INverse poetry archive now accepting submissions

INverse, Indiana’s poetry archive, celebrates and preserves a diverse range of Indiana poetry for future generations of Indiana writers and readers. The archive is a collaboration of Indiana Poet Laureate Adrian Matejka, the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Arts Commission.

Residents of Indiana are encouraged to submit poems to the archive annually between Feb. 1 and April 30. During the current inaugural year, submissions are being accepted from now until April 30, 2020. The archive is conceived to be a repository for all Hoosier poets, from amateur to professional.

For information about the annual timeline, eligibility criteria, the eligibility review process and for instructions on how to submit poetry, please visit the INverse poetry archive website. Questions about the submission process can be directed to Stephanie Haines, arts education and accessibility manager at the Indiana Arts Commission. Questions about the state library’s plan to make the archive available to the public can be directed to either Bethany Fiechter or Brittany Kropf of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.

Funding for this program comes from the Indiana General Assembly.

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library. For more information, email the communications director.

So, what does the Indiana State Library actually do?

“So, what is the Indiana State library?” As the communications director at the State Library, this is a question I often hear at conferences immediately after the person who asked the question realizes that we’re not the Indianapolis Public Library. It’s a fair mistake. After all, not many cities are privileged enough to have two large downtown libraries. More importantly, though, it’s a great question. What do we do here at the Indiana State Library? Predictably, the answer to that question is “a lot.” All libraries do a lot. However, the Indiana State library functions a little bit differently than a public or academic library.

The Indiana State Library from W. Ohio St.

For starters, the Indiana State Library is a state government agency. Yes, we are all government employees of the State of Indiana, which is why we all have cool badges with our pictures on them. As a state agency, the library operates using a two-pronged approach. One prong is public services, the side of the library which, as the name implies, serves the citizens of Indiana and preserves the state’s history. The other prong is statewide services, the side of the state library which supports libraries throughout the state. Our mission statement sums up these two operational divisions: “Serving Indiana residents, leading and supporting the library community and preserving Indiana history.”

The Indiana State Library from Senate Ave.

Public Services
On the public services side, we operate in a similar fashion to a public library. A special research library, the Indiana State Library is a beautiful Art Deco building, opened in 1934, that sits on the Canal Walk in downtown Indianapolis near the Indiana Historical Society, the Eiteljorg Museum and the Indiana State Museum. Two of the library’s four floors are open to the public. However, we differ from a traditional public library in that the majority of our materials are Indiana-related. We do not carry many of the latest popular fiction and nonfiction titles – unless they are Indiana-related – but we do have the largest collection of Indiana newspapers in the world. In the state, our genealogy collection is second to only the Allen County Public Library in terms of size, and our collection is one of the largest in the entire Midwest. We also house the Indiana Young Readers Center, the only young readers center within a state library in the country. The center is modeled after the Library of Congress Young Readers Center and features Indiana authors and illustrators, including Jim Davis, Meg Cabot, Norman Bridwell and John Green. The state’s Talking Book and Braille Library is also part of the Indiana State Library. TBBL provides free library service to residents of Indiana who cannot use standard printed materials due to a visual or physical disability. TBBL also operates Indiana Voices and hosts the biennial Indiana Vision Expo.

Letters About Literature workshop in the Indiana Young Readers Center

On the subject of events, in addition to Vision Expo, the state library also hosts the annual Indiana Poetry Out Loud finals, Letters About Literature, the Genealogy Fair and Statehood Day. Furthermore, the library offers INvestigate + Explore summer programming for children; Genealogy for Night Owls; monthly one-on-one DNA testing consultations with the Central Indiana DNA Interest Group; various history and genealogy lectures and programs, highlighted by our recent lecture series; and even the occasional art opening in our Exhibit Hall. Yes, we even showcase fine art when our many display cases throughout the library aren’t already put to use featuring some of the wonderful items in our collection – which are often featured in this blog.

Dolls created by the Work Projects Administration in 1939 for the Indiana Deaf History Museum on display as part of the “Welcome to the Museum!” exhibit in the library’s Exhibit Hall.

Wait, there’s more! The Indiana State Library is a DPLA hub via Indiana Memory, a collection of digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, maps and other media. Indiana Memory is a collaborative effort between Indiana libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions. The library also maintains its own digital collection, covering a wide range of topics such as the arts, environment, sports and women.

We participate in the Federal Depository Library Program and serve as the congressionally-designated regional depository of Indiana. As the regional depository, the library is required to collect all content published by the U.S. government. The library is also the home of the Indiana State Data Center. State data centers across the country assist the Census Bureau by disseminating census and other federal statistics. The data center provides data and training services to all sectors of the community including government agencies, businesses, academia, nonprofit organizations and private citizens.

The Indiana Center for the Book is a program of the Indiana State Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The center promotes interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries and Indiana’s literary heritage by sponsoring events and serving as an information resource at the state and local level.

The Martha E. Wright Conservation Lab

The Martha E. Wright Conservation Lab is the center for all things preservation and conservation at the Indiana State Library. Preservation and conservation services aims to improve and ensure long-term, ongoing access to the cultural and historical collections of the Indiana State Library. The department, staffed by one full-time conservator as well as volunteers and occasional interns, fulfills this primary goal by providing conservation treatments of collections items and implementing preventive care and administrative policies.

Finally, our Ask-a-Librarian service offers an opportunity for anyone to, well, ask a librarian a reference or research question. Questions may be submitted 24/7 to Ask-a-Librarian and all questions will be answered within two business days.

All of these services come courtesy of our divisions: Genealogy, Indiana, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Catalog, Talking Books and Braille and Reference and Government Services.

Pretty simple, right? Shall we move on to statewide services?

Statewide Services
Nearly every single library patron in the state of Indiana has benefited from the Indiana State Library’s statewide services. While some programs and services are offered directly to Indiana residents, the vast majority of statewide services could be considered behind-the-scenes. Not many patrons ponder how their interlibrary loans travel from one location to another or how librarians keep up with their required continuing education, but statewide services makes them possible. Statewide services consists of two divisions, the Library Development Office and the Professional Development Office, or LDO and PDO, as they are known to many library employees throughout the state.

LDO supports the improvement and development of library services to all Indiana citizens. The aforementioned Indiana Memory, Hoosier State Chronicles – which is Indiana’s digital historic newspaper program with nearly a million digitized Indiana newspaper pages – and INSPIRE are three programs freely available to Indiana residents that are maintained by LDO.

Hey, that’s us!

INSPIRE, also known as “Indiana’s virtual library,” is a collection of vetted databases provided to the residents of the state at no cost. INSPIRE offers a diverse collection of reference materials, such as free access to level one of Rosetta Stone in 30 languages, a small business resource database, the latest issues of Consumer Reports and much more. If you attended high school or college in Indiana in the last 20 years and needed online resources, there’s a good chance you’ve used INSPIRE.

Hey, that’s us, too!

Let’s get to the behind-the-scenes stuff from LDO. The Library Development Office administers over $3 million of LSTA grant money each year. This federal funding, distributed from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of the Grants to States program, is intended for projects that support the Library Services and Technology Act signed into law Sept. 30, 1996. The purposes and priorities of the LSTA include increasing the use of technology in libraries, fostering better resource sharing among libraries, and targeting library services to special populations. While the Indiana State Library does set aside an allotment to be awarded directly to libraries as competitive LSTA sub-grants, the majority of the funds are funneled into services meant to benefit the entire state.

Remember those interlibrary loans? Well, they travel from library to library via a combination of SRCS, Indiana Share and InfoExpress. SRCS, Indiana’s Statewide Remote Circulation Service, links together catalogs of over 150 libraries containing over 30 million items. These materials are delivered to your library using the InfoExpress courier service. Indiana Share also allows libraries to request interlibrary materials though the Indiana State Library.

In addition to LSTA-supported programs, LDO supports E-rate, the discount telecommunication program available to schools and libraries from the federal government; the PLAC card program, which allows an individual to purchase a Public Library Access Card, thus permitting them to borrow materials directly from any public library in Indiana; and Read-to-Me, a cooperative effort between LDO and the state’s correctional facility libraries to enable incarcerated parents an opportunity to share the joys of reading with their children.

The complete list of services provided by the Indiana State Library and administered by LDO are far too expansive to cover in a single blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that LDO also provides consultation to libraries across the state in the areas of library finance, management, planning, evaluation, grants, board training, trustees, expansion, library standards, certification, statistics, new director information and unserved communities.

PDO supports the advancement and development of library staff in all Indiana libraries for improved services to the citizens of Indiana. The Professional Development Office includes specialists in the areas of programming, children’s services and continuing education. The four regional coordinators and the children’s consultant travel the state to provide support for library employees in Indiana.

Staff working at Indiana public libraries who spend at least 50% of their time on professional library work are required by law to be certified; they gain and maintain certification by earning a certain amount of library education units, also known as LEUs, every five years. PDO frequently oversees, creates or produces these webinars, which cover a wide range of topics. “So, You Want to Start a Library Podcast,” “Serving Adults with Disabilities” and “Teaching iPad and iPhone to Seniors” are just as few examples of recent webinars. Additionally, PDO assists librarians in locating other sources of continuing education outside of the state.

Legos!

The Professional Development Office provides five types of kits for use by youth librarians across the state: book club kits, LEGO kits, DUPLO kits, storytime kits and Big Idea storytime kits. PDO also maintains the wildly-popular VR kits. The kits are shipped to schools and libraries via InfoExpress and may be kept for a specified duration of time.

Connect IN, the program that provides free high-quality and functional websites to public libraries without a current online presence, and to those having difficulty maintaining their existing site, is managed by PDO. Connect IN provides a modern and high-quality website, tech support and training, content management system training, free website hosting and free email for library staff.

The 2019 The Difference is You conference

In addition to the daily consultation and educational support offered by PDO staffers, the department spearheads larger initiatives throughout the year to honor and develop current library employees. These initiatives include the Indiana Library Leadership Academy and the The Difference is You library support staff and paraprofessional conference. Whether it’s working with individual librarians or entire gatherings, PDO puts the continuing education of Indiana librarians at the forefront of all they do.

Does your local library use the Evergreen catalog? That’s also a service provided to more than 100 Indiana libraries from the Indiana State Library that falls under the statewide services banner. Evergreen is funded by the Indiana State Library through LSTA monies and participant membership fees. The services provided by the State Library include purchasing and maintaining the central servers, personnel costs in operating the system, training, software development, data conversion and other related expenses.

The Indiana Historical Bureau and the Statehouse Education Center
The Indiana State Library has within its walls the Indiana Historical Bureau and the Statehouse Education Center. In 2018, the Indiana Historical Bureau, previously its own agency, merged with the Indiana State Library. The historical markers you might see while travelling the state are part of the Indiana Historical Marker Program administered by the bureau. Additionally, the Indiana Historical Bureau regularly publishes a detailed history blog, digitizes many historical items, organizes the Hoosier Women at Work conference and produces the award-winning podcast Talking Hoosier History. In 2017, the 120th Indiana General Assembly passed HB1100 mandating that the Indiana Historical Bureau “establish and maintain an oral history of the general assembly,” leading to the Indiana Legislative Oral History Initiative. Also, keep an eye out for a re-vamped shop opening in the near future on the first floor of the state library.

Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Bureau

The Statehouse Education Center is a project of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, a commission that was assembled to spearhead the strategic plan behind the celebration of Indiana’s 2016 bicentennial. As part of the Statehouse Tour Office under the Indiana Department of Administration, the center sees thousands of students, families and individuals each year who learn how state government works for them through interactive exhibits on voting, urban versus rural landscapes and the architecture of the statehouse.

Thank You
Hopefully, I’ve given you a sense of the many services the Indiana State Library provides publicly and behind the scenes. Everything the library does would not be possible without our many volunteers and employees, the Indiana Library and Historical Board, the Indiana State Library Foundation, the General Assembly, our financial office and the work of our many committees, including the INSPIRE Advisory Committee, the IMDPLA Committee and the Resource Sharing Committee… just to name a few. Indeed, we all do “a lot.”

This blog post was written by John Wekluk, communications director, Indiana State Library. For more information, email the communications director.

‘Ladies Speak Up!’ – Film discovered and shared

We found an uncatalogued film in our vault! Without a working reel-to-reel player, we were left just staring at the reel, which is probably why it was stored away at the time.  Happily, our amazing film volunteer, Brian Wells, was able to digitize the film. Turns out it’s a television program from 1960 called, “Ladies Speak Up” – an Indiana Republican booster program for women voters which aired in the months leading up to the election in November of 1960. The hosts asks the women to vote, bring their neighbors to vote and reminds them to vote for Richard Nixon and Crawford Parker.

Parker was the Indiana Republican candidate for Governor in 1960. He was Lt. Gov. at the time, and former Indiana Secretary of State. He went on to lose this election to Matthew Welsh. Nixon also lost.

Parker seems stiff and this is definitely scripted to fit the paid programming slot, which was paid for by the Republican State Central Committee. The women in the audience chant on cue and have signs to hold up at the end of the program. There is a panel of six Hoosier women onstage, dressed in pearls, with handbags and hats. Of course, their questions are softballs lobbed at Parker. The issues? Flood control, tax reform, highway safety, education, mental health facilities and reapportionment of the General Assembly.

I think the women in the film are the real highlight here. Not for what they say, but their poise and presence is striking. Do you know these women? They are introduced as Helen Cox, the mayor’s wife from Peru; Julia Tindall, a doctor’s wife from Shelbyville; Peg Crowder, a PTA member with four children from Indianapolis; Betty Marr, former school teacher from Columbus; Fannie Posey-Jewell, bookkeeper and housewife; and Virginia Barst, from Ridgefield, Indiana.

Enjoy this bit of moving film and keep your eye out for more films as they are added to our Digitized Archives playlist on the library’s YouTube channel.

This post was written by Indiana Collection Supervisor Monique Howell

Grace Julian Clarke papers now online

One of Indiana’s most noteworthy manuscript collections on women’s suffrage is now available to the public in the ISL Digital Collections. Researchers can freely access letters from leaders of the American suffrage movement such as Susan B. Anthony, May Wright Sewall and Carrie Chapman Catt, along with other materials, in time for the women’s suffrage centennial in 2020.

Grace Julian Clarke, age 43, 1909 (OP0).

Grace Julian Clarke was a noted clubwoman, journalist and suffragist hailing from Irvington, now a neighborhood on Indianapolis’s east side. Clarke came by her political and social activism honestly, due to the examples set by her father, George Washington Julian, and grandfather, Joshua Reed Giddings, both abolitionists and U.S. congressmen. She helped establish and lead several state women’s organizations, including the Indiana General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Legislative Council, and the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana, the forerunner to the League of Women Voters of Indiana.

Pledge to pay $5 a year to the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana “until Suffrage is won in Indiana,” 1915 (L033).

Before the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920, Clarke demonstrated her agency as a woman in politics on numerous occasions, such as this 1912 women’s suffrage automobile tour and the GFWC presidential race in 1915. After passage of the suffrage amendment, she contributed to the American peace movement as a staunch proponent of the League of Nations.

Letter from Susan B. Anthony to Grace Julian Clarke, January 20, 1900 (L033).

Explore the Grace Julian Clarke collection and many more items regarding women’s suffrage in the state library’s Women in Hoosier History digital collection, which holds a diversity of materials “from and about Indiana women, both ordinary and extraordinary.” More information on the upcoming women’s suffrage centennial in Indiana can be found here.

This blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian Brittany Kropf. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or via the “Ask-A-Librarian” service.

Homeschool fair at Indianapolis Public Library

On Sept. 14, 2019, the Indiana State Library and the Indianapolis Public Library are joining together, along with other partners, to present “Homeschoolers and Libraries: Partners in Learning.” This homeschool fair will run from 10 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library building located at 40 E. St. Clair Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Homeschooling families and all those interested in learning more about homeschooling are invited to attend this fair, the first of its kind presented by the Indianapolis Public Library. Registration is required. Interested families can click here to register. The first 250 families to register will receive a reusable shopping bag and a free book! Walk-in registration will also be available the day of the event.

The fair will include panel discussions, presentations on a variety of topics including technology as well as hand-on STEM activities. Kicking off the day will be Lilly scientist, Guy Hansen with his entertaining and informative science demonstration. Partners for the event also include WFYI, the Indiana Association of Home Educators and Kids Ink.

The Indiana State Library is excited to be a part of this event and will be involved in several presentations covering topics like digital collections, early literacy and library services for homeschoolers.

The program is made possible by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something… red?

This Olde English rhyme traditionally signifies a bride is preparing for her wedding day, but I’m not a bride. However, like a new marriage, I am in my first month at the Indiana State Library. As a mother of two young children, I am in love with the space where I spend my days. The Indiana Young Readers Center is a quiet, child-friendly room elegantly adorned with chandeliers juxtaposed against Clifford’s doghouse. It’s a space to explore books written by Indiana authors for children and teens, but there is much more to engage children. Allow me to make suggestions for your visit.

When you arrive you can meander through the Indiana Statehouse Education Center toward the grand staircase. Take a moment before walking to the second floor to appreciate the craftsmanship in this 1934 structure. After an elevator ride with a stroller, or a jaunt up the steps to the second floor, look for Garfield sitting on a bench. This bench draws you into the space. Now that you’ve found it, what is the Indiana Young Readers Center?

This man found something old in the IYRC. His eyes visibly widened and he proclaimed his excitement out loud when he found the collection of Garfield books he avidly read as a child. While we do have a collection of older books behind glass cases, young parents can also find stories reminiscent of when they fell in love with reading. You can sit to read a favorite book while your children wander the space.

These two toddlers found something new in the IYRC. There are many books, but there are also developmental toys and interactive exhibits. These two new friends were practicing their sharing skills. They crawled around the space and squealed with delight at the books on the shelves. They might not know yet that all of the books are written by Indiana authors, but they did enjoy the onomatopoeia usage in April Pulley Sayre’s books.

When visiting the Indiana Young Readers Center, many children want to take a book or two home. The Indiana State Library is not only home to the Evergreen system, but serves as an Evergreen library as well. The IYRC purchases two copies of each book, so one copy can be checked out. All residents of Indiana can get an Evergreen card from the Indiana State Library, which allows them to borrow materials from the IYRC.

The Indiana State Library is a beautiful home to valuable tools and materials for scholars and the general public alike. Nestled on the second floor, the Indiana Young Readers Center is a unique space encouraging Indiana’s children to appreciate something old, discover something new, joyfully borrow something and to find something… red.

The post was written by Indiana Young Readers Center Program Coordinator Tara Stewart.

Indiana Library Leadership Academy participants put skills to use

The 2018-19 Indiana Library Leadership Academy has wrapped up and class members are doing some pretty amazing things in libraries throughout Indiana.

Alisa Burch, Harrison County Public Library director, set up the library’s first ever pop-up library at the Friends of the Harrison County’s “Youth Chicken BBQ Fundraiser.” The pop-up library included a canopy, sign, tables, hot spot, laptop and card scanner so they could issue library cards and register children and adults for the 2019 Summer Reading Program. As teams played exhibition games and got their pictures taken, the library issued 15 new library cards and renewed five others. While registering children and adults for the upcoming summer reading program, they also gave away donated books and promoted programs and services with people of all ages.

Nathan Watson, director of operations at the Bedford Public Library, created Elevate, a program that teaches employability soft skills to all sophomores at Bedford North Lawrence High School in an effort to help fulfill part of the Graduation Pathways requirement. Elevate is a six-session program that uses project-based learning to define, explore and master soft skills through the art of interviewing applicants for a local job. The interviews happened during the sixth session and the Hoosier Hills Credit Union sent a representative who explained that the credit union wanted to hire a teller and that the class was going to “hire” that person.

Watson also partnered with the Jobs for America’s Graduates program. The JAG students were tasked with acting like real job applicants and exhibiting certain soft skills during the interview. The Elevate student had to submit who they hired, what soft skills were displayed and the importance of the skills.

Watson’s program will continue and become a part of a new class titled Preparation for College and Careers which will fulfill a graduation requirement under the new Indiana Department of Education Graduation Pathways.

The Indiana Library Leadership Academy teaches librarians the leadership skills they need to thrive and flourish in their library careers. Planning for the next Indiana Library Leadership Academy to be held in summer 2020 is now underway.

This blog post was written by Kara Cleveland, Professional Development Office supervisor at the Indiana State Library.

Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award nominations needed

Did you find a great new picture book over the summer? Send it our way! The Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award is an initiative of the Indiana Center for the Book. This state award, administered by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee, highlights picture books for young children. Picture books serve an important role in the first years of the life of a child. The purpose of this award is to encourage parents, caregivers and very young children to interact together with exceptional picture books.

Indiana library workers may nominate pictures book for the award from June through October 1 each year. What does that mean? That means that we need your nominations! Have you read a fun picture book in your storytime? Have a book that makes you laugh every time you read it? Noticed a popular picture book the kids are loving this summer?

If you work with youth in a library, either in a school or in a public library, you are eligible to nominate as many titles as you wish. Nominating is easy. Just send an email to the Indiana Center for the Book. Include in your email: title, author, illustrator and publication date.

Criteria for book nominations are as follows:

• Must be published by July 1st of the current year, or any time in the previous year and still be in print. currently, this ranges from Jan. 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019.
• Possess strong child appeal.
• Demonstrate three or more of the five practices of Every Child Ready to Read®: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing.
• Have artistic quality with text that supports the illustrations or a compelling narrative provided by illustrations.
• Diversity and inclusion are encouraged.

The nomination pool will be narrowed down to five titles by the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Committee by January 2020. Ballots will be released and votes will be accepted until early May. More information on ballots and how to vote will be available in early 2020.

For more information about the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award, visit our website.

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

 

Trade, association and club publications

The Indiana State Library’s newest digital collection focuses on trade, association and club publications. The library has numerous materials in our Indiana and Rare Books and Manuscripts collections from various organizations, clubs, associations and trades across the state. The purpose of the collection is to provide access to a sampling of the materials from these organizations. Some runs of periodical materials are not completely digitized, so please check our catalog for further holdings for individual organizations or titles.

Trade publications are specific to a trade like construction, business or manufacturing. Among the publications, you can find the Indiana Construction Recorder, the official publication for the Society of Indiana Architects. This publication lists numerous building projects from around the state, making it a great source for architectural research.

Association and club publications are usually geared toward hobbies, interests or educational pursuits. They often provide general information about the topic, members, meetings, conventions and articles.

The Indiana Federation of Clubs was a parent organization to many smaller and local clubs during the early 20th century. We have several of their convention programs available in the collection.

The Y’s Man was the publication of the Senate Avenue’s Young Men’s Christian Association in downtown Indianapolis. This particular YMCA focused on the African-American community in that area. The newsletter covered the World War II era and had information about the service men and women.

The Indiana State Bee Keepers Association provided information about bees, their maintenance, the group’s meetings and its members. We also have a few issues of the Gladland News, a group focused on gladiolas and their cultivation. The Nature Study Club of Indiana’s yearbooks and publication, The Hoosier Outdoors, are also included in the collection.

You can find this digital collection, as well as others, on our website. We constantly continue to build our digital collections, so please check back periodically to see what new materials we have added. Please chat with one of our librarians who will be happy to help you get to our digital collections and also to help you learn more about the materials in the collections.

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

Isamu Noguchi and the Interlaken School

Modernist artist Isamu Noguchi was born Nov. 17, 1904 in Los Angeles. He was the illegitimate son of acclaimed Japanese poet Yone Noguchi and his American editor, Leonie Gilmour.

A book by Yone Noguchi from the Indiana State Library’s collection, which features his signature,
dated Aug. 15, 1910. Call number: Cage ISLM 899 H436n.

Isamu and his mother moved to Japan in 1907 where he spent most of his childhood. In 1918, Gilmour sent her son thousands of miles away to be educated, landing him in Indiana at the Interlaken School. He would later reminisce that “When I was 13 years old, my mother decided that I must go to America to continue my education. She had selected a school in Indiana that she had read about in, I think, the National Geographic. I am sure that she must also have been concerned about the unfortunate situation of children of mixed blood growing up in the Japan of those days – half in and half out. She decided that I had better become completely American, and took me to the American consul, who performed a ritual, mumbling over a Bible, which I believe was my renunciation of Japanese citizenship.”

The Interlaken School was a progressive boys’ school located near La Porte, Indiana. Founded by Edward Rumely, an Indiana native who had received an extensive education in Europe throughout the early 20th century, the school was influenced by Europe’s “New School Movement” which immersed students in a balance of both intellectual and practical life skills training. In addition to a regular academic curriculum, the boys at Interlaken were expected to do the actual work of helping to run the school, often working alongside their instructors at tasks such as farming, gardening and cleaning. Physical exertion and being outdoors were also important components of the school’s ethos.

From an informational booklet dated 1915 located in the Indiana Pamphlet Collection. Call number: ISLO 373 no. 2.

By the time Isamu arrived in Indiana, however, the United States was embroiled in World War I and the school largely had been given over to the military for use as a training camp. According to Isamu, “…while all the other children went home, I was left alone to watch soldiers, trucks, mess halls and barracks take over the grounds. I became a sort of mascot. Then there was the Armistice. Winter came, and I had no place to go, since my mother could not afford to send me elsewhere. Nobody seemed to be in charge of me.”

Eventually, Rumely took Isamu under his wing and set him up with a family in La Porte, where he attended the local public school until his graduation in 1922.

Isamu went on to have an impressive career in the arts. Primarily a sculptor and landscape architect, he is probably best known for a piece of furniture he designed in 1947 which is considered a staple of mid-century modernist design and which bears his name: The Noguchi table.

A Noguchi table. Image: lartnouveauenfrance [CC BY 2.0]

Isamu Noguchi died Dec. 30, 1988 in New York City.

Isamu Noguchi ca. 1950s. From “Noguchi” published by Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha, 1953. Call number: ISLM 735 N778n.

Direct quotations from Noguchi used in this blog are from his book “a sculptor’s world” published by Harper & Row in 1968 and available at the Indiana State Library; call number: ISLM NB237.N6 F8 1698.

Inspiration for this blog post is courtesy of the 99% Invisible podcast which recently featured an episode on Noguchi’s life titled “Play Mountain” and which briefly mentioned his time in Indiana. The podcast is available 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.”