Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Cassell Wins Dunn Award

Frank A. Cassell of Sarasota, Florida, is the winner of the annual Jacob P. Dunn Jr. Award for the best article to appear in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. His article, "A Hoosier Love Story: The Courtship of Josie Chafee and Salem Hammond," appeared in the the magazine's spring 2012 issue.

In his article, Cassell explored the love affair between Chafee and Hammond of Petersburg, Indiana, in the hundreds of letters the two wrote one another. The letters also reveal details of everyday life in Petersburg during the turbulent decades between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

Cassell is emeritus professor of history and emeritus president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. He earned his bachelor's degree from Wabash College and his master's degree and doctorate from Northwestern University.

Named for the noted Indiana historian and author, the $500 award honors the article that in the opinion of the Traces editorial board and staff best serves the magazine’s mission. This mission involves presenting thoughtful, research-based articles on Indiana history in an attractive format to a broad audience of readers.

Dunn, who helped revitalize the Society in the 1880s, produced such standard works as the two-volume Greater Indianapolis (1910) and his five-volume Indiana and Indianans (1919). In his remarkable career, Dunn also worked on a variety of Indianapolis newspapers, campaigned to establish free public libraries, endeavored to preserve the language of the Miami Indians, and prospected for minerals in Haiti.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Annual Holiday Author Fair December 1

A host of IHS Press authors will be among the approximately 80 authors at the Indiana Historical Society's annual Holiday Author Fair from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis. The Author Fair is free with paid admission to the Indiana Experience and for IHS members. Those IHS Press authors at the event and their books are:

 * Ray E. Boomhower, The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana

* Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court

* M. Teresa Baer, Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants

* John A. Beineke, Going over all the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey (special appearance by Oatess Archey. The two men will discuss the book in a program at 2 p.m.)

* Rachel Berenson Perry, Paint and Canvas: A Life of T. C. Steele

* Rita Kohn, Full Steam Ahead: Reflections on the Impact of the First Steamboat on the Ohio River, 1811-2011

* David Thomas Murphy, Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre

* John C. Shively, Profiles in Survival: The Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines during World War II

Other notable Indiana authors scheduled to be at the Author Fair include Dan Wakefield, Dick Wolfsie, Nelson Price, Helen Frost, Mike Mullin, Rabbi Sandy Sasso, Norbert Krapf, Michael Martone, Barbara Shoup, David Hoppe, and James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom.

Gift wrapping (and caroling) will be provided by members of the Butler University Chorale.

The Author Fair is presented by Lorene Burkhart and an anonymous donor in memory of Margot Lacy Eccles.

Monday, October 29, 2012

IHS Press Author at Brown County Library

Rachel Perry, retired curator of fine arts at the Indiana State Museum and author of the IHS Press book Paint and Canvas: A Life of T. C. Steele, will lecture on Steele and the other Hoosier Group artists of Indiana at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 13, in the lower meeting room at the Brown County Public Library, 205 Locust Lane, Nashville, Indiana. The program is free and open to the public.

Featuring photographs and paintings by Indiana artists, the talk by Perry will also include a discussion of the original Indiana impressionists in the context of their times; their studies in Munich, Germany; their favorite landscape painting places in Indiana; and why these artists are important to us today.

Copies of Paint and Canvas will be available for sale. For more information, call the library at (812) 988-2850.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Interview with Jontz Biography Author

Ray E. Boomhower is senior editor with the Indiana Historical Society Press, where is is responsible for the quarterly popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Winner of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, Boomhower has written biographies of Civil War general and author Lew Wallace, famed Hoosier World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, astronaut Gus Grissom, suffragette and peace activist May Wright Sewall, and U.S. Navy ace Alex Vraciu. Here he answers questions about his new biography published by the IHS Press, The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana.

How did Jim Jontz come to your attention?

After graduating from Indiana University in 1982 with degrees in journalism and political science, I got a job as a reporter on the Rensselaer Republican, a daily newspaper in Jasper County, Indiana. Jontz served as a state representative in that area, and I came across him while reporting on a variety of stories, including a water crisis in the small community of Parr, Indiana.

My interactions with Jontz during my days at the Republican left me impressed with how hard he worked on behalf of his constituents and his dedication to understanding the complex issues facing government. Before meeting him, I had been inclined to agree with a quote by famed journalist H. L. Mencken that the "only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down." After dealing with Jontz on a variety of issues, my view of politicians changed for the better (it returned to Mencken's opinion in later years as I realized not every politician was like Jontz).

Jontz's services to the citizens of Indiana inspired me to write about his life and career in the pages of Traces magazine. My article on him appeared in the fall 2010 issue and provoked a positive response from his friends, relatives, and former staff members. Realizing there was more to be said, I worked with his mother, Polly Jontz Lennon, and his sister, Mary Lee Turk, to produce this biography.

Is there a moment during his lifetime that typifies Jontz's political life?

One anecdote immediately springs to mind told by Kathy Altman, a key member of his congressional staff. On the eve of Election Day in November 1974, Altman and her husband were driving back to their home in Monticello, Indiana, after a long day on the campaign trail working on behalf of a Democratic congressional candidate. They came upon Jontz, who himself was finishing up a long day campaigning for a seat in the Indiana House of Representatives. They offered him a ride, but he responded, "No, it's late, but there's a laundromat up there that's still open I think I'll hit before I quit for the night." The next day Jontz defeated his heavily favored GOP opponent by just two votes. ("One more vote than I needed to win," Jontz proclaimed after the election.) Jontz believed in working as hard as possible not only during a campaign, but afterwards on behalf of his constituents. He was the hardest-working man in politics.

Is there one issue in particular that Jontz focused on during his political career?

Jontz always seemed to be on the side of average, working people during his days in the Indiana legislature and as a congressman--working for the "public interest, not special interests," as he called it. His passion, however, was protecting the environment. Jontz first ran for office because of his interest in the environment, running for state representative to stop a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' dam/reservoir project on Big Pine Creek in Warren County, Indiana--an effort supported by powerful business interests in the state. As he noted, "I gave a damn about a dam." Due to the pressure exerted by Jontz and the citizens of the country, the project was abandoned. 

For years afterward, Jontz used this victory of average citizens against politically powerful foes as an important lesson to young and old alike "who see injustice and want to believe that you can make a difference--you can make a difference.

Ironically, the issue that had sparked his political career—the environment—became one of the issues that lead to Jontz’s defeat to his Republican challenger Steve Buyer in the 1992 general election. His stand against allowing private companies leases at below market value to cut logs from portions of national forest lands owned by the federal government so inflamed western carpenter unions—worried about losing their jobs if firms could no longer harvest the timber—that they traveled to Indiana to campaign against Jontz’s re-election. Still, he never regretted his stand.

Are you working on a new book?

I hope one day to do a biographer of another political-minded Hoosier, John Bartlow Martin. Martin was one of America's best freelance journalists in the 1950s, writing for such notable publications as the Saturday Evening Post, Harper's, and Collier's. "When I hit my stride," he once noted, "I was writing a million words a year." He turned from journalism to politics in the 1952 presidential election, working for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. From that point, he worked for every Democratic presidential candidate until his death in 1987. 

As a former reporter myself, and someone who has always been interested in politics, Martin is the perfect subject.

Interview with POW Book Author

John C. Shively (seen in the photograph at left on a visit to Tarawa) is a practicing physician with a longtime interest in World War II. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana. He is the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima, published by Indiana University Press in 2006. Here he answers questions about his new book from the IHS Press, Profiles in Survival: The Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines during World War II.

What inspired you to write about Indiana POWs of the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II?

A few years ago a colleague of mine mentioned that her uncle had been on the Bataan Death March. I told her that I would be interested in meeting him to hear about his experience. Over the course of the next couple of years I interviewed Bill Clark of Sullivan, Indiana, and wrote his story that served as the basis for the chapter about him in my book, Profiles in Survival.  I met Hugh Sims through another colleague and wrote about his experience. This served as the basis for the chapter about him. 

During my research about the fall of the Philippines, the Death March, and the POW experience I learned about other Hoosiers who had survived the war as POWs of the Japanese. The common thread through the descriptions of their experiences as POWs was their dogged determination to survive no matter what the Japanese did to them. After hearing and reading what they went through I decided that these stories needed to be preserved so that future generations would not forget that during some of the darkest days of World War II in the Pacific, when it seemed that their situation was hopeless, they refused to give up. They may have been ordered to surrender and lay down their arms and submit themselves as prisoners to the Japanese, but they did not surrender their humanity or their dignity. America may have seemingly forgotten them, but they did not waver in their love for and belief in America. They tenaciously held on to their ability to overcome their predicament and never lost faith in themselves or their cause. The Japanese beat and abused them, but they could not extinguish the flames that fuel the human spirit and the innate survival instinct. It is a lesson for us all. 
Have you always been interested in the Pacific theater of operations?

I have been interested in World War II since I was in high school, but it was not until I began talking with my Uncle Jim Craig about his experience in the battle of Iwo Jima that I began to narrow my interest to the Pacific theater. My interest in the Pacific theater was almost by default. Nearly all of the Hoosiers I have interviewed fought in the Pacific. World War II was a very complicated war. I thought it would be too much try to become an expert on both the European and the Pacific theaters. Early on, I remember making the conscious decision to limit my study to just the Pacific theater. Only until the last few years does it seems that it has gotten its due recognition that the European theater has enjoyed for many years. I don't pretend to understand the reasons for this apparent bias toward the European theater. But, to me the Pacific war is far more interesting and dramatic. 

Is there one portion of the POWs story that had the greatest effect on you while you were writing the book?

The one part of the POW experience that most moved me was the sheer brutality and disregard for human life and suffering perpetrated by the Japanese guards on their American and Filipino captives. This was most vividly demonstrated during the immediate post-surrender period and more graphically during the Bataan Death March. After the surrender, the POWs were subjected to the most humiliating and degrading treatment even before the Death March began. The treatment of defenseless POWs during the Death March defies understanding and comprehension. Along the Death March route, Japanese guards routinely murdered prisoners for the most trifling offenses or for mere sport. They had absolutely no regard for the pain and suffering of their captives. And, this brutal treatment was not limited to American and Filipino combatants.  Philippine civilians caught throwing food to the prisoners or otherwise demonstrating solidarity with them were singled out by the Japanese guards and routinely beaten, raped, and murdered. It was very disturbing to hear and read about these events, but I included them in the book without withholding any details. I thought it necessary to set the unvarnished record straight.
How did these POWs survive the horrible treatment they received during their captivity?

This is a very good question and one I am not entirely sure I have an adequate answer to. Given what I have heard from ex-POWs and an understanding of the conditions in the camps and aboard the hellships, the brutal and inhumane treatment by the guards, the rampant disease, both infectious and nutritional, in the camps, and the psychological trauma brought on by a sense of utter hopelessness and despondency that the prisoners experienced, I don't see how any of them survived. I think most people subjected to these conditions for any length of time would have given up and just crawled into a hole to die as a way to end their misery. Some in the camps did, but many did not. What personality traits separated those who would survive from those who gave up and died? There had to be something else that some had that others did not.

I got to know quite well two ex-POWs having spent much time with them over the years. Both are now deceased, but while I knew them I had a chance to look into their psyches. Both were obstinate, bullheaded, and stubborn almost to a fault. I believe it was these traits that saw them through the most trying time in their lives and allowed them to survive nearly three years as POWs. In some cases such as on the hellships, an unquestionable degree of luck was important. But, it took more than luck to survive three years of hell under the Japanese. It is my conviction that the only way these two ex-POWs would not survive the war was if the Japanese simply murdered them. They made up their minds early during their captivity that they were going to survive. I think this kind of an attitude was essential to surviving. 

Do you have another book project in mind?

Yes, I have a couple ides for another book. I know another ex-POW who has a compelling story about his experience in the war. He survived the Death March and was in Camp Cabanatuan when it was liberated by 6th Rangers on January 30, 1945. I also have interviewed two principle participants who played pivotal roles in the success of the raid to liberate the POWs in the camp. I would like to write a book that would include the POW story, and the stories of these two other warriors' experiences in the war that ultimately brought these three together in the climactic raid on Cabanatuan. One of these was a Ranger who planned and led the raid. The other one was an Alamo Scouts who reconnoitered the camp the day before the raid to gather intelligence about the Japanese disposition in the camp. This intelligence was invaluable to the Rangers in their final plans for the raid. Little is known of the Rangers and the Alamo Scouts and their contribution to the war effort in the Pacific other than the raid on the camp. The book I have in mind would include all three of these stories. They would be told separately until the night of January 30, 1945, when they converge at Camp Cabanatuan for the liberation of the camp.

The other idea is for a book about a general history of the Pacific war that would include the stories I have collected over the past ten years from interviewing Hoosier vets of the war. I plan to insert these stories into the various chapters about the war that cover the iconic battles in which these Hoosiers participated. In this way, the reader would learn about the war in broad strokes, but would also learn about it from the personal perspective by those who fought it. I think this is a more compelling and interesting way to learn history  It might well serve as a textbook for young Hoosier students who want to learn more about not only the war, but about the contribution to the war effort by Hoosiers who went before them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Biography of Indiana Congressman Published

On the eve of Election Day in November 1974, a lonely figure trudged down the road in Monticello, Indiana. Jim Jontz, a young, first-time candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives, was finishing up a long day of campaigning. Offered a ride by a local Democratic Party volunteer at whose house he had been staying, Jontz answered: “No, it’s late, but there’s a laundromat up there that’s still open I think I’ll go hit before I quit for the night.”

The next day Jontz, a twenty-two-year-old Indiana University graduate with an unpaid job as a caretaker for a local nature preserve, defeated his heavily favored Republican opponent, John M. “Jack” Guy, Indiana House Majority Leader by a razor-thin two-vote margin. “One more vote than I needed to win!” he later exclaimed. The unexpected result stunned election officials, with one deputy clerk in Warren County marveling, “I never before realized just how important that one vote can be.”

Written by award-winning author Ray E. Boomhower, The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana, is the first-ever biography of Jontz. The book examines his remarkable long shot political career and lifetime involvement in local, state, and national environmental issues. As a liberal Democrat (he preferred the terms progressive or populist) usually running in conservative districts, Jontz had political pundits predicting his defeat in every election only to see him celebrating another victory with his happy supporters, always clad in a scruffy plaid jacket with a hood from high school that he wore for good luck. “I always hope for the best and fight for the worst,” said Jontz. He won five terms as state representative for the Twentieth District (Benton, Newton, Warren, and White Counties), served two years in the Indiana Senate, and captured three terms in the U.S. Congress representing the sprawling Fifth Congressional District in northwestern Indiana that stretched from Lake County in the north to Grant County in the south. Jontz told a reporter that his political career had always “been based on my willingness and role as a spokesman for the average citizen.”

From his first campaign for elective office until his death from colon cancer in 2007, Jontz had an abiding passion for protecting the environment. A dam project that threatened to destroy the scenic Fall Creek Gorge area in Warren County inspired Jontz to enter the political fray, and he continued his conservation efforts in Washington, D.C., sponsoring legislation to help protect old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest—an attempt that made him a hero to many environmentalists, but enraged timber-industry supporters and fellow congressmen. Although it might sound too grandiose to say that Jontz wanted to save the planet, his former wife, Elaine Caldwell Emmi, noted “that was his ultimate goal, to be a spokesman for those that couldn’t speak—the trees, the animals, the air, the water.”
Boomhower is senior editor with the Indiana Historical Society Press, where he edits the quarterly popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. His previous books have included biographies of author and Civil War general Lew Wallace, famed Hoosier war correspondent Ernie Pyle, suffragette and peace activist May Wright Sewall, World War II photographer John A. Bushemi, astronaut Gus Grissom, and U.S. Navy ace Alex Vraciu.

The People's Choice costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS Basile History Market, http://shop.indianahistory.org

Book Examines POWs during World War II

The stories of seven men and one woman from Indiana who survived the horrors of captivity under the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II are captured in vivid detail by author John Shively in his book Profiles in Survival: The Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines during World War II. These Hoosiers stationed in the Philippines were ordered to surrender following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. It was the largest surrender of American armed forces in U.S. history. For many, it was the beginning of three years of hell starting with the infamous Bataan Death March, facing brutal conditions in POW camps in the Philippines, and horrific journeys to Japan for some onboard what came to be known as “hellships.”
Former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb, one of those featured in the book, notes that the American prisoners had to endure “unimaginable misery and brutality at the hands of sadistic Japanese guards,” as they were routinely beaten and many were executed for the most minor offenses, or for mere sport. Shively, said Whitcomb, has “done a masterful job of recounting the realities of life as a Japanese prisoner. These poignant stories attest to the innate enduring human struggle and drive to survive, tenacity in the face of adversity, and the dogged determination and unwillingness to give up when all seemed lost and hopeless.”
In addition to Whitcomb, those profiled include Irvin Alexander, Harry Brown, William Clark, James Duckworth, Eleanor Garen, Melvin McCoy, and Hugh Sims.

Shively is a practicing physician with a longtime interest in World War II. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana. He is the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima, published by Indiana University Press in 2006.

Profiles in Survival costs $27.95 and is available from the  IHS Basile History Market, http://shop.indiananhistory.org

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview with Robert Wise Author

Wes D. Gehring is a professor of film at Ball State University and an associated media editor for USA Today Magazine, for which he also writes the column “Reel World.” The award-winning author of twenty-eight books, Gehring has written biographies of such screen legends as Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Red Skelton. Here he answers some questions about his new biography of Hoosier film director Robert Wise:

What drew you to write about Wise?
I was drawn to Wise because of his neglect as an auteur. He was always getting the left-handed compliment of being a "craftsman," but somehow critics missed his consistent themes & character types. Also, he is fascinating because he made classic films in multiple genres.

How important were Wise’s Indiana roots to his subsequent career in films?
Of all the Hoosiers in Hollywood I've written about, other than Red Skelton, his Hoosier/depression era roots were most central to Wise's film career.

Is there one element that makes Wise’s films immediately identifiable to film fans?
The key element of a Wise picture is his passion for painful stories about the disenfranchised, exasperated by age, gender, and/or racial prejudice.

What is your favorite Wise film?
My favorite Wise film varies between The Set-Up and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Book Explores Life of Hollywood Director

Born in Winchester, Indiana, Robert Wise spent much of his youth sitting in darkened movie theaters enthralled by the swashbuckling heroics of screen legend Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Through these viewings, Wise developed a passion for film—-a passion he followed for the rest of his life, making movies in Hollywood.

In the new IHS Press biography Robert Wise: Shadowlands, nationally known film historian Wes D. Gehring explores Wise’s life from his days in the Hoosier State to the beginning of his movie career at RKO studios working as the editor of Orson Welles’s classic movie Citizen Kane. Wise is best known for producing and directing two of the most memorable movie musicals in cinema history, West Side Story (co-director Jerome Robbins) and The Sound of Music, for which he won four Academy Awards—two Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. But, as Gehring notes, other than Howard Hawks, Wise was arguably Hollywood’s most versatile director of various celebrated genre films. For example, his roots in horror go back to a tutelage under the great producer Val Lewton, with Wise directing Boris Karloff’s chilling The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton. Years late Wise brilliantly adapted a Shirley Jackson novel as a homage to Lewton, The Haunting (1963). No less a horror aficionado than Stephen King later gave both Jackson’s novel (originally entitled The Haunting of Hill House) and the film his highest praise in his nonfiction study of horror, Danse Macabre.

In an American Film Institute seminar in 1980 Wise told students, “People ask me, do I prefer to do musicals to drama or comedy? I like them all. If it’s good, exciting, gripping, original material, that’s what’s important, what counts.” Wise died on September 14, 2005, four days after his ninety-first birthday.

Gehring is a professor of film at Ball State University and an associated media editor for USA Today Magazine, for which he also writes the column “Reel World.” The award-winning author of twenty-eight books, Gehring has written biographies of such screen legends as Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Red Skelton.

Robert Wise: Shadowlands costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

IHS Press Author at Indiana State Fair

As official Artist in Residence of the Indiana State Fair, award-winning photographer Harold Lee Miller’s images will be on public exhibit throughout the fair, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. August 3-19 in the Normandy Barn. The photos are from Miller’s recent IHS Press book Fair Culture: Images from Indiana Fairs.

Miller, an Indianapolis-based fine art and advertising photographer, will host an open house from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, August 4, at the exhibit, during which he will sign copies of the book.

Miller started working on a project to document the culture of Indiana fairs in August 2005 with a series of photographs of 4-H participants at the state fair Poultry and Rabbit Barn. Over the next few years he photographed county fairs throughout Indiana. In addition to the photographs, the book includes an essay by Gerald Waite, anthropologist and Ball State University instructor, that explores the history of fairs from the Middle Ages to modern times.

“I thought I was documenting a declining culture,” Miller said, “but I discovered it wasn’t declining at all. Indiana’s fairs are very healthy, and they offer us a fascinating look at who we are and where we come from.

“I wanted to present the people who are part of this culture as their own sort of personal exhibit, focusing on them in a documentational style that doesn’t romanticize, but records their dignity and humanity in a way we don’t often contemplate. Each photograph contains a deep archive of their personality and their time in history.”

Images from Miller’s book illustrate the Indiana State Fair’s website and are featured in the fair’s 2012 advertisements and commercials.

Miller will close his artist-in-residency with an exhibit from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 at his downtown studio, 646 Virginia Ave.

Copies of the book are available through the IHS Basile History Market.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Booklet Examines Indianapolis Immigration

Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants, now available from the IHS Press, tells the story of people from around the world who chose Indiana’s capital for their home.

Written by M. Teresa Baer, IHS Press managing editor of family history publications, the booklet opens with the Delaware Indians who lived in the area until they moved west in 1818. White Protestants whose ancestors hailed from England, Wales, Scotland, and northern Ireland quickly replaced the natives and were followed by poor Irish Catholics, who came to build canals and railroads. Numerous Germanic people arrived during the mid-nineteenth century, including Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. African American indentured servants and free blacks also helped to create and develop Indianapolis. After the Civil War, southern blacks poured into the city.

At the end of the nineteenth century, thousands of eastern and southern Europeans, fleeing war and political unrest, also landed in Indianapolis. American anti-immigration laws slowed immigration until World War II. From that point, Indianapolis welcomed students and professionals from Asia and the Middle East, bringing religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism to the city. It also became a refuge for immigrants from war-torn countries such as Vietnam and poor countries such as Mexico. Today, the city’s Hispanic, Indian, and Asian populations are growing rapidly. Together with the older established groups and incoming Americans—including numerous Native Americans—Indianapolis is more diverse and culturally rich than ever before.

Baer publishes The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections magazine, online publications, and family history and children’s books, including immigration and ethnic histories. Baer compiled the award-winning book Finding Indiana Ancestors, and she has authored magazine articles and book chapters on both genealogical and historical topics.

Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants costs $11.99 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fair, Poetry Books Selected as Award Finalists

Two IHS Press books, Fair Culture: Images from Indiana Fairs and And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana have been named as finalists in the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Awards sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Fair Culture, which features the work of Indiana photographer Harold Lee Miller, is a finalist in the Art/Photography category. Edited by Jenny Kander and C. E. Greer, And Know this Place is a finalist in the Poetry/Literary Criticism category.

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. Winners will be chosen from one of the three finalists and will receive the Benjamin Franklin Award during a ceremony on Monday evening, June 4, 2012, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Biography of Herman B Wells Released

Energetic, shrewd, and charming, Herman B Wells was the driving force behind the transformation of Indiana University--which became a model for American public higher education in the twentieth century. A person of unusual sensitivity and a skilled and empathetic communicator, his character and vision shaped the structure, ethos, and spirit of the institution in countless ways.Wells life is explored in the new biography Herman B Wells: The Promise of the American University, written by James H. Capshew and copublished by the IU Press and IHS Press.

Wells articulated a persuasive vision of the place of the university in the modern world. Under his leadership, IU would grow in size and stature, establishing strong connections to the state, the nation, and the world. His dedication to the arts, to academic freedom, and to international education remained hallmarks of his sixty-three-year tenure as president and university chancellor. Wells lavished particular attention on the flagship campus at Bloomington, expanding its footprint tenfold in size and maintaining its woodland landscape as new buildings and facilities were constructed. Gracefully aging in place, he became a beloved paterfamilias to the IU clan. Wells built an institution, and, in the process, became one himself.

Capshew serves on the faculty of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at IU Bloomington. He is author of Psychologists on the March: Science, Practice, and Professional Identity in America, 1929–1969 as well as numerous scholarly articles, and has served as editor of the journal History of Psychology and as editor for psychology for the New Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

Herman B Wells costs $35 and is available through IU Press by calling 1-800-842-6796.

Monday, April 02, 2012

IHS Press Book Nominated for Award

The Indiana Historical Society Press book Fair Culture: Images from Indiana Fairs by Harold Lee Miller, with text by Gerald E. Waite, is a finalist in the photography category in ForeWord Review’s annual Book of the Year Contest.

Awards were established to bring increased attention to librarians and booksellers of the literary and graphic achievements of independent publishers and their authors. ForeWord is the only review trade journal devoted exclusively to books from independent houses.

First, second, and third place winners will be awarded in each category. A $1,500 cash prize will also be awarded to Best Fiction and Best Nonfiction as determined by the editors of ForeWord Reviews. Winners in each category and overall fiction and nonfiction prize winners will be announced at the American Library Association annual conference and on ForeWord Review’s website in June of 2012.

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. 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.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview with T.C. Steele Author

Rachel Berenson Perry is the former fines arts curator at the Indiana State Museum. In addition to organizaing art exhibitions at the ISM, she is the author of numerous articles for such publications as the American Art Review, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Outdoor Indiana, and Southwest Art Magazine. Her new IHS Press book Paint and Canvas: A Life of T.C. Steele, examines the career of the famous Hoosier Group artist. Here she answers some questions about her own life and what drew her to write about Steele.

How did you get interested in art?

Like almost any child, I used to draw. I took studio drawing classes while in high school and created various occasional art projects after going out into the world. My interest in art and art history was rekindled when I began to work at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site in 1985.

Had you heard of or known about T.C. Steele before you started work at the House of the Singing Winds in Brown County?

Yes. I visited Steele's Brown County home and studio in the 1960s, before it became more regularly open to the public.

Can you remember the oddest or strangest question you received from a visitor during your time at the historic site?

An illustration of how some people take for granted that the world has always been what they now know is a question one young man asked when I was giving a tour of Steele's studio. He looked at the paintings and asked why Steele had never painted the Monroe Reservoir (which was built in the early 1960s; Steele died in 1926).

In your opinion, just how good an artist was Steele?

There are a myriad of good artists historically and today. Steele was one of the first artists to study abroad, and then return to Indiana to paint our state's subtle landscape. Some say that, if he'd re-located to New York (as did William Merritt Chase), he would have become more nationally known and made a better living. I think some of Steele's best landscapes are as good as any American impressionist painter's.

In doing your research on Steele’s life, did anything you find surprise you?

I think the thing that surprises most people today is how difficult it was for Steele to make ends meet financially. They think that, because his paintings sell for several thousand dollars today, he must have been a rich man.

During my research, the thing that most surprised and delighted me was finding Steele's inked palm prints that were made when he had his fortune told by Nellie Simmons Meier in Indianapolis.

Do you have a favorite Steele painting?

Im drawn to some of the landscapes that he painted in Munich, and one of my favorites is The Birches, a small painting of many vertical tree trunks in muted grays and browns.

What is your next project?

I'm currently working on a biography of Steele's compatriot, William Forsyth, to be published by Indiana University Press in 2013. The Indiana Historical Society holds a large archive of his personal letters that were donated by his granddaughter, Susan Forsyth Selby Sklar.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Biography of T.C. Steele Available

At the age of fourteen, a young man in Waveland, Indiana, had taken over the family farm after the death of his father. Now responsible for taking care of his widowed motehr and supporting his four brothers, he took up the reins on the plow to begin preparing the field for planting.

Family legend has it that the young farmer, Theodore Clement Steele, tied "colored ribbons to the handles of the plow so that he could watch the ribbons in the wind and the effect they had on the [surrounding] colors." Recognizing Steele's passion for art, his mother supported his choice to make his living as an artist.

Written by author and art historian Rachel Berenson Perry, Paint and Canvas: A Life of T.C. Steele, the eighth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press's youth biography series, traces the path of Steele's career as an artist from his early studies in Germany to his determination to paint what he knew best, the Indiana landscape. Steele, along with fellow artists William Forsyth, Otto Stark, Richard Gruelle, and J. Ottis Adams, became a member of the renowned Hoosier Group and became a leader in the development of midwestern art. In addition to creating artwork, Steele wrote and gave lectures, served on numerous art juries to select paintings and prizes for national and international exhibitions, and helped organize pioneering art associations and societies.

Though know today primarily for his landscapes, Steele was an accomplished and sought after portrait artist. By the time of his death, he had painted many of Indiana's most prominent citizens, including President Benjamin Harrison, Vice President Charles Fairbanks, Colonel Eli Lilly, James Whitcomb Riley, Catherine Merrill, William Lowe Bryan, and Lyman S. Ayres, among others.

In 1907 Steele and his second wife, Selma Neubacher, moved to Brown County, where they built their home, dubbed the House of the Singing Winds for the aural treats produced as the wind blew through the wires of the screened porches surrounding the house. From 1907 to 1921 the Steeles spent the spring season at their Brown County property and wintered in Indianapolis. In 1922 Steele became artist in residence and an honorary professor at Indiana University.

While working on a painting of a peony arrangement at his Brown County home in May 1926, Steele fell seriously ill. After a trip to a clinic in Terre Haute failed to offer any relief, the Steeles returned to their home on the hill on the Fourth of July. The painted died at eight o'clock in the evening on July 24, 1926. For comfort, Selma recalled something her husband had once said to her during a time of sorrow: "Don't you know there are some things one cannot reason out?"

Perry is the former fines arts curator at the Indiana State Museum. In addition to organizaing art exhibitions at the ISM, she is the author of numerous articles for such publications as the American Art Review, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Outdoor Indiana, and Southwest Art Magazine. Her books include Children from the Hills: The Life and Work of Ada Walter Schulz (1998) and T.C. Steele and the Society of Western Artists, 1896-1914 (2009).

Paint and Canvas is a hardback book and costs $17.95. The book is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.