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)


Happy Birthday, Indiana University!

“It shall be the duty of the General Assembly, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide by law for a general system of education ascending in a regular gradation from township schools to a State University, wherein tuition shall be gratis, and equally open to all.”

Dear Indiana University,

Baynard Rush Hall, Indiana University's first professor
Baynard Rush Hall, Indiana University's first professor

It’s your birthday today! Wow, 191 years. Do you think the framers of the state constitution could have ever imagined what you would become when they wrote the lines above? From humble beginnings of two buildings – one, housing for the lone professor, Baynard Rush Hall, the other, classroom and chapel space – you now have “Eight Front Doors through which children from all corners of the world have passed. You have touched them all in your own way and given them the tools to succeed in life, as any good mother would.

And on this day, your 191st, the Indiana University Archives presents you with a gift we hope will please you: this blog, through which we will reach out to those you have touched and will continue to teach them about your traditions and family. We will show them the letters, reports, photographs and records (and heck, probably a juicy diary or two) that sustain you and change you. We’ll ask for their help from time to time and we know they’ll respond, because you are Indiana University and those you touch bleed cream and crimson.

This is Blogging Hoosier History.

Happy Birthday, Indiana University!!!