Friday, November 04, 2016

Ball State University Archives and Special Collections exhibits presidential politics in Muncie

In a new exhibit, Ball State University Archives and Special Collections will present national presidential politics and campaigns through the lens of Muncie as Middletown, highlighting the city as a significant and symbolic destination for national political figures throughout many eras.  Muncie Votes! Middletown’s Contribution to National Politics runs from November 8, 2016 to January 27, 2017 on the second floor of Bracken Library.

In 1929, a sociological study of Muncie was conducted by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd.  Muncie, known as Middletown in their published study, was chosen because of its demographics thereby making it a representative American city.  The gas boom, its once thriving industry, the university, and the city’s eventual deindustrialization have made Muncie a prime political location for many Presidential candidates, former Presidents, Vice-Presidents and First Ladies who have spoken in Muncie. Since 1958, six United States Presidents have visited Muncie.  In addition, Ball State University Archives and Special Collections is home to the papers of former Congressman Philip R. Sharp, former Indiana Governor Dr. Otis R. Bowen, former Undersecretary of the Interior Frank A. Bracken, and other local political figures and humanitarians.  These collections provide a rich diversity of presidential memorabilia such as inaugural invitations, and presidential correspondence.

The exhibit will display original signatures of 11 different United States Presidents and 8 First Ladies, inauguration invitations, and campaign materials such as buttons and bumper stickers. 

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

John F. Kennedy speaking in front of the Delaware County Courthouse, 1960

Vice President Richard Nixon speaking at the Johnson Field dedication, 1958