The Rust Belt knows how to remember

The writer David Giffels suggests that living in the postindustrial Midwest means making peace with loss. This idea is so important to him that he titled his 2014 book after it. The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt chronicles the plight of finding steady work and personal satisfaction in his native Akron, Ohio, a place known as The Rubber City despite having lost its manufacturing base almost totally over the past three decades.

In conditions like this, Giffels explains, it is easy to lose hope. Yet the residents of Akron and cities like it (for example, Toledo of the glass, Pittsburgh of the steel, and Detroit of the automobile) trudge forward where a less hardy breed might have given up long ago. Giffels describes their stick-to-itiveness as a sense of abiding confidence; “something that allows us to coolly intone, ‘It’s a Rust Belt thing. You wouldn’t understand.'”

Barbara Yant speaks to an IU film crew at the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana.

One way of holding on to optimism in hard times is to pull the greatness of the past into some form of public display in the present. The people of Auburn, Indiana, are masters at this. Their Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival is an annual celebration of local automotive history, and it is a benchmark on the civic calendar. Every August, crowds in the hundreds of thousands travel to Auburn to admire the classic cars–the Cord, the Duesenberg, and the namesake Auburn–that were manufactured there in the early twentieth century. Though the factories are gone now, their sleek products remain the showpieces of the festival’s parade and car shows.

A new collection from University Archives and Records Management focuses on the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival. These materials include photographs, publicity materials, and a copy of the 1982 documentary Classics Come Home: Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, which was a collaboration of the Indiana University Folklore Institute and Radio and Television Services.

“Classics Come Home: Auburn, Cord Duesenberg” aired on WTIU Bloomington in 1982.

While this is somewhat standard fare overall, it is unique among the folklore resources made available by the Archives so far this year. Previous collections have been international in scope, as with the study focusing on Hungarians in the United States, or the investigation of Spanish folk poetry in South America. The project at hand does not wander so far afield. The city of Auburn, just north of Fort Wayne, is in the Folklore Institute’s back yard. It is not exotic to those of us who grew up in the Midwest. To the rest of the world, however, Auburn’s celebration of automotive heritage illustrates the unique local devotion to a revered past. By alluding to a common history, the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival helps to establish a sense of community identity when factory work no longer defines what most people do with their everyday lives. This is precisely what folklorists mean when they use the word heritage. It is the commemoration of yesterday through exhibition, re-enactment, or pageantry today.

I understand the desire of the people of Auburn. Growing up in a town not far from Akron, I watched each year as a group of festival organizers erected and lit a 18-foot, gas-fueled kitchen match on the town square. The effigy, kept burning for one week every June, commemorated the local match factory whose early-twentieth-century heyday gave our town its cultural emblem. (Do you happen to remember Ohio Blue Tip Matches? That was us!)

My tongue is only partly in cheek as I share these memories. I see how easy it might be to take potshots at Midwesterners. With the economy being what it is, we would sanctify a distributor cap if it gave us a reason to feel good about where we’re from. “Give us something to root for,” Giffels writes. “We’ll take anything.”

At the same time, I value any attempt to connect with locality. To inhabit a place, perhaps, is to have a dwelling, a commute, and a social network. Yet to live in a place–a much more nourishing proposition–is to have a home, a handful of shortcuts, and dear friends. Annual festivals are handy tools for framing and encouraging community life of this kind. Such forms of heritage make us feel like we belong somewhere. They colorfully articulate our shared culture, and they remind us to pay attention to what is local, lest we miss out on the common ground beneath our feet.

The finding aid for the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Festival project records is now online. For access to the collection, call or email the Archives at (812) 855-1127 or

Artistic Legacy of Sculptor Jean-Paul Darriau Lives on in Bloomington

Although you many not know Jean-Paul Darriau’s name, if you live in Bloomington, you have likely seen his work.

Darriau, Associate Professor of Sculpture at IU from 1961-1996, earned his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota in 1954. He received two Fulbright grants, which allowed him to spend two years working in bronze casting techniques at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence and the Guastini Foundry in Pistoria. During his career, his work was presented nationally and internationally at museums such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Joseph Hirschorn Collection in Washington, D.C. Several of those repositories, including the Indiana University Art Museum, retain examples of his sculpture as part of their permanent collections.

Today, Darriau’s art remains on display in Bloomington. Cast in bronze in 1965, “The Space Between: Adam and Eve” (seen below) is situated at the edge of Dunn Woods just behind Kirkwood Hall on the IU campus.  In May 2011, a storm with severe winds damaged both figures. Their pedestals shifted, and a fallen tree limb caused a dent in Adam’s head. The figures were restored in 2012.

Titled “The Space Between: Adam and Eve,” the sculptures are located on IU’s Bloomington campus.
Clay model of “Adam” and “Eve” before being cast into bronze.











A second piece “Red, Blond, Black, and Olive,” consisting of two 11-ton slabs of limestone carved with faces depicting the racial diversity in Bloomington, resides on the city’s Northside in Miller-Showers Park.

________ examines the partially completed sculpture.
Miller examines the partially completed sculpture.

According to the City of Bloomington, the sculpture was chosen through a competition judged by a committee of artists, businessmen, Bloomington citizens and Mayor Francis X. McCloskey. It is considered the initial achievement of Bloomington’s Community Arts Commission. After being situated in the center of Miller-Showers Park for 22 years, “Red, Blonde, Black and Olive” was relocated to its current plaza in 2002.

The City’s website explains the significance of the piece:

The finishing touches are added to sculpture, which today sits at the north end of Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.
The finishing touches are added to sculpture, which today sits at the north end of Miller-Showers Park in Bloomington.

Aptly representing the diverse population of Bloomington, the two statues have four faces between them. Each face features a different major world race. Viewed from one side, the faces of an Asiatic woman and African woman stare at each other. An Indian man and Nordic man are face-to-face on the other side. The piece is meant to promote and celebrate communication across racial lines, and work towards universal understanding among people. The gap between the two columns is as important as the faces themselves. It is the space where conversation takes place, people come together and truths are revealed.

Darriau’s papers, housed in the University Archives, contain his published articles and correspondence as well as two boxes of photographs and slides with extensive images documenting his work, exhibitions, as well as his travels. All of the photographs in this post come from the collection.



Effa Funk Muhse: First Woman Ph.D. at Indiana University

Effa Funk Muhse
Effa Funk Muhse

Effa Funk Muhse made history by being the first woman Ph.D. student at Indiana University. Born on June 19, 1877 in Blachleyville, Ohio, she and parents Laban and Eliza (Bair) Funk, moved to Hebron, Indiana in the 1890s, where Effa later graduated from Hebron High School in 1894. She attended the Northern Indiana Normal College (now Valparaiso University) until 1896, when she left to begin teaching in the public schools of Indiana. On August 12, 1899, Funk married Albert Charles Muhse, and soon thereafter enrolled at Indiana University under the name “Funk Muhse” in September 1900.

During the summer of 1902 she was named a fellow at the IU Biological Field Station on Winona Lake in Warsaw, IN. There she taught embryology, histology and histogenesis. She went on to receive all of her degrees in zoology from IU, earning her A.B. in 1903; her A.M. in 1906; and her Ph.D. in 1908. Her husband would receive degrees in economics from IU in 1901 and 1902.

Effa Funk Muhse, "Heredity and Problems in Eugenics" 1912
Effa Funk Muhse, “Heredity and Problems in Eugenics” 1912

Conferral of Muhse’s 1908 zoology degree gave her the distinction of being the first woman at IU to receive a Ph.D. The title of her dissertation was The Cutaneous Glands of the Common Toad and was published in the May 1909 issue of the American Journal of Anatomy. Muhse’s dissertation refuted others research that said common toads had several different types of glands. She showed that the glands were all of the same type – just in different stages of development. She began her research on this paper at Cornell University where her husband had been given a fellowship. She returned to IU during the 1907-1908 school year to accept a fellowship and to teach while finishing her dissertation under the direction and advisement of Professors Carl Eigenmann and Charles Zeleny.

After obtaining her Ph.D., Muhse was interested in teaching, but found it difficult to find a position that accepted married women. Instead, she began teaching on lecture circuits, giving her attention “…more especially to questions of public health and to general biological questions.” She decided to settle in Washington, D.C., and gave public lectures at clubs near her home there, as well as around the country and in China. Hoping to return to the state of Indiana to teach, Muhse contacted IU President William Lowe Bryan in October 1911 with a list of topics to which she could speak. Lectures she offered for 1912 included “Heredity and Problems in Eugenics,” “Insects as Agents in Plant Fertilization,” “Non-contagious Diseases: Deafness, Adenoids and Nervous Troubles,” “The Food of Schoolchildren,” and “The School as a Center of Sanitary and Health Work in the Community.” During these years she became a pioneer lecturer on the Mendelian Laws of Heredity, on rural sanitation, and eugenics.

Laboratory Notes and Drawings
Laboratory Notes and Drawings, undated
Laboratory Notes and Drawings
Laboratory Notes and Drawings, undated







While in Washington, D.C., Muhse became involved in women’s suffrage, becoming a member of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), founded by Alice Paul. In 1917, Muhse was sent to Idaho, Pennsylvania and Chicago to help organize the NWP. Reflecting upon this work in an interview with the Indiana Alumni Magazine in 1963, she said she still urged “…women to ‘continue the struggle for equal rights.’ She believed that the greatest change in the role of the woman…came with the right to vote. At the same time, she felt that rearing families is still the most important work of today’s women, putting ‘minor office jobs’ a poor second.”

Drawings of Cells on Cards
Drawings of Cells on Cards, undated
Drawings of Cells on Cards
Drawings of Cells on Cards, undated










Between 1921 and 1927, Muhse began teaching at several institutions, two of which were the National Park Seminary and the Colonial School for Girls. In the fall of 1927, she became the head of the Biology Department at Chevy Chase Junior College in Washington, D.C. and continued to teach there for 21 years, substantially increasing the enrollment of young women in biology classes, as well as throughout the field.

During her lifetime she was a member of the Eugenics Education Society of London; American Association for the Advancement of Science; Phi Beta Kappa; Sigma Xi; the National Woman’s Party; and the Twentieth Century Club of Washington, D.C. Her favorite hobbies were drafting house plans and carpentry. Muhse died on February 27, 1968.

Those interested in learning more about Effa Funk Muhse and her academic publications should feel free to contact the Indiana University Archives for assistance!


Toyoaki Uehara: Unboxing 38 Years of Correspondence (Part 3)

This is the final installment of a series of posts intern Jeannine has written about her work on the late Toyoaki Uehara papers. See also Part 1 and Part 2

There are so many interesting items tucked in among the Toyoaki Uehara correspondence files that it is almost a shame to only post images of a few.  Having gained “pen pals” from around the world, Uehara consequently received numerous cards from people who just wanted to keep in touch.  Amongst the usual Christmas greetings, standard birthday wishes, and humorous cartoon postcards are a few gems, hand-printed objects both colorful and beautiful, representing art and craft from various countries.  Some are simple, such as the postcard embossed with a Japanese scene and highlighted in watercolor.

Kiyumizu Temple, embossed watercolor postcard,  1962.

Others are more complex and detailed, like the small but lovely greeting card showing an image of a waterfall (left). Created using Japanese woodblock printing  techniques, these images are refined over a series of stages as different colors are added.  Time-consuming to make, quality woodblock prints are true works of art. There are several examples of this kind of work within the collection.

Waterfall, woodblock print on cardstock, ca. 1972.

Another intriguing item is the pipal leaf skeleton painting from India.  The pipal (also spelled peepal, peepul or pippal) tree holds special significance in Indian mythology, and is sometimes known as the Bodhi tree.  Its leaves are frequently skeletonized and painted, and the images framed or attached to greeting cards and bookmarks.  Typically paintings include particular themes, such as figures from Hindu mythology, animals, and scenery.  These leaf skeletons are exceptionally delicate, and this particular example has held up very well considering how it was stored, fully intact and retaining its original vibrant colors.

Man harvesting, pipal leaf painting on cardstock, ca. 1970.

I also discovered a beautifully detailed and gorgeously colored wood postcard depicting a scene on a Japanese river.   The vibrant red stamps on the reverse side are equally crisp and attractive.  Postcards made out of wood became popular during the 1950s and 60s, and vintage American cards are easily come by.  Size, style, thickness and quality vary widely, as do the themes of the designs.  This lovely example has been carefully rendered onto a shaving of wood barely thicker than a piece of paper, fragile to the point of brittleness, that somehow made it safely to the United States via airmail in 1969!


Some items are more humorous and have a great amount of personal charm.  22 For me, the nicest ones are the letters and cards from Dr. Uehara’s son, Osamu.  One charming piece is a brief letter that includes a drawing and some dialogue from a little story titled “Grettings (Greetings) from the Sea.”  This is probably the most elaborate example we have from Osamu, and it seems like perhaps he was trying to impress with his excellent storytelling abilities.

In the image below, one of several examples of ink drawings from the same correspondent, two crying bunnies on the hill seem sad to see the O’Brien family go, and drawn in on the trailer among the books and “sweet memories” are “hickory nuts” and “black walnuts.”  Though we will likely never know the specific significance of these little details, it’s nice to think that this sweet drawing made Dr. Uehara and his family smile when it was received.

Christmas greeting. Ink and watercolor on cardstock, 1971.

Well, this marks the final chapter of my Uehara experience.  Thirty-eight years and sixty-six total folders of correspondence are now behind me.  I hope our blog readers have enjoyed following along on my journey with this rich and varied collection!  While my internship is up, I will be continuing to work in the archives as I complete my coursework so I look forward to more adventures with you!

Description and arrangement of the Uehara papers will get wrapped up in the next few months and the finding aid added to ArchivesOnline. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any other Archives collection, please contact the Archives staff!