Like many young couples at IU after World War II, Carolyn and John Fink took advantage of the G.I. Bill and lived at I.U. while earning their degrees. Their life is recorded through Carolyn’s memoir, “Nightingales in the Branches” from 1955 which offers the reader glimpses into the life of married veterans and their wives at Indiana University. Carolyn covers everything from illicit hot plates in the married dorms to saying hello to Nick at Nick’s Olde English Hut.
Although Fink’s narrative touches upon the stress and trials of married life in small quarters, it also offers delightful tidbits that make her memoir relevant even to modern readers. Like many animal-lovers, Carolyn likes to talk about the furry roommates she and her husband acquired during their time living in a trailer near campus. In fact, she dedicates all of Chapter 10 and 11 to their “Cat Era,” which included four cats named Eightball, Fluffy, Charlie, and Orange. She tells of how Eightball only went to the bathroom in ashtrays when they left him inside, and how sickly little Charlie seemed to the rest of them. She tells of how they finally discovered that the prissy, feminine Fluffy was actually a tomcat and how Orange seemed to care little about their welfare.
While the whole memoir is interesting and made me feel like Carolyn and John’s close personal friend, the “Cat Era” chapter endeared me to them forever. I, too, like to tell everyone about my cat, Daffy, and was thinking “Daffy does that too!” all through the chapter. For instance, like Eightball, he answers all my questions directed at him with a mew and, like Orange, I am pretty sure he could not care less if I almost kill myself trying to avoid stepping on him as long as he is fed.
If you are interested in married life at IU, the G.I. bill, or just like to read stories about cats, “Nightingales in the Branches” is an excellent read.
Eighty-eight years ago today, Amelia Earhart departed from Trepassy, Newfoundland in a Fokker F7b-3M named Friendship to begin her successful flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Co-pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon were also on the flight that took over 20 hours before landing safely in Wales, making Earhart the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
In the fall of 1936, Agnes E. Wells, Dean of Women at Indiana University, was corresponding with O. B. Stephenson from The Emerson Bureau in hopes to have Earhart speak at IU. In the letter below, Wells received the good news that Earhart would, indeed, be coming to the university on October 22, 1936 for a fee of $350. “Dear Miss Wells, A letter this morning from Miss Earhart accepts your lecture engagement the evening of October 22.”
Several newspapers, including the Indiana Daily Student and the Bloomington Evening World, excitedly reported that Amelia Earhart would be giving her lecture “Aviation Adventures” at Indiana University in Alumni Hall at 8 pm on October 22, with an informal reception to follow. The reception was an opportunity for the public to meet and question Earhart and was sponsored by A.W.S. and St. Margaret’s Guild, Bloomington Charity Organization.
During her visit, Earhart gifted this photograph to Indiana University, with an inscription written by her on the back: “To the Indiana Union. Amelia Earhart, October 22, 1936.”
Tomorrow is the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and many universities, libraries, scholars, and public are joining in the celebration of his life’s work. The Indiana University Archives has an alluring assortment of material that document how Indiana University has celebrated the bard’s work over the last 100 years. From James Whitcomb Riley’s tribute to Shakespeare to a Shakespearean version of Star Wars and the building of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Indiana University has certainly done its part over the years to honor and preserve the works of Shakespeare.
Arguably, the most exciting of the material is a Shakespearean version of Star Wars written in verse by someone in the Department of English at Indiana University. The play was to be performed by students on Shakespeare’s birthday in 1984. Act 1 begins in Luke Skywalker’s spaceship, Luke: “….Darth Vader – that beast – / Will cower from th’ advancing host / When he discerns your forceful visage / Rushing intrepid at the force.” The script is full of wit, and the impeccable verse is impressive. Unfortunately for Leia, she is accused of being unfaithful and is slain by Luke. Han speaks to Leia, “Thy wench, the princess false, is cover’d with / The rude mechanical storm trooper robot. / You’ll have computers for cousins. I die, but thou art a cuckold. (Han dies).” Luke exclaims, “Miserable strumpet!” and kills Leia. Alas, what fools these mortals be.
Under the presidency of William Lowe Bryan, Indiana University contributed funds to the American Shakespeare Foundation to help build the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The original theatre burnt down in 1926; the new theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, was built adjacent to the original site and opened in 1932. “In behalf of the American Shakespeare Foundation I have much pleasure in reporting that the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon is now complete and will be formally opened by the Prince of Wales on April 23rd – Shakespeare’s Birthday.” Not only was enough money raised to build the new theatre, there were also “substantial” funds left over from the American Shakespeare Foundation for an endowment.
Hubert Heffner, Professor of Speech, Theatre, and Dramatic Literature at Indiana University (1955-1971), also served as acting director of the University Theatre from 1959-1960 and 1970-1971. Heffner was invited to a prestigious gala weekend for a celebration honoring the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1964. The weekend included a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library and a reception at the White House, hosted by President and Mrs. Johnson. Listed to the left of the letter is, “Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Honorary Chairman.” Professor Heffner taught courses on Shakespeare at Indiana University. His research and lecture notes are still preserved in his collection and can be accessed at the Indiana University Archives.
100 years ago, Indiana University celebrated 300 years of Shakespeare by performing “A Dramatic Tribute for the Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration of Indiana University, at Bloomington Indiana,
April Twenty Sixth Nineteen Sixteen” written by William Chauncy Langdon. The tribute is a beautifully printed pamphlet, with the first two leaves printed on handmade paper; some of the leaves remain uncut. Included in the celebration are notable Indiana writers: “A Tribute from James Whitcomb Riley will be read by his nephew, Edmund H. Eitel; also Tributes from Meredith Nicholson and George Ade; and a Tribute in behalf of Indiana writers and scholars as a whole will be spoken by Will David Howe.” During the tribute, Marlowe says, “HA! Here he is at last! But hush! Be still! The Indiana poet, Riley sends his word of tribute to our Will!” Riley’s nephew Edmund Eitel rises from his seat in the audience and says, “From James Whitcomb Riley: – ‘By divine miracle most obvious, more vitally than ever in life, Shakespeare lives today!”
Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance has kept Shakespeare’s works alive and well with their many performances over the years. Macbeth has been among the more popular of Shakespeare’s works, not only for the brilliant plot but also for its length; it is far shorter than his other plays. The Department of Theatre performed Macbeth both in 1965 and this year. If you missed their outstanding performance of Macbeth, fear not! The King Lear project is coming to the Wells-Metz Theatre May 5-8 in honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Murray McGibbon is directing the cast who will perform King Lear in original pronunciation, as it would have been spoken during the 17th century.
Whether it is in Bloomington, Indiana, Washington, D.C., or
England, Indiana University has played and still plays an important role in honoring Shakespeare and preserving his works. The University is home to some the greatest works by and about Shakespeare. The Lilly Library has the First Folio along with many other magnificent pieces. The Indiana University Art Museum has beautiful works on paper depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and the famous Henry Fuseli painting of The Tempest. To learn more about how Indiana University has celebrated Shakespeare over the years, visit the Indiana University Archives.
“…but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.” – Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare
The University Archives recently processed the collections of three IU Libraries administrators. Each played an important role in the development of the library that we know today.
Robert A. Miller (Library Director from 1942 until his retirement in 1972) is considered responsible for the structure of the university library system that is in place today. He also worked closely with the architects and building planners who designed the Main Library (today the Herman B Wells Library).
From the early 1900s, the Bloomington campus library was located in Franklin Hall. However, the dramatic increase in student enrollment after World War I meant that the library had long outgrown its Franklin Hall home. IU’s President and later Chancellor, Herman B Wells had long advocated for a new library space. Finally, in 1966 plans for what would be called the Main Library were implemented under Library Director Robert A. Miller. It was decided that the location of the new library would be at the intersection of 10th Street and Jordan Avenue next door to Memorial Stadium (the stadium was demolished in 1982 for the Arboretum).
Designed to house 2,600,000 volumes and 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, in 2005 the library was renamed the Herman B Wells Library in honor of his dedication and support for the university library system.
Cecil K. Byrd served in several positions during his tenure at IU, including Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, Associate Professor, Assistant Director of Libraries, University Librarian, and finally professor and librarian emeritus. He assisted in the design of the Lilly Library and was instrumental in the donation of J.K. Lilly and Bernardo Mendel collections to the Lilly.
The impetus for a rare book and manuscript library at Indiana University was born in 1956 with the donation of J.K. Lilly’s extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts. The collection contained around 20,000 first editions and 17,000 thousand manuscripts. Construction began in March of 1958, opened to the public in June of 1959, and was dedicated on October 3, 1960. Today the Lilly holds more than 4 million books, 7.5 million manuscripts, 150,000 pieces of sheet music, and 30,000 puzzles.
Finally, Wilmer H. Baatz (Assistant Library Director from 1966-1986), was responsible for building the library’s Afro-American studies collection and the inter-campus borrowing system.
If you’re interested in learning more about these collections of the history of the IU Libraries, contact the IU Archives.
Going along with the theme of the current exhibit on Student Reform Movements at IU, in response to a reference inquiry the IU Archives recently digitized a recording of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s April 24, 1968 address at the IU Auditorium.The speech in its entirely can be streamed here (Side 1: Prepared remarks; Side 2: Q&A).
In the lead up to the Indiana primary of 1968, Senator Kennedy arrived in Bloomington as part of his cross-country campaign tour accompanied by former astronaut John Glenn. The pair were greeted by large crowds when they landed at the Monroe County airport. While in Bloomington, Kennedy made multiple stops, including the local RCA manufacturing facility and the Indiana University campus, where over 4,000 people came to hear him speak at the IU Auditorium. During his nearly 30-minutes of prepared remarks (followed by a lengthy question and answer session), Kennedy focused on issues such as rural development through tax incentives, inequality in the education system, the injustices of the criminal justice system and decreasing America’s role as a world policeman stating that “we must make calm and discriminating judgments as to which governments can and should be helped.” Many of these comments were made within the context of America’s then involvement in Vietnam. With his remarks were often interspersed with laughter from the audience, his call for an end to educational draft deferments resulted from some audible boos from the likely predominantly student crowd.
In his concluding remarks, Kennedy called for the audience to use their privileges for the betterment of those around them, because he noted:
If we use it just for ourselves, if we use that gift, that we have, that we received, just for ourselves, then we can’t possibly survive as a society. We can’t possibly survive on this planet. Because it can’t be accepted the injustices. Whether it’s in our own country or around the rest of the globe. And if you do not do thus… no one else is going to do it…. I don’t just mean going and protesting, I don’t just mean supporting a candidate for political office, I mean just becoming actively involved yourselves, that you’re going to make a change, maybe in the life of a neighborhood, maybe a change in the life of some individual, that some individual or some group of people are going to live better because you lived, that’s the least we can do.
His remarks are remarkably relevant today.
Coincidentally, the IU Archives also recently received a generous donation of materials documenting Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign including the above posters from IU Alumnus Sally A. Lied (MS Education, 1963 ; Ed.D. 1972 ; JD 1974). Further information about Kennedy’s visit can also be found in this previous post. To view the rest of the materials including correspondence, buttons, and newspaper clippings, contact the IU Archives.