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A Century of Monroe County Maps

Blog post by Dave Nord   In 1815 Arthur Henrie, a surveyor employed by the U.S. government, drew a set of maps of a part of Indiana Territory lying between the watersheds of the west and east forks of the White River. Those maps, based on systematic, on-the-ground surveys, were the first professional maps of

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Looking Beyond the Photos in High School Yearbooks

Blog by Rod Spaw “On January 27, the basketball girls won the first trophy which Unionville ever possessed. They accomplished this feat by defeating both the Gosport girls and the referees. …” Or so declared the Unionville High School yearbook of 1934. As much a part of adolescence as roller rinks and puppy love, the

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Bloomington: The Center of Population

Blog post by Rod Spaw Bloomington leaders celebrated when the city was designated in the 1910 Census as the mean center of population for the United States. It gave them a powerful tool for promoting commercial investment in Bloomington. As calculated by the Census Bureau, the mean center is the point of balance if every

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Horace Kearney’s Attempted Crossing of Dunn Meadow

Blog by Rod Spaw In Drawer 3, Unit N of Hallway Storage on the third floor of the Monroe County History Center is a scarred and scuffed piece of bamboo measuring 9 ¼ inches long by 1 ¼ inches in diameter. If not for the paper label glued to it, the hollow tube might be

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Henry J. Feltus, A Newspaper Editor of the “Old School”

Blog post by Rod Spaw Viewing events through a political or ideological lens did not start with the internet, Fox News or MSNBC. It was not uncommon, in fact, for newspapers throughout much of U.S. history to rely on political patronage for their success. Even when the advertising model of business took over in the

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Whetsell’s Shoe Store

Blog post by Hilary Fleck While looking through our postcard collection, I found this photo postcard of Whetsell’s Shoe Store with an amazing reflection in the store window of the County Courthouse. I looked through the directories in our Research Library and discovered that the store was located on the south side of the square

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A Famous Novelist Comes to Bloomington

Blog by Rod Spaw Author Theodore Dreiser had not seen Bloomington in 25 years when he arrived on Aug. 26, 1915. It was his 44th birthday, and the writer of “Sister Carrie” and other novels was on a two-week tour of his native Indiana by automobile. His means of conveyance was a brand new, 60-horsepower Pathfinder

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Commemorative Fishing at the History Center

By Wayne Hastings My perception of my great grandfather Charles Ervin Wall has always been intricately tied to fishing. According to family lore, he was an expert fisherman who was commonly seen frying a dozen or two panfish even before the sun fully came up. If bluegills could talk, I am sure they too would

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The Disappearance of a Chambers Family from Smithville

Blog post by Randi Richardson “It was heart rending,” according to her obituary, “one of the most pitiable sights witnessed in the south part of the county.” Mary Chambers, noted only as “Mrs. James Chambers” in her obituary, about 44 years age and a resident of Smithville, reportedly had been sick and running a fever

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Over 100 Years of Innovation in the Kitchen

Blog post by Wayne Hastings Within the last one hundred years there has been a vast number of inventions that have permanently changed how people cook and prepare meals. Modern kitchen appliances have progressively made cooking more convenient and has created gadgets we cannot imagine living without today. However, equally important are the inventions that

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