Crawford Papers

I did not immediately recall T. James Crawford from my high school years (yes, many years ago) but I certainly do remember his most  influential publication. As soon as I saw a copy of Century 21 Typewriting sitting in one of our archival boxes I immediately had flashbacks of my particularly vocal typing teacher calling out for my peers and I to watch our posture and directing us to repeat the various exercises until we had them down to perfection. For some this was a pleasant experience, but for those of us that had taught ourselves to type had to unlearn and learn the Crawford way. I never thought much about the individuals behind the book, but I must say what typing skills I have today, I owe to late IU professor T. James Crawford.

 Basic advice on proper typing from Crawford’s  Century 21 Typewriting

Crawford first came to Indiana University in 1942. The United States was at this point completely immersed in the Second World War and he came to assist with organizing the U.S. Naval Training School that was being developed in support of the war effort. During the short time that he was here he became the supervisor of instruction in the U.S. Navy School for Yeomen and Storekeepers as well as assisted with the development of the program for the first group of WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

Crawford himself was called to active duty as a supply officer for a Seabee battalion, a type of militarized construction force for the Navy, in the South Pacific. Not long after the war, in 1946, Crawford again returned to Indiana University, this time to stay. He began as a faculty lecturer in the School of Business and later become chairman of the Department of Administrative Systems and Business Education. He held this position for an impressive 15 years.

 A very welcoming article from the IDS for the newly arrived Professor Crawford.

During the late 1950s, Crawford, like many others, believed that television could play a key role in education. Crawford is habitually referred to as a pioneer in teaching on television. For some years Professor Crawford produced and taught on educational programs for both commercial and educational TV networks. The charismatic Crawford taught both shorthand and typing but it is his typing that he is best remembered as many homes had a typewriter in them and people had a desire to use them effectively.

A ‘Fan’ letter for Crawford’s instructional television show in 1957.

An undated article writing about the success of Crawford’s instructional program.

Because of his interest in students and his dedication to instruction Professor Crawford was selected as one of the 10 professors who had most influenced student lives. Eventually, he retired in the spring of 1987 and remained in Bloomington until his death in August of 2000.

The Crawford collection holds his correspondence, teaching materials and publications (which of course includes a fine copy of the Century 21 Typewriting). Contact the Archives if you would like further information about this or any of its holdings!

Literary societies flex their muscle

Hot on the heels of Alison’s recent blog post about the 19th century Indiana University literary societies and student Homer Wheeler, I bring you another small collection – of just a single letter, in fact – which provides us with a peek into a major incident in the history of the organizations and student freedom.

Of unknown provenance, we hold a letter student Bartholomew H. Burrell wrote to Mortimore Crabb, of his hometown of Brownstown, Indiana, on February 5, 1864. In it, Burrell letter to Crabb, 1864Burrell relays to Crabb the troubles the campus literary societies, the Athenians and Philomatheans, were having with university administration over the level of control administration wanted to wield over the groups. Historically, the literary society halls were places where students could, within bounds, feel free to express themselves. However, due to a series of incidents the Board of Trustees became involved and adopted resolutions that placed restrictions on the group, including the requirement that the faculty were to approve any outside speakers the students wished to bring in.

This happened at a time in higher education when the idea of in loco parentis – “in place of a parent” – was firmly in place. That is, in the absence of parents, university faculty and administrators were expected to make decisions that were considered to be in the best interest of the the students. That being the case, it was not unheard of that university administrators sought to place restrictions on the students. What was unusual in this case was the response of the students.

Members of the literary societies objected vehemently to the Trustees resolutions – of which the exact wording is unknown, as Trustees minutes spanning 1859-1883 were lost in the 1883 fire. They argued their charters came directly from the Legislature and as such, their activities were outside the realm of the administrators. December 18, 1863, the Philomatheans sent a list of resolutions to the faculty, which included this strong statement, “We deem it our duty to treat with respect any recommendations or requests made by those who have control over us as student of the University, and whose duty it is to labor for our interests, but that we respectfully ask them to respect our rights….” The record indicates the faculty discussed the Philo’s resolutions before firing back with their own resolutions which stated, in a nutshell, that they did not believe the Legislature ever intended the charters to supersede the authority of the faculty and administration.

With seemingly indefatigable determination, the students continued the fight and talked about moving off campus, dissolving and forming new groups, etc. The nearly year long fight came to a head on February 5, 1864 – the same date of Burrell’s letter – when a small group of Athenians “broke” into Athenian Hall to hold its regularly scheduled meeting. Charges of trespassing, forcible and unlawful entry, and riot (and stealing oil to heat the room during the meeting!) were brought against those involved.

As with the other Society members, Burrell is called in front of the faculty to state whether or not he would accept the terms of the Trustees.

This first important fight of student rights is painstakingly documented in the faculty minute books. While the students finally acquiesced, they had the last word. Following the rules set in place, they did put forth the name of their invited Commencement speaker – one William Mitchell Daily, former IU President. Would seem a good choice, yes? It probably would be, if not for the fact that Daily had resigned from the presidency in 1859 amidst a scandal and upon his departure, called the faculty “a set of pusillanimous, narrow-minded bigots.” The faculty discussed this choice and upon learning the Societies had already informed Dr. Daily of their decision, they approved his visit. “But,” they wrote,

they think it their duty to call your attention to the fact that in future a compliance with the Ordinances of the Board of Trustees will require that you should send in the name or names for approval before sending out the notice and they consider that it would be yet better, and would save all parties trouble, if you would hand in a list of names for approval before proceeding elections.

For more information on the 19th century literary societies, please see our online exhibition “IU Student Life and Culture in the 19th Century.” To read more about this particular incident, see Thomas Clark’s Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, Volume 1. And finally, keep an eye out, the Digital Library Program is currently scanning the entirety of the Faculty minutes, which spans 1835-1964 and includes details of this moment on IU history!

New! Homer Wheeler papers, 1844-1846

Ever stop to imagine what student life at Indiana University would be like without college sports and hundreds of extra-curricular student organizations? That was the reality faced by students in the 1840s. With fraternities only beginning to appear and no organized athletic program, student extra-curricular life revolved around academic pursuits. Two of the largest and most popular extra-curricular organizations were the literary Philomathean and the Athenian societies which were the center of student social life from the mid to late 19th century.

Philomathean Society Exhibition Program from March 24, 1845. It features the speech Homer Wheeler mentions in his letter to his brother.
These two rival organizations acted as students’ primary social outlet, performing many of the functions later fulfilled by fraternities. By the 1850s, they dominated student social and intellectual life. The purpose of these literary societies was to give students practice in public speaking and writing through orations, essays, and debates. The societies held public events and contests in which members would read or recite their works, which often revolved around literature, classical studies, music, philosophy, politics, or current events. Excelling in these events was considered a great honor, and winners were often well-known and respected by students and faculty. Speakers from these societies were chosen to speak at Commencement and other campus functions, such as celebrations and exhibitions, with the University President often heading the procession. With the emergence and popularity of Greek fraternities, as well as the increase in more specialized clubs and student organizations, participation in these literary societies declined in the late 19th century. Membership began dwindling in the 1880s, and these organizations were listed in the University Catalog for the last time in 1893.

Letter to Homer's brother Maro dated March 26, 1845.
Letter to Homer’s brother Maro dated March 26, 1845.
Homer Wheeler, an Indiana University student from 1844-1846, was a member of the Philomathean Society. In a letter to his brother Maro dated March 26, 1845, Homer describes his successful performance at a Philomathean Exhibition and explains the notoriety it gave him across campus. The following excerpt describes his experience:

“The exhibition of the Philomathean Society took place last monday [sic] evening and came off with thundering applause, and is acknowledged to be the best performance that was ever had in the rostrum of the Indian[a] University, and (confidentially) Maro I won many Laurels that night, after your old sort in White Pigeon. You will see by the scheme which I send you that I closed the performance. When I took my seat–the house jarred with stamping of feet.

1846 letter, page 2
Each member in the rostrum gave me his hand in token of aprobation [sic] of my speech. And president [sic] Wylie who sat in the stand with us also congratulated me very flatteringly. And after the audience was dismissed, the general inquiry went around the house, “Who is he”? I have lived very reserved since I have been here, and very few individuals unconnected with the college were acquainted with me:–but all know me now and faces almost strange call me “Mr Wheeler”…Last evening after the exhibition a chosen company proceeded to the house of professor Wylie where a table of the richest viands was served up by the professor and his wife. We spent the remainder of the evening and one hour of the morning very pleasantly, and then dispersed…You may think by this that I am getting to be a galant [sic]–but it is not so.
1845 letter, page 3
This is the first party that I have attended since I have been in Bloomington and till last night was unacquainted with every girl in town except one.”

Next time you’re cheering for your favorite Hoosier athlete or participating in a club activity, think about what it might have been like as a student 150 years ago.Instead of an athlete, you might be cheering for an orator, and instead of organizing a club event, you might be composing persuasive essays about current political issues. Interested in learning more about student life in the 19th century? Our small collection of Homer Wheeler’s letters have been digitized and are now available for viewing, along with other collections about early student life. Contact the IU Archives for more information.