Ephemera and Librarians as Scholars

As I’m sure many of my colleagues remember from my many emails requesting shift coverage, I recently attended a conference. The theme of this year’s Nineteenth Century Studies Association’s conference was “The New and the Novel.” The conference is interdisciplinary and welcomes scholarship that explores all nations. In addition to panels centered around my interest in American and British literature, I learned about French etiquette, Australian brush fires, and American national portraiture.

One of the more interesting presentations I attended engaged my interest in ephemera. A woman was beginning a study on a specific 19th century ballad. She traditionally studied 18th century literature so she was new to navigating the world of ephemeral resources. I use a lot of old newspapers, broadsides, and other ephemeral works in my writing, so I can understand the difficulty she faced as I have had to learn how to find these resources myself. Neither of my departments (English or ILS) has taught me how to locate these materials and I often resort to combing through searches that return thousands of hits.

I have since been in touch with this scholar and she has asked me if I can keep an eye out for ballads and song sheets related to her subject. I would like to, but where do I begin?

This is a different type of request than we usually receive from scholars. It is not a single question, a research consultation, or a request to help navigate a specific database. Library science is a service field and we are more accustomed to helping patrons in this way. How do we then treat these requests from scholars who treat librarianship as a type of scholarship? These requests suggest we establish a more long-term relationship rather than a limited series of exchanges. How long do we stay in contact with these patrons? How much work do we put into assisting them if they are not “our” (i.e. our library’s) patrons? Do we do extra research outside any that we are already doing or do we email whenever we happen to stumble upon something of interest?

This brings up interesting questions, ones I believe some of us will encounter as we attend conferences, work with patrons who are visiting on fellowships, and move from one job to another (hopefully keeping in contact with patrons from our last institution).

On a last note, if anyone knows anything about databases of ephemera, broadside ballads, or songs sheets from the late 18th and 19th centuries, will you let me know?

-Steph Luke

Exploring Labor in Sheet Music

As the topic for this Themester, labor has been a focus for many undergraduates across campus. Courses explore the intersections of labor with race, gender, history, technology, the legal system, and art. I am sure each course takes a vastly different approach to this topic, but there is one resource that provides a provocative insight into how labor might have been viewed in the early twentieth century. While photographs and primary documents can be extremely helpful in understanding these intersections in a somewhat more objective manner, we can also look at the popular image of these issues through other relics of the time.

I’d like to introduce you to IN Harmony, a digital library project that provides access to popular American sheet music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries held at the Lilly Library, the Indiana State Library, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society. In their era, these pieces of music could be found in many homes throughout the country, bought both for their entertainment value in a time of limited sound recording and for their eye-catching covers. The combination of the colorful cover pages and the rather frank lyrics (along with the occasionally startling melodic turn) spurs thoughts about what these lyricists and artists thought would be topical and popular enough to sell. By examining the objects these creators thought would sell well, we can start to piece together what that era might have been like.

Images abound on topics of labor, and here are just a few.

Cover art to
“Why Shouldn’t They Be Good Enough Now?” Lyrics by Kate Elinore and Sam Williams, Music by William Tracey, Cover art from the Barbelle School. New York: Shapiro, Bernstein and Company, 1919.

The song “Why Shouldn’t They Be Good Enough Now?” highlights the fact that the role of women as workers while men were at war precedes the overshadowing discussion of the return of soldiers from World War II. Sample lyrics:

“If they were good enough before/To help us win the war,/Why shouldn’t they be good enough now?”

Cover to Cotton Time
“Cotton Time.” Lyrics by Earle C. Jones, Music by Charles N. Daniels, Cover art by the Frew School. New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1910.

In the song “Cotton Time,” plantation owners happily dance to the music of African Americans who sing while they pick cotton. The music is very syncopated and reflects a common stereotype of African American music. Sample lyrics:

“In cotton time, the love bells chime./Then you will be my honey in the sunny cotton time.”

Cover page to
“This Grand Countrie,” Lyrics by Mabel Ervin, Music by Ione T. Hanna, (Chicago: Clark Ervin, 1894).

“This Grand Countrie” celebrates Eugene Debs, a prominent American socialist who would go on to found the Industrial Workers of the World and would be the socialist candidate for five presidential elections. The hymn-like setting of the song celebrates the working man, and the poem envisions an America that benefits all its citizens. Sample lyrics:

“Behold a million working men, their banners lifted high!/You can see the fire of battle in each patriotic eye!/You shall hear their shouts of vict’ry in the coming jubiliee/For these men shall be the rulers of this grand countrie!”

Cover to
“College Life March and Two-Step,” Music by Henry Frantzen, Words by Jack Drislane (New York: F. B. Haviland, 1905)

Jack Drislane’s added words to Henry Frantzen’s popular, dance-able (and apparently whistle-able) two-step celebrating the leisure of college life as opposed to the work of the real world. Sample lyrics:

“Bring back the days of the golden past,/Those good old college days,/Those days we never knew a care or strife”

The length and purpose of this blog post doesn’t really permit me to examine any of these songs in depth, but each does beg several questions: When does entertainment become political? When does labor become entertainment? How might this sheet music have been used? Why would people be interested in hearing this kind of music?

Sheet music is often neglected in many studies, but it can provide an impetus to all kinds of questions about the relationships between entertainment and pressing subjects during different points in history. Hopefully this exposure to the treasures of popular sheet music will spur some new thoughts as to the uses of all kinds of documents.

– Bret McCandless

Further resources:

The Sheet Music Consortium

Holmes, Robyn., and Ruth Lee Martin. The Collector’s Book of Sheet Music Covers. Canberra, Australia: National Library of Australia, 2001.

Walas, Tony. Visions of Music: Sheet Music In the Twentieth Century. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 2014.

Wenzel, Lynn, and Carol J. Binkowski. I Hear America Singing: A Nostalgic Tour of Popular Sheet Music. New York: Crown Publishers, 1989.

Pictures Worth Thousands of Words

Photos have always had a big impact on me. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with parents who took pictures constantly and always took advantage of the latest technological advances in camera equipment. Today, photographs are extremely common. We’ve got cell phones that take relatively good pictures, and digital cameras we can take along with us and take as many shots of events as we would like. We can then print them off or simply post them to social media if we want.

I had to do a project a while back that required photographs. It was a project focusing on history, and they couldn’t be current photographs. I decided to dive on in to one of the many ephemera photograph databases IU subscribes to. I didn’t know we had access to these until this project, but knowing they exist now, I go back to them whenever I have the chance. In addition to photographs, I also enjoy history of all kinds, so looking at these old photographs combined two things I have an interest in. I always have fun examining old photographs in an attempt to better understand what life was like during that time period. Words can take you so far, but photos allow you to really see things exactly as people during that time did, without your brain filtering in and making it’s own choices on what objects would have looked like.

One of the collections I used for my project was the AP Images archives. Many of these images are iconic and easily recognizable. You can search for whatever you want, but what truly makes this collection interesting is they break down the photos into categories, if you’d just like to browse. They even have a “today in history” category.

The Charles Cushman Collection also fascinates me. Cushman spent many years traveling to different areas and taking photographs. He ended up donating his collection to IU, where it was digitized. If you’d like to see the everyday lives of many types of people, then this collection is right up your alley.

Today, we take photos for granted in many ways. I know I enjoy just taking a quick photo of something instead of trying to describe it to a friend or family member; it’s simply faster. That doesn’t make photos less valuable, though, and we need to remember to step back and see more in the image than just the mundane object it may be capturing.

-Malissa Renno

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving!

November is here. Another Halloween has come and gone, and people are going through the last of their candy. Stores are taking down the aisles of ghouls, princess costumes, and Halloween-themed candy and replacing them with items for the next festive season: Christmas.

Wait, come again? Aren’t we missing something here?

People tear down their ghost and pumpkin décor and begin to shop for the Christmas trees and lights. You walk around the stores today, and even before the end of the Halloween season, you see the orange and black gradually displaced by red and green. Christmas coupons and advertisements are already designed and printed, waiting to be sent to your mailbox. Meanwhile a small shelf of Thanksgiving decorations sits in its lonely corner, overwhelmed by aisle upon aisle of ornaments, Santa Clauses, and snowmen.

So in order to celebrate the coming of Thanksgiving, here are some highlights from the IU collections!

First up is a photo of Herman B. Wells cutting a turkey on Thanksgiving, 1954:

HB Wells Turkey
Herman B Wells Cutting the Thanksgiving Turkey

Speaking of food, did you know a group of IU students known as the International Friendship Association put together a campus-wide Thanksgiving dinner in 1997? The goal of the event was to teach international students about the holiday and provide food for those who couldn’t leave IU over the short Thanksgiving break:

dinner 2
International Friend Association’s Thanksgiving Dinner
dinner 1
International Friend Association’s Thanksgiving Dinner: Entertainment

Next we have an excerpt from The Vagabond, a bi-monthly periodical published from 1923 to 1931 featuring poetry, visual art, essays, criticism, short stories, and humor targeted to the Indiana University community:

Thanksgiving Comes But Once a Dozen alias Wild Life Among the Cracker by Wolfgang Beethoven Bunkhaus Pg 1
Thanksgiving Comes But Once a Dozen alias wild life among the cracker by Wolfgang Beethoven Bunkhaus, Pg 1
Bunkhaus, Pg 2
Bunkhaus, Pg 2

I’m not sure who Mrs. Baker was, but she sounds like a lively person…

Finally, for those of you looking to get into the Thanksgiving spirit, here are some great Thanksgiving-themed movies to check out:

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
A Charlie BrownThanksgiving
Pieces of April








-Julia Kilgore

For more information, see:

Herman B Wells cutting the Thanksgiving turkey. Department of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.

International Friend Association’s Thanksgiving dinner. Department of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Bunkhaus, Wolfgang Beethoven. Thanksgiving Comes But Once a Dozen alias wild life among the cracker. Department of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. Directed by John Hughes. Hollywood, CA: Paramount, 2000.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Directed by Bill Melendez and Phil Roman. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2008.

Pieces of April. Directed by Peter Hedges. United States: MGM Home Entertainment, 2004.

Web of Knowledge


Do you feel like you’ve run out of places to look for journal articles to use for your term paper? Have you already found a few great ones but don’t know where to look next? Web of Knowledge might be just the resource you’re looking for. Web of Knowledge can help you find other articles that have referenced the ones you’ve already found, and those articles may be related to your paper topic too. Check under the Resource Gateway on the libraries’ website for a link, or you can click on red text for Web of Knowledge within this article.

To get started, gather up a few of the citations for the articles you’ve found most helpful and plug them into the Web of Knowledge basic search. Once you’ve found that article on the results list, click on it to open the full record. In the upper right-hand corner, it will list the number of times that article has been cited. You can click “view all citing articles” (figure 1) to see which other authors have used the article in their own work. By reviewing the titles and abstracts of those results, you should get a good sense of whether or not these articles will be useful for your own research.

figure 1
figure 1

Web of Knowledge allows you to see not only which later articles cited the article you’re using as your starting point, but you can also see what earlier works your starting article cited. This creates a “web of knowledge” (figure 3) with citations going in both directions with your starting article at the center of the web, those it cited to the left, and those that cited it to the right . To see the full web, you can scroll down on the right to where it says “citation map” (figure 2) and on the next screen select direction as “forward and backward” (figure 3).

figure 2
figure 2

figure 3
figure 3

Seeing this network of citations can help you discover additional articles to use for your paper. Good luck with your research!


Researching Religion at IU

For better or worse, religion is a fundamental component of nearly all world civilizations, large or small. Studying a culture’s religious practices, beliefs, and institutions can be contextually informative about the society as a whole. Below are some tools that will help you in your search for Religious Studies resources available at Indiana University.

Start at IU Libraries’ Religious Studies page. Here you will find links to all Religious Studies resources available at IU. Additionally, the Religious Studies Web Portals offers alternative (and free!) websites dedicated to the study of religion. Also, the Sacred Books of the World Religions: Finding Primary Sources is a handy tool for locating primary sources.

As you probably noticed, there are lots of Religious Studies resources at IU. Many of the world’s religions are included. In case you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the information, here are some of the best databases dedicated to Islam, Christianity and Judaism, the world’s three largest religions.


Index Islamicus is one of the most comprehensive religious databases with an emphasis on Islam. In fact, it is the primary index to literature on Islam, the Middle East and Muslim areas of Asia and Africa, and Muslim minorities elsewhere. It includes citations to over 2,000 journals, conference proceedings, monographs, and book reviews from 1906 to present.

The Oxford Islam Studies Online is another fine Islam-specific database. It features authoritative reference content and scholarly commentary on Islamic history, the faith and concepts of Islam, the people, tenets and practices, politics, culture, and more.


While its coverage includes many religions, ATLA Religion Database is simply the best when it comes to Christianity. Generally speaking, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials is a combined index to journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion. Coverage in the database begins in 1949, and there is indexing for some journal titles back into the nineteenth century. Full text is available for many electronic articles and book reviews in over 100 journals.

Regarding ATLA Religion Database’s coverage of Christianity, I would like to bring your attention to its Scriptures section:

From here, you can view articles related to any book of the Bible by simply clicking the book in which you are interested. This is just one of the many cool features available from ATLA Religion Database.


Encyclopedia Judaica
The Encyclopedia Judaica is the authoritative reference resource for Jewish knowledge and life up to the present day. It is designed for both Jewish and non-Jewish readers and covers nine main subject categories: Contemporary Jewry, Education and modern scholarship, History, Jews in world culture, Judaism: practice, Judaism: thought, Language and literature, and Miscellaneous topics.

Of course, there are many more religions in the world, but I hope that the examples provided here give you an idea of the many great resources made available by your friendly librarians at Indiana University.

If you would like further assistance with your Religious Studies research or any other research topic, do not hesitate to Ask a Librarian.


Journal Alerts from EBSCO

Are you a total blog-head? (The evidence certainly suggests so.) Do you stay connected to blogs and other resources through RSS feeds? You may be thrilled to learn about journal alerts! Journal alerts are RSS feeds generated by EBSCO about the publications available within its many databases. These journal alerts keep you informed about new articles from journals of your choosing.

For example, do you love the International Journal on Digital Libraries? If so, you could set up an RSS feed solely about new material from this journal! Or maybe you crave Newsweek? You could quickly set up a journal alert to receive all of Newsweek‘s new articles in an RSS feed.

Here’s how to do it. First, set up an account with EBSCO by logging into an EBSCO database, such as Academic Search Premier. Click “Sign In” in the upper toolbar, and then follow the “Create a New Account” link. Once you are logged in to your new account, browse or search for publications you love! There is a “Publications” link in the top tool bar. Once you locate a publication of interest, click the RSS icon (the small, orange square) next to its title. This is where the magic happens! EBSCO will send an email to the address you provide. This email will contain an RSS feed URL. Simply copy and paste that URL into your RSS reader (Google Reader, etc.) and save the alert! It’s that simple. Soon you will be receiving alerts about new content.

Similar services are available with JSTOR, Project Muse, and other journal aggregators. Please explore this feature in all places it is available, and use it to enhance your learning experience!


Streaming Video and Music

The beginning of the Fall term is approaching fast. You still have time to relax before it starts and maybe prepare yourself for the coming semester. The Herman B Wells Library has many new resources that can help you relax and prepare for the coming semester. Streaming documentaries, performances of plays and music are right at your fingertips. Here is a list of a few sources:

World History in Video includes critically acclaimed documentaries on world history going back to the earliest civilizations. Want to see a documentary on WWII for a presentation or to help with a paper for class? They have 133 on WWII alone.

Theater in Video has hundreds of plays and documentaries on theater and playwrights. Theater in Video has a performance of Romeo and Juliet performed at the Globe Theater in London.

Naxos Music Library primarily has classical music, with some jazz and world music. You can listen to Bach or Mozart while you are studying for finals.

Want to learn about the people in Greece or India? Ethnographic Video Online has documentaries from anthropologists and ethnographers.

Here are some other streaming video resources:
Filmakers Library Online
Opera in Video
Dance in Video

You can find more streaming documentaries or videos by typing “streaming,” “video,” or “documentaries” in the search box at the top of the library website.


Bursting at the Seams with Costume Resources

[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.
[Chicago Daily News ice carnival with woman wearing a patriotic costume and a man wearing a Middle Eastern costume]. Chicago Daily News, January 19, 1929. From American Memory, Library of Congress.

Have you ever looked at an illustration of the book The Great Gatsby, and wondered how to describe what the characters are wearing? Have you ever thought to look up how members of the Azande culture dress versus the Burundi culture? Or how one might costume a production of the eighteenth-century play She Stoops to Conquer? Or even brainstorming what to wear this coming Halloween?

Costume research is relevant to a variety of disciplines: from theater and drama, to fashion design, history, anthropology, folklore, English, and art history. Next time you are considering a research topic in the aforementioned areas, perhaps a topic in costume could fit the bill?

If so, IU libraries has you covered – we have all kinds of print and electronic resources designed to help you answer these kinds of questions and more.

Electronic resources


Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion

This is a magisterial resource, literally encyclopedic in its coverage. Remember, this database is available only on campus, so make a note to visit next time you’re on campus–otherwise you can find more information on downloading a VPN for your computer or device here.

eHRAF World Cultures (also known as eHRAF Collection of Ethnography)

A database devoted to world cultures produced by the research agency Human Relations Area Files. It has a great browsing function for ethnic groups. This database is a little complicated to search – make sure to capitalize on the help pages in order to use it most effectively.


A great resource for images across a variety of disciplines. Use the Advanced Search option to search or browse within the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification.


A consortium of art museums that brings together images of some of the finest works of art. For our purposes today, right on the main page is a link that will enable you to search within Costume and Jewelry.


American Memory

The Smithsonian Institution has compiled a huge and endlessly fascinating digital library from their permanent collections. Don’t stop at costume – look at photography, early film, folkways, and all kinds of amazing content!

American Periodicals Online

This resource is incredibly useful for all kinds of primary source research, as it compiles over a thousand serials, fulltext, with dates ranging from 1740 to 1900.

Great Britain

British Periodicals

Another great primary source database, this time for the British Isles. While you’re at it, check out Eighteenth Century Journals, C-19, and Nineteenth Century UK Periodicals!

VADS or Visual Arts Data Service

This is a great resource for all manner of visual arts. Major museums and archives throughout Great Britain have contributed their collections to this online archive, making it a rich and worthwhile use of your valuable research time.

London Low Life

This is a great resource, not only because it offers all kinds of primary source materials, but also because it is partially compiled from items held in the Lilly Library! Part of the digitization agreement stipulated that IU users could access this database free of charge – so go ahead, what are you waiting for?


IUCAT is where to go for books at IU. Remember that this searches all libraries in the Indiana University system (Bloomington, yes, but also Fort Wayne, Columbus, and South Bend, among others), so make careful note of where books are located.

One great way to find reference sources in print is to use the Reference Room Quicksearch – you can search for reference materials held only in the Reference Reading Room of Herman B Wells Library. A list of records with the subject term “costume” can be found here. Spending a few hours with these books will kickstart your research efficiently and effectively. Plus, you’ll always know they’ll be in the stacks, because reference room materials don’t circulate (unless you ask the staff at the Reference Desk nicely).

Here is a list of records held at Fine Arts Library with all books under the subject heading “costume.” Using Advanced Keyword Search, you can type in “costume” as your subject heading, while using other search terms to narrow your search – like “United States,” or “19th Century,” or what whatever you happen to be interested in. Use the keyword search if you are not sure how to phrase your search term.

And one final reminder about books – your field of knowledge is certainly not limited to local holdings. Simply use Worldcat to find many more sources about your topic. Each record has a link to request items using our Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan Services, enabling you to request books from many different libraries.

A hot tips for your searching serendipity: remember to think of relevant synonyms for your search strategies. Many catalogs use the subject term “costume,” but others could use “dress,” “garb,” “clothes” or “clothing,” especially if you have delved into unmediated internet searching. If one search doesn’t work, try another related term to see if anything relevant returns.

Never forget – librarians are here to help! Ask now!!


Graduates Made Good

With commencement just days away, it’s safe to say emotions are high for a number of soon-to-be graduates. Going through the cycles of joy, nostalgia, and sadness can be as taxing as a Friday night on Kirkwood. For some, there might be the additional cloud of an unknown future. Let’s face it: Change can be scary!

While the library has a great Career Reference section on the library homepage that you should definitely take advantage of, it’s also nice to think about the IU alumni who have gone on to make their mark on the world. And probably a bit more fun.

So, whether you’re off to new adventures or have a little more time left in Bloomington, why not check out a few of these Hoosier-riffic resources?

If you’re looking to forget about your last final with a good film, check out Kevin Kline (’70) in A Fish Called Wanda or music man Hoagy Carmichael (’25) in To Have and Have Not. While it doesn’t feature any IU alum on screen, The Princess Diaries is based on the young adult fiction series by Meg Cabot (’91) and can be found at a number of the residence hall/apartment libraries.

If sports are your thing, you might be interested in Dick Enberg, Oh My!, the autobiography of long-time announcer Dick Enberg (who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in health sciences at IU and voiced the first radio broadcast of the Little 500). You could also use the Biography in Context database to learn more about broadcaster Joe Buck (’91), Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz (’72), and colorful billionaire businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (’81).

Twentieth-century novelist Theodore Dreiser dropped out of Indiana in 1890 without earning a degree, but you can pick up Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy at the Herman B Wells Library. For non-fiction reading, you can check out current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ book, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. He received an M.A. in history from IU in 1966).

Other famous IU alumni you might know include Jamie Hyneman from the TV show MythBusters, former U.S. Senator and current Fox News commentator Evan Bayh, and New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. The IU Archives has a full run of the student yearbook, the Arbutus, from 1894 to present day. See how many famous people you can find!