Elementary Reference

The past few months at my internship here in the IU Archives I have been given quite a few reference questions to research for patrons. Two of these questions were from elementary school students in Indiana looking for information about IU for class projects. We’re quite flattered to receive letters from students and even more prepared to help (so if any readers have any questions about IU that you’ve always wanted answered, drop us a line!). One girl was doing a report on March Madness and specifically wanted information on the history of IU’s basketball program (about which we have a large folder of reference information, not surprisingly). The other query concerned a student who wanted to know more about IU’s history for his class report. These questions are easily answered with the use of our many reference files, located in the reading room. These files are great for a quick research question or just for finding out more about IU in a topical manner.

The wonderful part about being an archivist (or a lowly archival intern) is that archivists typically learn random facts about random things throughout the day, especially when working on research questions. For example, I always knew IU’s basketball program had a gloried history (since I grew up in Indiana) but I’d never thought to look more into it. After pulling out two or three packed reference files on the subject, however, it was clear that there is a lot to the story. I never realized that IU’s basketball program has produced so many NBA players – and has for decades – or that we have so many NCAA titles. (Granted, to most fans these realizations will seem obvious.) There are also photos of games throughout the century, and an article describing the first basketball game. I had some trouble narrowing down the folders to a few articles to xerox and mail to the student for her project. There was so much information in the folders.

Additionally, when I looked up basic histories of IU, I found a lot of neat facts that aren’t quite well-known anymore. As a graduate student who lives in Wells Library, I never would have known that there’s a statue of a duck in graduation garb above the west entrance of Goodbody Hall without answering this reference question. Last week I took a walk around campus when the weather was nice and I was able to find the duck-professor. Knowing tiny details about things like this makes me feel closer to this school. A general history of the campus is also online in multiple locations – the archives have a timeline on our web page, which is a great overview of the university’s past. The internet is a good place to find information about the college, but the best place is the archives and the reference files in the reading room. You can learn a lot more than what you came in to find out.

Not all archives have these kind of reference files available to patrons, and arguably an archivist’s time is better spent processing collections and creating finding aids instead of updating reference files. However, files like these provide a wealth of information. Answering archival reference questions can tell you all kinds of things that you otherwise would never have thought to look up. Reference can be a learning experience for both the patron and archivist.

On Goodbody Hall

“Borkenstein and His Monster: The Man Behind the Breathalyzer” — A New Exhibit at the IU Archives

OFFICIAL Press Release: New exhibit at the Indiana University Archives on display now through May!

Borkenstein and His Monster: The Man Behind the Breathalyzer

Robert F. Borkenstein working on his Breathalyzer Prototype, invented in 1954.
Robert F. Borkenstein working on his Breathalyzer Prototype, invented in 1954.

Over the course of his life, Professor Robert F. Borkenstein (1912-2002) rose from a full career in the police ranks to become an Indiana University professor, administrator, and highly respected leader in forensic science and traffic safety. Borkenstein’s most celebrated single achievement was his groundbreaking invention of the Breathalyzer in 1954. This instrument, which uses breath samples to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), was the first practical device for roadside BAC testing for use by police officers investigating traffic violations and accidents. In the years since its initial invention, the Breathalyzer went on to revolutionize law enforcement practices and legislation concerning traffic safety and the combat against drunk driving.

A portion of the mechanical plans submitted along with Borkenstein's original Breathalyzer patent application, 1954.
A portion of the mechanical plans submitted along with Borkenstein’s original Breathalyzer patent application, 1954.

The Robert F. Borkenstein Papers at the Indiana University Archives contain a rich record of Borkenstein’s many professional and personal endeavors as well as his enduring influence, beginning in the 1930s and extending to the present. Highlights from this collection—including the original Breathalyzer prototype, several successive models, photographs, mechanical designs, and evidence of Borkenstein’s extensive influence—are featured on display through May.

All are encourage to visit the exhibit in the Indiana University Archives reception area (room E460) on the fourth floor of Wells Library at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Curated by Amy Jankowski, graduate student studying under the Archives Specialization in School of Library and Information Science.

Borkenstein (third from left) stands with colleagues displaying his Breathalyzer Prototype, circa 1954.
Borkenstein (third from left) stands with colleagues displaying his Breathalyzer Prototype, circa 1954.

Notes from the Curator: Earlier this semester, I had the pleasure of processing the Robert F. Borkenstein papers. The collection contains many document types that I am accustomed to working with in the archives, including correspondence, photographs, awards, news clippings, writings, and the like. However, the paper-based materials in this particular collection are complemented by more than a dozen three-dimensional artifacts, which are products of Borkenstein’s research into breath test technology with the goal of measuring blood alcohol content of motorists. In fact, Borkenstein was the inventor of the Breathalyzer–the portable, easily operated device used for decades by United States police forces in the combat against drunk driving.

Borkenstein examining a Breathalyzer Model 900B, manufactured by the Drager Corporation, circa 1985-1995.
Borkenstein examining a Breathalyzer Model 900B, manufactured by the Drager Corporation, circa 1985-1995.

Through his inventions, research, and heavy involvement in national discussions on traffic safety, Borkenstein became a renowned professional icon and a noteworthy figure in Indiana University’s history. Because of his significant influence and the visually engaging nature of his materials, the IU Archives decided to install an exhibit showcasing a number of Borkenstein’s Breathalyzer instruments and complimentary documents.  It provides an excellent opportunity for students, staff, researchers, and the otherwise curious to explore the diversity of the Archives’ holdings and learn a bit more about one of IU’s celebrated personalities from years past.

I hope you have the opportunity to swing by and take a look at the exhibit!

New Finding Aid: Newell and Eleanor Long Show files, 1939-1982

The finding aid for the Newell and Eleanor Long Show files is now available!  Newell Long was a music professor at Indiana University from 1935 to 1975 and his wife Eleanor taught English at IU from 1939 to 1962.  Together the couple wrote a number of musical pageants, plays, and skits for university and local events.  Newell Long would write the musical scores and Eleanor Long composed the scripts.  The collection includes general information on the shows, music, programs, and scripts.

Many of these shows were either Indiana or IU themed, including “All’s Wells That Ends Well,” a musical tribute to Herman B Wells upon his retirement as IU President in 1962.  The musical revue was performed by faculty and their spouses and included songs such as “The Might of the Humble B,” “Wells’ Belles,”  and “Be Yourself.” Other items you will find in the collection about “All’s Wells that Ends Wells” includes notes, musical scores, lyrics, scripts, and a newspaper article.

“Gloriana, Indiana,” a musical history of IU, was written by the Longs and presented to the University Club for the 150th anniversary of Indiana University.  Original songs include “Tomorrow is Foundation Day” and “Equality for Women.”  The show files also contain music for “Hymn to Indiana” and “Hail to Old IU.”

Among other shows featured in the collection are “The Cradle of the Commonwealth,” for the Corydon Sesquicentennial, “The Tale of the Lonesome Tulip Tree,” for the Tulip Trace Council of Girl Scouts, and “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman,” for the University Club.

“Man on the Floor!”: The Coming of Open Visitation

But alas, in this land, children are not always trained the way they should go. Still we welcome them with hope — we spurn none away without trial, even the surly and self-willed youth. We throw around him arms of love, pour into his ears the voice of entreaty, and bedew his cheeks with the tears of fraternal sympathy. – Indiana University President William M. Daily, 1856

For nearly 150 years, Indiana University managed students under in loco parentis – “in the place of a parent”. Discipline was to be meted out with a paternal, not punitive, hand. Rules regarding housing and social activities were plentiful and were to be followed. In general, there were more regulations guiding the lives of the coeds than for the male student population.

From the 1962-63 student regulations
From the 1962-63 student regulations

For many years, women could only participate in social functions on university property unless approved by the Social Affairs Committee; freshman women who held jobs requiring them to work 4 or more hours a day were not allowed to enroll for more than 10 credit hours without permission; and one we frequently hear about from alums — women’s hours. Unless previously approved, women had to be in their residence by a certain time because doors were locked. If they weren’t in by that time, they had to find a collaborator within the sorority or residence hall to stealthily sneak them in; otherwise, they had better be adept at climbing into a window!

The changing landscape of the 1960s brought an end to in loco parentis at Indiana University; women’s hours were discontinued, open visitation was ratified, and students were no longer required to live in university-approved housing.

Open Visitation?

After a considerable amount of work by student leaders, open visitation was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1968. Open visitation, or open guest privileges, meant three days a week, residents of university housing could have visitors of the opposite sex in their rooms if two-thirds of the residents in a given housing unit approved, determined via secret ballot. This change in university policy brought a firestorm of criticism from Indiana lawmakers, citizens, and, not surprisingly, parents.

60% of parents surveyed were against open visitation.
60% of parents surveyed were against open visitation.

IU’s new president, Joseph Sutton, prepared a letter for critics, stating, “Other state universities have instituted such a policy without public objection and I am puzzled why Indiana residents are so distrustful of their youth. Surely training in Indiana homes is just as effective as elsewhere.”

Despite the backlash, open guest hours remained in place and expanded for those who requested it. Although availability dwindled in numbers over the years, closed visitation housing remained an option for students until recent years, even if it was just a floor within a larger housing unit.

I know I am not doing this subject justice, but truly, one could write a book about student regulations at IU! If you are interested in researching this topic, let us know! We have extensive clippings files, student handbooks, university administrative records, as well as the records of student and faculty groups that could prove valuable.

This week in the archives…

Hello again. Interning in the archives this week has been relatively less busy from previous weeks, but of course there is always something interesting going on here. Having finished W.T.K. Nugent’s publications series, I moved on to his academic life series, since that ties in directly to his time at Indiana University. So far it’s mainly been a process of sorting through correspondence dealing (mostly) with colleagues and publishers, though I have found a few sensitive materials such as loan forms, and some less important items like television receipts. This series will be restricted to patrons for awhile, for a couple of reasons: Nugent specifically marked the boxes out for restriction, and as archivists we must follow the donor’s wishes; and although these materials are around four decades old, they still deal with people – and their families – who are alive and perhaps do not know we have their correspondence with Nugent, and it is advisable to keep this kind of information restricted for privacy reasons. Researchers, don’t despair. If you’d like to research Nugent’s correspondence from his time as an IU professor, this series should be entirely open in 2035 (as per Nugent’s wish).

Privacy and sensitivity is a daily issue in archives, especially when dealing with personal papers and correspondence. Some donors may not care if their personal correspondence can be read by researchers forty years later, but some donors want to keep that information private for as long as possible. It’s a personal preference, and archivists should learn some PR skills in dealing with donors. As I learned in my internship readings, if archivists can explain their typical restrictions on files, some donors can be persuaded not to keep their files closed forever. There is no point in preserving papers indefinitely if they can never be accessed and used by researchers. Having said that, Nugent’s collection has typical restrictions on correspondence, financial information, and personal information. This is fair, since researchers are more likely to want his professional information.

Sorting through Nugent’s professional correspondence has allowed me to get a better indication of how he worked, both with his publications and with his colleagues in his department. Though the majority of the series so far is made up of letters, notes, and memos, there are the occasional objects that make the job more interesting, such as air mail letters, postcards, and the occasional receipt. Once again it is proven that you can find almost anything in the archives. Earlier this week I happened upon this drawing, mixed in with meeting notes and agendas:

"Indiana Triumphs Against the Forces of Evil"
"Indiana Triumphs Over the Forces of Evil"

This appears to be an inspired New Mexican-influenced drawing. At first I thought Nugent had a talent never before displayed, but turning over this drawing I found this:

The abstract image was drawn by one of Nugent’s colleagues in 1975, curiously titled “Indiana Triumphs over the Forces of Evil.” I would love to know the story behind this drawing, but unfortunately there is no mention made of it anywhere other than the date Nugent collected it. This is one of the few mysteries in Nugent’s collection. I hope I can find more information about this particular piece of paper.