The Poynter Center

I recently processed digitized media from the Poynter Center records held by the University Archives.  The purpose of the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions is to advance the study and teaching of ethics and the materials I worked on reflect that focus. In addition, many of the works that I cataloged examined American institutions, such as the press, the branches of the government, and political parties. Nelson Poynter, Indiana University alumnus and founder of the institution, was a journalist himself, and was dedicated to journalistic ethics.

Portrait photograph of Nelson Poynter.
Portrait of Nelson Poynter. Archives Image No. P0021628.

I find the Poynter Center’s mission highly compelling; the institute was founded in reaction to the Watergate scandal back in the early 1970s. It focused on the causes behind a decline in trust behind American institutions. Even though the Watergate scandal was nearly 50 years ago, I think that the discussions around this event, and the general mistrust of the news from the time, are highly relevant today.

There are several programs the Center published, mostly in cooperation with WTIU, to cover these issues. These include Conversations on America, Citizen & Science, and About Time. They often speak with the same guests, which allows them to get a well-rounded view from their subjects.

One series of interviews and discussions I would highly recommend is the set from senator Andrew Young. Senator Young was a congregational minister and prominent leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and spoke on several Poynter Center programs about the movement and the political climate of the South during and before the movement. Young speaks from a place of optimism in the mid 70s, and illustrates the deep changes he observed in his and other communities in the South over the course of only a decade. Young’s discussion is a reminder not only of the history of racism and the fight for rights in this country, but an illustration of the work left to be done. Young’s optimism is a place where we can consider what hopes and promises have gone unfulfilled for the Black community in this country.

Young also comments in his interviews on the way that elections and the more local political climate changed after the expansion of enfranchisement in his and other southern districts. His description of pre-movement politics is, I think, a strikingly accurate statement today, over 60 years later. Young says:

“… you had a kind of politics where people catered to the fears of their constituents, the anxieties and frankly the ignorance of their constituents. If you got people worked up and emotional and afraid enough, then you got elected and could do as you pleased. With Blacks coming into the political system, you have candidates appealing to the better instincts of the voters… Because they have a constituency not based on fear, but who are following them because of their hopes and aspirations, they’re willing to do some more courageous things.”

It’s very easy to draw parallels between the politics of fear that Young describes and the politics of reaction and fear that prevails today. What Young’s discussion also shows is that it takes decisive action to break this cycle of fear.

The discussion that I’ve just laid out comes from about half of one thirty-minute program; this is where I see the terrific value in the Poynter Center recordings. Despite their age, they focus on issues fundamental enough that they can serve as the beginning of a discussion on American institutions and issues 50 years later. I could have, as easily, discussed the views of a Poynter fellow on the press and compared it to today. Andrew Young’s interviews are just one particularly important and relevant example of this.

I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on any of the topics that these Poynter Center lectures cover; however, I clearly see their usefulness. The other thing I clearly see is a need to continue the conversations started in these programs. The atmosphere of uncertainty, of questioning, of doubt around the political institutions of 1972, and the spirit which founded the Poynter Center, is keenly felt today. I think that discussing our issues in this formal way, removed from the cycles and pressures of the news while still concentrating on the salient issues, has tremendous value in our current world.

We need to reinvest in the Poynter Center concept; to bring it into the modern day and direct it at our institutions and issues. The Center as it exists today is not the same; it has no dedicated building (they left their previous one in 2016) and is incorporated into the Media School. Their programming is limited. However, the Poynter Center’s potential is still immense. It’s no coincidence that Andrew Young’s interviews are still so relevant today. The issues addressed by the Poynter Center are often enduring. With and adjustment of scope and focus for the issues of our time, we have the opportunity to contribute to a serious understanding of how to improve our society, not just for now but for a long time to come.

The Poynter Center Building
The Poynter Center building on Third Street circa 1956. The Center vacated the building in 2016. Archives photo P0022315.

Behind the Curtain: Stephanie Brown

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives Staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. 

Many congratulations to Stephanie Brown, featured in today’s Behind the Curtain, for being selected this year’s recipient of the IU Libraries Robert A. Oppliger Scholarship Award in recognition of her steady and significant contributions as a student employee! We have definitely experienced her dedication first hand and know this is well deserved! 

Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown, Public Services and Outreach intern

What is your role at IU Archives?  Stephanie Brown is the outreach and public services intern, who helps archivist Carrie Schwier design and deliver educational and outreach content featuring items from the IU Archives to the IU community and public.

What is your educational background? Stephanie graduated from IU with a Bachelor’s in History. She then completed a graduate Transition to Teach program with the School of Education and spent 4 years teaching middle and high school before coming back to complete a Master’s in Library Science full time.

What previous experience do you have? Stephanie’s concentration in her Master’s program is Archives and Records Management, and so she has taken several courses outlining archival theory and best practice.  These classes also have allowed her to visit the Archives and watch one of their educational sessions prior to working here. Additionally, she has been working as a processing assistant for the Lilly Library since January 2019, and does similar work processing collections for them.

What drew you to work at IU Archives?  Most notably, Stephanie’s interactions with the archivists left an impression on her. Many of them visited her classes as guest speakers, and easily displayed their enthusiasm for their positions and for the work they do for IU.  Stephanie also has an interest in working in archives in the future. She hopes to merge her teaching experience with archival work and the IU Archives has a great outreach and education program that allowed her to dip her toes into teaching in an archive career.

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives? Stephanie loves the online photograph collection. She gets lost in those photos, which give her a glimpse of IU and Bloomington in the past.

Female students at Indiana University, 1868.
Female students at Indiana University, 1868. IU Archives P0031275

What project are you currently working on? Recently she has been making online educational activities and resources, including screencast tutorials for Archives Online that can help users navigate the site, use the search options and find and view digital items. This is especially important right now for everyone working and researching remotely.

Favorite experience working with the IU Archives? Before our campus closed down and went online, Stephanie was able to teach an undergraduate class on using primary sources. She and Carrie brought in some really cool artifacts from the collections that spanned all parts of IU science and research history. It was a blast watching the students engage with the items and learn a bit about how IU contributed to major historical scientific research.

What is something you’ve learned by working with the IU Archives? Working for the IU Archives has shown Stephanie just how important an archive/repository can be to its organization or community. IU Archives keeps records related to significant history of the university, helps alumni track down information, helps professors and IU employees understand how their records will be kept, and brings university history to the community. There is so much more to an archive than a place with lots of boxes of papers. She knows this as someone studying archives, but working for the IU Archives has truly allowed her to see this in action and play her part in it.

MDPI Updates – Byrnes, REEI, Poynter Center & more!

In 2015, Indiana University launched the system-wide Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI), with the goal of reformatting and saving deteriorating media and film that could be found across all of the Indiana University campuses. To date, more than 344,000 audio, video, and film have been digitized.

At the University Archives, in some instances, we knew who deposited or transferred the media, but so many lacked description — and we lacked the proper equipment to safely play or view many of the items – that we are just now discovering what we actually had in our holdings. It has been a long road to figure out copyright and privacy issues surrounding the digitized media but late last year, we were given the green light to begin working our way through the “dark archive” and begin making them accessible. Access levels are worldwide, IU-login, or restricted. Nearly all materials can be viewed upon request for individual researchers, however, and item descriptions can be found via our collection finding aids in ArchivesOnline. For the past several months, I have shared internally what was being published but it seemed these updates should be shared more broadly! And so, without further ado….

All of these items can be accessed via Media Collections Online (MCO). Some may require IU log-in for immediate access; click on the Sign In link in the upper right hand corner of the MCO web site.

New project:

In April, Archives student Andrew wrote a post about his work on recordings from the Robert Byrnes papers, and specifically, a series of films Byrnes recorded circa 1959 on Russian history for distance education purposes. These films have since been processed through Kaltura for automatic transcription and now our wonderful graduate student Stephanie is working on cleanup. When completed, the files will be moved back into MCO and they will be our FIRST films with closed captioning! The transcripts are fairly clean but it is still slow work, taking her about 4-6 hours per 30 minute recording (she says she spends a fair amount of time looking up the spelling of Russian individuals and places!).

https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/
Screenshot of Ruissan Revolutios and the Soviet Regime opening scene from Media Collections Online

Completed:

  • Commission on Multicultural Understanding recordings (45 items): Quite a bit of content related to the Benton Murals, including several “B” rolls of footage for the documentary, “The Parks, the Circus, the Klan, the Press: A Benton Mural in Woodburn Hall.” Collection also includes recordings of panels, meetings, speeches, or forums, as well as recordings collected by the Commission for educational purposes. Access level: Largely IU-only due to lack of releases from speakers, though some are because they are non-IU created content. Two recordings related to rape and campus safety have been made available Worldwide. If you are outside IU, see the collection finding aid for fuller description of the recordings that are not available and contact us for access requests.
  • Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics & American Institutions recordings (100 items): These are absolute gems. The items are primarily recordings of television programs IU’s Poynter Center created from the 1970s-1990s, including series such as “The Citizen and the News,” “A Poynter Center Report,” “Citizen & Science,” “Poynter Interviews on American Institutions” and “Conversations on America.” Each episode brought in outside politicians and reporters such as Lee Hamilton, then-Congressman Andrew Young, Jr. (went on to become the first African American US ambassador to the UN, later served as Atlanta’s mayor), and well-known journalist David Halberstam. Lots of focus on Vietnam, loss of public trust, politics and politicians, and how news is reported and how it helps form public opinion. Also included are campus lectures. Access level: Worldwide
  • Russian and East European Institute recordings (383 items): Consists largely of lectures spanning the 1960s-1990s, from both campus visitors and IU faculty. All audio. Local names you might recognize include Alex Rabinowitch, Charles Jelavich, and Charles Bonser.  Access level: IU, but descriptions can be found via the finding aid (see the “Programs” series); contact us for access!
  • Union Board recordings (291 items): “Live from Bloomington” albums, Dunn Meadow concerts, Dance Marathon recordings, Model UN events, and UB sponsored lectures and visitors, including Spike Lee, Bobby Knight, and June Reinisch. Access level: IU only, but we have Union Board records related to a lot of these events. We plan to do some research to see what kind of paperwork/releases we may have. In the meantime, see the descriptions in the Audiovisual series of the finding aid and let us know if you would like to access anything!
  • Allen Grimshaw recordings (116 items): Dr. Grimshaw was a Professor of Sociology at IU from 1959-1994. There are recordings related or used for his research, which focused heavily on sociolinguistics and how different disciplines studied the same speech event. Also includes classroom lectures. Access level: Mix of worldwide (classroom lectures), IU only (collected recordings), and Restricted (interviews with children, dissertation defense). Descriptions of the media can be found on his collection finding aid; contact us if you are outside IU and spot something you would like to see!

    Screen capture from Grimshaw recording of Soviet and American military personnel roundtable on nuclear disarmament.
    Screen capture from Grimshaw recording of Soviet and American military personnel roundtable on nuclear disarmament.

We have also located and pushed a few recordings in response to requests, all have Worldwide access:

In progress:

And that’s your MDPI update for the summer! Please let us know if you have any questions and definitely spend some time checking out the wonderful resources to be found in Media Collections Online! It’s pretty amazing what we have access to here at Indiana University. And as always, please let us know if you have any questions!

Look for the next update in a few months!

Sincerely Yours: Trade-Lasts and Lasting Letters

Guest post: Christine Wagner is the Administrative Secretary in IU Libraries Administration. 

Because the pandemic has many of us working at home, opportunities have presented themselves.  I joined the Archives’ Great Coronavirus Transcribe-a-thon, helping to transcribe the letters of Daniel Biddle, who attended IU from 1893 to 1895 and later became a seminal figure in the Indiana insurance business. His beautifully written letters and descriptions, along with his picture, have already been featured in an earlier blog about the “Removal Question.”

My task was to type his letters to Janie, his future wife. I jumped at the chance, because I thought there might be a bit of romance in them.  However, they are mostly prim and proper as one would expect from the late 1800s.  He describes classes, fires, his roommates, visiting lecturers, and the famous IU Scrap between the Freshman and Sophomore classes, of which he seems wary.  Yet, just as flirting in elementary school includes contrary behavior, Dan begins to tease Janie his second year.  He explains that her high school chemistry is “baby chemistry” for which he then has to apologize for:

I most humbly beg your pardon for “making so much fun” of your school affairs. I may be mistaken, but I think I have always praised them very highly. Of course I have not spoken of them in such glowing terms as I use in speaking of affairs here, but it is only just that I should not.

Pressed flower sent to Janie September 22, 1894.
Wayside Flowers flower, September 22, 1894

Also, he starts inserting tidbits about his familiarity with young ladies:  “By the way there is a pretty nice looking girl here where we room but have not yet succeeded in getting acquainted with her. Guess she is afraid of us. Girls are generally afraid of the boys you know.”

But Dan is an equal opportunity flirt and gives Janie the reins several times with inducements such as:

I would invite him (Dan’s roommate Eli who apparently has a mustache Janie finds intriguing) home with me some time but I am afraid you would _____ _____ ____ _____ _____ ____ _____ _____ _____. You can fill out the blanks some rainy day, or some time when you have all your lessons & have nothing else to do.

The paragraph Dan writes that includes blanks for Janie to fill in.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, October 3, 1894

Blanks become a frequently used strategy in the letters, though they never get filled in. Dan suggests the words that populate the blanks be shared in person.

There are further discussions on the role of women and men. Obviously replying to something Janie has pointed out, Dan responds:

I did not mean to say that all boys only care to have one girl. I was just stating the rule. Of course it has exceptions, but they are rare. Eli only has three or four girls I think. Yes, ‘boys are altogether lonely creatures.’ You surely hit the nail on the head that time. It’s a good thing to be able to know the truth when one sees it.

Later, he asserts women come to college to find someone to marry.  At times, it feels as if he is baiting Janie!

The culmination of their flirtation can be summed up in one hyphenated word: trade-lasts. On November 5, 1894 Dan writes, “So you have a trade–last for me have you, well I have one for you too. Now, as Tom Sawyer says its a ‘sure enough’ trade–last too, not one manufactured for the occasion as some I have heard of.”

When I first read it, I thought perhaps he had a trade magazine for her, but then the term came up again at the letter’s end: “If you wish to trade trade-lasts, box yours up and send it, and I will send mine in return guarenteeing [guaranteeing] it to be of good quality.”

The paragraph Dan writes when mentioning trade-lasts and Mark Twain.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, November 5, 1894

I hit the Internet to discover a trade-last was an exchange of compliments according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In John F. Clark’s article about trade-lasts in American Speech I found out they were a “purely American phenomenon,” shared by young people from the 1890s to the 1930s, and have been documented linguistically throughout the Midwest.[1]

Not being an expert on relationships now or in the 19th century, I do not pretend to know the psychology between Dan and Janie, but it appears that the flirting and the baiting and the blanks get to be a little too much. Dan apologizes more:

I believe I did not say what you said [“implied” above first “said”] I said, but think I said that I said what I meant and meant what I said in the case in question; at least I say now that I do not always say what I mean or mean what I say. Beg your pardon for the first of this statement.

The paragraph Dan writes apologizing to Janie saying words are dumb things.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, November 25, 1894

And more apologies:

Well now for that marveless [marvelous] letter you spoke of, which, it seems, you unfortunately misunderstood. I thought you understood that my reckless remarks were only in fun, and am sorry to learn you thought them otherwise. I am aware of the truth of your statement that ones thoughts look funny on paper. Words are poor dumb things when written and sometimes express in a feeble way what is intended, and in a powerful way that which was not intended. In conversation the manner in which a thing is said & the expression of the face often mean more than the spoken words. I possibly did not bear this in mind when writing my last letter, and hence passed over the danger line without realizing it. I however beg your pardon for the past, and promise to be more careful in the future.

Dan seems to be adept at tongue and cheek. By winter break, Janie has a “bone to pick with him.” Afterwards, it is clear one of Dan’s friends has shared something unsettling with her. As the reader of the letters, we never truly find out, but Dan and Janie gingerly begin to talk of trade-lasts again.

Amidst the sharing of Latin, James Whitcomb Riley phrases, book recommendations, and hometown gossip, the two navigate their growing closer.  By the end of Dan’s last year, there is a hesitation between them, a backing away from the flirtation and, perhaps, a maturity.  In his last letter to her, Dan shares, “Yes, I think I have noticed somewhat of a change in you. I am better acquainted with you now than before…”

It is an intimate privilege to read someone else’s letters to their future spouse. I had to remind myself that even though these were Dan’s words, it was Janie who kept the letters in the first place. I knew from the biographical information on the finding aid that Janie died before Dan. Having had two sons and hopefully of fulfilling life, she died of diphtheria at age 51.[2]  After Janie’s initial keeping the letters safe, it was Dan and their family who kept them and eventually gave them to the Archives. Quite a loving gesture for quite a budding love affair.

All of the letters have been digitized and are available through the finding aid. The transcriptions are not publicly available yet, so just reach out to the Archives if you would like access!

[1] APA: Clark, J. (1983). The Vainglorious Trade-Last: A Reappraisal. American Speech, 58(1), 20-30. doi:10.2307/454748

[2] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 June 2020), memorial page for Jane “Janie” Bartee Biddle (29 Mar 1874–21 Dec 1925), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56935303, citing Remington Cemetery, Remington, Jasper County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Alana Knochel Bauman (contributor 47076457) .

Union Board Scrapbooks highlight IU events over the years

For more more than 100 years, the Union Board has organized events on campus that have elevated the IU experience. The IU Archives holds a collection of Union Board scrapbooks that highlight the board’s events and programs from the 1930s through the 2000s. They are a wonderful look into IU history and at the events that shaped many IU students’ experiences across the last several decades.

Photograph of John Whittenburger, founder of the Union Board, originally printed in the 1911 Arbutus, P0047175

As I dug into the history of the Union Board, I realized the Union Board existed before the construction of the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). In fact, it was first founded by IU student John M. Wittenburger in 1909 with a goal to “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.”

Originally comprised of male students and two male faculty advisers, including Indiana University President William L. Bryan, the group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall until the construction of the Union in 1932. Their focus was on enriching the lives of IU students, faculty and staff through unique events, activity and programs. Initiatives ran the gamut, from socials and dances, fairs, movie screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, and more.

From the Archives Photograph Collection, titled, “The Indiana Union barbershop located in the Student Building,” from the 1912 Arbutus, P0048276.

One early example of the Union Board’s impact on campus comes from the 1912 IU Arbutus. One page includes a picture of a barbershop in the Student Building attributed to the early Union board.

The Union Board went co-ed in 1952 when it merged with the Association of Women Students, and over time has grown to become an elected student governing body that leads the IMU, directs handfuls of committees – including the Campus Creative Arts committee, Concert committee, and the popular Live From Bloomington committee – and is now the largest student programming organization on campus.

One of the longest running and likely one of the best known Union Board programs, Union Board Films, was first rolled out in 1914 under the program’s early name, “Let’s go to the Union Movies.” It has brought screenings of popular films to campus for free or cheap, providing a fun and cost-effective weekend event an easy walk from the dorms. Originally held two nights a week, the recent film program offers showings of newly released movies in the Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium most weekends during the school year.

Schedule of Union Board Films from the Spring semester 1987. From 1986-1987 (book 3), in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Another area of Union Board programming, music and comedy events, are well represented in the pages of the scrapbooks. The board has brought all types of musical acts and comedy events to campus, both large and more intimate. Union Board Concerts committee brought BB King to campus in 1971.  In 1979, the committee featured the rock band Heart. In 2001, Union Board events featured comedian Dave Chappelle. In addition to massive musical and comedy acts, the Union Board has also hosted smaller, localized music and comedy, including their well-known local music series called Live From Bloomington and local comedy improv and sketch group events.

Clipping advertising one of many Union Board concerts, this one promoting the B.B. King concert from the 1971 scrapbook, in March 19,1971 – April 14, 1972 within the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Clipping advertising Union Board-sponsored concert event featuring the band Heart, February 1979, from October 1978-February 1979 in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Scrapbook page highlighting a 2001 Union Board comedy event that brought Dave Chappelle to the IU Auditorium. From 2001 in the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Ticket stubs and event programs, news clippings and photographs featured in these scrapbooks provide a glimpse of not only the workings of the Union Board over the years, but also a glimpse of the way student life has changed over the years. The scrapbooks range from the 1930s all the way up to the 2010s, and the richness of campus life from such a broad range of IU history is really interesting to behold! Check out the scrapbooks here and find out more about the Union Board’s current programming and committees!