Old Settlers and pioneers in Indiana

Throughout the year many Hoosiers visit local festivals, heritage days and other events celebrating pioneer settlers. It is an opportunity to learn about history and share a spirit of community. While Indiana was not settled in the same manner as the original colonies, there were many pioneering people who moved into the territory that would become the Hoosier state. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a pioneer is “one of the first to settle in a territory.” By the mid-1800s, Indiana was mostly settled, and many of those first pioneers began gathering at “old settlers” meetings where they recalled their history and honored the oldest among them.

According to the September 1907 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History, the earliest recorded old settlers’ meeting in Indiana took place in 1852 at the city of Madison, inviting all who had lived in Jefferson County as of 1820 or before. Old settlers’ meetings were announced in town and city newspapers around the state. Luckily for researchers, it is becoming easier to find accounts of those meetings as more and more historical newspaper issues are added to digital collections such as Hoosier State Chronicles, Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com.

As the old settlers’ meetings were organized into formal associations and societies, this drew the interest of the Indiana State Board of Agriculture, the organizers of the Indiana State Fair. In the summer of 1878, the Board of Agriculture formed a committee to plan a State Pioneer Convention for Oct. 2, 1878 during the state fair. The announcement of the Pioneer Association of Indiana stated that “all pioneers seventy years of age, who have been residents of the state forty years, will be admitted free to the state fair.” This was the first statewide effort to recognize and enumerate Indiana’s pioneers. Notable speakers attending were poets James Whitcomb Riley and Sarah T. Bolton, and their poems were reprinted in the 1878 proceedings that were included within the Board of Agriculture’s annual report. Of particular interest to family researchers is the “List of applicants for membership,” twelve pages listing, name, address, age and years in state.

The success of the inaugural meeting led to another gathering of the renamed Indiana Pioneer Society at the 1879 Indiana State Fair. Four pages of members are listed in the 1879 proceedings. While the Indiana Pioneer Society did not have a third convention, its board continued meeting at least through 1885. The organization’s legacy continues because it raised the profile of local old settlers’ associations and promoted their efforts to compile county histories, many being printed in the 1880s. Various other relics of old settlers’ meetings can be found in the Indiana State Library’s collections, including souvenir programs, proceedings, pamphlets and bound compilations. In addition, look for links to digitized books in the County History Holdings guides.

A letter printed in the May 13, 1896 Indianapolis Journal from J. W. Hervey, of Indianapolis expressed a wish to restart the state pioneer association. However, this did not happen until the 1916 state centennial celebration, when an interest was re-kindled by descendants of Indiana’s old settlers. As a result, the Society of Indiana Pioneers was formed and exists to this day.

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

Armed Services Editions @ ISL

Providing recreational and entertainment outlets for American servicemen overseas was a paramount concern during World War II. The United Services Organization (USO) is perhaps the most well-known and enduring of these endeavors, supplying troops with live shows and revues performed by major Hollywood celebrities. Less famous but equally as important was the work of The Council on Books in Wartime, an organization formed by booksellers, publishers, authors and libraries whose main focus was to supply reading materials to troops. Americans happily donated books to the cause in numerous community book drives, but most books in the 1940s were heavy large hardcovers and could not be transported easily by troops. To remedy this, the council took bestselling books and fashioned them into a paperback format dubbed Armed Services Editions, which were distributed free of charge to servicemen. These books were purposefully designed to be small and flexible enough to fit into cargo pockets. The program was incredibly successful and paved the way for the rise of paperbacks as a popular and inexpensive book format in the post-war era.

Despite being manufactured by cheap materials, many Armed Services Editions survived the war and are now highly collectible. The Library of Congress has all 1,322 titles that were produced. Here at the Indiana State Library, we have three in our collection that represent works by Indiana authors.

“Here is Your War” by Ernie Pyle. This photo shows the size difference between the original version of the book and the Armed Services Edition.

“Little Orvie” by Booth Tarkington.

“Our Hearts were Young and Gay” by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough.

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.”

Progress, nostalgia and the Hoosier farm wife

Over the course of the 20th century, innovations in technology revolutionized the lives of rural dwellers throughout the United States. Many authors documented these changes and the effects they had on rural society. Among them were Hoosier authors Gene Stratton-Porter and Rachel Peden, who wrote about their own everyday lives and experiences. Writing in Adams County, Stratton-Porter documented the natural world in novels and non-fiction alike. Her work showed the effects of the demand for increased farm acreage as woods were felled and swamps drained to create new farmland. Peden, a Monroe County resident, wrote a long-running column for the Indianapolis Star as well as several books. Writing from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, she captured the end of one era in rural life and the beginning of another.

Advance Rumely combine-harvester, ca. 1920; Advance Rumely trade catalog, Indiana Pamphlets Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library

One of the greatest technological innovations of the twentieth century for farmers was the mechanization of farm equipment, which made field work faster and easier. With the increased productivity of the new farm equipment, farmers could work larger acreages, enabling them to realize larger harvests and thus larger incomes. They often reinvested their money in their farms, purchasing more and bigger farm equipment, adding electricity to their homes and barns and increasing the types of equipment and appliances they owned.[1] The new technology also changed the farm equipment industry, as improvements to the equipment kept the farmers coming back to buy the latest machines.

Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter

Despite the practicality of the farm machinery, some farm wives resented having to roll their extra income into the purchase of tractors and corn pickers while they had to do without modern appliances in their homes. Early machinery purchases accentuated the traditional gender roles, as the male head of the household often controlled the family expenditures. Stratton-Porter addressed this inequality in “Michael O’Halloran,” in which Michael explains to a farmer that:

“if there was money for a hay rake, and a manure spreader, and a wheel plow, and a disk, and a reaper, and a mower, and a corn planter, and a corn cutter, and a cider press, and a windmill, and a silo, and an automobile—you know Peter, there should have been enough for that window, and the pump inside, and a kitchen sink, and a bread-mixer, and a dish-washer; and if there wasn’t any other single thing, there ought to be some way you sell the wood, and use the money for the kind of summer stove that’s only hot under what you are cooking, and turns off the flame the minute you finish.[2]”

Although somewhat exaggerated for dramatic effect, Stratton-Porter’s statement illustrates the resentment women felt when their desires appeared to be of secondary importance within the family. Even women who understood the need for machinery thought that the emphasis farm experts placed on the need for the latest machinery was ridiculous. What farm women really wanted were electric appliances to make their housework more convenient and allow them a better standard of living. Through rural electrification projects, over 90 percent of farms in the United States had electricity by 1960, up from 10 percent in 1935.[3] Like farm women across the country, most Hoosier women got electricity during this time. For these women, finally getting what they had wanted and waited for so long was an “unbelievable dream.”[4]

Rachel Peden’s “The Hoosier Farm Wife Says” column documented rural life and entertained readers of the Indianapolis Star for nearly 30 years.

For farm wives, their new household tools brought one major advantage: less time spent on housework and more time spent on leisure. Prior to electrification, women spent much of their day preparing meals on a wood-fueled stove, doing laundry with a washboard or hand-cranked wringer washer and mending clothes by hand or with a treadle sewing machine. Their housework was labor-intensive and very hands-on. By purchasing appliances to aid them in their work, rural women bought more free time for themselves.  They could also multitask more effectively. For example, automatic washing machines allowed women to put their laundry in the machine and then go do other tasks while the clothes were washed.[5]

At first, modern conveniences were wonderful luxuries. As time progressed, however, women came to view their appliances as necessities.[6] They described their appliances as something they could not live without. Although some women felt that their appliances were making them lazy and causing them to complain about minor inconveniences, they also overlooked the fact that this process of the normalization of luxury occurred throughout the past. The wringer washer and wood stoves that twentieth century farm women abandoned were once considered great luxuries by their grandmothers and great-grandmothers, accustomed as they were to washboards and open hearths.[7]

As farming became more mechanized, specialized, and commercialized, the higher expenses required to keep up with the technology caused many farmers to give up farming and seek other employment.[8] For those who stayed, the technological changes led to less cooperation among members of rural communities as combines and store-bought food replaced shared tasks such as harvesting or butchering. As rural communities and rural work changed, rural dwellers reported a loss of the sense of community that they had shared in the past.[9]

Hoosier communities were not immune to this trend. Before mechanization, the men of the community would get together and harvest each farmer’s crops, each man bringing his own wagons, horses and hand tools, while the women gathered to prepare meals for the workers.[10] Despite having more social opportunities in the latter part of the twentieth century due to improved cars and roads and more leisure time to join clubs and other social groups, farm women still regretted the loss of the annual harvest time. Harvest lingered in women’s minds as something good that they had lost because working together built community in a way that a social club never could. When the members of a rural community engaged in a difficult, yet essential, task that no one family could accomplish by itself, the members of the community learned to rely on one another in a way developed only through hard work toward a common goal. This spirit of interdependence created community between often-isolated rural dwellers and created a web of social support and goodwill as farm families knew they could turn to their neighbors in times of trouble or hardship.

By the end of the twentieth century, many rural dwellers expressed fond feelings toward the “good old days,” particularly in reference to what they saw as a simpler rural life before machines, off-farm jobs and commercial farmers. Much of this nostalgia stemmed from their memories of the past and things they missed from their old lifestyles. Although no one missed the harder work of the past, many farm women saw the complications and losses of the modern world and wanted to return to the simpler times of their youth.[11]

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, genealogy librarian. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.

[1] Rachel Peden, “Tractor Makes Possible Luxury of Riding Horse,” Indianapolis Star, January 15, 1964, page 12.
[2] Gene Stratton-Porter, Michael O’Halloran (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1915), 356.
[3] David B. Danbom, Born in the Country: A History of Rural America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 222.  United States Department of Agriculture, “Rural Electrification,” United States Yearbook of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 1940.
[4] Rachel Peden, “Summer Lightning Jumps out of the Cold Storage,” Indianapolis Star, February 12, 1965, page 14.
[5] Rachel Peden, “Now Home Making Has Become a Luxury Work,” Indianapolis Star, May 13, 1953, page 14.
[6] Katherine Jellison, Entitled to Power: Farm Women and Technology, 1913-1963 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).  The entire book documents the shift in perspective from luxury to necessity.
[7] Rachel Peden, “Man’s History Written in Tools of Yesteryear,” Indianapolis Star, January 6, 1964, page 14.
[8] Rachel Peden, “Progress Arrives as Farmers Depart,” Indianapolis Star, February 22, 1961, page 14.
[9] Mary Neth, Preserving the Family Farm: Women, Community, and the Foundations of Agribusiness in the Midwest, 1900-1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 181.
[10] Rachel Peden, “Silo Filling Day is Red Letter Occasion,” Indianapolis Star, September 30, 1947, page 14.
[11] Rachel Peden, “Too Much Efficiency is Mighty Depressing,” Indianapolis Star, August 18, 1958, page 12.

The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Indiana State Parks

Have you ever been to an Indiana State Park, like the one in Brown County? Maybe took in the toboggan ride at the Pokagon in Angola? Hiked the trails at Spring Mill? Ridden your bicycles on the trails? Camped? Swam? If so, give thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program of Indiana of the 1930s.

After the stock market crash of 1929, and under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the federal government created the New Deal. It consisted of programs to help the country’s economy get back on its feet and working again. One program was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was also the most popular.

The program enlisted young men between the ages of 18 and 25. They could sign up for a renewable six-month term and earned $30 (of which $25 was sent to their families) and lived in company camps. During the life of the program in the 1930s, about 64,000 enlistees helped to build Indiana’s state parks.

Under the command of the U.S. Army, the CCC’s mission was to teach land management, soil conservation and park construction. Indiana benefited greatly from this program, giving us a wide array of state parks.

The Indiana State Library has a large collection of newsletters from various CCC camps.  You can find some of them in our growing digital collections. These rare newsletters, often printed by the camp’s journalism group, provided information about the camp, events, activities, educational opportunities, poetry, short stories, cartoons, humor and sports.

For further information, check out these websites about the CCC program in Indiana:
Indiana State Parks: History and Culture
Building Indiana State Parks – Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration
“We Can Take It!”: Race and the Civilian Conservation Corps in Indiana, 1934 to 1941
The Civilian Public Service Camp Program in Indiana (Indiana Magazine of History)
Indiana State Parks

This blog post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Christopher.

Indiana State Library welcomes new public libraries and federal programs consultant

The Indiana State Library welcomes Angela Fox as the new public libraries and federal programs consultant. As liaison to the IMLS public library programs, she’ll be fielding questions on LSTA grants and the annual public libraries report. Additionally, she’ll work in conjuncture with others in the LDO to provide training to public library staff.

Angela has a vested interest in public libraries, having spent the last fifteen years as an employee with the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. She’s worked a variety of jobs within that system, most recently as the children’s and teen librarian at a large branch location. When she’s not getting lost in the tunnels beneath the state library, she enjoys reading narrative nonfiction, walking the world’s sweetest dog and trash-talking opponents in her fantasy-football league.

Angela can be reached via email or by calling (317) 234-6550.

This blog post by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office director.

Preserving Indiana’s memories for the future

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Sam Meister, program manager for the MetaArchive Cooperative, sent out the call to six member organizations1 to trigger the ingest of four archival units (AUs) prepared by the cooperative’s newest member, Indiana Digital Preservation (InDiPres). Within minutes, the systems administrators managing the specified local servers within the LOCKSS-based distributed preservation network began to respond in the affirmative, “AUs added at … .”

This action culminated 18 months of preparatory work undertaken by the Indiana State Library (ISL) and the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University to create a sustainable digital preservation solution for Indiana’s cultural memory organizations, especially those of modest size and resources. Using Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, the libraries established a fee-based collaborative group for the sole purpose of joining the MetaArchive Cooperative, a community-owned and governed distributed digital preservation network founded in 2004. As a collaborative member of the MetaArchive Cooperative, Indiana Digital Preservation provides InDiPres participants the means to securely store master digital files in multiple copies at geographically dispersed sites in the United States and Europe for an affordable price. Start-up costs, which includes a three-year MetaArchive collaborative membership and the purchase of the LOCKSS server housed at Indiana State University, were covered by monies received through the 2015-2016 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant.

From left to right: Connie Rendfeld (ISL), Cathi Taylor (American Legion Auxiliary), Eric Spall (Lebanon Public Library), Ryan Weir (Rose Hulman), Brooke Cox (DePauw) and Cinda May (Indiana State) at the InDiPres Foundational Meeting on May 17, 2016 at the Indiana State Library.

By working together, Indiana’s heritage organizations are able to store multiple copies of master files throughout a global network that monitors the integrity of the files to ensure the survivability of digital content into the future. Members of Indiana Digital Preservation share in the expense of long term storage and preservation of digital assets created by these institutions; particularly those that contribute to Indiana Memory. Based on a model of 20 members, the InDiPres membership fee is $325 per year with a three-year commitment, plus $.59 per GB of storage space based on individual needs. The $325 breaks down to a required $100 participation fee, $125 for a member’s share of the MetaArchive Collaborative membership which costs $2,500 per year and $100 for a share of the InDiPres LOCKSS server at three-year refreshment cycle. These costs are likely to be reduced as more organizations join the endeavor. Membership in InDiPres is open to any Indiana institution creating digital content whose principles and guidelines are consistent with those of Indiana Digital Preservation. This includes, but is not limited to libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, community groups, research centers and state and local government agencies.

The 2016-2017 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant included funding to hire a metadata specialist to work with InDiPres partners to perform necessary data wrangling tasks and preparation for the ingest of content into the MetaArchive Preservation Network. To date more than 656 GB of digital files created by InDiPres members are stored within the network.

Indiana Digital Preservation will celebrate its first anniversary at a meeting of its membership on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. This meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at the Indiana State Library from 1-4 p.m. For more information about how to join InDiPres please contact Connie Rendfeld via email or at (317) 232-3694.

This blog post was written by Cinda May, chair, Special Collections, Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University.

1. MetaArchive Cooperative members storing InDiPres submitted content are: HBCU Library Alliance, Consorci de Biblioteques Universitaries de Catalunya; and the libraries of the University of North Texas, Oregon State University, Purdue University, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Geekspotting 2.0

The annual Indiana Library Federation (ILF) conference is right around the corner which means it’s time to check-in with Alex Sarkissian of the Allen County Public Library and Jocelyn Lewis of the Indiana State Library to see what’s going on in the ever-changing world of pop culture. Join us Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at 1:15 p.m. for “Geekspotting 2.0: Building a Popular and Diverse Collection for Your Library.”

This year’s topic will focus on diversity and representation in pop culture. Diversity has been a major concept lately and the demand to include traditionally marginalized voices in comics, movies, TV and gaming has led to an explosion of material. We’ll help you sift through it all and make collection development recommendations that are sure to be a hit with your local community.

Registration for ILF 2017 is now open.

For those who can’t make it to ILF this year, we will also be offering a live webinar version of this program on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 at 10 a.m. You can register for this event here.

Both presentations are LEU-eligible!

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.”

New public awareness coordinator for the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library

In May, the Indiana State Library Foundation hired Elizabeth Pearl to be the new public awareness coordinator for the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. As the public awareness coordinator, Elizabeth provides statewide outreach services to libraries, support groups, nursing homes and any other organization interested in utilizing and promoting talking books.

Pearl works with patrons at the Hendricks County Senior Center in June of 2017.

Elizabeth wants to spread awareness of the talking book program by talking directly to librarians, service providers and potential users. She is happy to travel throughout the state to attend events at your library or provide training to your library staff, to attend local health fairs and other community events or visit other organizations or groups interested in using or promoting the talking book program.

If you would like Elizabeth to visit your library or attend your event, you can contact her via email or call her at 1-847-770-0933.

This blog post was written by Maggie Ansty of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. For more information, contact the Talking Books and Braille Library at 1-800-622-4970 or via email.

Virtual reality (augmented reality): The next step in information evolution

From oral traditions to pictographs to manuscripts to mass production printing, humans have always looked for the best way to share stories with the most number of people in the most effective way. We have adapted to use different media to tell our stories and virtual reality and augmented reality are the next media platforms.

Libraries have long been a place to try out new technologies before they become household items. Remember when Bill Gates gave us all those PCs?

Immersive experiences can provide safe training spaces (imagine performing surgery without having to risk a patient), increase empathy (imagine literally viewing the world through the eyes of a person who is homeless) and let one travel without limits (imagine taking a field trip to the moon—walking in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps).

The HTC Vive is one of the first commercially available VR headsets and one of the most high-end platforms available. Because it’s more than just a headset, users experience more immersive activities because the handheld controllers are tracked as well as the head.

The following programs help to get a feel for what VR can be:

  • Tilt brush – 3-D art you can create and interact with
  • Google Earth – visit anywhere the Google cameras have been
  • The Body VR – learn about biological systems as if you were in the Fantastic Voyage
  • SoundStage – virtual sound equipment to create music

As patrons start to see VR depicted in more areas of life (“Ready Player One” hits theaters in March 2018), providing the unique experience of actually being a participant in VR will be an exciting opportunity for Hoosiers in every community.

The HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit is available for check out by libraries eligible for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants through the Indiana State Library (ISL), including school and academic libraries, as well as any public library that meets standards. The kit is available for a loan period of three months and will be delivered and set up by ISL staff who can train up to six staff members at the time of delivery. Libraries can return the kit to ISL after use or schedule a time for an ISL staff person to pick it up. The kit cannot be shipped through InfoExpress. Libraries are encouraged to develop programming around the kit to share with patrons. The HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit can be scheduled by contacting your regional coordinator.

HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit components:

  • 1 set of HTC Vive Virtual Reality equipment (including head set, 2 hand controllers, 2 light houses, and cables)
  • 2 tripods for the lighthouses
  • 1 computer (not wireless compatible)
  • 1 keyboard
  • 1 mouse

Funding for this project is from the Institute of Museum and Library Service under the provisions of the LSTA.

VR in libraries:
Public Libraries Online  – provides programming ideas
California’s Virtual Reality Experience  – installed VR systems in over half of the public library jurisdictions in underserved communities
Library Use of New Visualizaton Technologies – a blog post by MIT Information Science Graduate Research Intern, Diana Hellyar

This blog post was written by Wendy Knapp, associate director of statewide services. 

Bicentennial Commission holds final meeting at Indiana State Library

On Thursday, June 30, 2017, the Indiana Bicentennial Commission met for the final time at the Indiana State Library. The commission, which included former First Lady Karen Pence and former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman, who served as co-chair, set “the direction of the planning and funding of a strategic plan to implement a cost-effective, inclusive [and] realistic celebration of Indiana’s 2016 bicentennial.” Started under the guidance of former governor Mitch Daniels in 2012, the commission worked for five years planning and implementing the state’s bicentennial celebration.

Executive Director Perry Hammock detailed one such endeavor. The statewide Bison-tennial Public Art Project, which was sponsored by the United Way, aimed at placing five-foot-tall fiberglass bison in every county in the state. Even though a small handful of counties did not display a sponsored bison, the art project was a rousing success.

When Indiana turned 200 on Dec. 16, 2016, the Bicentennial Commission had carried out several major events and completed many major celebratory projects, such as the construction of the Bicentennial Plaza outside of the statehouse, the building of Statehouse Education Center in the Indiana State Library and the execution of the torch relay, which saw a bicentennial torch carried through all 92 of Indiana’s counties.

Even though the commission has disbanded after a very successful five years, the Indiana State Library is still seeking materials related to Indiana’s bicentennial for archival purposes. Individuals or organizations with such materials may contact Bethany Fiechter of the Rare Books & Manuscripts Division at the state library.

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