As anyone driving around Muncie knows, railroads are very prominent in this community as they are in many cities and towns throughout the country. The many tracks you may cross each day are reminders of the importance of railroads in the history and development of our local community and our nation. As Michael L. Johnston states in his history Railroads in Muncie, Indiana, “Throughout the history of the United States, the railroad industry has been a prominent contributor to the development and growth of states and communities.”
Thanks to Mr. Johnston, Ball State students, faculty, alumni, and others can learn about the history of railroads in Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana, by reading his publication that was recently published by the University Libraries in the Ball State Virtual Press, www.bsu.edu/libraries/virtualpress/johnston/index.html.
This publication and a recent well-attended Friend of the Alexander M. Bracken Library program on the history of local railroads given by Mr. Larry Campbell are the inspirations for a forthcoming exhibit by Archives and Special Collections in Bracken Library. Railroads of Delaware County will feature photographs, timetables, histories, and other items documenting the history of the local railroad industry. It will run from July 1 through mid-September. A digital collection of railroad history materials is also planned for the Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu/.
According to Johnston’s history, the railroad industry began about 1810 in the United States, and railroad construction became rampant after the Civil War. He writes that Muncie attracted railroads earlier than many cities because of the gas boom and the resulting rapid industrial growth starting as early as 1848. The first railroad line in Delaware County was completed through Muncie in 1852. By 1902, six intercity railroads, a local industrial railroad, and a belt-switching railroad served Muncie. During the peak railroad period, Muncie had five railroad freight houses, five agency offices, and a railroad division headquarters.
In the first half of the 20th century, Muncie enjoyed direct or indirect railroad passenger service to all major cities. The railroad history by Michael Johnston published in the Ball State Virtual Press is just one more example of his and his wife’s many contributions to Ball State and the University Libraries. A Ball State alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration and marketing, Mr. Johnston served 20 years as an adjunct professor of international transportation in the Miller College of Business.
He worked for many years in logistics and transportation Mr. Johnston is a member of the Friends of the Alexander M. Bracken Library’s Board of Governors, and he serves on Ball State’s Beneficence Society Advisory Committee, the National Philanthropy Council of the Ball State University Foundation, and other university and community organizations. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston donated a collection of contemporary art works to the University Libraries in memory of their late son, Michael Gregory Johnston.
For more information on the Railroads of Delaware County exhibit, or railroad research materials in Archives and Special Collections, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, JStraw@bsu.edu, 765-285-5078
Steven W. Garst, a graduate student in Ball State’s Department of Art, spent a lot of time researching private press books using Archives and Special Collections, located on Bracken Library’s second floor. He found that he was particularly enamored with the work of Walter Hamady, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, whose Perishable Press was one of the most influential American private presses.
Over the course of four decades, the Perishable Press produced more than 125 handcrafted books bearing Hamady's craftsmanship and eclectic detail to the elements of book design. The appeal of Hamady’s Perishable Press led Steve to a fascination of books and how they are made.
Specializing in printmaking, Steve has written, printed, and bound nine books exhibited in a display in Bracken Library 1-West. The books represent items that led to his thesis, tentatively titled Exploring the Narrative, and are the products of a bookmaking class and several printmaking classes offered by Ball State’s Department of Art.
In those classes, students are encouraged to make original small edition books with a variety of bindings, books such as pamphlets, accordion, and concertina all of which can be seen in the exhibit. Steve plans to complete his thesis this fall and exhibit his new books in Ball State’s Atrium Gallery. He wants to use his books to entertain and challenge people to look at life from someone else’s perspective.
“It has been said that books are like a Trojan horse,” he noted. “They seem innocent enough on the outside, yet you never know what is going to be found on the inside.”
For information on exhibiting artwork at Bracken Library, contact Susan G. Akers, Marketing Communications Manager, SAkers@bsu.edu, 765-285-5031.
Carol A. Street, Archivist for Architectural Records
As you recline on a lawn chair in your backyard this summer enjoying a good page-turner and sipping cold iced tea, you might consider for a moment how you would design your own perfect lawn chair. A recent discovery in the Drawings and Documents Archive illustrates one architect’s classic, yet innovative, design for the perfect lawn chair.
One of many interesting items in the Joseph O. Cezar Architectural Records Collection, this 1943 drawing titled Lawn Chair is an interpretation of the classic Adirondack style chair with its sloping back, plank boards and wide armrests. The history of the Adirondack chair began, not surprisingly, in the Adirondack Mountain resort area of New York. Created in 1903, its popularity quickly spread throughout the country due to its rugged construction combined with the high level of comfort it provides despite its lack of cushions.
Forty years later, Indianapolis architect Joseph O. Cezar (1903-1991) updated what was already a classic Adirondack design and incorporated two discrete wheels under the front chair legs for increased mobility. Clearly, he was familiar with the design but felt he could improve upon it by making a few alterations.
This drawing illustrates a period in Cezar’s life when he was establishing an architecture practice in Indiana and raising a growing family. Born in Austria in 1903, Cezar found his way to Indianapolis in 1938 after he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Chicago Technical College. He worked in architecture firms until he began his own practice in 1944.
Architecture and landscape architecture students and faculty can utilize design drawings, such as this one, to learn about the decision-making process involved in matching need, such as comfort in the out-of-doors, with a design solution, in this case a sturdy and mobile chair. The technology of creating a simple functional object like a chair that bears appropriate weight, maintains its shape, and is comfortably reliable for an extended use is communicated in the clear, concise drawing and exact specifications Cezar incorporated into his drawing.
Some of the interesting, personal items in the collection illustrate Cezar’s wit and his love for his family. He drew announcements to celebrate the occasion of the birth of his first child. Every Christmas he designed cards for the family with drawings of historic Indiana architecture or buildings that he designed, and these are represented in the collection by his preliminary drawings and finished cards.
The Joseph O. Cezar Architectural Records Collection will soon be available for online viewing through the Ball State University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu/. For more information, contact Carol A. Street, University Libraries’ Archivist for Architectural Records, CAStreet@bsu.edu, 765-285-8441.