Need a Lift? Exploring the History of the Institute for Urban Transportation, 1969-2005

Mass Transit Management: A Handbook for Small Cities, Parts I-IV, 1980. From the Institute for Urban Transportation Records

For many students at Indiana University Bloomington, the campus bus has become a standardized part of the educational routine, picking them up at many convenient stops and getting them to and from their classes in a timely fashion. While the public transportation system is an essential service for many people, its history is not often considered very deeply. When was the last time you caught the bus and found yourself wondering how it all got started? The recently processed Institute for Urban Transportation records provide a glimpse into the founding and history of the campus bus system in Bloomington, Indiana, as well as the many other impressive accomplishments and services provided by the institute during its 36-year history.

The Institute for Urban Transportation was founded in 1969 by Dr. George M. Smerk, a professor of transportation at Indiana University’s School of Business (renamed the Kelley School of Business in 1997). The institute aimed to improve public transportation management and policy through education, research, and technical assistance.

A circa-1970’s poster for a $25 semester pass to ride the campus bus. From the Institute for Urban Transportation Records

The institute published a monthly newsletter titled Indiana Transit for many years, and they also published a number of practical handbooks, including Mass Transit Management: A Handbook for Small Cities (1971) and the Handbook for Management Performance Audits (1979).

In 1973, Dr. Smerk joined forces with geography professor William R. Black, and together they wrote the City of Bloomington Mass Transportation Technical Study. This study established the routes and schedules for the first public transportation system in Bloomington, Indiana – including the campus bus system that continues to run to this day!

During this period, the institute also developed the Management Performance Audit (MPA) procedures and conducted more than a dozen audits of public transportation systems throughout the Midwest, helping many public transportation systems to improve their services. In 1979, the institute was awarded the Administrator’s Award from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, a division of the federal Department of Transportation. The award recognized the institute for developing innovative transportation services and management techniques for the state of Indiana.

Dr. Smerk was a professor of public transportation in the School of Business for almost 40 years, and he served as the director of the institute until his retirement from Indiana University in 2003. In 2014, Dr. Smerk was presented with the Lifetime of Academic Distinction Award from the American Public Transportation Association.

Dr. George Smerk and students in his public transportation course, August 1966. IU Archives Image No. P0066602

Kent McDaniel, a former student of Dr. Smerk’s who later became Indiana University’s transportation liaison and a prominent figure in Indiana public transportation development, also had a prominent role at the Institute for Urban Transportation. He spent many years serving as the assistant director of the institute, a position he held until the institute closed in 2005 after 36 years of service.

Contact the Indiana University Archives if you would like to schedule a visit to view the Institute for Urban Transportation records and learn more about the history of public transportation in Bloomington, Indiana and beyond.

The Origins of the IU Logo and Colors

Andrea has since graduated and moved on, but she left us with some of her amazing blog posts ready to go! Congratulations to Andrea and we think we convinced her that archives is where she wants to be!  

Indiana University Archives P0024505, 2006

Nowadays, the above image is such an iconic and powerful symbol that you can ask pretty much any Midwestern American what it means and they’ll be able to tell you right off the bat: “That’s Indiana University.” It’s on almost every licensed set of apparel or memorabilia you can purchase under the university’s name. And if the letters don’t immediately tip you off, surely the colors will. Over the past century, the IU interlocking insignia in crimson/cream has become a statement that adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts; it means Hoosier pride, excellence in education and athletics, and to many, home. We tend to take things like this simple and enduring design for granted. But where did it come from? After all, someone had to have designed it.

Indiana University Archives P0026900, 1898

The earliest known version of the interlocking insignia can be found in the 1898 Arbutus on the introductory page before the Athletics section. This design was, as labelled, drawn by Claude McDonald Hamilton. We’ve been unable to find any instance of the symbol that predates this one, but from this moment on, you can find many instances of the IU logo in the early 20th century. Many of the early examples of the symbol were used for athletic purposes. Hamilton, notably, was a member of the IU football team for four years, served as editor of the Arbutus, and graduated with a degree in Economics in 1898. There’s no telling whether Hamilton designed this logo himself or borrowed it from some other unknown source.

Indiana University Archives P0026905 1900

As for the colors, we have a somewhat more comprehensive history of their origins. The December 1887 Indiana Student noted that the “colors of the university are crimson and black. Senior class cream and gold.” So, at some point, the two different color combinations must have fused together. By 1903, The Daily Student published an article that stated most of the students and faculty had no idea what IU’s colors were, but several answered confidently that the colors were some variation of crimson, red, white, and cream. The writer of this article explicitly stated that the colors of the university were cream and crimson, explaining that these colors were adopted fifteen years prior (in 1888). Apparently, the colors gained popularity due to their catchy alliteration.

In later years, IU switched to a simpler red and white. It wasn’t until around 2002 that they reverted back to the signature cream and crimson. The University hired Michael-Osborne Design from San Francisco to redesign the interlocking IU symbol with instructions to apply the crimson color to it. Designer Paul Kagiwada gave the logo a newer, cleaner look. The result is that same iconic symbol you’ll see all over campus today.

Indiana Daily Student, November 5, 2002

Sincerely Yours: The End of the Civil War

Andrea has since graduated and moved on, but she left us with some of her amazing blog posts ready to go! Congratulations to Andrea and we think we convinced her that archives is where she wants to be!  

You may recall this post by Katie Martin from summer of last year about John D. Alexander, an 1861 alumnus of IU and later Union Captain during the Civil War. Over the past week or so, I’ve been transcribing all of the Civil War letters in Alexander’s collection, including the one that Katie included in her post. It’s been a real treat to read these as the letters definitely provide some unique insight into war strategies, the day-to-day life and sentiments of soldiers, and the means of communication during the mid-19th century. As an American History major, the Civil War has been a topic of particular interest to me for some time. So getting to read a primary source not already heavily picked over by historians is exciting, to say the least.

You can read some of Alexander’s biographical information in Katie’s post. By the end of the war, he was serving as an Acting Assistant Inspector General of the Second Brigade under William Tecumseh Sherman’s army. His brigade marched into Raleigh, North Carolina in April of 1865. On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia, a significant marker that indicated the war was almost over. By the time John Alexander was writing a letter to his parents on April 18th, Sherman had been in Raleigh having an ongoing negotiation with General Joseph Johnston about the terms of another Confederate surrender. Johnston’s surrender turned out to be the largest surrender of men during the entire war with 89,270 soldiers in all.

Here’s John Alexander’s account of how it all unfolded:

And here’s a partial transcript, since that’s pretty difficult to read:

Once again I am permitted to write to you. God in his all-wise providence has so far spared my life for some purpose. I am well and am enjoying good health. My health was never better than at the present time. You see by this letter that we are near Raleigh N.C. We entered the city without any opposition. Our Division passed review as we entered the city. General Sherman was sitting on a noble black horse in the gateway leading into the Capitol Square. We came out 3 miles north of the City where we are now encamped. General Sherman and Genl. Joe Johnston have been in consultations several days in regard to [Johnston’s] surrendering his Army. How it will terminate I don’t know. He wants to surrender on the same terms that Lee did. But I don’t believe Sherman will let him off so easily. If [Johnston] surrenders the probability is we will not go any further out but will go into Camp some place near here. Every day there are droves of men coming by here going home that belonged to lee’s Army and deserters from [Johnston] heartily tired and sick of the war. Some of Lee’s men stopped at our Camp last night and the boys shared their rations with them and their tents and appeared as cheerful as larks in each others company. Was man ever so [illegible] before. They curse their leaders and long for the old flag and Union. God grant that I may see peace in our land again. But when I think of my comrades that have fallen by my side in the dark hour of battle, something says “how can you forgive these men that have made so many homes desolate in the land”. I hope I may be charitable enough to forgive them…

Wednesday April 19th 1865

Last night it rained so I had to go to bed. My tent mate, Lieut. Hopkins of the 46th Ohio and A.A.G.M. wished me to retire as he had been out foraging and was tired. When we were opening the mail the Colonel found one for me and said “this is from your father I know his handwriting.” It is rumored here this morning that Johnston has surrendered. Also that President was shot dead by an assassin in his private box at the Theatre in Washington. Also that they visited the residence of Seward, shot his son and stabbed him in his bed. I hope it is not true…

I have reliable information just received that Sherman returned from Hillsboro last night and Johnston has surrendered his whole Army. Hallelujah. The time is not far distant when we can all enjoy peace again.

I personally learned a lot from this letter alone about the ambiguity in those few days when no one was quite sure of whether or not the war was really over. The Union soldiers weren’t entirely sure how they should treat the members of the opposing army. For the most part, it seemed like they were just happy that the fighting was over and had no desire to perpetuate any more violence. Union soldiers even offered the Confederate deserters and discharged members of Lee’s army their food and shelter (which they may have had very little of in the first place). Alexander doesn’t mention any instances of contempt or violence on either of their parts, other than his own hesitation to offer forgiveness after all the damage that had been done by the Confederates.

When Lee surrendered his army, the terms of surrender were considered, by some, to be overly lenient. Soldiers and officers only had to turn over their weapons, but were given leave to return home immediately– thus the surplus of discharged Confederate soldiers that Alexander saw passing by or through their camp. Alexander was clearly among those who thought that Lee’s army should have been more severely punished for their rebellion. Johnston’s surrender was supposed to be even more merciful than Lee’s. By the time the second half of Alexander’s letter was written (April 19th) Sherman and Johnston had agreed upon the terms that would reinstate Confederate state governments. However, officials in Washington D.C. wholly rejected these terms, outraged by Lincoln’s assassination, and a few days later, the original terms were dissolved and changed to terms identical to that of Lee’s.

There’s a lot to be learned from primary sources such as this one. The delays in communication during the Civil War, for one– Lincoln’s assassination and Johnston’s surrender were mere rumors at the time. You can also get a feel for Alexander’s unabashed optimism and patriotism in most of his letters, which– from the sound of it– wasn’t a uniform state of mind among soldiers. Alexander prided himself on being relentless in his duty as a soldier to his country, and a few times chastised others in his letters for being lazy. In another (undated) letter, Alexander wrote:

“…no man shall ever say… that I shirked my duty. It is really diverting to see how some men do. They will lay in Camp and eat and drink and smoke merry and when the marching orders come– it’s ‘Oh my back or my leg’, ‘I know I can’t go and carry my knapsack, I could not go a mile. Orderly, will the doctor have a sick call this morning[?] Ah me, I know I’ll have to be left.’ Then they will let in to consoling themselves. ‘Well, I’ll just lie down and let the [Confederates] take me prisoner and parole me and I’ll go home and they will not get me in the army again.’ This is what they want.”

Check out the John D. Alexander collection in the Archives Online to see digitized versions of all of the letters.

Behind the Curtain: Tyler Davis, Summer Intern

Role: Intern at the Indiana University Archives

Educational Background: Tyler received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Miami University, Ohio in 2015. He is currently entering his second year of the Master of Information and Library Science graduate program at IUB, where he is specializing in Archives and Records Management.

How he got here: This is Tyler’s first time working in an actual archives. Before he joined the MLS program, he spent a year volunteering for the special collections department of a library in Ohio, where he was able to process an amazing collection of memorabilia from a World War I aviation historian. He also worked for a digitization project in undergrad where he scanned and preserved photographic negatives from the 1940s-1960s. These experiences helped him to know that archival work was something that he wanted to pursue further.

He has been studying archives and records management in the MLS program and when it came time for an internship, Tyler wanted to get as much hands-on experience in these areas as possible. When he spoke to the staff at the IU Archives and learned that he would be able to work on some great projects with both an archivist and a records manager, he knew he’d found the right place!

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Tyler’s favorite item(s) that he has encountered in the Archives so far is the Kathleen Cavanaugh scrapbook collection (C617). Cavanaugh made these scrapbooks by hand as a student at IU in the early 1960s, and they are full of amazing memorabilia from that time – everything from photographs and cards to matchbooks and corsages from school dances. These scrapbooks are fun to flip through, and it is a very unique and personal way of interacting with the IU student experience of the 1960s.

Current Project: There are quite a few projects in the works! Tyler has been doing some web archiving work, including crawling and preserving all IU-affiliated social media accounts on Archive-it.org (see his previous post “Tweeting and Pinning: Archiving IU’s Social Media sites” on that project). He has also been processing a few incoming collections, as well as imaging born digital media in the Born Digital Preservation Lab. Recently, he began doing research into state laws and University policies to help compile a records retention schedule for the School of Informatics and Computing as they prepare to make the big move into Luddy Hall this winter.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Tyler’s favorite experience has been getting to know the staff, who are great to work with and are excellent at what they do. He is glad to have had the opportunity to learn from their example!

What he’s learned from working here: In addition to learning many useful archival practices, Tyler has also picked up some fun facts about IU history by working with the collections. For example, when he was processing the Institute for Urban Transportation records (C682), he learned that Bloomington’s first public transit system was established in 1973 by a collaboration between the institute’s founder, Dr. George Smerk, and a geography professor at IU, William R. Black. In the University’s early years, the city and the campus were obviously small enough for students to get around without automotive assistance, so he thinks this goes to show how much the University has steadily grown and expanded over the years.

Behind the Curtain: Sylva Osbourne, Summer Intern

Role: Summer Intern at the IU Archives

Educational Background: B.A. in Music from the University of Chicago. Current graduate student in the School of Informatics and Computing seeking a Master of Library Science (MLS) with a specialization in Archives and Records Management and interest in preservation/conservation.

How she got here: Before coming to IU, Sylva spent most of her undergraduate years working at the Regenstein Library, the University of Chicago’s main library. As a student assistant in circulation she became very familiar with the complexities of maintaining a large stacks collection. After graduation, she switched gears landing a part-time position in the technical services department of the law library for Sidley Austin LLP in downtown Chicago. It was here she decided to pursue a career in librarianship, leading her to IU and the MLS program.

This internship has been her first experience working in any kind of archival repository. Prior to this, her main work and library experience have been more on the technical services side of things. Her previous experience is what led her to decide that she wanted to do more hands-on work with library materials, sparking her interest in archives and preservation.

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite collection at IU is the collection of yearbooks housed in the archive reading room. Before the University became too big, the yearbooks contained pictures of all the students at IU each year. They also include pictures of all student organizations, sports teams, and faculty members, just like a traditional yearbook. Following the student population explosion after WWII, the yearbook however had to adapt. Rather than just pages of pictures of students, the yearbooks started to include interesting pieces on and photos of the various events and activities that happened around IU each year. At the end, you will still find portraits of the graduating class and student organizations but the majority of the books offer a fascinating glimpse of IU life as the years go on.

Current Project: Currently, Sylva is processing a recently acquired collection from the Commission on Multicultural Understanding (COMU). Despite the occasional papercut, she is enjoying being able to dive into the folders and get an in-depth look at the work COMU did for IU. She is also researching the story of a student at IU from the late 1910s who was accused of building “infernal devices” with various mechanical parts found in his room. He was an expert watchmaker who was cleared of all charges as all of the parts were found harmless. Using ancestry.com and different parts of the IU Archive collection, Sylva is trying to track documents relating to this man’s life to be used in a future active-learning exercise for instruction sessions at the archives.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: Sylva’s favorite thing about being an intern at the archives is the chance to learn from some amazing people. Having had very little experience with archives before, she has gained a lot of practical knowledge.

What she’s learned from working here: Sylva has learned a great deal about some of the key figures in IU’s history from sifting through the papers of the president office, in particular President William Lowe Bryan (1902-1937). It’s nice to be able to connect buildings and things around town to the people for which they were named!