Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Changing Gears Documentary Film Collection Captures the Experience of Deindustrialization in Muncie

A new digital collection in the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository provides online access to video interviews and documentary footage capturing the local experience of deindustrialization in Muncie, Indiana.

The Changing Gears Documentary Film Collection contains digital videos captured during the production of the film Changing Gears: End of an Era. This feature-length documentary produced by Ball State University's Center for Middletown Studies in conjunction with the university's Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education focuses on the events surrounding the closing of Muncie's century-old BorgWarner (formerly Warner Gear) automotive parts plant. The film explores the meaning and significance of deindustrialization by examining the experiences of the plant’s workers and other members of the community as they come to terms with the loss of what was once a leading manufacturer of automatic transmissions in the United States and Muncie’s largest employer.

In addition to a complete version of the 2010 documentary film, the digital collection includes oral history interviews with former BorgWarner employees and labor union leaders; interviews with main characters from the film; and expert interviews with historians like Ball State University Professors Jim Connolly, Dwight Hoover, and Warren Vander Hill, as well as community leaders such as former Muncie mayor Sharon McShurley and former Indiana State Representative and current mayor of the City of Muncie, Dennis Tyler.

Dwight Hoover interview
These interviews discuss the closing of BorgWarner within the historical and sociology context of the Middletown Studies while highlighting the major impact the closing of the plant and the continued decline of industry has had on Muncie and similar cities throughout the Midwest.  In 2014, the Center for Middletown Studies conducted follow-up interviews with two of the main characters from the film, Bill McIntosh and Steve Penrod, both of which are included in the collection.
Bill McIntosh interview after closing
Additional documentation and digital files from the film project can be found in the Changing Gears: End of an Era documentary film records and are available to researchers in the Ball State University Archives and Special Collections.

For more information about this collection, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at or (765) 285-5078.

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