Cold War Education – Howard D. Mehlinger

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Howard Mehlinger began his life-long career in the Indiana University School of Education in 1965. With an eye to research, his academic career focused on investigating social studies education practices and curriculum, rather than serve as a full-time educator himself.  In addition, he served as Dean of the School of Education from 1981 to 1989 and helped to establish the Center for Excellence in Education, of which he served as director beginning in 1993 and well into his retirement.  Among the various projects and areas he focused on, two subjects dominated his career.

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“Lessons Learned for Global Education Collaboration: Practical Knowledge Acquired from the US/USSR Textbook Study Project”

From 1977 until 1989, Dr. Mehlinger was heavily involved in what was named the US/USSR Textbook Study Project.  This project looked to compare the two nations and their interpretation of history as it was affected by nationalist and political sentiments of the time period and to work towards creating a more uniform, globalized representation of history.  Well represented in his papers, this portion of the collection includes reports, trip itineraries, notes on meetings with Soviet officials and scholars, ample correspondence, and speeches.  The reports and findings touch on issues such as curriculum, Perestroika, and the Ministry of Education, which IU had a particularly favorable relationship with at the time.  For Mehlinger and other researchers, the project came to a head when United States and Soviet relations eventually became too marred by the Soviet-Afghan War and the slow collapse of the communist government in the Soviet Union. While Mehlinger did not end the project entirely, his involvement with it tapered off in the early-to-mid 1990s.  However, he continued to research Russian education throughout his remaining tenure at IU and into his retirement.

Another area of study Professor Mehlinger focused on was technology in education.  This area of research became a major interest of his in the late 1980s and continued throughout his retirement in the 2000s as he became a private consultant for various advisory groups and school districts.  Of particular interest to him were long distance education, instruction, and communication using computers and two-way audio-visual devices.  Mehlinger worked to make IU a forerunner in educational technology through the use of technology in the classroom.  Mehlinger’s papers include numerous articles he wrote on the subject and reports he generated for various consulting positions.

To access Dr. Mehlinger’s papers or for further information, contact the staff at the Archives!

Throwback Thursday: A voice from 1939

In 2006, the Indiana Memorial Union gallery underwent major renovations, moving the IMU Outfitters and adding the Starbucks. In the midst of construction, workers came across a very interesting find inside one of the walls:

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The mice enjoyed snacking on this letter found in the IMU walls during a 2006 renovation and addressed to the Director of the Union Building.

Student Emerson K. Elkins worked as a page at the IMU Hotel as a student in the 1930s. On the morning of January 15, 1939, he apparently had a bit of downtime and decided to make his mark by shooting off a quick a letter and depositing it, along with a Coke bottle, hotel keys, and a few other various items into an open wall where renovations were taking place.

His letter, written in a chatty tone “for no particular reason,” gives some indication of what was on the mind of college student in 1939, which included Hitler, the World’s Fair, and Hollywood’s big news that finally! Scarlett O’Hara has been found in a Miss Vivien Leigh!

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When discovered, this local story generated interest throughout the country. Not much was known about Mr. Elkins until his niece stumbled across the story in the newspaper. She immediately contacted the University and filled in some gaps for her uncle’s alma mater (IDS story and here).

Before the walls closed, then-Public Relations Director for the Union Board, Emma Cullen, who had also served a page for the hotel, was asked to place her own time capsule for the next generation to uncover.

Indiana University, close?

Last updated March 16, 2020!

Note that not all of the dates below are actual full campus closures – some may just be class cancellations or changes in instruction (as with the spring 2020 COVID-19 response).


We oftentimes hear that the IUB campus “never” closes. It’s true that it is not very common, but below are a list of closings we know about in the last hundred years or so. We know that IU closed in 1833 due to a cholera outbreak – look for a post about that at a later date! We also know that there were likely short-term closures due to water shortages in the 19th and early 20th century but we don’t have a handy list of those dates at this time. Again, something to dig into!

  • February 3, 1908: No heat in the buildings.
  • February 5, 1908: Classes dismissed early due to heavy snow fall and rain.
  • Most of October 1918: Closed by order of the Indiana Board of Health due to the “Spanish Flu”; classes resumed November 4.
  • November 25, 1963: Classes cancelled and offices closed due to Kennedy assassination.
  • January 26-27, 1978: Due to the Blizzard of ’78.
  • March 4-27, 1978: Due to coal shortage.
  • January 18-19, 1994: Due to record low temperatures (-34F).
  • March 20, 1996: Due to 10+ inches of wet, heavy snow.
  • February 14, 2007: Closed til noon due to heavy snow.
  • January 28, 2009: Closed due to snow.
  • December 26, 2012: Closed due to severe winter weather.
  • January 5-7, 2014: Closed beginning 9 PM January 5 through 5 PM January 7 due to a Polar Vortex. Classes were not yet in session and while harsh winter weather throughout the next month had folks hoping for additional closures, that did not occur.
  • January 30, 2019: Classes cancelled due to severe cold, with wind chills predicted to drop as low as -33. Campus remains open.
  • March 10, 2020: University announces all “face-to-face classroom teaching temporarily suspended” following spring break, from March 23-April 5, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The IU community is asked to stay tuned for further announcements due to the rapidly evolving situation. Campus remains open but staff who can are encouraged to work from home.
  • March 15, 2020: University extends virtual instruction through the end of the semester and notifies students instructions regarding dorm move-out will be forthcoming. Campus remains open but staff who can are encouraged to work from home.


During the 1978 Blizzard, hearty IUB staff members who made their way in could be nominated for an “Icicle Award.”

1978 Icicle Award
1978 Icicle Award

Twenty two employees received this award, including 60 year old Willkie cafeteria employee Minnie Carmichael, who walked 20 blocks with a strained ankle so that “her students would be greeted with her smiling face.”

The Henry H. H. Remak Collection has been processed!

Over two years ago I started processing the papers of Professor Emeritus Henry H. H. Remak. Now his papers are available for research! Before telling you more about the collection, let me tell you a little about Professor Remak himself.

Who was Henry H. H. Remak?

Photo courtesy Tyagan Miller, Heartland Photography

Henry H. H. Remak was born a German Jew in Berlin on July 27, 1916. In 1936, Remak came to the United States on an international YMCA scholarship that provided funding for young Jewish refugee scholars. IU Bloomington’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu, a fraternity with strong Jewish ties, sponsored Remak upon his arrival to the United States. Remak eventually attained a master’s degree from IU in 1937. After receiving his PhD from the University of Chicago, he returned to IU as a full-time professor for the Department of German in 1948. From there, Remak went on to play an instrumental role in the founding of two other departments with which he would remain actively involved – the Department of Comparative Literature and West European Studies founded in 1949 and 1966, respectively. He would serve as chairman for the Department of German during the summer of 1962, for the Department of Comparative Literature intermittently between 1954 and 1963, and for West European Studies from 1966-1969. Another administrative role that Remak filled during his tenure at IU was as Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties from 1969-1974.

Though Remak officially retired from IU in 1987, he remained active at the university. For one, Remak volunteered to teach undergraduate honors courses from 1987 until his health began to fail in 2005. Additionally, it was following his official retirement that Remak was appointed director of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1988-1994 and again as interim director from 1997-1998.

In addition to his active involvement as a teacher and administrator, Remak was also a prolific scholar in the field of comparative literature. As such, he published numerous articles, chapters and books on a variety of topics including the modern German novel and novella, the history and principles of Comparative Literature as a discipline, Franco-German literary and cultural relations, European Romanticism, German and European Realism, and student movements and countercultures of the 1960s and 1970s.

Throughout his life, Remak was committed to serving IU and the Bloomington community at large. As testament to his exemplary services as a teacher, administrator, and scholar Remak received a number of awards including the Lieber Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1962; IU’s Distinguished Service Award in 1987; and the prestigious statewide Sagamore of the Wabash; to name just a few examples. Professor Remak passed away on February 12, 2009.

The Collection

The collection – comprised of 73 boxes – contains papers spanning the years 1914 to 2010. It is organized into the following series: Administrative; Teaching; Research and publications; Professional activities; Correspondence; and Chronological. While it would be difficult to address all of the interesting facets of this collection, I will outline a few highlights that make these papers truly unique:

Letter from student. "Making trails and moving and feeling the Earth beneath us is what life is about--you, Professor, leave humble footprints wherever you go, whether running, playing tennis, or teaching."
Letter from student. “Making trails and moving and feeling the Earth beneath us is what life is about–you, Professor, leave humble footprints wherever you go, whether running, playing tennis, or teaching.”

Remak’s correspondence: For Remak, writing correspondence was an art. Whether to current or former students, university faculty and administrators, or scholars from around the world, Remak’s letters were eloquent expressions of his keen wit, charm, and energetic personality. I was constantly impressed by the sheer effort that Remak placed into his relationships with others, as evidenced by his correspondence. The collection contains a plethora of student files filled with letters that trace the path of young undergraduates into their lives beyond school – getting jobs, having families, perhaps becoming professors themselves. Remak’s correspondence is also reflective of the many changes that have taken place at IU, and the individuals responsible for those changes, which brings me to my next highlight.

A glimpse into 68 years of IU’s history: From the year Remak completed his master’s degree in 1937, to his final year teaching in 2005 – Remak spent roughly 68 years of his life being involved with IU, in some form or another. That’s nearly 1/3 of the time that IU has existed as an institution. As such, this collection reveals much about IU’s history. To provide just a few examples, there are materials pertaining to Alfred Kinsey and the founding of the Kinsey Institute; correspondence and clippings on Bobby Knight’s controversial firing from IU; correspondence between Remak and Herman B Wells; and clippings, research notes, and course materials pertaining to Remak’s interest in the student revolts and faculty unrest of the 1960s and 1970s. Remak’s interest in the latter extended beyond IU to student revolts and faculty unrest in other parts of the United States and the world, bringing me to my next point.

The teaching and research files provide evidence that Remak continually brought the world to IU and IU to the world: Remak’s prodigious research and constant involvement in communities of both domestic and international scholars allowed him to educate generations of IUs students on a variety of global topics such as “Masterpieces of German Literature,” “The Age of Goethe,” “Franco-German Literary and Cultural Relations,” “Student Movements in Western Europe and the United States,” to name a few. The collection contains dozens of Remak’s course syllabi, lesson plans, and materials on these and other topics. In addition to bringing the world to IU, Remak also helped IU students make connections abroad. Files detailing Remak’s involvement with several study abroad programs are contained within the collection. Lastly, many of Remak’s research notes, monograph and article drafts, as well as conference presentation papers are available in this collection, serving as yet another example of Professor Remak’s dedication to his domestic and international scholarly communities.

It is obvious from the paper trail he left behind that Henry H. H. Remak was well-loved by just about everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him. Though I cannot count myself among those lucky enough to have met him in person, I feel like I have come to know him well. In me, Remak has gained yet another admirer, and I am sure that anyone else who has the chance to peruse this collection will be as easily charmed.

For more information, please contact the IU Archives.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful staff at the Archives for making my time as a processor there an enjoyable and educational experience! In particular, Dina Kellams, who was my supervisor, and Phil Bantin both encouraged and assisted me in many ways while I had the pleasure of working for them.