lady, very busy near a five Bar Gate, in one of his Fields, and calling to them to know what they were about, said the young Man no Harm, Farmer, we are only going to Prop-a-Gate.” (85)

Old Age Jokes

“A Lady’s Age happening to be questioned, she affirmed she was but Forty, and call’d upon a Gentleman that was in Company for his Opinion; Cousin, said she, do you believe I am in the Right, when I say I am but Forty? I ought not to dispute it, Madam, reply’d he, for I have heard you say so these ten Years.” (99)

And my personal favorite…

Library Jokes

“A Nobleman having chosen a very illiterate Person for his Library Keeper, one said it was like a Seraglio kept by an Eunuch.” (90)

(A seraglio is another word for harem.)

Engraving of a library by Richard Bernard Godfrey, ca. 1700s. Source: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Many “jests” referred to well-known personages and their foibles, much like modern comedians poke fun at prominent politicians and celebrities today. It was the common practice of 18th-century journalists and satirists referencing a real, living person to censor most of the name (e.g., Lord C—by) to sidestep pesky charges of libel. Contemporaries of daily newspapers and scandal sheets would have understood the allusion, while present-day readers are left to puzzle it out using historical research or just remain in the dark.

The Duke of A—ll could refer to the Duke of Argyll or the Duke of Atholl, but 18th-century readers would easily have identified the culprit.

Other jokes and anecdotes featured famous historical figures like Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Oliver Cromwell, Caesar Augustus and Michelangelo.

Print of Sir Thomas More by Jacobus Houbraken, 1741. Source: Yale Center for British Art; Yale University Art Gallery Collection.

Though something is lost in translation without knowledge of historical society or slang, the roots of what makes people laugh remains the same. So, maybe it’s not too surprising that “Joe Miller’s Jests” has been reprinted and republished over and over in the 278 years since its original publication.

You can read more on the continuity of humor in this piece in the New York Post.

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.”