“I am going to have a birthday party from two to four o’clock and I want you to come” – One of My Favorite Photographs

From Brad Cook, IU Archives Photographs Curator

While browsing an antique shop near Hanover, New Hampshire, a 1956 graduate of Indiana University came upon the photograph seen here. Recognizing the address found on the back of the image she purchased the image and donated it to the Indiana University Archives.

(Back Row, L to R) Mary Woodburn, Doris Hoffman, Martha Woodburn, Marjorie Davis, Dorothy Cunningham, Mary Louden, and Agnes Joyner. (Middle Row, L to R) Elizabeth Miller, Martha Buskirk, Ruth Dill, Carol Hoffman, Frieda Hershey, and Ruth Cravens. (Front Row, L to R) Margaret Faris, Pauline Reed, Dorothy Clough and Catherine Fletcher.

For a curator of photographs there is no image more appealing than one with a great deal of contextual information (e.g. names and date) and this image certainly fits into that category as the back side of the photograph gives us not only the names of those shown and the date taken, but also the event, the exact location of the event and even the name of the photographer. On top of that, a transcription of the original invitation is also present.

On February 12, 1902 Ruth Ralston Cravens held a birthday party in her home located at 222 East Fourth Street in Bloomington. Her stepmother sent out the following invitation to Ruth’s friends: “I will be four years old Wednesday, February 12, 1902. I am going to have a birthday party from two to four o’clock and I want you to come. I do not want you to bring or send me any presents. I just want you to come and play with me. Ruth Ralston Cravens.”

In response to the invitation, and according to a note written on the back of the image, sixteen girls attended the party and “…had a delightful time. Prof. John A. Stoneking, on Indiana University, took a photograph and each one of the guests received one as a souvenir of the occasion.”

The birthday girl was born on February 12, 1898 (her mother died eight days later). Ruth was graduated from IU in 1920 with a degree in English. From 1942-1956 she worked as an administrative assistant to IU President Herman B Wells. Ruth never married. She died January 20, 1982.

Ruth’s stepmother, Emma Lucille Krueger Cravens, worked in the IU Library and then as a secretary for IU President William Lowe Bryan.

Ruth’s father, John W. Cravens, graduated from IU in 1897. For many years he served as IU Registrar and Secretary to the IU Board of Trustees.

The photographer, John A. Stoneking, was graduated from Indiana University in 1898 with a degree in physics, he subsequently received his master’s degree from Indiana University in 1901 and from 1901-1905 he was an instructor in physics here before moving to Illinois where he died in 1923.

Others in the photograph known to have graduated from Indiana University are Mary Louden (AB 1919) and Frieda Hershey (AB 1921).

Sincerely Yours: The Origins of the Old Oaken Bucket

This month’s Sincerely Yours post is brought to you by the Archives Photographs Curator, Brad Cook! 

One of the most popular Indiana University-Purdue University traditions began with this:

On October 23, 1925 IU Athletic Director Zora Clevenger replied to Frederick E. Bryan (IU Law, 1905),“Have scouts trying to land oaken bucket immediately.”


In 1936, J. Frank Lindsay (IU 1913) recounted the origins behind the trophy in a letter to then IU President William Lowe Bryan. He noted that Wiley J. Huddle (IU 1901) had the idea that a group should undertake a “worthy joint enterprises on behalf of the two schools.” Thus, a joint committee of IU and Purdue alumni first met on August 31, 1925 and Dr. Clarence K. Jones (IU Medicine, 1914) “proposed the creation of a traditional football trophy…at a later meeting this committee recommended an old oaken bucket as the most typically Hoosier form of a trophy…”

It is said the bucket was found on the Bruner farm between the towns of Kent and Hanover, Indiana and that Confederate General John Morgan (of Morgan’s Raiders fame) drank from the bucket during his incursion into Indiana during the summer of 1863. Another story traces the origins of the bucket to Illinois, where it was first repaired at the American Steel Foundries of Granite City, Illinois and given an “antiquated” look by H. Raymond McCoy of the same company.

Presentation of Old Oaken Bucket, November 21, 1925. Archives Image no. p0023404
Presentation of Old Oaken Bucket, November 21, 1925. Archives Image no. p0023404

The bucket was unveiled at halftime on November 21, 1925 with writer and columnist George Ade (Purdue 1887) and Monon Railroad president Harrie Kurrie (IU Law, 1895) presenting. The symbol of supremacy for the friendly rivalry was cemented in place.“I” or “P” links made of brass were to be added to the bucket each year depending on which team won the tilt. The problem that first year was that the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Thus, Zora Clevenger announced that the bucket would be kept at IU until Purdue won a game. Soon after, a combined “IP” link was created to symbolize a tie. It is this very link that hangs from the handle of the bucket today and from which the remainder of the links are attached. Each is engraved with the date and score of the game.

Over the years the trophy has been: kidnapped on several occasions, escorted by the IU ROTC in 1945 from the IU p0054258Archives to the Auditorium for a football convocation, displayed on the third floor of L.S. Ayres in Indianapolis in 1950, and filled with beer after IU students “liberated” it from a Purdue trophy case in 1953. After speaking on the phone to former IU football coach Lee Corso, I was able to confirm that he and his wife did indeed take the bucket to bed when he first won the trophy in 1976. He was also able to confirm that he and his family placed flowers in the bucket and used it as a centerpiece on their Thanksgiving day table whenever it was in IU’s possession.

In a state built for basketball, there is no more prized possession between IU and Purdue than this football trophy and its ever-lengthening chain. Even during those seasons where one’s team has done poorly it is always felt the season can be salvaged if “we can just win the Old Oaken Bucket.”

As of the end of 2015, Purdue leads the overall series between the teams 72-40-6. Purdue also leads the trophy game series 58-30-3 – LET’S ADD ONE MORE WIN FOR IU HERE IN 2016!

“The Nature of Labor on a Changing Campus” exhibit – Scholar’s Commons, Wells Library, Fall 2015

IMG_1831My name is Claire Repsholdt. I am an undergraduate majoring in English and History at IU. This summer, I had the honor of working with the IU Archives to select pieces for the exhibit “The Nature of Labor on a Changing Campus” that I curated as part of the College of Arts and Sciences Themester for the Scholars Commons in Wells Library.


Before I began this project, I had never had the chance to work in an archive. So, along the way, learning procedures for research were just as important as collecting materials for the exhibit. During the first meeting, I was excited to find out about the extensive materials in the IU Archives, which seems to include every memory of IU from students and staff, on campus and off. Furthermore Indiana is especially unique for having such an extensive digitized collection, which is largely available to the public for viewing. I highly suggest exploring it if you get a chance!


At first, when I thought about labor, I pictured industry, unions, and blue collar workers with names sewn into their jackets. However, as I learned about the other events sponsored by Themester, I quickly realized that you can find a story of labor everywhere you look. And since I was looking in the Indiana University Archives, there were millions of exciting options to choose from. I needed to narrow my focus. As I looked through materials, I couldn’t help but get excited when I found out new pieces of campus history, especially since it seems that this campus is currently undertaking an enormous period of change. With several new building projects in progress around campus, I hoped that I could use the archives to show some of the campus familiar landmarks in a new light.


'I-League Outfielders, (from right: Mr. Lynch, Mr. Wichterman, Mr. Ruckelshaus), Waseda University Baseball Park, 1922
‘I-League Outfielders, (from right: Mr. Lynch, Mr. Wichterman, Mr. Ruckelshaus), Waseda University Baseball Park, 1922

Selecting what materials to exhibit was, to use a classic labor analogy, like mining for gold. I delved deep into the comprehensive online Archives Photograph Collection and waited for a spark, an image that surprised me, moments when the IU community looked especially unusual or unique. Then I would sit down with what I’d found and ask the archivists for their suggestions. They guided me to rich pockets of materials like the beloved Leonard “Ruck” Ruckelshaus collection, which documents the baseball team’s trip to Japan in the 1920s (be sure to check out the I-Men’s sweater), or to the documents and ephemera of the now-defunct Home Economics department, which includes the personal correspondence and collections of Professor Elizabeth Sage. I was enchanted. I began to shape the exhibit’s narrative around these pieces, learning the careful preservation and presentation requirements that came along with them.

One of my personal favorite discoveries was a collection of photographs taken of staff from about 1949-1970. Only a fraction of the images made it into the exhibit–there were several pounds of folders full of prints–but by studying the collection as a whole I felt that I developed a much more intimate understanding of the story of labor on campus. The pictures were barely captioned, taken by some excited photographer who had access to a great portable camera, possibly for the first time.

IU employee with boxes of Wheaties cereal, December 10, 1964
IU employee with boxes of Wheaties cereal, December 10, 1964

As I reviewed them, I imagined a young guy running around campus, shirt collar flapping in the wind, coercing workers into becoming the subjects of his picture and manically developing the prints for some important project that may or may not have ever been achieved, stacking them into the piles that moved from cabinet to cabinet and now fill the manila folders at the IU Archives. Those pictures became the heart of the exhibit for me. The photographer(s) were engaged in the same process I was, attempting to document labor on campus for posterity. In some way, my exhibit was just finishing what they had begun.



Though photograph research was an enormous part of the project, it was important to me to present a wide range of materials for the exhibit. I wanted to demonstrate not only what the IU Archives had available, but also to do justice to the experience of labor. I sought methods of displaying materials that would reflect the amount and variety of labor that occurs on campus and the way that labor is always in progress, moving through time.IMG_1843

The exhibit space ended up being a crucial part of the concept of labor in progress, since it is a hallway: most of the visitors are just passing through. The exhibit had to react to constant motion. So, I chose to compose the exhibit within a simulated version of the Sample Gates, one of the most prominent centers of motion on campus. The background of each wall panel is a blown-up drawing of the Sample Gate pillars, and the slides on monitors in between the panels are images of pedestrians walking the cobblestone streets through the gates. Each of the monitors features films and moving text, encouraging viewers to imagine they are passing through the gates into campus as they imagine labor. As for the individual materials and captions in the exhibit, I tried to think of viewer interaction at all times, so that they could enjoy the same experience I did in the archives when I rediscovered campus through labor.

IMG_1842For the west wall of the exhibit, I acquired vintage office items from IU Surplus and picture frames from local thrift stores to create unique frames for the pieces from the Archives. I arranged the pictures and personal possessions of the featured laborers comfortably, the way they might be arranged on a family bookshelf, so they crowded together to take labor out of time, showing that even a historical presentation of pictures and accessories seemed at once familiar and historical, exhibit and display, past and present.

For the east wall, I represented the passage of time through labor by selecting various chronological renderings of both a location on campus, the Sample Gates, and campus as a whole in guided maps. I paired these chronological tours with facts and questions about labor. I hoped to call viewers’ attention to connect labor with time, showing how labor motivates change and pushes the campus to take action.

Both walls of the exhibit culminated in campus films featuring workers going about daily labor rather than sitting frozen in an exhibit. As a viewer notices a film, both the viewer and the exhibit are both on the move, passing through the space together in one group. Maybe for that one moment, there is no difference between being an archive and being alive. Everything is together, moving forward to change labor on campus.


It is my hope that the materials are provocative enough to interrupt the motions of students for a moment and ask them to recognize the labor that is a part of their daily campus routine. I hope that as they continue on their way to the computers or printers, they’ll look a little askance at the computer cubicles, pondering questions about where they are going, what work that they are doing, what technology they are using, and who is making it all possible.

Well House traditions

Rose Well House
Rose Well House

The Rose Well House is one of the oldest structures on campus, and one of Indiana University’s most enduring symbols.  In 1907 the University appointed a committee of trustees to assess the viability of moving the fronts and ornamental stone fixtures from the “Old College Building” and integrating them into a well house on the site of the cistern pump, located behind the current Memorial Union.  Plans for the project were drawn up by Professor A.L. Foley of the physics department.  The committee, led by chairman Theodore F. Rose (class of 1875), was successful in this effort, in part because Rose funded the operation out of his own pocket.  The project was completed in 1908.  It is said that Rose modeled the shape of the eight-sided well house on his Beta Theta Pi fraternity pin.

Water Pump before the Rose Well House. This image scanned from page 388 of the 1906 Arbutus yearbook. Note the one tin cup atop the pump for one and all to use.
Water pump before the Rose Well House. This image scanned from page 388 of the 1906 Arbutus yearbook. Note the one tin cup atop the pump for one and all to use.

Rose dedicated the structure to his graduating class.  At the time of its construction the well pump was a major source of water for the faculty and students of the University.  When the roof of Wylie Hall caught fire in 1900, water from this pump was used to save the building.

In addition to its practical purposes, the Well House has come to be a romantic campus location.  After its construction it quickly became a popular student meeting place, and often the site of romantic encounters.  Prior to its presentation to the University, the Well House was a frequented place of courtship. Originally couples were known to get engaged and “pinned” at the Well House.  Eventually, kissing at the Well House at midnight became a rite of passage for Indiana University students.  The kiss had to last the duration of the full twelve strokes of midnight (and noon doesn’t count, notes the 1967 Arbutus).  A woman was said to be a “true coed” only after this requirement was met.  When the women’s curfew was 11pm, this could be a risky endeavor.

A couple meets at the Well House, September 22, 1958
A couple meets at the Well House, September 22, 1958

The Well House kiss was an important part of Indiana University student culture.  It is perhaps the most long-lasting student tradition, remaining popular for decades.  The 1950 Arbutus declares: “Spring: the season when quarry attendance is greater than class attendance and when love hits campus so hard that couples need appointments to get in the Well House.”  The student-produced annual musical, the Jordan River Revue, had scenes set at the Well House in its 1938 production.  The University band would sometimes march in “well house formation” at sporting events, and for many years students eagerly awaited the “Wellhouse Waltz.”  The first “Wellhouse Waltz” was held in 1944 at Alumni Hall.  The midnight kiss was pushed back to 11 PM, when the band would strike up a waltz and couples would pause in their dancing to engage with tradition.

But as times changed and students were no longer subjected to a curfew, the Well House was not the fashionable courtship setting it had been during the early part of the century.  By the 1960s students were still aware of the tradition, but took part with less regularity as social mores changed.  As the authors of the 1967 Arbutus maintained:  “Although an I.U. student today may appreciate the old traditions, he is rarely motivated to perpetuate them in the hustle and bustle of modern campus life.  Couples still observe the Well House custom, but the majority go to the weathered, gray shelter only on a lark to break the monotony of party-going and studying or as a final resort after watching a movie with a dull date.”

Part 2: The Indiana University School of Letters and the Mid-Century Transformation of Literary Studies

This is a continuation of a post on the history of the IU School of Letters by guest blogger Dr. James E. Dobson of Dartmouth College. 

Students and Teachers: The School’s Impact on Literary Studies

The impact of the School of Letters on the study of literature is hard to overstate. The School encouraged and promoted the work of scholars, poets, and critics including Richard Chase, Northrop Frye, Monroe Beardsley, Alfred Kazin, and Irving Howe. Perhaps one of the most influential scholars teaching at the School for many summers was Leslie Fiedler.

School of Letters annual report, 1951. IU Archives Collection C211
School of Letters annual report, 1951. IU Archives Collection C211

At the time of his first appointment to the School, Fiedler was working on what would become the manuscript for Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), a book of literary criticism that was one of the first to discuss certain recurring American social-psychological compulsions such as male homo-social bonding expressed in many American literary works. The preface to this famous volume notes the importance of his teaching and his students at the School of Letters in 1952 and 1954 for helping him to develop his ideas.

One of the students who encountered Fiedler’s radical critically transformative ideas at Indiana was James M. Cox, PhD ‘55, who would go one to become a significant American-literary scholar in his own right. In 1951 Cox was a graduate student at the University of Michigan and came to Bloomington for the summer to attend the School. It was his second year at the School; his first was spent in Ohio at the School of English. His experiences in the classroom with Fiedler led Cox to apply for admission to Indiana University. Quickly working through the course requirements for the Ph.D., Cox added the School of Letters as a minor and continued to take classes in the School of Letters. Cox would eventually himself become a fellow at the School of Letters, and after receiving his first permanent teaching job at Dartmouth College, he would return several times to teach classics of American literature including Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Martha Banta, PhD ’64 took a course on American literature under Cox in the summer of 1962 through the School of Letters while also obtaining a PhD minor in the School of Letters. She would write her dissertation on Henry James and author many important works of literary criticism. Both Banta and Cox would eventually receive lifetime achievement awards from the Modern Language Association and in their responses to the award they cite their time at the School of Letters as a major influential experience.

The poet and literary critic John Hollander PhD ’59 took his studies under School of Letters Senior Fellow Lionel Trilling at Columbia University to the English Department and the School of Letters, completing a PhD minor alongside James M. Cox. Hollander would go on to teach at City University of New York and Yale University. In 1961 Steven Marcus, a professor of Victorian literature at Columbia University came to Bloomington as a fellow of the School of Letters during which a chance encounter on campus launched him into a fundamental rethinking of Victorian culture and literature. Marcus describes this encounter in the preface to his highly influential critical work The Other Victorians (1966):

In the summer of 1961 I was teaching at the Indiana University School of Letters. It is a tradition at the School of Letters that each summer its several Fellows, or instructors, be conducted on a tour of the Institute for Sex Research. I was impressed by and interested in what I saw on this tour…I was invited to return to the Institute to conduct researches in its library and archives. These had largely been amassed by the prodigious energies of the Institute’s founder, the late Alfred C. Kinsey. They had also, I was told, gone largely unused and unexplored. It was the opinion of the Directors that the time had now come to begin to exploit this material, as it was also their belief that the time had now come to begin to open up the heretofore locked doors of the Institute, and to extend the use of its immense resources to scholars from other fields of study.

Marcus returned in to Bloomington in 1962 to teach for another summer session and continued the research that exposed a completely new account of the Victorian era’s concern with the centrality of sex. Prior to his groundbreaking book, this topic had been just as locked as the doors of the Kinsey archives.

The philosopher Stanley Cavell would come to lecture as part of the faculty in 1969 while researching a topic that would soon after be published as the well-received The Senses of Walden (1972), a radically new look at Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Other important students of the School included Ihab Hassan, a theorist of what was then termed avant-garde literature, who was a summer student in the School and came back to teach during the summer of 1964; Mark Spilka M.A. ’53, who would later become chair of the English Department at Brown University and author of books on Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and D. H. Lawrence. Among the School’s important critical participants, one must also cite Geoffrey Hartman. He attended the School in 1951 in its first year at Bloomington, and distinguished theorist of literature as well as member of the Department of English at Yale University.

Irving Howe, American literary and social critic, served as a member of the School of Letters faculty. (Photo source: 1968 Michiganensian, p. 82)
Irving Howe, American literary and social critic, served as a member of the School of Letters faculty. (Photo source: 1968 Michiganensian, p. 82)

The End of the School

Indiana University announced the end of its formal relationship with the School of Letters on July 28, 1972. The Director for almost the entirety of its twenty-year existence, Newton Stallknecht, gave as his reason the same budgetary difficulties that initially necessitated the move of the School from Kenyon to Indiana: “This action has been taken owing to grave budgetary problems which the University faces, along with many other schools of higher education.” With Stallknecht also eager to retire, Dean of the Graduate School George W. Wilson proposed closing the School of Letters. The other major reason given was that the program had become less popular—it granted only two or three M.A.’s per year in the last few years—ironically due to its success: the School, along with its students and faculty fellows, was ultimately instrumental in carrying out its goal to transform literary studies. Literature departments had come to embrace, in turn, both the New Criticism that was the founding raison d’être of the School and the catholic approach to literature that subsequently became the School’s enduring trademark. Despite its historical eclipse, this Indiana University-sponsored program constitutes a lurking precedent for the various kinds of institutionally concentrated literary-critical study that still take place to this day.

The Archives has a number of collections containing information on the School of Letters, including the Director’s records spanning 1947-1979. Contact the Archives for access or further information!