Homecoming Decorations of Yesteryear

Coach definitely didn’t prepare us for this.

Homecoming came and went last month and, while the game against Michigan State could have ended better for the Hoosiers, it was still a fun weekend for students, alumni, and all fans of Indiana University. As someone who has been on the campus for only two years, I must say it is quite impressive to see how excited people on campus get for Homecoming. From Paint the Town Crimson Day to the talent competition and pep rally before the game, it’s obvious that all Hoosiers have a lot of pride in their school and have for the last one hundred years since Homecoming became a tradition at IU. It is because of this awe-inspiring level of school pride that I thought I would share with you some fascinating photographs that were recently added to the online collection.

A big part of the Homecoming festivities for students has always been the competition between the campus fraternities and sororities over who can decorate their house in the most creative way. The competition was especially fierce in the 1940s. For example, the highlight of Homecoming 1946, against Iowa, was a makeshift slaughterhouse with animal hides hanging from the sides and live cows grazing on dying cornstalks.

I sure hope someone brought popcorn.

But perhaps the most outrageous year for Homecoming decorations was 1941. On the brink of entering World War II, the Hoosiers first had to get past the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University. It was a big challenge but the fraternities and sororities pulled out all the stops to help IU gain the psychological advantage.

IU students hit TCU in every way they could; they built a giant oil rig that compared TCU to a dry Texas oil field; they built the facade of a small movie house in the middle of the Men’s Residence Center, now Collins Living-Learning Center, showing a film depicting Hoosiers as knights in shining armor skewering and cooking up frog legs; they made signs telling TCU players to enlist in the war so they wouldn’t have to play the Hoosiers; they even went so far as to build a mass grave of TCU players “killed” on the football field!

The Delta Upsilon Cannibals
This takes tailgating to a whole new level.

But by far the most bizarre decorations from Homecoming 1941 came from Delta Upsilon. Clearly a different time in history: the boys covered themselves in dark body paint and tribal makeup and had a barbecue on the house lawn of what is probably supposed to be the head of a TCU player. They were clearly out to “skewer” the opposition. DU was recognized with the best fraternity decorations award that year.

To view these and many more images from IU’s history, please visit the University Archives Photograph Collection by clicking here. Images are being added every day so please be sure to visit regularly to see what’s new. Oh, and don’t feel bad that IU came up short against Michigan State. TCU ended up beating the Hoosiers 20-14.

New Photo Collection web site!

Limestone and train, circa 1910. (P0020047) The database also includes images of the surrounding community.

The rich history and culture of Indiana University and its regional campuses are captured in a collection of approximately two million images held by IU Archives. With the launch of the new Archives Photo Collection website, users will be able to more easily search that collection for specific images.

The site allows users to discover photos in the collection’s database – currently 4,000 catalogued images and increasing daily – in a variety of ways. Users can search the descriptive terms provided for each image, or browse the entire collection by dates; personal, building or event names; topics; or photographer/studio. The site also features an option, “My Selections,” to temporarily store images that users have selected. Users have the option to order a print or higher-resolution scan of the original image.

Students "clearly" thrilled to sit for a photo for the 1971 telephone directory. (P0024078)

The vast majority of images in the IU Archives Photo Collection were shot by IU’s Extension Division, Photographic Services Department, Athletic Department, and News Bureau. Many of the photographers employed by these departments have become well known for their work, including Will Counts, Barney Cowherd, Jerry Uelsmann, Jerry Mitchell, Jack Welpott, Clarence Flaten, Dave Repp, Ralph “Porky” Veal, and Ric Cradick. Other images in the collection were shot mostly by local professional photographers, alumni, and faculty.

The images and web site are hosted by the IU Digital Library Program.

Any questions? Please contact the Archives Photographs Curator, Brad Cook.

Fun Frolic Over the Years

Fun Frolic, June 24, 1959
A small boy enjoys a night out at the third annual Fun Frolic on June 24, 1959

The days are long, humidity is high, swimming pools across town are bustling, and ice cream for dinner is starting to sound like a good idea. Summertime is here, and I think it’s finally here to stay! As many of you likely know, one more thing synonymous with the summer season in Bloomington is the annual Fun Frolic carnival, scheduled to start this coming Friday, June 10 and run through Saturday, June 18 at the Memorial Stadium Athletic Complex. It’s a can’t miss event for those looking to indulge in the delights of carnival rides, games, and fried delicacies!

Fun Frolic (slightly subdued by today's standards), 1960

Not only is the Fun Frolic a great escape, it’s also a fundraiser for a great cause rooted to a 54 year history. Beginning in 1957, the Fun Frolic was organized as an annual fundraiser by the Bloomington Staff Council, a representative body of University staff members created to provide staff with organized representation and a medium of exchange with University administration. The council used proceeds from the event to award scholarships on a basis of merit and need to children of University staff level employees. When the Bloomington Staff Council dissolved in 1993, the Fun Frolic was picked up by as a joint initiative between the Indiana University Day-Care Centers (more recently the IU Early Childhood Education Services) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana.

IU Physical Plant employee Robert Zink volunteers for the "Dunk-a-Man" game, 1970

The original Fun Frolic was not the elaborate carnival affair that the event grew into over the years. Instead, the first event in 1957 consisted of tents and simple games such as bean bag tosses and basketball, all set up and run entirely by staff council members. Proceeds the first year were just over $1,000. The event gradually grew to include other rides, games, and amusements, such as Add em up Darts, Dunk-An-Athlete (later Dunk-A-Man), a glass-blowing shop, and pig races in the 1960s and 1970s. In recent decades, the carnival has transformed into an elaborate celebration with the assistance of local amusement companies; Cumberland Valley Shows has been contracting with the Fun Frolic since 1975. Every year, classic rides such as the Ferris Wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl mix with new attractions that change with the times.

The Fun Frolic lights up a summer night, undated
The Fun Frolic lights up a summer night, undated

If you visit the Fun Frolic this year and want to know more about its history or see some of these great photographs in person, stop by the Indiana University Archives! Documents related to the fundraiser–including financial records, correspondence with event constituents, contracts, newspaper clippings, publicity information, and photographs–are available to indulge your curiosity.

New Exhibit! “Cushman’s Curiosity in Black and White”


Limestone Quarry. Bedford, Indiana, 1933.
Limestone Quarry. Bedford, Indiana, 1933.

Many organizations and individuals in the United States and Europe are now familiar with the name, Charles W. Cushman. Cushman graduated from Indiana University in 1917 and his color photographs dating from 1938 through 1969 have been widely viewed and utilized in documentaries, books, newspapers, magazines & websites across two continents. However, most people are completely unaware that Cushman was also shooting high-quality black and white images well before 1938 through the early 1940s.

This exhibit highlights some of Cushman’s finest black and white images as well as examples of the notes he kept, other documents, and camera equipment.

We invite you to stop by the Archives (Wells Library E460) through September 30, 2011 to view this exhibit.

If you are unfamiliar with Cushman’s works in color, then please visit the Charles Cushman website at www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/cushman

For more information contact Brad Cook, Curator of Photographs
Office of University Archives and Records Management
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
bcook@indiana.edu
812-855-4495