Fall 2018: From the Desk of the Curator

December 6, 2018

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the summer and fall at the GBL it would be FIRST.  Librarian Kelsey Grimm and Collections Manager, Jennifer St. Germain officially joined our staff in July, growing our professional staff for the first time by two!  We installed a new exhibit in our main gallery, a first for the present staff.  In partnership with IU Themester 2018, Animal-Spirit-Human, opened in October, followed by two related programming events in early November.  We are excited about the exhibit and the improvements it brought to the Mentoria Headdy Hall.

In early fall we learned that the Save America’s Treasures grant proposal we submitted over the winter was selected for funding.  Curating Angel Mounds Legacy Collection was one of only seven Museum Collection grants awarded by the NPS through an interagency agreement with the IMLS.  This is an important first for GBL, and Angel Mounds.  For the FIRST time since arriving on the IU campus in the late 1960s, the grant will allow the Angel Mounds legacy collection, (1939-1983), to be organized and housed in archival-quality containers.  Rehousing the collection is a first step in its eventual transfer to the new ALF 3 collections facility on the IUB campus.  The Curating Angel project will also organize the associated excavation records, create a complete digitized catalogue of the 1939-1983 images, reorganize the research collections, and no doubt spawn many new collections-based research projects.  We are excited to embark on this important FIRST!

In addition to these important firsts, we were also busy hosting researchers including some familiar to the GBL, former Curator of Collections, Dru McGill, and other Southeastern and Midwestern archaeologists David Dye, Paul Welch, Cheryl Munson, Ed Herrmann, and Cheryl Claassen. These researchers took an interest in the whole pot collection, state site files, Angel Mounds and other late pre-contact collections, and materials analysis laboratory. We also provided images from the 1974 Prairie Creek Field School to the Daviess County Museum, for a new exhibit and we are currently collaborating with the Indiana Historical Society on the You Are There 1939: Exploring Angel Mounds exhibit, planned for a spring 2019 opening. It is exciting to see all of this interest in GBL collections and facilities!

 

 

 

Melody Pope, Curator

“Angel Mounds” in Indiana newspaper articles, Update 1: First Half of the 20th Century (1923-1959)

November 8, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

The Project

For the past 3 weeks I have been searching IU Library’s Newspaper Archive resource for mentions of Angel Mounds archaeological site in Indiana newspapers following the site’s discovery early in the 20th century. The first article I found was from 1923, in the Evansville Crescent. This earliest mention is the only one from the ’20s, and the city the newspaper was from makes sense as Angel is located near Evansville. The short article is titled “Geology Class Explorers,” and briefly details a class trip to Angel, ‘six mounds that shed light on pre-historical America.’

The Newspaper Archive allows me to sort the remaining search results by decade, showing that there were  three mentions of Angel in the ’30s, all from 1938, the year the 400 acres of land Angel sits on was purchased by the Indiana Historical Society; 32 from the ’40s, illustrating the co-evolution of the public’s interest in the pre-history of Indiana that could be revealed by Glenn Black’s excavations and the state’s interest in and financial support of Angel Mounds’ development as a state park and historical monument; 42 from the ’50s which describe society meetings featuring guest lecturers (including Glenn A Black) and documentary screenings about the Angel excavation at local primary and secondary schools, weekend historical tours—free and open to the public—of Angel and other state monuments and important sites, IU field schools, and plans to consider Angel for national monument status.

Short summaries of each article’s focus are recorded in an Excel document along with the date, year, and city of publication, the title of article, and the newspaper in which it appeared.

Greensburg Daily News, 1941
Tipton Tribune, 1946
Highlights

1) Greensburg, 1941: “Angel Mounds of Evansville of Interest”

This article was of interest to me because it was the first mention I found describing an interaction between Indiana University and Angel Mounds/Glenn A. Black: that Black lectured at Alumni Hall in April 1941. I found the article in the Greensburg Daily News, and provides a lot of information about the early phases of the discovery of Angel Mounds, its purchase (including land formerly part of a farm owned by the Angel family, the site’s namesake), and excavation.

2) Tipton, 1946: “Round Town With The Tribune”

This is my favorite article so far: a column in an issue of the Tipton Tribune published just over a year after V-E Day includes a suggestion for a new veteran’s rehabilitation program from Glenn Black: participation in the Angel excavation. According to the article, Black had said that such a program would entail “light work…would get the men out of doors and give them something to think about besides themselves.”

3) Seymour, 1949: “Junior Red Cross Here Completes Book on Hoosierana For Chileans”

I think this one is so sweet: the Junior Red Cross chapter at a local high school had received a book about life in Chile/South America from a Chilean high school. They were working on compiling their own scrapbook-style guide to Seymour, IN/the Hoosier state in general to send to the Chilean students with the “goodwill ambassador” who would be traveling to visit the high school in the coming months.  The Seymour students included Angel Mounds among “drawings of famous historical objects” highlighted in the book.

4) Terre Haute, 1950: “Kiwanis Club Observes National Newspaper Week, Speaker Tells Wonders of Southern Indiana”

This last article is especially interesting in the context of the current climate regarding the media. A professor of journalism and then director of communications at IU, Mr. Laurence Wheeler, came to speak at a meeting of the Kiwanis Club about the important services that newspapers provide. He gave a ‘verbal column’ on the important history of Southern Indiana as an example of the kind of information that could be shared most effectively in newspaper form.

Community life: the Midwest of the early 20th century

Hoosier Historical Institutes Series

Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions—ranging from a few days to several weeks long—were attended by school teachers, professors, married couples, and other interested community members from towns across the state. The inaugural series were put on by the Indiana Historical Society, but before long other community groups and historical societies organized their own smaller versions of the institutes: weekend tours and field trips led by historians, archaeologists, and other lecturers and lay enthusiasts.

Planning an Exhibit

November 27, 2018

Planning an exhibit takes a lot of time and energy on the part of all involved. During the process of putting up our new exhibit, “Animal~Spirit~Human,” we created a to-do list to make sure we checked all the boxes and put up an exhibit we were proud of.

Here’s a condensed version of that list:

1. Generate Theme

Our exhibit followed this semester’s Themester theme of animal-human relationships. “Animal~Spirit~Human” follows that theme by investigating the role of animals in sustaining and inspiring past and present Native people of the Eastern Woodlands. Once we had our theme in mind, we were able to create a uniform aesthetic to make sure all of the cases matched. This entailed picking fonts and a color scheme, and determining what size each of the different labels should be, to make sure all exhibit goers could easily read them.

2. Select Artifacts/Prepare Condition Reports

With that theme in mind, we were able to get an idea of what artifacts to include. Each case plays a different role in telling the story of animal-human relationships. The cases on the north wall of the gallery hall serve as an introduction to the exhibit. The east wall examines a worldview in terms of different spheres, such as air and water. The south wall compares pre- and post-European contact animal populations. And the west wall is dedicated to examining animal-human relations at Angel Mounds.

An example of an artifact photo, this one of an owl effigy pot (18-170-0).

This means each wall’s theme determines the contents of its cases, allowing us to get an idea of what artifacts would best explain and exemplify the theme. Once we selected the artifacts, we photographed them and wrote condition reports. These detail the current condition of the artifacts by noting breakage, cracks, and repairs. They allow us to keep track of where the artifact is and why it was removed from the collections. When we take the exhibit down, we’ll do another round of condition reports to see if anything changed.

3. Prepare Exhibit Cases

Repainting the exhibit cases took GBL staff several days of after-hours work.

Putting in a new exhibit required us to take out the old, Containing Knowledge: Ceramics at the GBL.” After doing the follow-up photos and condition reports, we returned the artifacts to our collections. Once we removed the old display blocks and the cases were empty, we spent several days cleaning and repainting them. This brightened the exhibit space and made the gallery look more inviting. Many artifacts are unable to stand on their own, so it was necessary to create mounts for them. We carved mounts out of foam and other materials on which to display them. The foam mounts were covered with a layer of fabric in between the material and the artifact, for both the safety of the artifact and to provide a contrasting background.

4. Research Collections and Write Text

Now it was time to write the text and select relevant images. Each case has four categories of labels: the Title (A), the Subheader (B), the Body Text (C), and the Artifact ID Labels (D). Defining the terminology of labels early on can prevent confusion later in the process, and make it easier to visualize the layout of the case before anything actually goes up. To write descriptions of the artifacts and their relevance to the theme, we utilize the collections and the resources in our library and archives.

5. Print Text/Images and Cut to Size

It took several hours to print each label, in addition to the time dedicated to trim and place them.

The next step was to print the text and images. This is a very time-consuming process, due to the size and amount of the various labels. We used the large printer over at our neighbor, the Mathers Museum, to print on Print-N-Stick paper, which has an adhesive backing that allows us to adjust the placement of the labels if necessary without damaging the paint in the cases.

6. Install Artifacts

During this step, timing is important since we can’t leave artifacts in unlocked cases. In most cases, the text was the first to go in. Then blocks or risers which elevated or raised the artifacts to needed heights were selected based on the artifact selection and case design. Artifacts and mounts, as well as barriers between artifacts and painted surfaces, were then added. Once the artifacts were in place, the case stays locked; so if text needed adjusting it was much easier to do that while the case was open and easily accessible.

7. Finishing Touches

Now it was time for last-minute touch-ups to labels and placement of any other artifacts. These included repairs to the overhead lights in the cases, and the erection of the folding wall in the middle of the hall, which displays shields from four tribes and descriptions of their histories, provided by the tribes themselves.

8. Sharing the Exhibit

Marketing the exhibit was an ongoing process throughout development and installation, but the main push came upon our opening in early October.

9. Events

An image from Cheryl Claassen’s talk.

Finally, to celebrate the opening of our exhibit, we threw events: on Thursday, Nov. 1, we had a talk by Dr. Cheryl Claassen, “On Deer, Shell Beads, and the Milky Way.” The following day, Friday, Nov. 2, we had a Themester panel, featuring Amanda Burtt, Dr. Claassen, Justin Downs, and Gary Morseau.

We learned a lot in the process of putting up this exhibit, and look forward to applying these new insights in the future. In the meantime, we hope you’ll come down to see the exhibit and celebrate Themester by attending some of the other great events on campus this semester!

Archaeology Month: Excavations at Angel Mounds

In 1947, Glenn A. Black taught three courses in Indiana University’s Anthropology department.  He did his best to teach excavation methods, problem-solving methods, and how to develop film and use the proper tools.  But he found it wasn’t enough.

In Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study, published posthumously after his death in 1964, Black wrote he found it impossible to really teach students how to conduct fieldwork in the classroom.  So he turned to field schools –after a few trial runs in 1945, ’46, and ’47, he received funding and the go ahead to establish a field school at the Angel Mounds Historic Site.  The state of Indiana had held the title to the site since 1945; just a few years previously, it had been owned by the Indiana Historic Society.

It was in late 1947 at Angel that six old hutments from the U.S. Army were set up, along with (after some pushing) basic sanitation facilities, barracks, and a kitchen.  Gertrude Behrick was hired as the cook.  The first class of students arrived in June 1948.

This wasn’t the first excavation to take place at Angel Mounds in the twentieth century.  During the Great Depression, jobs were provided at the site thanks to the Works Progress Administration.  WPA efforts at the site lasted from 1939 to 1942, eventually halted by America’s entry into World War II.

By 1945, the war was winding down and Glenn Black and others were itching to return to the site.

Field schools weren’t exactly an easy sell to the University, and certainly weren’t just easy work for students looking to make a few bucks over the summer, something Black himself noted in Angel Site:

“Field schools can be justified only in the hope that the practical training given the students will pay dividends in the years which they devote later to field archaeology.”

Field schools continued (after the initial post-war test runs) from the first student group in 1948 to 1962, all at Angel Mounds with the exception of 1953 (which instead took place in Warrick County, at the Yankeetown site) and 1956.

In honor of Indiana Archaeology Month, here’s a few photographs of field school crews.

  • 1949
1949 Field School (N2747)

Back Row: (left-right) Donald Lee Hochstrasser; Charles T. Jacobs; Hugh N. Davis, Jr.; William L. Kaschube; Richard W. Noel; Roy K. Flint; and a man identified only as Hickerson

Front Row: (left-right) Nancy Parrott Hickerson; Dorthea M. Vedral Kaschube; Barbara Jo Serber; Alice Shroyer; Ann Chowning; and Emily Jane Blasingham

Not Pictured: Henry P. Childs; Robert Crabtree; Ellas Adis-Castro; and Hilda J. Curry

  • 1950
1950 Field School (N1790)

(left-right) Lynd J. Esch; Clarence H. Webb, Jr.; June S. Nettleship; Barbara J. MacCulley; Gerald W. Hubbart, Jr.; Jerry D. Hopkins; James H. Kellar; Robert C. Dailey; Jane Kellar; and Virginia E. Rice

Not Pictured: Hilda J. Curry and Hugh N. Davis, Jr.

  • 1951
1951 Field School (N2846)

(left-right) James H. Kellar; John R. Longbons; Jana Kellar (baby); Ida Black (holding Jana); Jane Kellar; Emily Jane Blasingham; Gertrude Behrick; Robert Forth; Nelson Smith; Ann Liest; and Elizabeth Brockschlager

  • 1954
1954 Field School (N2384)

(left-right) Lily O’C. J. Marchant; Joan Popoff; Bettye J. Broyles; and Ann Stofer Johnson

Not Pictured: Carol K. Rachlin

  • 1955
1955 Field School (S1410)

Glenn A. Black (sitting, far right); George E. Noble; Ethel M. Enyart; Edward V. McMichael; and Martha Orr

Not Pictured: Richard Johnston, Joan Potochniak, and Lora Steele

  • 1960
1960 Field School (N4842)

(left-right) Duane Campbell; Phyllis L. Jacobs; Jeaneatte Hornbaker; Loretta Reinhardt; John T. Dorwin; Andrew L. Szczesniak; and Robert C. Kiste

  • 1962
1962 Field School (N5510)

(left-right) Richard B. Johnston; Theodore Stevens; William R. Merrimee; Charles Jenkins; and Charles A. Martijn

Not Pictured: Thomas Downen

Recently, there have been several other digs at Angel Mounds, and continued cooperation between the University, the GBL, and Angel Mounds to preserve and study the area’s history.


Sources:

Black, Glenn A. Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical, and Ethnological Study. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1967. Volume 1.

GBL Online Image Collection

A Letter from Eli Lilly

April 2, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

One of my favorite types of primary sources to work with are letters.  Mostly, I love the language.  You can tell a lot about a person from how they write and to whom they write it.  If it’s to a business partner, maybe they’re more formal.  To a spouse, more affectionate.  To a friend, light-hearted and cordial.

In this case, I’m reading a letter written by Eli Lilly to Ida Black.  Eli and Ruth Lilly were friends of Glenn and Ida Black, and played an important role in the excavation of the Angel Mounds site and Indiana archaeology at large.

The letter –written August 24, 1965, from Lilly’s cottage in Syracuse, Indiana– concerns the founding of the Glenn Black Lab, the fate of Angel Mounds, and the destination of the artifacts discovered there.  It came to the GBL as part of a donation by the family of Glenn and Ida Black.

Lilly begins by wishing Ida well, and seems regretful that he is unable to relay the contents of the letter in person.  The friendship between the two is clear in his frankness; Lilly makes it clear that he did his best to take both Ida and Glenn’s (Glenn died September 2, 1964) wishes to heart, but ultimately did not have the final say in the decision.

He speaks of negotiations with the state and with Indiana University, and assures Ida the site will not be neglected.  In a helpfully numbered list, he details the steps of the thinking process.

The site will not be abused, he says, and it will be kept out of the hands of politicians who might not have its best interests at heart.  There will be attempts to interest Indiana University in the property, and the artifacts.

Later, he mentions his intention to build a memorial lab to Glenn Black, which likely will be on IU’s Bloomington campus. (The GBL did indeed end up in Bloomington, and would be opened April 21, 1971.) Lilly is sure Glenn would approve of the strategy, and its protection of both the artifacts of Angel and the site itself.

It’s interesting to look back at this letter, with our founding day fast approaching, and get a glimpse into the process of opening the GBL.

While the handwriting is a bit difficult to decipher in parts, it does not diminish from the importance of the letter, nor the kind words the Lillys have for Ida Black.  It also gives you a sense that you’re holding history in your hands, a feeling that’s almost beyond words.

There are bound copies of this letter available for viewing in our lobby; if you’re interested in reading the full text, I recommend you come check them out!

Trip to Angel Mounds

March 6, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

Frances Martin’s slide collection and journals.

On the table in front of us lay journals filled with Frances Martin’s neat scribbles, letters tightly packed, as many as she could fit on a single page.  Pages of notes and sketches of pots and figurines and axe heads found during the digs.

Binders of Martin’s personal slide collection, held up to the light to reveal the faces that match names we’ve seen over and over in our collections and archive material.  Some smiling, others stoic.  Records of pots and stone tablets and figurines.  Obsidian points.

A letter sent by Glenn A. Black to accepted members of the field schools, which ran from the 1940s to the ‘60s.  “What you may do in Evansville or Newburgh, if you are of legal age, is of course your own concern, but I do expect you not to bring criticism upon this camp.”

This past Friday, several members of the GBL staff –Librarian Kelsey Grimm, Curation Team Members Alex Elliott and Bailey Foust, and Programming/Social Media Intern Hannah Rea– traveled down to Angel Mounds to explore their collections and answer some of the reoccurring questions we’d had.

Hannah Rea, Alex Elliott, Kelsey Grimm and Bailey Foust at Angel Mounds.

We met with the manager of the site, Mike Linderman, whose office is crowded with memorabilia ranging from replicas of the various iterations of the Enterprise from “Star Trek,” to plaques honoring Glenn Black.

He laid the material he had on the table in front of us, spreading it out so we could get a good look at the treasures we’d been seeking.  He laughed as our eyes lit up in excitement, when we squealed in delight as he produced plaster models we’d seen only in photographs.  Called us “Glenn groupies.”

He’s one to talk –he lives in Glenn and Ida’s house, on the edge of the property.

Alex Elliott, Bailey Foust and Kelsey Grimm looking at Mike Linderman’s laptop.

We huddled over Mike’s shoulder, staring intently at his laptop as he flicked through the digitized photos from Frances Martin’s collection.  Martin was one of the women working at Angel Mounds during its excavations, though few official written records of her work there remain.  We have her journals, and we have photos –so many photos.

We gasped at faces we recognized, artifacts we have in our collections.  Laughed at the stories that accompanied each photo, which made the people within come alive.

Pointing at the screen at a figure in white leaning on the railing of a cruise ship, hand raised in a wave, on a trip the Blacks took with Eli and Ruth Lilly to New Orleans: “There’s Lilly.”

Smiling, to a photo of an excavator tilted at a strange angle on a muddy drive, a man standing to the side with his hands on his hips, during the construction of the Interpretive Center at Angel: “Their truck is stuck in a rut.”

Mike took us around the site in a vehicle they’d gotten free from Toyota (though they weren’t allowed to leave the site, as it had a VIN number of ‘0’), slipping around the muddy grass and pointing out clumps of yellow flowers, explaining that Ida planted daffodils along the front of the barracks and all across the site.

Daffodils planted by Ida Black.

The buds emerged tentatively from the cold ground, which had been snowed on just the day before, even though the buildings they’d lined were long gone.

“She left her mark on the site,” Mike said.  Just as Glenn’s name marks much of the material in the exhibits of the Interpretive Center, and local memory recalls him to be somewhat of a celebrity around the area, in her own way, Ida remains.

She had quite a green thumb –much of the backyard of the Blacks’ house and even the field across the street were once full of her flowers.  There are many a photo of her, smiling sweetly, in front of them.

Ida Black in 1946, from a collection donated by the family of Glenn A. and Ida Black.

That field is covered in trees now, as is much of the surrounding area.  Lines of houses and trailer parks, squished together to create the neighborhoods of Evansville, occupy what was once acres of open land.  “Glenn and Ida wouldn’t recognize the place, now,” Mike said thoughtfully, as we drove along the extent of the land which made up the site.

On the opening page of one of Frances Martin’s diary, there’s a quote: “Man in the form of several successive physical and cultural variations of the American Indian has lived in Indiana for many hundreds of years.”

And man, varied in many ways and across many cultural identities, continues to.

Some of their history is preserved at the Angel Mounds and, walking there, you get a feeling that you can almost hear them speaking.

They’re asking us not to forget them and, through studying sites like Angel, we won’t.