Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Exhibit in Archives and Special Collections

Group photo of the first African American Firefighters in Muncie. taken March 18,1997.
They are: (front row, L to R, Hurley Goodall and John Blair; Back row L to R, Robert Olden, William Hammond, and James Armstrong.
Telling An Untold Story: Hurley Goodall and Muncie’s African-American History on Exhibit in Bracken Library from January 14 through February 28, 2013

The life-long work of Muncie’s own Hurley Goodall to document local African-American history is highlighted in an exhibit by Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections from January 14 through February 28 on the second floor of the Alexander M. Bracken Library.   

Hurley Goodall has worn many different hats throughout his life: firefighter, school board member, student, Indiana State Legislator, teacher, scholar, and author. But the role he may have been most passionate about was researcher and documenter of the history of African-Americans in Muncie. As Hurley delved into the study of Muncie African-Americans, he found their history was an untold story, especially in the lack of black representation in the Middletown Studies, and this appalled him. He set out to learn as much as he could about the lives of blacks who called Muncie home and tell their story.

As part of his “Black Muncie History Project” Goodall interviewed many prominent, and some not so prominent members of Muncie’s black community to learn of their trials and tribulations living in Muncie during times in which African-Americans were marginalized, and sometimes brutalized. Taking those interviews along with in-depth research of local history, census records, and correspondence Hurley wrote papers and books to shed light on how blacks lived and how they were treated.

The interviews and research for the Black Muncie History Project culminated in “A History of Negroes in Muncie,” published in 1976, which Goodall co-authored with Ball State University history professor J. Paul Mitchell.
                                                                                        Photo: Highland Cafe workers, 1948
His “Voices from the past: a collection of references to the African American community in the state of Indiana” was borne of his research during his time as Visiting Scholar in the Center for Middletown Studies at Ball State University. Goodall discovered while reading “The WPA Writers Project in Indiana during the Great Depression” that a lady he knew when he was a small boy had been a slave.  It struck him that he had never known this, and that many former slaves’ stories were never told.  Goodall was frustrated that this part of Indiana history had never been taught to   him or his children and writing this book was a way to tell these untold stories.

In the same vein, Hurley used the WPA Writers project to research the Underground Railroad in Indiana and directed the project “Underground Railroad: The invisible road to freedom through Indiana.”  The manuscript contains maps, stories from slaves, slaveholders, lawmen, and others involved to document the Indiana routes on the Underground Railroad.

Hurley’s publication, “Those who made a difference” was published in two volumes, the first in 2003, and the second in 2005.  In these volumes Goodall documents some of the more prominent African-Americans in Muncie history who made a positive impact in the Muncie and Delaware County community in a variety of ways.

Mignonette Club of Muncie, Organized 1954
They are: L. to R., Patricia Mitchell, Hattie P. Cooper, Wanda Thompson, Mary Lee Jones, Fredine Goodall, Faye Hutcherson, Willa B. Blair, and Viola Richardson. Taken June 15, 1956.
Social clubs formed to provide social life for Muncie blacks in the 1920's through the 1960's when many venues were closed to African-Americans.            

For more information on the exhibit, contact Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 or email  

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