New Finding Aid! Susan Gubar papers, 1975-2011

The distinguished feminist scholar and literary critic, Susan Gubar, retired last year as Distinguished Professor Emerita of English after teaching at IU for 37 years. The Susan Gubar papers have been processed and the collection is now available for research.

Susan Gubar with a copy of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The English Tradition, 1986.

The Gubar papers cover a wide range of topics which are often interwoven: feminist theory, gender politics, literary theory and criticism, fashion studies, science fiction studies, race studies, film studies, Holocaust studies, and the importance of Judas in the history of Western civilization. Nearly all of her published work is represented in the collection, including copies of her books, articles from obscure publications to the well-known, and foreign language versions of her work.

The collection provides insight into the development of the women’s movement through the late 1970s to the present. A substantial number of clippings represent the response to Gubar’s work from a wide range of sources. The reviews and letters show changing attitudes towards the women’s movement and illustrate the impact of Gubar’s work.

Among correspondence with colleagues and friends, the Important Papers and Valuable Letters folders include letters from celebrated writers, such as Carolyn Heilbrun, Ursula Leguin, Toni Morrison, and Adrienne Rich. There are several exchanges with Sandra M. Gilbert, Gubar’s long-time collaborator and friend. One poignant letter is from Erica Jong, who described being moved to tears by the publication of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Tradition in English because it would have been unthinkable for such a book to exist when she was a student. Jong wrote that the anthology “represents the triumph of the movement in a special way. It means that our collective vision now enters the academy as a presence, a force, a named thing. (It is named; therefore it exists.)”

Poem by Ursula Leguin for Susan Gubar and Sandra M. Gilbert, 1985.
Another unique item is a poem written by Ursula Leguin for Susan Gubar and Sandra M. Gilbert in 1985, upon the publication of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Tradition in English. It reads:


O Gilbert and Gubar
O Gubert and Gilbar
O Sandra and Susan
O Sansan and Sudra
I chant you this mudra
I love you forilbert
for putting togubar
the Norton Antholo
or Anthony Nortolog
of literatilbert
of gubarature
by women by women
from cover to cover
I read her I love her
the trenglish addition
by women by women
by you and by me and by her and by us and by God
it is wonderful
wonderful we are
and you are O you are
O Gilbert O Gubar!

Exuberance radiates from the Gubar papers, particularly from her work as an educator. From documents concerning the organization of conference panels and lecture series it is easy to sense the excitement generated by the exchange of ideas. A number of publications in the collection include observations and notes made by Gubar in the margins. The collection makes evident the boundless scope of Gubar’s interests and also how much she considered and valued what others produced, whether they were colleagues in the field or individuals outside the academic community.

If you want to learn more about the Susan Gubar papers, please refer to the finding aid and contact the IU Archives!

New Collection: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Support Services Records

 The archives recently received and processed the records of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Support Services (GLBTSSS) office. Serious discussions about the formation of an Indiana University campus support center for gays and lesbians began in the late 1980s. A task force was appointed in 1990 to gather information on such a center and after three years of research, members of the task force submitted a report formally recommending that such an office be created. Proponents of the center cited the increasing levels of harassment aimed at GLBT students. For example, from 1992-1993 there were 58 instances of anti-GLBT harassment.


In the fall of 1994, the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Support Services office opened amidst both support and controversy. The center’s name would not be amended to include ‘transexual’ until 1997, though the office claims that supporting transsexuals has been part of its mission since its opening. Doug Bauder, who is gay and an ordained minister in the Moravian church, was hired to be the coordinator of the office. Bauder has held the position since its opening. One of the biggest controveries surrounding the creation and opening of the center was the issue of whether public or private money would be used. Initially, $50,000 of public funds was allotted to the project; however, after complaints from many detractors, including numerous state legislators, it was decided that the $50,000 would come from private sources. This controversy was likely tied to other controversies surrounding the GLBT center, which included many misconceptions about its purpose. Some believed that the center would be used to promote homosexuality or that it would be a “mansion for gays.” Today, the center is publicly funded and much of the controversy has died down as the office has proven its mission of “providing information, support, mentoring, and counseling to members of the IU campus and the larger community.”

The office of the GLBT Support Services strives to be a resource center for all members of the Indiana University campus, not just those who fall under the GLBT label. The office contains a library of materials that focus on GLBT issues. It also serves as a center for education, collaboration, and networking for those interested in the GLBT community and promoting diversity on campus. The office has been an advocate for the rights and needs of GLBT students, including pushing for the presence of gender-neutral restrooms around campus and documenting instances of GLBT related harassment and crime.

The folklorists are here, the folklorists are here!

Warren E. Roberts, 1967.

If you hadn’t heard, the American Folklore Society is meeting in Bloomington this week! Everyone is very excited about it – Shannon, our graduate assistant working on the Remak papers, helped install an exhibit in the Wells Library lobby; if you stop by the Lincoln Room in the Lilly Library, you can view “Tell Me a Story: Folklore and Folkloristics at the Lilly Library”; and Wednesday morning, we hosted a small group of attendees in our reading room to discuss some of our folklore-related holdings!

Weren’t able to make it? That’s okay, I’ll point out some of the highlights for you!

In addition to the records relating to folklore and the development of the program that can be found within the administrative records in our collection, we have a rich collection of papers from folklorists who have either spent or began their academic careers at Indiana University. Several years ago, the University Archives worked with the Folklore Institute to transfer its holdings to our care. What a rich collection is has proven to be!

Select folklore holdings in the University Archives

    Warren E. Roberts papers: In 1953, Warren Everett Roberts became the first person to earn a PhD in Folklore in the United States. He taught at Indiana University from 1949-1994 and was one of the founders of the study of American “folklife” and material culture. The collection represents Roberts’ research of vernacular architecture and regional survey of material culture and craftsmanship, particularly in southern Indiana. Collection consists of research files, teaching files, photographs, photographic negatives and slides, publications, and correspondence.
    Richard Dorson papers: Dr. Richard Dorson is often cited as the father of American folklore. Over his lifetime he published a large collection of books and articles dealing with how folklore and culture are tied together. Dorson founded the Indiana University Folklore Institute in 1963, and became the first director and Chairman of the Folklore Department in 1978. This collection consists of Dr. Dorson’s published articles, correspondence, and research connected to the Gary Project which resulted in the book Land of the Millrats.
    IU Folklore Students’ Association records: The Folklore Students’ Association (FSA) is a student run organization supported by the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Indiana University. The collection consists of correspondence, newsletters, meeting minutes and reports.
    Felix J. Oinas papers: Felix Oinas, a world renowned scholar in the areas of Slavic linguistics, Finno-Ugric language, literature, and folklore, was a professor of Uralic and Altaic Studies and Slavic Languages and Literatures at Indiana University from 1950 until his retirement in 1981. The collection consists of Oinas’ correspondence, publications, and research on Balto-Finnic and Slavic folklore, the relation of Balto-Finnic folklore as compared to Baltic (Lithuanian and Latvian) folklore, the Estonian epic Kalevipoeg, mythology (including the study of spirits, ghosts, devils, and vampires), and the study of Slavic and Finnish etymologies.
    Richard A. Reuss papers: Richard Reuss was an Indiana University alumnus and professor of folklore and also a distinguished scholar of folksong revival. Collection includes photographs, books, artwork, clippings, song books and sheets, correspondence, interview transcripts, notes, teaching materials, and publications.
    Richard Bauman papers: Richard Bauman taught in the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology from 1986 until his retirement in 2008. The Bauman papers consist of his teaching materials, awards, publications, conference contributions, research projects, fieldwork materials, correspondence, and student recommendations.
    Ronald Richard Smith papers: Ronald Richard Smith was a member of the Folklore faculty at Indiana University from 1978-1997. His research centered around traditional music, festivals, movement and dance, and religion within the African Diaspora, with a focus on Caribbean peoples. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at IU, Smith also served as associate dean of the Office of Research and University Graduate School from 1988-1996, headed the IU Ethnomusicology Program, and spent one year as director of the Archives of Traditional Music. This collection consists of Smith’s papers and lectures, dissertations of some of his students, correspondence, committee files, and some classroom materials. Prominent in the papers are Smith’s files on the Folklore Institute and department, such as teaching files, meeting minutes, and curriculum reviews.
    Student papers: If you went through the Folklore program at IU, chances are we have one of your papers. Spanning over 50 years, the Folklore archive holds student papers on every conceivable topic! Work is ongoing to enter the descriptions into a database, so if you are interested in these, contact us!

We also have the papers of Inta Carpenter, Mary Ellen Brown, George H. List, and Henry H. Glassie, who happened to deliver the opening keynote address at AFS this year! Also in our holdings, but currently undescribed, are a number of collections from Folklore alumni who have gone on to have prominent careers as folklorists, including Dan Ben-Amos, Elliott Oring, and Margaret Read MacDonald.

As always, let us know if you have questions about any of these materials! AFS attendees, enjoy the beautiful campus!

Henry H. H. Remak – An Angel in Disguise – Processing Blog #6

The Henry H. H. Remak collection that I am processing here at the IU Archives can be thought of as a paper trail, evidence of a man’s life as a teacher, administrator, scholar, friend. The papers contained within are the results of a professional life, but for Henry the professional was almost always personal and the personal was often also professional. For this post I would like to focus in on just one file from the collection-in-progress. The file itself tells a particularly riveting story in which Henry Remak takes on the role of guardian angel for a young Burmese student.

The student I speak of, whom from here on out I will refer to as T, was born in New York City in the late 1950s but returned to Burma (now Myanmar) to live with her family, eventually attaining a degree in economics from the Institute of Economics in Rangoon, Burma and working as a teacher. For most of its known history, Burma has been a country overwhelmed by war and poverty. During T’s childhood and early adulthood, the situation in Burma was particularly dire and the country may have been at its most troubled state in centuries. It is no wonder then that T was desperate to leave her country in search of a better life, like so many other Burmese people during this time period. In a letter written to Frederic V. Grunfeld, a journalist and author who was Henry Remak’s brother-in-law, T described her situation: “The future here is very bleak for me and even my patriotism and idealism to serve my country and people has had to gradually be giving way to reality. I know I can’t contribute anything meaningful if I stay here any longer, except to teach. . . and show compassion and understanding and give moral support. . . ” Grunfeld, who had met T’s father in New York City in the 1950s, paid several visits to T and her family in the early 1980s. He seemed particularly entranced by T, describing her in a letter to Ingrid and Henry Remak as “an extraordinary young woman” who was one of the “brightest people” he had ever met. Grunfeld sent the letter hoping that something could be done for T, namely that she could get admitted to IU.

Letter from Remak to Economics Department
Just days after Grunfeld’s letter was received, Henry Remak brought T to the attention of IU’s Department of Economics and for the next year Remak and Grunfeld worked together to arrange for T to fulfill the necessary requirements she would need in order to apply for IU. From the start it was evident that without financial aid or an assistantship of some kind T would not be able to afford tuition, not to mention a life in the United States. Grunfeld contextualized her situation well when he pointed out that the average Burmese family lives on the equivalent of $50 a year. An additional concern was the fact that the Burmese government did not make it easy for anyone to leave Burma, even for educational purposes. The trip to the U. S. Embassy in Burma was in itself a dangerous, potentially fatal move for T. Nevertheless, in December of 1982 T sent in her application for admission to IU’s doctoral program in economics. She was accepted and promised an appointment as an associate instructor with a tuition fee remission, as well as a modest stipend for living expenses. Without having even met this young woman, Professor Remak, along with his brother-in-law, promised to cover any additional financial expenses over the four years that T would need to complete her Ph. D.

A letter from T to Henry H. H. Remak, 1983
T arrived in Bloomington several weeks late due to a delay in attaining her passport and visa, but when she did arrive Henry and Ingrid were waiting for her at the airport. The Remaks allowed T to stay with them for her first week in Bloomington, before she eventually moved into one of the residence halls here on campus. Henry and Ingrid assumed a very parental attitude toward T, allowing her to visit and even spend the night at their house whenever she needed to get away from campus. Henry even bought T a nice winter coat as a gift, as she came to the United States extremely unprepared for the harsh winter that was soon to come. Despite her lack of preparation and evident culture shock during her first couple of months at IU, Henry Remak described her as hard-working and able to make friends easily.

In a letter dated January 3, 1984 from Henry Remak to Fred Grunfeld, it was apparent that T was struggling academically, not merely struggling but almost failing. Remak posited that her academic troubles were a result of the study of economics in Burma being far behind that of the United States. Her professors were as understanding as they could be under the circumstances, but by August of 1984 T had lost her funding and failed her qualifying examinations, thereby making it impossible for her to continue with her doctoral studies. At this point, Professor Remak advised T to at least complete a master’s degree in the department, which would take her an additional year and required that she merely pass the necessary courses. At this point, Remak began loaning T money for tuition, rent, and basic living expenses that he did not have much hopes of ever getting back considering T’s troubles in academia and the economic situation in Burma if she were to continue her life there. Not surprisingly, Frederic Grunfeld felt responsible for T and had the intention of reimbursing Professor Remak for at least some of the money he had loaned T. However, there is evidence to suggest that Remak did not accept much, if any, of the money Grunfeld sent to Henry Remak, probably due to a difference in financial means.

The Remaks’ and Grunfeld’s willingness to assist T did not end there. Eventually, T was accepted as a doctoral candidate to another university’s Department of Economics. Even though she was no longer even associated with IU, Remak continued to advise and back her financially, serving as a guarantor who would cover a certain portion of her tuition if university funding or other means did not become available to T. Perhaps due to the financial and academic stress that her time at IU must have caused her, it seems that T did not end up continuing her higher education, at least during the span of this set of correspondence, which dates from 1982 to 1987. Rather, T seems to have found work on the east coast.

Letter from Remak to T in regards to the loan, 1987
In the last letter of this file, Remak responds to a thank you note sent from T in which she promised to someday repay Henry Remak for all that he had done for her. The response further illustrates Henry Remak’s generosity: “[R]epaying Fred and furthering your own continued education should be higher priorities for you than reimbursing us. Whenever you are in a position to repay us, we would like to donate at least half of the total sum. . . to an ‘Emergency Help for Foreign Students’ Fund [to be] set up here at Indiana University. . .” It’s not clear whether or not T ever fully repaid Fred Grunfeld or Henry Remak, but whether she did or not it is clear that Henry Remak was a man of remarkable character and kindness.