Friday, April 03, 2015

Youth Biography on Ryan White Available

In 1985 the eyes of the world turned to the Hoosier State and the attempt by a thirteen-year-old Kokomo, Indiana, teenager to do what seemed to be a simple task--join his fellow classmates at Western Middle School in Russiaville, the school to which his Kokomo neighborhood was assigned.

The teenager, Ryan White, however, had been diagnosed with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome from contaminated blood-based products used to treat his hemophilia. "It was my decision," said White, "to live a normal life, go to school, be with friends, and enjoying day to day activities. It was not going to be easy."

White's words were an understatement, to say the least. His wish to return to school was met with panic by some school officials and parents. The controversy about White and the quiet courage he and his mother, Jeanne, displayed in their battle to have him join his classmates is explored in the eleventh volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press's Youth Biography Series. The Quiet Hero is written by Nelson Price, who wrote about White's odyssey during his days as a reporter and columnist for the Indianapolis News. Price goes beyond the scenes and brings to light stories and individuals who might have been lost in the media spotlight.

In Price's book, White, who succumbed to his disease in 1990, comes across as a normal teenager who met an impossible situation with uncommon grace, courage, and wisdom. "It was difficult at times to handle; but I tried to ignore the injustice, because I knew the people were wrong," White said. "My family and I held no hatred for those people because we realized they were victims of their own ignorance."

The Quiet Hero: A Life of Ryan White costs $17.95. The hardback book is available from the IHS's History Market.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

IHS Press Books Nominated for Awards

A number of Indiana Historical Society Press books published in 2014 have received nominations in two award competitions for independent publishers.

In Foreword Reviews' seventeenth annual INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards  the Press has been nominated as a finalist in the following categories:

Regional Category:

  • Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James H. Madison (copublished with Indiana University Press)
  • Hoosiers and the American Story by James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss
  • A Leaf of Voices: Stories of the American Civil War in the Words of Those Who Lived and Died, 1861-65 by Jennifer McSpadden
Young Adult, Nonfiction:

  • Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger by John A. Beineke
  • Bones on the Ground by Elizabeth O'Maley
Winners will be announced on Friday, June 26, at the American Library Association's annual conference in San Francisco. A panel of more than 100 volunteer librarians and booksellers will determine the winners in sixty-three categories based on their experience with readers and patrons.

In addition, the IHS Press book Hoosiers and the American Story has been nominated as a finalist in the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards, an annual competition sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Winners will be announced April 10-11 at IBPA's Publishing University in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Interview with Author of Wooden Biography

Barbara Olenyik Morrow is a journalist and author from Auburn, Indiana, who has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial writing. Her youth biography of novelist and conservationist Gene Stratton-Porter was published by the IHS Press in 2010. Morrow’s other books include From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie, in which she profiled five Hoosier writers during Indiana’s golden age of literature, and A Good Night for Freedom, the well-received children’s picture book about the Underground Railroad and famed Hoosier abolitionists Levi and Catharine Coffin. Here she talks about her new youth biography of basketball coach John Wooden.
What inspired you to write about such an Indiana legend?
I was a student at Indiana University in the early 1970s when the UCLA Bruins—coached by John Wooden—dominated college basketball. Naturally, I rooted for the IU Hoosiers, especially when they played UCLA in the semifinal game of the NCAA tournament in St. Louis in 1973. Like other Hoosier fans, I was sorely disappointed when Wooden’s squad defeated IU, paving the way for the Bruins to win their ninth national title two days later. Nine national championships in a single decade—that’s what Wooden achieved that March.

Two years later, Wooden retired, triumphantly as ever, having just coached UCLA to its tenth national championship. At that point he moved off my radar screen, especially as IU Coach Bobby Knight began to make his mark on the game. IU won the national basketball title in 1976, the year after Wooden’s retirement, and the Knight-coached Hoosiers won championships again in 1981 and 1987. In the midst of all that Hoosier hoops frenzy, Wooden and the UCLA Bruins—in my limited worldview, at least—seemed “so yesterday.”

Then came June 2010. Coach Wooden died, just months shy of his 100th birthday. Media coverage of his passing was extensive, and tributes poured in from everywhere. President Obama remembered Wooden as “an incredible coach and an even better man.” As I followed the coverage, I became intrigued about the Hoosier roots of this coaching giant whom I had given little thought to since my college days. I read how he grew up on an Indiana farm with no electricity or indoor plumbing. I read how his father knocked the bottom out of a tomato basket and nailed it to the barn wall, while his mother stuffed rags in her black cotton hose and stitched them up to make a ball—all so he and his brother could play a game that was taking the Hoosier state by storm.  

I read, too, how Wooden loved poetry, studied Shakespeare and taught high school English. And how he always lived modestly and was revered for his decency and valued his Midwestern upbringing.

All of this grabbed me. I kept reading. And soon I was inspired to write Hardwood Glory.

How did you go about researching Wooden’s life?

As I said, I started by reading. I soaked up information from Wooden’s two autobiographies (They Call Me Coach and My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey) and delved into the many books written about his coaching philosophy, leadership style, and pearls of homespun wisdom. I then read biographies of athletes who played for Wooden (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, among them), immersed myself in Indiana high school basketball history, and researched the evolution of college basketball and post-season tournaments.

Given that Wooden lived throughout most of the twentieth century (he was born in 1910), I knew I had to give historical context to his life. That led me to bone up on major events and cultural forces in each decade of the 1900s—from America’s entry into World War I, the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression to civil-rights struggles and turmoil wrought by the Vietnam War and Watergate scandal.  Race relations is another subject I researched. Wooden grew up in a time and place when segregation was widely accepted, with “color barriers” the norm in sports and other aspects of American life. I wanted to understand the various ways those barriers were broken and to explore Wooden’s forward-thinking views on race.

My research inevitably led to travel. I spent considerable time in Morgan County, Indiana, Wooden’s birthplace. I visited the various communities in which he grew up (Martinsville, Hall, Monrovia and Centerton), read family gravestones, and studied old newspapers and yearbooks in Martinsville’s public library. Recent research by Morgan County residents Curtis H. Tomak, Joanne Raetz Stuttgen, and Norma J. Tomak served me well; they uncovered new information that corrected often-told accounts of Wooden’s early life, and I made of a point – following my own digging—to present the corrected accounts. Wherever I traveled, I interviewed people.  In South Bend, for instance, I was fortunate to interview men who had played for Wooden at Central High School when he coached there in the 1930s and early 1940s. Likewise, I was fortunate to interview Gary, IN, resident Kevin J. Walker, who shared a journal written by his father Clarence Walker, a member of Wooden’s Sycamore squad at Indiana State Teachers College in the late 1940s—a pivotal time in the integration of college basketball.

My research would not have been complete without a trip to Los Angeles. There I had the pleasure of meeting Wooden’s daughter Nan, who invited me to her home where I viewed rooms full of family photos and Wooden memorabilia. I also spent time at UCLA, where Bill Bennett, an athletics department official, gave me access to a wealth of material and where I benefited from studying an exhibit in the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. The exhibit, known as Wooden’s “den,” contains furnishings and personal items donated by his family and displayed exactly as they had been in his suburban Los Angeles condominium.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Steve Alford, UCLA’s newly named head coach at the time of my visit, granted me an interview. We talked about Alford’s Hoosier roots and how he lived in Martinsville in the early 1970s – a time when his father, Sam, coached the high school team. Young Alford spent afternoons hanging out in the very gym where Wooden had been a high school star decades earlier.

At my request, Coach Alford wrote the foreword to Hardwood Glory.

In doing your research, did you come across anything about Wooden that surprised you?

I had read that Wooden was highly competitive, but I did not realize the extent of his competitiveness until I researched his early years of coaching. I am indebted to Peter DeKever, a Mishawaka historian who drew my attention to a basketball game in January 1937 between the South Bend Central High School Bears, coached by Wooden, and the Mishawaka High School Cavemen, coached by Shelby S. Shake. The after-game court fireworks, as reported in a South Bend newspaper, revealed that Wooden was not someone to push around and that he definitely had a fiery side.

I also was surprised to learn about the intersection of the lives of Wooden, UCLA Bruin star center Bill Walton, President Richard Nixon and White House Chief of Staff H. R. “Bob” Haldeman in the 1970s, before and after Watergate. If I’ve aroused your curiosity, good!
Why was Wooden such a successful coach?

He lived by the saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” and thus he made the most of basketball practices. He put his players through repetitive drills so that they instinctively executed “fundamentals” in games. He likewise put players through grueling physical workouts so that their superb conditioning enabled them to wear down opponents. Moreover, Wooden stressed teamwork. Drawing upon a shrewd understanding of human psychology, common sense, and his own deep-seated decency, he managed to tame egos and meld players into a unit that made them all look good. The team, not the individual, was the star.

Is it possible for any modern-day coach to match Wooden’s accomplishments?

I think not. Today players bolt to the professional ranks after a year or two of college, making it difficult for coaches to mold team unity and build upon lessons taught and strides made the previous year.

Any other comments regarding Coach Wooden?

It seems rather fitting that Indianapolis will host the 2015 NCAA Final Four Tournament. This March marks 40 years since Wooden made tournament history by coaching the UCLA Bruins to their 10th national championship, a men’s record that remains unrivaled. This year also marks 40 years since Wooden retired from the game at which he excelled throughout his long life, as first a player and then a coach. The very game, of course, that he learned to play . . . in Indiana.

Do you have an idea for your next book?

Ideas, yes. Always ideas. But nothing firm.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Author Fair Set for December 6

More than seventy Hoosier authors will pack Eli Lilly Hall at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, from noon to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, December 6, for the Indiana Historical Society's annual Holiday Author Fair. The event is free and open to the public.

Among the authors who will be on hand to sign their books are bestselling author Philip Gulley, basketball legend Bobby "Slick" Leonard, Indiana historian James H. Madison, mystery writer Terrence Faherty, pastry chef Paula Haney, and former Indiana poet laureate Norbert Krapf.

In addition, several IHS Press authors will be at the fair, including:

  • Richard D. Feldman, Family Practice Stories: Memories, Reflections, and Stories of Hoosier Family Doctors of the Mid-twentieth Century
  • Wes D. Gehring, Robert Wise: Shadowlands
  • John A. Beineke, Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger
  • Barbara Olenyik Morrow, Hardwood Glory: A Life of John Wooden
  • Jennifer McSpadden, A Leaf of Voices: Stories of the American Civil War in the Words of Those Who Lived and Died, 1861-65
  • Kenneth L. Turchi, L. S. Ayres & Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America
  • Douglas A. Wissing, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary
To help kick off the event, IHS Press author Beineke will give a talk on the life and career of Hoosier outlaw John Dillinger at 5:30 p.m. Friday, December 5, at the Indiana History Center.

The Life and Times of Coach John Wooden

The tenth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press's celebrated Youth Biography Series examines the life of a man who helped define college basketball in the twentieth century and became an icon of American sports--John Wooden.

Written by Barbara Olenyik Morrow and featuring a foreword by UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford, Hardwood Glory: A Life of John Wooden, explores his life beginning from his birth in the small Indiana town of Martinsville near the start of the last century. His claim to fame came first as an accomplished athlete, helping his high school basketball team compete in three state championship games, then earning All-American honors three times in his home state as a starting guard at Purdue University. After briefly teaching high school English and coaching several sports in Dayton, Kentucky, Wooden returned to Indiana, where he launched a successful career coaching basketball at South Bend Central High School and later at Indiana State Teachers College (today Indiana State University) in Terre Haute.

In 1948, at age thirty-seven, Wooden moved west, as did many Americans in the post-World War II era. He took over the head basketball job at UCLA, a school with virtually no basketball tradition. He took his family and his coaching skills with him. He also took his midwestern values. For the next six decades he remained in Southern California, creating a basketball dynasty at UCLA and solidifying his place as one of the sporting world's greats. When he died on June 4, 2010, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, he was four months shy of his hundredth birthday.

Wooden's success as a college coach was unprecedented and, in pure numbers, staggering. From 1964 to 1975, he led the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team to ten NCAA national basketball championships, including seven in a row--a feat that may never be matched. During that string of championships, he coached the Bruins to four perfect 30-0 seasons, a NCAA men's record that still stands. He also coached UCLA to an eighty-eight-game winning streak, yet another unrivaled record. Over the course of his twenty-seven seasons at UCLA, he mentored such All-Americans as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, earned the respect of legions of players, and inspired countless would-be roundballers and coaches alike.

In 1973 Wooden was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, making him the first to be honored as both a player and a coach. (He received the honor as a player in 1960.) In 1977 college basketball's annual player-of-the-year award was named for him. The NCAA bestowed its highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt award, on Wooden in 1995. In 2003 President George W. Bush presented Wooden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

Morrow is a journalist and author from Auburn, Indiana, who has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial writing. Her youth biography of novelist and conservationist Gene Stratton-Porter was published by the IHS Press in 2010. Morrow's other books include From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie, in which she profiled fived Hoosier writers during Indiana's golden age of literature, and A Good Night for Freedom, a well-received children's picture book about the Underground Railroad and famed Hoosier abolitionists Levi and Catharine Coffin.

Hardwood Glory costs $17.95 and is available from the IHS Basile History Market.

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.