Friday, September 28, 2012

Marsh and Ryan Family Photograph Digital Collection now available in the Digital Media Repository!

The Marsh and Ryan family photograph digital collection includes over 400 photographs documenting the prominent J. W. Ryan and J. R. Marsh families within Muncie, Indiana from circa 1849-1980, predominately 1890-1920.

P.021-0596, J. W. Ryan and Thomas L. Ryan, circa 1870-1880
John Weller Ryan was born on November 5, 1837 in Butler County, Ohio. Before he became a prominent Muncie attorney, J. W. Ryan was 1st Lieutenant of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. After being accepted into the Bar Association, he partnered with the law firm of Joseph Buckles, and in 1870 the firm became Buckles and Ryan. Ryan was known for his knowledge in bankruptcy, specifically the practice of corporate and contractual law for industrial development. In 1876, the discovery of natural gas in East Central Indiana heightened Ryan's career.

Ryan married Lida A. Jenkins at an unknown date and location. Lida was a recognized musician and artist regionally. During the late 1860s, the couple moved to Muncie from the Winamac, Indiana area. J. W. and Lida resided at 603 East Jackson Street in Muncie. They had four children, two daughters, Susan D. and Mildred V., and two sons, Thomas L. and Walter S. Ryan. At the age of 52, Lida died on August 24, 1893. In 1902, J. W. Ryan completed a story about his late wife entitled, "A Story of the Life and Character of Lida A. Ryan, 1841-1893." J. W. Ryan passed away on September 23, 1919.

P.021-0139, Susan and Rodney Marsh, 1893/05/14
Susan Delaney Ryan Marsh was born in Winamac, Indiana on December 29, 1865. She moved to Muncie with her parents and was raised in the family home on 603 East Jackson Street. Susan was an aspiring artist, inspired by her mother, who gave her art lessons at their family home. She also studied with J. Otto Adams, a famed artist who also lived in Muncie. After attending art school in Cincinnati and New York City, she married John Rollin Marsh on August 5, 1889. John R. and Susan Marsh lived on 616 East Adams Street. The couple's American Four Square home was built after their marriage circa 1904.

J. R. Marsh was the son of a notable banker, John Marsh. After his marriage to Susan, he took up candid photography as a hobby. In Muncie, his photography detailed interiors and exteriors, families, street scenes, and picnics. The Marsh and Ryan family photograph collection is made possible through the work of John Rollin Marsh's photography.

J. R. Marsh and the Kimbrough family became founders of the Indiana Bridge Company in Muncie. J.R. was employed with the company for over 50 years as chief engineer, director, secretary, and treasurer, 1887-1947. He was also active in the community serving on several committees and boards.

Susan Marsh was a prominent artist, clubwoman and civic worker for over 50 years within the Muncie community. She was a founder of the Muncie Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, the Muncie Art Association, and the Matinee Musicale. She was also one of the first members of the Art Students League. As past president of the Pegasus Poetry Club, she furthered the work of the organization as well as the membership of the Woman's Club. At the age of 94, Susan died on December 12, 1959. J. R. and Susan Marsh's three children, Mildred, Rodney, and Carleton Marsh are heavily documented within this photograph collection.

P.021-0220, Mildred Beatty, Ross J. Beatty, and Mildred Marsh at
hotel in Natchez Mississippi, 1895/04/10
Susan's sister, Mildred Veronese Ryan Beatty was born on April 14, 1868. Mildred was an accomplished harpist within the family. She married Ross J. Beatty in mid-September 1894 in Muncie. Ross was born on August 12, 1854 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. While the couple lived in Muncie, he was president of the Midland Steel Company and Manufactors Gas and Oil Company, and vice president of the Muncie Belt Railway. During the late 1890s, he was also involved in the purchase of Inland Steel Company. The couple had three children, two sons, and one daughter. Ross and Mildred moved to Highland Park, Illinois for career reasons. Mildred passed away on December 29, 1962. She is buried in the Lake Forest Cemetery with her husband, Ross.

P.021-0478, Thomas L. Ryan studying the painting "Christ before Pilate"
painted by Susan Ryan Marsh, 1950/04/06
Thomas Leicester Ryan was born in 1872 in Muncie. He attended Muncie High School and was later employed as chief draftsman at the Indiana Bridge Company. After finishing his high school education, Ryan completed a course in engineering at the Hoboken Institute of Technology and studied law under his father. He joined his father's firm, which became Ryan and Ryan, in 1898. He worked several years as a consulting engineer and patent attorney. He was also president of the Highlands Manufacturing Company. Thomas married Lenora Highlands of Clinton, Iowa at an unknown date. The couple had three children, a son, and two daughters.

Ryan was heavily involved with civic engagements, including the Muncie Artists Association, Pegasus Poetry Club, Muncie Commercial Club, Delaware Country Club, the Indiana Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and was president of the Muncie Bar Association until 1940. Thomas passed away on December 27, 1962.

P.021-0526, Walter Scott Ryan, circa 1890-1909
Walter Scott Ryan was born in 1875 in Muncie. He married Edna Woodruff of Bridgeton, New Jersey during the 1890s. The couple had two known children that are featured within this photograph collection. Walter was active in the Navy as 1st Assistant Chief Electrician. He practiced electrical engineering in New York and later patented useful improvements for the flashing sign on October 28, 1912. Walter passed away in 1941.

This digital collection will continue to grow and include correspondence from the family ranging from 1843-1902.

For more information, contact Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 or

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Children’s Playhouse Theatre Collection now available in the Digital Media Repository

The shows must go on, and they did for the Children’s Playhouse Theatre in Muncie, Indiana for over 30 years. Now you can get a glimpse into all the work that went into Children’s Playhouse Theatre productions from 1943-1967 in one of our newest online collections in the Digital Media Repository. The Children’s Playhouse Theatre digital collection includes advertisements, programs, tickets, sketches and other materials created and collected by Irene Belcher that document the performances and history of the Children’s Playhouse Theatre.

Irene Belcher began operating a local educational theatre program for school age children in the 1930s. Her first studio was across from the old City Hall building, on the southwest corner of Jackson and Jefferson streets. From there she moved to the third floor of the Chamber of Commerce building, on the corner of Jefferson and Main Street, where she had the entire top floor. She was also active in children’s theatre groups nationally, being one of the original twenty members who formed the National Children’s Theatre Conference in 1944. She served several times as advisor for children’s theatres throughout the country.

The items in this collection document the operations of the Children’s Playhouse Theatre from the recruitment of students and patrons through the performance of classic productions including Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Heidi, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and many more. Advertisements and flyers display methods used for promoting involvement in the theatre and selling tickets. Sketches and notes created by Irene Belcher document the planning of set and costume designs. Finally, programs record the participants and locations of Children’s Playhouse Theatre performances.

This digital collection will be of interest to former participants in Children’s Playhouse Theatre performances, children’s theatre directors looking for examples of the preparation, promotion and performance of productions, parents, educators, and patrons interested in encouraging children to become actively involved in performing arts, and many others who have an interest in theatre.

The material in this digital collection is part of the Irene Belcher collection in Archives and Special Collections which includes additional material documenting Irene Belcher’s work with the Muncie Civic Theatre and other performing arts and community organizations.

For more information about The Irene Belcher collection or other performing arts collections in Archives and Special Collections, contact us at 765-285-5078 or

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

New additions to the Muncie and Delaware County Films and Videos collection in the Digital Media Repository

Muncie Central vs. Anderson Highland, 1968 Nov.
Are you interested in the investigation of bank robberies or basketball games? Would you like to know more about the 1968 Democratic National Convention or dog shows? These topics and many others are documented in the new films that have been added to the Muncie and Delaware County Films and Videos collection in the Digital Media Repository. Since we first announced the launch of the collection last January, it has grown to include over 400 films dating from the 1910s through the 1970s.

Muncie Board of Public Works interview, 1968 Dec.
The majority of the digitized films that have been added to the collection come from a weekly news segment produced by WLBC-TV. These films document local government, national politics, athletic competitions, community events and a wide variety of other topics ranging from 1968-1969. Those interested in Muncie and Delaware County history and government will want to examine films documenting meetings, reports and interviews with officials and government councils including the Muncie Board of Public Works and Safety, Muncie City Council, Delaware County Commissioners, Delaware County Council, and Muncie Mayor Paul Cooley.  Films documenting the proposed annexation of portions of Center Township into the City of Muncie in 1968, the ensuing debate between those favoring and opposing annexation, and the legal appeals of those opposing the annexation decision will be of particular interest to those examining political controversies in Muncie and Delaware County. Other significant topics covered by these films include the proposed construction of Northwest High School in Muncie and the subsequent controversy caused by the potential for racial segregation due to the proposed location of that school. The collection also includes films documenting the fundingconstruction, move, and cornerstone laying ceremony for the current Delaware County Courthouse. Tragic events in Central Indiana, including fires, aircraft crashes, automobile collisions, and the aftermath of the April 6, 1968 explosion in downtown Richmond, Indiana, are documented as well.

Gerald Ford and David Dennis interview, 1968 Oct.
The scope of this collection is not limited to local history topics. This collection also includes films that will be of interest to those studying state, national, and international politics and history. The candidates and campaigns in the 1968 presidential election are well documented by a growing number of films in this collection. Notable state and national political figures appearing in these films currently include Birch Bayh, Roger D. Branigan, Larry Conrad, Gerald Ford, Richard Lugar, Richard Roudebush, and Matthew E. Welsh. A film detailing a grape boycott by United Farm Workers of America will be of interest to those studying organized labor movements in the United States. Street interviews with Delaware County citizens about the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy give voice to local reactions to tragic events of tremendous national significance. Researchers studying international relations will find films documenting the hijacking of an airliner to Cuba, the Vietnam War, the Pueblo Incident, and the stance of the Republic of China regarding the then potential recognition of the People’s Republic of China by the United Nations.  

Take some time to explore the films that are currently available in this collection. You will find films documenting everything from Easter egg hunts and beauty pageants to courtroom proceedings and campaign events. You might even spot yourself in a film or be able to help our staff identify an unidentified event or person. New films are currently being added to this collection on a monthly basis and we will keep you updated on the highlights from new additions.  

For more information about films in this collection or to help us identify currently unidentified persons and events, contact Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 or