Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harrison Wins Dunn Award

Jennifer Harrison of Indianapolis will receive the Jacob P. Dunn Jr. Award for the best article to appear in the Indiana Historical Society's popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Harrison will be honored as part of the IHS's annual Founders Day Dinner on Monday, December 5.

Harrison won the award for her article “Naturalist Charlie Deam: Forestry and Conservation Pioneer,” which appeared in the magazine’s fall 2010 issue. Her work has also appeared in local, national and online press, including American Demographics, Nation's Business, AAA’s Home and Away, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Eye, Archaeology, and others. She has also presented papers at several Midwest history conferences, developed educational material, and contributed to books.

As a writer and historian, Harrison has an abiding interest in American history, ethnic heritage, travel, the outdoors and culture. She holds degrees in journalism and business, and currently studies public history at IUPUI and serves as an intern with the Indiana State Archives. At the archives, Harrison works on the papers of Governor Paul McNutt and educational workshops.

In 2005 Harrison was a Creative Renewal fellow of the Indianapolis Arts Council. In 2010 she received an honorable mention in the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists awards.

Monday, November 07, 2011

IHS Holiday Author Fair December 3

More than seventy Hoosier authors will gather in downtown Indianapolis from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 3, for the Indiana Historical Society's annual Holiday Author Fair at the Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis.

Filmmaker Angelo Pizzo, Chef Daniel Orr, and local media personalities Howard Caldwell and Dick Wolfsie will be signing books along with bestselling authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom and 2009 Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf.

There will be speakers throughout the day, holiday music, refreshments, and free gift wrapping.

The schedule of speakers, presented in the Frank and Katrina Basile Theater, are:

12:30 p.m. “Serving Up Indiana”
Student writing contest awards presentation and

1 p.m. Barbara Morrow, author
Nature’s Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter

1:30 p.m. Rita Kohn, editor
Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the
First Steamboat on the Ohio River, 1811-2011

2 p.m. Angelo Pizzo and Gayle Johnson, filmmaker and author
The Making of Hoosiers: How a Small Movie from the
Heartland became one of America’s Favorite Films

2:30 p.m. Chef Daniel Orr, author and chef
Paradise Kitchen: Caribbean Cooking with
Chef Daniel Orr
, discussion and samples

3:00 p.m. Jenny Kander and Guest Poets, contributors
And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana

The Holiday Author Fair is free with admission to the Indiana Experience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Steamboats on the Ohio

Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the First Steamboat on the Ohio River, 1811–2011, recently released by the IHS Press, celebrates the epic voyage of the steamboat New Orleans, which departed Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 1811. Onboard were Captain Nicholas Roosevelt, his crew, and his pregnant wife, their toddler, and a young maid. The New Orleans steamed to Louisville, Kentucky, and then back up to Cincinnati, Ohio, astounding the passengers it had taken onboard—for it was the first steamboat capable of traveling upriver as well as down.

The New Orleans’s voyage ushered in commerce, hastened immigration, and engendered town building within the Ohio–Mississippi River basin, transforming it from a raw frontier to an economic and social powerhouse.

Edited by Rita Kohn and published with the generous support of the Rivers Institue at Hanover College, Full Steam Ahead is a book of essays on the development of steamboats, Ohio River cities, and river transportation. Written for the general reader by individuals who have been engaged in a variety of river occupations, it is part of a larger project to explore ways the voyage of the New Orleans impacted the United States.

Kohn served as coordinator of the National Endowment for the Humanities-Six States Humanities Councils award-winning Always A River: The Ohio River and the American Experience (1986-1992). She is editor for the University Press of Kentucky Ohio River Series; her books have been published by Indiana University Press, Scarecrow, McFarland, Garland, and Children’s presses, among others. She is senior writer for NUVO Newsweekly.

The paperback book costs $19.95 and is available from the IHS History Market.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Celebration of Indiana Fairs

In August 2005 Harold Lee Miller, a nationally known photographer with offices in Indianapolis and New York, started a series of photographs of 4-H participants at the poultry and rabbit barns of the Indiana State Fair. Over the past few years, Miller expanded his project to include people and activity from fairs held in Jackson, Elkhart, Dubois, Delaware, Washington, Owen, Monroe, Knox, Jay, and Marion counties. The photographs in the new Indiana Historical Society Press book Fair Culture: Images from Indiana Fairs, depict people and their horses, sheep, cows, as well as life on the midway and other activities associated with this Hoosier summer pastime.

In addition to Miller’s more than one hundred photographs, the book includes an essay by Gerald Waite exploring the history of fairs from the Middle Ages to modern times, the growth of the institution in Indiana, and what fair culture says about those who participate in this annual ritual of midwestern life. The book also features an introduction by noted Indiana author Philip Gulley.

As Miller notes in the book's preface, “The people in these images are special, in the way that all people are special. . . . Part of what I’m trying to accomplish is to show just how interesting and uncommon each of these individuals really is, whether they know it or not. Each and every human photographed in this book is now part of our recorded American history, and in a hundred years that generation will see our unique presence in a way that we can’t see it now—marvel at our clothes, our faces, and our humanity, and thank us for letting ourselves be living artifacts of our time.”

Miller is a photographer and artist who works in film and with digital cameras. The son of an army officer who traveled the world, Miller has worked as a magazine managing editor in New York, a newspaper reporter, and for the past fifteen years as an advertising photographer. His work has appeared in national publications and advertising campaigns.

Waite is an instructor in the anthropology department at Ball State University, where he received his master’s degree in 1994. His research interests include Vietnam and refugee resettlement; white missionaries on the Navajo reservation; cultural boundaries, exclusion and inclusion; and Midwest settlement, county fairs, and festivals. Waite’s writing has appeared in the Indiana Historical Society’s popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History.

Fair Culture costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

IHS Press Releases Poetry Collection

Edited by Jenny Kander and C. E. Greer, And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, features the work of 116 poets who live or who have lived in the state long enough to acquire a sense of the place. Recently released by the IHS Press, the book is the first collection of Indiana poetry to appear for more than a hundred years, with the last major anthology, Poets and Poetry of Indiana, published in 1900.

The list of poets in this volume include such notable figures from the past as James Whitcomb Riley, William Vaughn Moody, Jessayman West, and Marguerite Young, as well as such modern masters as Etheridge Knight, Mary Ellen Solt, Jared Carter, and Norbert Krapf. In addition, the book has a foreword, “An Extraordinary Legacy,” written by Roger Mitchell, former director of the creative writing program at Indiana University, where he held the Ruth Lilly Poetry Chair.

As Kander and Greer note in the book’s preface: “Our central criterion for selection was quality of the writing, and we chose those poems which cover the spectrum of experience in both place and time, in settings from city streets to wilderness tracks, covering the state from Goshen in the north to Floyd’s Knobs by the Ohio River, and from Gessie on the Illinois line to Cottage Grove a hundred and fifty miles east.”

Kander's poetry has appeared in Flying Island, California Quarterly, Bathtub Gin, Wind, Southern Indiana Review, and Shiver. Her chapbook Taboo was published by Finishing Line Press in 2004. She has compiled and edited two volumes of poetry, The Linen Weave of Bloomington Poets and Celebrating Seventy, both published under Wind’s logo.

Greer’s poems have appeared in Streets Magazine, Flying Island, Wind, and other publications. He has been active with the Bloomington Free Verse Poets, and he coedited, with Kander, Say This of Horses: A Selection of Poems published by the University of Iowa Press in 2007.

And Know This Place costs $24.94 and is available from the IHS's History Market.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beer Book Wins Gold in Contest

The Indiana Historical Society Press book Indiana: One Pint at a Time: A Traveler's Guide to Indiana's Breweries won gold, the top prize, in the travel guide category at ForeWord Reviews' 2010 Book of the Year Awards.

At a ceremony during the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans, the 215 Book of the Year Award winners in 60 categories were honored. These books, representing the best independently published books from 2010 were selected by a panel of librarian and bookseller judges.

Written by Douglas A. Wissing, Indiana: One Pint at a Time explores the history and living artisanal culture of the state's long, vibrant brewing tradition. Using regional, ethnic, and commercial lens, the text depicts the early-nineteenth-century origins of Indiana's commercial breweries, through the early-twentieth-century heyday when forty-one Hoosier breweries hustled beer, to the mid-twentieth-century consolidation and decline.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Interview with Stott Author

Lloyd Hunter is professor emeritus of history and American studies at Franklin College. While at Franklin, he founded and directed the American Studies Program and occupied the Roger D. Branigin Chair of History. His new IHS Press book, For Duty and Destiny: The Life and Civil War Diary of William Taylor Stott, Hoosier Soldier and Educator, explores the career of Stott, a native Hoosier and an 1861 graduate of Franklin College. Stott later became the president who took the college from virtual bankruptcy in 1872to its place as a leading liberal arts institution in Indiana by the turn of the century.

Hunter recently took some time to answer questions about his book.

Do you remember when you first became interested in telling William Stott's story?

My first awareness of William Taylor Stott occurred when I arrived on the Franklin College campus as a "rookie" assistant professor in the fall of 1978--thirty-three years ago! As I was moving into my office on the third floor of Old Main, I learned that the win I was in was 131 years old and that the center wing was called Stott Hall after the longest-term president of the college, William Taylor Stott.

Although my appointment was in the Philosophy and Religion Department, I was really an historian, with an M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in American studies. Right away, I wanted to find out about Franklin College's history and this man Stott. Over the years this led to a series of encounters with Stott in unforseen ways. In 1984, the college's sesquicentennial year, Professor of Music Sam Hicks and I were asked to write a musical drama based on the history of the school. We called it Jubilee III. I wrote the book, Sam composed original music, and the two of us collaborated on lyrics. All along the way, as I compiled the story, I ran into Stott throughout the entire nineteenth and early twentieth century chronicle of the college--a leading student, pioneering faculty member, and, of course, longtime president.

Then, in the 1990s, I joined the Johnson County living-history group, "Telling Our Story," and portrayed Dr. Stott. As Stott, I talked about being the president of Franklin and about having served in the Eighteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. I knew enought about Stott's wartime experience to share some of its highlights. But then, on an autumn day in 2001, John Erickson of the college's media relations department told me that he had a Civil War diary I might like to see. When I asked him whose it was, he said, "Dr. Stott's." Amazingly, he did not have to pick me up off the floor! The rest, as they say, is history. The Stott descendants threw their full support behind my efforts to prepare the diary for publication, and it was at that moment that I decided to tell the whole story of William Taylor Stott.

Was there anything about Stott that attracted you to his story?

In some respects, I have already answered that question, namely my interest in this man who played such a formative role in Franklin College's history for such a long time. But as I also discovered as I studied his wider influence, Stott played a prominent role in the growth of the Baptist Church and higher education in Indiana and the "West," as the Midwest was called in those days. Some of his endeavors even had national implications.

I also shared some personal characteristics with Stott that made his life particularly interesting to me. For one thing, like Stott, I am an ordained minister who served churches before shifting my ministry into higher education. I could identify with what I saw in Stott's teaching and administration as sort of pastoral presence. Stott was a Renaissance man with wide interests and teaching capabilities, and such has been my career.

There was a seriousness to Stott, but also a kind of playfulness to which I could groove. And, interestingly, in his last years Stott and his beloved Bel lived at 847 East Jefferson Street in Franklin, and there he died. I lived at 800 East Jefferson Street--many years later, of course--but I would sit on my front porch, look across the street at 847, and think fondly of Will Stott.

Were you surprised by anything you discovered about Stott?
Until I read the diary, I really did not get a full picture of Stott's personality. So his playfulness was a pleasant surprise, and the fact that he liked to play a few practical jokes. This may have been one of the reasons he tended to handle disciplinary matters with students with appropriate judiciousness, but at the same time a sense of understanding; in theological terms, he balanced law with grace.

I also did not know that Stott suffered the rest of his life from the illnesses he contracted during the war. While he was never injured during combat, despite being under heavy fire in multiple battles, the lingering effects of malaria, rheumatism, dysentery, and other ailments occasionally interfered with his work. There was also some pathos in his personal life that often saddened his later years.

How long did it take for you to write the book and what difficulties did you encounter, if any, during your research?

Basically, it took eight years, if you count from the time I heard about the diary. I began by reading the edited, typescript version that had been done by Stott's grandson in the 1940s, but I could not really begin until had the original handwritten manuscript by Stott himself, which the family gave to the Franklin College Library about a year later. My work, of course, was based on the original.

There was no way I could verify the diary information without visting the battlefields and other sites Stott mentioned. So in the fall of 2003 I received a sabbatical leave to travel to these places, supported by a travel grant from the college and funds from my Roger D. Branigin endowed chair. This allowed me to walk where Stott walked at Pea Ridge, Vicksburg, Cedar Creek, and other battle sites, and also to visit excellent research repositories along the way. It also gave me a chance to get stuck in the mud at Port Gibson, lock my keys in my car in pouring rain at Grand Gulf, and have my car hood and trunk lifted during a thorough search at the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks because Tom Ridge of Homeland Security would be there that day! Who said history research was dull? Of course, the biggest difficulty was the fact that teaching a full load at a small liberal arts college leaves little time for writing. So, actually, all my writing was done in retirement in Florida between 2005 and 2009.

How well is Stott remembered by Franklin College today?

Frankly, I'm probably the primary reason Stott is remembered at the college today--other than Stott Hall, that is. Even Stott Hall is recognized mostly as part of Old Main. No, Stott is largely ancient history. But I'm hoping that the book will help all of us connected with Franklin remember that, without William Taylor Stott, Franklin College would not be around today. It could well have ended in 1872.

Now, Stott would tell you that it was that handful of ardent believers in Johnson County that year who rallied around the dying school who made it all possible, but they had to find someone to take the helm, and that was Stott. He deserves to be remembered.

Are you working on another project?
Right now, I do not have another writing project in mind. I still have an interest in the Eighteenth and Seventieth Indiana Volunteers, but only because those two units happened to have Franklin College men in them, all of them classmates of Stott, by the way. But that is just an interest, not a writing plan.

I'm thorougly enjoying my retirement--on the links, in the pool, on the bicycle, with my wife and family. I'm also president of my homeowner's association board--a time consuming job I do not recommend, but one that has to be done. I still have a large library with many books I have not yet read. My goal is to read them and donate many to libraries, public and university. I also want to pursue my love of southern literature--Faulkner, Warren, Wolfe--and Russian literature--Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

IHS Press Author to Give Lunchtime Talk

Michael Peake, author of the IHS Press book Blood Shed in This War: Civil War Illustrations by Captain Adolph Metzner, 32nd Indiana, will discuss his research into Metzner’s stunning visual diary of sketches, drawings, and watercolors at a free lecture at noon, Tuesday, June 21, as part of the IHS Author Series at the Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Peake's book depicts Metzner's world during his three years of service with the First German, Thirty-second Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry campaigning in the Western Theater during the Civil War. Metzner chronicled the day-to-day life of a soldier’s world, at first with humor, and later, with a stark reality of life and death on the battlefield.

A resident of Corydon, Indiana, Peake is an author and historian specializing in Indiana German genealogy and history as related to the American Civil War. Since retiring from federal service in 1996, Peake has devoted his time to researching Union and Confederate German-American military organizations.

Blood Shed in This War costs $34.95 and is available from the IHS's History Market.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Beer Book Finalist in Franklin Awards

The IHS Press book Indiana: One Pint at a Time by Douglas A. Wissing is a finalist in the regional category of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s annual Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Named in honor of America's most cherished publisher/printer, the Benjamin Franklin Awards recognizes excellence in independent publishing. Publications, grouped by genre are judged on editorial and design merit by top practitioners in each field. The trophies are awarded to the best books in several categories and are presented to the publishers during a gala awards ceremony on the last evening of the Publishing University (just before the opening of Book Expo America).

The other finalists in the regional category are: California Home Landscaping (Creative Homeowner) and A Passion for Tarpon (Wild River Press).

The Benjamin Franklin 2011 Awards presentation ceremony will be held at the Jacob Javits Center, New York, on May 24, 2010.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

IHS Press Authors Honored

Two IHS Press authors received honors at the 32nd annual Society of Professional Journalists Best in Indiana Journalism Awards that were announced on Friday, April 22, at a gala awards banquet in Indianapolis. The awards, presented by the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, honored print and broadcast work from 2010.

Ray E. Boomhower, IHS Press senior editor, won first place in the personality profile magazine or special interest publication or periodical for his article in the fall 2010 issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History titled "The People's Choice: Indiana Congressman Jim Jontz." Also in that categroy, Jennifer Harrison received an honorable mention award for her article, also in the fall 2010 issue of Traces, titled "Naturalist Charlie Deam: Forestry and Conservation Pioneer."

Boomhower also received a third place award in the nonficition book category for his IHS Press publication Fighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu. Ted Evanoff and Abe Aamidor won first place in the book category for their work At the Crossroads: Middle America and the Battle to Save the Car Industry.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Interview with Supreme Court Justices Editors

Linda Gugin, emeriti professor of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair, professor of journalism at IU Southeast, have worked together on numerous books, including a biographies of Sherman Minton and Fred Vinson. Their newest project is the Indiana Historical Society Press book Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court. Gugin and St. Clair took time to answer questions about the book, which includes profiles of the one woman and 105 men who have served on the Indiana Supreme Court.

What prompted you to do a book on all the judges/justices of the Indiana Supreme Court?

After we finished editing the book The Governors of Indiana, we were looking for a new project. We considered doing a book on the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court but then discovered that a somewhat similar work had been published by the Court in the seventies. So we considered a book on U.S. Senators.

At the annual author fair at the Indiana Historical Society in December 2006, Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who wrote an essay in the governors book, asked us what our next project was. He told us he was very interested in having a book on the justices of the Supreme Court. And we confirmed that we could be very interested in editing such a book. He followed up with an email to us and in May of 2007 we met with the Chief Justice and his assistant Elizabeth Osborn to discuss the book. The Chief Justice pledged substantial financial support for the book and assistance in selecting authors.

How did you go about recruiting authors?

Chief Justice Shepard and Elizabeth Osborn were very helpful in our efforts to recruit authors. They identified authors for almost every justice based on their geographic closeness to the subject’s home region or because he or she previously wrote about the justice. The Chief Justice sent a letter in December 2007 to the tentatively identified authors asking their participation in the project. We followed up with letters in January 2008 proposing a subject or subjects for each author and asking them to confirm their willingness to contribute one or more essays.

About 70 percent of the people on the original list that the Chief Justice proposed agreed to participate. We recruited the remaining authors in a variety of ways, including asking colleagues at IU Southeast, inviting some authors who had contributed to the governors book, asking authors who could not participate to recommend someone else, and soliciting suggestions from logical sources in the same home region as the subject. In a few cases people with a strong interest in the subject contacted us to express their interest.

What surprised you most about the book?

LINDA: I was surprised at the strong impact of partisanship on the fates of the justices’ tenure in office and on the opinions they wrote. From 1852, until judicial reform was passed in 1970, justices ran for the office under partisan labels. The electoral success or failure of judicial candidates often depended on the fate of their party. If an election occurred in a banner year for the Republicans it meant that Republican candidates would win and Democratic candidates would lose. Many well qualified incumbent justices lost their seats on the Court because of the standing of their party, and some lesser qualified candidates gained seats for the same reason. Not surprisingly, the partisanship of elections often carried over into their decisions, particularly in cases that involved the powers of the governor or elections.

JIM: Several aspects of the formative years of the 19th century judges I found of particular interest, especially how so many of them, through sheer determination and hard work, rose from very humble beginnings to positions of prominence. The process of becoming lawyers during the early years of statehood was also intriguing. For many, the path to the legal profession came not through attending law schools but rather reading law with an attorney or judge in their community.

One judge, Alvin Hovey, studied law using the same volume of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law that Abraham Lincoln had used years earlier when he was preparing to enter the profession. It was also of great interest to read some of the issues that came before the Court early in its history, most likely not the kind of cases justices in later years had to decide. For example, the learned judges of yesteryear were asked to pass judgment on cases that involved stealing hogs, a father’s claim of seduction against the suitor of his unwed, adult daughter, and the legality of an establishment charging people to play billiards.

Do you have a favorite justice?

LINDA: There are so many justices from which to choose that it is hard to come up with one favorite. However James A. Emmert, the seventy-ninth justice, is one who comes to mind. He served from 1947 until 1959. He was one of the most colorful justices and a favorite of the Indianapolis press corps. Instead of commuting to his home in Shelbyville he slept in his office on a couch. Those who arrived early at the Statehouse would occasionally see him walking in an upper hallway in his bathrobe. He would also invite some of his newspaper buddies to his office for an afternoon “cup of tea,” which was bourbon and branch water served in china cups.

Emmert had a long running battle over the Court’s budget with a state legislator, the owner of several peony farms, who persuaded the legislature to replace the zinnia with the peony as the Indiana State Flower. Emmert refused to call the legislator by his name and instead referred to him as “that peony growing b-st-d.” Aside from his flamboyant personality, he was known for his intellect and integrity and for several of his opinions that protected individual rights.

There are many humorous stories in the book that will delight readers. One of my favorites is about a prominent New Albany lawyer who admitted he was a “pretty bad kid” growing up. When he was in high school, he stole a set of golf clubs from a fancy car he saw with the trunk open. He proceeded to hit all of the balls out if it and then tried to sell it. He was caught and put in jail. When he was released he was told that the clubs belonged to Dixon Prentice, then a prominent New Albany lawyer, and advised that he should go an apologize to him. Prentice rather than castigating him gave him fifty cents and told him to go get a haircut and not to “do this anymore.” Several years later, when the attorney was at the height of his profession, he was preparing for an oral argument before the Court. He looked up and saw Justice Prentice walk in with the other justices. The lawyer said his hands starting shaking” but that Prentice never brought it up or said anything to him about the incident. However, the lawyer said, “As I recall I lost that case.”

JIM: I especially enjoyed researching and writing about the life and career of Curtis Roll, who served on the Court for two six-year terms, from 1931 to 1943. He declined the opportunity to seek a third term and instead returned to private practice, not as a big bucks corporate attorney but as a small-town counselor handling such grassroots matters for clients as zoning changes, annexation, and board of health rulings. If he saw this work as any less important or less satisfying than his deliberations on the bench, he never expressed it as far I know. I was also impressed that he kept active until the end. In fact, on the evening he collapsed and died, Roll had been speaking during a business meeting at this longtime church.

I have vivid memories of other Supreme Court judges, two in particular because of how tragic their lives ended. Stephen Stevens, the state’s fifth Supreme Court judge, achieved great fame and wealth but a failed investment in a railroad venture not only cost him his fortune but also his sanity. He ended up a pauper in a state mental hospital, a fate somewhat softened by the kind gesture of fellow lawyers who, after learning he had little to wear, collected money to buy him a new suit. John Gillett, esteemed educator, scholar, and jurist, hanged himself after a series of calamities, including the death of his wife, his own failing health, and the decline of his beloved law school. Judge Timothy Howard penned a line to the president of Notre Dame when he sought to return to the faculty that I am especially fond of and reminds me that we were not always a “greed is good” society. As to his salary, Howard wrote, “You would not wish me to have too little & I should not want to have too much.”

Monday, April 04, 2011

Stott Civil War Diary Now Available

Written by Lloyd Hutner, For Duty and Destiny: The Life and Civil War Diary of William Taylor Stott, Hoosier Soldier and Educator, now available from the Indiana HIstorical Society Press, explores the career of Stott, a native Hoosier and an 1861 graduate of Franklin College. Stott later became the president who took the college from virtual bankruptcy in 1872 to its place as a leading liberal arts institution in Indiana by the turn of the century.

The story of Franklin College is the story of W. T. Stott, yet his influence was not confined to the school’s parameters. Stott was an inspirational and intellectual force in the Indiana Baptist community, and a foremost champion of small denominational colleges and of higher education in general. He also fought in the Eighteenth Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, rising from private to captain by 1863.

Stott’s diary reveals a soldier who was also a scholar in camp and on the march, one who took every available moment to read theology, philosophy, great literary works, the classics of ancient Greece and Rome, and a few novels. He was as familiar with Burns and Byron as he was with ramrods and knapsacks.

Hunter is professor emeritus of history and American studies at Franklin College. While at Franklin, he founded and directed the American Studies Program and occupied the Roger D. Branigin Chair of History. Hunter received recognition by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Advancement and Support of Education as the 2003 Outstanding Indiana Professor of the Year.

For Duty and Destiny costs $27.95 and is available from the IHS's History Market.

Civil War Author Wins Award

Author Gail Stephens has been named the recipient of the 2011 William Henry Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography by the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York for her Indiana Historical Society Press book Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War.

The Seward Award carries with it a $2,000 cash reward, as well as an expense-paid trip to New York City, where Stephens will receive the Seward Award, and make a presentation to the Civil War Forum's membership, on Wednesday, July 20, 2011.

Stephens is only the second person to receive the Seward Award. The first person was Joan Waugh for her work U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, published in 2010 by the University of North Carolina Press.

Stephens is a retired U.S. Department of Defense employee who serves as a volunteer at the Monocacy National Battlefield. She lectures on the Civil War, teaches courses at area colleges, and gives battlefield tours.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IHS Press Books Honored

Four IHS Press books have been named as finalists in ForeWord Magazine's annual Book of the Year Awards. The finalists and categories they are in are:

Fighter Pilot: The World War II Career of Alex Vraciu by Ray Boomhower, Juvenile, nonfiction

Nature's Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter by Barbara Morrow, Juvenile, nonfiction

Maria's Journey by Ramon Arredondo and Trisha (Hull) Arredondo, Regional

Indiana: One Pint at a Time by Douglas Wissing, Travel Guide

Winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers selected from ForeWord Magazine's readership. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for fiction and nonfiction will be announced at a special program at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans this June. The winners of the two Editor's Choice Prizes will be awarded $1,500 each and ForeWord’s Independent Publisher of the Year will also be announced. The ceremony is open to all ALA attendees and exhibiting publishers.

ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was created to spotlight distinctive books from independent publishers. What sets the awards apart from others is that final selections are made by real judges--working librarians and booksellers--based on their experiences with patrons and customers.

The magazine's awards process brings readers, librarians, and booksellers together to select their top categories as well as choose the winning titles. Their decisions are based on editorial excellence, professional production, originality of the narrative, author credentials relative to the book, and the value the book adds to its genre.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Indiana Supreme Court Justices Profiled

From its inception in 1816 until 2010, one woman and 105 men have been members of the Indiana Supreme Court. In Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court a multiauthor volume edited by Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair and featuring an introduction by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, authors explore the lives of each justice, unearthing not only standard biographical information but also personal stories that offer additional insight into their lives and times. The book was published by the IHS Press in cooperation with the Indiana Supreme Court.

In the early days of Indiana statehood, the men who served on the Court often learned their profession by studying in the office of a trained lawyer and began their career as judges by “riding the circuit.” Over the years, the Court has been home to an eclectic group of justices, including a novelist who attempted to have copies of his work destroyed because the “morals of the book were not suitable for the minds of young people,” a judge whose collection of court cases became known worldwide, two men who served on the Nuremberg proceedings trying Nazi war criminals, and a jurist whose hobbies included photographing the Indianapolis 500.

Today’s Court is quite different from the state’s first Supreme Court established when Indiana joined the Union as the nineteenth state. Through the years the Court has grown from three members to five and what had begun as an appointed body by the governor with “advice and consent” of the Indiana Senate became election of judges by voters thanks to the 1851 Indiana Constitution. In 1970 Hoosier voters approved an amendment to the constitution passed by the Indiana General Assembly that replaced partisan elections with a merit-based system of gubernatorial appointment checked with nonpartisan retention elections.

As the editors note, the 1970 amendment also altered the way the Court selected its chief justice. In its early years, Court members had the authority to pick a chief justice. Later, the position was rotated among the members by the district they represented. Thanks to the amendment, today a Judicial Nominating Commission elects the chief justice, now called the Chief Justice of Indiana, from among the sitting justices. Since 1970 only three men have served as Chief Justice of Indiana—Norman F. Arterburn (1972 to 1974), Richard M. Givan (1974 to 1987), and Randall T. Shepard (1987 to present).

Linda C. Gugin is an emeriti professor of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair is professor of journalism at IU Southeast. The two were coeditors of the Indiana Historical Society Press book The Governors of Indiana (2006), and cowrote the books Sherman Minton: New Deal Senator, Cold War Justice and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of Kentucky: A Political Biography.

The Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court costs $37.95 and is available from the IHS's History Market.

Interview with Gene Stratton-Porter Biographer

Barbara Olenyik Morrow is a journalist and author who has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial writing. She is the author of the new Indiana Historical Society Press youth biography Nature's Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter. Here she talks about writing a book on one of Indiana's most famous authors.

How did you get interested in the life of Gene Stratton-Porter?

In the early 1990s I began researching famous Hoosier authors and poets--research that led me to write From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie (Guild Press of Indiana, 1995). Of the five writers I profiled in that book, the sole woman was Gene Stratton-Porter, naturalist, nature writer, photographer, and one of the nation’s top-selling novelists in the early twentieth century.

As I delved into Stratton-Porter’s life story back then, I found her to be an extremely compelling figure. For starters, how could I not want to learn more about a middle-class wife and mother who slogged through snake-infested swamplands, waded into rivers, tramped about woods, and climbed trees to more closely observe birds and other wildlife? How could I not be fascinated by a self-taught naturalist who pinned cocoons close to her pillow at night so she would be awakened by the scraping of feet when moths emerged? And how could I not be intrigued by a brash young woman who gave her future husband fair warning: “I think differently from most people; so prepare to be shocked”?

When approached later to write this full-blown account of Stratton-Porter for the IHS Press’s youth biography series, I was pleased to resume my study of this adventuresome, ambitious and altogether appealing Hoosier. At the height of Stratton-Porter’s career, some people claimed she was as influential as President Theodore Roosevelt in igniting public interest in wildlife causes. For that reason alone, I think Hoosiers-–young and old-–owe it to themselves to learn what she had to say about preserving and conserving the nation’s natural resources.

What was the most important resource you used in writing about her life?

I relied heavily on Stratton-Porter’s writings-–her nonfiction books, her numerous magazine articles and columns, and essays she penned for miscellaneous publications, including her introductory essay to a friend’s book. She wrote at length about her childhood, and her descriptions of the family farm and her upbringing are highly detailed. Likewise, her descriptions of her field work are often riveting. I feel a bit queasy--and breathless--nearly every time I read about her trek through “steaming, fetid pools” to discover the baby vulture she eventually named “Little Chicken.”

My research also revealed that Stratton-Porter carefully guarded her privacy and was selective about what she shared for public consumption. To sort fact from fiction, I turned to newspaper accounts and other public records. To better assess her literary output, I read the many reviews written about her books. And to gain a fuller understanding of her personal life, I referred often to The Lady of the Limberlost: The Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter, a reminiscence by her only child Jeannette Porter Meehan.

In doing your research, was there anything that surprised you about her life?

She was extremely hard-working and all about action--rolling up her sleeves, moving about, and getting a job done. She hiked and fished, photographed and painted, oversaw the construction of four homes, started her own film production company, and crawled around on her knees, transplanting hundreds of wildflowers to her Sylvan Lake estate. I often wondered: When did she sit still? And how did she manage to write so many books and articles?

Hers was clearly a productive life. Yet she seems not to have set aside much time for reflection or introspection. I found that to be, if not surprising, rather interesting, given that writers’ thoughts often turn inward. When literary critics attacked her work--and they often did--her reaction typically was to lash back. Nowhere did I find her musing about whether the critics might be right or whether, stylistically, her writing could be improved.

Why do you think her writings were so popular during her lifetime?

She had a real gift for storytelling, and she instinctively knew how to entertain, adding enough plot twists and romance to her fiction to keep readers turning pages. She also preached traditional values, and at a time when America was undergoing dramatic change--namely, urbanization and industrialization--her writings appealed to readers feeling nostalgic for a simpler, more neighborly, less stressful way of life. Beyond that, her nature writings tapped into a wistfulness many Americans were beginning to feel. The nation’s farms were being abandoned and wildlife and wild places were being wiped out to make way for industry. In her writings, she led readers to a place where many had never been or where they wanted to return--to flowering meadows and clean-smelling woods and marshes alive with birdsong.

Do Stratton-Porter’s writings have anything to teach us today?

Yes. Her advocacy for protecting the environment is as timely today as it was a century ago. She understood--intuitively and from years of close contact with wildlife--that people must live in harmony with the natural world and that if we “madly and recklessly” chop down forests, dirty rivers, drain wetlands, destroy vegetation and allow animals to become extinct, we do so at our own peril. The planet is a gift. We are called--as she rightly said--to be nature’s good stewards.

What is your next project?

I always have lots of story ideas rattling around in my head. I love history, and I enjoy making historical figures more accessible to young readers. I haven’t committed to a specific project just yet, though I suspect I will soon. I encourage readers to visit my website for updates.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Youth Biography of Gene Stratton-Porter Released

As a young girl growing up in the 1860s on a Wabash County, Indiana, farm, Geneva Grace Stratton received a wondrous gift from her father, Mark, who had noticed his daughter’s love for nature and wildlife, especially the larks, cardinals, passenger pigeons, swallows, and hawks that flew overhead. He declared that all birds on the farm belonged to her, and she was to become their protector. “I was the friend and devoted champion of every bird that nested in the garden, on the fences, on the ground, in the bushes, in the dooryard, or in the orchard trees,” she noted years later.

From these early beginnings, Gene Stratton-Porter found a purpose for her life—sharing the outdoors with others through writing and photography and working to conserve nature for the generations to come. By the time she died at age sixty-one, Stratton-Porter was one of the country’s best-known authors, with a following of fifty million readers worldwide and with her novels and nature books selling hundreds of copies a day. Though never a favorite with literary critics, Stratton-Porter was beloved by ordinary Americans, as much for her storytelling skills and advocacy for wildlife as for her independent spirit. Often clad in manly clothes and toting a gun for protection as she trooped through swamps and forests, Stratton-Porter lived life on her own terms and, in the process, helped push back society’s boundaries for women.

Written by Barbara Olenyik Morrow, Nature’s Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter is the seventh volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s youth biography series. The book examines Stratton-Porter’s early life exploring the treacherous Limberlost Swamp in northeastern Indiana to her development as an enormously popular writer. Stratton-Porter used her popularity to campaign for conservation, and some claimed she was as influential as President Theodore Roosevelt in igniting public interest in wildlife causes. Prominent scholar and critic William Lyon Phelps observed that Stratton-Porter “led millions of boys and girls into the study of natural objects,” and he even called her “a public institution, like Yellowstone Park.”

Stratton-Porter continued to advocate for wildlife after her move to California, where she became one of Hollywood’s first female producers, turning her nature-themed novels into wholesome family movies. Upon her death from injuries in an automobile accident on December 6, 1924, she was widely mourned by fans of her many books, magazine columns, movies, and photography. She also was saluted by conservationists, grateful for her passionate pleas on behalf of the environment. In a tribute obituary, the Izaak Walton League, a national conservation organization, called on its members to “carry on in the cause for which she worked and in which she believed with every atom of her heart and soul.”

Morrow is a journalist and author who has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial writing. Her two children’s picture books, A Good Night for Freedom and Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo, have been praised by reviewers and garnered awards, including one from Friends of American Writers, an organization that honors emerging Midwestern authors. Morrow’s other books include From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie, in which she profiles five Hoosier writers during Indiana’s golden age of literature. Her first book, Those Cars of Auburn, highlights the rich automotive heritage of Auburn, Indiana, where she lives.

Nature's Storyteller costs $17.95 and is available from the IHS's History Market.