The Student Religious Cabinet — a student organization concerned with overcoming religious and racial differences

The Student Religious Cabinet in 1949

If you are looking for insights into university life during the late 1930s through the early 1950s, the records of the Student Religious Cabinet will provide an interesting perspective. From its name, one might assume that the goal of the religious cabinet was a narrow one, but in fact this student organization was concerned with a variety of issues. From eliminating racial segregation to promoting collaboration among members of all religious denominations, the Student Religious Cabinet sought to do good works in their community and beyond by focusing on the commonalities between all people rather than the differences.

The Student Religious Cabinet was established as a result of Indiana University’s Committee on Religion. This committee had been formed by President Herman B Wells a year earlier in order to support and bring about collaborative efforts between all religious groups represented by the students and faculty of IU. The Executive Secretary for this committee, Frank O. Beck, helped to organize the Student Religious Cabinet and participated in many of the Cabinet’s meetings and activities. Initially, there were four main groups represented by both the University Committee on Religion and the Student Religious Cabinet: Catholicism, Judaism, Christian Science, and Protestantism. The primary goal was to include representatives on the Cabinet from all student religious organizations.

On October 2, 1938 the Student Religious Cabinet held their first meeting with thirteen students in attendance. They would continue to meet on the first Sunday of every month for breakfast, fellowship and business. Throughout the Cabinet’s years of activity (1938-1951), their roster grew to include around forty members and they became extremely active on campus, in the Bloomington community, and beyond. The Cabinet sponsored events to raise money for student refugees, wrote letters to protest discrimination toward African-American students at IU and at other universities, hosted peace rallies, bolstered morale during World War II, to name just a few of its endeavors.

In addition to hosting a variety of events and activities, the Student Religious Cabinet also maintained two weekly publications. The first publication was The Voice of Religion on Indiana University Campus. This single page newsletter was published weekly and announced events and activities hosted by the Cabinet. The other publication, The Campus Home Front, was for a more particular purpose, namely the war effort. Its goal was to build “war time morale on campus, thus aiding in winning the war and winning the peace.”

Our collection here at the archives includes the Student Religious Cabinet’s meeting notes from October 1938 through April 1951, as well as several issues of The Campus Home Front and a near complete run of The Voice spanning 1939-1947. These documents provide a unique and intriguing view into how university students from another time not only dealt with, but also tried to overcome issues of war, race and religion.

If you are interested in viewing this collection, good news! The IU Libraries Digital Projects and Services department has recently completed scanning the collection in its entirety and it is now available online! Contact the Archives for any questions!

A Pioneer of Science Fiction – C.L. Moore

It is always an interesting day interning in the University Archives – more and more I find pleasant surprises in the collections.  For science fiction fans like myself there is (until recently) an unknown treasure in the digital collection, three short fiction stories written by the American science fiction and fantasy writer C. L. Moore.  Written under her legal name Catherine Moore for the IU student publication The Vagabond (a collection of poetry, essays and fiction), these stories give a wonderful view of her emerging writing style. 

"Two Fantasies"
“Two Fantasies”
"Happily Ever After"
“Happily Ever After”






Thanks to a recent reference request, I began trying to find more information about Moore’s time while attending IU when she attended IU Bloomington because as is the case with many other successful authors, there is plenty of detail about her later achievements and writings, but not so much about the early days.  How did she get started? What did she write about?  What was her life like at that time?


Born in Indianapolis on January 24, 1911, as a child Moore did a lot of reading due to being frequently ill.  At the age of 18, she enrolled at Indiana University, attending three semesters from the fall of 1929 through the fall of 1930. Pictures of Memorial Hall where Moore resided give you a sense of what life was like for her here at that time.  No School of Music, no Jordan Hall or greenhouse crowding up alongside.  Part of that great stone wall still exists but the archway is gone.

Other images show the dining, living and dorm rooms where she lived, studied and wrote. Perhaps this is where some of her inspiration for the “Happily Ever After” story came from?

Memorial Hall003Memorial Hall001

However, before officially declaring a major,  she withdrew from the university due to the financial hardships of the Great Depression and returned to Indianapolis to work as a secretary.

In the 1930s and 40s,  she began publishing stories in pulp magazines like Weird Tales and Astounding Science-Fiction.  At the time the genre was dominated by male writers and if a woman wanted to be published she was forced to publish under a pseudonym that was either male or ambiguously gender neutral.

As an example of that mindset, Moore met her husband, Henry Kuttner – also a science fiction writer – in 1936 when he wrote her a fan letter thinking she was a man.  The couple were married in 1940.  Their writing collaboration under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett resulted in “Mimsy Were the Borogoves“, considered a must-read classic.  You may remember recently a movie that was released called the The Last Mimzy which was based upon this story. Later in their careers, the pair moved to California to study at the University of Southern California, where Moore graduated in 1956.  Sadly, following the death of her husband in 1958, Moore stopped writing fiction though she sometimes wrote scripts for television shows such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip and taught writing courses at USC.  When she remarried Thomas Reggie she stopped writing completely though she continued to be very much involved with the Tom and Terri Pinckard Science Fiction literary salon, contributing to literary discussions with other members such as Larry Niven (Ringworld) and George Clayton Johnson (Twilight Zone and Star Trek).  Moore died on April 4, 1987 in Hollywood, California, in her home.

If you’d like to read the article which resulted from this reference inquiry and learn more about C.L. Moore check out this recent article in Kirkus!

Love in another time…

Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought today would be perfect for delving into some of the “schmoopier” materials in our collection, which brought to mind our Avis Tarrant Burke papers. Avis, active within the IU Extension Division, was the wife of Fine Arts professor Robert E. Burke. Her papers reflect her life of travel and philanthropic endeavors through travel diaries, correspondence, and awards, but also included are papers passed on to Avis by her mother and namesake, Avis Booth.

This letter, written in 1858 by Cuban immigrant Andres Moynelo, is just one of 19 letters written to both Avis and her mother from August through December. All of them carry the same message – when will you love me, Avis? We do not have any of the letters Avis wrote to him, but his responses indicate that the 14 year old was just. not. interested. The last Moynelo letter in our collection, dated December 4, may very well have been his final correspondence with Avis, as the tone carries with it a touch of resignation.

Nevertheless, this letter, written early in his courtship of Avis, couldn’t be more appropriate for this day of love. Enjoy!

Stratford Aug 30th 1858

Avis beautiful and loved,

I am thinking that if you should not see me for one month, you would forget me, but my heart tells me that you shall be faithfull till the last moment of death.

I have sworn to be yours in preference to any other woman and if it is not so I shall be unfortunate all my life.

You are the girl that has inspired to me the most ardent love in the world and consequently you must be the girl that I shall love all my life.

I do not know wether [sic] you will love me or not. I do not know but that you have not told me that you love me, to see if I am constant, the time shall tell you that to you, if you love me you shall see me occupied in you, if you do no love me you will see me succumb to the tomb.

 I remain sobbing and thinking that I have but a few days longer to see you, but that is for a short time only, because if you are going to another place I shall go there for the pleasure of contemplating your beautifull [sic] form, which makes me suffer in such a manner.

Handsome Avis, I want you to tell me where you are going in November, the place, the street, and the number of the house for I want in December or in January to have the pleasure to see you.

I suplicate to you, that you tell me what directions I must have in the letters which I send to you.

I suplicate to you this, for to know of your health, and to show you that I will never forget you.

You will please excuse the faults what this contains.

Yours in hope,

Andres Moynelo

The Hesperian Society, IU’s First Literary Society for the Ladies

With such a mass of student organizations available to choose from on campus today, it is hard to imagine a time when the very first groups were established. As discussed previously on this blog, early popular student groups at Indiana University were literary societies which sought to give students the opportunity to develop critical thinking and oratory skills through debate and to establish a social identity on campus. Established in the 1830s, the two major IU literary societies were the Athenian and the Philomathean.

However, when the university accepted the first female student, Sarah Parke Morrison in 1869, male students balked at allowing women to join their organizations so the women set about to remedy the situation by establishing their own. In response, the Hesperian Society was established in 1870 to encourage the intellectual culture of women. With their first meeting on October 28, 1870 in Hesperian Hall, they quickly got down to business with their first debate: “Classes A and B debate, A affirm, and B, deny.  Question. ‘Resolved that a town or city is a better situation for a college than the country.'” The group continued to meet once a week, debating past and current issues such as whether the execution of Mary Queen of Scotts was unjust or if capital punishment should be abolished.

Lest you think it was all work and no play, it was popular for literary societies to host entertainment programs for the entire student body. The Hesperian Society hosted exhibitions and programs on campus, which included musical performers, oratory essays and poetry readings of local and out-of-town talent as well as an annual celebration honoring the groups founding on October 28th.

After nearly two decades of activity however, it seems that enrollment in the Hesperian Society was dwindling as the October 1887 issue of the Indiana Daily Student advertised the need for young ladies to join the society. It is assumed the group officially ceased in 1890.

Interested in learning more about the Hesperian Society? A finding aid for the small collection of records held by the Archives is now available!

Interested in the literary societies in general? There are several resources available to you! Search through Archives Online for literary societies – we hold several collections, including from the heavy hitters, the Philomathean and Athenian (the latter of which has been fully digitized!). Additionally, we have created an online exhibition on 19th century student life which, of course, discusses the literary societies!

As always, let us know if you have any questions!