New military materials in the Genealogy Division Collection at the Indiana State Library

The Indiana State library’s Genealogy Collection has several newly-added resources for people researching their military ancestors in print, along with new items available in the library’s digital collections.

“Finding your Father’s War; A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army” by Jonathan Gawne is a nice handbook for someone who wants to learn more about their ancestor’s Army service in World War II.

The book contains a brief history of the army leading up to World War II, along with explanations of the various army units, insignia, awards and terms for those who may not already be familiar with the organization of the U.S. Army. There are also sections that discuss the distinct types of records and where to search for information about an ancestor’s military service.

Both the series “Union Casualties at Gettysburg,” along with “Confederate Casualties at Gettysburg,” a comprehensive record by John W. and Travis W. Busey contain a trove of information for someone researching their ancestors or a unit that fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. The authors organized the volumes by state, then by regiment and unit listing the wounded and the killed. Some entries for the wounded contain biographical information about the individual soldier that goes beyond the end of the Civil War. There are multiple appendixes that go over statistical information, the locations of field, general and convalescent hospitals treating the wounded and burial locations for each side.

In both “Borrowed Identity; 128th United states Colored Troops” and “Voices from the Past; 104th Infantry Regiment, USCT Colored Civil War Soldiers from South Carolina,” John R. Gourdin uses Civil War pensions to create biographical entries that contain surnames along with family relatives, friends, clergy and prominent members of the communities where the soldiers where living when they applied for their pensions.

In the Genealogy section of the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections several images from the Kuhlenschmidt collection (G118) have been digitized. The images feature Albert Henn, Henry Kuhlenschmidt, and others as they served in World War I.

More photos from the collection can be viewed here, here and here.

The Betty Montoye Collection (G038) contains photographs and postcards from World War I along with the discharge papers for Paul Castleman and Oscar Ross.

More photos from the collection can be viewed here and here.

For more information about these and other new materials pertinent to your military ancestors check our online catalog and Digital Collections page.

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

Indiana Union of Literary Clubs

The Indiana Union of Literary Clubs was started after the Indianapolis Woman’s Club was established at the Indianapolis Propylaeum. The Propylaeum, founded in 1888, was the central meeting place for many different women’s clubs in Indianapolis. At that time, there were already several different women’s literary clubs in Indianapolis alone. Although a rare men’s club is listed in the 1905 “Manual for the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs” (ISLO 374.2 NO. 7), the Union mostly consisted of women’s literary groups.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries were the height of popularity for literary clubs. By 1894, there were 175 organizations in the Union of Literary Clubs around the state of Indiana, according to “Literary Clubs of Indiana” (ISLI 810.6 M 153) by Martha Nicholson McKay. Of these, there were roughly five times as many women’s clubs than men’s clubs. Of the twenty men’s clubs, half were existing organized college literary societies (McKay, p 33).

The popularity of literary clubs among women seemed to point to a growing sense of intellectual curiosity. This could have been due to women seeking to improve so that “when the day of larger social and political freedoms dawns, they will be prepared for the new duties the wider field may disclose” (McKay, p.33). The boom in literary clubs also coincided with the suffragist movement in the United States.

To organize the numerous literary clubs around the state in the early 1890s, the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs became the first state organization of clubs. In 1892, the third convention of the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs was held in Lafayette.

Here is the cover of the Bulletin from the 1892 convention of the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs from the Indiana Pamphlet Collection (Ip 374.2 no. 49.)

“The Bulletin,” (Ip 374.2 no. 49), a publication from the convention, provides a transcript of the inaugural address, “The Value of An Intellectual Life” by Miss Elizabeth Nicholson of the College Corner Club of Indianapolis. She indicated that there was a need for women to have intellectual pursuits in addition to their roles as homemakers. A common criticism of women’s clubs during that time period was that they took too much time and energy away from home and family responsibilities. Miss Mercia Hoagland, a representative of the Fort Wayne Women’s Reading Club responds to this type of criticism (Convention of the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs 1892 : Lafayette, p 3):

Other speeches and discussions at the convention included, “The Moral Power of the Novel” and “Woman as a Factor in the World’s Progress.” “The Bulletin” also recounted news from literary clubs around the state.

At the end of “The Bulletin,” there is a transcript of a discussion as to whether the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs should take an exhibit to the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago the following year. It was brought up that if they did take an exhibit, it would need to represent all the various literary clubs around the state.

Ultimately, the Union did take an exhibit to the Columbian Exposition. The Indiana State Library has the item, “Exhibit of Work at Columbian Exposition,” in the Indiana oversize collection ([q] ISLI 374.2 I385E). These pages are examples of how each club contributed a program or leaflet that represented them.

This is the page representing the Ladies’ Literary Society from Brazil, Indiana. All participating clubs had a two-page entry in the book.

In 1906, the Indiana Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs were consolidated and were renamed the Indiana State Federation of Clubs so that they could apply to become a chapter of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Some of these literary clubs still exist today. For example, the Fortnightly Literary Club, established in 1885 is still active in Indianapolis. Hopefully, the love of knowledge, books and the pursuit of intellectual curiosity will never fade.

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

Bibliography
“Convention of the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs 1892 : Lafayette, I.” (1892). The bulletin: a collection of addresses, papers and discussions of the third convention of the Indiana Union of Literary Clubs, held at Lafayette, May 18, 19 and 20, 1892. In M. E. Hoagland (Ed.). 1, p. 18. Lafayette: Indiana : Indiana Union of Literary Clubs, 1892. (Ip 374.2 no. 49)

“Indiana union of literary clubs – Reciprocity bureau.” (1905). Manual. unknown: unknown(ISLO 374.2 NO. 7).

McKay, M. N.-1. (1894). “Literary clubs of Indiana.” Indianapolis, Ind. United States: Indianapolis : Bowen-Merrill Co., 1894. (ISLI 810.6 M153).

The Indianapolis Fortnightly Literary Club. (May 11, 2022). Retrieved from https://fortnightly.org/

Indiana Union of Literary Clubs. Exhibit of work at Columbian exposition. [Place of publication not  identified], [publisher not identified], [date of publication not identified] ([q] ISLI 374.2 I385E).

‘A bill drawn by a woman:’ Mrs. Packard and rights for the insane

On the morning of June 18, 1860 an Illinois housewife named Elizabeth Packard was forcibly removed from the home she shared with her husband Theophilus Packard, a Calvinist minister, and their six children. The reason for her expulsion? Her husband was having her committed to the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois. Women had virtually no legal status in mid-19th century America and in the state of Illinois, a husband could have his wife committed to an insane asylum without showing any proof that said wife was, in fact, insane. Theophilus and his wife often quarreled over religious doctrines, with Elizabeth insisting that she had a right to her own beliefs and biblical interpretations and this, it seems, was her husband’s primary justification for having her institutionalized and removed from the lives of her children.

Photograph of Elizabeth Packard from Wikipedia.org.

Elizabeth spent three years in the asylum with very few means to advocate for herself and her sanity. While incarcerated, she met many other women in similar situations, women who had become inconvenient or were socially noncompliant and therefore needed to be locked away by husbands or other family members. Some women did suffer from various mental health issues and Elizabeth frequently witnessed their cruel treatment at the hands of hospital staff. She diligently wrote down her observations and hid her journals to keep them from being confiscated.

Image of the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, from her “Modern Persecution” (1875).

In 1863, she was released from the asylum to the care of her husband who immediately sought to have her permanently recommitted to yet another institution, this time in Massachusetts. In a desperate bid for freedom and with the help of friends, Elizabeth was finally able to obtain legal assistance. After a multi-day trial, she was deemed legally sane in the state of Illinois. Unfortunately, before the verdict affirming her sanity was rendered Theophilus fled to another state with her children. Despite being found officially sane, as a woman she still had little legal recourse to regain custody of her children.

Bereft at the loss of her family, Elizabeth began to publicly advocate for changes to the treatment of those deemed insane with a particular emphasis on the rights of female patients. She published various books drawing from her personal experiences, shedding light on rampant institutional abuse and calling for major reforms. Of particular concern to her was the right of patients to freely correspond with those outside the asylum without said correspondence being censored – or discarded – by asylum officials. For those improperly imprisoned such as herself, communicating freely with someone on the outside meant that inmates could access the meager legal resources and other practical support available to them. It meant that women could no longer be locked up, never to be heard from again.

Title page from one of her books in the Indiana State Library Collection (ISLM RC439 .P16 1875).

Elizabeth also travelled the country lobbying individual state legislatures to change their laws. In 1891, she set her sights on Indiana and promoted a “Bill for the protection of the postal rights of the inmates of insane asylums.” She implored members of the Indiana legislature that such a law was needed as “a potent remedy for the evils of false imprisonment, unreasonably long detention and abuse of patients.” Senator W.C. Thompson of Marion County officially read and introduced the bill as Senate Bill 55 on Jan. 14, 1891 and it was referred to the Committee on Benevolent Institutions for further consideration.

Article from Indianapolis Journal, Jan. 16, 1891. From Hoosier State Chronicles.

Copy of the proposed bill dated Jan. 20, 1891 (ISLO 362.2 no. 61).

Caption to a pamphlet addressed to the Indiana legislature dated Feb. 3, 1891 (ISLI 362.2 no. 61). Note “Compliments of Mrs. Packard” written in pencil at the top of the page.

According to a subsequent news story titled “Mrs. Packard snubbed,” it appears that Elizabeth herself attended the Committee hearing on her bill but was completely ignored by the men in attendance:

“I have this morning met by appointment the Senate Committee on Benevolent Institutions, in room 113 of the Capitol at 7 o’clock, and was there completely gagged, not allowed to speak one word.”

She concluded her description of the event with a strong condemnation of the behavior of Indiana’s male law-makers:

“To the manliness and honor of the American legislators, I am proud to say that thus is the first uncourteous treatment I have ever received from any legislative committee in these United States. In appealing to forty-three different legislatures I have invariably been allowed a manly, patient hearing before they decide how they should report my bill.”

Indianapolis Times, Jan. 27, 1891. From Hoosier State Chronicles.

In addition to silencing Mrs. Packard, the committee caused further offense by severely altering the language of the original bill and stipulating that the only person an inmate could correspond with uncensored would be the Secretary of the Board of State Charities. Moreover, the committee further recommended to remove the phrase “to prevent sane persons being imprisoned in insane asylums” from the language of the bill. The resulting document was a failure as it continued to leave all the power with the very institutions responsible for committing the abuses Elizabeth sought to remedy.

Ultimately, Senate Bill 55 never progressed passed its second reading. Despite this failure, Elizabeth Packard’s entreaties did lay the groundwork for Hoosier legislators to begin considering similar reforms. Eventually, the General Assembly would pass progressive legislation, such as an act in 1895, which required those accused of insanity to stand for an official inquest with proper legal representation.

Elizabeth Packard was reunited with her children – but remained estranged from her husband – and financially supported them with her earnings from writing and public speaking. She died July 25, 1897.

An excellent biography of Elizabeth by Kate Moore titled “The woman they could not silence” was released in 2021 and is available to circulate from the Indiana State Library.

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.”

Sources
Indiana. “Journal of the Indiana State Senate, 57th session,” Jan. 8, 1891. (ISLI 328 I385Ljs 1891)

Indiana. “Laws of the State of Indiana, 57th regular session,” Jan. 8, 1891. (ISLI 345.1 I385 1891)

Indiana. “Laws of the State of Indiana, 59th regular session,” Jan. 10, 1895. (ISLI 345.1 I385 1895)

More, Kate. “The woman they could not silence: One woman, her incredible fight for freedom, and the men who tried to make her disappear.” Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2021. (ISLM HN80.P23 M66 2021)

Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware. “Modern Persecution, or Insane Asylums Unveiled, as Demonstrated by the Report of the Investigating Committee of the Legislature of Illinois.” Hartford: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1875. (ISLM RC439 .P16 1875)

Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware. “Mrs. Packard’s argument in support of the bill for the protection of the postal rights of the inmates of insane asylums.” Indianapolis, 1891. (ISLI 329 I385 v.2, no. 12)

Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware. “A bill for the protection of persons confined in the insane asylums of this state in their rights to communicate by letter with their friends; and to prevent sane persons being imprisoned in insane asylums; and to punish persons violating the provisions of this act.” Indianapolis, 1891. (ISLO 362.2 no. 61)

New webinar series announced from the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office

The Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office has announced a new series of webinars, What the Research Says, featuring academicians and their research. This series will be irregular, but the hope is to feature at least one per quarter. We invite academic librarians to reach out to us with projects they would like to present or topics they feel would make good additions to this series. Submissions may be directed to George Bergstrom, Southwest regional coordinator in the Professional Development Office.

This spring, we kicked of this new series with “Creating Informed Learners in the Classroom: Librarian Experiences of Developing a Multi-institutional Information Literacy Project,” featuring librarians from Purdue University. In this webinar Clarence Maybee, Rachel Fundator and Amity Saha presented on their three-year research project funded by an IMLS grant.

The Creating Informed Learners in the Classroom project, made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-13-19-0021-19), facilitated librarian-instructor partnerships to integrate information-rich student projects into disciplinary classrooms. The project was a partnership between librarians at Purdue University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Arizona. Over the course of  four weekly online sessions, the project team trained 15 librarian-instructor teams – five from each university – to use an information literacy framework called Informed Learning Design to design student projects that enable students to use information in new ways in their courses.

In this webinar, the team gave an overview of the principles of Informed Learning design, their specific project, how they had to adapt due to COVID and some great lessons learned from this three-year effort in improving student learning. Anyone who missed this webinar is invited to view the recording on the State Library’s YouTube channel. More details can be found on the archived webinars page of the Continuing Education website.

The Professional Development Office hopes that this series will offer a venue for academic librarians to not only share their work with others in their field, but with the wider library profession. The format will most often be a one-hour panel discussion webinar, but we are open to discussing other options with interested presenters. Anyone who is curious about being a part of this new series is invited to reach out to George Bergstrom.

This post was written by George Bergstrom, Southwest regional coordinator, Professional Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Beyond books: “Libraries of Things” in Indiana public libraries

Books. Newspapers. Audio and visual materials. These are all things one would expect to find on the shelves in an Indiana public library. But did you know that many public libraries have been expanding their collections to lend non-traditional items, known as a Library of Things?

According to the Allen County Public Library’s website, a Library of Things is a “special collection of ‘things’ that you can check out with your library card. These items are meant to personally enrich your lifelong learning experience – whether it’s through interactive outdoor activities, baking, music or art.”

Greenwood Public Library Binge Boxes – Photo credit: Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator

Over half of the public libraries in our state are offering additional materials. While their collections will vary, you might find:

  • Technology: Laptops, Chrome books, iPads and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, virtual reality (VR) headsets.
  • Crafting materials: Cricut and die cut machines and patterns, sewing machines, quilting and crochet materials, stamps.
  • Kitchen tools: Cake pans, cookie cutters, air fryers.
  • Audio and visual recording equipment, microphones, and light stands, karaoke machines.
  • Binge boxes: curated collections of books, movies and other materials about a topic.
  • Yard tools.
  • Tables and chairs.
  • Bicycles.
  • Seeds.
  • Passes to local attractions, including museums and pools.
  • Nature exploration/adventure packs: birding equipment, binoculars, telescopes.
  • Toys: Legos, puzzles, robots.

Kendallville Public Library – Snow shovel and homewares – Photo credit: Paula Newcom, Northeast regional coordinator

To see what your library offers, inquire with circulation staff or check your library’s website or catalog, including the Evergreen Indiana catalog. Some materials may require a rental agreement or deposit. Many materials are limited to a library’s own borrowers and are unlikely to transit or be available via interlibrary loan.

New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library – Library of Things on display – Photo credit: Laura Jones, Northwest regional coordinator

Library staff interested in learning more about these collections may be interested in viewing this archived presentation for Indiana libraries, led by Dianne Connery, director of the Pottsboro Public Library in Texas, which is worth one LEU for Indiana library staff.

Enjoy exploring all your library has to offer beyond books!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office.

Along the Electronic Avenue

One forgets that as the curator of the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and the National Archives, the United States government sits on a treasure trove of beauty and art, much of which can be had for free.

If one is out and about on the internet, stop by the National Gallery of Art, a wonderful place to pick up a painting. I found these two – one by Manet and the other by Miro – in the free download section.

Say a painting piqued the curiosity of an art teacher or an art student, they can find scores of courses, artwork and kits online at the National Archives and at National Gallery of Art. Preschoolers can examine a Rousseau while middle schoolers can reconstruct a Kandinksky.

Then, there is the poster collection at the Library of Congress, which is comprised of over 85,000 items, and includes commercial artwork. Many posters can be downloaded free of charge here, while other works of art can be purchased here for very reasonable fees, often about $16.Perhaps, it is realism you are after. Check out the Smithsonian, a great place to collect photographs of wildlife and other gems.

Numerous federal sites provide access to informational posters on safety, amendments, Works Progress Administration – also known as WPA – programs, ecosystems and so much more.

My electronic stroll through the galleries, brought to mind the words of William Morris: “I do not want art for a few anymore than education for a few, or freedom for a few.” How fitting that so many entities run by the government offer beauty right along with truth.

This blog post was written by Kate Mcginn, reference librarian, Indiana State Library.

Back to the future, 1950s Style

Hey daddy-o, you’ve got it made in the shade! Word from the bird says something happened recently that’s the living end. If you know what happened, some might say you’re the ginchiest. If you don’t know, you are going to flip your lid when you find out. So, if you’re hanging out in your pad, you might want to hop on the internet and take a look at what all the fuss is about. On April 1, the long-awaited 1950 U.S. census was released to the public with great fanfare! It’s all copacetic now. You dig? You’re a cool cat now that you’re in the know.

Yes, you heard it right. After waiting 72 years, the 1950 U.S. census was just released to the public. Your first question might be, “Why did it take 72 years to be released?” According to The Pew Research center, the most common explanation is that 72 years was the average lifespan at the time this law was established. The U.S. Census Bureau states, “The U.S. government will not release personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it was collected for the decennial census.” If you are interested in the nitty gritty of the 72-Year Rule you can visit this National Archives blog titled, “Census Records: The 72-Year Rule.”

Not to dampen the excitement of searching for loved ones and ancestors in the 1950 census, but there are a few things you need to know first. If you’re used to searching the censuses previous to the 1950, you know that it’s a “fairly” easy thing to do by using Family Search, Ancestry, My Heritage, etc. because the previous censuses have all been indexed by names. Currently, this newest census will still need to be indexed to be able to search by names. The indexing is taking place as I write and some say it might be finished by the end of this month. Indexing of the 1940 census took about five months to complete when it was released in 2012.

Near the end of 2020, the National Archives and Records Administration announced they would have a dedicated website for the 1950 census that would include a “name search tool powered by artificial intelligence.” In other words, this AI is “handwriting recognition technology.” Along with searching by name, one can also filter by state, county/city, or enumeration district (ED) number. I was excited to see if I could find my parents and sister on this census. The “census gods” were with me on my very first search, which was on the National Archives site. I popped in my father’s name, city, county and state and his census page came up right away! There was just something amazing about seeing my parent’s names and my sister’s name on her very first census. Unfortunately, my luck ended there on the NARA site with searching for both sets of my grandparents by their names and living in Indianapolis at the time. I had to revert to searching by address and enumeration districts. The AI handwriting recognition technology is off to a great start, and I can imagine it will only improve greatly in the years to come.

A 1950 Census page from Indianapolis, Washington Township, Marion County, Indiana.

Genealogist Steve Morse has a great page to help with locating the enumeration district of your ancestor. The Unified 1950 Census ED Finder was a great help to me in finding the ED’s where my grandparents lived in 1950. Once I discovered the ED and clicked on the number, it took me to a different screen where I could select the viewer I wanted to use: NARA viewer, FamilySearch viewer or Ancestry viewer. I found the Steve Morse site the easiest to use in finding the ED and then being able to choose the viewer right from that page was a stroke of genius! I chose Ancestry and was taken to the beginning of the pages of that particular ED. Then I searched through those approximately 20 pages for the correct address to find my grandparents. One can actually search this way from the 1870 through the 1950 Census using this ED Finder.

Numerous websites have sprung up to help you navigate this census. The online Family Tree Magazine has a great 1950 Census Research Guide. It includes tips on how to prepare for your research and what questions were asked on this census that include household information and employment questions. This article also includes the history and creation of the 1950 census, recording the census, tips and tricks on searching through this census and a list with links to 1950 census research resources.

Family Search has a very informative wiki about this census, Family Search Wiki: United States Census 1950.

If you’re so excited you’re ready to jump out of your skin, you can even sign up to volunteer to help transcribe the 1950 census! WOW, wouldn’t that be a fun thing to tell your grandchildren all about! Family Search is looking for volunteers to help with reviewing by becoming a part of The 1950 U.S. Census Community Project.

Ancestry, along with the other sites are currently indexing the census, but you can still try searching by name or you can explore maps in their 1950 census district finder to help you find your ancestors. You can visit Ancestry’s Welcome to the 1950 U.S. Census webpage for even more resources. Ancestry also released a new tool called the Census District Finder that will help in finding enumeration districts. Here is a short video by Amy Johnson Crow explaining how to use the Census District Finder on Ancestry and a link to a few more short videos about using the 1950 census.

One can also search the 1950 census for free on MyHeritage. Here is a helpful blog on My Heritage, “Jump-Start Your 1950 U.S. Census Research with the Census Helper.” You might also want to take a look at the United States Census Bureau.

In our Genealogy Division, as we’ve been searching for our ancestors, we discovered some fun comments in the “notes” section of the census pages that were written by the enumerators:

“A youngster grabbed the sheet from my lap and had torn it quite badly before it could be taken from her. The last name is spelled Buckanaber. I spelled it as it sounded to me and was incorrect.”

“I know these people. I have reported all information possible at this time as they are in Sarasota, Florida. They make the trip every winter.”

“In my opinion the price value given is about $2,000 to high.”

If you’re waiting with great anticipation for the release of the 1960 census, you’ll have to keep your excitement to a minimum until 2032. I’m pretty stoked about it myself because it will be the first census in which I appear. But for the time being, happy hunting in the 1950 census.

Please contact Indiana State Library librarians and staff. We’re here to help!

Indiana State Library
315 W. Ohio St.
Indianapolis, IN
317-232-3675

Genealogy Division     317-232-3689
Reference Division      317-232-3678
Indiana Division          317-232-3670

Or use Ask-A-Librarian 24/7.

This blog post was written by Alice Winslow, Genealogy Division librarian.

Automobile Camps for “tin can tourists” in Indiana

With automobiles becoming more accessible to Americans in the 1920s, Hoosiers – like many Americans – hit the road for tourism, travel and vacationing like never before. However, there was a lack of places for automobile tourists to stay overnight. Car travelers would pull over and “camp” along the roadside. Firepits, camp cooking trash and other evidence of camp were left behind. These automobile adventurers were sometimes referred to as “tin-can tourists.” I can’t determine if that references the cars they were driving or the trash they left behind.  

Indiana tourist camp map, 1922.

Indiana Director of Conservation, Richard Lieber, advocated for federal funding so states could develop safe places for motorists to stay along the road. In 1922, the Indiana Department of Conservation, still led by Lieber, published a map showing automobile camps across the state. You can view the map online in the Indiana State Library’s Open Space Historic Places digital collection. 

Riverside/Taggart Park, in Indianapolis, is listed as one of these urban automobile camps. The entrance was at 18th Street. It had only a few amenities but was in a beautiful and accessible corner of the park. This Hoosier Motor Club map from the 1920s shows the camp and proximity to main routes. View the full map here in the Indiana State Library’s Map Collection. 

A wonderful May 13, 1922 Indianapolis Star newspaper profile of that camp mentions that there were 15-18 cars a day using the camp that year; and those visitors came from across the United States. At the time of the article, there were campers from Nebraska and Florida.

There are 30 other automobile camp sites listed on the Indiana map. Some were run by local municipalities, local chambers of commerce and some were state parks. There’s also a plea not to destroy wildflowers, most likely written by the staff of the Indiana Department of Conservation.  

The countryside had not seen many tourists prior to the automobile. City dwellers could now explore the pristine countryside. The back of the map includes a Manual for Automobile Tourists written by AAA, which includes tips for selecting a campsite, when a campground for motor tourists isn’t available. “Towards evening select a suitable spot that appeals, near a farmhouse, where usually may be procured fresh milk and eggs and probably a loaf of homemade bread or a jar of home-preserved fruits.” 

It was an opportunity to show hostility or hospitality. Dr. Morrison, of Clinton County, urged hospitality. He wrote to the Indianapolis Star, “forty-seven miles north of Indianapolis there is a church yard of about one acre that contains 85 shade trees. At the approach from both ways you will see the following signs: ‘Tourists Welcome, drive in.’ Tourists from most all parts of the United States and Canada have accepted the invitation of welcome.” He continued in his letter to the editor, “let us all do what we can to help Mr. Lieber in bringing about the roadside camp for the tourists all over the grand old state of Indiana…” 

The map and articles about the development of the autocamps are fascinating. They sit in an idyllic sweet spot of the automobile era – seemingly full of optimism, freedom, comradery and adventure. Happy trails and cheers to that! 

The Denver Public Library has some photographs of what the autocamps looked like. This photo shows the City Park motor camp in Denver. This one shows the Overland Park motor camp, also in Denver. Find more images online through the Digital Public Library of America 

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

Save the Date: Difference is You Conference!

This year’s Difference is You Conference will be held on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Indiana State Library. The DIY Conference is a training event for support staff and paraprofessionals created by the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Committee. The theme this year is “Refresh and Recharge.”

The keynote speaker will be David Seckman, Jeffersonville Township Public Library director. He’ll be presenting “Build a Better World with Kindness and Gratitude.” Seckman has been researching and studying the effects of kindness and gratitude on well-being and relationships for 15 years and speaking on these topics for the last 12 years. He is especially interested in how kindness and gratitude can transform the culture of an organization to bring a sense of fun and joy to the workplace. With over 10 years of experience as a library administrator and manager, he puts these concepts into practice on a daily basis.

Keynote description
Have you ever wondered why some teams are highly productive, creative and innovative while other teams with similar levels of talent and experience seem to be stuck in neutral? Science has shown that people who practice gratitude in their lives show an increase in enthusiasm towards life, make more progress towards their personal goals, sleep better, show less symptoms of illness and depression and have more energy. In this keynote, presenter David Seckman will discuss how cultivating kindness and gratitude can improve work and personal relationships, as well overall well-being.

Below is the proposed schedule:

2022 DIY Schedule

  • 10:00-10:50 a.m. (50 minutes) Welcome and keynote
  • 10:50-11:00 a.m. (10 minutes) Announce DIY Award winner/Break
  • 11:10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 1
  • 12:00-1:00 p.m. (60 minutes) Lunch
  • 1:00-1:50 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 2
  • 1:50-2:00 p.m. (10 minutes) Break
  • 2:00-2:50 p.m. (50 minutes) Session 3
  • 2:50-3:00 p.m. (Wrap up and evaluations)

Registration fee is $25 per person. If you have any questions, you can contact Kara Cleveland.

This blog post was written by Courtney Brown, Southeast regional coordinator from the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office.

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.