The mission of Archives and Special Collections is to collect, preserve, and provide access to archival, printed, and digital resources that support the research and instructional needs of students, faculty, national and international scholars, and the general public.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Get a Read On Muncie's Past!
Thomas Ryan relaxes with a book.
exhibit in Archives and Special Collections on the 2nd floor of
Bracken Library tells the story of What
Middletown Read. The exhibit, “What Middletown Read: Building a Digital
Tool to Uncover the Past” runs from March 11 to June 28.
Since the original Middletown study
conducted by Robert and Helen Lynd in the 1920s, which resulted in the seminal
work Middletown: A Study in American
Culture and was followed by many other studies and projects on Middletown,
Muncie has been perhaps the most studied community in the world. In 2011, a new
project resulted in information about the reading habits of residents of Middle
America as represented by the citizens of Muncie.
Muncie Public Library Accession ledger
The What Middletown Read Project was born from a discovery of library
ledgers containing circulation records from 1891-1902 that were uncovered
during a renovation of the Muncie Public Library in 2003. Dr. Frank
Felsenstein, Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor in Humanities
and Professor of English at Ball State University, was in the Muncie Public
Library preparing for a class on the history of the book when he discovered the
treasure trove of ledgers and other documents and brought them to light. Out of
that find came a collaboration between Ball State University and the Muncie
Public library that led to development of the “What Middletown Read Database”
(accessible at www.bsu.edu/libraries/wmr)
Screen shot from the What Middletown Read database
The creation of this database has
enabled researchers to take a deeper look into Muncie’s past and uncover a
sense of the life and culture of the late 1800s based on what people were
reading and who they were. To discover
more about this research tool, its creation, and the research results generated
come Bracken Library, outside Room BL 210 at Ball State University to “check it
out!” For more information on the exhibit, contact Archives and Special
Collections at 765-285-5078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.