Archives in the Outfield: An Intern’s Perspective of Archival Instruction

As a graduate student with both specializations in Music Librarianship and Archives and Records Management, I am fortunate to study at an institution that prides itself on maintaining and preserving records not only from its history, but from culturally diverse and historically significant events as well. This semester, I had the opportunity to work as an intern at the IU Archives under the supervision of the Outreach and Public Services Archivist, Carrie Schwier and Archives Director, Dina Kellams. The ability to get lost in the boxes containing the university’s history allows me to forge a deeper connection with IU history, the campus, and the community.

When one thinks of an archives, perhaps it conjures to mind images of dark basements, dusty books and boxes, cobwebs clinging to the rafters and tall bookcases, and the archivists who swear their lives to protect the secrets of the universe and lock away the true meaning of life. Of course, that is not always the case, the IU Archives is actually located on the 4th floor of Wells Library and not in the basement. And while the archivists do protect the secrets of the universe, their biggest priority is providing access. It is of the utmost importance that while collections are being collected and preserved, they are able to be used by researchers and made available and accessible to the public.

Archives house primarily paper records but also hold items such as books, photographs, music, posters, clothes, and sometimes objects! But once we have access to these materials, how do we properly utilize them to fully incorporate them into our research? At the end of February, Carrie and I combined forces to teach a 75 minute undergraduate History of Baseball class of about 50 students about archives and its value for their research. When I was an undergrad myself, I had the opportunity to give a brief introduction to archives to another undergraduate class, but this was my first teaching experience in which I had to give that introduction, create an activity, and lead a discussion. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least, but I was excited to take the lead and hopefully instill a new interest in archives for some of the students.

For the activity, Carrie and I selected items from collections pertaining to the history of baseball at IU and I chose to focus on the stories of Leonard Ruckelshaus and Eddie Whitehead. Ruckelshaus was a member of the IU baseball team who had the opportunity to travel abroad to Japan and compete against the Waseda University team in 1922. His collection includes his handwritten diary of the trip, his personal scrapbook, photographs, and his team sweater.

Eddie Whitehead was the first African American to play on the IU baseball team in 1956. The team did a tour through the South in which Eddie was not allowed to play, eat, or stay with the team in their accommodations.

Vintage black and white photograph of IU baseball team
Indiana University Baseball team photo from 1956, IU Archives image no. P0052289

For the “Think-Pair-Share” activity, I split the group into two teams and within those teams, two groups. Each group was given 4-6 items that represented one side to the story; for Ruckelshaus, it was the student vs chaperone/administrative perspectives and for Whitehead, it was his perspective vs the administrative and public reaction, which included a highly offensive and deeply racist letter. Each mini-group would have to “think” and ask questions about the items that the other mini-group would (hopefully) have the answers to, and together they would “pair” up back together to create the full story. At the end, they would “share” what they found with the class and be open for discussion. Because of the class size (neither the IU Archives or Wells Library has a classroom space to hold 50 students), after about 35 minutes the students swapped to another room in the Wells Library for a second activity lead by Carrie and vice versa. I then repeated the activity with the second group of students.

Upon reflection, there were a lot less dead eyes, slack jaws, and crickets chirping than I had originally anticipated, which I consider a complete success! The students were engaged, not only with me, but with each other and with Mary Mellon, the Digital Archivist, who was with me in the classroom for physical, mental, and spiritual support. They asked questions and challenged what they saw, some were curious and found small little things that they just thought were cool. The goal of the activity was to show that when participating in archival research, there is so much you can glean from beyond the physical item itself. There are questions that need to be asked and answered and history to be contextualized that can bring a deeper meaning other than “this is a letter.” And with those questions and answers, you create a sort of paper trail that will lead you down new avenues of your research. I hope the students walked away with at least a small seed of inspiration and understanding for their future projects and how archives could be used. After teaching the class, I found myself rather enjoying the aspect of not only interacting with the collections in that way but telling people about them as well! There are so many untold stories, and so much tea to spill, as it were. My biggest enemy was my running out of time, but I’m sure improving that skill only comes with experience and practice, which I certainly hope I’ll have much more of.

Behind the Curtain: Matt Meyer

Headshot of Matt Meyer
Matthew Meyer, IU Archives graduate student assistant

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives Staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. 

Role at the IU Archives: Matt is a graduate archives assistant at the IU Archives which includes basic tasks such as processing collections, assisting with reference questions, and working at the front desk. Matt says that it feels like he’s expanded upon that considerably, as he has also assisted in instructional sessions, curated an exhibit, encoded finding aids, and digitized photos.

Educational Background:  Matt has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Purdue University. Admittedly, Matt thinks that it felt a little weird coming to I.U. after growing up in Boiler Nation all his life, but he has enjoyed being here. He graduates this month with an M.L.S. with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from Indiana University.

Previous experience:  While an undergraduate at Purdue, Matt worked at the student newspaper, The Exponent, and became editor-in-chief during his last semester. Before that, he worked in catering.

What attracted him to work at the IU Archives: During undergrad, Matt took a course where students had to research a collection in Purdue’s archives and then write a 25-page paper. It was an amazing experience and started his fascination with archival collections. When he applied to I.U. for graduate school, he knew right away that he wanted to specialize in archives, and he figured working at IU Archives would make the most sense for what he wanted to do.

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: Honestly that’s hard to say. Anything baseball related is always going to catch Matt’s attention, and the same goes for material related to World War II. He would say that the collection he finds particularly interesting is the Pauline Montgomery collection of tombstone photos. She traveled throughout southern Indiana photographing tombstones and making notes about their designs, years, inscriptions, and locations. The photos are fascinating to go through, and Matt is hoping as part of a class project to create an map showing the different locations she photographed.

Black and white photograph of tombstone in the shape of a tree trunk with additional symbols of an anchor, ivy, and scroll included.
Wesley family – Tree Trunk tombstone, 1890, Winchester, Indiana. C386 Pauline Montgomery collection

Current project:  Before the library shutdown, Matt was working on a few different projects. He was wrapping up work  on a collection of scrapbooks originally put together for Robert Shaffer, who was Dean of Students in the 1950s-1960s. He and his wife traveled all across the world; Matt counted almost 60 different countries. Matt was also encoding some finding aids for collections and putting the finishing touches on an exhibit. Now that he’s working remotely, he is working on entering metadata elements into digitized recordings of lectures as part of the IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) and going over letter transcriptions.

Favorite experience working at the IU Archives: Matt says that it was leading an instruction session with undergrads for the first time. Matt assisted our education archivist, Carrie Schwier, with setting up a session for a Baseball as History class. He created his own lesson plan to show students how photos can be used as primary sources. While indulging in his love of baseball was certainly a highlight, it’s a favorite because it reminded him of when he was an undergrad learning how to use primary sources, and it felt like he was able to come full circle.

What is something you’ve learned by working with the IU Archives: Processing and instruction are definitely two big things Matt has learned at IU Archives, but he is more impressed with how the Archives are so interconnected with campus. When he worked for the newspaper, he quickly realized how important it is to develop relationships with sources to get content into the paper and deliver it to readers. Matt feels the Archives is similar, it is a result of relationships and collaboration that the IU Archives is able to provide access and preserve such a large collection for researchers and to support a wide range of classes.

Sincerely Yours: Edna Hatfield Edmondson Describes a Tokyo Earthquake in 1922

As southern California re-stabilizes from two serious earthquakes on July 4 and 5, it may be sensible for us in southern Indiana to revisit some earthquake safety precautions. After all, Bloomington is situated near two significant fault lines: the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. And although Hoosiers might not be too familiar with earthquakes (though some of us might remember the 5.2 magnitude quake in 2008—I know I sure do!), a letter from Edna Hatfield Edmondson shows how a group of Indiana University (IU) athletes handled a large quake back in 1922.

Black and white photograph of 14 members of the IU baseball team and their coach in front of their hotel
The 1922 baseball team at the Tsukiji Seiyoken Hotel. April 14 or 15, 1922. IU Archives image no.
P0042249

Hatfield Edmondson served as a faculty member for the IU Extension Division from 1919-1942. She and her husband, Clarence Edmund Edmondson (a physiology and social hygiene professor and later Dean of Men at IU), chaperoned the IU baseball team during a landmark trip abroad to Tokyo, Japan from March-April, 1922. The University Archives is fortunate to have a collection of letters and postcards that Hatfield Edmondson wrote during this trip. Her letters include attentive recaps of games the baseball team played, descriptions of events to welcome the group in Tokyo, travelogues, and photographs. A particularly lively letter addressed to the IU Director of Publicity (Frank R. Elliot) on April 30, 1922 describes the team’s experience during a large earthquake (see the letter in its entirety at the bottom of this post). She begins:

“The Indiana baseball team is getting the worth of its money on this trip. All sorts of stunts have been staged for me—such as stormy seas, hotel fires, (and the Imperial Hotel was to have housed us but was too full—this we learned the day after our arrival).

Now an earthquake.

The earthquake did itself proud—the worst since 1894. For fear we might be disappointed it jolted us up and down, north and south, and east and west. We were quite “shaken up” by the incident.”

The 1894 quake to which she refers was indeed terrible. The 6.6 magnitude quake occurred on June 20, 1894 and affected downtown Tokyo, Kawasaki, and Yokohama. In addition to widescale physical destruction in these cities, it claimed 31 lives and injured 157 people. Japan has a long history of earthquakes because it is situated on four different lithospheric plates; as such, Japan’s written record of earthquakes goes back around 1,500 years. Fortunately for Edna and the team, this earthquake wasn’t nearly as bad. Her descriptions of how team members fared, however, illustrate how dangerous earthquakes can be in a city full of buildings:

“Lynch, Gilbert, Sloate, Gause, and Wichterman were upstairs in an ivory shop. The proprietor yelled “earthquake” and vanished. The boys rushed to the stairway and stuck there. Gilbert said they rattled around like dice in a box and opened up a new entrance to that shop trying to get out.

Coach, Mrs. Levis, Kidd and Minton were making a call on a Buddha in a temple at the time but lost confidence and deserted the shrine.

Walker was alone in his room on the third floor, waiting for the final blow before jumping along with the tiles from the roof.

Denny and Macer were playing billiards and were only a few jumps behind the Japanese who were playing with them, in getting into the open.”

Edna continues to describe how she and her husband dealt with the shaking, all the while showing her sense of humor about the event:

“Mr. Edmondson and I looked across the table in our room at each other, laughed, then opened up our eyes, rose as one man and found ourselves at the window ready to slide down a telephone pole.”

We know now that proper earthquake safety procedure is to drop onto your hands and knees, cover your head and neck, and hold on to something sturdy. Edna’s jape about sliding down the telephone pole would in fact have been a very dangerous thing to do! The next two players she accounts for experienced firsthand the scary physical consequences of the quake (still with Edna’s trademark sense of humor):

“Clay has always believed his number elevens were a firm

Portrait of Leonard Ruckelshaus in his baseball uniform
The heroic Leonard Ruckelshaus, 1922. IU Archives image no. P0042596

foundation until he saw the sidewalk meeting him in all directions, where he lost confidence.

Kight was shaken out of a sound sleep and came to in the middle of the street—he doesn’t know whether he reached the street by fair means or foul.”

Edna ends her account on a more positive note, describing team member Leonard “Ruck” Ruckleshaus’ bravery:

“Ruckleshaus proved himself the only hero in the crowd by rescuing a beautiful young lady. Trust Ruck!”

We can see the impact the baseball team had on the local community! None of the team members were injured, and in fact they went on to play their next game in the series on May 2. Although the IU team lost more games than they won (the final series record was one victory, one tie, and five losses) they had many thrilling experiences. Aside from the earthquake, they experienced Mount Fuji, the largest tea house in Japan, and the Tokyo Imperial Palace. You can view many images of the team’s Japanese tour in our database.

Scene of a moat surrounding the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
Image from the photo album kept by James Byron Walker who was captain of the 1922 baseball team. A note found on this page reads, in full: “This is a moat that surrounds the Imperial Palace & grounds.” IU Archives image no. P0085306

In the end, it was fortunate timing for Edna and the IU team to experience a Japanese earthquake in 1922. In September 1923 the Great Kanto Earthquake struck the nation and left a devastating path of destruction, killing 140,000 people in resulting fires, floods, and physical destruction. The event is a chilling testament to the tragic potential of earthquakes.

On a more positive note, you can learn more about the IU baseball team’s trip to Japan in multiple places. Be sure to check out previous blog posts here and here, the Edna Hatfield Edmondson correspondence collection (C705), and the Leonard C. Ruckelshaus papers (C519). Both the Edmondson and Ruckelshaus collections are digitized for your perusal. If you have further questions, be sure to contact an archivist.

Scan of page 1 of Edna Hatfield's April 30, 1922 letter to Frank R. Elliot - written in cursive handwriting. Scan of page 2 of Edna Hatfield's April 30, 1922 letter to Frank R. Elliot - written in cursive handwriting. Scan of page 3 of Edna Hatfield's April 30, 1922 letter to Frank R. Elliot - written in cursive handwriting. Scan of page 4 of Edna Hatfield's April 30, 1922 letter to Frank R. Elliot - written in cursive handwriting. Scan of the envelope of Edna Hatfield's April 30, 1922 letter to Frank R. Elliot - includes Japanese stamps.

Bringing Luck to the Diamond: Superstitions in Baseball

I.U. baseball player Bill Blaise waiting for the home run ball, 1936. (Indiana University Archives, C624, Box 2.)

Opening Day has once again arrived for Major League Baseball, bringing with it the freshness of spring and the warmth of summer. The excitement of a brand new season instills a sense of euphoria in fans, and reminds them the long days of summer are not far behind. An April 4, 1933 clipping from the Indiana Daily Student captured the excitement of a new baseball season for students, declaring unkind those professors who dared schedule exams on the day of the first game.

Nomination for worst professors in April 4, 1933 Indiana Daily Student. (Indiana University Archives, C624, Box 2.)

As teams emerge from their winter hibernation and make their way back to the diamond, they will begin preparing themselves for both the physical and psychological rigors of the game. For superstitious players in particular, the baseball season can be a grueling stretch of routines and beliefs intended to build confidence and ward off bad luck. Baseball superstitions are as old as the game itself, and the very mention of the word brings a feeling of unease among players and fans. While some are humorous, some have become so ingrained in baseball culture they are now enforced as law.  Lyle Green notes some basic superstitions include never stepping on the foul line when walking on and off the field, and above all never mentioning an in-progress no-hitter.

Carl Erskine, a native of Anderson, Indiana, pitched for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 to 1959. When he was interviewed in 1973 as part of a folklore class at I.U., Erskine detailed the near paranoid levels of superstitions prevalent at the Major League level. Some of the more trivial include the Dodgers’ Leo Durocher, who as third base coach would kick third base before taking his position. Dodgers pitcher Billy Lowes was adamant on sitting in the same spot in the dugout, and always wore the same clothes when he was on the mound. Chicago Cubs first baseman/outfielder Phil Cavaretta would take two warm-up swings of the bat while in the on-deck circle. Before taking a third swing, he would spit in the air, and then hit it.

“Splat, and he was ready to hit,” Erskine recalled.

Though he was surrounded by superstitious players, Erskine himself stated that while he tried avoiding becoming engrossed in superstitions, it was nonetheless challenging to prevent being swept up in them.

“It’s so difficult that I found myself not going to the same seat on the bench, not wearing the same sweatshirt every time I pitched, not walking back the same way each time, to the point where one day I realized…well, I’m being superstitious about not being superstitious,” Erskine said.

Superstitions can be found everywhere on the diamond, including food. Good nutrition undoubtedly keeps the body healthy and in top physical condition, but for the superstitious player it can be the difference between a memorable day at the plate or one better off forgotten. Jay Grohowski, an I.U. baseball player interviewed in 1981, noted the effect something simple like a pre-game hot dog could have on a player’s day.

“You have a hot dog and you go 6-for-8 on a doubleheader, and you go home and…you think, ‘what did I have last game for lunch?’ and you have the same thing again.”

A good meal can certainly keep a player calm, but where the food is consumed can be just as important. Harold Halman, another I.U. baseball player, discussed the role of McDonald’s for a player’s success.

“So happens you go out, the team does well, and you play fairly well, and next day you go there. ‘Let’s all go to McDonald’s, like yesterday,'” Halman said.

Indiana Daily Student clipping welcoming the 1936 baseball season and encouraging fans to bring their favorite razzes to the diamond, April 7, 1936. (Indiana University Archives, C624, Box 2.)

Superstitions can take hold of fans in ways similar to players, though their rituals morph into a communal effort intended to will the home team to victory or support an individual player’s effort. From turning hats inside-out during rallies to tapping bobbleheads, fans become consumed in the moment, and almost work harder than the players themselves to snag victory from the opponent. While Erskine’s mother was listening to her son throw his first no-hitter in 1952, she continued ironing the same tablecloth throughout the entirety of the game, believing any attempt to stop would squander Carl’s efforts.

Clipping from April 4, 1933 Indiana Daily Student heralding a new baseball season. (Indiana University Archives, C624, Box 2.)

“She related my good fortune to what she was doing,” Erskine later said. “She probably felt that she had quite a bit to do with that.”

The beginning of a new baseball season signifies the oncoming days of spending long summer days basking in the sun at the ballpark. For teams and fans looking to keep bad luck at bay, the strains of the game can result in habits and routines seen as bizarre by outsiders but viewed by player’s and lovers of baseball as being essential to keeping a level head when out on the diamond.

Both the the IU Folklore Institute’s student papers collection and the IU Athletics Manager’s Books were mined for this post. If you follow those links, be warned – the student papers collection is HUGE and takes a long time to load. Click “Entire Document” on the left and then walk away for a bit while it loads!

Eddie Whitehead: Breaking I.U.’s Color Barrier in Baseball

Eddie Whitehead, IU Archives, Image no. P0052290

Throughout 2019, Major League Baseball will honor the centennial of Jackie Robinson’s birth. Robinson made history in 1947 when he broke professional baseball’s color barrier by playing second base for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson’s courageous actions spurred the racial integration of the sport, ending decades of segregated baseball. In 1956, Robinson’s last year in the majors, Indiana University’s baseball team welcomed its first African American player, catcher Eddie Whitehead. Whitehead, a native of Madison, Indiana, joined as a sophomore and was one of five catchers on the team that year.

Though Whitehead made his debut nearly ten years after Robinson’s debut, a spring break trip through Florida and Georgia from March 26-31, 1956, illustrated the racial disharmony that was still prevalent throughout the country. At the major league level, professional baseball would not be fully integrated until 1959, when the Boston Red Sox became the last team to welcome an African American player on its roster. At the collegiate level, a strict “gentleman’s agreement” prohibiting non-professional contests between African Americans and whites was in force in the South, meaning if Whitehead played, the other teams would not play I.U. According to a March 22, 1956 press release, I.U. entered into the six games without knowledge of this agreement, thereby hindering the team’s ability to pull out of the games. After speaking with I.U. President Herman B Wells, Whitehead decided he did not want to ruin the trip for his teammates by not going, so he decided to make the journey, though he did not play as per the agreement.

In a 2017 Indiana University Bicentennial oral history interview, Whitehead’s daughter, Dr. Dawn Whitehead, recalled the stories her father told her about the trip. Traveling through the Jim Crow south was “a profound experience for him,” she said. “He often didn’t get to eat in restaurants with his teammates, and they would bring food out to the bus.” “He would also sometimes not be able to stay in the same hotels where his teammates stayed,” Whitehead recalled.

Listen to Dawn Whitehead share more memories of her father in this clip from her IU Bicentennial Oral History interview:

In a March 27, 1956, Indianapolis Times article, Eddie stated he had to eat in the hotel kitchen in Harriman, Tennessee. In Cedartown, Georgia, he ate in the car. Both times I.U. baseball coach Ernie Andres joined him. “I stayed with Eddie everywhere we went,” Andres said in an April 18, 1997 article in the Indiana Daily Student. “My only fear was that he would get hurt.”

While I.U. played Florida State, Eddie stayed at Florida A & M, a historically black college. While there, he trained with their baseball team and stayed in a dorm room. Dawn Whitehead stated staying at Florida A & M was the fondest memory of the trip for her father. Coach Andres made arrangements for Eddie to stay with African American families while the team played Florida University and Georgia Teachers. “I don’t think I could ever live down here,” Eddie said in the March 27, 1956, Indianapolis Times article. “I just couldn’t. It seems so different. Too many drawbacks.” “People look at you so cold,” Whitehead said in another Indianapolis Times article from March 28, 1956. “Like you’re something different. Like you were inferior.”

Upon the team’s return to Bloomington, Wells expressed outrage at the treatment of Whitehead. “It’s outrageous the indignities now being suffered in the South by Eddie Whitehead,” Wells stated in a March 28, 1956, Louisville Times article. “This is very distasteful to me. I’m opposed to segregation in any form. Indiana is the leader in the nation against segregation in schools as well as in athletics.” Wells received numerous letters regarding the incident. Some came from supporters, while others came from those questioning his reasoning for allowing Whitehead to go when the team knew he wouldn’t be able to play.

Scorecard from the April 24, 1956 game against Butler. Whitehead went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a triple. (Accn. # 2015/027, Box 306, “Baseball 1956.”)

Whitehead played in 12 games during the 1956 campaign. His most notable game that year occurred on April 24 against Butler. He went 1 for 2, with a triple, one base-on-balls, and two RBIs. I.U. defeated the Bulldogs in an 18-5 thrashing. At the conclusion of the season, he was awarded a varsity letter.

Whitehead graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 1958. He became a banker, a profession in which he remained for thirty years; he also worked on the statistics crews for the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts. Whitehead passed away on September 10, 2014, at the age of 77.