New collection! Union Board records, 1912-2010

Indiana University boasts a diverse, active student body with more than seven hundred registered student organizations on the Bloomington campus. Despite outreach efforts, many student groups are not officially represented in the Indiana University Archives at present. The Union Board, the governing body of the Indiana Memorial Union and the largest student programming group on campus, is one exception.

A newspaper clipping which depicts a minstrel serenading a table of diners at the Union Board sponsored Madrigal Dinner, 1965. The Madrigal Dinners were extravagant annual productions on the IU campus from 1947-2001.

The Union Board records at the IU Archives, which span the years from 1912-2010 (bulk 1922-2010), represent rich documentation of student-led initiatives and activities at Indiana University throughout most of the group’s hundred-plus year history. Materials–including meeting minutes, other administrative documents, group sponsored publications, records from various programs and events, and a number of videocassette recordings–are described online and available to researchers in the Archives’ reading room with advance notice. In addition, the minutes from the Union Board records are slated for digitization in the coming months, thus researchers near and far will have access to nine decades of administrative decisions, which offer a unique, student-oriented perspective on Indiana University history.

John Whittenberger, student and founder of the Union Board, 1909

The Union Board was originally organized by John M. Whittenberger in 1909 as an organization that would “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.” Founding members included male students and two individuals in advisory positions, including University President William L. Bryan. In its early years, the male-only group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall before construction of the Indiana Memorial Union building was completed in 1932. In 1952, women were first admitted to the Union Board following a merger with the Association of Women Students.

A promotional photograph of British rock band Jethro Tull. The band played a concert sponsored by the Union Board on October 31, 1975

Over time, the Union Board grew to consist of a governing body including an elected student Executive Team and group of student Committee Directors. As of 2011, the Union Board supported thirteen active programming committees overseen by three executive team members, making a combined total of sixteen student positions, all of whom work in tangent with Staff Advisors, Faculty and Alumni Representatives, and the Executive Director of the Indiana Memorial Union.

A publicity photograph of acclaimed author and poet Maya Angelou, who lectured at a Union Board sponsored program on April 11, 2001


The goal of the Union Board is to serve students, faculty, alumni and the greater IU Bloomington community through a diverse range of events, activities, and programs. Major recurring activity initiatives organized by the Union Board include film screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, comedy shows, lectures, debates, the publication of Canvas arts magazine, Live From Bloomington local music programming, holiday Madrigal Dinner performances, and a variety of international and culturally oriented events, many of which are documented in the Union Board records. From rock concerts to lectures by worldwide diplomats, the collection has much to offer in terms of gauging student interests and trends throughout the years. Contact the University Archives if you are interested in further exploring IU’s history through the Union Board records!

Furthermore: Are you a student or faculty sponsor involved with a registered student organization here at Indiana University? Do you want your own organization’s work and influence on campus, however great or small, to play a role in documenting the history of student life at Indiana University? Do you have an abundance of files left over from past officers that you’re not sure what to do with? If you answered “Yes!” or even “hmm… maybe…” to any of these questions, contact the University Archives to learn more about the possibility of depositing your records!

The Dream of an Indiana University Outdoor Museum of Early Indiana Life

Many readers are likely familiar with open air and living history museums. Here in Indiana, for example, school groups and the general public visit attractions such as Conner Prairie, Historic Prophetstown, and the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park to learn about lifeways and folk traditions of the past in recreated farmsteads, towns, or villages. However, did you know that Indiana University once had ambitious plans to erect its own open air museum near the Bloomington campus? Here at the Indiana University Archives, you are welcome to stop by and dig through the Warren E. Roberts papers, fully processed in 2010, to learn more about Roberts’ proposed “Outdoor Museum of Early Indiana Life” or “Pioneer Village.”

"Indiana University Outdoor Museum of Early Indiana Life," interior of publicity pamphlet created during the late planning stages for Warren E. Robert's intended museum, undated, circa 1976

Warren E. Roberts, born in Maine in 1924, first came to Indiana University in 1948 to study for his M.A. in English, which he received in 1950. After redefining his academic interests, Roberts next chose to work towards his PhD in Folklore and finished in 1953, which made him the first individual in the United States to earn a PhD in this field of study. Over the next several decades, Roberts immersed himself in his studies and effectively helped to found the study of folklore and material culture as it exists in the United States. His research interests and accomplishments far exceed the limits of this blog post, though it is worth focusing on one of his most influential efforts in terms of Indiana University’s history–his research concerning traditional Indiana culture.

Exterior view of the Waggoner Farm House, a building intended for inclusion in the Indiana University Outdoor Museum, 1966

During his time spent studying in Norway courtesy of a Fulbright Award, Roberts developed an interest in open air museums, first conceived in Norway in the late 1880s, which feature vernacular architecture and material culture to educate museum-goers on past lifeways. Upon his return to the United States, Roberts sought to evoke a similar experience with the goal of preserving and enlivening traditional lifeways of nineteenth century Indiana settlers, thus educating modern locals and visitors on “the old traditional way of life.”

Interior view of Albert Hickey House prior to dismantling, anticipated to be included in the Indiana University Outdoor Museum, 1968-1969

Roberts surveyed south central Indiana in search of buildings which embodied the rural architectural traditions of the region, with the hope of finding structures to include in an eventual museum. With support of Indiana University administration, he visited, photographed, and took notes on over 700 log buildings to learn traditional aesthetics. Over the course of his survey, he acquired a number buildings through donations or at a low cost, which were deconstructed and stored awaiting funding to bring the Museum’s plans to fruition. Modest log village homes, a church, a doctor’s office, a general country store, and farm buildings–all furnished with period pieces and tools–were planned for the museum, as was a general visitor’s center. Unfortunately for Roberts, widespread enthusiasm for the project waned by the mid-1970s, and with it the chance for sufficient financial support.

Detailed architectural drawing to ensure appropriate reconstruction of building dismantled and planned for reassembly within proposed Outdoor Museum, Albert Hickey House, 1968-1969

Now in 2011, only the memory of Robert’s Museum of Early Indiana Life remains, along with his various photographs, notes, pamphlets, architectural drawings, and correspondence preserved at the IU Archives. Through Robert’s papers, one may explore his local Indiana research in support of the Museum, most of which he pursued in the 1960s-1970s. Extensive records on covered bridges and log cabin buildings, as well as materials documenting interactions with open air museums established throughout the United States and Europe, make it possible to envision the reaches of Robert’s aspirations. Furthermore, the Indiana University Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology maintains a website where users can explore a virtual version of Warren Roberts’ Museum of Early Indiana Life through photographs, drawings, and historic summaries. It certainly doesn’t create the enveloping experience of Roberts’ dreams, but it does lend an insightful perspective for a rainy day.

Waldo Lee McAtee papers: An Ornithologist in the Making

While Waldo Lee McAtee may not be a household name, the man established quite a renown in the ornithological–or bird science–community over the course of his lifetime. McAtee spent the the majority of his career, more than thirty years, as an employee for the Bureau of Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Washington, D.C., where he focused on birds and their feeding habits. His trail of accomplishments is long, including widespread involvement in professional associations, scientific publishing, influence in establishing many of the U.S. bird protection laws which exist today, and more. Overall, McAtee was a dedicated advocate for Wildlife management and awareness, and he got his start right here at Indiana University! The IU Archives even has the papers to prove it.

Laboratory notes on various birds accompanied by the faint pencil sketch of a bird at top, Waldo L. McAtee's coursework, 1900-1905

McAtee came to Indiana University in 1900 to study Biology and Zoology, earning his A.B. in 1904 and A.M. in 1906. He was a dedicated student and immersed himself in his topics of study, classifying specimens as curator for the I.U. Zoological Museum and teaching various scientific courses when professors could not attend lectures. The Waldo L. McAtee papers at the Indiana University Archives attest to his dedication as a budding scholar. Though the collection comprises only one box of material, it includes a number of laboratory notebooks, scientific drawings, and field notes created by McAtee during his formative years as a scientist.

Scientific sketch of a grasshobber, Waldo L. McAtee's laboratory notes from an introductory Biology course, 1900-1901

Though the collection also includes a number of publications and correspondence, I am personally drawn to McAtee’s notes and drawings due to his painstaking attention to detail, meticulous dedication, and thoroughness. Furthermore, a sample of McAtee’s notes, particularly ornithological field notes on bird population around Indiana University, harbors particular potential in a comparative study to more contemporary records. As climate change, species endangerment, and habitat loss are increasingly common topics in the present day, it is interesting to consider the contrast between wildlife in and around the modern day Indiana University campus and its state more than one hundred years prior.

Meticulous field notes on the bird population around Indiana University, quthored by Waldo L. McAtee circa 1900

If you are interested in further exploring Waldo Lee McAtee’s early legacy, contact us here at the Archives! Curious about McAtee’s later career? Try doing a quick search for him on Archive Grid, an amalgamated search portal which links users to archival collection descriptions from thousands of repositories; search Archive Grid from Indiana University or any other subscribing institution. The Library of Congress, Cornell University, the American Philosophical Society, and UCLA all join Indiana University in preserving McAtee’s history.

Hilltop Gardens and Nature Center: A history of community gardening and education efforts at Indiana University

With the warm days of summer rolling along, the Bloomington Farmers Market is buzzing and the Midwest gardening season is in full swing. Widespread interest in local food production and sustainability has experienced a serious gain in momentum throughout the United States over the last several years, and talk of community gardens and horticultural education is likewise on the rise. However, such concepts are not new territory for the people of Bloomington. For more than sixty years, the city has been home to the Hilltop Garden and Nature Center, which promotes community gardening and supports one of the longest running youth gardening programs in the country.

Women emerge from the Hilltop Garden greenhouse with plants in hand, undated, circa 1950

Located near the Bloomington intersection of 10th Street and the SR 45/46 Bypass, Hilltop Garden and Nature Center began in 1948 as a one acre alfalfa field in the Botany Experimental Gardens, set aside for youth programming by Indiana University President Herman B Wells. From its inception until 1986, Hilltop Garden was overseen by director Barbara Shalucha, an Indiana University Professor of Botany with both personal and academic interest in applied botany through youth education. Experienced with children’s gardening programs through work at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Shalucha was enthusiastic about educating young people by way of hands on recreational programming. She sought to instill her own passion for gardening and appreciation for the natural life cycle in young people. Since Hilltop’s inaugural youth gardening season in 1948, thousands of children (or “Hilltoppers,” as they are nicknamed) have attended the various programs which continue to be offered annually.

A woman and boy harvest radishes from a row at Hilltop Garden, undated, circa 1950

Over the years, specific programs and objectives have varied; along with its annual children’s planting season, Hilltop has also supported plant sales, flower shows, festivals, tours, workshops, and annual honor days. Though youth programming has always been its major focus, Hilltop Garden and Nature Center has additionally provided hundreds of Indiana University students with training to pursue work through similar programs post-graduation, thus spawning a diverse network of advocates for youth gardening.

What began as a single acre plot of land has now grown to encompass five acres of planting fields at the original Hilltop Garden and Nature Center site as well as a sizable greenhouse and classroom space. Financial support and administrative structure overseeing Hilltop have shifted over the years, and the programs are currently in a state of fluctuation and adjustment. However, the Indiana University Archives is home to a rich body of records attesting to Hilltop Garden and Nature Center’s burgeoning development over the course of six decades. Both the Indiana University Hilltop Garden and Nature Center records and founding director Barbara Shalucha papers are bursting with history. Various administrative files, reports, publications, program and event materials, awards, architectural drawings, scrapbooks, photographs, and multimedia are available for your perusal here at the Indiana University Archives!

Independence Day in Bloomington: Then and Now

Independence Day is one American holiday which unites citizens from coast to coast. Communities across the country bond over barbecues, parades, and dazzling firework displays that light up the night sky each July Fourth. This year in Indiana University’s hometown of Bloomington, students and local residents alike will take to the streets for the annual Fourth of July Parade, which runs through the heart of downtown. At dusk, a fireworks display will also be featured south of campus at the Monroe County Fairgrounds.

Fireworks display captured by Indiana University alumnus Charles W. Kushman, whose photography collection is preserved at the IU Archives

Back in the early days of Indiana University, the Fourth of July was already a highly regarded holiday, yet the details of celebrations were different than those of today. With the memory of American independence relatively fresh in the minds and ancestral stories of many citizens throughout the early 1800s, the initial Independence Day over which first Indiana University President Andrew Wylie presided in Bloomington on July 4, 1830 was treated as a comparatively reverent, sincere event built upon both patriotic and religious reflection. An introductory portion of Wylie’s sermon, entitled “Religion and State: Not Church and State” reads,

Religion and State: Not Church and State, Title Page. Sermon by first Indiana University President, Andrew Wylie, presented on his first Independence Day in Bloomington, July 4, 1830

… I shall attempt to show, that the influence of the christian religion is necessary to the preservation of the liberties and the advancement of the general interests of this nation. And, in doing this we hope to be led into such a train of reflections as shall not be inappropriate to the general purposes of this sacred day. That the day has been set apart by God himself to commemorate the works of creation and redemption ought not to be considered as a prohibition, on the part of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, to celebrate his goodness in any other particular…

Though the aforementioned speech is highly religious in its admonitions due to Andrew Wylie’s position as a Presbyterian minister and strong religious upbringing, Wylie touches upon a variety of issues which remain relevant in the present day. His philosophical discussions on war, political party lines, corruption, morality, historical repetition, and American liberties lend insight into problems of the past which bind present-day readers to early Indiana University students through shared theoretical questions regardless of one’s religious affiliation. Should you have an interest in reading this sermon in its entirety, fortunately, all you have to do is click here to access a digital copy! To see more digitized documents from the Andrew Wylie papers, explore the finding aid by clicking on any “View items” link alongside the camera icons.

Religion and State: Not Church and State, First Page. Sermon by first Indiana University President, Andrew Wylie, presented on July 4, 1830

The abovementioned sermon aside, even in the 1800s, students and residents of Bloomington did indeed celebrate outside church walls. An editorial published in the July 6, 1906 edition of the Bloomington Telephone recounts Fourth of July celebrations from forty years prior, circa 1865, when the people of Bloomington gathered annually en masse in Dunn Woods, before it was home to the Indiana University campus. Town residents would dig trenches, roast beef and hogs, and feast with hundreds of people from Bloomington and the surrounding countryside. “The 4th was always the greatest day of the year,” the article concludes.

On that note, those of us at the Indiana University Archives wish you a happy Fourth of July! Whether you celebrate by attending the Bloomington parade, fireworks display, or gather for a backyard barbecue with family and friends, we hope you take a moment to remember a little bit of the history behind the holiday.