Celebrate Juneteenth with books for young people by Indiana authors

Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19 annually, celebrates the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation across the United States. While all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared to be legally free on January 1, 1863, in practice many slaves in western states were not free until years later. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas were finally made free by executive decree. Juneteenth has been celebrated for over 150 years.

Celebrate this Juneteenth by reading the Emancipation Proclamation available through the National Archives or by learning more about this holiday through the National Museum of African American History. Honor African Americans by reading books by African American authors.

The Indiana Young Readers Center has put together this list of books, new and old, so that people of all ages can engage with rich stories for everyone told by African Americans with Indiana connections.

“I See the Rhythm” text by Toyomi Igus, with paintings by Michele Wood

Winner of the 1999 Coretta Scott King Award for outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values, this primer of history is told through the amazing art of Hoosier Michele Wood and the exuberant verse of Toyomi Igus. Read this book to experience the rhythm of African American history.

“The Music in Derrick’s Heart” by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert, illustrated by Colin Bootman

Looking for a picture book? This is a sweet story about Derrick who is aching to learn how to play the harmonica from his uncle, Booker T. Children will love hearing about Derrick’s passion and how he tapes his harmonica to his head and his heart when he sleeps. Dr. Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert is from Marion, Indiana and is the author of several children’s picture books including “Papa’s Mark,” “The Shaking Bag” and “Off to School.”

 

“Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children” by Mari Evans, illustrated by Ramon Price

Nursery rhymes, with their simple words and sing-song rhythms have enthralled and excited youngsters for centuries. But most of the best-known rhymes reflect a limited Western perspective. “Singing Black” is a charming collection of original short poems by award-winning poet and writer Mari Evans that draw their inspiration from black culture. Evans made her home in Indianapolis for nearly 70 years.

 

“The Usual Suspects” by Maurice Broaddus

If you are in the mood for a good middle-grade mystery, look no further. Thelonius Mitchell is tired of being labeled. He’s in a special education class, separated from the “normal” kids at school who don’t have any “issues.” When a gun is found at a neighborhood hangout, the school administrators start their inquiries right in Thelonius’s class. Thelonius feels the injustice deeply and sets to work right away to solve the mystery. Maurice Broaddus lives and works in Indianapolis and is the author of several books for grown-ups as well as children.

 

“Tyler Johnson Was Here” by Jay Coles

A stunning young adult novel about police brutality in modern American. When Marvin Johnson’s twin brother Tyler goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on him. But what starts out as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler is missing and Marvin wants nothing more than to find his brother alive and safe. The chilling truth is that Tyler is dead; shot and killed by a police officer. Author Jay Coles wrote this book based on true personal events. Jay Coles lives in Indianapolis and is also a teacher and musician.

 

“The Season of Styx Malone” by Kekla Magoon

Looking for a summer friendship story? Meet Caleb and his brother Bobby. They are excited for a whole summer of exploring the woods when they meet newcomer, Styx Malone. Oozing cool from every pore, Styx convinces the two brothers to help him pull off the Great Escalator Trade – exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their final goal. But, as one thing leads to another, the boys seem to know less and less about their new friend. Award-winning author Kekla Magoon grew up in Indiana and is the author of many books for young people including “How It Went Down,” “Shadows of Sherwood,” “X: A Novel” and “The Rock and the River.”

“You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed that she’s too black, too poor and too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed Midwestern town. But it’s okay – she has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever – one that revolves around financial aid that unexpectedly falls through. Liz is devastated until she remembers that her school offers a scholarship for the prom king and queen. This brand new book by debut author Leah Johnson is a number one new release on Amazon. Though Johnson currently lives in Brooklyn, New York she was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a tried and true lifelong Hoosier.

 

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

Introduction to Rare Books and Manuscripts

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

Uruk votive cone, circa 2100 B.C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romm and Nicholson: The book thief and the Hoosier author

Book inscriptions are a common find among the thousands of volumes held by the Indiana State Library. Some are mundane: An author’s hastily scribbled signature dedicated to a fan or a generic holiday greeting from the previous owner’s grandmother. Others are more intriguing and can lead a researcher down some interesting paths. Within a collection of books by Hoosier author Meredith Nicholson are five bearing inscriptions to a certain Charles Romm, Esq. A few of these books also have typed letters from Nicholson directed to Romm at an address in New York City pasted within the inside cover. So who exactly was Charles Romm?

A quick internet search led to the book “Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It” by Travis McDade (ISLM Z1029.M33 2013).1 The answer, in short, is that Charles Romm was a prominent New York bookseller who specialized in rare and valuable editions, while at the same time helming a wide-reaching gang of book thieves who plundered libraries of their literary treasures, which he later sold to his customers.

While it is impossible to ascertain that the Charles Romm referenced in the Nicholson inscriptions and correspondence is the same Romm described in McDade’s book, it seems highly likely that both men are the same person. Romm’s New York bookstore was located at 110 4th Ave. The address Nicholson sent his correspondence to was 224 E. 12th St., a mere two blocks away. Moreover, some of the correspondence speaks of publishing and other literary concerns, indicating that Romm was somehow involved in the business of books and not merely a fan. It is unlikely that Nicholson, who was a best-selling author in the early 20th century, knew anything of Romm’s more underhanded dealings and merely assumed he was corresponding with one of New York’s most preeminent booksellers.

Letter from Nicholson pasted inside the cover of “The Madness of May.” The Mayfield-Thompson feud is also mentioned in a biography of James Whitcomb Riley.2 Riley publicly accused the poet Mayfield of plagiarizing fellow Hoosier author Thompson. However, another source3 indicates that Frank Mayfield was a pseudonym used by Daniel W. Starnes and not, as Nicholson states, by Thompson himself.

The more unsavory side to Romm’s business is as fascinating as it is upsetting. His book theft “gang” consisted of men who would go to public libraries and universities, pose as patrons or students and either steal books directly from the shelves or borrow them and never return them. According to McDade, “There was no collection of books too small to escape the attention of the gang. From archives to athaneaeums, from local libraries to historical societies, the men in the ring scouted, indexed and pilfered them all.”1

Clipping from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), Jan. 5, 1932. Available from newspapers.com.

Many libraries attempted to counter this type of theft by moving their more valuable items to closed stacks and non-circulating collections. However, this only caused Romm’s thieves to pivot operations and they managed to continue their thefts through careful observation of libraries, librarians and security systems. Eventually, the law caught up with Romm and in November of 1931 he was indicted on grand larceny charges. He ultimately ended up serving a little over a year in New York’s notorious Sing Sing prison before dying a couple of years after his release.1

Inscription from Otherwise Phyllis (1919). “Inscribed with all good wishes, and with my thanks for his kind interest in my work, to Charles Romm, Esq.”

It is unknown why Nicholson inscribed so many books to Romm. Perhaps Romm truly was a fan of Nicholson’s work. Or perhaps – and this seems more likely – he sought inscriptions on first editions to make them more desirable for his customers. Whatever the reason, it seems remarkable that this small set of books all bearing inscriptions to Romm has managed to stay together for almost a century, making their way from Nicholson in Indianapolis to Romm in New York and somehow making the trek  back again to Indianapolis, ultimately to reside in 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.”

[1] McDade, Travis. Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

[2] Van Allen, Elizabeth J. “James Whitcomb Riley: A Life.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.

[3] Zach, Karen Bazzani. “Crawfordsville, Athens of Indiana.” Charleston, SC: Aracadia, 2003.

Using genetic genealogy to advance your research at the Indiana State Library

The secrets to untold stories, answers of the past and tales of exciting and dangerous journeys unfortunately live in the past; or do they? There are many ways to perform research to discover the past, and in the process, better understand one’s genealogy. One of the most exciting ways to further your research is to have a DNA test done. This aspect of genealogy can provide you with the key that unlocks the secret door to the past and the lives of your ancestors.

DNA testing provides you with all sorts of new and interesting information. You now possess the unrefined gold mine of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine which form this wonderful thing called a chromosome! But, what does all this mean? How do you know what these types of chromosomes mean and how do they play into your genealogy? The most important thing when gaining new information is to understand what it means and how to appropriately use it.

To help make sense of it all, the Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library collects books pertaining to DNA research. These books are on display in the Genealogy Reading Room and cover a wide variety of topics, from making sense of your test results to researching specific ethnic and national groups through DNA. The library also partners with the Central Indiana DNA Interest Group to offer DNA consultations on the second Saturday of each month. These consultations, which are made by appointment only, allow patrons to receive practical research advice from genetic genealogy experts. Visit the library’s events page for more information!

This blog post was written by Sara-Elisa Driml, University of Indianapolis student.

“Wake Up, Woods” chosen as Indiana’s National Book Festival title

Every year, a list of books for children and youth representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book during the National Book Festival, which takes place annually in Washington D.C. Indiana’s selection is always by an Indiana author and usually includes other Indiana connections, like being set in Indiana or celebrating Indiana’s culture and heritage.

The 2020 National Book Festival selection from Indiana is “Wake Up, Woods” published by Rubber Ducky Press, written by Michael A. Homoya and Shane Gibson and illustrated by Gillian Harris.

“Wake Up, Woods” pairs informational text with clever verses to inform and delight the reader about plants native to North American forests. “Wake Up, Woods” is not only written and illustrated by Hoosiers, but each of the plants highlighted in the book are native to Indiana and can be found in the spring time in parks and preserves – and even in shade gardens around yards. Detailed illustrations, lilting verses and scientific explanations make “Wake Up, Woods” an important text for anyone wanting to wake up to the wonder around them when visiting the woods. This is an excellent nature book to share with young readers and is perfect for the classroom, or to tuck in a backpack before a hike.

Bloodroot, an Indiana native plant, is the first plant featured in “Wake Up, Woods.”

Adriane Doherty, owner of Rubber Ducky Press, said, “It is such an honor for Rubber Ducky Press to have ‘Wake Up, Woods’ selected by our state’s Indiana State Library’s Indiana Center for the Book to represent Indiana at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. We are so very proud of all the work done by the contributors and, especially, illustrator Gillian Harris and authors Michael A. Homoya and Shane Gibson. And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the drive and determination from the people of the Indiana Native Plant Society.”

The book came about through the diligent work of the Indiana Native Plant Society, whose dream it was have a picture book celebrating Indiana’s native plants in the springtime.

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

‘Winter Wonderland Story Hour’

By the time the middle of December rolls around, kids are ready for a snowy morning. Regardless of whether or not it’s snowing on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, the Indiana State Library invites children to join in on some winter-themed fun from 10:30-11:30 a.m. inside of the library. The Talking Book and Braille Library and the Indiana Young Readers Center have put together “Winter Wonderland Story Hour,” a story time that will be filled with books, activities and a winter-y snack. While the program has been designed for readers who are blind or vision impaired, all children are encouraged to attend. Stories, read by ISL staff and Talking Book Library patrons, will be interactive. Children will follow along as “An Old Lady Swallows Some Snow” and help an assortment of stuffed animals take shelter in a lost mitten. Snacks will be provided in the Great Hall, which will be decked out in its holiday best.

Sledding in Broad Ripple Park, circa 1900. Courtesy of Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, Indiana State Library.

Parents or guardians should plan on being present for the duration of the event. Older siblings, grandparents and other adults are welcome to come along. There are 20 spaces available for children and registration is required. This event will be most appropriate for children in third grade and under.

For more event details and to register click here.

This blog post was written by Kate McGinn, reader advisor and outreach consultant for the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library, Indiana State Library.

Census Day

If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be hearing more and more about the 2020 census.

April 1, 2020 is Census Day and beginning in mid-March, everyone will be receiving census forms in the mail. If you do not like filling out paper forms, the 2020 count will be the first one to allow all U.S. households to respond online. You can also call 1-800 numbers to give responses over the phone. All of us will be asked the following: how many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020; whether the home is owned or rented; the sex, age and race of each person in your home; and whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. Some of us will receive a longer form called The American Community Survey.

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution mandates that a count of people residing in the U.S. take place every 10 years. Our founders used this to both determine the number of representatives each state has in Congress and the amount to tax each state. Putting the taxation and representation together assured an accurate count. The more people a state had, the more the state would be taxed and the fewer amount of people in a state meant fewer representatives for that state.

But, questions, questions… why so many questions?

The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data. Census data also underpins state legislative districts and local boundaries, like city councils and school boards. Businesses use census data to determine where to build factories and stores. Are there enough skilled workers in an area? Are the people that live there interested in buying the stores products? A local government needs to know how many people are traveling to work and from where to determine roadways and other transportation needs. School districts need to know how many children are expected to attend, and their ages, in order to decide to build new schools and where to locate them.

The United States census is more than just a head count. The census has become a snapshot of America history. For more than 100 years, America was primarily a rural country of farms and villages, but the 1920 census showed that more Americans were living in towns and cities than on farms. In the 1840s, the common school movement was beginning to spread and the 1850 census asked if the person was at school within the last year and if the person was over 20 years of age, could they not read and write? By the 1890s, Civil War veterans were in their 50s and 60s and many were suffering from war wounds. The 1890 census questions included: Was this person a soldier, sailor or marine during the Civil War (U.S.A. or C.S.A.), or the widow of such a person? The nation was experiencing an economic collapse, and needed to plan for potential pensioners. The 1930 census included an unemployment census. Answers to questions helped steer the government’s response to the crash and the Great Depression. The 1940 census was the first to include a separate questionnaire on the nation’s housing conditions, including questions about indoor plumbing and kitchen appliances. In 1940, they asked if the home had a radio and in 1950 added televisions to the questions. By 1970, they asked if the home had a radio that was battery-operated.

Even though there are many questions, the Census Bureau will never ask you for:
Your social security number
Money or donations
Anything on behalf of a political party
Your bank or credit card account numbers

If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau asks you for one of these things, it’s a scam, and you should not cooperate. For more information, visit Avoiding Fraud and Scams.

If you would like to learn more about the U.S. census questions click here.

The Indiana State Library  has a number of good books on the history and importance of the census:
Alterman, Hyman. 1969. “Counting people: the census in history.” New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Anderson, Margo J., and Stephen E. Fienberg. 1999. “Who counts?: the politics of census-taking in contemporary America.” New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Anderson, Margo J. 1988. “The American census: a social history.” New Haven: Yale University Press.
Cassedy, James H. 1969. “Demography in early America: beginnings of the statistical mind, 1600-1800.” Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Klein, Herbert S. 2004. “A population history of the United States.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

This blog post was written by Marcia Caudell, supervisor of the Reference and Government Services Division at the Indiana State Library. Contact the reference desk at 317-232-3678 for more information. 

Which book will win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award?

The race is on! There are five picture books nominated to win the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Voting is happening now until May 15, 2019. Libraries all over Indiana are having storytimes, collecting votes from voting stations and making special visits to preschools and child centers to help determine which of the five titles will take home the prize.

The five books were chosen from a list of titles nominated in 2018 by librarians all over Indiana who work with children. A committee of librarians chose these five books from over 30 nominated titles, primarily because the books are really good at getting children to talk, sing, read, write and play.

  • “A Hippy Hoppy Toad” by Indiana author Peggy Archer is written completely in rhyme and gets children to bop along to the beat, while they wait to see where the hippy-hoppy toad will land next.
  • “Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall is perfect for reading aloud to a loved one, particularly someone who might be afraid of taking that giant leap off the tall, scary diving board.
  • “There’s a Monster in Your Book” by Tom Fletcher is ridiculously fun, and encourages play and interaction with the silly monster at every turn of the page.
  • “Hello Hello” by Brendan Wenzel introduces children to dozens of animals and encourages conversations about animals, unfamiliar words, and saying hello to new friends.
  • “Play This Book” by Jessica Young turns the reader into a one person band, and uses illustrations of instruments to boost fine motor skills in the hands of the children who reach out to play that enticing printed piano in the middle of the book.

Ruth Fraser, the branch manager at the Klondike Branch of the Tippecanoe County Public Library loves the Firefly Award. “I love that it encourages caregivers to engage with the youngest learners, and gives kids the opportunity to have a say in their favorite books. It teaches parents how to nurture the important voices of their children.” The ballot for the award can be found here. Votes can be turned into the Indiana Center for the Book until May 15.

The Indiana Center for the Book is hoping for a record number of votes for 2019, as this is the fifth year of the award. “Five is an important milestone for children, and an important one for us,” said Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book. “At five children can do somersaults. They can use a fork and a spoon and they can even rattle off their name and address. Now that the award is five, I’m hoping that every children’s librarian in Indiana knows about it and will turn in votes from their community.”

The award will be announced on May 17, 2019. For more information, visit the Firefly website here.

This blog post was submitted by the Indiana Young Readers Center.

The Tabard Inn Library

Over the course of its long history, many book donations have come to the Indiana State Library and have been incorporated into the collection. These books often contain personal inscriptions, decorative bookplates or other ephemera from previous owners.  A first edition of the novel “The Cost,” authored by Hoosier David Graham Phillips and published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1904, bears the following handwritten note on the inside cover:

“This book traveled all over Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Holland, 1913.”

It also has a colorful bookplate for something called The Tabard Inn Library. The Tabard Inn Library was a membership library founded in 1902. For a fee, people could obtain a membership which would allow them to borrow books from designated book stations throughout the country, many of which were located in public places such as stores. Members could exchange an old book for a new one by depositing five cents into the book station. The books were encased in black cardboard bearing distinctive red bands on the spines, hence the company’s motto: “With all the RED TAPE on the BOX.”

A magazine advertisement for the Tabard Inn Library program from 1905.

It is tempting to imagine the original owner of this book selecting it from dozens of other titles at a Tabard Inn book station located in a hotel lobby prior to embarking on their European adventure.

For more information on the Tabard Inn Library venture, including pictures of the book stations, visit here.

The Library of Congress has an entire special collection of books that, like ISL’s copy, were once part of the Tabard Inn program.

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.”

Picture it… Indianapolis… 1852.

Image traveling through a forest so thick that you could do it without ever touching the ground. You could go from tree limb to tree limb, with very little visible grass or flowers, just climbing along. Now imagine this area being Indianapolis, circa 1780. Up until around 1820, the area we now know as the capitol of Indiana was exactly that, a massive dense forest. Settlers then moved in, cleared land, began farms and started to form a community.

Several maps of early Indianapolis show the layout of the mile square, but it wasn’t until 1852 that we saw the first map of the city with any detail.

When we first got this map out and saw exactly what we had to deal with, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to digitize it. In fact, the two pictures below show what the book looked like. It had been dissected, glued onto linen and folded to fit on the shelf, which was a very common library practice early on. Nowadays, we don’t do that.

Rebecca, our conservator, painstakingly took pictures of each section, then recreated the completed image that you now see in our digital collections. This was a several day process. Now this extremely rare map has come back together and we can study it and learn what the layout of the city was like in the early 1850s.

For example, the railroad lines and their depots beeline the map, showing how the trains moved merchandise, goods and passengers in all directions. Passengers might have seen a map like this hanging at the train station. Checking the legend, they could have found several houses for accommodations, such as The Palmer House (H) or The Bates House (J), both at the corners of Illinois and Washington Streets, just a few blocks up from the station. After getting settled in, they might have walked up to the governor’s residence to pay a call on Joseph Wright, Indiana’s governor in 1852.

The map also shows the small portion of the massive 296-mile planned canal system and its path through the city; only eight miles of the canal were completed. Beginning at the White River, the canal ran east, then headed north and south. The canal helped facilitate interstate commerce and also provided alternative transportation for passengers.

Most of the transportation routes, such as the canals and railroads, are south of the residential areas, including the current Lockerbie Square and the old Northside neighborhoods. Oftentimes, residential areas grew north of the industrial areas as winds would blow the smoke and pollution south.

Later maps, such as those published in 1855 and 1866, show fewer details. Both maps can be viewed on the Library of Congress’s website. We have the maps at the state library, but the Library of Congress has done such a great job digitizing their copies that we just refer researchers to those digitized maps. Our copies, sadly, are in need of much repair.

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