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

The Old “Pest House”: Early Medicine on the Indiana University Campus

With flu season upon us, we thought it would be a good time to revisit campus health care from yesteryear. Students on the present-day Indiana University campus may take for granted the wealth of medical services available through the Student Health Center. However, for more than eighty years—from the University’s founding in 1820 until the turn of the twentieth century—no formal, organized health services or health center existed to serve student needs. In response to worries over the smallpox epidemic sweeping the nation following the Spanish-American War c. 1898 and a growing student body coming to IU from areas with poorly enforced vaccination regulations, Indiana University administrators set plans in motion to construct or purchase a building to be used as a hospital for students with infectious diseases.

After reports of smallpox’s increasing virulence within the state of Indiana, University President William Lowe Bryan took precautionary measures and moved forward with plans to secure a site for a smallpox hospital. On December 15, 1902, the University purchased a two-story frame building—originally a farm house—on South Henderson Street, approximately one mile south of the University Campus; at the time, this spot was on the outskirts of Bloomington, though the site is near the present-day Templeton Elementary School just south of the Bryan Park neighborhood. The building’s distance from the University along with the five acres of land on which it sat ensured that potential spread of disease to healthy students or neighbors would be minimized. The building essentially became the University’s Isolation Hospital, though it was colloquially deemed the “Pest House.” Students suspected of having contracted a contagious disease were confined to this house until they fully regained their health.

Click to see a map of where the “Pest House” was located in relation to the Indiana University campus.

Harvey Pryor became the first Pest House caretaker and nurse for contagious patients. Pryor was chosen for this position because he exhibited resistance to smallpox after having it in his family, though he is not known to have had any formal training in medicine. As anticipated and detailed in Bryan’s President’s report in March, 1903, several students—five with smallpox and one with scarlet fever—were admitted to the Pest House during its first winter of operation. The facility was continually used to treat students with infectious diseases such as smallpox, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and influenza until 1939, when a larger Health Center building was constructed near the current I.U. Chemistry Building. Advances in modern medicine made the need for an isolation hospital nearly obsolete, and the new Health Center could better accommodate the wide range of health needs demanded by a burgeoning student population; this facility was replaced by the present-day Health Center in 1965. The old Pest House was eventually dismantled in 1957 after standing abandoned and in disrepair for a number of years.

The "Pest House" facing dismantling in 1957

The University Archives houses various records and reports related to the Pest House’s role on campus in terms of the presence of disease among the student body, specific patient stays, fees incurred for hospital care, and building maintenance and inspections. Please do stop by the Archives to learn more if this brief history piqued your curiosity!

Demolition Day

Today marks the end of an era for one representative of IU’s post-World War II building boom. University Apartments West, located near the intersection of Third Street and Jordan Avenue will be demolished today to make room for the construction of a new studio building for the Jacobs School of Music. For more information see today’s article in the Herald Times (login required or can access through the library subscription if at IUB).

Completed in February of 1949, the University Apartments, the Hoosier Courts apartments, and the Woodlawn Trailer Court were built to accommodate the massive influx of married veterans returning to school on the G.I Bill. Over the course of one year the student population of the Bloomington campus more than doubled, going from 4,498 in 1945-46 to 10,345 students the following year.

"At Home at Indiana" brochure, ca. 1949
"At Home at Indiana" brochure, ca. 1949

Between University Apartments East and West, the complex consisted on 238 living units, each building consisting of 81 efficiency and 38 one-bedroom apartments.

Carriage House, 1950
Carriage House, 1950

Advertising for the building boasted about its two laundry rooms with automatic washers and dryers and ironing boards, a carriage and bicycle room, incinerator system for garbage and trash disposal, and guest annunciator system from the building lobby to each apartment.

In the 1950s efficiency apartments ran $60-65 per month (an additional $10 for furnished) and one bedrooms went for $70-75 (an additional $15 for furnishings). Rooms included drapes, electric stove and refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, and all utilities except for phone.

Bureau of Public Discussion

The finding aid for the Bureau of Public Discussion records is up!  The philosophy behind the services of this Indiana University department established in 1914 was that state universities should serve the people of the state.  Services included aids to teachers at all levels as well as home reading courses for Indiana residents.

The Bureau sought to stomp out prejudice through education.

One of the Bureau’s largest activities was the Package Library service.  Early on, this service consisted of maintaining collections of clippings or materials drawn from recent publications on current issues, and by 1944 they began publishing Package Library Briefs.  These Briefs contained short explanations on present-day hot topic issues and included a bibliography for further reading.  There are Briefs on all sorts of topics in the collection – from the American school system and foreign policy to those focusing upon minorities.

The Bureau was also involved with the Indiana Federation of Art Clubs which sought to bring art clubs from around the state together in an effort to coordinate exhibits and lectures.  Their bulletins chronicle the goings-on of the art world in Indiana and those in this collection span from the first one in 1927 through 1954.


 Additionally, the Bureau of Public Discussion administered a reading course program on behalf of the U.S. Office of Education for residents of Indiana.  People could sign up for the course, then read the prescribed books on topics such as history, literature, or parenting,  and then write and submit summaries.  In exchange, they would receive a certificate of completion.  One reading course targeted to boys reasoned that they only work ten hours a day, six days a week, leaving plenty of leisure time for reading! Perhaps parents and grandparents are right and kids do have it easy these days!

As always, for further information on this collection, contact the Archives!

Dreaming of Springtime

This morning we woke up to a campus which looks quite similar to this scene from 1943…

December 27, 1943

For those of you you aren’t exactly embracing this, close your eyes and envision the following in the words of IU alumna Edith Hennel Ellis (1911) about campus:

” It is more than a thing of beauty. Its trees are sanctuaries under which old men may dream dreams and young men may see visions. Certain scenes stamp themselves indelibly upon the mind: lingering shadows of tall trees creeping across the grass on long summer afternoons;… masses of of Forsythia bursting into sudden yellow bloom; and that loveliest of all Indiana springtime pictures, white dogwood and pink red bud blooming against a green background of maples.” (Indiana University Alumni Quarterly, Vol. XVI No.3, p.331)