Locating government information

The Indiana State Library provides services and expertise on a variety of subjects to Hoosiers across the state. One subject ISL can help patrons with is locating federal information. The State Library participates in the Federal Depository Library Program, which is a government program created to make U.S. federal government publications publicly available at no cost. There are 33 libraries in the state that participate in this program. ISL serves as the Regional Depository Library for Indiana.

FDLP libraries provide access to official federal government information, but also employ a library staff member with an expertise on the subject to aid research. At ISL, the position is part of the Reference & Government Services Division. The federal depository coordinator – or librarian – can assist researchers in historical research, politics, law or genealogy, but that only represents a fraction of the information that is publicly available. The U.S. government offers a wealth of information that is easily searchable online. It can be challenging to locate specific information. For current information, it is likely to be found by searching two resources: govinfo.gov and usa.gov.

Govinfo.gov is the one-stop site for authentic information published by the government. For those looking for a particular law, report, Congressional Committee material or any official publications from the three branches of government, govinfo.gov is the resource to use. The website allows users to search for specific legislation – like the recent Heroes Act – or browse for information by searching through collections, author, committees or date. GovInfo provides individuals access to official published government documents.

USA.gov is the official web portal of the United States government, and essentially serves as an information hub that connects individuals to information relating to the services offered by the federal government. Individuals can search every U.S. government website through usa.gov or learn about popular government programs and services. They are all organized by topic. USA.gov can help researchers contact members of Congress, check on your stimulus check, get COVID-19 resources, find government jobs and so much more.

With the breadth of information provided by our government, the federal documents coordinator can help researchers navigate the information overload. ISL staff can help researchers identify valuable government resources and help patrons on how to search a particular resource. Researchers can call, email, visit, chat or submit a LibAnswer question for assistance. Staff members have put together subject guides and presented webinars to help improve literacy of government information. As a FDLP library, the Indiana State Library is committed to ensuring Hoosiers can access government information and help navigate the wide range of government information available.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library federal documents coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at 317-232-3678 or via “Ask-A-Librarian.”

How Indiana libraries contributed to MLB’s Negro Leagues statistics

On Dec. 16, Major League Baseball announced that it would add Negro League statistics to its official records. According to the league’s official website, “MLB is officially recognizing that the quality of the segregation-era circuits was comparable to its own product from that time period.” The statistics will come from the seven professional Negro Leagues that played between 1920 and 1948. This announcement adds approximately 3,400 players to the annals of Major League history.

When I first read the news, I immediately remembered an assignment I had when I was working the reference desk at the Tippecanoe County Public Library in the 2000s. Of course, researching articles on microfilm is pretty standard for anyone who works at a reference desk, but as someone who enjoys baseball statistics, I was excited to sit down at the reader and look up box scores of Negro League games that were played in and around the Lafayette area in the early 1900s. I don’t remember which specific box scores I researched, but I do remember wondering if the stats would ever be published anywhere.

Years later, I noticed my name was listed in a “thank you” section on the Negro League Data Sources page of the Baseball Reference website, along with the names of several other researchers from various Indiana public libraries. I had found the stats! It turns out that the researcher was Gary Ashwill, co-creator and lead researcher of the Seamheads Negro League Baseball Database, who also writes the blog Agate Type: Adventures in Baseball Archaeology. Ashwill is one of the leading researchers of Negro League statistics in the world. When the news of MLB adding the Negro League stats to their statistics broke, I wondered if any of the research conducted at the Indiana libraries would become official Major League statistics.

Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with Ashwill and he was kind enough to answer some questions and shed some light on the statistics researched at the Indiana libraries.

Photo courtesy of Gary Ashwill.

As a long-time researcher of baseball statistics with an emphasis on the Negro Leagues, what are your thoughts on Major League Baseball announcing that they will now include records from the seven Negro Leagues between 1920 and 1948 as part of their major league statistics?
It’s a day I did not ever contemplate happening, to be honest. I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, it doesn’t change anything at all about what actually happened. Nearly all of the people who were directly affected by baseball’s color line have passed away, so it has the potential of seeming like an empty, even appropriative gesture. On the other hand, it carries tremendous symbolic importance, especially for baseball fans, and it could spread the story of the Negro Leagues much more widely than historians like me could really manage on our own.

Why is MLB including only stats from 1920-48 and not before?
Probably because before 1920 black professional teams were not organized into leagues, and it is still a fairly difficult lift to get some folks to consider teams that weren’t in leagues to be “major league” – even if they did employ some of the best baseball players in the country.

In the 2000s, you researched Negro League box scores at the New Castle-Henry County Library, the Muncie Public Library, the Indianapolis Public Library, the Tippecanoe County Public Library, the Brazil Public Library, the Morgan County Public Library, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library and the Anderson Public Library. Why such a heavy emphasis on Indiana libraries?
Indiana was a very important arena for black professional baseball throughout the era of segregation. The places you mention were particularly important in the 1910s and 1920s because C. I. Taylor, the owner/manager of the Indianapolis ABCs, booked games against other strong black teams in many smaller cities and towns around Indiana. This was because the core of the Negro League fan base consisted of black fans in larger cities, but the amounts of disposable income were limited – so black teams commonly had to spend considerable amounts of time traveling around to seek out new fans and new markets. In smaller places, the arrival of polished professional ballplayers like the ABCs and their opponents was a big deal, and often received good coverage in the local papers.

The 1914 Indianapolis ABCs, from the Indianapolis Ledger, Oct. 24, 1914, p. 4.

MLB announced that they will be working with the Elias Sports Bureau to review and incorporate the statistics into Major League history. Will any of your research be included in the incorporated statistics?
Yes, we [Seamheads] are already speaking with Elias – it seems very likely we’ll be working together to figure it all out.

Finally, for anyone interested in sports-related statistical research, what advice would you give them?
Check as many sources as possible. This will help you spot mistakes in box scores or game stories and enable you to resolve anomalies. Also, not all material in a newspaper related to a game will appear in the article or box score that describes it. In particular, if the newspaper employed sports columnists, check their columns that day or even over the next few days – they will often have items or tidbits related to the game or the players you’re researching.

Also, when in doubt, ask a librarian! In the cases of many difficult-to-research smaller towns I wrote to librarians to help track down games I was looking for, and they were almost always able to help. It’s vital, of course, to do as much work as you can first to develop as precise an idea of what you need as possible, rather than asking someone to scroll through several months of microfilm for you. In one case, the newspaper microfilm of a box score was photographed out of focus, too blurry to read. I contacted a librarian in the city where the game was played, and they were able to check the bound volumes of the newspaper in question and send me a nice, sharp image of the box score.

I would like to thank Gary Ashwill, who took time out of his busy schedule of television appearances and meetings with the Elias Sports Bureau this week, for granting this interview.

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library.

Merry Christmas from your public library… but wait, can they say that?

This is the time of year for all sorts of celebrations. The most widely-recognized holidays in America during this time of year include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas.

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem after a successful 165 B.C. revolt against a king who had outlawed the Jewish religion and its practices, and who decreed only Greek gods could be worshiped in the Temple. Hanukkah is celebrated with certain foods, games, gifts and the lighting of a candle for each day of the eight-day celebration. The symbol most widely associated with Hanukkah is the hanukkiah, a candle holder that holds nine candles, one for each of the eight-day celebration and a “helper-candle” which is used to light the others. It is more commonly referenced as a menorah.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day festival that celebrates African and African American culture. Each day of the celebration is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. It is not intended to be a political or religious holiday. Kwanzaa is celebrated by festivities that include decorating, singing, dancing, gifts and a large feast on the last day. The symbol most widely recognized in relation to Kwanzaa is the kinara, a candle holder that holds seven candles, one to be lit on each day of the celebration.

Christmas is traditionally a Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus, a person most Christians believe is the son of God. However, in more recent years, Christmas has become a more secular holiday celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians with festive decorations, singing, parties and the exchange of gifts. Symbols most commonly associated with Christmas are the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and nativity scenes depicting baby Jesus.

Undoubtedly, the holiday most obviously on display right now is Christmas. You can hardly leave your house without evidence of the upcoming Christmas holiday on display all around you. Many homes and businesses are decorated with pretty lights, wreaths, garlands and Christmas trees. Many cashiers and salespeople are wishing us Merry Christmas as we conclude our business with them. With Christmas being so popular, what could possibly be the issue with our local public library joining in the festivities?

The dilemma lies in the fact that Christmas is still considered by many in our country to be a religious Christian holiday. The establishment clause – found in the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution – prohibits government from making any law establishing a religion. It is widely established through numerous court cases that the establishment clause further prohibits government actions that promote, endorse or favor one religion over another. Thus, many have argued that taxpayer-funded government entities should not celebrate or decorate for Christmas because it promotes Christianity. Several U.S. Supreme Court cases have discussed the issue of Christmas displays on government property and the result appears to be that government can recognize and even decorate for Christmas, as long as it is done primarily from a secular perspective and not in a manner that promotes or endorses religion.

In the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602), the Court established a three-part test to analyze if government behavior violates the establishment clause. In using the “Lemon” test to analyze a holiday display, the Court would look at (1) whether the primary purpose of the display is secular in nature, (2) if the display either promotes or inhibits religion and (3) if there is excessive entanglement between church and state. Accordingly, the analysis into whether a particular government holiday display constitutes an impermissible violation of the establishment clause is a fact-based analysis that could result in different outcomes depending on the nature and contents of the display.

The two most commonly-recognized U.S. Supreme Court cases on this topic are the 1984 case of Lynch v. Donnelly (465 U.S. 668) and the 1989 case of County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (492 U.S. 573).

In Lynch, the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was sued due to the city’s inclusion of a nativity scene in its annual Christmas display at a local park. In addition to the nativity scene, the city’s display included a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree, reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, candy striped poles, carolers, cut out animal figures, hundreds of colored lights and a banner that read, “Seasons Greetings”. The city was sued just for inclusion of the nativity scene. The city lost both at the U.S. District Court level and upon appeal and was prohibited from using the nativity scene in its Christmas display. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned those rulings and held the city’s display did not violate the establishment clause. The Supreme Court held, in part, that when a nativity scene is included as one component of a Christmas display for the purpose of celebrating the holiday and depicting the origins of the holiday, those were legitimate secular purposes. The Court further held it did not believe the display was a purposeful advocacy of a particular religious message which would violate the establishment clause and any benefit to any particular religion was “indirect, remote and incidental”. The Court additionally held that there was no excessive entanglement between religion and state resulting from the city’s ownership of the nativity scene and inclusion of the scene in its annual Christmas display. There was no evidence the city had been in contact with any church about the content or design of the exhibit prior to or after the city’s purchase of the nativity scene. No expenditures for maintenance of the nativity scene was necessary and any tangible material the city contributed was minimal. The Court explained in great detail how church and state cannot and have never been completely separate from each other. As one example, the Court brought attention to the fact that there are government funded art exhibits that include famous religious scenes such as “The Last Supper” and “The Birth of Christ.” Generally, the Court will invalidate government action where that action was motivated wholly by religious considerations and where no secular purpose is evident. (Stone v. Graham 449 U.S. 39 (1980)). The Lynch decision was a split decision, however, with five of the justices believing Pawtucket’s use of the nativity scene was constitutional and four believing it was not.

In the Allegheny case, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County – both in Pennsylvania – were sued due to two recurring holiday displays on public property that depicted religious symbols. The first display was a creche – model or tableau representing the scene of Jesus’ birth – inside the main, most beautiful, public part of the county courthouse. The creche was displayed on the grand staircase of the courthouse and was surrounded by traditional Christmas greens. The creche was donated by the Holy Name Society, a Roman Catholic group, and included a sign stating such. Included in the creche itself was a picture of an angel and the words, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” which means “Glory to God in the highest!” The U.S. Supreme Court found this to be an unconstitutional display mostly because the creche itself was the focal point of the display and there was nothing to detract from the patently religious (Christian) meaning and message. This is a stark contrast to the Lynch display which included primarily secular symbols.

The second Allegheny holiday display was outside the city-county building and was an 18-foot-tall menorah standing alongside a 45-foot-tall Christmas tree. The mayor’s name was on a sign at the base of the Christmas tree along with the words:

“Salute to Liberty. During this holiday season, the city of Pittsburgh salutes liberty. Let these festive lights remind us that we are the keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom.”

The menorah is owned by a religious group but is stored, erected and removed each year by the city. The Court held in this instance that in the context of the display as a whole, the Christmas tree was the primary focal point, not the menorah, and Christmas trees are largely considered secular Christmas symbols. The Court further felt that the sign saluting liberty further detracted from any possible religious meaning behind the display. The Court determined that the display was a culturally diverse permissible recognition that Christmas and Hanukah are both part of the same winter holiday season. Allegheny was also a split Court decision on both issues.

Note that the above doesn’t address the situation where a private individual or group wants to erect a religious display on government property, but rather if the government itself is the sponsor of such a display. Generally, if a public entity allows a private individual or group to erect a temporary display of some kind on public property, a public forum is opened and restrictions on other individuals or groups who want to erect displays in that space must typically be limited to time, place and manner and, for the most part, should not be content based. To the extent restrictions are based on the content of the display, such restrictions must be necessary and narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.

Disclaimer: This blog article should be considered general information and should not be construed as legal advice. The article is a high-level overview of some of the considerations a court will look at when analyzing the constitutionality of religious symbols in a government display. The reader should not act on the information contained herein but rather should act on the advice of his/her own legal counsel.

Resources consulted for this article include:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kwanzaa
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hanukkah
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christmas
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus
https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/22/us/hanukkah-questions-answered-trnd/index.html
https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/first-amendment-and-religion
Lynch v. Donnelly 465 U.S. 668 (1984)
County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

This blog post was written by Sylvia Watson, library law consultant and legal counsel, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Sylvia.

Library trustee resources

Maybe you were just appointed to a library board for the first time, or maybe you have been serving as a trustee for 12 years and could do with a little refresher – whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered at the Library Development Office!

On our Library Trustee page, you can find a copy of the statewide library trustee manual, titled IN the Public Trust. There is a copy of the Certificate of Appointment that is filled out by the Appointing Authority at the beginning of every trustee term and Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement if it is every needed in the course of your duties on the board. You can find a template for board bylaws if you’re reviewing or updating your bylaws, which is required every three years by law. We also have links to the internal controls training required by the State Board of Accounts, which has to be completed by every board member just once. It can also be found on their website under Internal Control Standards.

In addition to these resources, we provide library boards with in-person – and now virtual – training upon request, as our schedules allow. There are five presentations types we may bring to your library board: a general overview, the trustee-director relationship, required and suggested policies, library expansion into unserved areas and a review of the Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act. These training sessions are not public meetings under the Open Door Law, so you don’t need to schedule them to be held at your regular board meetings and you don’t need to post notice. We do, however, encourage you to host other nearby libraries during these training sessions in order to make the most of everyone’s time.

There may be times when we are unable to give presentations or when you don’t want to schedule a training for just a couple of members. In this instance, we have archived versions of most of our trustee presentations available on our trustee page under Webinars.

Other than the internal controls training through SBOA, none of these trainings are required by state law, but many library boards find them helpful in carrying out their duties. To learn more about our trustee offerings or schedule trustee training, contact Hayley Trefun in the Library Development Office at the Indiana State Library at 317-232-1938 or via email.

This post was written by Hayley Trefun, public library consultant, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library.

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.”

Using food as a cultural touchstone in genealogy

I have a cookbook that was my grandmother’s. The cookbook, “Food for Two,” was acquired during her engagement to my grandfather. I also have handwritten recipes from another grandmother. These items are among my most treasured family heirlooms.

I have memories of my grandmothers making gingerbread cake, johnny cakes in the pan – fried in lard, beef and homemade noodles. Saturday evenings I watched my great grandmother make communion bread for Sunday’s service.

Though my life is surrounded by living memories of sharing food and life with family, I have also wondered what my ancestors’ lives were like. What their occupations were, what their environments – the places they lived – looked like, what music they listened to and I wondered what did my ancestors eat? All the things that make a life full.

My family has no sheen of the gentry on it and some of them lived in London. My ancestors who lived in London lived near the river Thames, and the river provides. And what does it provide? Eels. Eels from the Thames river. Cooked eels, eel pies and jellied eels.

Like many Midwesterners, I have plenty of Irish heritage, too. I have wondered: What did the Irish eat?

Even though corned beef is often associated with our Irish ancestors, it was not beef they were eating – that was for the wealthy British landowners. Potatoes – also often associated with our Irish ancestors – were brought in to feed the poor, Irish tenant farmers. Of course, when the cheap food source of potatoes failed in Ireland; many Irish migrated to America.

But when families have plenty of food, they use food to show love, celebrate, tell stories and heal.

Recently, foodways were used to bring healing to the native peoples in Minneapolis during the COVID pandemic.

Family foodways can turn into family businesses and then influence and change the surrounding culture as the Chili Queens of San Antonio did.

Food can be about survival, too. Michael W. Twitty explored his family’s experience of slavery through food.

Sometimes the recipes and the food are a clue in family history, as it was for Cuban-American, Genie Milgrom.

What will your family foodways tell you about your family history?

Books about foodways in the Indiana State Library’s collection to explore:
“Dellinger family : American history and cookbook,” ISLG 929.2 D357M
“Keaton Mills family cemetery, Egeria: an era: family stories and cookbook,” ISLG 929.2 M657MA
“Weesner family favorites: a recollection of old and new recipes,” ISLG 929.2 W3983R
“The cooking gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South Twitty,” Michael W., available as an e-book
“Historical Indiana cookbook,” ISLI 641.5 K72H
“Farm fixin’s: food, fare & folklore from the pioneer village,” ISLI 641.5 F233
“Aspic and old lace: ten decades of cooking, fashion, and social history,” ISLI 641.5 B295
“Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook of fine old recipes: compiled from tried and tested recipes made famous and handed down by the early Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania,” ISLM TX721 .P46 1971
“Quaker cooking and quotes,” ISLI 641.5 B655q
“Cooking from quilt country: hearty recipes from Amish and Mennonite kitchens,” ISLI 641.5 A215C
“The Catholic cookbook; traditional feast and fast day recipes,” ISLM 641.5 K21C
“Consuming passions being an historic inquiry into certain English appetites,” ISLM TX645 .P84 1971
“Rappite cookbook,” ISLO 641.5 no. 29

Online Sources about foodways to explore:
Jellied Eels
What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes
Is Corned Beef Really Irish?
Medieval Cookery
The Sifter A Tool For Food History Research
Historic Cookbooks on line
Generations of Handwritten Mexican Cookbooks Are Now Online
Mexican Cookbook Collection
Recetas: Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus

This blog post is by Angi Porter, Genealogy Division librarian.

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.

Food assistance to hungry Hoosiers

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is a good time to remember that some people struggle to obtain adequate food on a day-to-day basis. Throughout its history, Indiana has approached this persistent social problem with a combination of both government and private-sponsored solutions.

An early example of government-funded food assistance is demonstrated in these food coupons, issued by the State of Indiana in 1934 during the Great Depression with monetary backing from the federal government. Indigent Hoosiers who qualified could take such coupons to their local store in exchange for the food item listed. In the specimens below, the coupons were used at stores in the communities of Modoc and Carlos, both located in Randolph County. This coupon system was a precursor to the federal Food Stamp Program which began a few years later in 1939 and has lasted in various forms since then. It currently exists as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

From Unemployment Relief Coupons, 1934 (S1547), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection

Private organizations have also played an integral role in feeding this state’s hungry. The Indianapolis Community Fund was founded in the 1920s under the name The Community Chest. Its goal was to raise money which would then be distributed to various private agencies involved in social work. This included agencies that provided food assistance. As with the Food Stamp Program, the Indianapolis Community Fund lasted through several iterations and is now the United Way of Central Indiana.

From Indiana Pamphlet Collection (ISLO 361 no. 27 [08] and ISLO 361 no. 252)

An example of a private charity which received financial support from the Community Fund – and one which still operates to this day – is The Wheeler Mission of Indianapolis. Founded in 1893 by a hardware salesman, the Mission has been in continuous operation since then, providing meals, shelter and other essential resources to the city’s most vulnerable people.

From For Human Needs (ca. 1923), Indiana Pamphlet Collection (ISLO 361 no. 27 [12])

As with many aspects of civic life, government and private organizations often work together to provide necessary services. This directory from 1976, issued by the Indiana Commission on the Aging and Aged, lists locations throughout the state where senior citizens could obtain a nutritious meal. Many of the entries are for privately-run charitable organizations.

From the Indiana Collection (ISLI 36263 M482 1976)

Finally, food banks also are an integral part of food assistance in Indiana and collect and distribute food and other essential goods to those in need. Most operate at a local level and may be administered through a church or other religious institution. Many need particular assistance stocking their shelves at the end of the year. The 1999 newsletter below highlights the Share Your Feast Food Drive held by Gleaners Food Bank as a special campaign to solicit food donations for the holidays.

Issue of newsletter for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Indiana Collection (ISLI 363.8 G554)

More information on current food assistance programs – including a directory of food banks – can be found at the Indiana State Department of Health’s website.

For more information on the history of charitable organizations in Indianapolis, visit the Indiana State Library’s digital collection.

A brief history of charitable organizations in Indianapolis and a description of materials found in State Library’s digital collection can be found here.

From Give More Because Everybody Benefits from the 50 Red Feather Services supported by the Community Chest (1955), Indiana Pamphlet Collection (ISLO 361 no. 222)

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.”

Conservation of an 1852 map of Madison, Indiana

This 1852 map of the city of Madison is the earliest map of the old river city held in the Indiana State Library’s collections. The detail is brilliant, done by the careful hand of Hoosier pioneer William C. Bramwell. It seems clear that this map is the original map used for the 1854 published map of the city, which is held in Madison. Bramwell seems to have an interesting biography, although little is known about the details of his life. Credits to his name include state legislator, surveyor, preacher, inventor and spinning wheel maker. Whatever his true calling, it is clear his attention to detail and craftsmanship has left us a beautifully rich and detailed map of one of Indiana’s oldest cities.

It is not known when the Indiana State Library acquired this map, or its history before it arrived at the library. When it was found in the collection it was in an extremely deteriorated and fragile state. The map was still adhered to its original fabric backing, which had become very dirty and deteriorated. As with many maps from this period, the front had been varnished, which resulted in even more deterioration. The front of the map had also become so dirty and discolored that most of the map could not be read. Many pieces of the map had broken off and become lost, and it was difficult to determine the difference between the paper areas and the cloth. It was in such poor condition, that even unrolling it would result in pieces falling off. Finally, as with many maps from this period, there was evidence of water damage as well in the form of staining.

The goals for this project were simple. In its current state, the map was unusable. It was so dirty that it could not be read, and it was so fragile that even unrolling it would result in more pieces falling off. The goals of this project were to clean the map as much as possible to remove the old varnish, the dirt and the staining and then line the map onto a single sheet of Japanese paper to allow for it to be stable enough to handle. While the goals were simple, the execution would prove to be complicated by the enormous quantity of loose pieces that would come loose once the original fabric was removed. In order to preserve the information in the map, all the loose pieces would need to stay in their correct spots throughout the entire treatment. Finally, the map would be encapsulated in a custom polyester film sleeve to allow for more protection. The below pictures outline the conservation process.

Before treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Before treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

In order to remove the varnish, the map was placed faced down on blotter paper a high-power suction table and sprayed with ethanol.

The ethanol would penetrate through the fabric and paper, solubilizing the varnish, and pull it into the blotter below.

This process was repeated until all the varnish was removed. The map was routinely lifted and checked during this process.

The blotter shows all the varnish removed from the map.

The map sections were washed in modified hot water on a rigid sheet of plexiglass for support.

The map was carefully lifted on the plexiglass support and tilted. Using a small brush and a Japanese mister, the entire surface of the maps was cleaned to remove all remaining varnish and dirt. Careful attention was paid to make sure all the loose pieces of the map stayed in their correct spots throughout the entire process.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

After the map sections were cleaned, the map was placed face down on polyester film and the original fabric was carefully removed making sure none of the loose pieces moved.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The top and bottom section of the map next to each other. At this point, the bottom section has already been treated and the top section had not yet been treated.

After treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

After treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan encapsulating the map in a polyester film sleeve with an ultrasonic polyester welder.

Click here to read more about the conservation efforts of the Indiana State Library.

This blog post was written by Seth Irwin, conservator, and Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor, both of the Indiana State Library.

Ways to fill your shelves without draining your budget

About a month ago, the Indiana State Library hosted a webinar titled “Ways to Fill Your Shelves Without Draining Your Budget.” During the webinar, I shared a multitude of resources for librarians showing where they can obtain free books. The webinar is now archived on the Indiana State Library’s website and available for viewing at any time. In case you missed it, or if you would like to try out a few of the resources included in the webinar, here are a few highlights:

EarlyWord – The EarlyWord website is a great place to find contact information for publishing houses and their many imprints. As a librarian, you can request books early to review and/or preview for purchase. Once you find out the publisher of a book, EarlyWord is a great place to go to find out who to contact for a specific book. They have two lists: one for adult publishing contacts and one for children’s publishing contacts. Another great feature of EarlyWord is that you can sign up for librarian newsletters from the links provided and organized by publisher. Publisher’s newsletters most always have contests and giveaways for free books for librarians.

Bookish First – On Bookish First, there are a few featured books each month that you can read an excerpt from and provide a quick first impression. For each of impression you write, you get points. You are also entered to win physical copies of each book you write the first impression for as well. Then, if you review books on their website, share your review to Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog if you have one, you can receive even more points. Once you have 2,000 points, you can choose a free book to be mailed to you. It’s free to signup, and when you do, you automatically get 500 bonus points to get you started.

Early Audiobook Listening Copies – There are two places I check each month to get complimentary early audiobook listening copies, known as ALCs, specifically for librarians. These are LibroFM and the Volumes app. Both are free to sign up. With LibroFM, librarians and educators can download three free audiobooks each month from their selection, which is updated monthly. For the Volumes app, you’ll have to download the app and then signup on the link provided above. Then you can download free audiobooks each month to review. They are yours to keep after downloading.

If you would like to view the full webinar – and see even more resources for receiving free books – you can access it on our Archived Webinars page, or directly via the link shared above. Don’t hesitate to contact me via email if you have any questions regarding these resources.

Submitted by Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator, Indiana State Library.