Ballade of Commencement Eve

Congratulations to all those receiving their IU degrees this weekend!! We hope you enjoyed your time in Bloomington and remember your Alma Mater fondly. Today we’d like to share a poem written by IU alumna Bertha Burns Lee Broyles, Class of 1905, upon the occasion of her 50th class reunion.

Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete

Jim Thorpe with punters
Jim Thorpe with Indiana punters

I recently caught the documentary “Jim Thorpe, The World’s Greatest Athlete” on WFIU. I love documentaries and this one is worth a watch. But unless I missed it, they never mentioned the time this legend spent at Indiana University!

If you do not know the story, Thorpe, a Native American, began his athletic career at Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1907 where he played baseball, football, and was a member of the track team. He excelled in football and under the tutelage of Glen Scobey “Pop” Warner, Thorpe became a star on the Carlisle team. Before long the small school was winning against the likes of Harvard and Yale.

In 1912, Thorpe went to Stockholm as a member of the American Olympic track team. There he smashed previously held records, winning gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon. He came home with $50,000 in trophies, including a chalice in the shape of a Viking ship presented to him by the Czar of Russia. Sadly, within a month, the Olympic Committee stripped him of his hard won medals, as it was learned that he had been paid a small sum for playing summer baseball – Jim Thorpe, they decided, was no amateur athlete.

This hardly meant an end to his sports career – quite the opposite, in fact. In 1913, he signed a contract to play baseball with the New York Giants, and went on to also play for the Chicago Cardinals and Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs. In 1920, he was elected president of the American Professional Football Association, the forerunner of today’s NFL.

Clearly, this guy was a big deal.

So where’s the IU connection?

Well, in 1914 IU hired C.C. Childs as its head football coach. In seeking out additional coaching staff, Childs considered — and passed over — job-seeker Knute Rockne (some of you may have heard of him) and remembered his fellow Olympic team member Thorpe. Thorpe was wrapping up a season with the Giants and he looked with interest at the opportunity to return to football. To assist with IU’s 1915 football season, he asked for $1000 plus a room for his family at a Bloomington hotel. A deal was struck and the students were thrilled to learn that the World’s Greatest Athlete would be joining the coaching staff. Sadly, his addition to the staff did not help lead the Hoosiers to glory that season. They finished with one victory, over Northwestern, and tied with Washington and Lee. Despite the poor record, Thorpe was welcomed as a hero on the campus and in the Bloomington community.

Thorpe left Bloomington to continue his professional athletic career in baseball and football. Throughout his life, Thorpe struggled with alcoholism and after retiring as a player, he found himself moving from job to job. When he died of a heart attack in 1953, he was penniless. Thorpe, however, would be long remembered for his athletic prowess. In 1983, the International Olympic Committee restored his Olympic medals and in 1999, Senator Rick Santorum sponsored a U.S. Senate resolution to name him Athlete of the Century.

“Man on the Floor!”: The Coming of Open Visitation

But alas, in this land, children are not always trained the way they should go. Still we welcome them with hope — we spurn none away without trial, even the surly and self-willed youth. We throw around him arms of love, pour into his ears the voice of entreaty, and bedew his cheeks with the tears of fraternal sympathy. – Indiana University President William M. Daily, 1856

For nearly 150 years, Indiana University managed students under in loco parentis – “in the place of a parent”. Discipline was to be meted out with a paternal, not punitive, hand. Rules regarding housing and social activities were plentiful and were to be followed. In general, there were more regulations guiding the lives of the coeds than for the male student population.

From the 1962-63 student regulations
From the 1962-63 student regulations

For many years, women could only participate in social functions on university property unless approved by the Social Affairs Committee; freshman women who held jobs requiring them to work 4 or more hours a day were not allowed to enroll for more than 10 credit hours without permission; and one we frequently hear about from alums — women’s hours. Unless previously approved, women had to be in their residence by a certain time because doors were locked. If they weren’t in by that time, they had to find a collaborator within the sorority or residence hall to stealthily sneak them in; otherwise, they had better be adept at climbing into a window!

The changing landscape of the 1960s brought an end to in loco parentis at Indiana University; women’s hours were discontinued, open visitation was ratified, and students were no longer required to live in university-approved housing.

Open Visitation?

After a considerable amount of work by student leaders, open visitation was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1968. Open visitation, or open guest privileges, meant three days a week, residents of university housing could have visitors of the opposite sex in their rooms if two-thirds of the residents in a given housing unit approved, determined via secret ballot. This change in university policy brought a firestorm of criticism from Indiana lawmakers, citizens, and, not surprisingly, parents.

60% of parents surveyed were against open visitation.
60% of parents surveyed were against open visitation.

IU’s new president, Joseph Sutton, prepared a letter for critics, stating, “Other state universities have instituted such a policy without public objection and I am puzzled why Indiana residents are so distrustful of their youth. Surely training in Indiana homes is just as effective as elsewhere.”

Despite the backlash, open guest hours remained in place and expanded for those who requested it. Although availability dwindled in numbers over the years, closed visitation housing remained an option for students until recent years, even if it was just a floor within a larger housing unit.

I know I am not doing this subject justice, but truly, one could write a book about student regulations at IU! If you are interested in researching this topic, let us know! We have extensive clippings files, student handbooks, university administrative records, as well as the records of student and faculty groups that could prove valuable.

Travel Postcards

A few days from now I’ll be sitting on a sunny beach somewhere with my toes in the sand and it got me thinking about travel postcards. Did anyone else meticulously send everyone they knew postcards when they were a kid on family vacation?

Washington Monument, postmarked June 18, 1943
Washington Monument, postmarked June 18, 1943

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The following are a few fun postcards we happened to have on hand, drawn from our Hennel Hendricks collection. This collection, still in process, holds the personal and family papers of Cecilia Hennel Hendricks, late Associate Professor of English, and her sister Cora B. Hennel, late Professor of Mathematics.

Postmarked Hayward, Wisconsin August 24th, 1943
Postmarked Hayward, Wisconsin August 24th, 1943

Postmarked Hanover, New Hampshire, March 17, 1943
Postmarked Hanover, New Hampshire, March 17, 1943