Independence Day is one American holiday which unites citizens from coast to coast. Communities across the country bond over barbecues, parades, and dazzling firework displays that light up the night sky each July Fourth. This year in Indiana University’s hometown of Bloomington, students and local residents alike will take to the streets for the annual Fourth of July Parade, which runs through the heart of downtown. At dusk, a fireworks display will also be featured south of campus at the Monroe County Fairgrounds.
Back in the early days of Indiana University, the Fourth of July was already a highly regarded holiday, yet the details of celebrations were different than those of today. With the memory of American independence relatively fresh in the minds and ancestral stories of many citizens throughout the early 1800s, the initial Independence Day over which first Indiana University President Andrew Wylie presided in Bloomington on July 4, 1830 was treated as a comparatively reverent, sincere event built upon both patriotic and religious reflection. An introductory portion of Wylie’s sermon, entitled “Religion and State: Not Church and State” reads,
… I shall attempt to show, that the influence of the christian religion is necessary to the preservation of the liberties and the advancement of the general interests of this nation. And, in doing this we hope to be led into such a train of reflections as shall not be inappropriate to the general purposes of this sacred day. That the day has been set apart by God himself to commemorate the works of creation and redemption ought not to be considered as a prohibition, on the part of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, to celebrate his goodness in any other particular…
Though the aforementioned speech is highly religious in its admonitions due to Andrew Wylie’s position as a Presbyterian minister and strong religious upbringing, Wylie touches upon a variety of issues which remain relevant in the present day. His philosophical discussions on war, political party lines, corruption, morality, historical repetition, and American liberties lend insight into problems of the past which bind present-day readers to early Indiana University students through shared theoretical questions regardless of one’s religious affiliation. Should you have an interest in reading this sermon in its entirety, fortunately, all you have to do is click here to access a digital copy! To see more digitized documents from the Andrew Wylie papers, explore the finding aid by clicking on any “View items” link alongside the camera icons.
The abovementioned sermon aside, even in the 1800s, students and residents of Bloomington did indeed celebrate outside church walls. An editorial published in the July 6, 1906 edition of the Bloomington Telephone recounts Fourth of July celebrations from forty years prior, circa 1865, when the people of Bloomington gathered annually en masse in Dunn Woods, before it was home to the Indiana University campus. Town residents would dig trenches, roast beef and hogs, and feast with hundreds of people from Bloomington and the surrounding countryside. “The 4th was always the greatest day of the year,” the article concludes.
On that note, those of us at the Indiana University Archives wish you a happy Fourth of July! Whether you celebrate by attending the Bloomington parade, fireworks display, or gather for a backyard barbecue with family and friends, we hope you take a moment to remember a little bit of the history behind the holiday.
Born July 18, 1872 on a farm near Germantown (Wayne County, Indiana), Frank Orman Beck came to Indiana University as a student in 1890, receiving his A.B. in 1894 and A.M. in 1895, both in comparative literature. While teaching part-time his senior year at Bloomington High School, he met then-student Daisy Woodward and the two were married on July 23, 1899, shortly after she received her A.B. degree from the University. Over the next decade, the two traveled extensively to continue their studies – she at the New England Conservatory of Music and he Boston and Harvard Universities, the University of Chicago, and Edinburgh University in Scotland. Upon their return to the United States in 1912, the Becks settled in Chicago where Frank spent over 25 years serving as a teacher, minister, and social worker in places such as the Wabash Avenue Methodist Church in the infamous First Ward on the fringe of The Loop, the Chicago Welfare department the Chicago Inter-Church World Movement and with Jane Addams in Hull House and in the missions along “Skid Row.”
Retiring from his first career in 1934, Frank and Daisy returned to their alma mater to serve as unofficial counselors to the student body and the administration – building a religious program on the university campus which sought to ease prejudice with tolerance and understanding. As the programs grew, the Becks began a nearly twenty year campaign to build a place of worship on the Indiana University campus for those of all faiths, and in 1957 thanks in large part to their own vision and financial support, Beck Chapel was dedicated. Today the chapel stands as a symbol of religious unity, but not according to Beck “a chapel of a universal religion but a chapel that recognizes the claims of all religions – a chapel that avows that ‘light is good in whatever lamp it burns.’”
The University Committee on Religion and the Student Religious Cabinet
On December 3, 1937, as one of his first official acts as University President, Herman B
Wells established a University Committee on Religion. Composed of members of faculty, local clergymen, group religious sponsors, lay members, and students, the group was tasked “to correlate the independent religious activities on the campus, and to study trends and agencies here and elsewhere for the expansion and unification of religious service to faculty and students.” With Frank O. Beck serving as the Executive Secretary, with the outbreak of the Second World War the group acknowledged that:
The pressing need of national unity today makes it imperative that religion become a unifying force rather than a divisive one. The common ground of various faiths must be cultivated. All faiths must go harmoniously together as far as they can. Between all the religious units of the campus efforts must be made to create the mutual understanding and unity resulting from a common belief in democracy and in the ideals of liberty and a common God.
Within a few months, the Student Religious Cabinet – under the leadership of the Committee on Religion – was established consisting of representatives from various religious faiths on campus in an effort to ease prejudice with tolerance and understanding. As outlined in their constitution, they sought to “form a pan-faith fellowship which will correlate all religious activities of the campus, promote fellowship and understanding among all religious groups and faiths on the campus and to do collectively many things which they may not be able to accomplish as separate entities.”
Soon after its organization the Cabinet set up five special interest groups, officially known as commissions on Inter-Racial Fellowship, Social Creed and Action, Peace Education and Action, Personal Religion and Worship, and Inter-faith Fellowship and Work. Through conferences and seminars, campus publications such as The Voice of Religion, morning group breakfasts, and chapel colloquies, they sought to address the larger social, political, and religious issues of the day such as racial segregation, religious intolerance, European refugee students, and building morale and involvement in wartime activities.
The Gift of a Chapel
On January 29, 1941, during a special banquet in Alumni Hall sponsored by the University Committee on Religion and the Student Religious Cabinet, 1937 Nobel laureate Dr. Arthur Compton spoke on “A Scientist’s Conception of God.” Following the lecture, university President Herman B Wells stood before over 400 members of the faculty, student body and the public to announce a generous gift from Frank and Daisy Beck to construct a chapel for those of all faiths on the campus. The Board of Trustees accepted the gift shortly thereafter, and the university architects presented a conceptual drawing for the proposed structure.
Unfortunately, due to the war-time scarcity of building materials the construction of the Chapel was delayed by several years. Finally, as part of commencement activities on June 12, 1954, the ground was dedicated, two years later the cornerstone laid, and the official dedication ceremony followed during Commencement activities on June 9, 1957.
Frank Beck, the Curator of the Chapel concluded the ceremony in prayer:
Almighty God from whom every good prayer cometh, and who poureth out on all who desire the spirit of grace and supplication, deliver us when we draw nigh to thee, from coldness of heart and wandering of mind.
Our Eternal God under whose guidance our fathers walked and by whom they were strengthened and sustained:
We pray that the spirit which kindled their faith may descend upon us;
That the students who are upon our campus today may aspire nobly, adventure daringly, and come to the realization of one world under God in the common meeting ground of faith which is the common essence of Brotherhood;
And when they go out keep them amidst the perils of their uncertain way.
We pray that by faith we may see the needs of those who will come after us, to bequeath to them a rich heritage, and to share with them the widening vision.
The Grove of All Faiths
On February 10, 1942, representatives from 100 student organizations, three devoted religious leaders – Rabbi Cronbach, Professor at the Hebrew Institute of Cincinnati, Dr. James Gillis, editor of The Catholic World, Dr. Charles C. Morrison, editor of the Christian Century – President Wells and Dr. Frank Beck (below shown left to right) gathered on the proposed site of the new chapel to plant three trees representative of each of their faiths. Those present for the dedication joined in unison:
Planted in a Triangle, may these trees ever symbolize to us the harmony and unity that should dwell among us, and, above all the divisions, of our imperfect society, assert the Brotherhood of man.
Over the course of the following years, trees symbolizing the other religions of the world joined the initial three, including Christian Science and the “Religions of the Orient.”
A Symbol of Religious Unity
Within the Chapel sacristy are housed the holy symbols and scriptures of all the world’s religions including a rare copy of the Koran hand-painted in gold; the book of Genesis written in Hebrew and printed from wood-cuts in Rome in 1578; The Dahamapada, the Canonical Scriptures of Buddhism; a Torah; and a Bible.
In the words of Frank Beck, the chapel
…does not aim to resolve religious differences, or to seek religious compromise, or to reduce faiths to the lowest common denominator. On the other hand it holds a sensitive regard to the rights of varying religious opinions and seeks to encourage respect for the ethical and religious values of each of the historic faiths represented in the student body and faculty.
The Chapel would, however, represent a sense of unity in this rich diversity. It will not become a chapel of a universal religion but a chapel that recognizes the claims of all religions – a chapel that avows that ‘light is good in whatever lamp it burns.’
It strives to unify by contending that all differences of religion are subordinated to a higher and more comprehensive agreement: that truths high enough are sure to meet. It strives to establish that all true religions seek sufficient depth and universal outlook to rise above all differences; and that with the oneness of mankind as the central problem of the age, we come nearer to God as we come nearer together.
Thus, the Chapel will not become the chapel of a common creed, but the chapel of a common quest, granting free and full expression to each faith represented on the campus, with each faith enriching others by the differences of faith and function.
Today, the Chapel continues to serve as the home for those of all faiths, with services held representing the Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Jewish, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Taoist, Coptic and Baha’i faiths. In addition to symbolizing a higher search for religious tolerance and unity on campus, annually the Chapel witnesses the exchange of numerous engagement and wedding vows, christenings, memorial services, devotional services, organ recitals and simply as a quiet place of self-meditation amidst the bustle of campus life.
My name is Lora and I am interning at the Indiana University Archives for the summer. As part of my internship, I was asked to assist a patron with a reference request regarding Robert F. Kennedy’s visit to Bloomington. This was my first time using microfilm, which was a great learning experience. I examined articles from The Indiana Daily Student and The Daily Herald-Telephone to see what was published regarding his visit and his assassination a few weeks later.
Kennedy arrived in Bloomington on April 24, 1968, on a campaign tour for the Indiana primary. He was accompanied by former astronaut John Glenn and both were greeted by large crowds when they landed at the Monroe County airport. While in Bloomington, Kennedy made multiple stops, including at a local RCA manufacturing facility and the Indiana University campus, where over 4,000 people came to hear him speak. As a result of this reference request, a previously unknown recording of this important speech was uncovered in another office on campus! A really exciting new acquisition for the University Archives! (Update: This recording has been digitized and is available through Media Collections Online at https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/j9602083w.)
In his speeches, Kennedy focused on issues such as rural development through tax incentives and decreasing America’s role as a world policeman, stating “we must make calm and discriminating judgments as to which governments can and should be helped.” Many of these comments were made within the context of America’s then involvement in Vietnam. Kennedy also called for an end to educational draft deferments, which was met with some boos from students. Despite disagreement with some of his policies, Kennedy left an impression upon many in Bloomington as a charismatic politician and large crowds greeted him wherever he traveled. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, and upon news of his death, Bloomington residents expressed shock and sadness at the loss of a “great leader.”
After spending nearly a year and half working as a graduate student processor at the Indiana University Archives, it is time for me to bid adieu to my colleagues and fellow students as I embark on my first professional adventure. I have highly enjoyed my time here–both in Bloomington generally, as well as specifically here at the IU Archives–and a part of me is quite sad to see this chapter of my life come to a close.
I was lucky enough to begin working at the Archives in February 2010 during my second semester of graduate work towards my Master of Library Science degree, which I pursued through the IU School of Library and Information Science, earning my degree in May 2011. Even before beginning the academic program, I developed a passion for cultural heritage preservation by way of archival documentation, thus I tailored my coursework to meet the requirements for the Archives and Records Management specialization. Coming to work at the IU Archives was instrumental in my ability to understand archival work from a stance of personal, experiential depth. I was able to apply the theories I learned in the classroom and through professional literature to hone my archival processing skills and better understand not just the technical concepts of archival work, but also the intricacies and unique issues with which one must contend to best address arrangement, description, and access as suitable for each individual record collection… not to mention I got to process some really fun collections and develop a deeper appreciation for Indiana University’s rich history! I am indebted to this position and to my supervisors for providing me with a diverse range of real world experience–including collection processing, encoding finding aids for online access, exhibit curation, basic reference, participating in social media outreach (i.e. this blog post!), and even just sharing day-to-day archivally oriented conversations–which proved invaluable during my job hunt.
Beginning in mid-July 2011, I will begin my first professional position as the Assistant Librarian at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, located within the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, California! This position is a surreal melding of my childhood and graduate student dreams, and I feel all too lucky for my good fortune. I could not be more excited about this opportunity, where I will have a diverse range of responsibilities including but not limited to: maintaining, preserving, organizing, and promoting access to the library’s archival and rare book collection, pursuing digital access and preservation efforts, exploring outreach opportunities, and otherwise supporting the library’s general plans, objectives, and operations. Perhaps I will even have the opportunity to begin my own repository blog at the San Diego Zoo Library!
The move to Southern California will be a major transition for my Midwestern roots, but I look forward to the adventure, as well as to learning more about regional and zoo history. For now, I bid one final thank you to my supervisors and colleagues at the IU Archives. Your guidance, encouragement, support, and archival wisdom never went unappreciated. I hope our paths cross again someday!
Much to my relief, the folders have been a bit less dusty in the past 10 boxes or so. I would even go so far as to say that they are fairly well-organized in comparison with what I encountered early on in my processing. I’ve mentioned it before, but I have to say it again. I am simply amazed at the sheer number of files that this dedicated and busy (but never-too-busy) professor of German, West European Studies and Comparative Literature kept on his students. These files are packed with detailed and affectionate correspondence, honest and sometimes glowing letters of recommendation, Christmas cards, wedding invitations, and notes thanking Professor Remak for helping a former student find a job or stay the night at he and his wife, Ingrid’s, home.
In my previous posts I’ve discussed the personal and professional dedication of Henry H. H. Remak (or ‘H to the third power Remak,’ as he often subscribed). In this, my third processing blog, I’d like to tell you about a few of the more unique finds, which provide insight into the somewhat less academic interests and concerns of Professor Remak.
In addition to being an active teacher, administrator and scholar at IU, Henry Remak was a watchful and committed member of the local Bloomington community. Though native to Germany and quite invested in German and West European affairs throughout his life, he was also concerned with the political, educational, and social welfare of the United States. While sorting through the collection, I have come across perhaps two dozen files containing various newspaper clippings on local and national current events. Remak added marginal notes to many of these clippings, expressing his agreement or sometimes dismay. These marginal notes often became the basis of letters to the editors, to political figures such as United States senators, or in one instance, to former President Reagan.
From rebuking the editor of the Indiana Daily Student for an impersonal article on the death of two IU faculty members to being on a first-name basis with the Director of Parks and Recreation in an ongoing correspondence about the safety and comfort of walkers/runners in Bryan Park, it is clear that Henry Remak did his best to stand up for the well-being of the community.
Remak accomplished this in less direct ways as well. In a 1995 interview conducted by Michael Smith, then editor of the West European Studies Bulletin, Henry Remak pointed out that American students view history in a very different way from European students of the same age. For Europeans, “…history is not something ‘bookish’ but rather something that you see around you all the time.” To someone born in the United States, on the other hand, history is not nearly as present or as visible in the everyday. Professor Remak claims that this partially explains why American students are, for the most part, less knowledgeable about history. In a small way perhaps Henry Remak was trying to remedy that both in and out of the classroom. As a member of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society, as well as an advocate for local historic preservation, Henry Remak was enforcing his beliefs in a living, tangible and ever-present history. This too was a way of looking out for his community, which he clearly loved and valued.