New Exhibit – “Here I Met My First True Radicals:” Student Reform Movements at Indiana University

Dean Rusk Demonstration, October 31, 1967 - Elwood Martin "Barney" Cowherd
Dean Rusk Demonstration, October 31, 1967 – Elwood Martin “Barney” Cowherd. P0029020

For freshman Theodore Dreiser in 1889, Indiana University served as fertile ground for his future literary endeavors, but to him “the life of the town, the character of its people, the professors and the students, and the mechanism, politics, and social interests of the University body proper” were far more influential. For generations of students such as Dreiser, the University has served as their first opportunity at self-expression and to react to the political, cultural and social events of their time. Drawn from the collections of the IU Archives, this exhibit highlights groups of students who sought to shape the world around them, whether it be at the local level in their search for self-government and greater gender and racial equality on campus, or as a reaction to national events such as the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, the refugee crisis of WWII, McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, apartheid in South Africa, and the AIDS crisis. This exhibit was co-curated by Carrie Schwier (Public Services and Outreach Archivist) along with graduate students Alessandro Meregaglia and Elizabeth Peters.

You can visit the exhibit at the IU Archives (Wells Library E460), Monday – Friday 8-5pm.

Watch for future posts highlighting portions of the exhibit in more detail!

The Wunderkammer: The Curiosities in Indiana University Collections

Life mask of IU President William Lowe Bryan by Gordon L. Reagan (Class of 1937)
Life mask of IU President William Lowe Bryan by Gordon L. Reagan (Class of 1937)

With Halloween occuring next week, where can you see human skin, sixty year-old chewed gum, a ghostly life mask and anatomical x-rays, all from the IU Archives collections? Opening Friday, October 23rd at the Grunwald Gallery of Art, The Wunderkammer: The Curiosities in Indiana University Collections exhibit includes a selection of oddities, curiosities, the down-right gross (or to put it nicely, the “non-traditional”) drawn from the vast array of special collections on the IU campus, including the IU Art Museum, the Elizabeth Sage Costume Collection, the Kinsey Institute, the Wylie House, the Lilly Library, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, the Glenn Black Lab, the Department of Biology, the Black Film Center Archives and of course, the IU Archives.


Description of the exhibit from the Grunwald Gallery web site:

“The public museums at Indiana University are easily accessible and often feature objects from their collections that are the most well known, valuable, and historically and culturally important. However, each collection also contains items that are unusual or non-traditional, which the public rarely sees. It is in the context of the Wunderkammer that we display these items, as a cabinet of curiosities similar to the traditional collections amassed by individuals in the sixteenth century. This tradition continued well into the nineteenth century, with individuals collecting art, natural history specimens, cultural artifacts and ephemera, and there is a resurgence of interest in this today. Special collections at IU were invited to partner with the Grunwald Gallery to select unusual or non-traditional items for the exhibit. Because of this focus, the information about how these objects came to be part of these collections is as important as the items themselves. This exhibit addresses the psychological motivations behind both institutional and private collecting, why and how special collections end up with unusual items, the stories that these unusual items have to tell, and the information and background they add that may not be obvious in more celebrated works.”

Objects from the University Archives’ collections include:

Life mask of IU President William Lowe Bryan – Gordon Loper Reagan, circa 1935-1936

Commissioned by Indiana University President William Lowe Bryan in 1935 when he was in his 70s, this life mask was completed by Gordon Loper Reagan of the Bloomington Allen Funeral Home. While details surrounding the commission are sketchy, Reagan was a student at Indiana University at the time and likely worked at the funeral home to fund his studies. He graduated in 1937 with a B.A. in Philosophy and followed that up with a M.A. in 1939.

Butternut badges, circa 1861-1865Butternut badges worn by IU students who were southern sympathizers during The Civil War

Worn by the Knights of the Golden Circle, an organized group of Southern sympathizers in the North during the Civil War, these badges were made from the cross-section of the butternut (also known as the white walnut). Carefully polished and fitted with a safety pin, these badges referenced the fact that rustic members of the Democratic party of the South often wore homespun clothing dyed with the bark of the butternut tree. These partisan emblems were symbolic of the idea that the Democratic party was the party of the people.

While not officially considered a border state, southern Indiana still exhibited many of the same characteristics. Violent encounters were known to occur around Monroe county, when Democrats flaunted their badges around Republicans at social gatherings, public meetings and church services. Reportedly, some of the young women on campus regarded these badges much the same as women regard being pinned by a fraternity member today.

Breathalyzer – Robert F. Borkenstein, 1954  

Using breath samples to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the Breathalyzer was the first practical compact device for use by police officers investigating traffic violations Robert Borkenstein's prototype for the first Breathalyzerand accidents.  It went on to revolutionize the ability of traffic enforcement officials to identify and prosecute drivers under the influence of alcohol. The Breathalyzer was commercially produced and adopted by law enforcement agencies throughout the country and world.

In 1958, Robert Borkenstein retired from the Indiana State Police and joined the Indiana University faculty as Chairman of the newly established Department of Police Administration (today Criminal Justice). In addition to his administrative roles, Borkenstein was an avid researcher and prolific figure in his field. One of his most significant research endeavors was the Grand Rapids Study of 1967-1968, the findings of which supported changing the legal blood alcohol content from 0.1 to 0.08.

Dental X-rays – Joseph Charles Muhler, circa 1950s

A proponent of the practice of preventative dentistry, during graduate school in 1945 IU alumnus and later faculty member Joseph Charles Muhler began research into over 150 fluoride compounds, then believed by dentists to be the solution to tooth decay. With continuing support from Procter & Gamble, he conducted clinical field tests on Bloomington, Indiana school children and demonstrated that stannous fluoride was the most effective at hardening and protecting tooth enamel.

Licensed to Procter & Gamble, the product was branded as Crest and was distributed nationally beginning in 1956. In 1960 the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Therapeutics endorsed Crest as an effective preventative measure against tooth decay.

Doris Joan Richards Neff Scrapbook, September 1945-August 1946

Often called Joan or Jo, Doris Richards entered Indiana University as a freshman in 1945 and lived in Sycamore Hall. She participated in the Archery Club and was a member of Pamarada (an honorary for independent women). During her time as a student, she meticulously kept a series of scrapbooks which document her Indiana University experience from 1945-1949. Highlights from her freshman year scrapbook include a cookie in the shape a tennis racket, a frog eye lens extracted in Zoology, a friend’s chewed gum and another’s peeled skin following a sunburn as well a more traditional items such as programs for campus athletic and social events, dried flowers and leaves, and cards from family and friends.

Joan graduated in 1949 with a BS in Physical Education with High Distinction and the same year married classmate Franklin Warner Neff.


Some other objects in the exhibit include Herman B Wells’s handmade underwear from the Elizabeth Sage Costume Collection; A petrified hen’s egg from 1835 found trapped inside the walls of the Wylie House Museum; the original 1955 Relax-A-cizor device from the Kinsey Institute Collections; and Diana Ross’s lunchbox and gold record from the film Bustin’ Loose from the Archives of African American Music and Culture, to name only a few.

This exhibition will open Friday, October 23 and continue through Wednesday, November 18. An opening reception will be held on Friday, October 23 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Grunwald Gallery. A noon talk will be presented by the curators and collection managers of several special collections on Friday, November 6 in the Grunwald Gallery.

“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.

New Themester Exhibit – Food on the Home Front: Wartime Production, Preservation and Deprivation on the IU Campus

The First and Second world wars caused a rise in patriotism as citizens across the country sought to contribute to the war effort. Away from the trenches and on the home front, in true Hoosier fashion Indiana University faculty, students and the Bloomington community rose admirably to the challenge to meet the very pressing issue of wartime food consumption.

Part 1: The Great War

IU President William Lowe Bryan message on the war effort.
IU President William Lowe Bryan message on the war effort.

With the entrance of the United States into the war in April 1917, the importance of agricultural aid and the nation’s food security increased exponentially. In August 1917, the Food and Fuel Control Act passed Congress and President Wilson created the Food Administration with Herbert Hoover named as head of the division. “Food Will Win the War” quickly became the slogan aimed at the American public to produce more and consume less in the name of victory by rethinking old patterns of consumption, a tactic that was so successful that it was used again during WWII. IU President William Lowe Bryan urged everyone to do their part:

Your first thought everyday should be in what most effectively serve your country in the greatest crisis in its history. If we are worthy to enjoy the liberty won for us by Washington and Lincoln, we must now fight for it anew. 

While young and able American men fought on the battlefields, women, children, the elderly and those left behind fought to ensure the security of the nation’s food supply and that of the allies.

 The University Farm and the Corn Crib

Indiana Daily Student, April 19, 1917
Indiana Daily Student, April 19, 1917
Indiana Daily Student, November 15, 1917
Indiana Daily Student, November 15, 1917

Following a call from Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich to increase food production, the city of Bloomington formed the Vacant Lot Garden Committee and the University allocated nearly 55 acres both to the north and in the heart of campus for tilling. In April 1917, the Indiana Daily Student reported that “almost every foot of available ground will be planted…The demand for teams to plow up vacant lots has set the price of this item soaring.”

Roughly northeast of the recently completed Men’s Gymnasium (the present day School of Public Health building), the University approved the removal of several trees and a plot of about seven acres was plowed and made available for garden plots. Similarly, according to several accounts, a corn crib was erected to store the produce on the hill directly north of the old Assembly Hall (razed in 1938).

 Student and Faculty Involvement 

In addition to their coursework, student groups across campus such as the Women’s Athletic Association stepped up to plant gardens. In 1917, a special course on agriculture was taught by Frederick John Breeze, a Fellow in the Department of Geology.

David Rothrock (Mathematics)
David Rothrock (Mathematics)

Outside of the classroom, faculty members such as William Frederick Book (Educational Psychology) and David Andrew Rothrock (Mathematics) used their personal property for the cause. Book planted potatoes in his “newly plowed bluegrass lawn” and Rothrock “raised a ton of honey” in his backyard. Even Theodore Louden, proprietor of the Alpha Hall dormitory, put out a garden, likely for the student cafeteria.

The “Back to the Farm” Movement

Indiana Daily Student, May 2, 1917
Indiana Daily Student, May 2, 1917

With every farmer being asked to plant and produce more than ever, school authorities across the country took steps to aid in the planting of the spring crop. President Bryan implored the student body to the cause stating that:

The food campaign is just now the most essential part of our great war. We wish, therefore, to provide for the enlistment for the food campaign in a manner as nearly as possible like that required of those who enlist in the army.

ListSimilar to the guidelines for cases of military enlistment, the Indiana Daily Student outlined the program stating that those:

who enlist in this work will receive entire credit for every hour they are carrying. For example, if a student is carrying fifteen hours of work, he will receive twelve hours of credit for his regular subjects, and the remaining three in general University credit or elective work.

According to the May 29, 1917 Indiana Daily Student a total of 217 students withdrew to become “soldiers of the soil.”

Lorena and Dorritt Degner

Indiana Daily Student, May 9, 1917
Indiana Daily Student, May 9, 1917

While the farm movement campaign primarily targeted male students, sisters Lorena and Dorritt Degner (a senior and junior respectively) eventually gained permission to withdraw from classes and return to their family farm near Winamac, Indiana.

Dorrit Degner
Dorrit Degner

In June, Lorena reported their activities to President Bryan in a letter:

Enlistment has ended, but work of course, is still going on, with corn-cultivating, laying and harvesting yet to be done. My brother and I have 40 acres of corn to cultivate, which will keep us busy until harvesting.

My average day of work was about 9 ½ hours and would have been a little more if rain had not stopped work two or three times. I did a little plowing, but almost all of my farm work has been farrowing and cultivating. My shortest day, except when it rained, was 8 hours, my longest 12.

After June 4, two hours each morning were spent in herding cows to pasture….

I am afraid this is becoming tedious. I question whether I have really done much for my country; I do think I have done more than by staying at I.U. and I am certainly glad you gave me an opportunity.

Lorena Degner
Lorena Degner

Tragically, Lorena I. Degner was killed in 1923 while on leave from her position as a nurse in the U.S Veterans’ Hospital No. 85 at Walla Walla, Washington. A train struck the bus in which she was traveling. President William Lowe Bryan, upon hearing of her death, paid her the following tribute in the October Alumni Quarterly:

I have been deeply shocked by the news of the death of Miss Lorena Degner. I remember her as one of our best students. She graduated from the University in 1918 with high distinction.

I remember especially one incident. In 1917 the University permitted boys to go home in order to work on the farms in the interest of a large food supply in support of our army. One day Miss Lorena Degner and her sister, Miss Dorrit Degner (now Mrs. S.C. Sledge), came into my office and asked to be released for work at home. I said that the release was given only for those who were going to work in the fields. They said that they were going home for that purpose. Those two girls were accordingly released along with hundreds of boys for this splendid was service. They deserve to be recognized along with the soldiers who went to the front. 

Food and the War Courses

Food and the War course, 1918
Food and the War course, 1918

The United States Food Administration turned to the country’s centers of education such as IU to “secure that degree of assistance in handling our food problems that cannot be obtained elsewhere.” The Federal Food Administrator for Indiana implored President William Lowe Bryan:

The food situation is such that only the closely-knit co-operation of all our best citizens can suffice to avert conditions that a year ago would have seemed unbelievable. WILL YOU HELP?”

Flosie Garrison certificate, 1918
Flosie Garrison certificate, 1918

In response, during the spring 1918 semester the University offered several courses directly tied to the war effort such as Food and the War, Foundations of Food and Nutrition and Conservation of Foods. Students such as Flosie Garrison (A.B. in English) and Alda Woodward (A.B. in Latin) received certificates of completion from the US Food Administration following a course taught by Home Economics Professor Edith Williams. They went on to become teachers after the war.

Wheatless, Meatless and Sugarless

As the war progressed, wheatless, meatless, and sugarless days were adopted at dinner tables across the nation, the local homes, boarding and Greek houses and the University Cafeteria. Faculty members such as Mabel Wellman of the Home Economics department offered lectures to the student body and the community on food conservation methods such as canning and drying and gave recommendations for suitable substitutes for wheat such as barley, buckwheat, corn, oatmeal, rice and potato flours.

Indiana University Newsletter, May 1918
Indiana University Newsletter, May 1918

Sample menus and recipes were printed in the local papers and the Extension Division distributed the newsletter “Recipes for Winning the War in the Kitchen.” Additionally, in cooperation with the Extension Divisions of Iowa and Wisconsin they produced three films on gardening, canning and drying which were immediately put into circulation in July 1917 in four states. While the films no longer exist, at the time Walton S. Bittner of the Extension Division reported that:

Calls for the films have been coming in rapidly….The Films are good. They accomplish their main purpose of helping to keep the idea of conservation before the public. They also give definite instruction in methods.

 The Hennel-Hendricks Family

Cecilia, Cora and Edith Hennel
Cecilia, Cora and Edith Hennel

Former IU faculty member Cecilia Hennel Hendricks regularly wrote her sisters Cora (an IU Professor of Mathematics) and Edith back in Bloomington from her bee farm in Powell, Wyoming. During the war years she recounted substituting wheat flour in recipes such as potato crackers and making apple-sauce barley cake from a recipe that the family sent her from the Indiana Daily Student. Cecilia also shared stories about honey from their farm being used by the Allies, local canning and drying demonstrations, and the specifics of canning vegetables, fruit, rice and meats such as chicken and even jack rabbit. In a letter dated October 12, 1917, she tells them:

To be sure there are some canned meats that are better than jack rabbit, but in this day and age – and especially region – jack rabbit is preferable to some things at three and four times the price. If you are interested get the government bulletin on canning meat, and be prepared. The government recommends killing off the cockerels and old hens in the fall, and canning them, so as to save feeding them over winter. You could do the rabbits same as chickens. Jack rabbit meat makes lovely meat loaf and brown stews and macaroni mixtures and mince meat, not to mention hassen pfeffer.


Coming next week – Part 2: World War II


World War I exhibit now on display at the IU Archives!

“Dedicated to the Brave Men of Indiana – Who Loved Their  Country More Than Knowledge – More than Life.”

        The 1918 Arbutus Dedication

Curated by Library Science graduate students Allison Haack and Alessandro Meregaglia, the exhibit Indiana University and the Great War: Student, Professor, and Alumni Involvement in World War I is now on display in the IU Archives!


The entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917, caused a rise in patriotism as people across the country sought to contribute to the war effort. The war had already been raging for nearly three years. Germany had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on all US ships and the contents of the Zimmerman Telegram had became public. The Indiana University community was eager to do its part to contribute to the war effort and President Bryan urged, “Your first thought every day should be in what you can most effectively serve your country.”  In true Hoosier fashion, the students, faculty, and alumni rose admirably to the occasion.

By the fall semester of 1918, 60 percent of the student population had enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps and students, professors, and alumni were sent overseas.  Male students enrolled in new Military Science courses to prepare for enlistment or joined the Ambulance Corps and were sent to France. Female students and staff volunteered at the campus Red Cross Workshop and through other war relief organizations. The Indiana Daily Student kept those on the homefront informed about the progress of the war, especially news of current students and alumni who had enlisted or gone abroad with the Red Cross.

Members of the S.A.T.C. marching on campus.
S.A.T.C. members outside of their barracks
Hospital beds were set up in the old Assembly Hall to combat the influenza epidemic
Hospital beds were set up in the old Assembly Hall to combat the influenza epidemic







Women at work in the Red Cross Workshop; photo from the 1918 Arbutus
Women at work in the Red Cross Workshop; photo from the 1918 Arbutus

The exhibit highlights wartime contributions from the IU Community such as one of the founders of Kappa Alpha Psi Elder Watson Diggs (Lieutenant, 92nd African-American Division, alumni Horace Goff (30th Engineer Regiment (Gas and Flame) and William R. Ringer (S.A.T.C enlistee), and Ernest P. Bicknell (Red Cross Humanitarian), and faculty members Edna G. Henry (Social Services Work) and Georgia Finley (Dietician). It also looks at the role of the S.A.T.C., changes to the IU curriculum to prepare male students for military service, the 1918 influenza epidemic on campus, and the armistice celebrations in Bloomington.

Visit the IU Archives on the 4th floor of the West Tower in room E460!