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.  

Text, letter

Description automatically generated
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. 

page22image59491136
Verso of card
page21image24842512
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. 

Text, letter

Description automatically generated
One of Robert’s more patriotic postcards, sent from Miami, Florida in 19452 
Text, letter

Description automatically generated

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 

Sincerely Yours: Trade-Lasts and Lasting Letters

Guest post: Christine Wagner is the Administrative Secretary in IU Libraries Administration. 

Because the pandemic has many of us working at home, opportunities have presented themselves.  I joined the Archives’ Great Coronavirus Transcribe-a-thon, helping to transcribe the letters of Daniel Biddle, who attended IU from 1893 to 1895 and later became a seminal figure in the Indiana insurance business. His beautifully written letters and descriptions, along with his picture, have already been featured in an earlier blog about the “Removal Question.”

My task was to type his letters to Janie, his future wife. I jumped at the chance, because I thought there might be a bit of romance in them.  However, they are mostly prim and proper as one would expect from the late 1800s.  He describes classes, fires, his roommates, visiting lecturers, and the famous IU Scrap between the Freshman and Sophomore classes, of which he seems wary.  Yet, just as flirting in elementary school includes contrary behavior, Dan begins to tease Janie his second year.  He explains that her high school chemistry is “baby chemistry” for which he then has to apologize for:

I most humbly beg your pardon for “making so much fun” of your school affairs. I may be mistaken, but I think I have always praised them very highly. Of course I have not spoken of them in such glowing terms as I use in speaking of affairs here, but it is only just that I should not.

Pressed flower sent to Janie September 22, 1894.
Wayside Flowers flower, September 22, 1894

Also, he starts inserting tidbits about his familiarity with young ladies:  “By the way there is a pretty nice looking girl here where we room but have not yet succeeded in getting acquainted with her. Guess she is afraid of us. Girls are generally afraid of the boys you know.”

But Dan is an equal opportunity flirt and gives Janie the reins several times with inducements such as:

I would invite him (Dan’s roommate Eli who apparently has a mustache Janie finds intriguing) home with me some time but I am afraid you would _____ _____ ____ _____ _____ ____ _____ _____ _____. You can fill out the blanks some rainy day, or some time when you have all your lessons & have nothing else to do.

The paragraph Dan writes that includes blanks for Janie to fill in.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, October 3, 1894

Blanks become a frequently used strategy in the letters, though they never get filled in. Dan suggests the words that populate the blanks be shared in person.

There are further discussions on the role of women and men. Obviously replying to something Janie has pointed out, Dan responds:

I did not mean to say that all boys only care to have one girl. I was just stating the rule. Of course it has exceptions, but they are rare. Eli only has three or four girls I think. Yes, ‘boys are altogether lonely creatures.’ You surely hit the nail on the head that time. It’s a good thing to be able to know the truth when one sees it.

Later, he asserts women come to college to find someone to marry.  At times, it feels as if he is baiting Janie!

The culmination of their flirtation can be summed up in one hyphenated word: trade-lasts. On November 5, 1894 Dan writes, “So you have a trade–last for me have you, well I have one for you too. Now, as Tom Sawyer says its a ‘sure enough’ trade–last too, not one manufactured for the occasion as some I have heard of.”

When I first read it, I thought perhaps he had a trade magazine for her, but then the term came up again at the letter’s end: “If you wish to trade trade-lasts, box yours up and send it, and I will send mine in return guarenteeing [guaranteeing] it to be of good quality.”

The paragraph Dan writes when mentioning trade-lasts and Mark Twain.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, November 5, 1894

I hit the Internet to discover a trade-last was an exchange of compliments according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In John F. Clark’s article about trade-lasts in American Speech I found out they were a “purely American phenomenon,” shared by young people from the 1890s to the 1930s, and have been documented linguistically throughout the Midwest.[1]

Not being an expert on relationships now or in the 19th century, I do not pretend to know the psychology between Dan and Janie, but it appears that the flirting and the baiting and the blanks get to be a little too much. Dan apologizes more:

I believe I did not say what you said [“implied” above first “said”] I said, but think I said that I said what I meant and meant what I said in the case in question; at least I say now that I do not always say what I mean or mean what I say. Beg your pardon for the first of this statement.

The paragraph Dan writes apologizing to Janie saying words are dumb things.
Letter, Daniel Biddle to Janie Bartee, November 25, 1894

And more apologies:

Well now for that marveless [marvelous] letter you spoke of, which, it seems, you unfortunately misunderstood. I thought you understood that my reckless remarks were only in fun, and am sorry to learn you thought them otherwise. I am aware of the truth of your statement that ones thoughts look funny on paper. Words are poor dumb things when written and sometimes express in a feeble way what is intended, and in a powerful way that which was not intended. In conversation the manner in which a thing is said & the expression of the face often mean more than the spoken words. I possibly did not bear this in mind when writing my last letter, and hence passed over the danger line without realizing it. I however beg your pardon for the past, and promise to be more careful in the future.

Dan seems to be adept at tongue and cheek. By winter break, Janie has a “bone to pick with him.” Afterwards, it is clear one of Dan’s friends has shared something unsettling with her. As the reader of the letters, we never truly find out, but Dan and Janie gingerly begin to talk of trade-lasts again.

Amidst the sharing of Latin, James Whitcomb Riley phrases, book recommendations, and hometown gossip, the two navigate their growing closer.  By the end of Dan’s last year, there is a hesitation between them, a backing away from the flirtation and, perhaps, a maturity.  In his last letter to her, Dan shares, “Yes, I think I have noticed somewhat of a change in you. I am better acquainted with you now than before…”

It is an intimate privilege to read someone else’s letters to their future spouse. I had to remind myself that even though these were Dan’s words, it was Janie who kept the letters in the first place. I knew from the biographical information on the finding aid that Janie died before Dan. Having had two sons and hopefully of fulfilling life, she died of diphtheria at age 51.[2]  After Janie’s initial keeping the letters safe, it was Dan and their family who kept them and eventually gave them to the Archives. Quite a loving gesture for quite a budding love affair.

All of the letters have been digitized and are available through the finding aid. The transcriptions are not publicly available yet, so just reach out to the Archives if you would like access!

[1] APA: Clark, J. (1983). The Vainglorious Trade-Last: A Reappraisal. American Speech, 58(1), 20-30. doi:10.2307/454748

[2] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 01 June 2020), memorial page for Jane “Janie” Bartee Biddle (29 Mar 1874–21 Dec 1925), Find a Grave Memorial no. 56935303, citing Remington Cemetery, Remington, Jasper County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Alana Knochel Bauman (contributor 47076457) .

Honors H228: Archival Storytelling – Part 5

Fall 2018 the University Archives partnered with Media School professor emeritus Ron Osgood and his new Honors Course Archival Storytelling. His students spent several class sessions in the Archives researching a topic of their choice and crafting a blog post for inclusion here! Some students chose to provide overviews of collections while others dove into specific bits of IU Bloomington history, but all seemed to enjoy the experience. We’ll be sharing these posts in groups over the next few weeks. In order to ensure the student’s voices are heard, Archives staff did minimal editing on these pieces.

This is the last entry, so many thanks to Prof. Osgood and his class for these great pieces!

______________________

The History of Television at IU by Michelle Stallman and Alyssa Woolard

Even though television is an everyday part of life now, it has not always there to provide us with entertainment, inform us with news updates, and enlighten us with educational programming. Today, a student in the Indiana University Media School has the option to study a variety of media subjects, including not only the business of television, but also how to create television programs. Yet before we had the structure we have now, the Media School underwent numerous changes throughout its lifetime. The Department of Journalism, created in 1911, was the foundation of media studies at Indiana University, but it wasn’t until 1945, when the Department of Radio was founded, that studying newer forms of mass communication, specifically television, had a place in the curriculum at IU.

During the 1940s, television broadcasting was a new form of mass communication. Throughout this decade, only a handful of American households owned a television set, as they were very expensive, and therefore inaccessible, especially during wartime. In addition, there were not very many television networks for people to watch, and in many communities, there were no network signals that could reach them.
For almost the entirety of the 1940s, Bloomington did not have a local network. This changed on November 11th, 1949, when the city of Bloomington first broadcast WTTV. It was the second network in Indiana, with the only precedent being WFBM-TV (now known as WRTV) starting their broadcast in May of 1949, only four months prior. In its early years, WTTV operated as an NBC affiliate station before becoming an independent station in 1957. It has since gone through a number of affiliate changes, but it currently operates with CBS in the Indianapolis area, despite still being licensed to Bloomington.

As television rose in popularity and became more accessible to the general public in the early 1950s, people began to develop strong opinions and beliefs when it came to watching it. During these early days of television, limited access to content meant that television viewers did not have any control over what they watched, as seen in this letter to the editor from an Indiana newspaper. An Indianapolis resident describes his disdain with the programming available through WFBM-TV, which was, at that point in time, the only network available in the city. The writer describes often becoming bored with his television, turning to his radio for entertainment instead. This lack of programming meant that there was room for many more networks to be established so that viewers could have more variety and options when looking for entertainment, news, or education.

Indianapolis Times, “Television, 1944-1953,” Collection C104.12

In an Indianapolis Times article from this period, a survey is summarized which asked television viewers how they pass the time during the commercial breaks of their favorite television programs. A common answer for women at the time was to do the dishes, while many men opted to take showers during the breaks.  Other answers varied from talking with family members to reading. It seemed that only one person answered that they liked to watch the commercials. A common disdain for commercials may go back further than we think.

All of this increased interest in television as its popularity rose meant that this new form of media needed to be studied so that students could harness its power. Indiana University, specifically, was interested in not only the commercial uses for a television studio, but also the educational uses. For a number of years, members of IU’s staff championed for the addition of Television to the Department of Radio, only to be turned down at every corner. However, the university’s decision against adding a television curriculum was not a lack of importance on the subject, but rather a lack of funds.

“Television Allocations, 1950-1951,” Collection C104.12

During a TV hearing in 1950, Herman B Wells, then the president of Indiana University, said on the matter: “So far the University’s budget has been very modest as compared to the cost of television facilities and equipment. We look forward to the time when, besides cooperating with commercial stations, Indiana University and other educational institutions may have their own educational television facilities.” In 1953, this dream for a TV department in the university became a reality. IU set aside $75,000 for the purpose of adding television to the Department of Radio, more than $49,000 of which was allocated solely to buy television equipment.

A likely contribution to the university finally accepting a television addition was their previous usage of television for educational purposes.  Starting in 1954, classes were offered via television. Instead of having to physically show up to class, students could use their televisions to watch lectures and take courses remotely, much like how online classes are taken today.  These programs were produced in the television studios at IU and were broadcast through Bloomington’s network, WTTV. The university used this technology to allow for larger class sizes by televising a lecture to other halls on campus. Because of this, a wider variety of courses were offered each semester through television, from English, to First Aid, to Art Appreciation.

“Recording Class,” 1961. IU Archives P0072232

With the introduction of television to the curriculum at the newly dubbed Department of Radio and Television, a number of different courses were developed that handled a variety of television-related subjects. Many of the courses offered in the late 1950s bear a strong resemblance to the courses current Media School students take. There were some classes that worked with television on a more foundational level, like “Television Production” and “Introduction to Radio and Television I”, while others dove into more specific realms of the TV world, like “Educational Writing for Radio and Television” and “Reporting and Newswriting for Radio and Television I”.

One such course was “Utilization of Television Films”, taught by William H. Kroll in the late 1950s. The idea behind the course was to teach both the theory and practice of making and using films for television. Kroll’s class taught the fundamental principles, production, and programming of films for television. Students learned in detail about topics like how to shoot and edit film, understanding copyright laws, and principles of film and television. Many of the points outlined in the syllabus resemble subjects taught in modern courses like “Introduction to Production Techniques and Practice,” a course that students can take now in the Media School to learn more about studio and field work for television. Even the activities resemble those completed in current courses.

Students tested their skills in writing narrations for newsreels and commercials, and they wrote essays about topics like copyright law. In the laboratory section of the class, students were able to practice shooting and processing a variety of films, like for a short film and for a news event. While how and where we consume television may have changed, many of the principles taught have remained the same.

Today, the Media School encapsulates a variety of subjects, including journalism, game design, production, and advertising, just to name a few. As the number of mass media forms has grown, so has Indiana University’s Media School. Originally just the Department of Journalism, the college grew to incorporate radio, television, film, video games, and digital media.

Although new forms of media have arisen, television continues to be a vital part of our culture today. Teachers continue to show educational films during classes, and television remains dominant in providing news to the people. However, as technology has advanced, distance learning has changed. Today, online courses are used to learn at home instead of television courses, but that does not change the impact and influence that they had over the education of today. While the television studios used by Media School students today may look a lot different than the ones used in the 1950s, they remain steadfast in the teaching and application of many of the same principles.

______________________

The Eggshell Press by Ethan Fields

When it comes to American History, there are very few decades that saw a cultural, political and social revolution equivalent to that of the 1960s. During this time period, civil and social unrest that had been brewing for years finally boiled over into all aspects of American life. From the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, to music, the counterculture and political demonstrations, our nation was in the middle of a major shift that created ripples we still feel and see today. Almost all, if not every town and city in America felt the effects of the changes occurring in the 1960s, and Bloomington, Indiana was no different. As a college town, many demonstrations and rallies were taking place that protested the injustices our nation had were/had been promoting such as the Vietnam War, corrupt politicians/policies and systematic racism. And thanks to a single mimeograph machine, the people’s messages were able to be spread across campus and the town of Bloomington.

This mimeograph machine went by the name of the Eggshell Press and was active from the fall of 1967 to August of 1968. Residing in a spare bedroom belonging to Carol B. Chittenden and her husband, this machine printed everything from flyers to memorandums that were passed out during and after vigils, marches, demonstrations and rallies. It is interesting to note that the machine got its name when people suggested that the materials being printed off should be copyrighted. In order to copyright the materials, though, a publisher was mandatory and so the machine and organization became known as the Eggshell Press. This organization was very special and unique in the sense that no single group was responsible for or owned the machine. Instead, student groups used the machines when they had a message they wanted to get out so their voices could be heard. Examples of issues the Eggshell Press addressed include the Vietnam War, draft resistance, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and other major cultural events that occurred during this time period.

As evident from the subject matter being printed, a majority of the student groups using the machine could be considered part of the “New Left.” But while this is the case, there are two distinct “series” that were printed by the Eggshell Press during its lifespan. The first series, now referred to as “Organizations”, consisted of publications made by student run organizations at Indiana University such as the Students for Democratic Society, the Committee to End the War in Vietnam and the Progressive Reform Party. These organizations produced materials that voiced liberal views on several issues that were occurring in the United States during the mid to late 60’s, such as the ones listed above. A second series, which is now referred to as “Subjects”, contains materials that discussed topics such as the ones listed above along with the Dow Recruitment demonstration and James Retherford, who was once the editor-in-chief of an underground student newspaper known as The Spectator. All of these topics had a “New Left”/liberal perspective as well with the “Subjects” series being more information based than the “Organizations” series. This is because the materials printed during this series not only touched upon important social movements that were occurring at the time, but other “miscellaneous” events that were not related to protests or any other major movements. The documents recorded under “miscellaneous” reveal and discuss subjects such as financial transactions and a graduate student petition to President Stahr.

All in all, the history of the Eggshell press is fascinating. To me, it makes sense and fits right in with the social movement that was occurring at the time. In a decade where citizens of the United States were beginning to fully realize how much power and impact they had when it came to changing American society and politics, the Eggshell press served a great purpose and allowed Indiana University students to voice their concerns and ideas. One of my favorite publications from this collection can be found in the “Organizations” series and is called Committee to End the War in Vietnam, 1967-1968. In this group of publications, there are several pieces regarding resisting the draft, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the promotion of peace and love. Out of these, I found myself drawn to the leaflet that discussed resisting the Vietnam draft. The thing that drew me towards this specific print is that it points out what rights you have as a citizen and student and how they apply to the draft. For example, in the leaflet, it has lines such as “YOU’RE STILL A CIVILIAN WHILE YOU ARE IN THIS BUILDING. YOU ARE UNDER CIVIL LAW UNTIL YOU ARE INDUCTED INTO THE ARMY. Don’t let the military push you around; make them treat you with respect. You are not machines under their command” and “YOU CAN STAND UP LIKE A MAN AND SAY NO TO THE WAR MACHINE. Why join the military? Why kill in Vietnam? RESIST THE DRAFT.” These lines stuck out to me because of how direct and serious they were presented. It made me realize how serious of a matter this issue was to students, especially the ones who were part of the Committee to End the War in Vietnam at the time. It also forced me to consider how widespread this opinion on the Vietnam War and the draft was across the country. Because not only were students on IU’s campus protesting this event, celebrities and athletes such as Mohammad Ali were as well. And even though it meant risking your reputation and life as a free citizen, they were willing to put it all on the line in order to stand up for what they believed in.

Due to the fact that we, as a nation, are currently in a period of strong division and opposition, the Eggshell press was something I could relate to. Even though the issues they are covering and promoting are not the same, there are a lot of parallels to what we are seeing and experiencing today. In the end, the Eggshell represents what we, as both students and citizens, have the power and right to do as Americans. We deserve to have our voice heard and if we try hard enough, it will be.

______________________

Martha Vicinus, Women’s Studies, and 1970s Feminism by Meredith May

Almost every college student can say they have heard of a gender/women’s studies course, or that they have met a gender/women’s studies major. This has not always been the case, of course. At Indiana University in particular, women’s studies became a part of the content offered in the year 1973. A woman named Martha Vicinus was a faculty member from within the English department, and she was integral in aiding the development and popularity of these courses. Upon examining the Martha Vicinus papers available at the University Archives, it becomes evident that there was an extreme amount of dedication of herself and other faculty members to create courses and education surrounding women, their history, great works, and the problems they faced in that day in age.

Martha and her colleagues not only worked to offer classes at Indiana University relative to women’s studies, but they also hosted the Midwest Women’s Studies Conference and something they called “Brown Bag Luncheon Discussions”. These discussions allowed for presentations of information relative to Women’s Studies and beyond over a light lunch. The plan for one such event is as follows “Judith Davis of SPEA will present information on ‘How to Get a Job.’ Ms. Davis, who conducted an earlier luncheon discussion on job discrimination, will talk about such problems as writing resumés, interviewing for jobs, and finding a job that fits one’s interests. She will also discuss assertiveness training techniques which have been developed to simulate job interview situations and to teach the job applicant how to present her/himself in the most positive possible manner.” As evident with this quote from a paper titled News From Women’s Studies, the luncheons were not only directed at and about women, they were also inclusive of men.

They regularly met in a group they called the “Women’s Studies Coordinating Committee”, where they planned and discussed possible events and programming that they would sponsor on campus. The committee came together nearly every week, and members held regular correspondence with one another. One document alludes to their being approximately 13 members in the period from 1974-75, Martha being one of them. This committee was responsible for the aforementioned Midwest Women’s Studies Conference, and thus organized the panels, workshops, and “nuts and bolts” of the occasion. They also were the sponsor and coordinators behind the Brown Bag Luncheons.

The conference was held on April 4th, 5th, and 6th in 1975. It offered seminars on starting women’s studies programs, classroom techniques and curriculum, films, panels and much more. These took place in Ballantine Hall and Woodburn, beginning at 8:30PM on Friday and ending at 4:00 PM Sunday, making it a weekend chock full of content. The committee made every possible effort to allow women to attend, making available some limited free housing for the conference, but also providing information on hotels and restaurants. The registration materials provided pricing for hotel rooms in Bloomington and estimated cab fares from Indianapolis to Bloomington, as well as the likely cost to rent a car. They even went so far as to have a day care available that was at no additional cost as it was built into the registration fee.

Similarly, the women’s studies content offered to students for credit on campus was incredible and varied. In the fall of 1975, there were approximately 22 courses “devoted to the study of women” available to students at Indiana University. These came from many different departments, from Forensic Studies to English. Examples of these courses include “Feminism and Morality”, “Clothing and Culture”, and “Sociology of Family Systems”. The content of the offered classes emphasized representation of women in all fields, and included information on their roles in history, the arts, and the family. Some of the courses had a greater focus on gender and sex itself rather than just the actions and depictions of women. A year prior, in 1974, the program began to offer grants to both students and faculty in amounts ranging from $25 to $500, which were able to be spent towards additions to the Women’s Studies program or relative research.

The 1970s can be and are credited with the rise of feminism. The efforts by Martha Vicinus and the faculty that worked to expand collegiate education to be inclusive of women in the 1970s are a remarkable implementation of the ideology of the feminist movement and equality of the sexes. The women involved with these projects created an atmosphere on campus that can be credited with keeping up with the times; as feminism and a focus on women and their worth became a part of counter culture in the United States, it did the same on Indiana University’s campus. Arguably, Indiana University took this counter-culture a step further by having it be established and cultivated by faculty, making it less a part of counter-culture and more-so a part of the culture on campus as whole.

This culture of feminism continues on campus today with many groups on campus advocating for feminist beliefs or in the name of feminism itself. Today, nearly 45 years after the women’s studies office came into existence, Indiana University Bloomington offers a Bachelor of Art Degree in Gender Studies, as well as a Master of arts and a Philosophical Doctorate in Gender Studies. It likewise offers minors in these areas and has an entire department dedicated to it within the College of Arts and Sciences. Gender studies envelops curriculum regarding women’s studies, and is described by the department as “ focuse[d] on the complex interrelationships between sexed bodies, gendered identities, and sexualities through diverse methodologies and far-ranging institutional and interpersonal locations.” Thus the current program serves and surpasses the intent of Martha and her colleagues.

The Indiana University Archives located in Wells Library holds the Martha Vicinus papers, which include details surrounding the Women’s Studies program at Indiana University and Midwest Women’s Studies Program, in addition to papers and correspondence on other Women’s Movement and union efforts within Bloomington and Indiana obtained by Martha Vicinus and her family.