Fall MDPI updates – Part 1

In 2015, Indiana University launched the system-wide Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI), with the goal of reformatting and saving deteriorating media and film that could be found across all of the Indiana University campuses. To date, more than 350,000 audio, video, and film have been digitized.

At the University Archives, in some instances, we knew who deposited or transferred the media, but so many lacked description — and we lacked the proper equipment to safely play or view many of the items – that we are just now discovering what we actually had in our holdings. It has been a long road to figure out copyright and privacy issues surrounding the digitized media but late last year, we were given the green light to begin working our way through the “dark archive” (just…30,013 items!) and begin making them accessible. Access levels are worldwide, IU-login, or restricted. Nearly all materials can be viewed upon request for individual researchers, however, and many item descriptions can be found via our collection finding aids in ArchivesOnline.

All of these items can be accessed via Media Collections Online (MCO). Some may require IU log-in for immediate access; click on the Sign In link in the upper right-hand corner of the MCO web site.

I am going to break this update into two posts, because so much has been described since my July update!

Speaking of – in July I wrote that we were working on a new project to include closed captioning for one of our first collections. It is a slow process – and the fact that we started with Russian history lectures meant LOTS of Googling to figure out spelling for names and locations, which made it go that much more slowly! But I am pleased to announce that the 1959 distance ed Russian History lectures recorded by Professor Robert Byrnes are now available WITH closed captioning! Check them out here. Access level: Worldwide

Pushed by request:

  • William R. Breneman was a very popular long-time faculty member in zoology. Annually, he delivered a lecture on evolution called “From Cadillac, By Way of Kalamazoo, to You,” that used local references to explain evolution. The lecture was so popular that it drew standing room only crowds of students, faculty, staff and locals. Over the years, we have had repeated requests for copies of the lecture and we are now pleased to say that a 1976 recording of the talk is now available for streaming at https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/t722hs36h!
  • The talented playwright and lyricist Howard Ashman earned his master’s degree at Indiana University in 1974. He went on to have an extremely successful career working with creative partner Alan Menken on such well-known works as Disney’s Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, which came out after his death. In 1987, Ashman returned to his alma mater for a production of Little Shop of Horrors (Ashman wrote the book and lyrics for the musical). While on campus, he sat down with faculty member R. Keith Michael for an interview; a number of clips from the interview were used in the 2020 documentary Howard. https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/media_objects/9s161p314
Screenshot of Ashman recording in MCO
Screenshot of Ashman recording in MCO

Completed:

C234: Indiana University Student Association (147 items): Consists largely of recordings of IUSA congressional meetings. The minutes of these meetings have also been transcribed and digitized and can be accessed via the Archives collection description at http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/findingaids/archives/InU-Ar-VAB9446. Access level: largely Worldwide; a few recordings of interviews are restricted.

C276: William T. Patten Foundation lectures (20 items): Indiana University’s William T. Patten Foundation hosts scholars from around the world to give campus lectures in their area of expertise. Several recordings of talks have already been made available by our colleagues in Scholarly Communications but we had some recordings they did not and have published those. These additions span 1982-2006 and include both moving image and audio recordings. Access level: Worldwide

Hubert Heffner addresses students in "The Nature of Man, Shakespearean Conception."
Hubert Heffner addresses students in “The Nature of Man, Shakespearean Conception.”

C296: Hubert C. Heffner papers (10 items): Heffner was a Distinguished Professor of Speech, Theatre, and Dramatic Literature at IU and also served at times as acting director of IU Theatre. Audiovisual materials from his papers consists entirely of “The Nature of Drama” recordings produced by IU Television and the Department of Theatre and Drama in the late 1970s. In each episode, Professor Heffner explores various aspects of theatre with some thematic focuses such as “The Nature of Man” in drama or focusing on specific forms, such as melodrama, tragedy, etc. Access level: Worldwide

C298: Indiana Religious Studies Project (15 items): Formed in 1977, the Indiana Religious Studies Project brought Indiana secondary teachers to IUB to improve how the study of religion was taught in Indiana high schools. The Project’s funding ended in 1984. Audiovisual materials consist of lectures organized for Project attendees spanning 1978-1981. Access level: IU; brief descriptions can be found in the collection finding aid and outside researchers can contact us for access.

C299: Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance (25 items):A large part of these 25 items are recordings of the 1978 show “Drama: Play, Perception, Performance,” consisting of analysis of various works by host José Ferrer, likely used in class by IU instructors. Access level: IU, but descriptions can be found in the Audiovisual materials series of the Theatre Department’s records held by the Archives. Outside researchers can contact us for access.

C337: James King papers (13 items): In 1984, James King joined the faculty of Indiana University as a professor of Voice in the School of Music but before and after, Professor King had a career as an operatic singer. Audiovisual materials consist of audio recordings of his performances spanning 1962-1972. Access level: IU, but descriptions can be found in the finding aid for King’s papers and outside researchers can contact us for access!

Attendees at APO gathering in Boston sing the organization's song, 1985.
Attendees at APO gathering in Boston sing the organization’s song, 1985.

C355: Alpha Phi Omega – Mu Chapter (2 items): Alpha Phi Omega is a national service fraternity founded on leadership, friendship, and service. The Mu Chapter was established at Indiana University in 1929. The Archives holds a nice collection of its records spanning 1927-2008, which includes two recordings. The first one is a slideshow of photos from some of the group’s 1998 activities; the second one, dated 1985, is a recording from a larger APO event held in Boston. The camera scans the crowd as they sing what is likely the APO song. Access level: IU due to the music in both recordings but outside researchers can contact us for access!

This seems like enough for this update. Look for part two soon!

The Poynter Center

I recently processed digitized media from the Poynter Center records held by the University Archives.  The purpose of the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions is to advance the study and teaching of ethics and the materials I worked on reflect that focus. In addition, many of the works that I cataloged examined American institutions, such as the press, the branches of the government, and political parties. Nelson Poynter, Indiana University alumnus and founder of the institution, was a journalist himself, and was dedicated to journalistic ethics.

Portrait photograph of Nelson Poynter.
Portrait of Nelson Poynter. Archives Image No. P0021628.

I find the Poynter Center’s mission highly compelling; the institute was founded in reaction to the Watergate scandal back in the early 1970s. It focused on the causes behind a decline in trust behind American institutions. Even though the Watergate scandal was nearly 50 years ago, I think that the discussions around this event, and the general mistrust of the news from the time, are highly relevant today.

There are several programs the Center published, mostly in cooperation with WTIU, to cover these issues. These include Conversations on America, Citizen & Science, and About Time. They often speak with the same guests, which allows them to get a well-rounded view from their subjects.

One series of interviews and discussions I would highly recommend is the set from senator Andrew Young. Senator Young was a congregational minister and prominent leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and spoke on several Poynter Center programs about the movement and the political climate of the South during and before the movement. Young speaks from a place of optimism in the mid 70s, and illustrates the deep changes he observed in his and other communities in the South over the course of only a decade. Young’s discussion is a reminder not only of the history of racism and the fight for rights in this country, but an illustration of the work left to be done. Young’s optimism is a place where we can consider what hopes and promises have gone unfulfilled for the Black community in this country.

Young also comments in his interviews on the way that elections and the more local political climate changed after the expansion of enfranchisement in his and other southern districts. His description of pre-movement politics is, I think, a strikingly accurate statement today, over 60 years later. Young says:

“… you had a kind of politics where people catered to the fears of their constituents, the anxieties and frankly the ignorance of their constituents. If you got people worked up and emotional and afraid enough, then you got elected and could do as you pleased. With Blacks coming into the political system, you have candidates appealing to the better instincts of the voters… Because they have a constituency not based on fear, but who are following them because of their hopes and aspirations, they’re willing to do some more courageous things.”

It’s very easy to draw parallels between the politics of fear that Young describes and the politics of reaction and fear that prevails today. What Young’s discussion also shows is that it takes decisive action to break this cycle of fear.

The discussion that I’ve just laid out comes from about half of one thirty-minute program; this is where I see the terrific value in the Poynter Center recordings. Despite their age, they focus on issues fundamental enough that they can serve as the beginning of a discussion on American institutions and issues 50 years later. I could have, as easily, discussed the views of a Poynter fellow on the press and compared it to today. Andrew Young’s interviews are just one particularly important and relevant example of this.

I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on any of the topics that these Poynter Center lectures cover; however, I clearly see their usefulness. The other thing I clearly see is a need to continue the conversations started in these programs. The atmosphere of uncertainty, of questioning, of doubt around the political institutions of 1972, and the spirit which founded the Poynter Center, is keenly felt today. I think that discussing our issues in this formal way, removed from the cycles and pressures of the news while still concentrating on the salient issues, has tremendous value in our current world.

We need to reinvest in the Poynter Center concept; to bring it into the modern day and direct it at our institutions and issues. The Center as it exists today is not the same; it has no dedicated building (they left their previous one in 2016) and is incorporated into the Media School. Their programming is limited. However, the Poynter Center’s potential is still immense. It’s no coincidence that Andrew Young’s interviews are still so relevant today. The issues addressed by the Poynter Center are often enduring. With and adjustment of scope and focus for the issues of our time, we have the opportunity to contribute to a serious understanding of how to improve our society, not just for now but for a long time to come.

The Poynter Center Building
The Poynter Center building on Third Street circa 1956. The Center vacated the building in 2016. Archives photo P0022315.

Robert Byrnes and Distance Learning: Then and Now

Over the past (very turbulent) month, I’ve been working on describing digitized media from Collection C388, the Robert Byrnes papers. I started my work on this collection the week before spring break, and for that reason my conception of the collection is overshadowed by the circumstances around my work on it. However, the transition to remote work over the past few weeks has highlighted one part of this collection in particular; a film series Byrnes produced in 1959 on the history of Russia. It stood out to me because of its intended use, which was as a correspondence course. I found myself in the interesting position of transitioning to remote learning while working on an approach which was used 60 years ago.

Robert Byrnes portraitj
Robert Byrnes in 1958, IU Archives P0020758

In some ways the contrast is pretty stark; Byrnes’s approach and our own are on opposite ends of a technological and educational revolution. The ability to speak with my classmates despite sometimes immense physical distance is extraordinarily powerful. In some ways, I imagine that the correspondence course of 1959 faced some of the same challenges as we do today. The lecture and the classroom are institutions with centuries of tradition. Physical, shared learning spaces were as or more important back then as they are now. The same can be said of student-professor interaction. There are few things which are valued more in the pedagogical process.

That said, there are some successes and failures with the Byrnes course which I think we can apply to our own attempts at remote learning.

One thing that Byrnes really succeeds at is his presentation of his material. As a lecturer and presenter, Byrnes is smooth and articulate on camera. He outlines his subject in clear terms and speaks on his subject matter with a formal yet conversational style. I think this sort of clear and direct presentation style is really important for remote learning; without the physical cues of a classroom and the pressure to reduce distraction during class, it is important to simplify and clarify a message for students.

Something else I thought was really important to the success of Byrnes’s lectures is that they don’t rely on graphics. This is something that I think we especially, as students and professors who rely on PowerPoint, could learn from the presentation of the past. We use presentation slides for a reason, but it’s important to consider their role in a classroom setting. Students look at the professor when they’re presenting information, so retaining that cue also helps retain attention. By using graphics sparingly and intentionally, they can serve their intended function; as a teaching aid, instead of as a teaching crutch.

Robert Byrnes on television set, standing at lectern
Robert Byrnes on television set, IU Archives P0048278

One downfall of Byrnes’s lectures is that they lack student interactivity. This is a genuine success of our modern educational tools. The ability for students and professors to talk is one of the most valuable aspects of a classroom environment, so its remote replication should be seen as a huge advantage.

While Byrnes’s lectures demonstrate clear understanding of the topic, the ability to engage his knowledge and ask interesting questions would elevate the experience greatly. Since this is one of the advantages we retain with an online format,  it is something we should turn to often in our lectures. In my few weeks of online instruction, I have yet to see student questions engaged with. I see this as a lack of integration with the system on Zoom; the tools for question asking/answering are there, but professors have to make use of them. Real integration of the tools we have for online teaching would improve the experience greatly. For example, Zoom includes a chat bar in its client; professors could use this feature to get information and field questions from students, while allowing moderation to ensure that there isn’t chaos in the audio channel. It will be interesting to see how teaching styles adapt to the tools available online; to succeed in this environment, a different skillset and teaching style is necessary, and I’m interested to see how learning changes over time as a result of this abrupt change to online courses.

One last downfall of Byrnes’s lectures is their bias. In many ways the lectures are a product of their time. An American series on Russian history, in 1959, is doomed to bias as a result of the political climate of the time.  While we are more aware of this issue today, it is just as important (or more so) to examine our discussions and beliefs for bias in our time.

Byrnes had a lot going on in the course of his life. These video lectures form an early part of his work, but his examination of Russian history, and the events of his time, never stopped. He was still thinking, writing, and speaking on Russia and Eastern Europe through the collapse of the Soviet Union. He lived through some of the most serious international crises of the 20th century, and indeed of modern history. To study an area of the world which was subject to so much bias, so much uncertainty, and so much speculation, must have been uniquely challenging. I hope that we can apply some of Byrnes’s perseverance in the difficult times that we’re living through, and continue to be the best students, researchers, and professors we can, no matter the circumstances.

Finding common ground: conversations on applied folklore in the Bloomington community

"What have Bloomington and Monroe County been like in the past? What can they be like in the future? Can we, should we, find any Common Ground?"
Excerpt from the 1998 call out letter.

This past summer, the Indiana University Archives hired me to focus on some of the Archive’s time-based media (i.e., tapes and film) that have gone through the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative. The goal has been to work on the description of the pieces — some of which had nothing more than “Side A” or “Side B” — and to work with the head of the Libraries’ Copyright Program to determine what level of access we can provide.

Given my background as a PhD student in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, one of the first projects I was tasked with were the recordings digitized from the Department’s records here in the IU Archives. There are a few different chunks of recordings within the records; this post focuses on recorded conversations from a 1998-99 Visions of Place project sponsored by local businesses and the Indiana Humanities Council.  A subset of the larger project was Common Ground, a public folklore initiative of which the Indiana University Folklore Department was a partner. This project focused on understanding the meaning of community and neighborhood within Bloomington and Monroe County. Descriptions of the “Photo Days” and story collecting sound quite similar to modern-day “History Harvests” which we sometimes see hosted by local historical societies around the country. Included with these recordings are some from 1996; it seems likely that the interviews and conversations between folklore graduate students and professors at that time influenced the development of the Common Ground public folklore initiative.

The recordings in this collection document weekly summer meetings between professors and a team of six graduate students as they developed plans for a public service folklore project in Bloomington. Ultimately, the group decided to work towards building community between local senior citizens and children through joint folklore programming with the then neighboring community centers, Kid City and Older Citizens Center. The recordings, on audio cassette, capture the group’s discussions about team fieldwork methodologies, ethical concerns in public folklore, and the relationship between Indiana University and the Bloomington community, both historically and at the time of the recording. The topics remain prominent in folklore studies today.

The conversations include IU folklore graduate students and professors Henry Glassie and Phil Stafford, with the latter asked to reflect on his community service work in the Evergreen Project. The Evergreen Project invited a nursing home community in Bloomington to reflect on their sense of place. The team delegated tasks and then reported back on their progress in building connections in the field. They reflected on weekly readings, discussing problems in teamwork, volunteering, and race and class relations in fieldwork and public folklore.

Also included is an interview by folklorists John Cash and Inta Carpenter with Keith Enright. Enright worked on a public folklore project to preserve Indiana folklife and heritage with one of IU’s most prominent folklorists, Dr. Warren Roberts. Their work focused on analysis and preservation on the oldest farmstead in Monroe County, the Mayfield Homestead. Enright’s research and preservation work on the pioneer homestead revealed centuries-old architectural evidence that the design was likely inspired by mystical symmetry invoked by the Freemasons. Enright also discussed the history and future of development in Bloomington and his own family heritage in the Midwest.

Headshot of Anya Peterson Royce
Anya Peterson Royce, Chancellors’ Professor of Anthropology

Additional recordings include Chancellors’ Professor and anthropologist Anya Peterson Royce on the topics of public folklore, fieldwork relationships, and service learning. Her interviews discuss her experiences with fieldwork, race, and service in Indianapolis and Martinsville, Indiana.

Finally, the Common Ground initiative closed with a group oral history interview with Russell Shaw, a local photographer and photography shop owner who shared information about his extensive collection of historic Bloomington photography.

Although all of the project participants verbally acknowledge they are being recorded, because they could have never imagined they would be streamed online, at this time researchers must contact the Archives staff for access. Further description of all of the recordings can be found within the collection description for the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology records.

All’s Wells That Ends Well

Back left to right Mrs. Richard Pell, Mrs. Lyle Dieterle, Front left to right S.G. (Chris) Savage, George Krueger, Norris Wentworth
Card-carrying members of the University Club spelling out the title of the musical honoring Herman B Wells on the occasion of his retirement. Published in the Indiana Daily Student on March 16, 1962

Herman B Wells was one of the most prolific presidents in the history of Indiana University. Even before his presidency, he was an alumnus of IU as well as a member of the faculty. His 25 year-long presidency lasted from 1938 until 1962, covering the second World War and its aftermath.  He was also the first Chancellor of Indiana University starting from his retirement in 1962 until 2000, the year of his death. As a life-long citizen of Indiana and an alumnus of the university, he was invested in its development and its impact on the world at large. He was a champion for intellectual and academic freedom during the time of Alfred Kinsey’s research and an advocate for international studies and communication during and after war-time.

Herman B Wells walking with a cane in his right hand.
A photo taken by Mr. Rick Wood as Wells was walking to work on May 28, 1977. For more information see the Archives Photograph Collection Item P0023858.

At the end of his presidency, Eleanor and Newell Long, professors of English and Music respectively, wrote a musical titled “All’s Wells That Ends Well” as a tribute to Wells on the occasion of his retirement. This was not the first time the Longs had created a musical for Wells. They also wrote and composed “The Inauguration of the Boy President” for the beginning of Wells’ Presidency back in 1939.

“All’s Wells That Ends Well” was performed by over 100 members of the faculty’s University Club on March 16, 1962 in Alumni Hall. It included songs such as Wells Bells, The Chimes of Indiana by Hoagy Carmichael, Our Herman B Wells, and Just B Yourself! (What Does the B Mean?). A recording of some of these songs from the musical can be found in the Archives’ collection. The Bloomington Daily Herald-Telephone described the musical as “…a lively production, full of laughs, in which faculty members set aside their dignity for the evening.” (March 17, 1962, Sec. 1, Page 3)

Left to Right: Newell Long, Eleanor Long, Mary Lou Waters, L.L. Water, Mrs. Clum Bucher (Center)
A photograph published in the Indiana Daily Student about the musical. Features Newell and Eleanor Long on the left.

The story follows two “freshmen” trying to find out what the B in Herman B Wells stands for. They journey through the sacred halls of the Lilly Library, guarded by the monkish librarian, Ballantine Hall, the Jacobs School of Music, and even the University Archives (how very meta!). The answer, as it always does, lies with Wells’ Secretary. The freshmen discover that it actually means “Be yourself”! In reality, the B doesn’t stand for anything, but it makes for a good laugh.

This musical tells us a lot about what people thought about Wells. The song “Our Herman B Wells” in particular lists several of his virtues:

“…Loyal and true to all good Hoosiers.

Faithful to Old IU,

Works hard and steady on this big job.

He fights hard for both the old and new.

His plans have bought us fame and more good will,

won us international hue.

Hard-working, tireless, patient, and willing.

As prexy he’s alright.

Brought IU to the light.

For him we all would fight, our Herman B Wells…

Herman B Wells dressed in academic regalia
Herman B Wells, dressed in academic regalia, preparing to enter the IU Auditorium November 19, 1962. For more information see the Archives Photograph Collection Item P0035419

“Honest and able like Abe Lincoln,

brilliant as any brain,

humble and easy as an old shoe,

he runs college business without strain.

He could at poker win with just a pair,

this man’s skill you don’t disdain.

Foresighted, steady, upright, and ready.

Watch him administrate

the best school in the state.

Boy he can navigate that’s Herman B Wells” (All’s Wells That Ends Well, Side 2, Track 1, 00:54-2:31)

Left to right: Philip Wikelund, Shelby Gerking, Bruce McQuigg, Frank T. Gucker, and George Johnson
Members of the IU Faculty in their costumes for the performance of “All’s Wells That Ends Well.” Published in the Indianapolis Times, March 16,1962.

 

This musical also reveals that he has a sense of humor. From the exaggerated librarians and faculty to the various depictions of students, it is clear that the faculty believed Herman to be more than capable of having a good laugh.

In the end though, perhaps the greatest thing we learn about Wells is that he was always, honestly himself. As a role model, it’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.

 “…Be yourself, just be yourself

Be yourself from day to day

Be yourself, just be yourself

That’s the Herman B Wells way

He avoids all ostentation

No pretense or affectation;

He’s a pleasant, humble, normal, friendly one

He assumes no pose to please,

He has natural poise and ease.

Genuine, sincere, and honest, loving fun.

All these things endear the man.

Emulate him if you can.

Be yourself, just be yourself;

That’s the Herman B Wells way.” (Side 2, Track 2, 02:31-05:42)

Herman B Wells and the cast of All's Wells That Ends Well
Herman B Wells (center) onstage with the cast after the performance of “All’s Wells That Ends Well.” Published in the Daily Herald-Telephone March 17, 1962.

Wells commented on the musical, that “They invested enormous energy and effort in this show. It was delightful, light, happy, and yet, quite moving. I shall never forget it” (Being Lucky: All’s Wells that Ends Well, Track 1, 6:40-7:06).

Those remarks are just a part of the many dictations Wells made in preparation for his autobiography, Being Lucky, which was first published in 1980. As part of the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, IU has digitized these tapes, all of which are available now on Media Collections Online. A newer, more complete edition of Wells’ autobiography is expected to be released next year, in time for the bicentennial IU Day. Read the whole story here

To learn more, visit the Indiana University Archives or check out the following links:

Herman B Wells Papers on Media Collections Online

The IU Archives’ Herman B Wells Papers 

The IU Archives’ Newell and Eleanor Long Show files, including scripts and music for “All’s Wells That Ends Well”