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.”

Books to inspire your next family history project

There is no time like the present to celebrate the fascinating lives your ancestors lived, share their stories and discover new approaches to preserving treasured memories. If you are looking for some guidance or need help getting started, here is a list of some great books to inspire your next family history project:

“Finding True Connections: How to Learn and Write About a Family Member’s History”
Interview a family member and share their story with future generations. If you need help, the book “Finding True Connections: How to Learn and Write About a Family Member’s History” by Gareth St. John Thomas includes a comprehensive list of questions to delve into. There are even tips for expanding on questions to gain more meaningful responses. An added benefit to learning about your ancestry is the quality time you get to spend with your loved one. March is Women’s History Month and learning the life story of a female relative can be a great way to celebrate her! You never know what you may discover about her life.

“The Art of the Family Tree: Creative Family History Projects Using Paper Art, Fabric & Collage”
If you enjoy crafting and you want a creative way to show off your family tree, the book “The Art of the Family Tree: Creative Family History Projects Using Paper Art, Fabric & Collage” by Jenn Mason is full of family history crafting inspiration. Preserve your treasured memories as a work of art you can display in your home or give as a gift. Use copies of photos and documents to create wreaths, sculptures, books and more.

“Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions”
Nothing sparks memories quite like the aromas and flavors of the foods shared during family celebrations. Even without realizing it as we are gobbling it up, culture and family history is passed down with every bowl full of grandma’s arroz con leche or auntie’s famous molasses cookies. “Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions” by Valerie J. Frey offers more than tips for archiving family recipes. You will also learn how to make necessary adjustments to inaccurate recipes, collect oral histories and document food traditions.

“Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries”
Break out that box of old family photos to identify mysterious people and places. The book “Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries” by Maureen A. Taylor offers convincing evidence those family photos are deserving of more than just a quick glance. Each photo contains fascinating details that, when spotted, give us more information about the lives of ancestors.

“Visiting Your Ancestral Town: Walk in the Footsteps of Your Ancestors”
Plan a voyage to witness the same sights and sounds that your ancestors once did. Town halls, churches or local archives may contain records that help you piece together your genealogical puzzles. “Visiting Your Ancestral Town: Walk in the Footsteps of Your Ancestors” by Carolyn Schott can help you learn how to do genealogical research on your travels in order to get the most out of your trip.

“Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher”
While you are digging through family memories, you can also organize your photos and documents. “Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher” by Drew Smith will provide you with instructions on how to set your organizing goals, save physical documents as digital files, keep track of notes and more.

“The Family Story Workbook: 105 Prompts & Pointers for Writing Your History”
You don’t have to be a professional author to write the history of your family. With the help of “The Family Story Workbook: 105 Prompts & Pointers for Writing Your History” by Kris Spisak, anyone can learn to write their family history. This book also includes other creative ways to share family stories, like through poetry or music.

“The National Geographic Kids’ Guide to Genealogy”
Involve the younger generation in your family history exploration. “The National Geographic Kids’ Guide to Genealogy” by T.J. Resler is an exciting introduction to the topic. In addition to explaining the basics, this book also includes project ideas like building a time capsule, interviewing family members and making your own board game.

If you would like more help researching your ancestors, plan a visit to the Indiana State Library. You can also schedule a one-on-one family history consultation or a family history tour of the building. Click here to learn more about events at the library and how to register for them. Call 317-232-3689 for more genealogy information.

The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Click here for hours and directions.

This blog post is by Dagny Villegas, Genealogy Division librarian.

These are a few of my favorite books – Eye-catching book titles found in the Genealogy Division collection

As a genealogy librarian, I tend to be around a lot of books. While I am fond of all the books in the Genealogy Division collection, some of them just scream for extra attention from me. The books contained in this post screamed the loudest.

“Very Impudent When Drunk or Sober: Delaware Runaways, 1720-1783”
ISLG 975.1 B792VE

This book features newspaper ads about runaway indentured servants, political exiles, transported convicts and slaves. The ads are colorful, featuring the physical attributes, personalities and clothing of the runaways. An example from the book, page 133:

Thirty Pistoles* Reward. Wilmington, April 8th, 1762. Run-away on about the 27th of last Month from his Bail, and in Debt to sundry Creditors, to the Amount of several Thousand Pounds, a certain Robert Middleton, about 35 years old, 5 Feet 5 or 6 Inches high, of a dark Complection, middling round Vissage, sharp Nose, dark Eyes, chearful Countenance, much pitted with the Small-pox, middling well built, is free and agreeable in Company, forward in talking, Card-playing, and drinking, but not apt to be drunk, snuffs and sings well, but with a strong Voice; when he went-away wore a short black Wig, his Apparel uncertain…

*A pistole was a Spanish coin worth about one English pound.

Western Sun, Volume 1, Number 43, Vincennes, Knox County, 17 September 1808, Hoosier State Chronicles

“Harrison County Indiana Marital Adventures (divorces, adultery and bigamy) 1809-1856”
ISLG 977.201 H323KEA

The information contained in this book comes from the Harrison County Clerk’s Archives. An example from the book, page 11:

…for two and a half years after their marriage she conducted herself so as to preserve his esteem but now has abandoned herself to all the base desires of a prostitute and not regarding her plighted faith and the holy bonds of matrimony to forsake all others and cleave to him only, she has forsaken him only and cleven until all others to whom she could barter her wanton charm. That abandonment to the habits of a harlot and divested of the tender, affectionate sentiments and consortal love which is the crown and glory of a amiable wife, she has most shamefully defiled the marriage bed, by admitting to her illicit contact with profligate men with whom she had repeatedly committed the abominable crime of adultery and that nothing might be lacking to display the contempt of her morals and the state of her manners she still continued to live in a state of indiscriminate concubinage bestowing her lewd favors promiscuously on all who see them. She had commenced producing a brood of illegitimates whose origin is so doubtful that they can claim no man even as a prospective father and are, as it were, brought into the world without a male parent.

“Runaways, Deserters, and Notorious Villains from Rhode Island Newspapers”
ISLG 974.5 T244R V.1
ISLG 974.5 T244R V.2

The two volumes feature newspaper advertisements for runaway wives, thieves, deserters, slaves, and indentured servants. From volume 1, page 150:

William S. Bradlee, my husband, has endeavored to injure me in a public Manner, and circulate Reports the most inconsistent as well as vile. By Reason of his base Conduct, and stealing Articles from the House where I live, he has been turned away from it; and now to avoid Prosecution, has suddenly ran away, spreading his Lies as he went. It is well known that I have lived in a House for a long Time where four Families are closely conntected, all of whom will fully declare that I have never behaved in an unbecoming Manner in any thing, except in keeping with that most worthless of Men. Abigail Bradlee

“Sudden and Awful: American Epitaphs and the Finger of God”
ISLG 929 M282S

This slim book contains American epitaphs for the years 1750-1900. From page 2:

North Andover, Mass.:
Erected in Memory of
Mr. James Bridges
Who departed this life July 17th 1747
In the 51st year of his age.
Being melted to death by extreem heat

A photo of the gravestone can be found at Find-a-Grave.

“Psychic Roots: Serendipity and Intuition in Genealogy”
ISLG 929 J77P
“More Psychic Roots: Further Adventures in Serendipity and Intuition in Genealogy”
ISLG 929 J77M

These two books examine stories from genealogists that experience coincidences, chance and luck – something other than their research skills – that leads them to information about an ancestor.

One of my favorite stories is from the first volume. The story involves a man who locates a portrait of his ancestor. This story can be found on page 188, in the chapter “Being Led.”

The author, Henry Z. Jones, has written many genealogy books about the Palatines, in addition to being a former Disney actor, credited as Hank Jones. He has appeared in “Blackbeard’s Ghost” and “Herbie Rides Again.”

“Curiosities of the Search-room. A Collection of Serious, and Whimsical Wills”
ISLG 929.1 B995C

This book is a 1969 reissue of the original 1880 edition. The book features various wills of time and place. Examples of some chapter titles: “Excentric Wills,” “Puzzling Wills,” “Wills in Obsolete Language and in Rime” and “Vindictive Wills.” On page 103:

Will of Dr. Dunlop. The humorous will of Dr. Dunlop of Upper Canada is worth recording, though there is a spice of malice in every bequest it contains.
To his five sisters he left the following bequests:
To my eldest sister Joan, my five-acre field, to console her for being married to a man she is obliged to henpeck.
To my second sister Sally, the cottage that stands beyond the said field with its garden, because as no one is likely to marry her it will be large enough to lodge her.
To my third sister Kate, the family Bible, recommending her to learn as much of its spirit as she already knows of its letter, that she may become a better Christian.
To my fourth sister Mary, my grandmother’s silver snuff-box, that she may not be ashamed to take snuff before company.
To my fifth sister Lydia, my silver drinking-cup, for reasons known to herself.
To my brother Ben, my books, that he may learn to read with them.
To my brother James, my big silver watch, that he may know the hour at which men ought to rise from their beds.
“To my brother-in-law Jack, a punch-bowl, because he will do credit to it.
“To my brother-in-law Christopher, my best pipe, out of gratitude that he married my sister Maggie whom no man of taste would have taken.
“To my friend John Caddell, a silver teapot, that, being afflicted with a slatternly wife, he may therefrom drink tea to his comfort.”
While “old John’s eldest son was made legatee of a silver tankard, which the testator objected to leave to old John himself, lest he should commit the sacrilege of melting it down to make temperance medals.

From The Beggers Delight, Houghton Library – EBB65, EBBA 3493

“Lost Babes: Fornication Abstracts from Court Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, 1692-1745”
ISLG 974.401 E78S

This book is an index to fornication cases heard in Essex County, Massachusetts by the Court of General Sessions. This court was responsible for administrative and criminal cases. These cases were important to determine the parentage of the child and who would be responsible for the cost of the birth and the future support of the child.

A married couple could be brought before the court if the wife had given birth or were about to give birth to a child. If the child was born less than seven months after the marriage, the couple would be fined. This type of fornication case usually did not result in any lasting disgrace for the couple. There are many examples of these types of cases in the book.

A single woman brought before the court could be fined and sometimes whipped.
Some interesting cases from the book include: Page 2:

Term of Court 7 August 1694
1:75 Bethiah Witt of Lynn, widow, presented. Said she had a child but she was married to Solomon Rogeway, gone to sea, but could not give an account of who married her 40s

Page 36:

4:67 An infant child left at the door of Mr. Thomas Norton of Ipswich, 22 Dec 1721 in the evening, given to Overseers of the Poor

Page 61:

Term of Court 12 July 1737
10:495 William Diamond of Marblehead, shoreman, & Alice Fergusen of Marblehead, the wife of George Fergusen, cohabited three years in evil example to others, not guilty

“Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775”
ISLG 974.402 B747si

Though all true, this book reads like fiction. This readable book gathers its information from various sources such as dairies and newspapers.
Intriguing chapters include:

  • “Witch’s Brew: Witchcraft and Possession in Early Boston”
  • “Rogues’ Gallery: Scoundrels, Imposters and Schemers”
  • “Miscellany of Miscreants”
  • “Family Skeletons, Dangerous Liaisons, and Black Sheep”

“Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools: Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels”
ISLG 973.7 A11LCU

This tome contains only the tastiest tidbits selected by the author from the court-martial transcripts at the U.S. National Archives. From Chapter 7, “And a Brandy for my Horse!  – Col. Newton B. Lord,” page 43:

Lord seems to have reserved his most dramatic acts for the home folks. At Brownsville, New York, in his native Jefferson County, ‘in full view of the citizens’ he rode his horse into a bar, procured a drink of brandy for himself and a second brandy for his horse, then fired his revolver into the ceiling. After riding out into the street, where a large crowd of the curious had now gathered, he rode once again into the bar, and ‘repeated his performance.’

Other interesting titles by this author, Thomas P. Lowry, include “Was Grandpa a Freeloader?: Civil War Pension Claims North and South” and “Utterly Worthless (One Thousand Delinquent Union Officers Unworthy of a Court-Martial).”

Note: Original spellings from the sources are kept.

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

Beyond the shelves – library services available to Hoosiers

As an Indiana public library cardholder, you may have access to more than what’s on the shelves of your local public library. Many public libraries in the state participate in services that enable them to borrow or request photocopies from other Indiana libraries at little to no cost to you. Here are some of the services the Indiana State Library helps make available to Indiana residents:

Evergreen Indiana – Evergreen Indiana is a growing consortium of over half the public libraries in the state who share a catalog and lend items freely between their member libraries. Many items on the shelves of other participating libraries can be reserved and delivered to your home library. You can check here to see if your public library is participating.

Interlibrary loan – The Indiana State Library also sponsors a few other resource sharing services including SRCS, the Statewide Remote Circulation Service. By searching SRCS, you can see items in the catalogs of hundreds of public and academic libraries and request them to be delivered to your library. Some libraries participate in the Indiana Share program and can borrow items through the OCLC network, including harder-to-find items held by out of state libraries.

Reciprocal borrowing – Over half of the state’s libraries participate in some type of reciprocal borrowing agreement. Some may have a local agreement with neighboring library districts, and others participate in the Statewide Reciprocal Borrowing Covenant. This means a cardholder at any of the participating libraries can show their valid card at any other participating library and borrow an item. This is helpful if you live closer to another public library than your home library, prefer another local library or travel frequently.

PLAC – Individuals may purchase a PLAC card – which stands for Public Library Access Card – at any public library to obtain borrowing privileges at any other public library in the state. Patrons must first have a valid library card, or paid non-resident card, from a public library before purchasing a PLAC card. The current fee for the service is $65 for a year.

Cards for non-residents – Not a resident of a public library district? You still have the option to purchase a card from the public library system of your choice. Public libraries can serve non-residents for a fee, or possibly for free, per their policy or agreements with neighboring townships. The fee you are charged is based on the cost per capita to serve patrons which is normally obtained through property taxes. That means a card typically comes to about $40-$100, depending on the district. Many libraries issue free cards to K-12 students who don’t reside in the library’s service area but attend a district school. Additionally, some libraries offer a temporary, reduced price for three or six-month non-resident cards for vacationers or temporary residents.

InfoExpress – How do library books get around the state? The Indiana State Library currently contracts with Indianapolis’ NOW Courier who employees a network of independent couriers to provide a special delivery network just for libraries. Every weekday, drivers around the state pick up and deliver library materials to nearly 400 public, college and school libraries.

What about e-books? – Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about which libraries lend e-books to patrons in other districts. We can’t answer that because it really depends on the library, the service and their contract with the e-book provider. Some are able to extend their e-book collections to PLAC, reciprocal or non-resident card holders, while others are not. E-books are also usually not able to be loaned via interlibrary loan due to the electronic rights management that prevents the file from being shared. Are you hoping to borrow e-books or e-audiobooks through one of these services? Be sure to check with the library whose collection you are hoping to access before obtaining or purchasing a card. Please be aware that changes can be made at any time (e.g., due to a contract ending or a change to the terms of service). We also suggest you check out the thousands of e-books available via INSPIRE.

What else should I know?
Not all libraries participate in all of these services. Please speak with the circulation staff at your library for a better understanding of what is available. There may be a small fee assessed for the cost of service, especially if photocopies are requested or a book needs to be borrowed from outside Indiana. Your library staff should discuss this fee with you before borrowing an item or charging for a photocopy. Please also understand that certain items will not be available, due to their popularity, format or condition/age. For example, it would be hard to find the latest James Patterson at any library, and not all libraries lend DVDs to others due to the risk of damage during transportation.

We hope all of these services encourage you to visit your local public library to check out all they have, or all they can borrow, for you!

This blog post was written by Jen Clifton, supervisor, Statewide Services Division. 

 

Celebrate Pride Month with books with Indiana connections for young people

Pride Month has been celebrated in the United States every June since the 1970s. This special month commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969 and demonstrates how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans have strengthened the country. Celebrations oftentimes include parades, workshops, picnics, parties, concerts and memorials for members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Celebrate by learning more about this commemoration through this guide put together by the Library of Congress.

The Indiana Young Readers Center has assembled this list of books with Indiana connections so that people of all ages can engage with stories about people from the LGBTQ community.

“All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages” edited by Saundra Mitchell
Edited by Indiana native Saundra Mitchell, this is a collection of historical fiction for teens. Seventeen young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse tales. From a retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain to forbidden love in a 16th century Spanish convent to an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, “All Out” tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

“Out Now: Queer We Go Again!” edited by Saundra Mitchell
A follow-up to the critically acclaimed “All Out” anthology, “Out Now” features 17 short stories from amazing queer YA authors: Vampires crash a prom; aliens run from the government; a president’s daughter comes into her own; a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer; and a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. From teapots and barbershops to skateboards and VW vans to “Street Fighter” and Ares’s sword, “Out Now” has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page! This collection is also edited by Indiana author, Saundra Mitchell.

 

“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. Though author Leah Johnson currently lives in Brooklyn, New York she was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a tried and true lifelong Hoosier.

 

“Keesha’s House” by Helen Frost
Keesha has found a safe place to live, and other kids gravitate to her house when they just can’t make it on their own. They are Stephie – pregnant and trying to make the right decisions for herself and those she cares about; Jason – Stephie’s boyfriend, torn between his responsibility to Stephie and the promise of a college basketball career; Dontay – in foster care while his parents are in prison; Carmen – arrested on a DUI charge, waiting in a juvenile detention center for a judge to hear her case; Harris – disowned by his father after disclosing that he’s gay; and Katie – angry at her mother’s loyalty to an abusive stepfather. Helen Frost lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana and has published dozens of books for young people. In this novel, Frost weaves together the stories of seven teenagers as they courageously struggle to hold their lives together.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with… Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans. John Green lives in Indianapolis.

 

“Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom” by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Indiana town. So, it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him. What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.

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

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.

A virtual National Book Festival featuring the Road Map to Reading and Indiana’s ‘Wake Up, Woods’

Like most things in 2020, the National Book Festival looks nothing like it has in the past. Last year, tens of thousands of attendees crammed themselves into long lines to meet their favorite authors. They joined hundreds of other literary buffs in giant halls at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. to watch interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning writers and famous politicians. They snaked their way through the crowded vendor hall, picking up free bookmarks, posters, and other swag from the hundreds of booths and stages, all catering to the book-loving public who swarmed the festival in droves.

Past National Book Festivals included the crowded Pavilion of the States

None of that is possible in this year’s COVID-19 reality. Instead, the festival has gone virtual. One thing that has always been true of the festival is that it is a free event, open to the public. This year, the public does not only include the people who can make it to Washington, it includes anyone with access to a computer. Virtual attendees will be able to explore nine author “stages” where more than 120 authors will be featured, including many who will be participating in live events where participants can interact with the presenters in real time.

In addition, the 2020 festival will include the Roadmap to Reading feature, a virtual iteration of the beloved Pavilion of the States attraction from years past. In the old days, the Pavilion of the States was one of the most crowded areas of the festival. Each state and territory of the U.S. had a booth where they’d feature a special book, highlight local authors and give away more swag than you could fit in one literary themed tote-bag. This year, each state will be presenting virtual content, including videos and poetry at their virtual booths.

Visit the Roadmap to Reading to experience literary content from all the states

You can visit Indiana at the 2020 National Book Festival by navigating to the National Book Festival’s website. Register to attend the festival, and once you are on the landing page, click on Discover Great Reads to explore as many states as you like, including Indiana.

Indiana’s booth will have lots of content surrounding our chosen book for the festival, “Wake Up, Woods.” Sammy the Interviewing Toucan will do a very special interview with the two authors of the book and there will be plenty of information about Indiana native plants.

You can watch a preview of the Wake Up, Woods interview on Sept. 22 on the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page

The 20th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival will be held online Sept. 25-27. For news and updates, follow the festival blog and subscribe to latest updates.

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

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.