Monday, January 27, 2014

Robert R. LaFollette Papers Digital Collection Documents German Post-War Education Reform

Robert Russell LaFollette
"There were shortages of food and fuel. They sat in wrecked and partially wrecked buildings whose windows were out and whose doors were gone while bread and potato soup kept them alive but not adequately nourished. They sat in overcoats and overshoes with blankets draped around their shoulders as they wrote with gloved hands using their knees as desks."

So wrote Robert R. LaFollette, American historian and educator, when describing the challenges faced by students during the rebuilding of a German education system that had been ravished by both the physical destruction of World War II and by Nazi ideology.

Handbook of education
statistics (U.S. occupied area
of Germany), July 1949
Ball State University Archives and Special Collections has recently digitized a collection of papers documenting LaFollette's career, making it available in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository.  The collection emphasizes materials related to his role as an advisor to the rebuilding of the German education system following World War II.  LaFollette served as the head of the social science department at Ball State Teachers College (now Ball State University) from 1921 to 1961.

LaFollette's direct involvement with these post-war rebuilding efforts began in 1949, when he served as a visiting consultant in teacher education and social science with the Office of the U.S. Secretary of the Army in Bavaria. From 1950 to 1952, LaFollette served as an education advisor to the Education and Cultural Relations Division of the U.S. High Commissioner of Germany, organizing the International Social Studies Workshop in Heidelberg.  In 1952, LaFollette was the chairman of the American-German Historian and History Teachers Workshop in Braunschweig, a conference that evaluated history textbooks and curriculum in Germany.

From 1954 to 1955, he was the social studies specialist to North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry, and later served as a Fulbright lecturer to Germany and visiting professor at Oldenburg Paedogogical University from 1956 to 1957.
Diagram of Bavarian school system, 1949

The collection contains documents related to each of these assignments and includes reports and writings created and collected by LaFollette and his colleagues in their service as advisors to the Education and Cultural Relations Division.  It also includes information disseminated by branches of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany regarding rebuilding aims and initiatives, including maps, diagrams, and reports.

A more complete biography of LaFollette is available on the finding aid for the Robert R. LaFollette papers collection housed in Ball State University Archives & Special Collections.

For more information about this collection and other materials related to the career of Robert LaFollette, contact Ball State University Archives & Special Collections at

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Exhibit in Archives and Special Collections Celebrates Black History Month

The Ball State University African-American Student Experience, 1960 - 2013:
 Activities, Organizations, and Programs

Talent portion of  Miss Black Ball State Pageant, 1976From the Marie Fraser papers and photographs collection. (RG.09.20.10)
 African-American students at Ball State University have a history of unity and action, taking pride in who they are and what they represent.  The outlets for bonding and activities include Greek organizations, black student organizations, alumni reunions, and special programs during events such as Unity Week. This exhibit highlights some of the main platforms African-American students at Ball State have used to come together and enrich their experiences as college students while also forging lifeline friendships and networks. The display includes samples from collections such as the Black Student Association Records, the Allen Williams Black Ball State Alumni Collection, The Robert Foster Papers, and the Marie Fraser Papers and Photographs. 

Gathering at Black Alumni Reunion, circa 1970's, from the Allen Williams Black Ball State Alumni Collection (Electronic Copy only) 


The Black Student at Ball State University booklet section on Greek Life.  From the University Marketing and Communications Publications and Printed Ephemera collection. (RG.09.20.07)                                              

 Also displayed are examples of some of the African-American student newspapers and other publications prevalent at Ball State during the 1970's.   These publications gave the African-American student population a means to communicate across campus and voice their opinions and frustrations of college life and society during that time period. Photographs, documents, and films featuring African-American students and activities can also be viewed online on Ball State’s Digital Media Repository at Please enjoy our look back at the many ways African-American students maximized their experiences at Ball State University as we celebrate Black History Month.

Black Alumni Reunion group photo, 1993.
From the Ball State University Alumni Association photographs and materials collection. (RG.09.02.10) 
The display is located in Archives and Special Collections on the 2nd floor of Bracken Library and runs from January 20, 2014 to February 28, 2014. For more information on the exhibit, contact Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 or email