Friday, October 31, 2014

Native Americans in the Old Northwest

What happened to the Indians of the Old Northwest Territory? Conflicting portraits emerge and answers often depend on who's telling the story, with each participant bending and stretching the truth to fit their own view of themselves and the world.

Written by Elizabeth O'Maley, Bones on the Ground presents biographical sketches and first-person narratives of Native Americans, Indian traders, Colonial and American leaders, and events that shaped the Indians' struggle to maintain possession of their tribal lands in the face of the widespread advancement of white settlement.

The book covers events and people in the Old Northwest Territory from before the American Revolution through the removal of the Miami from Indiana in 1846, including the Gnadenhutten Massacre, Little Turtle, William Wells, Fallen Timbers, the Treaty of Greenville, Tecumseh, the Battle of Tippecanoe, William Conner, Frances Slocum, the Potawatomi Trail of Death, and Jean Baptiste Richardville, among others.

As America's Indian policy was formed, and often enforced by the U.S. military, and white setters pushed further west, some Indians fought the white intruders, while others adopted their ways. In the end, most Indians were unable to hold their ground and the evidence of their presence now lingers only in found relics and strange-sounding place names.

A graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, O'Maley worked after college as a school psychologist in Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne. She is also the author of the IHS Press book By Freedom's Light. Elizabeth O'Male died on May 20, 2014.

Bones on the Ground costs $16.95 and is available from the IHS Basile History Market.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Letters from Hoosier Soldiers of the Civil War

During the American Civil the Wabash Intelligencer and the Wabash Plain Dealer frequently printed letters from Wabash County men serving in the Union army. In A Leave of Voices Jennifer McSpadden has compiled the letters into a volume that gives fascinating insights into a bygone age. The letter writers are a remarkable cast of characters: young and old, soldiers, doctors, ministers, officers, enlisted men, newspaper men, and a fifteen-year-old printers’ devil who enlisted as a drummer boy.

Sometimes the letter writers themselves were grieving as they wrote their families that another family member was killed in battle or had succumbed to disease. There were the chaplains who not only often had to be the bearers of bad news, but also had to bring consolation and comfort to the men with whom they served. Officers also had the burden of writing to families with the dread news of loved one’s death. Most officers, in turn, were admired and respected by their men, and were deeply mourned when they fell in battle

These are not stories of generals or battle strategies, they are the stories of the ordinary soldiers and their everyday lives. They describe long tiring marches across state after state, crossing almost impossible terrain, facing shortages of rations and supplies, enduring extremes of weather where they froze one day and sweltered the next, and encountering guerrillas that harried the wagon trains.

The correspondents wrote of walking over the bodies of fallen comrades and foes alike, of mules and their wagons sinking into muddy roads that became like quicksand, of shipwrecks, and of former slaves. They wrote of marching by moonlight and of people and places they would never have imagined in their previously peaceful lives.

Today a resident of Wabash, McSpadden was born and grew up in England, where she was educated at boarding schools and obtained six general certificates of education from the University of London. While living in London, McSpadden, who has always had a keen interest in history, was a member of the Richard the Third Society. 

She has also worked as a volunteer at the Wabash County Historical Museum and is currently on the museum's board of directors. McSpadden worked as a reporter for the Wabash Plain Dealer from 1986 to 1997 and served as a guest columnist until 2010.

A Leaf of Voices costs $27.95 and is available from the IHS Basile History Market.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Crown Hill Book Honored

The IHS Press book Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary was a silver winner in the regional category at the annual IndieFab Book of the Year Awards for the best independent books of 2013 sponsored by Foreword Reviews.

Representing hundreds of independent and university presses of all sizes, the winners were selected after months of editorial deliberation over more than 1,500 entries in sixty categories. Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention awards were determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers and announced at a special program during the American Library Association annual conference in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Interview with Author of Dillinger Biography

During his career, John A. Beineke, author of the new IHS Press youth biography Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger, has worked as professor of history at Arkansas State University, where today he is distinguished professor of educational leadership and curriculum. Beineke has also been a public school teacher, university administrator, and program director in leadership and education at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Here Beineke talks about how he came to write about Dillinger.

What inspired you to write about such a controversial figure in Indiana and American history?

My dad was an Indianapolis News paperboy during the 1930s and told stories of how John Dillinger would slip in and out of Indianapolis and Mooresville to visit family. And, of course, the newspapers he carried told of the bank robberies and escapes. I never forgot hearing those stories. I also wanted there to be a book on Dillinger for young adults and to place him in historical context--the Great Depression, the rise of the New Deal and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and  the role technology played, from high-powered automobiles and weapons to the scientific method used to rob banks. There is a strong move in public schools to include more nonfiction in the curriculum. A biography about a figure who was emblematic of the time he lived and also a figure who captured the public’s imagination both then and now seemed a great match with Dillinger.

Was it difficult to separate the facts from the myth when writing about Dillinger?

Yes, on some stories where there were multiple versions I had to ask myself “Did this really happen?” Some sources would leave out a certain bank robbery, have him in two states at the same time, or not know where he was for a period of time. I tried to use eyewitness sources as to the bank robberies. Most people knew if it was Dillinger or not--and for most, such an event was the most exciting thing that ever happened in their lives. Some have said he robbed a bank or two in Kentucky, but I could not verify that. When I didn’t know where he was I said so. A good example of “myths” would be the “fake” gun used to break out of the Crown Point Jail. Some say it was real, others say it was carved from soap, but most think it was carved from wood and blackened with shoe polish. I put the different theories out there with the evidence I found and will let the reader decide.

How was Dillinger treated by newspapers during his prime--as a villain or a “Robin Hood” type of figure?

Good question.  At first a “Robin Hood.” Letting a farmer keep the money on the bank counter saying it belonged to the man, yet at the same time emptying the safe. Whose money was that? The Mooresville newspaper was sympathetic to him for a while, but that may have been that the citizens respected his hard-working father. After the policeman was shot during an East Chicago bank job in early 1934 and Dillinger was accused of being the gunman, things turned sour in the press. (It is still disputed he was even in East Chicago that day.)  Even up until the end, though, many people liked him because they didn’t like banks.  The storyline that he spent far too long in prison (nine years) for a botched robbery and that caused him to “go bad” also gained him support in eyes of the public. Finally, being shot in the back didn’t seem fair to some. But after fourteen months of robberies and escapes, almost all newspapers thought him a villain rather than a hero.

Why do you think Dillinger continues to be such a fascinating figure?

His exploits, his personality, and the fact he remains an icon in popular culture all testify to the ongoing public fascination with him. The name Dillinger even sounds a dangerous. He is both hero and desperado. This book’s cover makes that point with his menacing countenance staring at the reader while there is a simultaneous passing resemblance to movie star of the era of Humphrey Bogart. Other examples abound. There have been about a dozen books on him over the past fifty years. Four motion pictures--the latest starring Johnny Depp--and also several documentaries. There is a  Dillinger tour that begins in the Wisconsin lodge where he escaped FBI agent Melvin Purvis and then moves to Chicago’s Biograph Theater the scene of his death. The tour ends in Indianapolis at Crown Hill Cemetery, the location of his grave. There is a Dillinger Museum in Lake County  in northern Indiana. A few months back Dillinger's father’s farmhouse in Mooresville appeared in a real estate advertisement and the home wasn’t even for sale. Earlier this year a political commentator on NBC, when asked if Hillary Clinton was going to run for president, answered, “Does Dillinger rob banks?” He used the present tense as if Dillinger were still alive! And he didn’t have to identify the reference to Dillinger, dead eighty years in July.

What is your next project about?

I am working on a long scholarly piece on Indiana University president Herman Wells’s leadership and how he built IU by supporting controversial researchers, such as the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. There are two other Indiana ideas bouncing around in my mind. One would be to focus on the early years of World War I flying ace Captain EddieRickenbacker. His strong connection to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as both racer and track owner plus his involvement in the automotive industry of the 1920s. While from Ohio, not Indiana, Rickenbacker had a flamboyant and adventuresome personality and might make for a good young adult book. The other thought I have had is something on the theme of Indiana gas stations. My grandfather and father owned a “Hoosier Pete” filling station in Marion, Indiana from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s.  Maybe a pictorial book with commentary on the role these stations played in popular culture from the 1920s to the present. 



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dillinger Book Selected for National Book Festival

The Indiana Center for the Book has selected the IHS Press youth biography Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger by John A. Beineke to represent Indiana at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The book will be featured on the Festival's "Discover Great Places through Reading Map."

The book selection is based on criteria where each states selects one title of fiction or nonfiction that is relevant to the state or by an author from the state and that is a good read for children or young adults. The map is distributed at the Pavilion of the States at the Festival.

"This selection is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about history's most notorious Hoosier," said Suzanne Walker, Indiana Center for the Book director. "While most books about John Dillinger are scholarly or adult-themed in nature, Hoosier Public Enemy tells this compelling crime drama in a way that is educational and entertaining for young readers."

The National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall on Saturday, August 30. It will feature award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators in several pavilions dedicated to categories of literature. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with mascots and storybook characters, and participate in a variety of learning activities.

The Indiana Center for the Book is a program of the Indiana State Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The Center promotes interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries, and Indiana's literary heritage by sponsoring events and serving as an information resource at the state and local level. The Center supports both the professional endeavors and the popular pursuits of Indiana's residents toward reading and writing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

John Dillinger Youth Biography Released

During the bleak days of the Great Depression, news of economic hardship often took a backseat to articles on the exploits of an outlaw from Indiana—John Dillinger. For a period of fourteen months during 1933 and 1934 Dillinger became the most famous bandit in American history, and no criminal since has matched him for his celebrity and notoriety.

In Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger, ninth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s Youth Biography Series, John A. Beineke delves into Dillinger’s life from his unhappy days growing up in Indianapolis and Mooresville, Indiana; his first unlucky brush with the law; his embracing of a life of crime while behind bars at the Indiana Reformatory; his exploits as the leader of a gang that terrorized banks and outwitted law enforcement in the Midwest, earning a reputation as a Robin Hood-style criminal,; and his headline-grabbing death in a hail of bullets on July 22, 1934, at the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Dillinger won public attention not only for his robberies, but his many escapes from the law. As Beineke notes in the book, Dillinger’s breakouts, getaways, and close calls were all part of the story. The escapes he made from jails or “tight spots,” when it seemed law officials had him cornered, became the stuff of legends. While the public would never admit that they wanted the “bad guy” to win, many could not help but root for the man who appeared to be an underdog.

Another reason that the name Dillinger still resonates with the public is that his raids on banks coincided with the rise of new crime-fighting methods. These modern approaches were employed by newly created agencies of the government to battle the innovative technologies used to carry out the crimes. Powerful automobiles and modern and deadly weapons were used by the men (and some women) who were labeled as “public enemies.”

There was also the Dillinger personality. He was viewed as the gentleman bandit, letting a poor farmer keep the few dollars on the bank counter rather than scooping it up with the rest of the loot. He was polite and handsome. Women liked him. One of Dillinger’s girlfriends, Polly Hamilton, once said, “We had a lot of fun. It’s surprising how much fun we had.” All this made good copy for newspapers around the country. It seemed like a Hollywood movie and Dillinger was the star.

Although his crime wave took place in the last century, the name Dillinger has never left the public imagination. Biographies, histories, movies, television and radio shows, magazines and newspapers, comic books, and now Internet sites have focused on this Indiana bandit. If the public enjoyed reading about the exploits of these “public enemies” or viewing the newsreels in the movie theaters of that day, so did Dillinger. Ironically, it was outside a theater screening a movie about gangsters that his life ended.

Beineke is distinguished professor of educational leadership and curriculum and also professor of history at Arkansas State University. He has been a public school teacher, university administrator, and program director in leadership and education at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Beineke is the author of And There Were Giants in the Land: The Life of William Heard Kilpatrick; Going Over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey; and Teaching History to Adolescents: A Quest for Relevance.  An inductee of the Marion High School Hall of Distinction and an Outstanding Alumnus of Teachers College Ball State University, he has also been a summer research fellow at Harris Manchester College Oxford University.  Beineke and his wife, Marla, live in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Hoosier Public Enemy costs $17.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

Friday, April 11, 2014

IHS Press Books Named as Award Finalists

Two publications from the Indiana Historical Society Press have been named as finalists in Foreword Review's 2013 Book of the Year Awards. The books and the categories they are entered in are as follows:


  • Indiana Out Loud: Dan Carpenter on the Heartland Beat, Essays Category
  • Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary, Regional Category
Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. June 27 at the American Library Association's annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Memories of Hoosier Family Doctors

An initiative of the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians and the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Family Practice Stories: Memories, Reflections, and Stories of Hoosier Family Doctors of the Mid-Twentieth Century, is a collection of tales told by, and about, Hoosier family doctors practicing in the middle of the twentieth century. 

Edited by Richard Feldman, MD, the stories celebrate that time in America considered by many to be the golden age of generalism in medicine a time that conjures up Norman Rockwell s familiar archetypal images of the country family doctor and a time when the art of healing was at its zenith.

The book is divided into two sections. The first is a collection of reflective essays on various subjects, some written by individuals who participated in interviewing these older doctors, some by invited essayists, and others the perspectives of the doctors themselves concerning medicine and their careers. The second part contains a large collection of stories from Hoosier family physicians that practiced in this era. The stories are specific episodes in their careers and reveal much about how these family doctors touched the lives of their patients and their influence on their communities.

Feldman is a lifelong Hoosier who grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He is a 1972 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, and a 1977 graduate of the IU School of Medicine. After completing one year of psychiatry residency at IU, he finished his postgraduate medical training at Franciscan Saint. Francis Health Family Medicine Residency in 1980. He is a frequent lecturer, locally and nationally, on public health and medically-related subjects. He writes for the Indianapolis Star as an editorial page columnist on health-related issues.

Family Practice Stories costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.