Chill before slicing: A Recipe for “Herman B Wells Cake”

Tomorrow (June 7th) would be former IU President and Chancellor Herman B Wells’ 115th birthday! To celebrate, visit the Wells Library tomorrow between 12-2pm for a piece of cake on the big day. Also if you’d like to make Hermie’s favorite dessert in the comfort of your own home, see the recipe below!

An older Herman B Wells blows out candles on his birthday cake in front of friends and staff
76th Birthday Party for Herman B Wells, June 8, 1978.

This culinary masterpiece involves a LOT of fruit and whipped cream and makes a pretty generously-sized cake, so scaling down the recipe is definitely recommended!

“Herman B Wells Cake”

3 lb. white cake mix
6 oz. oil
2 lb. water
5 lb. green tip bananas
3 pints strawberries
16 cups whipped cream

Mix cake mix and 2/3 lb. water on low speed. 2 mins. Scrape down and mix with 2/3 cups more water on medium speed. 2 mins. Add last 2/3 cups water, oil, mix medium speed 2 mins. Bake 375 for about 30 mins. Cool and chill. Split cake in half. Spread top of split layer with whipped cream. Cut bananas and place on top of whipped cream. Spread more whipped cream on top of bananas. Layer strawberries over that layer. Spread more whipped cream on top of berries. Place other half of cake on top and spread more whipped cream on top of that. Chill before slicing.

Frances Morgan Swain and the League of Extraordinary (IU) Women

After 110 years of existence, the IU Student Building is being renamed in honor of Frances Morgan Swain (Miller). But wait, what’s so special about this lady?

Photograph of Frances Morgan Swain, circa 1887-1889
Frances Morgan Swain, circa 1887-1889. Note her pins from Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Frances “Fannie” Hannah Morgan was born in Knightstown, Indiana, in 1860. Her family appears to have been reasonably well-off (her father, Charles D. Morgan was, by turns, a lawyer, banker, and state representative), and they were members of the Fall Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends in Henry County. It is unclear when Frances met Joseph Swain, who was by turns a student (B.L.1883, M.S. 1885), professor of mathematics (1887-1891), and president (1893-1902) of Indiana University. One account by the Bloomington Courier stated that they met as students at Indiana, but there is no record of Frances’s attendance before 1887. What is certain is that they were married in September 1885, presumably after connecting over their joint Quaker heritage. And love of mathematics. Keep reading–you’ll see.

Compared to the women who preceded her as “first lady” of Indiana University, Frances was hardly the conventional president’s wife. Unlike her predecessors, she actually attended Indiana University, completing junior-level mathematics coursework over two years. She began her studies in 1887, the same year that Joseph was appointed an associate professor in the department. Even more unusual was that she did so as a married woman. She began studying in 1887, the same year that Meadie Hawkins Evermann became IU’s first married female graduate. Swain’s education took a detour when her husband was invited to join the faculty of the newly formed Stanford University in 1891–she completed her A.B. in Mathematics there in 1893.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Frances and her predecessors was her public and active commitment to effecting change on campus. When the Swains returned to Bloomington, Joseph as the new university president, Frances completed some graduate-level mathematics coursework, but soon turned her interests to the welfare of students, especially women, at the university. The historian Thomas Clark describes President Swain’s era at IU as one of rapidly increasing enrollments, which proved particularly challenging in the area of housing for female students–there was no women’s dormitory at the time, and private housing options in town were limited. Women arrived on campus from “strict homes…bound down by admonitions, taboos, and inhibitions,” and there were few means of support beyond sororities to “safely” navigate their new environment. Frances’s answer to the problem was the organization of a “Women’s League” dedicated to the self-improvement of its members as well as improving conditions for women on campus and in the Bloomington community.

Group photograph of IU Women's League officers, 1896
The officers of the IU Women’s League, as pictured in the 1896 Arbutus. Frances Morgan Swain is looking straight ahead in the center of the group.

Founded in 1895, the IU Women’s League was composed of women serving in various capacities on campus, including faculty, wives of faculty, members of campus clubs and sororities, and “unrepresented” female students–students who did not belong to a sorority or other club that provided housing or a support system. It provided educational and social programming for league members and the broader campus and Bloomington communities, including lectures, receptions, and dramatic performances. One of the League’s first speakers was Dr. Rebecca Rogers George, an Indianapolis physician who became a longtime, non-resident lecturer on female physiology and hygiene for the university. Over the years a variety of other speakers, including female educators, social reformers, and suffragists discussed current events and other topics of interest. Over time the mission of the Women’s League evolved, transitioning from a social club to a form of women’s student government.

One of Frances’s (and the League’s) most significant efforts on campus was the campaign for the construction of a Women’s Building on campus. Inspired by the existence of such facilities at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and other regional institutions, Frances and the Women’s League began raising funds so that female students at IU could have a building of their own. In March 1901, with $6500 in pledges under her belt, Frances appealed to the Board of Trustees to support the project, which she presented as a much-needed space for socializing, exercising, and relaxation. The Board responded with the following resolution:

Be it resolved, that the Trustees of the University most heartily endorsed the movement, presented and explained by Mrs. Swain, for the erection of a Women’s Building on the campus, and inasmuch as said building is to be erected entirely by private subscription, all friends of the University and of education generally are urged to aid Mrs. Swain and her association in their good work.

The campaign for the Women’s Building, essentially the first mass fundraising appeal by the university, ultimately found success through a generous matching donation offer by John D. Rockefeller. Sacrificed in the process, however, was the building’s status as a facility exclusively for women–it instead was built as the “Student Building,” and has remained so up until this week.

The Swains left Indiana when Joseph accepted the presidency of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. While the couple were doubtless as happy as, well, a pair of Quakers at a school for Quakers, their interest in the welfare of Hoosier Nation never ceased. Besides returning to campus for personal visits and university ceremonies, Frances and Joseph were the first donors to the post-World War I Memorial Fund, giving $500 each in 1921 and lobbying alumni to donate as well. In 1932, five years after Joseph died, Frances married John A. Miller, also a former faculty member of Indiana, Stanford, and Swarthmore. And a mathematics professor–see what I mean? But in Bloomington, she’ll always be remembered the most as Mrs. Joseph Swain.

As the existence of the Women’s League demonstrates, Frances Swain was not the only woman involved in promoting change on campus. The mere existence of women faculty and staff, however few, surely made a difference to the women who followed them. It is easy to overlook the legacy of women of Frances Morgan Swain’s era, when gendered social norms and expectations limited the ways they could participate in public life. The renaming of the Student Building this week is an important step to make sure they are not forgotten.

A History of Celebrating Shakespeare at Indiana University

Tomorrow is the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and many universities, libraries, scholars, and public are joining in the celebration of his life’s work. The Indiana University Archives has an alluring assortment of material that document how Indiana University has celebrated the bard’s work over the last 100 years. From James Whitcomb Riley’s tribute to Shakespeare to a Shakespearean version of Star Wars and the building of The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Indiana University has certainly done its part over the years to honor and preserve the works of Shakespeare.

Shakespearean version of Star Wars written by the Indiana University Department of English, 1984.
Shakespearean version of Star Wars written by the Indiana University Department of English, 1984.

Arguably, the most exciting of the material is a Shakespearean version of Star Wars written in verse by someone in the Department of English at Indiana University. The play was to be performed by students on Shakespeare’s birthday in 1984. Act 1 begins in Luke Skywalker’s spaceship, Luke: “….Darth Vader – that beast – / Will cower from th’ advancing host / When he discerns your forceful visage / Rushing intrepid at the force.” The script is full of wit, and the impeccable verse is impressive. Unfortunately for Leia, she is accused of being unfaithful and is slain by Luke. Han speaks to Leia, “Thy wench, the princess false, is cover’d with / The rude mechanical storm trooper robot. / You’ll have computers for cousins. I die, but thou art a cuckold. (Han dies).” Luke exclaims, “Miserable strumpet!” and kills Leia. Alas, what fools these mortals be.

Letter to President William Lowe Bryan from the American Shakespearean Foundation, thanking Indiana University for their contribution to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, 1932.
Letter to President Bryan thanking Indiana University for their contribution to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, 1932.

Under the presidency of William Lowe Bryan, Indiana University contributed funds to the American Shakespeare Foundation to help build the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. The original theatre burnt down in 1926; the new theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, was built adjacent to the original site and opened in 1932. “In behalf of the American Shakespeare Foundation I have much pleasure in reporting that the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon is now complete and will be formally opened by the Prince of Wales on April 23rd – Shakespeare’s Birthday.” Not only was enough money raised to build the new theatre, there were also “substantial” funds left over from the American Shakespeare Foundation for an endowment.

Hubert Heffner, Professor of Speech, Theatre, and Dramatic Literature at Indiana University (1955-1971), also served as acting director of the University Theatre from 1959-1960 and 1970-1971. Heffner was invited to a prestigious gala weekend for a celebration honoring the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1964. The weekend included a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library and a reception at the White House, hosted by President and Mrs. Johnson. Listed to the left of the letter is, “Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Honorary Chairman.” Professor Heffner taught courses on Shakespeare at Indiana University.  His research and lecture notes are still preserved in his collection and can be accessed at the Indiana University Archives.

100 years ago, Indiana University celebrated 300 years of Shakespeare by performing “A Dramatic Tribute for the Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration of Indiana University, at Bloomington Indiana,

Letter to Hubert Heffner from the Shakespeare Anniversary Committee, inviting Heffner to a 400th Anniversary gala weekend. April 16, 1964.
Letter to Hubert Heffner from the Shakespeare Anniversary Committee, inviting Heffner to a 400th Anniversary gala weekend. April 16, 1964.

April Twenty Sixth Nineteen Sixteen” written by William Chauncy Langdon. The tribute is a beautifully printed pamphlet, with the first two leaves printed on handmade paper; some of the leaves remain uncut. Included in the celebration are notable Indiana writers: “A Tribute from James Whitcomb Riley will be read by his nephew, Edmund H. Eitel; also Tributes from Meredith Nicholson and George Ade; and a Tribute in behalf of Indiana writers and scholars as a whole will be spoken by Will David Howe.” During the tribute, Marlowe says, “HA! Here he is at last! But hush! Be still! The Indiana poet, Riley sends his word of tribute to our Will!” Riley’s nephew Edmund Eitel rises from his seat in the audience and says, “From James Whitcomb Riley: – ‘By divine miracle most obvious, more vitally than ever in life, Shakespeare lives today!”

A Tribute at Indiana University honoring 300 Years of Shakespeare. April 26, 1916.
A Tribute at Indiana University honoring 300 Years of Shakespeare. April 26, 1916.

Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance has kept Shakespeare’s works alive and well with their many performances over the years. Macbeth has been among the more popular of Shakespeare’s works, not only for the brilliant plot but also for its length; it is far shorter than his other plays. The Department of Theatre performed Macbeth both in 1965 and this year. If you missed their outstanding performance of Macbeth, fear not! The King Lear project is coming to the Wells-Metz Theatre May 5-8 in honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Murray McGibbon is directing the cast who will perform King Lear in original pronunciation, as it would have been spoken during the 17th century.

Whether it is in Bloomington, Indiana, Washington, D.C., or

Indiana University Theatre's production of Macbeth. December, 1965.
Indiana University Theatre’s production of Macbeth. December, 1965.

England, Indiana University has played and still plays an important role in honoring Shakespeare and preserving his works. The University is home to some the greatest works by and about Shakespeare. The Lilly Library has the First Folio along with many other magnificent pieces. The Indiana University Art Museum has beautiful works on paper depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and the famous Henry Fuseli painting of The Tempest. To learn more about how Indiana University has celebrated Shakespeare over the years, visit the Indiana University Archives.


“…but then there was a star danced, and under that was I born.” – Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare

IU President Thomas Ehrlich

The finding aid for the presidential records of former Indiana University president, Thomas Ehrlich (1987-1994), is now available!

President Ehrlich at the 1989 Commencement.
President Ehrlich at the 1989 Commencement.

Thomas Ehrlich was born on March 4, 1934 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Ehrlich graduated from Harvard College in 1956 and from Harvard Law School in 1959.  Before his appointment at IU, he worked as a lawyer before entering academia, serving as a professor and dean of the law school at Stanford University and later provost and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He also held two presidential appointments, serving as the first president of the Legal Services Corporation and the first director of the International Development Cooperation Agency.

On August 1, 1987, Ehrlich became the fifteenth president of Indiana University.  He served in this post for seven years, departing with the title of President Emeritus in 1994.

The financial troubles of the early 1990s led to many legislative battles during Ehrlich’s tenure.  In order to demonstrate to Indiana legislators the importance of funding for public universities, Ehrlich and his wife, Ellen, held weekly dinners at Lilly House in Indianapolis when the state legislature was in session. Ehrlich also implemented Legislative Days, in which legislators were invited to tour the Indiana University campus, and attend a meal and a basketball game.  He successfully helped secure state funding for the renovation of three buildings in the Old Crescent as well as the $18 million Multi-Campus Technology Project.

Ehrlich chats with Judith Palmer and Pat Kiely on Legislator Day in November of 1987.

Ehrlich was also responsible for initiating and hosting a television series called “Pro & Con.” The half hour program featured Ehrlich and select IU faculty members discussing controversial issues of concern to the public, ranging from topics such as the death penalty and animal research to contemporary music and teaching. The show was taped at the WTIU facilities in Bloomington and broadcast during the spring and summer months by nearly all of the PBS stations in Indiana, with stations in states such as California, Florida, and Virginia electing to air the program as well. “Pro & Con” continued well after Ehrlich’s retirement, continuing through the tenure of his successor, Myles Brand (1994-2002).


In a Herald Times article written shortly before he left IU, Ehrlich commented that he felt that among his greatest achievements as president had been the academic agenda and long-term planning efforts aimed at increasing academic expectations, raising overall retention rates, especially among minority students, and improving teaching, research, and service at IU.

When Ehrlich left Indiana University in 1994, it was in order to return to teaching and to spend more time with his family.  He and his wife moved to California where he was Distinguished Scholar at California State University and taught at San Francisco State University. He then spent ten years as the Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  Ehrlich has been a visiting professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education since 2009.

If you’re interested in learning more about IU President Thomas Ehrlich, feel free to browse the finding aid for his records or speeches. Contact the Archives for access or with questions!

You Never Know When The President Will Show Up

In the last few weeks of my internship, I have been working hard to finish W.T.K. Nugent’s collection. Though I end each day with piles of xeroxed articles to toss in the recycling bin, the number of boxes never seems to get any smaller. The academic life series of papers has been finished and I am now working through the many speeches given by Dr. Nugent over the course of 40 years in academia. The content is quite interesting – Dr. Nugent traveled all over this hemisphere to talk, to places that include Germany, Israel, Ireland, and England. He mainly spoke on his areas of expertise, which are the West and demographic history, but he also branched out a bit occasionally. One speech given was titled “What Would You Do If You Were 20 and Living in Indianapolis in 1849?” (The answer: Farm.)

Continuing the streak of finding random objects hidden in the folders of this collection, today I stumbled on a piece of blue agate rock, hand-picked by Nebraska’s governor in the 1960s. It’s a pretty little rock. I wish I had a reason to archive it along with the academic appointment letters I found with it, but sadly I do not, so back to Dr. Nugent it goes. A few pages later in this folder I ran across a program for a birthday celebration in 1966 for President Harry S. Truman, which is not something one sees every day so I flipped it open and found this:

If it looks like a program with a bunch of scribbles in the corner, well, that’s what it is. However, when you take a closer look:

"Harry S Truman"
"Harry S Truman"

Amid the other signatures, you can make out “Harry S. Truman” – conveniently, next to Truman’s name on the program. This is definitely not something you see every day, so I got a little excited. Then I remembered that there is no proof that this is really a signature from Truman himself, nor are the other signatures written out to Dr. Nugent. I’m not sure why this is in the collection, and it will take some detective work to prove that this is the real deal, but in the meantime it’s still pretty interesting.

Satisfied with my find, I continued processing the folder, but a few pages after I found a browned invitation:

“To honor the President of the United States and Mrs. Kennedy and the Vice President of the United States and Mrs. Johnson, it is proposed to give a Ball, to which you are cordially invited, in the National Guard Armory, City of Washington, on Friday evening, the twentieth of January, at nine o’clock.” [Dated 1961]

This appears to be an invitation to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball. Fresh off of the Truman find, my excitement also had to be quashed as there is no explanation for this being in Dr. Nugent’s folder nor is there evidence that it’s authentic. Still… it’s a pretty exciting thing to see. These kind of papers would usually be on display at a presidential library or history museum, yet here they are scattered into the papers of a former IU professor. It is not absurd to assume that Dr. Nugent attended both these events, but that is as yet to be determined.