20th Century Care Packages: Student Life in 1915 and Today

Black and white portrait of Helen Hopkins Wampler
Helen Hopkins Wampler Pi Beta Phi Portrait: IU Archives photo no. P0066988

When I started my first project at the Indiana University Archives, I didn’t know that I would be hit with a wave of nostalgia; especially because I was looking at a collection from the 1910s. I was assigned to search the Helen Hopkins Wampler papers for World War I content for a history class that will be visiting the IU Archives later this semester for an assignment. This collection holds around three years of letters that Helen sent to her mom Clara while she was a student at IU from 1915-1918.

Helen Hopkins Wampler was an enthusiastic student at IU participating in the Classical Club, Botany Club, the Browning Society, YWCA, and was an active member of Pi Beta Phi. She studied Latin and was elected into the student honorary Phi Beta Kappa. While Helen doesn’t talk much about the war, she does talk to her Mom about her time in Bloomington and what it is like as a new IU student. I smiled as I read through Helen’s letters because they reminded me of the calls and texts I would send to my Mom during my freshman year in 2018 at the University of Minnesota. Whenever we talked to our families, Helen and I would share a lot of the same topics. Such as what we ate:

Helen (September 20, 1915): “For breakfast at the Pi Phi house, we had peaches, corn flakes, and cream for the first course; minced chicken, French fried potatoes, two hot biscuits and some jelly for the second course, and home-made dough nuts and coffee for the third course. This is the life!!!”

Me (September, 2018): “Can you believe that I can have ice cream for breakfast if I want? Also, last night I tried mac and cheese on pizza. This is the life!!!”

Group photograph of the Classical Club with individuals seated in 4 rows
Classical Club Group Portrait (Helen is pictured in Row 3, No. 5 from the right): 1918 Arbutus

How classes were going:

Helen (October 5, 1915): “I’m just so happy about school. I don’t know whether it’s really easier than Shortridge or whether I expected it to be so much harder than it is.”

Me (October, 2018): “I passed my first Spanish test, do you want to put it on the fridge?”

Care packages:

Helen (January 30, 1916): “Received the dandy fine basket. Everything is mighty good and you tell Aunt Edith she’s a dear.”

Me (October, 2018): “Hey Mom, thanks for the care package and the cute note inside! Keep sending the granola bars, they are the best for in-between classes.”

At Home Laundry Service:

Helen (April 6, 1916): “PS: Will send washing to-morrow.”

Me (November, 2018): “Is it okay if I bring a load of laundry home with me?

And even being impatient when family has something else to do besides talk to us:

Helen (October 21, 1915): “Dearest Mother, Was surely glad to get your letter as I thought sure you had forgotten me when I didn’t hear from you Tuesday or Wednesday.”


Me (October, 2018): “Mom, check your phone, I left 4 voicemails!!”

Helen would also share the things she would do as a student in Bloomington. She would regularly take trips to the Book Nook (a commons-type area with food and goods), take walks on campus, and even go to football games. (Pictured here are the Book Nook and two games she attended – Indiana v Purdue 11/24/1917 and Indiana v The Ohio State 11/03/1917).

Helen’s letters show that no matter what century you’re in, going off to college can be a scary and intimidating time full of new experiences. So if you’re feeling homesick, need some advice, or just want to talk through your first few weeks of class, take a moment to reach out to loved ones with a nice letter. Show your appreciation to whoever is in your corner for supporting us as we pursue our goals at IU.

Helen to her Mom (December 13, 1917): “Well, I have gained a thing I have longed for the past three years. I have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and honey, I owe it all to you and Dad, my own sweethearts. I don’t know how I will ever repay you for these happiest years of my life.”

Me to my Mom (Present Day): “The only way I could have accomplished the last 4 years and been able to start my new time at IU is because of you and your endless support. Honey, I owe it all to you!”

For other stories about Helen, the blog post “Sincerely Yours: Linen Dresses and Infernal Machines” shares more about her time at IU Bloomington.

Additionally, you can read more of the Helen Hopkins Wampler papers by contacting the IU Archives.

Collins Publications: Dancing Star

Last year I graduated from IU after four years of involvement in the Collins Living Learning Center. This unique living-learning center is the campus’s oldest, and has a strong, passionate, student-led community emphasizing diversity and individual creative expression.

This summer at the University Archives, I am working to help digitize portions of the Collins LLC collection. So far, this has involved preparing documents (publications, letters, newspaper clippings, etc.) for scanning which includes organizing files, removing paperclips, and redacting sensitive information. As a Collins member myself, I remember touring the archives as part of a class and being fascinated by old publications I know well, such as the Collins Columns, and finding editions made by students from well before I was born. Needless to say, working now firsthand in the archives is very interesting from a former Collinsite’s point of view, and has enlightened me to much of its rich history I was oblivious to. For instance, it’s fascinating to see meeting notes and email chains creating councils that some 40 years later I would hold a position on.

Collins is a home to students of all backgrounds and majors. It’s very nearly entirely student-run, from its publications to its many councils and organizations. Hence, every year the environment of the LLC takes on a different trajectory, and yet the thing that stands out to me the most as I delve through the archives is how distinct Collins has remained since its inception, and how familiar it seems 50 years ago compared to my experience in the past four years, despite its many changes.

One item in the collections that exemplifies this aspect of Collins is the Dancing Star publication. This literary, artistic, and musical journal is the center’s longest running annual publication. In 1976 the first volume was written on a typewriter and compiled by hand. In 2000, the Indiana Daily Student featured a full-page article celebrating the publication’s 25th anniversary and its ambitious evolution which included adding things like CDs containing music made by students. 18 years later, the 42nd volume won the prestigious Gutenberg award in the Great Lakes Graphic Association Print Competition. This, as it happens, was also the first Collins publication I saw as an incoming freshman to the LLC.

Black and white cartoon of a dog wearing an I-men's sweater and beanie with a spilled bottle in the foreground
“Portrait of a Dog as a College Student,” by Tom Schevtchhuk, Dancing Star, Spring 1979

Over its 46 issues, the Dancing Star has taken many forms: from a pocket-sized handbook to a multi-pocketed pamphlet scrawled with residents’ doodles, to a handmade accordion flipbook adorned with buttons and yarn. The journal itself is as much of an art form as the content it contains. And yet every year it holds the same charm that is evident since the very first volume.

The 26th edition of the Dancing Star was perhaps the most extravagant and ambition design. Unlike the usual bound-book form, it comes in a cardboard box set. Upon opening, you’re immediately confronted with a collectable packaged figurine of a fetus wearing a tiny red cape. This “Superhero” collectible is one of three further options including a “Ballerina,” “Soldier,” and “Karate Master” which are described as “clutchable, hordeable lovelies inside every copy of Dancing Star No. 26.” Underneath this insert, the reader finds a poster and 7 booklets hidden underneath, each of which could easily be considered their own publication. As with all Dancing Stars, the booklets are filled with poems, art, short stories, and other creative expressions made by members of the LLC.

The volume takes pride in having an “all-inclusive policy” – a staple of Collins’ publications. On a handout acting as a sort of user manual for the edition, editor Brian McMullen explains the importance of this. Too often, he says, do people “make a literary magazine that looks like a literary magazine,” as poets too often write “poems that sound like poems”. He says that the risk of accepting all submissions is necessary in making a unique journal that fully embodies the true expression of the center’s members, and creates an unaltered, memorable piece of art in the process. In this volume, you will not only find poems that don’t try to sound like poems, but a literary journal that doesn’t try to look like a literary journal.

IU Football, Preston E. Eagleson, and the 1885 Civil Rights Act

The Eagleson family has been in the local news lately, with the renaming of Jordan Avenue through campus for the prominent Black Bloomington family. Below is a shortened version of an earlier story written for volume 2 issue 2 of 200: The Bicentennial Magazine about one of the family members and IU alums, Preston Eagleson. Head to https://tinyurl.com/26xu2dvj to read the full story!

Eagleson Shaving Parlors newspaper advertisement
Halson Vashon Eagleson, 1907 Arbutus, page 282

The Eagleson name is familiar to many at Indiana University and in Monroe County, as the prominent African American family is riddled with “firsts” and other high-level achievements, dating back to patriarch Halson V. Eagleson, Sr., a successful barber in town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today’s story turns to Halson’s son Preston, born in Mitchell, Indiana, in 1876.

During his earliest years, Preston’s family moved around throughout southern Indiana and St. Louis. According to one source, the family settled in Indianapolis about the time he was to enter high school but “his father needed his services” and as a result, Preston worked for a year in the print office of The World, an Indianapolis-based African American newspaper. He then went on to work for the Griffith Brothers, a wholesale millinery firm in Indianapolis before finally entering high school in 1889 when his family settled in Bloomington. At just 16 years old, Preston graduated second in his class from Bloomington High School in 1892.

Preston enrolled at Indiana University, entering as a freshman that fall. A skilled athlete, he became the first African American to participate in intercollegiate athletics at IU when he joined the football team as a freshman. (Yes, my research turned up stories of him playing in 1892, a full year earlier than previously thought!) Newspaper accounts identified the young player as a standout on the field and Eagleson continued as a major force on the team for the remainder of his undergraduate career.

Sepia toned group studio photo of IU football team.
The 1895 football team. Preston Eagleson is sitting on the ground, second from left. IU Archives P0023474

When Preston began at IU, there were only 10 years between him and IU’s first known African American student, Harvey Young, who entered in 1882. However, Indiana University still had not seen a Black graduate from the institution. While Eagleson was not the lone person of color on campus, his presence may have drawn some attention from the all-white faculty and pre- dominantly white student body. There is no evidence, however, that he faced any sort of prejudice on campus or from his teammates on the gridiron, but the same cannot be said of the team’s road trips.

In October 1893, the Hoosiers traveled north where they were scheduled to face off against Butler University. According to newspaper accounts, everything that could go wrong with this trip and game did. To start with, Butler did not greet the Hoosiers at the train station and the team had to find their own way to their overnight accommodations. Butler, in charge of said accommodations, reportedly put the IU men up in a “second class hotel.” The day of the game, the hosts did not arrange for a hackney (a horse-drawn carriage that served as a taxi) so the players had to take a streetcar that dropped them a great distance from the field, necessitating a long walk with equipment in tow. And, of the game itself, the Indiana Student (known today as the Indiana Daily Student) reported unfair calls, field brawls, and the crowd shouting racist expletives at Eagleson.

Eagleson’s race, sadly, became an issue once again the following year with dramatic results. On October 30, 1894, the Indianapolis Journal published this headline:

“AGAINST THE COLORED PLAYER: Two Hotels in Crawfordsville Refused to Take in an I.U. Man”

Indeed, when the IU football team traveled north to take on Wabash College, the proprietor of the Nutt House, upon learning one player was Black, would not accommodate the team unless they agreed to dismiss Eagleson. His request was met with refusal and the group went to another inn, where they were met with the same response. A third innkeeper, however, welcomed the entire team and they found board and lodging for the night. The incident, however, infuriated Eagleson’s father, Halson, and the next day the newspaper reported Halson planned to sue the two unaccommodating hotels under Indiana’s Civil Rights Act.

Sepiatone posed photo of Preston Eagleson in football uniform, 1893
Preston Eagleson, IU Archives P0056899

In 1885, Indiana passed a Civil Rights Act that stated all persons were “entitled to the full and equal enjoyments of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, restaurants, eating-houses, barbershops, public conveyances on land and water, theaters, and all other places of public accommodations and amusement.” Punishment for violations were up to $100 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Preston’s father apparently did not initially know about the monetary limit, as the newspapers reported he intended to sue both parties for $5,000. Inexplicably, later reports dropped any mention of the second inn and ultimately, it was only the Nutt House and owner J.B. Fruchey named in the suit filed December 12, 1894.

The case was heard in the Montgomery County circuit court on January 29, 1895. The Crawfordsville Journal was on site to report to its readers. In their summary of the situation, the reporter states that innkeeper Fruchey had “agreed to allow Eagleson all the best the house had except the privilege of eating in the dining room. This, they said, they could not do, as their white patrons, traveling men, vigorously objected to eating in the room with a negro and threatened to leave if he was brought in.”

The jury deliberated throughout the night. On the first ballot, nine voted for Eagleson, three for the defendant. By the fourth ballot it was unanimous for the plaintiff but then there were deliberations over the damages. Eight jurors voted to award Preston the full $100 allowed, while the paper identifies two jurors, Messrs. Allen Robinson and Sam Long, who voted for one cent. Eventually they came to a compromise of $50, equivalent to just over $1500 today. Fruchey reported immediately that he planned to appeal. In March 1896 the case was reviewed in the Appellate Court of Indiana but the court affirmed the decision for Eagleson.

Preston Eagleson photo from 1896 Arbutus yearbook
Preston Eagleson, 1896 Arbutus

There were no other known incidents during Preston’s time at Indiana University. He continued as a leader on the football field and also proved himself an outstanding orator. During his junior year Eagleson won the right to represent Indiana University at the State Oratorical Contest, the first African American student to appear at the contest. There, he came in fourth place with his original address on Abraham Lincoln. Preston earned his bachelor’s in philosophy in 1896, graduating one year after Marcellus Neal, IU’s first Black graduate. He immediately began work on his graduate degree and through periodic enrollments, in 1906 he became the first African American at IU to earn an advanced degree with an MA in philosophy.

Despite earlier newspaper reports that Eagleson aspired to become a lawyer, he became a teacher, moving around between St. Louis, Indianapolis, and South-Central Indiana. At one point, Eagleson even taught at Indianapolis Public School #19, where fellow Black IU alumnus Marcellus Neal was principal.

Eagleson’s life ended tragically young and he died at home in 1911 at the age of 35. Of his death, the Bloomington Daily Telephone noted he had been in poor health for years and had sought treatment in both Indianapolis and Madison before coming home for his final months.

Many thanks to Cindy Dabney, Outreach Services Librarian at the Jerome Hall Law Library within the Maurer School of Law, for her assistance in locating–and explaining–19th century cases and laws.

Union Board Scrapbooks highlight IU events over the years

For more more than 100 years, the Union Board has organized events on campus that have elevated the IU experience. The IU Archives holds a collection of Union Board scrapbooks that highlight the board’s events and programs from the 1930s through the 2000s. They are a wonderful look into IU history and at the events that shaped many IU students’ experiences across the last several decades.

Photograph of John Whittenburger, founder of the Union Board, originally printed in the 1911 Arbutus, P0047175

As I dug into the history of the Union Board, I realized the Union Board existed before the construction of the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). In fact, it was first founded by IU student John M. Wittenburger in 1909 with a goal to “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.”

Originally comprised of male students and two male faculty advisers, including Indiana University President William L. Bryan, the group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall until the construction of the Union in 1932. Their focus was on enriching the lives of IU students, faculty and staff through unique events, activity and programs. Initiatives ran the gamut, from socials and dances, fairs, movie screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, and more.

From the Archives Photograph Collection, titled, “The Indiana Union barbershop located in the Student Building,” from the 1912 Arbutus, P0048276.

One early example of the Union Board’s impact on campus comes from the 1912 IU Arbutus. One page includes a picture of a barbershop in the Student Building attributed to the early Union board.

The Union Board went co-ed in 1952 when it merged with the Association of Women Students, and over time has grown to become an elected student governing body that leads the IMU, directs handfuls of committees – including the Campus Creative Arts committee, Concert committee, and the popular Live From Bloomington committee – and is now the largest student programming organization on campus.

One of the longest running and likely one of the best known Union Board programs, Union Board Films, was first rolled out in 1914 under the program’s early name, “Let’s go to the Union Movies.” It has brought screenings of popular films to campus for free or cheap, providing a fun and cost-effective weekend event an easy walk from the dorms. Originally held two nights a week, the recent film program offers showings of newly released movies in the Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium most weekends during the school year.

Schedule of Union Board Films from the Spring semester 1987. From 1986-1987 (book 3), in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Another area of Union Board programming, music and comedy events, are well represented in the pages of the scrapbooks. The board has brought all types of musical acts and comedy events to campus, both large and more intimate. Union Board Concerts committee brought BB King to campus in 1971.  In 1979, the committee featured the rock band Heart. In 2001, Union Board events featured comedian Dave Chappelle. In addition to massive musical and comedy acts, the Union Board has also hosted smaller, localized music and comedy, including their well-known local music series called Live From Bloomington and local comedy improv and sketch group events.

Clipping advertising one of many Union Board concerts, this one promoting the B.B. King concert from the 1971 scrapbook, in March 19,1971 – April 14, 1972 within the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Clipping advertising Union Board-sponsored concert event featuring the band Heart, February 1979, from October 1978-February 1979 in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Scrapbook page highlighting a 2001 Union Board comedy event that brought Dave Chappelle to the IU Auditorium. From 2001 in the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Ticket stubs and event programs, news clippings and photographs featured in these scrapbooks provide a glimpse of not only the workings of the Union Board over the years, but also a glimpse of the way student life has changed over the years. The scrapbooks range from the 1930s all the way up to the 2010s, and the richness of campus life from such a broad range of IU history is really interesting to behold! Check out the scrapbooks here and find out more about the Union Board’s current programming and committees!

Fostering Friendships, Not Boundaries – The IU Chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club

IU students have always done their part in difficult times to stay close and foster friendships and understandings between people from all over the world. Just before and during World War I, a group of students at IU formed a chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club, receiving their charter from the national organization in 1918. The goal of the club was to bring American students and foreign students together to foster international fellowship and peace under the motto “Above all nations is humanity.”

An image from the 1922 Arbutus of the members of the Cosmopolitan Club, taken sometime in the fall of 1921. IU Archives Photograph Collection, P0054058.

The first attempt to create the club at IU, after a Cosmopolitan Club member at the University of Wisconsin in 1907 invited IU students to create one and attend their first convention, did not pan out. However, nine years later, 12 international students successfully began IU’s Cosmopolitan Club. The club included members from dozens of countries as well as students from the state and across the U.S. Interest and membership in the Club remained high through the early to mid 1960s, but participation in the club waned by 1969, the last year the club was pictured in the Arbutus.

List of foreign-born students, Indiana University, from Original items, 1941-1943 and undated, Cosmopolitan Club records, 1916-1970.

The club’s most popular event, called the International Dinner, was a hit on campus. Originally started as an “International Revue” in 1922, guests paid a small fee to dine on international food and watch international students perform their nation’s folk dances, music and other entertainment. They also hosted an International Variety Show, which featured international student’s cultural dances.

Cover page of the program for the club’s annual International Dinner, October 1955. From Events, 1922-1970 undated, in the Cosmopolitan Club Records, 1916-1970.

The club was the foundation of many events of IU’s annual International Week organized by the International Affairs Commission that also celebrated the United Nations. The last record of an International Dinner in the collection dates to 1970, the last recorded active year of the club.

Article from the IDS titled, “The Cosmopolitan Club: It brings together many nationalities” from 1942. Located in Clippings, 1916-1958, undated in Cosmopolitan Club records, 1916-1970.

The club files span much of their active years at IU, and focus mostly on various subject files by year and items and clippings from club scrapbooks. Notable files include the club’s constitution, publications related to their events, club correspondence, copies of the club’s newsletter the Cosmo Reporter, initiation files and local news clippings related to the club and its activities that span decades at IU that included significant political and societal change. Discover more digital items in the finding aid here!