Indiana’s dilapidated rural bridges

On Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, President Joe Biden officially signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. This law will inject an unprecedented $1 trillion into various public infrastructure projects throughout the country, including here in Indiana. Of principal concern is the improvement and repair of roads and bridges. In Indiana, this will include money toward the state’s numerous rural bridges.

Image ca. 1910 of the Fredricksburg Bridge, Salem, Indiana. From “Reinforced Concrete Bridges of Luten Design” (ISLO 624 no. 5).

According to a 2014 report from Purdue University, over 3,000 county bridges in the state were built prior to 1960.[1] Since that time, agriculture equipment has become larger and much heavier rendering many older bridges incapable of serving their function as an essential component in the movement of agricultural goods from farms to markets.

Image of a modern tractor on an older truss bridge. From Purdue Extension Report PPP-91 (ISLI 668.65 P894 no. 91).

Indiana bridges undergo thorough inspections on a regular basis. The Indiana State Library houses hundreds of bridge inspection reports dating back to the 1970s. These reports provide highly-detailed analysis of all aspects of a bridge’s design and construction and use rating systems to identify problem areas. Some reports include diving teams who perform underwater investigations of bridge support structures.

Image from Bridge inspection report: Boone County, Indiana, phase II, final report, 2011 (ISLI 624.2 N724bcr 2012).

Based on the findings from these reports, a troubling picture of the state of Indiana’s bridges emerges. According to the 2021 bridge profile of Indiana from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, over 1,000 of Indiana’s bridges are deemed structurally deficient.[2] Almost 2,000 bridges have posted load limits meaning that the larger and heavier vehicles and machinery necessary for modern farming cannot cross them without risking further damage to the bridge.

Image showing Jay County bridge number 008 (left) and close-up images (right) showing heavy corrosion. From Bridge inspection report, phase II, Jay County, Indiana (ISLI 624.2 J42ba 2012).

While Indiana recently allocated millions of dollars to local bridge and road development as part of its Next Level Indiana initiative, the passage of the federal bill should add further resources thus ensuring rural communities remain able to conduct business in the 21st century.

The Indiana State Library’s extensive collection of bridge inspection reports can be searched in our online catalog.

Information on Indiana’s Bridge Inspection Office can be found here.

Access the full text of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act here.

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] Tian, Yu, Haddock, John, Hubbard, Sarah. (2014). Focus on the Infrastructure: Indiana’s Local Bridges. Purdue Extension Center for Rural Development EC-775-W.

[2] American Road and Transportation Builders Association. (2021). National bridge Inventory: Indiana: 2021 bridge profile.

 

The Coate Coppock Estate and estate fraud

If you’ve gone through a box of older relatives’ papers, you may have run across a flyer that mentioned an estate and that the heir of the estate were due millions of dollars. The paper would have mentioned ongoing litigation and that the end of suit was in sight. It would have also asked the reader to help assist with these lawsuits by sending money to the leaders of the suit. Unfortunately, the unclaimed millions mentioned didn’t exist. In some cases, neither did the estate. They were all a scam to fleece people out of their savings with the promises of easy money.

There have been numerous cases of estate fraud over the centuries in the U.S. One of the earliest and most well-known is related to the Anneke Jans Bogardus Estate in New York City. The land in question was a 62-acre farm where Trinity Church currently sits. The first suit was brought in 1749 by a descendant of Cornelius Bogardus who died before the land was sold and did not sign the deed transferring the land. Both the descendant, Cornelius Brower and his son John filed multiple claims with the ruling always going to Trinity.

Flyer from Consolidated Association of Coate and Coppock Heirs

Flyer from Consolidated Association of Coate and Coppock Heirs

Flyer from Consolidated Association of Coate and Coppock Heirs

Other estate fraud cases include the Col. Jacob Baker estate in Philadelphia 1930s and the Sir Francis Drake estate. Approximately 2 million dollars was collected to help settle the Drake estate and the leader of the scam, Oscar Hartzell, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to ten years in Leavenworth penitentiary.

One of the aspects of the scam was fraudulent documents, usually a will or deed created to attach a person to the property in question and would be mentioned at meetings of heirs and in newsletters. False pedigree charts and books were often created as well to connect unrelated persons to one another, only a more dedicated genealogist would find the discrepancies when going through the information. Even after the scam was revealed, the false pedigree information lived on in published family histories.

The Vern A. Carpenter Collection at the Indiana State Library has six folders dedicated to the Coate Coppock Estate. The Coate Coppock estate was hinged on a 99-year lease to property in central Philadelphia that belonged to Marmaduke Coate and Mary Jane Coppock. The lease covered 976 acres in Philadelphia, along with 5,000 acres in multiple counties in Pennsylvania. Fliers were sent out to people making them aware of the “unclaimed” lease and asking them to support the cause. Local newspapers ran articles about meetings of the heirs. Amanda Krell, along with Glen B. Coate, were ringleaders of the scam.

In the folders are papers from Nathan Winterrowd of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Winterrowd was mentioned in a few newspaper articles in 1922 trying to raise money for the estate and get more claimants to join. Numerous signed affidavits from other family members detailing relationships along with other vital information take up most of the first two folders. Correspondence, newsletters and pamphlets about the Coate and Coppock estate are also included.

Letter to Nathan Winterrowd from Glen B. Coate

The other folders contain correspondence to and from Vern Carpenter and different agencies of the U.S. government, FBI, U.S. district attorney for Pennsylvania, U.S. Post Office, Herbert Hoover Presidential library, the Bureau of prisons and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, along with several other libraries and state and federal agencies.

Carpenter was researching the Wenderoth – and related names – family when he came across Nathan Winterrowd in the newspaper and the Winterrowd connection to the Coate and Coppock estate. He started looking into what the family connection was to the estate. He spoke with one of the original attorneys who managed the estate, Harry S. Monell, who was engaged to Amanda Krell in May of 1920. He mentions Winterrowd and how they had him arrested on a couple of occasions but was generally evasive about what happened to the association after he resigned.

While talking with another genealogist, he was put in touch with a woman, Ruth Quintrell. During an interview, she mentions she attended a Coate and Coppock heirs meeting and after listening to Krell, Quintrell suspected Krell was a fraud. She mailed a check to the association and then sent the returned check along with correspondence to Herbert Hoover, the Secretary of Commerce at the time, thus starting the federal investigation into the Coate and Coppock Association.

Correspondence from Vern Carpenter and Ruth Quintrell discussing Amanda Krell

Carpenter spends his time contacting various state, and federal agencies, libraries and archives looking for information about the case and finding out what if anything happened to Amanda Krell and Glen B. Coate. His first big break is from the Herbert Hoover Presidential library. The library sent him 34 pages from a folder that also contained correspondence into the Baker Estate. After contacting a family member who works for the federal government Vern finds out case files from the Coate and Coppock Estate are held at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. There are also records from the U.S. Postal Department that go into the investigation of the association.

Photocopies of correspondence between Ruth Quintrell and Herbert Hoover from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Photocopies of correspondence between Ruth Quintrell and Herbert Hoover from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Photocopies of correspondence between Ruth Quintrell and Herbert Hoover from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Photocopies of correspondence between Ruth Quintrell and Herbert Hoover from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Photocopies of correspondence between Ruth Quintrell and Herbert Hoover from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

In the end, Carpenter found that the Federal Government had decided against prosecuting Amanda Krell and Glen B. Coate. Instead, they issued a permanent injunction which was why finding records about the case proved to be difficult. In his book “Wenderoth Families of Germany,” Carpenter spends 21 pages going through the documents he found while researching the case.

Photocopied correspondence from Horace Donnelly, Fraud Office U.S. Postal Office

Scams like this still happen today. They are usually better known as the “Nigerian prince” scam.

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 Letters About Literature writing contest submissions now open

The Indiana Letters About Literature writing contest is now open! Students in grades four through 12 are invited to write a letter to an author, living or deceased, whose one work has made a difference in how the student sees themselves or the world. Indiana students can write about works of literature including fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poems, essays or speeches – including TED Talks.

Last year over 800 letters were submitted to the contest. Students wrote about lots of books including “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper, “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling, and, as students were reflecting upon current events, books about viruses including “The Girl Who Owned a City” by O. T. Nelson and “Five Feet Apart” by Rachael Lippincott. Students were not shy about tackling heavy topics in their letters including the COVID-19 pandemic, racism and immigration. Letters are not actually delivered to the authors, but for the past nine years about 100 letters have been selected for inclusion in an annual anthology. That will continue this year.

First, second and third place winners are selected from amongst the top 100 letters in three levels: grades 4-6, grades 7-8 and grades 9-12. In addition, a special award is given to the top letter written to an Indiana author.

The top letters from the 2020-21 contest are as follows:

Noelle Carey, McCutchanville, was the first-place winner from Level One. She wrote a letter to Kelly Yang, author of the bestselling novel for children, “Front Desk.” This is a selection from her letter:

“Mia Tang and her family went to America to have a better life, but when they arrived it wasn’t anything like what they expected. Her family worked for very little money and willingly did so to hopefully get the ‘American Dream.’ They worked for a boss that repeatedly made them feel meaningless and replaceable. This brings to light another imbalance in our communities. People of color are sometimes forced to take any job available, and sometimes for very little pay, to survive. Immigrant families like Mia’s look for a fresh start but sometimes don’t get what they imagined. Our world needs to be better, know better, and do better.”

Melani Martinez Blanco, Jasper, was the first-place winner from Level Two. She wrote a letter to Alan Gratz, author of the novel, “Refugee.” This is a selection from her letter:

“I was an immigrant, a foreigner to a country where I had no idea of the language or its system. I was made fun of constantly when I didn’t know certain words or phrases, but then I started to get the hang of it. I am now fourteen years old, and I cannot imagine never having come to this country that I and many immigrants call home. Isabel and her journey were the first time I didn’t feel alone in a long time. We would discuss this in class and many students would listen to my family’s journey and how I felt personally connected to Isabel and her many obstacles. Alan Gratz, I want to personally thank you for having this character whose story made me feel stronger and more connected to my roots and the way I came to be the person that I am today.”

Badreddine Bouzeraa, Wheeler, was the first-place winner from Level Three. He wrote a letter to George M. Johnson, author of the memoir, “All Boys Aren’t Blue.” This is a selection from his letter:

“In the first act of ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ your unique storytelling of struggling to find a way to express yourself allowed me to realize that many LGBTQ+ members struggle with the same ordeal. Many are taught that there are only two genders and one sexuality. However, there are a plethora of unique orientations. On page 23 of ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue,’ you state, ‘However, I was old enough to know that I would find safety only in the arms of suppression – hiding my true self – because let’s face it, kids can be cruel.’ Millions in the non-heterosexual orientation continue to suppress themselves, and I beg to question, why must we?”

Jack Egan, Michigan City, won the Indiana Author Letter Prize for the top letter written to an Indiana author. He wrote a letter to Ernie Pyle, war correspondent and author of the article, “The Death of Captain Waskow.” This is a selection from his letter:

As in your day, today we are also combating difficult times due to a pandemic called COVID-19. By describing Captain Waskow’s life and sacrifice so beautifully, you also brought to life all the other men and women who died for the freedom we enjoy today. I am not so sure that the society in which I live today is as willing to sacrifice for others as your generation was so willing to do in your time. Unfortunately, today our society is not even willing to wear a mask to protect others from COVID-19, let alone be willing to be placed on the front lines of a war to protect their freedoms.”

The deadline to enter the 2021-22 contest is Jan. 10, 2022. Details, entry forms and official rules for the contest can be found on the Letters About Literature website.

Get your students excited to enter the contest by sharing this video with them:

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

Indiana State Library seeking libraries for passport program

The Indiana State Library is currently exploring the idea of a statewide library passport program. The program, with a tentative launch in 2022, will operate in a similar manner to the Passport To Your National Parks® program administered by America’s National Parks™, under its parent company, Eastern National, an official nonprofit education partner of the National Park Service.

The State Library wants to hear from libraries with a special space to share. Architecture, art, special collections, museums, statues and outdoor public spaces are just some of the features that would make the library an excellent place to visit. Ideally, these features should be accessible to the public without the need of a library card, as visitors will be encouraged to travel to each highlighted library.

Indiana libraries that are interested in the program are encouraged to fill out this Microsoft Form, letting the State Library know why guests should visit their library. All types of libraries are eligible for involvement, including public, academic and special libraries. Depending on the number of submissions, libraries may be included in a later iteration of the program. The form submission deadline is Oct. 31.

The program is subject to change at any time and will adhere to any potential COVID-19 restrictions.

Please contact John Wekluk, communications director at the Indiana State Library, with any questions.

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

A map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute

In its collections, the Indiana State Library has a map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The library’s copy of this map is a reproduction made in the 1920s from the original map held at the Library of Congress. The map shows the route of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The base map is compiled from surveys done by the Federal Government in the early 1800s.

The canal ran through the wilderness of a largely unsettled part of Indiana. The canal period was crucial to the development and colonization of Indiana, especially to remote parts of the state north of Indianapolis. Ultimately, the Wabash and Erie Canal would connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River in Evansville.

We realize the map is not beautiful, but take a moment to examine the digitized map closely. The canal period coincides with Indian removal in the state. Clearly mapped are the reserve lands set aside for the Miami during the removal of Indians from the state – Jean Baptiste de Richardville, Little Turtle, Godfroy. Most of the reserve lands shown on these maps can be found in the treaty made at St. Mary’s with the Miami, Oct. 6, 1818 and a treaty signed at the Mississinewa in 1826.

By 1840, all this granted land was recollected, and tribes moved west.

Learn more about the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Indiana Historical Bureau’s “The Indiana Historian: Canal Mania in Indiana.” Especially interesting is an account of early travel along the canal recorded in J. Richard Beste’s published travel book, “The Wabash; or, Adventures of an English gentleman’s family in the interior of America” (London, Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, 1855). They take off from Terre Haute on Aug. 12, 1851. Available in full text from the Library of Congress, beginning on page 191 of Volume 2.

Click here to view a hi-res version of the map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute, and visit the Indiana State Library Map Collection to examine maps, county atlases, plats maps and other land descriptions.

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

New changes regarding the administration of Indiana librarian certification

Indiana law has required some form of librarian certification program for many years. The belief is that individuals who go to libraries for assistance should receive quality guidance and information. The way to assure this is to require some basic minimum requirements for Indiana librarians.

The Indiana State Library administers the librarian certification program for Indiana and has historically relied on technology and software provided by the Professional Licensing Agency to make this happen. For the past 13 years, the State Library has contracted with the Professional Licensing Agency to provide a number of services including maintaining our database of certified librarians, processing online renewals, and mailing out renewal reminders, audit notices, and certificates for us. As of July 1, 2021, the State Library moved all of those functions in-house.

Our new system is designed specifically for Indiana librarian certification. Since it no longer needs to meet the demands of many different state agencies, each with different requirements, our new certification portal is simpler, more streamlined, and we think it is more intuitive. Currently, the new portal only replaces the functions that the Professional Licensing Agency had been performing for us, but over the long term we expect to expand the number of services and payments that can be handled online.

Things that have changed with the new portal:

  • We are using a different credit card service to process online payments. The new service charges lower fees and those savings are passed on to the librarians so they spend less on their transactions than before.
  • Correspondence with certified librarians now takes place almost entirely by email. In the past most of our communications have been printed and sent by the Professional Licensing Agency using the U.S. Postal Service. Renewal reminders and random audit notices are now sent by email.
  • In the new portal, librarians are able to print out a digital permit or certificate as soon as it has been approved.
  • Because our new certification portal has been designed in house, it bears some similarity to other services administered by the State Library, such as InfoExpress or Indiana Legacy. We think this makes the portal easier to learn and more intuitive to use.
  • The State Library never asks for librarian Social Security numbers or birth dates. However, recent changes to the login screen for the Professional Licensing Agency’s system made it seem like we were asking for that information from librarians as an option for logging into their account. That will never happen in our new portal.
  • The public look up page for librarians will also take place through the new certification portal.
  • Librarians will no longer be required to create an Access Indiana account to log into their record.
  • The State Library is able to troubleshoot all technical issues in house which leads to faster resolution in the event an issue arises.

The State Library is very excited about the new librarian certification portal. It is an exciting new tool to help us provide services to librarians who are certified, those who wish to become certified and the public who may wish to look up a librarian to verify certification. For more information about the certification portal or certification for Indiana librarians, click here. You can check out the new certification portal itself by clicking here.

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

Who’s in charge? Public library boards in Indiana

Public board meetings have been all over the news lately, and public libraries haven’t been exempt. Even a seemingly quiet place like a library can be subject to unpopular decisions and conflict daily, frustrating both staff and patrons. A well-functioning library board is an essential component of an effective and welcoming library, and there are a number of laws that help ensure a library has one.

So how do public library boards work in Indiana and what are their responsibilities? Nearly all of the 236 public libraries in Indiana are governed by a seven-member board of trustees. These trustees gather monthly, in person or electronically, to meet with the library’s director and assist them in leading the library, to propose and evaluate library policies, to monitor the library’s progress on its strategic plan and to approve expenditures in accordance with the library budget.

In Indiana, public library trustees are not elected, but instead appointed, by local elected officials which may include representatives from their local county and school corporation. Trustees serve four-year terms which may be renewed for up to four consecutive terms, or 16 years total. There are some exceptions where trustees may serve even longer than that (e.g., if a trustee had joined by filling in for a vacant partial term, or if a diligent search of a small community did not produce a new qualified candidate). Trustees receive no compensation for their service.

Public library trustees are community members of the library they serve. In fact, trustees are required to have resided in the service area of the library they will serve for at least two years immediately before becoming a trustee. Ideally, public library trustees should be library users themselves. They should be advocates for the library in the community. They should be lifelong learners and willing to seek professional development opportunities to hone their skills as a trustee. Most importantly, they should always make decisions with the community’s needs in mind. All public library trustees are required to take an oath of office before serving.

Per the Indiana Open Door law, public library board meetings are open to the public to attend. Whether or not public comment is on the agenda is determined locally by the policies of each library board. There are rare occasions that a board may hold an executive – or private – session, in which case they are required to post a meeting notice stating the reason for meeting in private. Boards are not allowed to vote or take final action in an executive session.

The Indiana State Library provides support for Indiana public library trustees in the form of consultations, trainings  – recorded, virtual or live – and even a trustee manual, recently updated for 2021. We are also happy to connect library patrons with their local library board if needed. We usually recommend that anyone with a board concern try to reach out to the library’s director first. If they would still like to contact the board, they can send correspondence care of the library or attend a public meeting.

If you are interested in serving as a trustee at your Indiana public library, you may contact the library board or the various appointing authorities in your service area to let them know you are interested in serving should a vacancy arise. Even then, the appointing authorities have the final decision on selection. Additionally, the appointing authorities are the only individuals with the power to remove a board member should the need ever arise.

To read the Indiana Code related to library board duties and composition, click here.

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

Conservation of a 1913 panoramic photograph

In July and August, Marissa Bartz, the Indiana State Library’s 2021 graduate conservation intern, worked on a panoramic photograph from the Rare Books and Manuscripts division which had become adhered to glass in multiple locations. It’s common for photographic prints to become stuck to the glass they have been framed in over time when exposed to water, which is why they should be properly mounted to prevent them from touching the surface. In addition, the conditions of the framing and other factors had caused tears, cockling and staining, so the photograph was in poor shape overall.

Before treatment

This particular panorama captures the flooding of the White River in March 1913. Often referred to as “The Great Flood,” this event displaced thousands, with an estimated 7,000 Indianapolis residents and around 200,000 Hoosiers altogether losing their homes. The peak of the White River flooding was estimated at over 30 feet above the flood line.

Photo adhered to glass

Commonly called a “cirkut” photo, this shot was taken by North H. Losey, located at 539 N. Meridian St. It is a particularly large example, over 62 inches wide, so it was no small challenge for Marissa!

Cardboard used as backing frame

It was discovered that the photograph was also adhered to the corrugated cardboard that was used as backing in the frame, causing additional problems. Marissa began by removing the backing mechanically with a spatula and scalpel.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the corrugated board from the back of the photograph

After this, areas that were stuck to the glass were be humidified from the back to soften and swell the gelatin emulsion. A piece of mylar was inserted between the glass and the photograph to gently release the emulsion from the surface of the glass.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz washing a section of the photograph to remove staining

A solution of methylcellulose was applied to the emulsion and left to dry. Then a flat blade was used to carefully scrape the emulsion film off the glass and re-adhere it back to the photograph.

Tears were then repaired with wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue. Areas of loss, particularly in tears, were consolidated using warm gelatin.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the photo from the glass

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz putting the pieces of the photo back together

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz surface cleaning the photograph

In-painting with watercolors was also done in areas of loss.

After treatment

The photograph is now stable and was returned to the original frame, this time with sheet of mylar protecting it from the glass. Now free from stress and protected from acidic conditions and soiling from the environment, this photograph is now stable and preserved for the future.

This post was written by Victoria Duncan, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor. 

This woman’s work

It is easy to forget that women’s rights and suffrage efforts in the U.S. began much earlier than most of us realize. One such intrepid pioneer for women’s rights was the indomitable May Wright Sewall. Although born in Wisconsin, she and her husband moved to Indiana in the early 1870s. She was well-known around the state for being a proponent for equal and better-quality education for women. She later established the Indianapolis Classical School for Girls, which became a prestigious preparatory school.

May Wright Sewall, standing at the left end, and a group of women at Mount Vernon in Virginia. from the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections.

Sewall believed women should have lives outside the home that included educational and cultural opportunities. She was a founder and first president of the Indiana Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1888. Sewall was instrumental in establishing the Indianapolis Propylaeum, which was a house built specifically for the cultural and educational edification of women’s clubs, including the Indiana Woman’s Club. A patron of the arts throughout her life, she was an officer in the Art Association in Indianapolis and was instrumental in helping establish the John Herron School of Art. Sewall was also a nationally known suffragist, and from 1899-1904, she was president of the International Council of Women.

In 1881, Sewall started writing a bi-weekly column in the early iteration of the Indianapolis Times. The column’s title was Woman’s Work. In the first article, which ran on Oct. 29, 1881, she states the reasons for the existence of the column and her goals in creating it. She notes that often, women’s names were not mentioned in newspapers or indeed in public unless they were the subject of a scandal or had died. She hoped that through her column, she could bring the importance of women’s “invisible” work in and outside the home to the forefront of the public’s attention.

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

Dorm life

As summer draws to a close, thousands of college students will begin their migrations to campuses throughout the state. Both Indiana University and Purdue anticipate having their largest incoming freshman classes ever with Purdue expecting over 10,000 new students and IU planning for over 9,000. Many of these students will be moving into dorms and some of those dorms have seen multiple generations of students pass under their roofs. While the basic tenants of dorm living remain the same – providing a place for students to eat, sleep and study – much has changed in dorm life over the years.

Purdue University’s Wood Hall – now part of Windsor Halls – housed female students and in the 1940s featured several unique amenities:

“Much care has been given to meeting the personal needs of the residents. The laundries are equipped with electric washers, clothes driers, stationary tubs, ironing boards and electric irons… The shampoo rooms contain convenient sprays and electric hair dryers. The sewing rooms are equipped with electric machines, cutting tables and panel mirrors for those who do their own sewing or are majoring in clothing in the School of Home Economics.”

Additionally, the dorm featured a dedicated radio room as students were not allowed radios in their own rooms.

From Residence halls for women at Purdue (ISLO 378 P985 no. 175 [1942]).

Dorms often have their own set of rules and codes of conduct and these often reflected the social norms of the time. According to a 1950s-era guide for residents of the Cary Quadrangle at Purdue – which continues to exclusively house male students – each resident had to ensure his bed was made by noon each day. Since this particular dorm featured maid service, failure to make one’s bed or to leave the room untidy would result in the maid reporting the student which could ultimately lead to disciplinary action.

Another rule from the Cary Quad guidebook set out strict dress guidelines for eating at the dining hall:

From Men’s residence halls: guide for residents (ISLO 378 P985 no. 500).

Oddly, the 1971/72 issue of Indiana University’s guidebook to dorm living contains a very specific entry on its rules for serenading which must have been a popular enough social endeavor to warrant inclusion in the guidebook:

From Your key to residence hall living (ISLO 378 Iu385 no. 212).

Students have always been encouraged to personalize the small amounts of living space allotted to them. In past eras, this often involved decorating the walls with posters and maybe having a few personal items out on display. By necessity, modern students must cram much more into their rooms. Mini refrigerators, computers, televisions and gaming systems now all compete for space.

Dorm room at Indiana State College ca. 1964. From Opportunities for you (ISLO 378 IS385 no. 38).

Dorm scenes at Indiana University, early 1970s. From Your key to residence hall living (ISLO 378 Iu385 no. 212).

Dorm room at Valparaiso University, ca. 2004. From The Beacon (ISLI 378 V211be 2003/04).

One aspect of dorm life which hasn’t changed much over the years is the tradition commonly called Move-In Day where hundreds of students haul all their personal belongings to their new home. Often chaotic, sometimes emotional, and usually requiring the extra hands of parents and other family members, Move-In Day marks the official beginning of the school year for many students.

Move-In Day at Ball State University, ca. 1980. From The Orient (ISLI 378 B187o 1981).

The Indiana State Library contains an extensive collection of materials such as yearbooks, course catalogs, promotional materials and other publications related to the many colleges and universities in the state.

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.”