Seminary Square

Seminary Building, 1st Building on grounds

Last Friday marked the rededication of Seminary Square Park (and the bombshell by former state historical marker manager Jeremy Hackerd that his research uncovered the fact that IU classes began in 1825, not 1824, as previously thought!).

What do you know about Seminary Square?

Before becoming a park in October of 1996, the site was home to the first seminary building – yes, Indiana University began as a Seminary, but was not a religious institution. Rather, at the time of establishment, institutions of higher education were oftentimes called seminaries. A committee of men was created to select the land in which the Seminary would be located.  Five of the men traveled to Bloomington to scout out the perfect piece of land.  The land was “about one quarter of a mile due South of Bloomington on a beautiful eminence and convenient to an excellent spring of water, the only one on the section selected that could with convenience answer the purpose of the Seminary.” (Indiana University Alumni Quarterly, 1924, p.382)  It was not uncommon in those days for springs of water to be used to determine the proximity of towns and buildings and the spring which set the stage for the Seminary and the future Indiana University became known as the “Lowe Spring,” named after Trustee William M. Lowe (1820-1826, 1828). 

Authorization for the construction of the Seminary was passed in 1820. The building did not begin however, until April 17, 1822, and was not fully completed until the spring of 1824.  The Seminary opened the doors to its first class in 1825, with the tuition fees amounting to $2.50 a session. In 1828, the Indiana General Assembly renamed the school Indiana College, and again changed the name in 1838 to Indiana University.  In 1883, a devastating fire prompted officials to consider relocating the campus. After investigating several possibilities, it was determined the campus would be moved to Dunn’s Woods and the city purchased the old college site for its high school, where it remained until 1967.

In 1922, Indiana University celebrated 100 years of being an educational institution. During the ceremony a time capsule was buried with at least one known photograph (shown below) as well as other University items with instructions to open the capsule in 2022. Recently a patron inquired about this time capsule, wanting to know if the archives knew what other items the capsule held but I was unable to locate any information regarding the contents of the capsule.  If anyone does know what is in the time-capsule or any other information regarding the event, post your comments on the blog wall!

Dr. Bryan is shown above turning the first spade of earth for the placing of a tablet upon the plot which the old seminary building stood. This photograph was taken and sealed along with the other University valuables. (Indiana Alumnus, 5 August, 1922, p.7)

–Archivist in training



Campus mystery

Okay, friends, when we started this blog, we said we would ask for help from time to time. Well, here we are!

Our Photographs Curator has been stumped by this for some time. Can you help put his mind to rest and help us identify the pyramid-like structure in this image?

This detail comes from a large panoramic shot of the “new” 10th Street Stadium in 1924 (now home to the Arboretum). On the far left you can see the south bleachers and the pyramid-like structure would be about where the present-day Radio & TV Building is located.

Brad has contacted several people over the years in hopes of receiving some help in identifying the structure but thus far has had no luck. It doesn’t show up in campus maps and he has not uncovered any other documentation about it. Anybody have any thoughts?

Waldo Lee McAtee papers: An Ornithologist in the Making

While Waldo Lee McAtee may not be a household name, the man established quite a renown in the ornithological–or bird science–community over the course of his lifetime. McAtee spent the the majority of his career, more than thirty years, as an employee for the Bureau of Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Washington, D.C., where he focused on birds and their feeding habits. His trail of accomplishments is long, including widespread involvement in professional associations, scientific publishing, influence in establishing many of the U.S. bird protection laws which exist today, and more. Overall, McAtee was a dedicated advocate for Wildlife management and awareness, and he got his start right here at Indiana University! The IU Archives even has the papers to prove it.

Laboratory notes on various birds accompanied by the faint pencil sketch of a bird at top, Waldo L. McAtee's coursework, 1900-1905

McAtee came to Indiana University in 1900 to study Biology and Zoology, earning his A.B. in 1904 and A.M. in 1906. He was a dedicated student and immersed himself in his topics of study, classifying specimens as curator for the I.U. Zoological Museum and teaching various scientific courses when professors could not attend lectures. The Waldo L. McAtee papers at the Indiana University Archives attest to his dedication as a budding scholar. Though the collection comprises only one box of material, it includes a number of laboratory notebooks, scientific drawings, and field notes created by McAtee during his formative years as a scientist.

Scientific sketch of a grasshobber, Waldo L. McAtee's laboratory notes from an introductory Biology course, 1900-1901

Though the collection also includes a number of publications and correspondence, I am personally drawn to McAtee’s notes and drawings due to his painstaking attention to detail, meticulous dedication, and thoroughness. Furthermore, a sample of McAtee’s notes, particularly ornithological field notes on bird population around Indiana University, harbors particular potential in a comparative study to more contemporary records. As climate change, species endangerment, and habitat loss are increasingly common topics in the present day, it is interesting to consider the contrast between wildlife in and around the modern day Indiana University campus and its state more than one hundred years prior.

Meticulous field notes on the bird population around Indiana University, quthored by Waldo L. McAtee circa 1900

If you are interested in further exploring Waldo Lee McAtee’s early legacy, contact us here at the Archives! Curious about McAtee’s later career? Try doing a quick search for him on Archive Grid, an amalgamated search portal which links users to archival collection descriptions from thousands of repositories; search Archive Grid from Indiana University or any other subscribing institution. The Library of Congress, Cornell University, the American Philosophical Society, and UCLA all join Indiana University in preserving McAtee’s history.

Can a protest be polite?

Pro- and anti-Vietnam war demonstrators await Rusk's visit

In my last post I discussed the controversial Dow Chemical Sit-in, which served as a catalyst for student anger against the administration.  Today I have a short post about an event that, at the time, was seen as far more important than Dow recruiters being on campus.  Public reaction to protesters at the two events was also markedly different, which begs the question; can one protest an event or person without violating societal decorum?

Rusk speaks while IU President Stahr looks on


On October 31, 1967, just a day after the disastrous sit-in at the IU business school, United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk arrived on campus to give a scheduled speech.  As a major shaper of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy, Secretary Rusk was a natural target for anti-war protests on many campuses he visited.  In the lead-up to his visit, leaders from a number of different left-leaning student organizations on campus worked fervently to plan an organized protest. Flyers and signs were created and handed out prior to Rusk’s speech.  Outside the auditorium, demonstrators (both students and some professors) carried anti-war signs.  These were met by even greater numbers of administration supporters carrying signs of their own.  Inside the packed venue, around 200 protesters wore “peace” armbands and heckled Rusk with cries of “Liar!” and “Murderer!” at key points in his speech.

Anti-war protesters hold up "Peace" armbands during Rusk's speech

Unlike the chaotic Dow Chemical sit-in of the day before, the protest went off without a hitch, with no physical confrontations or arrests.  Public reaction to the demonstrators was decidedly negative, however, as students, professors and townspeople alike felt that the heckling during the speech had crossed a serious line of decorum.  Midwestern values notwithstanding, members of the New Left would continue to use confrontational tactics in the years to come to protest against American involvement in Vietnam.


New Photo Collection web site!

Limestone and train, circa 1910. (P0020047) The database also includes images of the surrounding community.

The rich history and culture of Indiana University and its regional campuses are captured in a collection of approximately two million images held by IU Archives. With the launch of the new Archives Photo Collection website, users will be able to more easily search that collection for specific images.

The site allows users to discover photos in the collection’s database – currently 4,000 catalogued images and increasing daily – in a variety of ways. Users can search the descriptive terms provided for each image, or browse the entire collection by dates; personal, building or event names; topics; or photographer/studio. The site also features an option, “My Selections,” to temporarily store images that users have selected. Users have the option to order a print or higher-resolution scan of the original image.

Students "clearly" thrilled to sit for a photo for the 1971 telephone directory. (P0024078)

The vast majority of images in the IU Archives Photo Collection were shot by IU’s Extension Division, Photographic Services Department, Athletic Department, and News Bureau. Many of the photographers employed by these departments have become well known for their work, including Will Counts, Barney Cowherd, Jerry Uelsmann, Jerry Mitchell, Jack Welpott, Clarence Flaten, Dave Repp, Ralph “Porky” Veal, and Ric Cradick. Other images in the collection were shot mostly by local professional photographers, alumni, and faculty.

The images and web site are hosted by the IU Digital Library Program.

Any questions? Please contact the Archives Photographs Curator, Brad Cook.