H228: Creating Archival Stories #3

Vernon Clayton Buchanan by Drake Daly

“If my death helps end the war one minute sooner, it is worthwhile.”

Lieutenant Vernon Clayton Buchanan

The words of Second Lieutenant and Indiana University alumnus Vernon Clayton Buchanan inspire a patriotic spirit in all those who might encounter his final letter. Graduating near the top of his class from Arsenal Tech high school in 1942 and entering Indiana University with two scholarships, Vernon abandoned his academic prospects for the call of duty that many men would hear around the time. The high performing academic would be just another grunt at boot camp, yet he rose quickly to Second Lieutenant, trusted with handling a B-25 bomber in the South Pacific theater. He would start over for a purpose larger than himself, a purpose that he was more than prepared to give his life for. By all recorded accounts, Vernon’s dedication to his country in conjunction with his collectedness serve as a lesson in teleology for now and times to come. 

One of many letters to George Heighway.

Entering Indiana University in the autumn of 1942, Vernon participated in the French club, participated in recreational sports, and became a member of ROTC. His excellent performance achieved him a Bronze medal, as he was “the best-drilled in his R.O.T.C company for 1942.” It was not long thereafter until he would begin more formal training in the Army. He enlisted in the Army Air Force Reserves on February 9, 1943, and began his training at Baer Field near Ft. Wayne, Indiana. One has to wonder if Vernon knew his time in college would be cut short; perhaps he was just taking it one day at a time. In April, Vernon was to take his academic talents to the world of military science at the Army Air Force Classification Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Assigned the role of a pilot, he began pre-flight training at Maxwell, Alabama. The prompt completion of this training landed him first south then west: from the Lodwick School of Aeronautics in Lakeland, Florida to the Navigation Training Center in Monroe, Louisiana. The training took 18 weeks, ending with his promotion to Second Lieutenant on January 15, 1944. Shortly thereafter, Vernon wrote home to George Heighway, the alumni secretary for Indiana University. Detailing his recent achievements, he expressed his enthusiasm for completing even more training at his new post in Roswell, New Mexico. “After completing a twelve-week course here, I will be graduated a dual-rated man: navigator-bombardier on 21 April. That will qualify me for a position on the new super bomber B-29. But so far, I haven’t been on anything larger than a C-60. So it’ll be a thrill to get me one of those ‘big ladies.’”  

“Rough Raiders” emblem (Watkins)

Vernon expressed a clear enthusiasm for translating his academic success to the realm of aeronautics. Although he did not gain possession of one of those “big ladies” he was able to command a B-25: a smaller yet powerful bomber built for evasive strafing and low-altitude bombing. Completing roughly two months of training in South Carolina, he and his team left the states in August, 1944, taking the B-25 all the way to Australia. It was not long before a short flight north would land him in New Guinea where he would complete even more combat training. After his training, he sent another letter to George Heighway from “Somewhere in the Philippines” on November 8, 1944. In the letter, he expresses his admiration for the Filipino people, recent training, and pride in being part of the 500th bombardment squadron, colloquially known as the Rough Raiders. As he described it, his squadron is credited with the most ships sunk and enemy aircraft destroyed. However, an impressive record as a low-altitude bomber does not come without incredible risk. His first combat mission would also be his last. Sometime before this mission, Vernon wrote a letter that would be sent back stateside in the event of his death.  

On a chilly February morning, 1945, the postman handed Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan that very letter. His parents thought its arrival had been a mistake. Somehow, their son was still alive “somewhere in the South Pacific.” They immediately wrote back to Indiana University to ask if the horrid news was true: had their son really died? George Heighway – the alumni secretary that had previously corresponded back and forth with Vernon via letter – solemnly informed Vernon’s parents of the stark reality of war. Lt. Vernon Clayton Buchanan went missing in action after the air raid over Luzon, the small island in the Philippines used as a Japanese flak base. In all likelihood, Vernon and his team of Rough Raiders crashed into the Pacific after sustaining heavy damage to their B-29 bomber.   

Dear Mother and Dad. This is a letter that I hope need never be delivered, for that would mean that I am considered missing or killed in action.

I need not tell you how I feel about you. I realize now that I could have done much more for you and proved myself a good son. As it is, I hope that you don’t feel that these years you have spent in raising me have been wasted.

I want to thank you for your love, your cares, the life and opportunities you have given me. I am sorry that now I will no longer be able to justify your belief in me.

Please don’t think that you have lost everything in losing your son. Remember, I volunteered for this and knew what it might lead to. I have spent some of my happiest moments in the A.A.F. I feel that I have done something to be proud of, something perhaps that will aid America to remain ‘the home of the free, and the land of the brave.’

If my death helps end this war one minute sooner, I consider it worth while.

Millions all over the world are fighting for what they believe in and for those they love; and thousands are dying. It is not in vain!”

Excerpts of Vernon Buchanan’s letter delivered to parents upon his death.

The short letter did not contain any curses of fate, lamentations, or woeful expressions. Throughout its entirety, Vernon expressed his love and respect for his family. He briefly apologized for any sorrow his loss might have caused and assured that his death would not be in vain. He addressed the allocation of his assets in a responsible and selfless manner. Moreover, he wished his girlfriend, Virginia, the courage to move on and be happy in life.  Towards the end of the letter, he playfully yet pointedly said a final goodbye to each one of his sisters, offering advice as well as encouragement. He ends with the quote from Whittier: “‘Tis better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.”  

Article concerning Vernon’s heroic death. (IU Archives, Collection C502)

Vernon wasted no time in his short chance at life. He grabbed it by the horns and embraced its victories along with its vicissitudes. He had the courage to drop everything and give America his very best effort. His poignant letter serves as evidence for his prudence in the face of destruction, as well as his stoic self-assurance that life would go on fine without him. We can only hope Vernon’s life will provide an example of a purposeful life for all those who might happen upon his story.  

Bibliography 

Watkins, Robert A. (2013). Insignia and Aircraft Markings of the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. Volume V, Pacific Theater of Operations. Atglen,PA: Shiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN978-0-7643-4346-9

[“If my death helps end the war one minute sooner, it is worth it”]. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?doc.view=entire_text&docId=InU-Ar-VAD4127 

[Lieutenant Vernon Clayton Buchanan]. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?doc.view=entire_text&docId=InU-Ar-VAD4127 

[Letter To George Heighway]. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2020, from http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?doc.view=entire_text&docId=InU-Ar-VAD4127 

Vernon Clayton Buchanan, Indiana University War Service Register records, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington. 

Tallman 1973, pp. 216, 228. 

H228: Creating Archival Stories #2

Charles J. Baker by Ariana Wilde

Charles Baker in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Figure 1: Charles Baker at the Leaning Tower of Pisa circa 1945, while stationed in Italy.

Charles J. Baker was one of the many Indiana University students whose education was disrupted by events outside his control (in the form of World War II and conscription); one of several similarities he bears to today’s IU students. While the young man enrolled in IU in fall 1942, there are no records in IU files indicating he ever graduated. However, unlike some of the others who were drafted or volunteered to serve in the war, Baker’s records also lack any killed in action notices. So, what happened to him after his enlistment? And how did his military service affect the course of his life? Also, how does his story contain parallels to our experiences? 

Charles Jewell Baker was born October 5, 1923 in Washington, D.C1. While he was a student in Bloomington, he listed his and his parents’ addresses as Washington, D.C., suggesting he attended IU as an out-of-state student. Considering how long such a drive would have taken and how many closer options he had, Baker–like today’s out-of-state and international students–had good reasons to choose IU. 

Baker only completed his freshman year at IU yet did well enough that he was part of the Freshman Honor Society of 1942-433. While at IU, he entered the Enlisted Reserve Corps in November 1942 and by July 1943, he was in the Quartermaster Corps Camp Lee, Virginia. The following April, Baker was stationed at Bari, Italy, serving in the Army Air Corps4

Yearbook photo
Figure 2: A 1948 yearbook page of seniors at George Washington University.

Despite only spending a year at Indiana University, Baker remained as invested in the school’s sports and campus news as students living in Bloomington. While stationed in Italy in 1944, he requested the schedules of the football and basketball teams as well as a subscription to the Indiana Alumni Magazine5.  

Mr. Baker also repeatedly expressed interest in returning to IU after the war, ideally during the fall of 1946.6 However, IU records show he did not. Nonetheless, he did continue his education. The 1948 yearbook of George Washington University indicates he did indeed resume college albeit at a different school7. In fact, given the fact that he joined the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Fraternity in December 1946, he apparently met his goal of reenrolling in fall 19468.  

Figure 3: Nancy Giglio’s 1948 yearbook page

Attending George Washington University instead of Indiana had a lasting impact on his life. In June 1949, shortly after graduating college, Baker married Nancy Giglio9. She appears as a senior in the same 1948 yearbook. In addition to getting a BA in Spanish, Nancy was involved in a variety of organizations, including Greek Life, the Cherry Tree Yearbook, student government, and soccer10. Presumably, given the time of their marriage, Nancy and Charles met at some point during their time at college, which would not have happened had Charles returned to IU.  

It is possible that his time in Italy influenced or at least confirmed his choice of career path. While his letters while stationed in Italy suggest an interest in math11, he ended up pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Service at George Washington University. In some 1945 correspondence12, Baker mentions a wonderful 10-day trip to Switzerland that “compensated in part” for having been “located for the past twenty months in Bari, Italy with an Army Air Forces Supply Depot.” Baker’s travel in that time period is also evident in Figure 1 above, where he is photographed in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, some 375 miles away from Bari13.  

Whether he had previously sought an international career or not, his experiences abroad continued. New York passenger arrival lists observe Charles and Nancy Baker returning from Paris in August 196214. By this point the couple lived in Arlington, Virginia. Interestingly, although she does not appear in the passenger manifest, her Virginia marriage record15 (with date of birth) demonstrates that the couple’s daughter Alexandra was almost 6-years old at the time of their trip. Based on his Washington Post obituary16, the Bakers had at least three more children at some point, whose names similarly are not on the manifest. While the couple may have simply gone on a vacation without their kids, it is also possible that the trip in question was related to work. According to his Delta Phi Epsilon obituary17, Baker went on to work for the CIA in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Morocco, and became the branch chief of North African affairs before he retired in 1973. Such a job likely involved a fair amount of travel. 

Figure 4: Tombstone in Arlington National Cemetery

Due to his service in World War II, Charles J. Baker was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, not too far away from where he grew up and later graduated from college18. While his path didn’t bring him back to Bloomington or Indiana after the war, Baker’s experience still offers a critical perspective of the IU experience at the time. His correspondence with the Indiana Alumni Magazine indicates an institution and its members trying to support students affected by the war. It also highlights a young man whose short time in Indiana nevertheless allowed him to connect with IU and Hoosiers, including Edward Hutton, whose address he specifically asks about19. The individual captured in the documents in the IU Archives bears a remarkable similarity to current students despite his very different circumstances: he had a favorite professor, participated in extracurricular activities like choir, enjoyed traveling abroad and learning about new cultures, and followed IU basketball. Charles Baker is an exemplar of what an IU student can aspire to, especially as we strive to balance education with drastic world-wide events. 

References 

1.     1930 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Washington, District of Columbia, page 4B, Enumeration District 0361, FHL microfilm 2340038. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls. 

2.     IU War Service Record, Indiana University War Service Register records, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, 1. 

3.     Ibid. 

4.     Ibid. 

5.     Baker, Charles. Charles Baker to Indiana Alumnae Association, September 22, 1944. Indiana University War Service Register, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington. 

6.     IU War Service Record, Indiana University War Service Register, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, 2. 

7.     George Washington University. Cherry Tree 1948 Yearbook. Washington D.C.: Graduating Class of 1948, 1948. U.S. School Yearbooks 1900-1999, Ancestry.com, 16. 

8.     “Chapter Eternal.” Delta Phi Epsilon, last modified January 2014. http://www.deltaphiepsilon.net/Chapter_Eternal.html 

9.     District of Columbia, Marriage Records, 1810-1953, Ancestry.com. Marriage RecordsDistrict of Columbia Marriages. Clerk of the Superior Court, Records Office, Washington D.C.  https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=61404&h=35517&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=9278  

10.   George Washington University. Cherry Tree 1948 Yearbook. Washington D.C.: Graduating Class of 1948, 1948. U.S. School Yearbooks 1900-1999, Ancestry.com, 24. 

11.  Baker, Charles. Charles Baker to Indiana Alumnae Association, September 22, 1944. Indiana University War Service Register, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington. 

12.  IU War Service Record, Indiana University War Service Register, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, 2. 

13.  Archive Photograph Collection. Charles Baker, P0067303. Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington. http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/archivesphotos/results/item.do?itemId=P0067303&searchId=1&searchResultIndex=1 

14.  New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1967, Ancestry.com. Selected Passenger and Crew Lists and Manifests. The National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/imageviewer/collections/1277/images/42804_336747-07398?pId=6098269 

15.  Virginia, Marriages, 1936-2014, Ancestry.com, Roll: 101142203Virginia Department of Health. Richmond, Virginia. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=charles-jewell-baker&pid=15231322

16.  “Charles Jewell Baker.” Washington Post, September 28, 2005. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=charles-jewell-baker&pid=15231322 

17.  “Chapter Eternal.” Delta Phi Epsilon, last modified January 2014. http://www.deltaphiepsilon.net/Chapter_Eternal.html 

18.  National Cemetery Administration. U.S. Veterans’ Gravesites, ca.1775-2019, Ancestry.com. National Cemetery Administration. Nationwide Gravesite Locator. https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=8750&h=3697857&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=60901 

19.  IU War Service Record, Indiana University War Service Register, Collection C502, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, 2. 

H228: Creating Archival Stories #1

With it being Veterans Day, we are so pleased that we are able to begin to roll out the results of a recent course collaboration. This semester, University Archives Director Dina Kellams worked with Ron Osgood’s Honors H228: Creating Archival Stories course. For one of their assignments, students were asked to select an IU affiliate from the Archives War Service Register records and dig into their story. Due to COVID, students were not able to visit the Archives so all research was done online, largely through free or subscription services available to them through IU Libraries, and the students did a marvelous job. We will continue to share some of the stories through the next week or so. Hope you enjoy these samples of student work and the stories they discovered!

Robert William Bulmer by Marie Renahan

Navy portrait of Bulmer
Navy portrait taken of Robert circa 19421

World War II changed the course of the lives of many students at Indiana University. Some students chose to join a branch of the military instead of completing a degree, while others delayed attending college until after returning home. The stories of these IU students can be found in the Indiana University War Service Register records, where documents have been collected about each of the Indiana University students who served in a U.S. war between 1920 and 1946. Robert William Bulmer was one of those students. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the many files in Robert’s folder are change-of-address cards (about 20 of them!) that offer only simple details about his postal address during his deployment in the U.S. Navy. However, when seen as a whole, these cards help create a richer history of the complex life Robert led as a Navy Lieutenant and the Hoosier spirit he kept after leaving IU.  

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Robert’s draft card. He entered the service in 1941.5 

Robert Bulmer was born on August 23, 1920 in Gary, Indiana. He attended IU from Fall 1939 through Spring 1941 before entering service with the U.S. Navy on November 21, 1941. Shortly after returning home at the end of his service, he married Marjorie Evelyn Barnes and moved to Logansport, IN.2 After serving in the Korean War and working at Pepsi-Cola for several years, he died in 1999 at the age of 78 in New Albany, Indiana.3,4  

By looking at the records of his life during WWII, Robert’s experiences during the war come alive. For example, one newspaper clipping from November 23, 1942 in the Gary Indiana Post-Tribune congratulates Robert on graduating naval aircraft school with high marks.2 Interestingly enough, most of his files are change-of-address postcards sent to the alumni office to ensure the safe delivery of alumni magazines to each new destination as Robert sailed with the U.S. Navy. These forms create a unique perspective on Robert’s service—we can see the frequent changes in location and the constant motion that was needed to keep the Navy running in WWII. 

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Card from the Alumni Office that outlines some of Robert’s address changes2 

The card above gives a summary of many of the address changes Robert reported to the alumni office. Some of his assignments only last a month or two before he is moved to a new location or ship. Robert sent mail from San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and many more places all in three years of service.2 It is unknown where exactly he travelled by sea with the Navy, but Robert fought for several years in the Pacific, indicated by all of the addresses listed on the west coast. Additionally, he stayed at the Sigma Chi House at Wabash College in Crawfordsville to study and complete military training for almost a year.6 Despite constantly moving with new Navy assignments, Robert made it a focus to continually update his address with the alumni office to continue receiving alumni magazines. 

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One of Robert’s more patriotic postcards, sent from Miami, Florida in 19452 
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Robert made his enthusiasm for the issues of the alumni magazine very clear. He thanked the alumni office each time he sent a change of address, paid his fees diligently, and noted every change of address—even if he only stayed in that location for a few months. Many of the notes include nostalgic messages, like “thinking of the good old days at Indiana…” from his July 13, 1944 postcard, and “thanks a million for keeping me informed about campus activities” from his March 1, 1942 note. Robert does apologize for the constant changes of address after missing a few issues of the magazine, saying “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it—every time I thought I had settled down for a while, I was moved on again,” in a letter updating his address on April 4, 1945.2 

Image of letter
1945 letter apologizing for all of the address changes2 

I imagine that with so many unexpected moves, it would have been lovely to experience a bit of home and feel some nostalgia with the monthly updates in the alumni magazine. His excitement for the alumni magazine is also more understandable when viewed with his enthusiasm for the school in a wide variety of activities. In the first record from November 14, 1942, Robert notes that he actively participated in the Acacia fraternity, was the sophomore manager for the swim team, worked as a staff member for the Arbutus yearbook, and played an instrument in band. He must have had lots of school spirit during college. He remarks that “the alumni magazine was a swell surprise” and says he “think[s] of IU often and back[s] her 100%.”2 He wanted to stay connected to his home at Indiana University, and the magazines were a reminder of our Hoosier spirit even during war. 

After writing so many post cards, and with several years of serving in the Navy in locations all over the U.S., Robert returned to Indiana.3 He married Marjorie Barnes on July 1, 1944 and they welcomed their first son on August 2, 1945.2, The couple also had another son and daughter,7,8 and they moved to Gary, Indiana while Robert took on a job at Standard Steel Spring.2 He and his family finally settled down in Logansport, Indiana, where Robert eventually became the vice-president of Pepsi-Cola general bottlers for the region.4,7 Robert also served in the Korean War, but unfortunately, few records remain regarding this service. 

A newspaper clipping announces the upcoming wedding of Robert and Marjorie2 

Robert’s life in the Navy and constant change of scenery was encapsulated so uniquely through this series of postcards and letters. His complex history of address changes during WWII surprisingly showed his passion for IU and his continued Hoosier spirit. Robert fought bravely for our country for many years, but always found time to keep up to date on his alumni magazines and stay connected to his fellow students. 

References 

  1. Robert William Bulmer [Photograph]. (n.d.). Archives Photo Collection, Indiana University, Bloomington IN. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/archives/photos/P0067280 
  1. Bulmer, Indiana University War Service Register [Photograph]. (n.d.). Archives Online at Indiana University, Indiana University, Bloomington IN. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/findingaids/view?brand=general&docId=InU-Ar-VAD4127&chunk.id=VAD4127-03665&startDoc=1#mets=http%3A%2F%2Fpurl.dlib.indiana.edu%2Fiudl%2Farchives%2Fmets%2FVAD4127-03688&aid=VAD4127-U-04211&page=1 
  1. Robert W. Bulmer (1920-1999). (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/172885570/robert-w.-bulmer
  1. Indiana Death Certificates: Robert W. Bulmer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=60716&h=3235647&tid=&pid=&queryId=80da612bb5327b69b104043ecc0c4389&usePUB=true&_phsrc=lAz5&_phstart=successSource
  1. Bulmer Draft Card. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2238&h=40551652&tid=&pid=&queryId=80da612bb5327b69b104043ecc0c4389&usePUB=true&_phsrc=lAz5&_phstart=successSource
  1. Gregerson, R. (2006, September 21). V12 Reunion Brings Back Unique Alumni Group. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://www.wabash.edu/news/displaystory.cfm?news_ID=3845 
  1. Obituary: Robert W. Bulmer. (1999, April 28). The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), p. 16. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://www.newspapers.com/image/?clipping_id=46404236&fcfToken=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJmcmVlLXZpZXctaWQiOjExMDk4MTIzOSwiaWF0IjoxNjAyNjc2NjM3LCJleHAiOjE2MDI3NjMwMzd9.6geLiUUROWKhjL5MnQy1gB1oaulk3sy2BiAVFuo_0-A 
  1. Marjorie Evelyn Bulmer. (2007, October 17). Logansport Pharos Tribune. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://obituaries.pharostribune.com/obituary/marjorie-bulmer-717739521 

Union Board Scrapbooks highlight IU events over the years

For more more than 100 years, the Union Board has organized events on campus that have elevated the IU experience. The IU Archives holds a collection of Union Board scrapbooks that highlight the board’s events and programs from the 1930s through the 2000s. They are a wonderful look into IU history and at the events that shaped many IU students’ experiences across the last several decades.

Photograph of John Whittenburger, founder of the Union Board, originally printed in the 1911 Arbutus, P0047175

As I dug into the history of the Union Board, I realized the Union Board existed before the construction of the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). In fact, it was first founded by IU student John M. Wittenburger in 1909 with a goal to “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.”

Originally comprised of male students and two male faculty advisers, including Indiana University President William L. Bryan, the group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall until the construction of the Union in 1932. Their focus was on enriching the lives of IU students, faculty and staff through unique events, activity and programs. Initiatives ran the gamut, from socials and dances, fairs, movie screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, and more.

From the Archives Photograph Collection, titled, “The Indiana Union barbershop located in the Student Building,” from the 1912 Arbutus, P0048276.

One early example of the Union Board’s impact on campus comes from the 1912 IU Arbutus. One page includes a picture of a barbershop in the Student Building attributed to the early Union board.

The Union Board went co-ed in 1952 when it merged with the Association of Women Students, and over time has grown to become an elected student governing body that leads the IMU, directs handfuls of committees – including the Campus Creative Arts committee, Concert committee, and the popular Live From Bloomington committee – and is now the largest student programming organization on campus.

One of the longest running and likely one of the best known Union Board programs, Union Board Films, was first rolled out in 1914 under the program’s early name, “Let’s go to the Union Movies.” It has brought screenings of popular films to campus for free or cheap, providing a fun and cost-effective weekend event an easy walk from the dorms. Originally held two nights a week, the recent film program offers showings of newly released movies in the Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium most weekends during the school year.

Schedule of Union Board Films from the Spring semester 1987. From 1986-1987 (book 3), in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Another area of Union Board programming, music and comedy events, are well represented in the pages of the scrapbooks. The board has brought all types of musical acts and comedy events to campus, both large and more intimate. Union Board Concerts committee brought BB King to campus in 1971.  In 1979, the committee featured the rock band Heart. In 2001, Union Board events featured comedian Dave Chappelle. In addition to massive musical and comedy acts, the Union Board has also hosted smaller, localized music and comedy, including their well-known local music series called Live From Bloomington and local comedy improv and sketch group events.

Clipping advertising one of many Union Board concerts, this one promoting the B.B. King concert from the 1971 scrapbook, in March 19,1971 – April 14, 1972 within the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Clipping advertising Union Board-sponsored concert event featuring the band Heart, February 1979, from October 1978-February 1979 in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Scrapbook page highlighting a 2001 Union Board comedy event that brought Dave Chappelle to the IU Auditorium. From 2001 in the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Ticket stubs and event programs, news clippings and photographs featured in these scrapbooks provide a glimpse of not only the workings of the Union Board over the years, but also a glimpse of the way student life has changed over the years. The scrapbooks range from the 1930s all the way up to the 2010s, and the richness of campus life from such a broad range of IU history is really interesting to behold! Check out the scrapbooks here and find out more about the Union Board’s current programming and committees!

Fostering Friendships, Not Boundaries – The IU Chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club

IU students have always done their part in difficult times to stay close and foster friendships and understandings between people from all over the world. Just before and during World War I, a group of students at IU formed a chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club, receiving their charter from the national organization in 1918. The goal of the club was to bring American students and foreign students together to foster international fellowship and peace under the motto “Above all nations is humanity.”

An image from the 1922 Arbutus of the members of the Cosmopolitan Club, taken sometime in the fall of 1921. IU Archives Photograph Collection, P0054058.

The first attempt to create the club at IU, after a Cosmopolitan Club member at the University of Wisconsin in 1907 invited IU students to create one and attend their first convention, did not pan out. However, nine years later, 12 international students successfully began IU’s Cosmopolitan Club. The club included members from dozens of countries as well as students from the state and across the U.S. Interest and membership in the Club remained high through the early to mid 1960s, but participation in the club waned by 1969, the last year the club was pictured in the Arbutus.

List of foreign-born students, Indiana University, from Original items, 1941-1943 and undated, Cosmopolitan Club records, 1916-1970.

The club’s most popular event, called the International Dinner, was a hit on campus. Originally started as an “International Revue” in 1922, guests paid a small fee to dine on international food and watch international students perform their nation’s folk dances, music and other entertainment. They also hosted an International Variety Show, which featured international student’s cultural dances.

Cover page of the program for the club’s annual International Dinner, October 1955. From Events, 1922-1970 undated, in the Cosmopolitan Club Records, 1916-1970.

The club was the foundation of many events of IU’s annual International Week organized by the International Affairs Commission that also celebrated the United Nations. The last record of an International Dinner in the collection dates to 1970, the last recorded active year of the club.

Article from the IDS titled, “The Cosmopolitan Club: It brings together many nationalities” from 1942. Located in Clippings, 1916-1958, undated in Cosmopolitan Club records, 1916-1970.

The club files span much of their active years at IU, and focus mostly on various subject files by year and items and clippings from club scrapbooks. Notable files include the club’s constitution, publications related to their events, club correspondence, copies of the club’s newsletter the Cosmo Reporter, initiation files and local news clippings related to the club and its activities that span decades at IU that included significant political and societal change. Discover more digital items in the finding aid here!