The Ava DuVernay-directed A Wrinkle in Time is the most recent example of beloved children’s book-turned-blockbuster hit. For many of us, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is more than just a “children’s book.” Many of my friends have turned to L’Engle repeatedly through life, similar to other supposed “children’s” authors like J.K. Rowling or Ursula LeGuin. L’Engle’s commitment to manifesting authentic childhood experiences is reflected in her mighty oeuvre, which often expanded the A Wrinkle in Time universe across multiple series centered on families with young protagonists. Despite this, L’Engle confirms her discomfort with the label of “children’s literature” in a 1965 letter Indiana University Writers’ Conference organizer Robert W. Mitchner. The Indiana University Writers’ Conference records at the IU Archives include letters from literary icons such as Joan Didion, William Faulkner, Margaret Atwood, George R.R. Martin, and the aforementioned LeGuin. Madeleine L’Engle’s file, though, shows what a uniquely lovely correspondent she was. Continue reading “Sincerely Yours: Madeleine L’Engle and “children’s” literature”
We all enjoy our podcasts, niche radio shows, and morning news during the drive to work or school, but the history of radio has a far reaching past beyond our modern version of it. For much of the twentieth century, radio was the entertainment and news medium of choice — not television, and radio has a particularly interesting history here at IU!
The Indiana School of the Sky radio program of the Indiana University Department of Radio and Television began broadcasting educational radio programs in 1947 and continued through the early 1960s. The program reached schools throughout Indiana and nearby states and led to new course offerings at IU. IU students performed in the radio programs originally intended for children ages 4-8 which aired for 15 minutes during each school day.
Eventually the program’s popularity called for further programming for high-school students, and later adults tuned in as well. Topics in every subject from history and music to current events and news were covered during the various episodes of the program.
The School of the Sky series discussed possible careers for students, music and literature, how to find a job, dating and growing up, and current events. In many ways the program’s subjects seemed to help students learn both educational topics and how to be a part of society. Other episodes focused on the news and events of the time that were likely difficult for students to understand.
To explain the Cold War and Communism to audiences in 1962, as part of the “How It Happened” series the School of the sky performed a skit about West Germany. From the view of an airplane and from the ground, the actors describe West Berlin as an “island surrounded by Communism.” The narrator and the characters in the show provide listeners with the history and problematic results of World War II. Students learned, through the vivid description of the show’s script, the differences between East and West Berlin, Check Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall. The picture the program paints shows the effects of Communism and the grim reality in Berlin on the other side of the Wall. On the ground in West Berlin, the narrator explains that East Berliners have a very different life than West Berliners and the listeners in the United States:
“The Communists, in fear of having everybody run away to freedom, have built a wall to stop them. This wall is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. It is also a very sad thing to see, because behind it are people who want freedom, want to live like you and me, but the wall holds them in. If they try to get over the wall, the Communists shoot them. Many young students have died trying to get over into West Berlin.”
The Indiana School of the Sky, 1961-1962, How It Happened Series, Volume 3 of 3. Program #10, Aprill 11, 1962, George Strimel, Jr. Page 96.
The program effectively brought a faraway place and the conflict of the Berlin Wall and Cold War home to the listeners in Indiana.
The students here at IU were the radio show’s writers, performers, and producers. The Indiana School of the Sky eventually reached thousands of classrooms and children while also providing college students with invaluable radio experience.
The bound volumes containing the scripts of the program and the teaching manuals found in the IU Archives’ Indiana School of the Sky records offer enlightening insight into the stage management, acting, and preparation that was necessary for each episode.
In 2009, the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) at IU found numerous lacquer discs containing recordings of The School of the Sky. These are now digitized and available online through Media Collections Online.
Over the years, the Indiana University Archives has steadily been acquiring an impressive assortment of photo albums and scrapbooks (see Catherine Ruby Force’s scrapbook, 1915-1920; the Margaret Werling scrapbook 1951-1953; and the Delmus E. Aldridge wrestling scrapbook 1929-1979, just to name a few!)
Scrapbooks and other handmade memory books are a valuable part of our collections, especially when they are created by students to document their experiences at Indiana University at various points in the University’s history. We are happy to share one of our most recent acquisitions, the Kathleen Cavanaugh scrapbooks 1960-1965 (C617), as a testament to the scrapbook as a fun, creative, and uniquely personal document of the student experience at IU!
Kathleen Cavanaugh (1942-2016) was born on November 9, 1942 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Martha and Harry Cavanaugh of Salem, Indiana. After graduating from Salem High School, Cavanaugh attended Indiana University Bloomington as an undergraduate student from 1960-1964, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Zoology. During her time as an undergraduate, she was a very active member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, continuing to hold several leadership roles in the sorority even after she graduated. An enthusiastic participant in campus life, she was also a member of the Association for Women Students and the Young Women’s Christian Association. Cavanaugh later re-enrolled at Indiana University as a graduate student, earning her M.A. in Biology in 1970.
This collection contains three scrapbooks compiled by Cavanaugh during her time as an undergraduate student in the early 1960s. Each is filled with photographs, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, and other mementos that Cavanaugh saved to document the various social activities that she participated in, starting with Freshman Camp in the fall of 1960, which she described as “the neatest way to start college.” She saved many items related to her Gamma Phi Beta sorority, including rush schedules, group photos, and clippings from times when her sorority sisters made the newspaper. Cavanaugh loved attending sporting events on campus, and she dedicated spreads in two of her scrapbooks to the Little 500 bicycle race events in 1962 and 1963.
Cavanaugh enjoyed collecting various knick knacks, saving things like coasters and matchbooks from her favorite restaurants on campus, and funny cards that she received from friends and family for her birthday and Valentine’s Day. One page contains a sparkly blue lei and a colorful corsage from one of the many dances that she attended over the years. In addition, Cavanaugh used these scrapbooks to document some of the big changes and exciting events that were going on around campus at the time, including the 1962 retirement of Herman B Wells as president of the university and famous comedian Bob Hope opening the Little 500 Variety Show in 1964.
Flipping through the scrapbooks that Cavanaugh compiled is a special opportunity to get an idea of what it was like to be a student at Indiana University in the early 1960s, from the perspective of someone who embraced the student life and participated in as many events and activities as she could, documenting her adventures along the way.
In the early 1960s, women across the nation started to rise up to further combat the social and cultural inequalities they were experiencing. They yearned for equality in the workplace. They wished to see changes in custody and divorce laws, so that they could go to court confident in their ability to actually win their cases. Many wanted to draw attention to domestic violence issues. Overall, women wanted to break down the barriers being placed in front of them and have their voices be heard. Their efforts eventually culminated into what is known today as the Women’s Liberation Movement, which continues to do its part in changing our world today.
These very same sentiments took hold of the women at IU and within the Bloomington community in the late 1960s. Alumni Ruth Mahaney (’70) and Nancy Brand(’73) discuss this in detail in their interview with the IU Bicentennial Oral History Project.
According to Ruth, she and other women became more interested in the issues surrounding women’s rights following their involvement in the Vietnam War Protests because they felt that they were not seen as equals in the movement. At one point in the interview, Nancy describes her feelings of inferiority after talking to her husband about a rally she attended in DC saying:
After learning more about what other campuses were doing across the country, Ruth and many other women dived headlong into the Women’s Liberation Movement and started up support groups for women on campus. Nancy states in the interview that by the time she came to campus in 1969, IU already had multiple support groups fully established.
IU’s Women’s Liberation Movement soon grew out of support groups and went on to achieve a number of notable accomplishments. In the early 1970s, members created a newsletter entitled the Front Page to bring attention to important topics related to the feminist movement and discuss local issues regarding women’s rights. It also acted as an outlet for women to publish their more creative endeavors.
At first the Front Page seemed to publish anything that came across their doorstep. They mainly printed critiques, essays, articles, poems, and illustrations. Some issues, however, contained interviews with various women trying to make their way through various working conditions or perhaps describing prejudices they’ve encountered in the world.
Ads for self-defense classes, daycares, civil rights conventions, women’s groups, and even piano lessons plastered its pages. The wide-ranging focus of the newsletter was perhaps an attempt to include all women who wished to get their thoughts and stories out into the world. After the January-February 1975 newsletter, the editors introduced more topical themed issues to better focus the content.
It was also around this time that the group procured a house and established a Women’s Center which, according to Mel Dennison, “…was formed to be a meeting place, crash pad, information service, clearing house of feminist ideas and repository of feminist literature” (from the Nov-Dec 1974 issue of the Front Page). IU’s Women’s Handbook Spring ’75 contains a write-up on the house advertising its services and describing some of its accomplishments.
One of the things listed was that the house acted as a meeting place for the Front Page newsletter. In the lower right hand corner of the article (see below), you can see a woman holding the August-September 1974 issue of the Front Page.
According to Nancy, some of the other achievements included the establishment of the first international conference for groups trying to set up cooperative daycare centers. Their efforts also eventually produced a rape crisis center which developed into Bloomington’s Middle Way House.
To find out more about more about these issues, contact the IU Archives.
The University Archives recently received a generous donation of materials documenting social movements at IU in the late 1960s and Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign from IU Alumnus Sally A. Lied (MS Education, 1963; Ed.D., 1972; JD 1974). The gift coincided with the recent digitization of a recording of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s April 24, 1968 address at the IU Auditorium,
The 1960s at IU, as well as the rest of the country, saw a surge of student involvement in social justice issues. Sally Lied, in her position as a residential counselor at Foster Quad and director of the Foster Project (IU’s first living-learning community), observed, participated in, and designed educational programming around some of these movements. Specifically, the materials Lied has donated to the University Archives relate to IU students’ grappling with the aftermath of the Vietnam War and race relations in the United States.
These social movements also extended to reforming education. At IU, this meant the establishment of the Foster Project, the first living-learning community. It also meant programs like Project OK (Orientation to Knowledge), which brought students and faculty together to discuss important academic issues. IU also began participating in Upward Bound, a national program designed to help low-income or first-generation students bridge the gap between high school and college. Sally Lied was active in all three of these developments, and each are documented in her collection.
The 1968 presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy was fueled by some of the discontent of these social movements, discontent that was exacerbated by the assassination of both Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., in the same year. Lied worked with the staff of Kennedy’s campaign in Indiana, and her collection contains a variety of campaign and press materials, including buttons, stickers, leaflets, and another recording of Kennedy’s speech at IU. The collection also contains personal correspondence with Kennedy’s campaign staff following his assassination and artwork by an IU student reacting to Kennedy’s and King’s deaths.
The materials could be of great interest to those curious to study 20th century African-American experience, social and political movements of the 1960s, or the beginnings of the living-learning community program and other educational reforms at IU. In addition to these primary materials, Sally Lied included her own explanatory notes to go along with many of the files to provide context.