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.

New! George List Papers, 1924-2008

George List in 1945, age 34.

Professor George List (1911-2008) is best remembered for his academic work on the music of the indigenous people of South America and the Southwestern United States, his professional work as Director of the Archives of Traditional Music (1954-1976), and his role in founding the ethnomusicology department at Indiana University. However, long before joining the faculty here at IU, he was a music teacher, composer, and performing musician whose works were published, recorded, and performed by symphony orchestras.

In 1933, List graduated from The Julliard School with a diploma in flute performance then going on to spend most of his early professional career as both an aspiring musician and a music educator. He established and directed the Madison Square Boys Club,

George List's self-written biography at age 22 from his Julliard Graduation Program, 1933.
a music school for underprivileged children in Manhattan from 1934-1937 where he organized a children’s performance of Haydn’s “Toy Symphony,” which, along with typical instruments like the piano and violins, uses a rattle, toy trumpet, cuckoo, nightingale, and quail as musical instruments. In addition to this project, List was a music teacher, director, and conductor for several bands and orchestras in public schools in New York City between 1939 and 1943. During this time, he was also the conductor for children’s ensembles and a private music instructor for the International Workers Order, an organization that offered insurance, medical care, and cultural activities to various ethnic groups in New York City.

Program from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert in which List's Marche O'Malley was performed in 1949.

Along with his teaching, Professor List was also active as a performing flutist, playing with orchestras in New York City and Denver throughout the 1930s and 1940s.  He also found time to compose original music. His largest work is an unpublished symphonic piece titled Marche O’Malley, which was performed by the Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra in 1947, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1949, and later by orchestras in Indianapolis and Bloomington.

Description of Marche O'Malley from program.





Other published titles include “Come Bring With a Noise” (1948) for mixed chorus which was based upon a poem by Robert Herrick, Jugoslav Polka for band (1950), Memoir and Scherzino for flute and piano (1950), and Music for Children (1952), a songbook for young pianists.

Jugoslav Polka for band by George List, 1950.

Throughout the course of his career, Professor List composed for all levels and types of musicians, from children beginning to play the piano to professional violinists, from choral works to woodwind quintets. While the majority of his compositions were never published, it appears that he never completely gave up his musical aspirations. When Professor List began teaching at Indiana University in 1954, and throughout his years in academia, his composing greatly slowed down, but he never fully gave it up. In 2001, 25 years after his retirement, he wrote Gadgets, which he dubbed “A Comic Opera” in three acts. Up until his death in 2008, he continued to write to publishers, record companies, and orchestra conductors, trying to get his compositions recorded or performed.

The IU Archives holds the George List papers which include the sheet music, including revisions and unpublished pieces, of Professor List’s compositions, as well as four compact disc recordings of their performance.

New! Martha McCarthy papers, 1976-2011

 Women’s History Month is an excellent time to highlight the recently processed collection of Dr. Martha McCarthy, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University. Dr. McCarthy began her career at Indiana University as Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in 1975 and after a long and prestigious career retired in 2011.
In 1978, she served as the Project Director of a team leading to the creation and implementation of a workshop and training program for the Equity for Women in Higher Education Project sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration. The project included a one-day workshop, the goal of which was to enhance women’s equity in education.
The program was the result of a two-year grant from the staff of the Women’s Educational Equity Act to develop six training modules in hopes that they would be incorporated into university courses.

 The training materials state that, “The serious female academic confronts sexual barriers at every phase of her career, beginning with formal and informal socialization processes before she enters an institution of higher education and continuing even as she rises to a successful position in her field.” In order to combat these issues, Dr. McCarthy was responsible for creating an “Equity Goal Ranking Process” which sought to create a plan of priorities for raising awareness and creating solutions for gender inequalities in higher education. She also helped to create a casebook of reality-based scenarios about issues of discrimination faced by women in higher education. Audio tapes and slide tapes of these case studies are available in the Martha McCarthy papers in the University Archives.

The “Equity Goal Ranking Process” consists of a set of activities designed to help participants identify equity issues of major concern and devise strategies for attaining top  priority goals that could then be used in reviewing institutional policies, programs, and resource allocation. Examples of some of these equity goals include the following: “Establish salary, promotion and tenure policies that ensure equal treatment of women;” “Revise course content, class activities and student support services to eliminate sex bias;” “Develop objective policies to ensure equitable working conditions for women;” and “Provide training experiences to sensitize personnel to equity issues and existing discriminatory practices.”

Training materials also include suggestions for using the Equity Goal Rankings and Case Studies in a university course, with ideas for incorporating them into a semester-long course to create awareness of gender-based equity issues and devise strategies for eliminating biases.

Appendices includes information about conferences dealing with equity issues, opinionnaires, and pre- and post-evaluation forms.

As always, please contact the IU Archives to view the collection!