A Pioneer of Science Fiction – C.L. Moore

It is always an interesting day interning in the University Archives – more and more I find pleasant surprises in the collections.  For science fiction fans like myself there is (until recently) an unknown treasure in the digital collection, three short fiction stories written by the American science fiction and fantasy writer C. L. Moore.  Written under her legal name Catherine Moore for the IU student publication The Vagabond (a collection of poetry, essays and fiction), these stories give a wonderful view of her emerging writing style. 

"Two Fantasies"
“Two Fantasies”
"Semira"
“Semira”
"Happily Ever After"
“Happily Ever After”

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to a recent reference request, I began trying to find more information about Moore’s time while attending IU when she attended IU Bloomington because as is the case with many other successful authors, there is plenty of detail about her later achievements and writings, but not so much about the early days.  How did she get started? What did she write about?  What was her life like at that time?

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Born in Indianapolis on January 24, 1911, as a child Moore did a lot of reading due to being frequently ill.  At the age of 18, she enrolled at Indiana University, attending three semesters from the fall of 1929 through the fall of 1930. Pictures of Memorial Hall where Moore resided give you a sense of what life was like for her here at that time.  No School of Music, no Jordan Hall or greenhouse crowding up alongside.  Part of that great stone wall still exists but the archway is gone.

Other images show the dining, living and dorm rooms where she lived, studied and wrote. Perhaps this is where some of her inspiration for the “Happily Ever After” story came from?

Memorial Hall003Memorial Hall001

However, before officially declaring a major,  she withdrew from the university due to the financial hardships of the Great Depression and returned to Indianapolis to work as a secretary.

In the 1930s and 40s,  she began publishing stories in pulp magazines like Weird Tales and Astounding Science-Fiction.  At the time the genre was dominated by male writers and if a woman wanted to be published she was forced to publish under a pseudonym that was either male or ambiguously gender neutral.

As an example of that mindset, Moore met her husband, Henry Kuttner – also a science fiction writer – in 1936 when he wrote her a fan letter thinking she was a man.  The couple were married in 1940.  Their writing collaboration under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett resulted in “Mimsy Were the Borogoves“, considered a must-read classic.  You may remember recently a movie that was released called the The Last Mimzy which was based upon this story. Later in their careers, the pair moved to California to study at the University of Southern California, where Moore graduated in 1956.  Sadly, following the death of her husband in 1958, Moore stopped writing fiction though she sometimes wrote scripts for television shows such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip and taught writing courses at USC.  When she remarried Thomas Reggie she stopped writing completely though she continued to be very much involved with the Tom and Terri Pinckard Science Fiction literary salon, contributing to literary discussions with other members such as Larry Niven (Ringworld) and George Clayton Johnson (Twilight Zone and Star Trek).  Moore died on April 4, 1987 in Hollywood, California, in her home.

If you’d like to read the article which resulted from this reference inquiry and learn more about C.L. Moore check out this recent article in Kirkus!

An Indiana University Student in WWI: The Horace Porter Goff Papers

“Can you imagine eighteen thousand pieces of heavy artillery talking at the same time? I was in the front line trench at the time, where I could see and hear everything. It was something that I will never forget.”                                                                                                                                    -Horace Porter Goff in a letter to his parents dated September 17, 1918

Portrait of Horace Porter Goff
Goff’s official army portrait. It is captioned “Horace Porter Goff, Private–Company C–First Gas Regiment, February 17, 1918.”

Horace Porter Goff was 28 years old and a student in the middle of his final year at Indiana University when he decided to enlist as a soldier in the United States Army in December 1917. Goff was assigned to the 30th Engineer Regiment (Gas and Flame), which later became the 1st Gas Regiment. This regiment played a significant role in military history because it was the first to use gas and flame in combat. This form of combat was introduced in WWI, and the US War Department required a gas regiment for the first time in order to keep up with the German military, which had been using poison gas since 1915. Because of his experience as a chemistry major at IU, Goff was chosen for this regiment. He says in a letter to his parents, “I cannot say what kind of work I will be assigned to. If I get the kind that is connected with what I want it will be the manufacturing and analysis of gases. The army is a very uncertain thing in a way and it might be that I will have to be one that fights with the gases and flame” (December 19, 1917). Goff was correct in noting the uncertainty of the army, as he ended up serving in combat at the Western Front in France during the climax of the war.

Goff's Diary Entry
One of the first entries in Goff’s diary. Most entries follow this format and include brief sentences about his daily activities.

Goff’s letters describe his life as a soldier, including training and drills in Columbus, Ohio and Fort Myer, Virginia, his explorations of the French countryside, and his experiences hiding in German foxholes at the Western Front. The majority of the letters are written to Goff’s parents in Indiana and include reassurances that he is safe and, more often than not, requests for his mother’s homemade cakes and pies. Goff arrived in France in early March 1918 and underwent more training before entering combat in late June 1918. Initially, he provides little information about the war, perhaps so as not to worry his parents, or perhaps to avoid disclosing his location and orders. As he gets closer to the front, he begins to provide more details about the trials and atmosphere surrounding battle. One of his initial experiences in witnessing the effects of the war firsthand occurred not long after he entered combat. Upon seeing the war front for the first time, he writes:

“It was my first experience to see towns that had been shelled by the Germans. Some of the buildings had large shell holes thru them while others were a total wreck. These towns have all been vacated. They certainly look desolate. Occasionally you see an old man or woman groping along the street or looking out of a window. These people, I judge, are some that thought it not worth their while to move and would stay as long as a wall stands. Things were rather quiet. The stillness was broken once in a while by a sniper shooting a machine gun or an occasional report of a big gun. The sound rolled across the valley like thunder and we could hear the shell when it burst several miles back of the German lines. About 11:00 o’clock a German plane came over and dropped some shells, but it was soon located by an anti-aircraft gun and was made to beat it back…At last I have had my imagination and curiosity satisfied. Although our work is a little dangerous and hard while it lasts, I consider myself lucky when I look down and see the poor fellows in the trenches. You can see some that have crawled over the edge and lying on the ground sleeping while others are resting and at the same time keeping on the alert” (June 29, 1918).

Rifle Range Training Camp
Photograph of the camp at the rifle range in Annapolis, MD where Goff received training before going to France. Goff mailed this in a letter to his parents dated February 24, 1918. He included the following caption with the photograph: “A street showing our tents. The 4th tent down on the left hand side was our tent. It gives you an idea of the snow and cold we had to contend with there.”

By August, Goff reached the trenches and became one of those “poor fellows.” He describes the living conditions as less than ideal, writing:

“Our homes were dugouts and our companions were fleas, cooties and rats ‘bocu’ (very many). The worst part of it all is that the rats are a little too friendly for solid comfort. It is nothing to wake up and feel something crawling along your back as if it wanted to share part of your bed. I don’t know how they live in such places but from all appearances of the size of them they certainly get something to eat. Fleas and cooties really make it more uncomfortable for us than rats” (August 17, 1918).

Goff's Letter Home
First page of a letter Goff wrote from France to his parents in Indiana, dated June 25, 1918. Goff often wrote on this stationery, which the YMCA gave to soldiers on active duty.

Goff spent several months at the Western Front and was present at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a month-long battle that lasted from September 1918 until the Armistice on November 11, 1918. It is widely referred to as one of the bloodiest and most casualty-ridden battles in U.S. history. In a letter dated about a week before the offensive officially began, Goff provides moving details about his experiences in the trenches. He writes:

“We returned to camp yesterday at 6 o’clock after spending six days in the trenches. You no doubt will have read the home papers by the time you receive this letter in regard to the big drive which the boys are pulling off. It started on Thursday the twelfth at 1 A.M. and we were in the thickest of it all, where the shrapnel shells were bursting and the cannons roared. Can you imagine eighteen thousand pieces of heavy artillery talking at the same time? The artillery opened up with a heavy barrage at 1 A.M. and continued until 5 A.M. Then a rolling barrage started, followed by the infantry charging over the top. I was in the front line trench at the time, where I could see and hear everything. It was something that I will never forget. A few hours after the infantry went over we followed them but they went so fast we couldn’t keep up so they brought us back to camp.

I saw my first German trenches and dugouts. Some of their dugouts are almost like a home. Night before last we slept in one of these holes in the ground that was thirty feet deep, reinforced with steel and concrete. As we had had very little to eat for forty-eight hours, our appetites were replenished by some smoked bacon, ham and bread which the Germans had left. Beyond a doubt our drive was not expected by them, for you could see signs of a hasty retreat everywhere. Provisions of all kinds, ammunition and guns were found in most of their dugouts. I have a pair of small wooden sandals which I found in a German trench. They are hand made. I intend to send them to James if I can. I also have a couple of German hand made canes which I would like to send home but I don’t see how I can pack them so they would go. I also have a button as a souvenir from the first dead Boche I saw” (September 17, 1918).

Christmas Greetings 1918
The front of a postcard Goff sent to his grandfather, B.L. Goff, while stationed in France. Postcard is dated November 20, 1918.

Despite the war around him, not all of Goff’s time was occupied in drills and combat. Goff also writes about his leisure activities, explorations around France, and observations about French culture made during his off-duty passes. He describes his first impressions about France to his parents, writing:

“I have been enjoying myself over here. The people are very hospitable and willing to give you anything they have. Of course on account of the war their hospitality is limited. You can see poverty to the greatest degree. We are stationed in a very small village surrounded by mountains. Most of the people live in little villages located in the valleys. They have little plots of ground on the outskirts of the town that they farm. … The people however are not very progressive. They plough with their horses in tandem fashion and they drive to wagons the same way. I was very much surprised to see their horses. As a rule they all have find stock, mostly percherons” (March 24, 1918).

A few months later, he observes the effects of the war in the village where he is stationed. He explains:

“Everybody works — men, women, and children alike. You never see a strong, able bodied man in the field for they are as scarce back here as hen’s teeth. It looks hard to see a young girl twelve or thirteen years old working along side of an old man, both pitching hay and the mother loading. That is what I saw this evening just in front of our billet” (June 4, 1918).

Although Goff enjoys traveling in France, even his in his leisure time, signs of war are all around him. He frequently describes the hollow remains of bombed buildings and comments on the poverty, high prices, scarcity of food, and presence of women in black mourning clothes in every city he visits. During his 18 hour pass off duty in August 1918, German soldiers dropped approximately 12 bombs on the town where Goff was staying. One fell about a block from the hotel where he was sleeping, setting a building on fire. Goff left France in late January 1919 and returned to the United States on February 2, 1919. He received his honorable discharge papers on February 15, 1919.

Honorable Discharge Papers
Goff’s honorable discharge papers from the U.S. Army, dated February 15, 1919.

I have been working with the Digital Library Program to digitize the entire Goff collection, which includes Goff’s diary, 54 letters, discharge papers, an Indiana University Commencement Program from 1918, photographs of Goff and his regiment, and transcriptions of the diary and letters typed by Goff’s grandson, James M. Goff, in 1983. Images of all of these items are linked to the finding aid for this collection and are currently available for viewing at the Indiana University Archives Online page. Contact the IU Archives for more information.

 

The IU Ethnomusicology Students Association – Films, Concerts, and the Original “Folklore Shuffle”

 The Ethnomusicology Students Association collection finding aid is now available, and the materials depict a very active student organization throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The ESA was established in 1978 to provide IU students interested in ethnomusicology with a place to share their common interests, and they quickly set to work planning the usual kinds of social events, lectures and workshops often offered by student groups.

But they didn’t stop there. They became involved in the The Archives of Traditional Music Noon Concert Series, and they began hosting an ethnomusicology film festival in 1983 that ran until at least 1991. The first “Filmfest” schedule featured films like Roberta Flack (1971) and Chulas Fronteras (1976).

 They also supported “The World Music Radio Program” on WIUS, which later moved to Bloomington’s community radio station, WFHB.  The earliest mention of the radio program is on a 1991 advertisement to “tune in” with host Ross Veatch.

However, the ESA wasn’t all work and no play. In the back of the Minutes/correspondence folder from 1985-1986, I found a copy of “The Folklore Shuffle,” a light-hearted take on the 1985 Chicago Bears football team’s “The Super Bowl Shuffle.”

Dated April 1986, the folklore version of the rap appears to have been written on the occasion of W. Edson Richmond’s retirement from his position as professor of English and folklore. A number of folklore faculty members had a verse, including now Associate Vice Provost for the Arts Ruth Stone and Associate Professor Emeritus of Folklore John Johnson. The chorus follows, but if you’re prepared to let the entire folklore shuffle blow your mind, please click the image.

We are the folklore shuffling crew.
Shuffling on down, doing it for you,
We’re so bad, we know we’re good,
Blowin’ your minds, like we knew we would.
We’re just here, annotating for fun,
The masters and the prelims, will keep you on the run.
We’re not here, to feather your ruffle.
We’re just here, to do the folklore shuffle.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to see the collection, contact the Archives!

New! William R. Ringer papers, 1916-2011

Can I share with you one of my favorite archival sights?

*squee* New student diaries!

Earlier this year, I received an email from a woman in Virginia stating that the diaries of her friend’s father – primarily dating from his time as an IU student in the late 1910s – had found their way into her possession and she wondered if we would be interested in them?

Yes yes yes yes! I mean, have you seen this picture of me hanging in the library somewhere? See what’s in my hands? 

I like diaries. It’s not – necessarily – that I am nosey. Rather, I like how they fill in a person’s story, whether it be the writer or the individuals written about. When I come across mentions or descriptions of student hangouts or campus traditions or faculty, I’m over the moon! And I love how they provide a personal perspective on major world events.

So, when that box above arrived, I forced myself to set it aside until I could spend some time with the diaries because I knew they’d be a time suck. And because I like to share, I decided to immediately write a finding aid so that you all could also have the opportunity to enjoy them!

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William R. Ringer, Class of 1920

Hailing from Williamsport, Indiana, native Hoosier William Raimond Ringer entered Indiana University in 1916. As a student, he was very active in campus activities, and served as an officer for several campus groups. The small collection of papers held by the Archives consists chiefly of diaries maintained by Ringer while he was an IU student. He was devoted to writing in his journals – about what classes he had that day, what they did, where he ate, who he saw and talked to, etc.

Ringer’s time at IU coincided with World War I. Although he originally planned to leave college to teach, at the last minute he turned down his teaching job so that he could return to IU and join the Students’ Army Training Corps when it was formed in 1918. According to the 1919 Arbutus, with the SATC,

the government was to practically take over for military purposes the organization and equipment of every college able to muster a sufficient number of students for military drill. This surrender on the part of the colleges to the government control was to be voluntary, and the relation between the government and the college was to be a matter of contract. A duty rested upon the colleges to provide suitable barracks and subsistence for the members of the Student’s Army Training Corps, in addition to academic instruction, the colleges to be reimbursed as agreed upon in the contract with the governemnt.

Indiana University was one of the first to make this contract, and began early to make plans for the housing and feeding of the great number of soldiers who were to be trained here.

The Delta Tau house on Kirkwood served as "Barracks 1" for the S.A.T.C. William lived there for his short stint in the Army.

On October 3, 1918, Ringer and his friends were divided into SATC companies and he was told he would be living at the Delta Tau House, aka “Barracks 1.” He wrote in his journal, “I am in the army – and tonight is my first night. I am glad yet I don’t like the bunch here at all. All roughnecks at the house.” Ringer continued to log his experiences – including a brush with the Spanish flu, which I previously wrote about – with impressive regularity. Thankfully, he never did get pulled into the war overseas, as on November 27 they received word that the S.A.T.C. was to be disbanded within the month and he moved out of the barracks.

Ringer continued writing in his diary through March of his senior year. Rather sad that he didn’t finish up with his accounts at IU, but to date, this is nonetheless probably the most complete account of student life we have through a diary keeper. (Update! I heard from the donor that she has the remaining IU entries and they were waiting on my desk this AM!) While the bulk of the collection consists of these diaries, there is also one volume holding copies of his outgoing correspondence for a short period, report cards, as well as some of his poetry and other writings (he was active in the Writing Club on campus).

Of course, one cannot read a person’s diary and not develop an impression of the writer. With William, even as a young college student, it seems he was very serious and the shenanigans of the other students tended to exasperate him. I don’t know whether he said anything to the individuals in person, but he could be scathing in his opinions of dates, classmates, and professors.

So, at your leisure, check out the finding aid and let us know if you would like to see the collection!

The Old “Pest House”: Early Medicine on the Indiana University Campus

With flu season upon us, we thought it would be a good time to revisit campus health care from yesteryear. Students on the present-day Indiana University campus may take for granted the wealth of medical services available through the Student Health Center. However, for more than eighty years—from the University’s founding in 1820 until the turn of the twentieth century—no formal, organized health services or health center existed to serve student needs. In response to worries over the smallpox epidemic sweeping the nation following the Spanish-American War c. 1898 and a growing student body coming to IU from areas with poorly enforced vaccination regulations, Indiana University administrators set plans in motion to construct or purchase a building to be used as a hospital for students with infectious diseases.

After reports of smallpox’s increasing virulence within the state of Indiana, University President William Lowe Bryan took precautionary measures and moved forward with plans to secure a site for a smallpox hospital. On December 15, 1902, the University purchased a two-story frame building—originally a farm house—on South Henderson Street, approximately one mile south of the University Campus; at the time, this spot was on the outskirts of Bloomington, though the site is near the present-day Templeton Elementary School just south of the Bryan Park neighborhood. The building’s distance from the University along with the five acres of land on which it sat ensured that potential spread of disease to healthy students or neighbors would be minimized. The building essentially became the University’s Isolation Hospital, though it was colloquially deemed the “Pest House.” Students suspected of having contracted a contagious disease were confined to this house until they fully regained their health.

Click to see a map of where the “Pest House” was located in relation to the Indiana University campus.

Harvey Pryor became the first Pest House caretaker and nurse for contagious patients. Pryor was chosen for this position because he exhibited resistance to smallpox after having it in his family, though he is not known to have had any formal training in medicine. As anticipated and detailed in Bryan’s President’s report in March, 1903, several students—five with smallpox and one with scarlet fever—were admitted to the Pest House during its first winter of operation. The facility was continually used to treat students with infectious diseases such as smallpox, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and influenza until 1939, when a larger Health Center building was constructed near the current I.U. Chemistry Building. Advances in modern medicine made the need for an isolation hospital nearly obsolete, and the new Health Center could better accommodate the wide range of health needs demanded by a burgeoning student population; this facility was replaced by the present-day Health Center in 1965. The old Pest House was eventually dismantled in 1957 after standing abandoned and in disrepair for a number of years.

The "Pest House" facing dismantling in 1957

The University Archives houses various records and reports related to the Pest House’s role on campus in terms of the presence of disease among the student body, specific patient stays, fees incurred for hospital care, and building maintenance and inspections. Please do stop by the Archives to learn more if this brief history piqued your curiosity!