Waldo Lee McAtee papers: An Ornithologist in the Making

While Waldo Lee McAtee may not be a household name, the man established quite a renown in the ornithological–or bird science–community over the course of his lifetime. McAtee spent the the majority of his career, more than thirty years, as an employee for the Bureau of Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Washington, D.C., where he focused on birds and their feeding habits. His trail of accomplishments is long, including widespread involvement in professional associations, scientific publishing, influence in establishing many of the U.S. bird protection laws which exist today, and more. Overall, McAtee was a dedicated advocate for Wildlife management and awareness, and he got his start right here at Indiana University! The IU Archives even has the papers to prove it.

Laboratory notes on various birds accompanied by the faint pencil sketch of a bird at top, Waldo L. McAtee's coursework, 1900-1905

McAtee came to Indiana University in 1900 to study Biology and Zoology, earning his A.B. in 1904 and A.M. in 1906. He was a dedicated student and immersed himself in his topics of study, classifying specimens as curator for the I.U. Zoological Museum and teaching various scientific courses when professors could not attend lectures. The Waldo L. McAtee papers at the Indiana University Archives attest to his dedication as a budding scholar. Though the collection comprises only one box of material, it includes a number of laboratory notebooks, scientific drawings, and field notes created by McAtee during his formative years as a scientist.

Scientific sketch of a grasshobber, Waldo L. McAtee's laboratory notes from an introductory Biology course, 1900-1901

Though the collection also includes a number of publications and correspondence, I am personally drawn to McAtee’s notes and drawings due to his painstaking attention to detail, meticulous dedication, and thoroughness. Furthermore, a sample of McAtee’s notes, particularly ornithological field notes on bird population around Indiana University, harbors particular potential in a comparative study to more contemporary records. As climate change, species endangerment, and habitat loss are increasingly common topics in the present day, it is interesting to consider the contrast between wildlife in and around the modern day Indiana University campus and its state more than one hundred years prior.

Meticulous field notes on the bird population around Indiana University, quthored by Waldo L. McAtee circa 1900

If you are interested in further exploring Waldo Lee McAtee’s early legacy, contact us here at the Archives! Curious about McAtee’s later career? Try doing a quick search for him on Archive Grid, an amalgamated search portal which links users to archival collection descriptions from thousands of repositories; search Archive Grid from Indiana University or any other subscribing institution. The Library of Congress, Cornell University, the American Philosophical Society, and UCLA all join Indiana University in preserving McAtee’s history.

Can a protest be polite?

Pro- and anti-Vietnam war demonstrators await Rusk's visit

In my last post I discussed the controversial Dow Chemical Sit-in, which served as a catalyst for student anger against the administration.  Today I have a short post about an event that, at the time, was seen as far more important than Dow recruiters being on campus.  Public reaction to protesters at the two events was also markedly different, which begs the question; can one protest an event or person without violating societal decorum?

Rusk speaks while IU President Stahr looks on


On October 31, 1967, just a day after the disastrous sit-in at the IU business school, United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk arrived on campus to give a scheduled speech.  As a major shaper of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy, Secretary Rusk was a natural target for anti-war protests on many campuses he visited.  In the lead-up to his visit, leaders from a number of different left-leaning student organizations on campus worked fervently to plan an organized protest. Flyers and signs were created and handed out prior to Rusk’s speech.  Outside the auditorium, demonstrators (both students and some professors) carried anti-war signs.  These were met by even greater numbers of administration supporters carrying signs of their own.  Inside the packed venue, around 200 protesters wore “peace” armbands and heckled Rusk with cries of “Liar!” and “Murderer!” at key points in his speech.

Anti-war protesters hold up "Peace" armbands during Rusk's speech

Unlike the chaotic Dow Chemical sit-in of the day before, the protest went off without a hitch, with no physical confrontations or arrests.  Public reaction to the demonstrators was decidedly negative, however, as students, professors and townspeople alike felt that the heckling during the speech had crossed a serious line of decorum.  Midwestern values notwithstanding, members of the New Left would continue to use confrontational tactics in the years to come to protest against American involvement in Vietnam.


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.

John William Ryan – Remembering IU’s 14th President

 Following the abrupt resignation of Joseph Sutton upon the death of his wife, John William Ryan was named the 14th President of Indiana University on January 26, 1971 . The circumstances of his appointment were somewhat controversial, as the Board of Trustees quickly ushered Ryan into office, forgoing the lengthy process of instituting a search committee in favor of maintaining strong university leadership. However, John Ryan was no stranger to Indiana University. He earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the university and served as vice president of IU’s regional campuses for three years before his appointment. In addition to the controversy surrounding the beginning of his presidency, Ryan came into the position during a somewhat tumultuous time. The 1960s were filled with student activism, largely as a result of the Vietnam War, as well as a general anti-establishment attitude. Ryan took office during the tail end of this. Additionally, in 1969 there was a zero percent increase in state appropriations to the University, and tuition was raised by a staggering 66.7 percent. Coupled with an overall national decline in federal support for undergraduate programs, this placed the University in a somewhat critical financial situation.

Ryan weathered these storms and went on to accomplish many things during his tenure. After assuming the presidency, Ryan summed up his goals, saying:

The principal concerns I have are: first, to increase the understanding of the people of this state of the priceless asset that this university represents and of the need we have to keep it that way; and two, to increase the understanding of all of us at the University about the needs of this state, and how the university can help meet those needs.

Ryan went on to oversee most of the construction of I.U.P.U.I., as well as the creation of the Southeast campus at New Albany. He is largely credited with the development of the regional campus system, which increased the number of degree opportunities for citizens around the state. Through this endeavor, he also strengthened Indiana University’s ties to Purdue University. In 1986 Ryan was named one of the top 100 most effective college leaders in the nation. He was also appointed to serve as chairman of the National Advisory Board on International Education, which was created to offer counsel to the Secretary of Education.

While these are all admirable achievements, one accomplishment that John Ryan held very dear was his receipt of the Horatio Alger Award from the Boys Club of Indianapolis in October 1981. This award is given to someone who has overcome humble beginnings and achieved significant success. Born in Chicago in 1929, Ryan was the oldest of six children. Having grown up in a large family, there was no money for him to attend college. Consequently, he took the Navy ROTC test and was sent to the University of Utah. Once in Utah Ryan enrolled in college, but his finances were so terrible that he began going to the Knights of Columbus Hall for free meals. It was there that he met a man who would later become his father-in-law, and through him he met his future wife, Patricia Gooday. After marrying, Ryan held down two jobs while finishing his bachelor’s degree.

John Ryan, 1980

John Ryan remained Indiana University’s president until 1987, when after almost 17 years he stepped down. However, his work for the University was not over. One of his primary reasons for leaving the presidency was to concentrate on the Campaign for Indiana, which was launched in 1985 as a five-year effort to obtain private funds for the university in order to provide increased endowments in support of faculty, students, research centers, libraries, and museums. The Campaign also provided funding for program development and construction projects.

Throughout his time at Indiana University, Ryan earned the respect of staff, faculty, legislators, and alumni. He had a vision for the growth of the university and the results of that vision can be seen today in IU’s eight-campus system. To learn more about the life, presidency, and accomplishments of John Ryan you can read his speeches here, or request to view records from his presidency at the Indiana University’s Archives!

Henry H. H. Remak as “The Mad Dutchman”- a Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity Brother- Processing Blog #5

An article written by H. Remak for Sigma Zetan, 1937

Before Henry H. H. Remak established himself as a distinguished scholar and professor in the fields of Comparative Literature, Germanic and West European Studies, Remak was but a humble IU student. A young German Jew living in Berlin at the outbreak of World War II, he considered himself lucky to have been granted a university scholarship from the IU Sigma Zeta Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu (SAM), a fraternity which welcomes members of all faiths but has a strong tradition of attracting Jewish men to its ranks. Remak was pledged in 1937 and initiated as a Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity brother, or “Sammy,” in 1938. In a 1982 eulogy written for Jimmy Hammerstein, who was a major instigator of helping young Jewish men escape Nazi Germany under the sponsorship of SAM, Remak states that “Jimmy’s and SAM’s initiative very likely saved [his life].” It is no wonder then that Remak remained a dedicated and loyal Sammy up until his death in 2009.

Remak showed his dedication in a variety of ways. For one, he was the Faculty Adviser for Sigma Zeta from 1946 until his “retirement” in 1987. (Remak continued to teach at the university and remained very much involved with Sigma Alpha Mu students even after his “retirement.”) As Faculty Adviser and even later on, without that official title, Remak took it upon himself to look out for fellow Sammies both young and old. Many a recommendation letter was written to help a Sammy find a job, apply for graduate school, etc. There are quite a few letters in the collection which Henry Remak received from old fraternity brothers asking for help in various situations. Nevermind that Remak hadn’t seen or talked to many of these men in decades, the bond between fraternity brothers must have been sacred to Remak, for he did not take that bond lightly. On at least one occasion, Remak even vouched for a young Sammy who was on the verge of getting dismissed due to failing grades. Though Remak had never met the young man, he did what he could to ensure that the student would get a second chance. Grateful for that chance, the young man stayed in touch with Professor Remak from that point on.

In 1959, Remak was also selected as the National Scholarship Chairman of SAM. This role entailed keeping a watchful eye on the grade reports of undergraduate men still in the IU chapter and evaluating scholarship award applicants. In the early 1980s, Remak would assist SAM in soliciting funds and support from the university and from SAM alums to build a new chapter house on North Jordan Avenue. I have no doubt that Henry Remak donated some funds himself, as I’ve come across many “thank you” notes addressed to Remak from SAM upon receiving a financial contribution or sometimes a necessary item or two for the fraternity house.

H. Remak with fellow Sammies at a SAM reunion, circa 1990s

So far, I’ve come across about a dozen files that relate to Sigma Alpha Mu, but as the collection is still being processed I won’t be surprised if there are more waiting in the wings. Items of interest include a signed copy of Henry Remak’s Sigma Alpha Mu Constitution (Blue Book), dated 1935, which he must have received around the time of his initiation into the fraternity. There are also quite a few newspaper articles and copies of the Sigma Zetan and Octagonian newsletters that contain articles mentioning Remak and some that were even written by him. Copies of Henry Remak’s insistent letters to the Budget Administration regarding the new chapter house and to fellow Sammies are also available for perusal.

So, whether you knew Henry H. H. Remak as “The Mad Dutchman”- his nom de plume of choice when corresponding with fraternity kin- or whether you are just interested in finding out more about Professor Remak or about SAM in general, keep this collection in mind for your future visits to the Archives.