“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

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.

Summer 2018 Internship

My name is Brianna McLaughlin and this summer I interned at the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology- James Kellar Library. To give you a little background about myself, I graduated from the University of Evansville in 2014 with a degree in History and Archaeology. I’m currently working on my Masters of Library Science with a specialization in Archives. During my undergraduate degree, I learned pretty quickly that even though I love archaeology as a discipline, field archaeology wasn’t for me. Alternatively, an opportunity to use my knowledge of archaeology in an archives space was absolutely what I wanted.

I started the summer compiling an inventory of the associated documents for the archaeological artifacts housed downstairs. I went through about 16 cabinets full of boxes and recorded what information they contained as well as if anything required archival boxes. Even as I was creating this inventory, staff members were asking me questions about my findings and using the document. It was clear that what I was creating was of immediate importance to the Glenn Black Lab. I’ve known many students who have had internships in which they were not entrusted with projects that would make a difference to the institution, so I’m grateful that I was able to contribute.

The project that lasted for the remainder of the summer was accessioning and processing the papers of the institution’s namesake, Glenn Black. I began with about 15 boxes of various sizes of paper materials, most of which had been organized by Glenn Black, and some that hadn’t been organized at all. I also had about a dozen three dimensional items that were in an exhibit at the beginning of the summer. I started my first pass to see what I was dealing with. A large portion of Black’s papers were reference materials that he used for classes, lectures, and publications. He had many copies of each, so I was able to discard all but the original and the best copy. Just this process significantly minimized the collection. I also discarded and replaced the onion paper dividers between images. At this point, I began organizing the collection. I maintained Black’s organization to the greatest extent possible, even those that made me cringe such as arranging documents chronologically with the most recent at the front of the folder. I determined that there were 11 series within the collection, and thus began refoldering everything, making sure none of the folders became thicker than ¼ inch and each archival box was not too full. By the end of this process, I had 24 uniformly sized Hollinger boxes full of folders. Finally, it was time to write a finding aid. Unfortunately, I only had a week left at this point and therefore didn’t have time to learn EAD and create a finding aid using the software. Instead, I created a word document formatted like the finding aids on Archives Online that could be easily converted to EAD. After creating labels for the 24 boxes, the Glenn Black Papers are officially available for perusal.

I feel incredibly lucky that I can have my name on one of the most important archival collections held at this institution. Being able to list the Glenn Black Papers on my CV will be beneficial when I graduate and begin my job hunt, and the skills I practiced throughout the process will undoubtedly help me in my career field.

Bri standing with archival boxes
Bri McLaughlin with the finished Glenn A. Black MSS.

1931 Archaeological Road Trip

Archives and collections from across the country will be posting about #ArchivesRoadTrip for the National #ArchivesHashtagParty on Twitter.

Here at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, we have a special archaeological road trip to present to you!

In December 1930 Dr. Warren K. Moorehead, dean of North American archaeology as he was known, gave a lecture and informal discussion on mound builders to the Indiana Historical Society for their centennial celebration. In turn, the Society and its Archaeological Section  invited Moorehead and a few other notables on a tour of the most important then-known archaeological sites of Indiana. Glenn A. Black, a self-taught newcomer to the realm of archaeology, guided this 11-day tour.

Image of report text
1931 trip report by Glenn A. Black

very brief rundown of the trip…

The trip began on May 4, 1931. Glenn Black and Dr. Moorehead visited Strawtown in Hamilton County.

On May 5th, the Black and Moorehead were joined by Mr. William R. Teel and Mr. E. Y. Guernsey to visit the “works” near Anderson… today known as Mounds State Park.

On May 6th the real fun began. Mr. Eli Lilly joined the crew in their ventures to visit Martinsville, Worthington, Merom in Sullivan County, and several mounds in Vincennes.

Image of two men standing on river bank with overcoats
Moorehead and Guernsey (left to right) at Bone Bank in Posey County. Photo taken by Eli Lilly, May 1931. (cat: S784)

Leaving Vincennes, the crew traveled to New Harmony in Posey County, then to a site along the Wabash River called “Bone Bank,” and finally to what became a highlight of the tour, Angel Mounds.

Blurry image of three men standing in open field
Moorehead, Black, and Guernsey standing on upper terrace of Mound A, Angel Mounds, Vanderburgh County. Photo taken by Eli Lilly, 1931. (cat: N4477)

In writing to Eli Lilly after the completion of the tour later in the month, Dr. Moorehead referred to Angel Mounds as “a most important place archaeologically in your state.” He encouraged Lilly to purchase the site in order to safeguard it until the state could take over. (**Spoiler alert… he did just that later in the decade!)

Moorehead also encouraged the training and hiring of young Glenn Black to continue the project of Indiana county surveys that was abruptly put on hold due to lack of funding and resignation of the previous surveyor, Frank M. Setzler. Glenn was hired by the Indiana Historical Society the following month.

Text of letter from Moorehead to Lilly about Black
Moorehead enthusiastic about Black’s hiring, June 1931

This road trip effectively jumpstarted Glenn A. Black’s archaeological career!

Locations visited during 1931 trip. (Base map is 1914 Map of Indiana, Indiana Historical Society collections)

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!

A Look at Glenn Black’s “Excavation of the Nowlin Mound” (1936)

January 29, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

In 1936, Glenn Black published an account in the Indiana Historical Bulletin of the excavations he led at Nowlin Mound in Dearborn County, Indiana.  His account is an intimate look at the digs, and is accompanied by diagrams and images meant to place the site in geographic context.  It may come as a bit of a shock, given how honest it is in its admission to errors on the part of the excavation team.  But the description provided is nonetheless an interesting look at archaeology of the 1930s, and how it differs from methods of today.

The land, owned by Guy Nowlin as of 1912, was used as a playground by local schoolchildren.  The first official excavation was started in 1934 and, Black reports, the old schoolhouse was used as a “windbreak.”  Several trenches of varying lengths were dug to expose the different areas of the mound.  These trenches, dug with vertical faces, revealed a soil makeup of various types of clay and uncovered pottery sherds and projectile points.  Two log-lined burials sites were found.  The next season was delayed by heavy rains, and finally began in June 1935.  Several other log-lined burials were found, one of which was found to have been damaged by moisture.

Black reported about 60% of the artifacts recovered from the site were found in the first season.  He divided them into two categories: intentional deposits (those artifacts placed in the burial sites by the mound builders) and chance deposits.  The latter could have been explained by error on the part of the excavators; an example given was the discovery of pottery sherds, which could have accidentally made their way into a site, once disturbed by the digging of a trench.  This provided an interesting insight into the method: not only were the archaeologists on the site aware of the possibility their actions were disturbing the site, but the head of the dig duly noted it in his report.

This gave me pause; I had always assumed excavation techniques of the 1930s and ‘40s were disruptive and sometimes dangerous, but had never stopped to think whether or not the archaeologists realized it.  This article, written by Black after he had headed the digs at Nowlin Mound, made me wonder how often archaeologists of the time acknowledged the nature of their techniques.  Despite the fact that Black was never academically trained in archaeology (as was common at the time), he was still a noted figure in Midwest archaeology; his report made for an interesting read and illuminated the methods he and his team employed, and the errors to which they had admitted during excavations.

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.

Glenn A. Black: A Life

February 15, 2017

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

All photos from collection donated by Glenn A. and Ida Black family, unless otherwise cited.

Glenn A. Black in 1952.


Glenn Albert Black is born August 15, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He attends public school through high school, then is forced to take on the role of head of household after the death of his father, John A. Black, in 1912.


Black begins to amass a collection of artifacts from prehistoric sites in Marion County, and studies the history of the state.

Glenn Black in the 1930s.


In the fall, Black writes to Dr. C. B. Coleman, the director of the Indiana Historical Bureau, asking if his services would be accepted “if they were offered gratis.”


The company he had previously worked for as an estimating engineer –Fairbanks, Morse and Company– moves to Wisconsin and Black is forced to resign his position in order to stay in Indiana and support his family.  In May, Black is hired to serve as a local guide to Warren K. Moorehead, who helped create archaeological programs for the study of the eastern part of the United States, as well as Eli Lilly and E. Y. Guernsey as they conduct an inspection of Indiana archaeological sites.

Glenn and Ida Black in 1946.

On October 27, he marries Ida May Hazzard.


Black is recommended by Moorehead to be sent to Greene County and begin surveys there.  In the winter, he is sent to Columbus, Ohio, to study collections at the Ohio State Museum and do further field excavations.


Black returns to Greene County in the spring for further excavations in conjunction with the Indiana Historical Bureau.


Black assists on a survey of Dearborn and Ohio counties, recording sites such as the Nowlin Mound.


Excavations begin at Nowlin Mound.

Glenn Black in the late 1930s.


Black turns his attention to the excavation of documented villages, believed to have been inhabited by Miami, Shawnee and Potawatomi people during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Glenn Black, his mother and brother in September 1938.


The Indiana Historical Society acquires the Angel Mounds site with assistance from Eli Lilly to protect and preserve it for future research and education.

Glenn Black in the driveway of his home on the grounds of the Angel Mounds site.


Black moves into a house on the property.

Excavations under the Works Progress Administration employ more than 200 people, and allow the training of young archaeologists in field schools which would continue until the summer of 1962.


World War II abruptly halts excavation of the Angel Mounds site.


Black is appointed a lecturer in archaeology at Indiana University’s Department of Zoology.


IU starts research at the site.


Control of the Angel Mounds site is transferred to the state of Indiana.


IU establishes the Department of Anthropology, and Black begins to lecture within it.

Glenn Black’s honorary degree from Wabash College. Taken by Hannah Rea.


Black is awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Wabash College.


Black retires from lecturing at IU.

Eli Lilly and Glenn Black at McCormicks Creek Inn in 1961.


Black and the site team complete excavation of the large mound, which had been stopped by WWII.


Black dies September 2 of a heart attack in Evansville, Indiana.

Dedication of the Glenn Black Lab on May 1, 1971.


The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology opens on IU’s campus on April 21.

Collection of Glenn Black artifacts. Taken by Hannah Rea.


Glenn A. Black Laboratory receives donation of Black’s Honorary Doctorate, hood and his archaeologist’s trowel from the family of Glenn and Ida Black.


“Angel Mounds.” Angelmounds.org, Friends of Angel Mounds, http://www.angelmounds.org/about-us-2/angel-mounds/.

Kellar, James H. “Glenn A. Black 1900-1964.” American Antiquity, vol. 31, no. 3, part 1 (Jan 1966), pp. 402-405, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2694742.

Kellar, James H. “Glenn A. Black.” The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, Indiana University Bloomington, 1971.