The Breadth of a Family Papers Collection

The Archives is proud to say that the finding aid for the Cecilia Hennel Hendricks family papers is now available because this collection truly is a veritable treasure trove of both American and personal family history!

Cecilia, Edith, and Cora Hennel

As this rich collection tells the story of the family of Joseph and Anna Thurman Hennel,  it will help to know a bit of their family history. Joseph and Anna had three daughters: Cecilia, Cora, and Edith and in 1905 they chose to move from Vanderburgh County, Ind., to Bloomington so that their daughters could attend Indiana University. All three daughters went on to teach at IUB, with Cecilia and Cora having the lengthiest careers, beginning in 1904 and serving for 30 and 46 years, respectfully. (Cora became the first woman to get a PhD in mathematics at IU, and only the second person, male or female, to do so!)

Cecilia married John Hendricks and had three children, namesake Cecilia (married Henry Wahl) , Anne (married John R. DeCamp), and Jules Ord (Lois Armstrong Hendricks). Edith married lawyer Edward Ellis, while Cora remained single.

War, finances, and land

If soldiers are your interest, you might like to know that during the Civil War Joseph Hennel was a member of Company I, 65th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry and included in the collection is a small Civil War diary from 1864. John Hendricks fought in the Hendricks 010Spanish-American War in 1898, where he was wounded in battle. Several folders of correspondence chronicle his lifetime petition for his rightful veteran’s pension. The collection also includes correspondence with his family during his time in the war and hospitalization.

John Hendricks' Honorable Discharge from the Spanish-American War
John Hendricks’ Honorable Discharge from the Spanish-American War

Interested in the financial lives of people living in the mid- to late 1800s? There are ledgers and account books galore for Joseph’s personal and business finances. We also have a folder of receipts and checks written to “Stables and Livery,” “Boots company,” and “Undertaker” services, as well as bills paid for telephone/telegraph services and electricity services.

The collection also includes personal and business ledgers and account books for Cecilia Hennel Hendricks and her husband John who lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming as homesteaders for a number of years, and raised bees for honey on their farm Honeyhill.

(By the by, Cecilia & John’s daughter Cecilia later published a selection of their correspondence in Letters from Honeyhill: A Woman’s View of Homesteading. It – and rightly so – gets rave reviews on Goodreads!)

The Hennel-Hendricks Women

The stars of this collection, however, are the women in family. While the collection does not house anything from Anna Thurman Hennel’s household life, there are numerous folders of correspondence over the years with her daughters. She was also very vocal (according to family letters) in getting the Hennel family to move from Evansville to Bloomington, Indiana so that their daughters could attend Indiana University.

The collection houses years of personal diaries and date books for both Cecilia and Cora, as well as boxes and boxes of family and business correspondence. While Edith’s voice is present throughout the years of correspondence, her presence is most felt through the many years’ worth of annual scrapbooks she put together documenting the families’ whereabouts and doings, using cartoons and handwritten or typed captions, which she made and sent to Cecilia Hennel Hendricks as holiday and New Year’s greetings. Cecilia and Cora were both published poets, as well as playwrights, and their various writings, musings, manuscripts, acceptance/rejection letters are housed in the collection. Cecilia also coauthored the first Palau-English Dictionary while she taught in Palau via IU in 1950, and Cora coauthored a mathematics textbook, A Course in General Mathematics in 1925.

Article in Scribner's Magazine, vol. 84, no. 1, July, 1928
Article in Scribner’s Magazine,
vol. 84, no. 1, July, 1928

If giving up a university teaching position to marry (a man she had only met a few times!) and moving to the wilds of Wyoming doesn’t tell you about Cecilia’s drive, perhaps a little political work will? In 1926 during her time in Powell, Wyoming, she worked on the Nellie Tayloe Ross‘ re-election campaign for Wyoming governor, after Ross served as the first female governor in the United States when her husband died and left the office vacant in 1924. Cecilia was supported for the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and campaigned with Ross.

The richness of this collection is evidenced through the hand and typewritten boxes of letters, published and unpublished writings and manuscripts, ledgers and account books, diaries and date books, and much much more. The lives of an entire family are essentially chronicled through this collection, and provide a lens through which we can look at American history and the lives of 19th Century female American scholars, homesteaders, and business-folk.

A blog post cannot do this collection justice, so as always, if you would like further information or would like to schedule an appointment to see the collection, please contact the Archives!

The Edgeworthalean Society: Bloomington’s first female literary society

The year is 1841, you’re a resident of Bloomington, Indiana, and you would like to expand your mind … and oh yeah, you’re female. What opportunities are available to you? Indiana University wasn’t co-ed until 1867, so you cannot stretch your mind through higher education. Is it your lot to resign yourself to a life of quiet domesticity and motherhood?

These are some of the questions the charter members of the Edgeworthalean Society were asking themselves when they came together to form the first Bloomington, Indiana ladies’ literary society in 1841. Clearly these women were not resigned to keep quietly at home, and their decision to gather and learn among themselves was not without opposition,  as Mrs. M. E. Hughes, first society president, alludes to in her inaugural address. She also describes the purpose of the society as follows:

“Our object is the cultivation and improvement of the mind; and to effect this we have adopted such exercises and regulations as other societies of the same nature have found most conducive to the same end.”

Article 9 of the Edgeworthalean Society constitution states:

“The exercises of the society shall consist of recitations, composition arguments, Reading, writing, diction, analysing [sic] sentences or any such exercises as may be found to be conducive to the improvement of its members.”

Further in her address, M. E. Hughes states:

“In the progress of society the belief has been gradually gaining ground, that the station assigned to women in the social scheme, is one of much greater importance than it has hitherto been considered, and that her position in the various relations of daughter, wife, mother, mistress of a family and the acknowledged arbitress [sic] of the rules which regulate social intercourse, gives her an influence which may be powerfully wielded either for good or for evil. To enable her therefore to fulfil [sic] her destiny with credit and happiness to herself and advantage to others, philanthropists now deem it necessary to give her the aids of a solid and useful education.”

The minute book, which consists of the constitution and by-laws of the Edgeworthalean Society, as well as meeting minutes, contains the inaugural addresses of six society presidents from 1841 to the last entry dated June 1844. These speeches are rather rich in terms of early commentary on women’s education and position in society.

Monroe County Female Seminary, previously located at 7th Street and College Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana
Monroe County Female Seminary, previously located at 7th Street and College Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana

The Edgeworthalean Society met weekly, usually at the Monroe County Female Seminary at 7th Street and College Avenue, though it no longer stands. They also had fairly strict rules for entering the society, such as requiring a letter of petition with the support of two current members of the society. They aimed to remain respectable and include the role of “Censoress [sic] to generally supervise the moral character of the society” in their constitution.

Also in the contents of the minute book are philosophical/ideological questions posed for debate in the meetings.

Such questions include: Which most improves the mind: observation or reading? Which exerts the most pernicious influence over society, a Slanderer or a Murderer? Is manual labor a blessing or a curse? Which has the greatest reason to complain of their treatment, from the Whites, the Indians or Negroes? Which profession affords the best opportunities to benefit mankind — Law or Physics? Is Conscience an inate [sic] principle? Which would be most conducive to our happiness: to be at once created with all the knowledge to be acquired, or to obtain it by slow degrees? Did Napoleon exhert [sic] a good or evil influence over Europe? Is there more happiness found in the married, or in the single state? Should novels be abolished? Should capitol punishment be inflicted or not? Is happiness more dependent on the mind or surrounding circumstances? And these are only some of the questions debated through November 26, 1841!

The Edgeworthalean Society minute book is in the Indiana University Archives and has been recently digitized by the Libraries Digital Projects & Services Team! Just follow the link!

Commencement: Where there’s pomp and also circumstance …

It’s that time again: Commencement! All your years of hard work have finally paid off, and a diploma will soon be in hand (at least the commencement ceremony will provide you with the idea of the diploma while the real one will take a couple of months to be mailed to you). Incidentally, what do you know about the commencements of yesteryear?


The modern day commencement address and speaker were introduced to Indiana University in 1892, when student presentations had been whittled down to a few orations and poems delivered two days before the actual commencement ceremony took place.

With over 10,000 undergraduates eligible to graduate this May, the size contrast to IU’s class of 1912 is rather startling:

IU graduating class of 1912.

December 1942 marked the first time a winter commencement took place, with 580 graduates.

First winter commencement, December 10, 1942.

On December 7, 1941, the United States officially entered into WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Indiana Daily Student (IDS) of December 20, 1942 addressed the many changes that Indiana University underwent in 1941, including the inauguration of the “speed it up” program.

The IDS reported: “New military units for university students, the establishment of a training school for both men and women in the Navy and a war-adjusting curriculum within a year made life on campus quite different for the students who had entered school when America was still saying ‘if,’ instead of ‘when we get into the war.’”

There was also a Spring commencement that year:

Spring commencement, May 10, 1942

The university stopped conducting December commencement ceremonies after December 1944. Intermittent February commencement ceremonies took place until 1954, when Indiana University went back to a single commencement ceremony at the end of the academic year.

Due to an increasing number of college students, May 1980 was the first time the university conducted two spring commencements, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon on the same day. In 1984, commencement was separated into three ceremonies, spanning two days. In 1988, the university conducted the first outdoor commencement ceremony in 17 years, allowing for a single ceremony for all graduates that year.

In 1989, a resurging interest in winter commencement led to winter graduates being given a reception in their honor.

A newspaper clipping from January 1989 reported:

“About 1400 students graduating in December 1989 might have a commencement if a university committee discovers enough interest. The University hasn’t conducted winter commencements since World War II, when many soldiers couldn’t attend Spring ceremonies. Currently, December graduates may attend commencement in the Spring before or after their actual graduation date.”

A November 1989 clipping stated:

“December grads will have reception in their honor on December 9 in the Musical Arts Center. Kenneth Gros Louis, University vice president and Indiana University Bloomington chancellor, said about 20 percent of IU grads finish their coursework in December.”

In 1994, the university replaced the December graduates’ reception/luncheon with ceremonies in the graduates’ individual schools. It was then noted that a mid-year commencement could be added in the future if the number of December graduates continued to increase. Finally, 1997 saw the first reinstatement of midyear graduation since 1944, and a winter commencement was held on December 22, 1997.

In 2010, for the first time, Indiana University implemented separate commencement ceremonies for undergraduates and graduate students.

A November 2009 press release stated:

“Moving to a separate ceremony for graduate students will allow more time to focus on their distinct achievements and observe the academic tradition of hooding Ph. D and doctoral candidates. Likewise, the undergraduate ceremonies … will focus exclusively on the undergraduate experience and include new emphasis on undergraduate achievement, including the addition of undergraduate voices to the official program.”

You can read more about IU’s commencement history, including an extensive listing of commencement speakers and speech titles (if available), since 1892 on the IU Archives website.

Logo from the 1901 commencement program.

And congratulations, grads!


And just because I have to get this in: Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt spoke at IU during spring commencement in 1918?

1919 Arbutus p68.Who shot image? H.T. Sthepenson?

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt at left, and William Lowe Bryan at podium.


Behold! University administrative records can be interesting!

It may surprise some to know that a collection comprised of the records of a former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, namely that of Frank T. Gucker, 1938-1967, can actually be quite interesting. But in fact, this was the case. From interesting words used in everyday memos, such as “dashing,” “mellifluous,” “peripatetic,” and “bailiwick,” to a 1961 folder entitled “Teaching Machines” (this was the time of pre-Internet and manageable-sized computers) small tidbits of conversation and gems of information are sprinkled throughout this collection.

Some of the most interesting information came from discussions about the Intensive Language Training Center. While the University Archives does have a separate collection of Indiana University Intensive Language Training Center records which provides more substantial information about this program, in the context of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences records language program folders also address the ILTC.

To provide some background about what this program actually was, I’ll refer to the finding aid available in the Indiana University Archives Online. First created at IU in 1959 under the name, Air Force Language Program, the program was initially for the training of U.S. military members to speak Russian. In 1962, in order to move past U.S. Air Force affiliated programs, the name was changed to the Intensive Language Training Center (ILTC). It was at this time that the ILTC fell under the domain of the College of Arts and Sciences, becoming fully a part of the university. The following year, the ILTC became part of the Department of Linguistics, directed by Orrin Frink overseeing contracts with the Peace Corps as well as others and the Defense Language Institute (DLI) was established to standardize language training across military personnel.


That being said, this collection contains correspondence regarding perceived improper use of the Language Lab, and its availability to students as well as people from the military training programs. Additionally, something I found interesting and slightly ‘political-intrigue-spy-movie-mystery-esque’ was a “directive” from the Embassy of the United Arab Republic to the Indiana University Egyptian student population, informing them that “neither they nor their wives are allowed to teach in the Language Center (formerly a division of the Air Force) or have any relationship with it.” The letter is dated July 9, 1963 and directed to Mr. Loutfy Zaki from Mostafa Issaka Cultural Attache. The letter further states, “Any disobedience to that ordinance means automatically that you will be subject to the punishment specified in that ordinance.” Doing a bit of background research into just what the United Arab Republic was and what this time period may have signified, I found that the United Arab Republic constituted a political union of Egypt and Syria, lasting from 1958 to 1961. In 1961, Syria withdrew following a military coup, soon followed by Yemen, thus ending the union. Egypt apparently continued using the name until 1971.

Needless to say, this collection’s span of almost 30 years (with the bulk of the collection from 1960-1964) reflects the times. From U.S. social movements and conflicts, affirmative action, the Kennedy Administration, to international conflicts of the time, including warring Middle Eastern countries including Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Republic (later Egypt), this collection holds up a mirror to these times and shows just how an academic institution, and particularly the college of arts and sciences, was impacted by the surrounding social and political culture. So don’t discount administrative records in a university archive when looking for interesting morsels of information and research fodder, because you never know what you might find tucked away!