From the Vault Blog

From the Vault | Holiday Special: Children’s Guardian Home Postcards

In this episode of From the Vault, we share our unique collection of holiday postcards that were sent to a woman who improved the lives of young children: Leota Trook of the Children’s Guardian Home in Indianapolis.

Learn more about the Archives: https://www.in.gov/iara/

Learn more about the history relevance campaign at https://www.historyrelevance.com/.

Visit our Blog: https://www.in.gov/iara/3098.htm

Please comment, like, and subscribe!

Credits:

Written and produced by Justin Clark.

Special Thanks to Quinn Frey, Sandy Ricketts, Rose Butler, and the Indiana Historical Society

Music: “12 Days of Christmas,” “First Noel,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by Jingle Punks

Full Text of Video

The Holidays are such a special time of year, a time to connect with loved ones and appreciate the important things in life. One way we share our appreciation is with greeting cards. There’s something personal and kind about receiving a card in the mail during the holidays.

In this episode of From the Vault, we share our unique collection of holiday postcards that were sent to a woman who improved the lives of young children: Leota Trook of the Children’s Guardian Home in Indianapolis.

The Indiana General Assembly established the Children’s Guardian Home in 1889. As author Rose Butler noted, “it was not an orphanage, or a reformatory, but a rescue program for children, initially ages newborn to fifteen years, who were neglected, abused, or abandoned by family and custodians.” The Guardian Home worked to improve the future for these children by providing temporary housing and then finding them permanent homes.

Over the years, many people worked at the home who left a positive impact on the children, but few were as beloved as Superintendent Leota Trook. She worked at the home for over 30 years and oversaw its transition from oversight by the Board of Children’s Guardians to the Marion County Welfare Board. She often wrote past residents of the home to make sure they were doing well—and they wrote back to her.

This is the earliest holiday postcard sent to Mrs. Trook, postmarked from 1911. A young woman named Myrtle Engle, who had lived in the home in 1909, wrote to Trook “wishing her a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” According to city directories, Myrtle lived in South Bend until at least 1914. She married Harrison Ledbetter in 1918, had at least three children, and died in 1971 at the age of 77.

Another card, dated from 1912, came from a young man named Frank James, who wrote to wish her a Merry Christmas and to have her “say hello” to fellow children still at the Guardian home. In the 1920 Census, Frank James is listed with his family in Knox County, where he worked as a clerk in a drugstore. It’s likely that the young man from the Guardian Home moved in with a family and started a whole new life.

Mrs. Trook also received New Year’s cards. The first card, also from 1912, came from Miss Ruby Hupp, who lived at the home as late as 1910. She wrote this card from Greenfield, which was likely her new home. She wrote:

Dear Mrs. Trook,

I was very much blessed with your nice card and I thank you very much. I just dearly love to stay here Mrs. Trook and I am very thankful for your kindness. Wishing you the very Happiest of New Years.

Miss Ruby Hupp

P.S. I am getting along just fine so far and hope it will proceed.

Yours R. H.

Unfortunately, not much else is known about Ruby, other than she was likely married. Regardless, you can get a sense of the importance of Mrs. Trook to Ruby from her earnest words in the postcard.

The last postcard that we’ll share comes from a young lady named Martha Oliver in 1920. Her message reads:

Dear Mrs. Trook,

I received your little card and was very glad to hear from you. I am getting along pretty well and hope you are the same. I would like to go out to my cousin to spend New Year’s Day and will you call me up on the phone and let me know if I can go.

From your little friend

Martha Oliver

According to Census, marriage, and death records, Martha married Joseph Daugherty in 1928, had two children, lived for a time in Philadelphia and Washington State, and died in 1994.

Each of these postcards are a window into the importance of Leota Trook in the lives of children, displaying the special connection she had with those under her care. And it’s these connections that matter the most during the holidays.

Thanks for watching! Please click “like” if you enjoyed this video and make sure to subscribe to keep updated on all new videos. Finally, do you send out holiday cards? Do you prefer funny cards or serious ones? Leave your answers in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU!

Past Posts

Statehood Day 2018

Every year on the anniversary of Indiana’s statehood (December 11), the Indiana State Archives participates in a big celebration at the State Capitol, which culminates in the installation of Indiana’s 1816 and 1851 Constitutions in the rotunda for the duration of the legislative session. This video chronicles the journey of both constitutions from the Archives to the State Capitol.

Learn more about the Archives: https://www.in.gov/iara/

Learn more about the history relevance campaign at https://www.historyrelevance.com/.

Visit our Blog: https://www.in.gov/iara/3098.htm

Please comment, like, and subscribe!

Credits:

Written and produced by Justin Clark.

Special Thanks to Elizabeth Hague, Michael Vetman, Capitol Police, and Friends of the Indiana State Archives

Music: “Old Friend” by Silent Partner

From the Vault | Marshall Constitution

In this episode of From the Vault, we’ll uncover the largely-forgotten story of how the Indiana Constitution almost changed overnight by the stroke of a Governor’s pen—and the forces that shut it all down.

Learn more about the Archives: https://www.in.gov/iara/

Learn more about the history relevance campaign at https://www.historyrelevance.com/.

Visit our Blog: https://www.in.gov/iara/3098.htm

Please comment, like, and subscribe!

Credits:

Written and produced by Justin Clark.

Special Thanks to Quinn Frey, Indiana Legal Archive, Indiana Historical Bureau, and Hoosier State Chronicles

Clips of Erza Klein from Vox Media, Inc.

Music: “Switch It Up” by Silent Partner, “Cielo” by Huma-Huma, and “The Big Score” by MK2

Full Text of Video

In a 2018 video for Vox, journalist Ezra Klein discussed how “states routinely amend and even rewrite their constitutions. On average, each state has had 3 constitutions, and Louisiana—they’ve had 11.” He argued that the Federal constitution should be amended more like the states, in order to improve our democracy. This is an interesting thesis—but one period of Indiana’s history shows just how hard this process can be, so much so that it can lead to a constitutional crisis.

In this episode of From the Vault, we’ll uncover the largely-forgotten story of how the Indiana Constitution almost changed overnight by the stroke of the Governor’s pen—and the forces that shut it all down.

In its two centuries as a state, Indiana has had two constitutions—one from statehood in 1816 and a revised constitution from 1851. In the wintry months of 1911, there was almost a third.

Thomas R. Marshall, progressive Governor of Indiana from 1909-1913, stressed in his January 5, 1911 message to the General Assembly that a wide array of constitutional reforms were necessary to improve Indiana’s government. Specifically, he called for extending the length of the legislature’s session from December through May and limiting the right to vote of “foreign-born citizens.” Like with many progressive reforms of the period, you get some good (more time to complete legislation) and you get some bad (disenfranchising immigrants’ voting rights).

However, changing Indiana’s constitution is difficult; Article 16 notes that for an amendment to be added to the Constitution, it must be passed by two sessions of the Indiana General Assembly and then approved by a majority of the voting public. This made adding amendments a long and arduous process, especially if more than one was being considered.

With all of this mind, Marshall and the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly decided to attempt a workaround.

This is Senate Bill 407, also known as the “Marshall Constitution.” Democratic State Senator Evan B. Stotsenburg introduced the bill on February 23, 1911. The House passed the bill on March 1 with a vote of 59-37 and the Senate passed it on March 2 by a vote of 60-39. Governor Marshall signed it the very next day.

This revised Constitution comprised over 20 reforms, including authorizing the General Assembly to pass a workman’s compensation program, increasing the membership of the House to 130, expanding the number of Indiana Supreme Court justices from 5 to 11, lengthening the duration of the legislative session, and stricter voting rules.

Despite passing the General Assembly, the new constitution faced swift and powerful opposition in the form of Indianapolis lawyer John Dye. He filed a suit in Marion County Circuit Court against the new constitution, arguing that “(1) the General Assembly lacked the authority to prepare and submit to the electorate a new constitution, and (2) the method of submission violated constitutionally-prescribed procedures.” Judge Charles Remster agreed with Dye, arguing that “[t]he delegation of power is specific and empowers the General Assembly to propose one amendment or any number of amendments to the constitution. This power does not specifically authorize the proposal of an entire new constitution.”

The state appealed the case all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court. In their landmark ruling in Ellingham v. Dye on July 5, 1912, the Supreme Court ruled the Marshall Constitution unconstitutional. In their decision, the Court firmly established that Article 16 could not be   circumvented by legislative action. In other words, you cannot change the constitution by statute alone.

The impact of the Marshall Constitution lingered for decades. Many of its reforms, including voting regulations and changes to the General Assembly’s schedule, became laws and constitutional provisions in their own right. It also benefitted Marshall himself, who gained a national profile for his progressive instrumentation of power. In 1912, he was tapped to be Woodrow Wilson’s running mate and then served 8 years as his vice president.

The Marshall Constitution, and its aftermath, reinforced a profound lesson for both public leaders and citizens: Constitutions can be bent, but they cannot be easily broken. If Hoosiers believe it is in their best interest to pass a Constitutional amendment, or propose a new Constitution, they will do so under the guidelines of Article 16. As examples, the 2016 amendment to protect the right to hunt and fish and the 2018 balanced budget amendment followed this exact approach.

So, while Ezra Klein’s view of Constitutional malleability is possible in theory, the Marshall Constitution shows that it’s a lot harder in practice.

Thanks for watching! Please click “like” if you liked this video and make sure to hit that “subscribe” button to keep updated on all new videos. Finally, what changes would you propose to the Indiana Constitution, or do you think it should stay the same? Leave your answers in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU!

From the Vault | Evansville Ku Klux Klan Charter

In this episode of From the Vault, we look at one of the most controversial items in the Archives’ collection, one that powerfully symbolizes a dark period and its politics: the Evansville Ku Klux Klan Charter.

Learn more about the Archives: https://www.in.gov/iara/

Learn more about the history relevance campaign at https://www.historyrelevance.com/.

Visit our Blog: https://www.in.gov/iara/3098.htm

Please comment, like, and subscribe!

Credits:

Written and produced by Justin Clark.

Special Thanks to Claire Horton, Indiana Memory, and Hoosier State Chronicles

Music: “Philae” by Olivaw, “Echoes of Time v2” by Kevin MacLeod, “It’s Coming” by Josh Kirsch, Media Right Productions, and “Court and Page” by Silent Partner

Full Text of Video

America’s history is riddled with horrifying stories of political extremism, which have inspired intense bigotry and even violence. This is especially true of Indiana during the 1920s, when one of the most notorious extremist groups took over civic life: the Ku Klux Klan.

In this episode of From the Vault, we look at one of the most controversial items in the Archives’ collection, one that powerfully symbolizes the period and its dark politics: the Evansville Ku Klux Klan Charter.

The Klan first emerged in Reconstruction-era Tennessee and quickly spread throughout the South. They terrorized recently freed African Americans, as well as their Republican allies, with violence, threats, and intimidation. They described themselves as the “Invisible Empire of the South.” Thousands of people died from their acts. Throughout the late 1860s and 1870s, Congress passed a slew of laws to suppress the Klan and they worked. The Klan fell apart as an organization by the 1880s.

But that was the first wave of the Klan. The second wave, which occurred throughout the first half of the twentieth century, became nationally significant and politically powerful. This wave was emboldened by D. W. Griffith’s landmark 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, which displayed the Klan as the protector of American democracy. As a result, a resurgence of the Klan began in the 1920s.

Indiana’s Klan started in Evansville around 1920 and by 1923, chapters held massive rallies around the state. By 1925, the Klan had a quarter of a million members in Indiana and published its own newspaper, the Fiery Cross.

They were motivated by an intense bigotry against not only African-Americans, who represented less than 3% of Indiana’s population, but against Catholics, Jews, and immigrants. Of these, Catholics became a central focus. As historian James Madison noted, “the Fiery Cross published a list of Roman Catholic businessmen in Indianapolis, all presumably unworthy of Klan patronage.”

This is the Evansville, Indiana Ku Klux Klan Charter. The charter was signed on March 14, 1922 by the leadership of the Evansville chapter of the Klan. The Archives acquired this item from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

The man whose name appears in the bottom, left-hand corner of the charter under the title of “Exalted Cyclops” is David Curtis “D. C.” Stephenson, a man of immense power and influence within the Klan and Indiana politics.

He broke away from national leadership in 1923 and started running his Indiana faction of the Klan like a political machine, with him as the all-powerful boss. His leadership and successful infiltration of Indiana politics lead to the 1924 elections of a Klan-backed governor, Ed Jackson, a pro-Klan legislature, and even the mayor of the capital city.

Once they came to power, they methodically worked to pass measures that persecuted Catholics, particularly their parochial schools. These included mandatory readings of the King James Bible in schools, discrimination against privately-educated teachers seeking a teaching license, uniform textbook standards for public and private schools, and a very controversial attempt to ban “religious garb” in the public schools.

Fortunately, those who opposed the Klan grew wise to their antics and defeated these proposals, citing the importance of “individual freedom or of separation of church and state.”

The Klan’s political grip on Indiana quickly began to loosen, mostly as a result of poor organizational strategy and the conviction of D. C. Stephenson for the murder of Madge Oberholtzer, a government employee he assaulted, raped, and kept from medical assistance in March of 1925.

Governor Jackson was later exposed for corruption by the Indianapolis Times, who reported his illegal financial dealings with Stephenson and the Indiana Klan. The Times won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for their investigations into Stephenson, Jackson, and the Klan. By the end of the decade, the Klan was all but eliminated from Indiana state government.

The Ku Klux Klan charter, and the history that surrounds it, remind us of an important lesson. In our past, extremist, bigoted organizations have used their power to harm the liberty and dignity of all people in our state. This history isn’t pleasant, but it provides us with the knowledge to be better citizens and to recognize discrimination and extremism in all its forms.

Thanks for watching! Please click “like” if you liked this video and make sure to hit that “subscribe” button to keep updated on all new videos. Finally, what do you think we can do as citizens to challenge harmful extremism in our state? Leave your answers in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU!

Electronic Records | Don't Get Caught in the "Twlight Zone"

From email and social media to government documents, electronic records are a big part of our work at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration. We preserve these records in order to provide transparency and accountability to our government. Thus, any problems we encounter with them will bring challenges, but it’s our job to handle them.

Learn more about the Archives: https://www.in.gov/iara/

Learn more about the history relevance campaign at https://www.historyrelevance.com/.

Visit our Blog: https://www.in.gov/iara/3098.htm

Please comment, like, and subscribe!

Credits:

Written and produced by Justin Clark.

Special Thanks to Jeannine Roe and Brian Taylor

Music: “View” by Ametryo

“Twilight Zone” Clips and Music Copyright: CBS Television

Full Text of Video

“Imagine if you will a world where electronic records suddenly disappear. Cities would collapse; governments would fall; widespread panic would ensue. The existential dread that would hang over the world like the Sword of Damocles. . . .”

Cue TV Channel Change

Actually, it wouldn’t be that crazy, but it would be rough. From email and social media to government documents, electronic records are a big part of our work at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration. We preserve these records in order to provide transparency and accountability to our government. Thus, any problems we encounter with them will bring challenges, but it’s our job to handle them.

So, what are electronic records? They come in two broad categories: “born digital” and “converted to digital.” Born digital records are emails, social media posts, documents, spreadsheets, and anything else created by a government agency that exist electronically. Converted records originated on paper, tape, or microfilm and processed for electronic access.

The first is the purview of Jeannine Roe, our electronic records specialist here at the archives. Her job is to retrieve and then process electronic records from state and local governments.

Her biggest challenge is formatting, especially old formats that we no longer use. Think about how many cell phones you’ve ever had. Or computer’s you’ve owned. They’ve changed a lot, haven’t they? The key constant of electronic devices is change-- and this change makes it almost impossible to preserve electronic records in the long-term.

As she said to me in an interview: “Deterioration and obsolescence over time are the biggest factors that we run into for maintaining these things for the longest-term. . . . You can keep paper for 500 years if kept in the right conditions, but electronic records . . . with the larger servers that we utilize here . . . we replace them every four years.”

Yet, electronic records do have one great advantage: access. As Brian Taylor, head of our micrographics lab noted, “Electronic records are the easiest thing to access, as opposed to digging up paper or microfilm.”

Despite technological change, there’s one format that works better for preservation than any electronic medium, and like vinyl, it’s never really gone out of style: microfilm. As Brian said to me, “Preservation, long-term, always has to go to film. . . . We cannot guarantee digital information tomorrow let alone 10 or 20 years from now.” If an EMP spike hits Indiana, wiping out our servers and computers, the only thing we need to look at microfilm is a light and a magnifying glass.

Microfilm, when stored in the correct conditions, can last up to 500 years. Let’s elaborate on the “correct” part of this for a second. The best kind of microfilm for preservation is polyester film with a silver-halide emulsion (that’s the image). This film doesn’t tear like acetate film or fall privy to something called vinegar syndrome, where the film begins to smell and deteriorate. If we really want to preserve electronic records for the long-term, we should consider putting them on polyester microfilm.

So, why should we care so much? As Indiana government becomes more and more committed to digital devices and mediums, it is vital that our staff prepare the archives for the perils and promises of keeping electronic records.

As Jeannine said to me, “For the public, that matters because if they send out a records request or they’re looking for specific topics, about specific people, then we can provide them with those things with certainty that they were what they have requested, and that they were created as they were intended to be and held as they were intended to be.”

This ensures that we provide accessibility, accountability, and transparency of state government to our citizens. In short, it’s a small but essential part of maintaining our democracy.

Thanks for watching! Make sure to hit that “subscribe” button to keep updated on all new videos. Also check out my full interviews with Jeannine and Brian available on this channel. Finally, what kind of electronic records do you have that are worth preserving? Leave your answers in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU!

1917 Fort Benjamin Harrison Postcard

1917 Fort Benjamin Harrison Postcard

This postcard shows soldiers performing field maneuvers at Fort Benjamin Harrison in 1917. 

Thanks to the State Archives of Florida, the Indiana State Archives can add some Indiana postcards to our collection. While doing an assessment of their holdings, the State Archives of Florida discovered records that did not fit their collection policy. They identified institutions that would get better use of the items, and donated them to the appropriate place. 

The postcards, part of the Harold and Geraldine Haskins Postcard Collection, depict a wide range of Indiana life. One postcard shows soldiers performing field maneuvers at Fort Benjamin Harrison in 1917. Other Indiana landmarks and buildings featured include Union Station in Indianapolis, the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Indianapolis, Abraham Lincoln’s Home, and the Wyandotte Cave. 

Archives use collection policies, also referred to as accession policies, to ensure that consistent decisions are made when forming the archives’ collection. Having a strong collection policy allows the archives to identify a clear mission and to focus resources on those records that will best serve the constituents. 

Here at the Indiana State Archives, our collection policy is to preserve and make accessible records of state and local governments that document public and private rights, actions of state and local government officials, and the institutional character of state and local governments. Exceptions are made for records that have permanent legal and research significance, or document the history of the state. In this case, the postcards, while not created by a government unit, document key Indiana landmarks and scenes.

1867 Indiana State Fair Full Page Print

1867 Indiana State Fair 1867 Indiana State Fair

This is a full page print from "Harper's Weekly" featuring the 1867 Indiana State Fair.

The Indiana State Archives holds records produced by the Indiana State Fair Commission as well as ephemera about the fair collected through the years. This full page print and accompanying article in Harper’s Weekly features the 1867 Indiana State Fair. Harper’s Weekly, was an American political magazine based in NYC and known as “"A journal of civilization.”

Notes about the print:

The print features views of the fair, held in October in Terre Haute, which was “the most successful ever held in that State,” with the Board of Agriculture clearing over $6,000, according to the article.  Additionally, “real live Hoosiers” are pictured in the print. The Harper’s staff attendance at the fair and complimentary article was prompted by the public response to a previous Harper’s Weekly issue that contained a caricature of Hoosiers received poorly: “Many were the indignant letters which we received from Hoosierdom…The real live Hoosier is a gentleman of taste, and culture, and refinement, and the women are beautiful and charming beyond description….”

Want to research this Indiana State Fair resource?

This resource is also available online, digitized by The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection (Lincoln Library, Allen County Public Library) and hosted by the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/harpersweeklyv11bonn

1846 Map of Harmony Township, Posey County

Harmony Township Map TN

This is a 1846 map of Harmony Township, Posey County that divided the township into 11 districts.

The map had been flattened and encapsulated by a conservator in the past. It was related back to the correct record series, Commissioner's Court Records for Posey County, because "comrs." was noted on the back and an archivist had penciled in the date in brackets. Now the map is stored in a flat file and has been barcoded and connected to the written report in our catalog.

Notes about the map:

The map has a section of blue paper covering a gap in the paper. Our current conservator noted this was not a recent repair, because the writing and lines were aligned. It must have been mended at the time of creation. Paper was very valuable and still scarce in the 19th century.

IARA staff looked through the corresponding written records, the same type of blue paper was found. Many items in the folder are recorded on scraps of paper, because commissioners and other government officials would have needed ot use every bit at their disposal in 1840s Indiana.

Want to research this map and related Posey County Township maps and reports?

Come see us! Email our staff to set up a visit and tell them what you want ot see, providing these barcodes:

  • 1846 Harmony Township Districting Map: 46167R 

  • 1846 Maps Districting the Townships of Bethel, Lynn, Marrs, Robb, Robinson, Smith: 46175Z

  • Corresponding Commissioners’ Reports: 13904T

History of Broad Ripple, Indiana

Plat of Wellington, south of the Central Canal. (Click for high resolution)Plat of Broad Ripple Town, north of the Central Canal. (Click for high resolution)

The town of Broad Ripple (image on right) was platted by Jacob Coil (or Coyle) in April, 1837, on land he purchased from Jacob McKay and John Colip. It was located north of the Central Canal which had just started to be constructed.

South of the canal the town of Wellington (image below) was platted in May, 1837, by James and Adam Nelson.

The rivaling towns joined together in 1884 with the establishment of one post office, called Broad Ripple, and located south of the canal. Broad Ripple Village was annexed to the city of Indianapolis in 1922.

The Broad Ripple plat, north of the canal, is bounded by the current streets of Westfield, 64th Street, Carrollton, and the Sugar Bob Lane alley. The area of Wellington shown on the plat maps is bounded by the current streets of Westfield, Winthrop, Broad Ripple Avenue, and Guilford.

Nursing Students

Student nurses at the Home Hospital Training School for Nurses, Lafayette, Indiana, posing outside the Kile Memorial Building, circa 1929. (Click for high resolution)

"Student nurses at the Home Hospital Training School for Nurses, Lafayette, Indiana, posing outside the Kile Memorial Building, circa 1929.” One of a series of twelve photographs documenting student life at the Home Hospital School. Photo courtesy of Dale Armstrong.

Student records from many closed Indiana hospital nursing schools are preserved at the Indiana State Archives. A database of student names from eleven closed schools is now online at http://digitalarchives.in.gov/

Peru Map

Outline Plat of the City of Peru in Miami County (Click for high resolution)
This is an “Outline Plat of the City of Peru in Miami County” submitted to the Indiana Supreme Court in 1876 as an exhibit in the case of City of Peru et al. v. Daniel R. Bearss et al. The case was decided May 28, 1877 by the Supreme Court. The map shows the present boundaries of the city of Peru and the adjacent lands that the city sought to annex. Among the lands sought to be annexed were parts of J.B. Richardville’s Reserve (Miami Indian), Francis Godfroy’s Reserve No. 12 (Miami Indian) and property owned by James O. Cole (grandfather of Cole Porter).

The map is an ink drawing on linen. Dimensions are 35 and three quarters by 27 inches. The scale is 400 feet to the inch. It was platted and described by J.M. Brown.

Elizabeth Hague, the State Archives’ conservation technician, cleaned and flattened the map, which was folded.