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Biography of Indiana Congressman Published


On the eve of Election Day in November 1974, a lonely figure trudged down the road in Monticello, Indiana. Jim Jontz, a young, first-time candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives, was finishing up a long day of campaigning. Offered a ride by a local Democratic Party volunteer at whose house he had been staying, Jontz answered: “No, it’s late, but there’s a laundromat up there that’s still open I think I’ll go hit before I quit for the night.”

The next day Jontz, a twenty-two-year-old Indiana University graduate with an unpaid job as a caretaker for a local nature preserve, defeated his heavily favored Republican opponent, John M. “Jack” Guy, Indiana House Majority Leader by a razor-thin two-vote margin. “One more vote than I needed to win!” he later exclaimed. The unexpected result stunned election officials, with one deputy clerk in Warren County marveling, “I never before realized just how important that one vote can be.”

Written by award-winning author Ray E. Boomhower, The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana, is the first-ever biography of Jontz. The book examines his remarkable long shot political career and lifetime involvement in local, state, and national environmental issues. As a liberal Democrat (he preferred the terms progressive or populist) usually running in conservative districts, Jontz had political pundits predicting his defeat in every election only to see him celebrating another victory with his happy supporters, always clad in a scruffy plaid jacket with a hood from high school that he wore for good luck. “I always hope for the best and fight for the worst,” said Jontz. He won five terms as state representative for the Twentieth District (Benton, Newton, Warren, and White Counties), served two years in the Indiana Senate, and captured three terms in the U.S. Congress representing the sprawling Fifth Congressional District in northwestern Indiana that stretched from Lake County in the north to Grant County in the south. Jontz told a reporter that his political career had always “been based on my willingness and role as a spokesman for the average citizen.”

From his first campaign for elective office until his death from colon cancer in 2007, Jontz had an abiding passion for protecting the environment. A dam project that threatened to destroy the scenic Fall Creek Gorge area in Warren County inspired Jontz to enter the political fray, and he continued his conservation efforts in Washington, D.C., sponsoring legislation to help protect old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest—an attempt that made him a hero to many environmentalists, but enraged timber-industry supporters and fellow congressmen. Although it might sound too grandiose to say that Jontz wanted to save the planet, his former wife, Elaine Caldwell Emmi, noted “that was his ultimate goal, to be a spokesman for those that couldn’t speak—the trees, the animals, the air, the water.”
            
Boomhower is senior editor with the Indiana Historical Society Press, where he edits the quarterly popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. His previous books have included biographies of author and Civil War general Lew Wallace, famed Hoosier war correspondent Ernie Pyle, suffragette and peace activist May Wright Sewall, World War II photographer John A. Bushemi, astronaut Gus Grissom, and U.S. Navy ace Alex Vraciu.

The People's Choice costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS Basile History Market, http://shop.indianahistory.org


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Book Examines POWs during World War II

The stories of seven men and one woman from Indiana who survived the horrors of captivity under the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II are captured in vivid detail by author John Shively in his book Profiles in Survival: The Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines during World War II. These Hoosiers stationed in the Philippines were ordered to surrender following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. It was the largest surrender of American armed forces in U.S. history. For many, it was the beginning of three years of hell starting with the infamous Bataan Death March, facing brutal conditions in POW camps in the Philippines, and horrific journeys to Japan for some onboard what came to be known as “hellships.”
            
Former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb, one of those featured in the book, notes that the American prisoners had to endure “unimaginable misery and brutality at the hands of sadistic Japanese guards,” as they were routinely beaten and many were executed for the most minor offenses, or for mere sport. Shively, said Whitcomb, has “done a masterful job of recounting the realities of life as a Japanese prisoner. These poignant stories attest to the innate enduring human struggle and drive to survive, tenacity in the face of adversity, and the dogged determination and unwillingness to give up when all seemed lost and hopeless.”
            
In addition to Whitcomb, those profiled include Irvin Alexander, Harry Brown, William Clark, James Duckworth, Eleanor Garen, Melvin McCoy, and Hugh Sims.

Shively is a practicing physician with a longtime interest in World War II. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana. He is the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima, published by Indiana University Press in 2006.

Profiles in Survival costs $27.95 and is available from the  IHS Basile History Market, http://shop.indiananhistory.org

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The Mystery of a Totem Pole

In 1903 Alaska governor John Brady collected fifteen old totem poles for preservation at Sitka National Historical Park, creating one of the most famous collections of totem poles in the world. One pole became separated, and its fate remained a mystery for nearly ninety years.

Written by Richard D. Feldman, Home before the Raven Caws: The Mystery of a Totem Pole, published by the IHS Press in cooperation with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
, unravels the mystery of that missing pole from the Brady collection. The old Alaskan pole found its way to Indiana more than a hundred years ago. A new version of the pole stands today at the Eiteljorg.

Feldman is a family physician who has a longtime interest in Native American religion, art, and culture, having studied with the renowned scholar Joseph Epes Brown at Indiana University, Bloomington. Feldman was adopted into the Haida nation by Mary Yeltazie Swanson in 1996. Feldman lectures frequently on a variety of medical as well as historical topics and has been the subject of several public television documentaries.

Home before the Raven Caws costs $15.95 and is available from the Indiana Historical Society's Basile History Market.


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Interview with Author of Dillinger Biography

During his career, John A. Beineke, author of the new IHS Press youth biography Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger, has worked as professor of history at Arkansas State University, where today he is distinguished professor of educational leadership and curriculum. Beineke has also been a public school teacher, university administrator, and program director in leadership and education at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Here Beineke talks about how he came to write about Dillinger.

What inspired you to write about such a controversial figure in Indiana and American history?

My dad was an Indianapolis News paperboy during the 1930s and told stories of how John Dillinger would slip in and out of Indianapolis and Mooresville to visit family. And, of course, the newspapers he carried told of the bank robberies and escapes. I never forgot hearing those stories. I also wanted there to be a book on Dillinger for young adults and to place him in historical context--the Great Depression, the rise of the New Deal and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and  the role technology played, from high-powered automobiles and weapons to the scientific method used to rob banks. There is a strong move in public schools to include more nonfiction in the curriculum. A biography about a figure who was emblematic of the time he lived and also a figure who captured the public’s imagination both then and now seemed a great match with Dillinger.

Was it difficult to separate the facts from the myth when writing about Dillinger?

Yes, on some stories where there were multiple versions I had to ask myself “Did this really happen?” Some sources would leave out a certain bank robbery, have him in two states at the same time, or not know where he was for a period of time. I tried to use eyewitness sources as to the bank robberies. Most people knew if it was Dillinger or not--and for most, such an event was the most exciting thing that ever happened in their lives. Some have said he robbed a bank or two in Kentucky, but I could not verify that. When I didn’t know where he was I said so. A good example of “myths” would be the “fake” gun used to break out of the Crown Point Jail. Some say it was real, others say it was carved from soap, but most think it was carved from wood and blackened with shoe polish. I put the different theories out there with the evidence I found and will let the reader decide.

How was Dillinger treated by newspapers during his prime--as a villain or a “Robin Hood” type of figure?

Good question.  At first a “Robin Hood.” Letting a farmer keep the money on the bank counter saying it belonged to the man, yet at the same time emptying the safe. Whose money was that? The Mooresville newspaper was sympathetic to him for a while, but that may have been that the citizens respected his hard-working father. After the policeman was shot during an East Chicago bank job in early 1934 and Dillinger was accused of being the gunman, things turned sour in the press. (It is still disputed he was even in East Chicago that day.)  Even up until the end, though, many people liked him because they didn’t like banks.  The storyline that he spent far too long in prison (nine years) for a botched robbery and that caused him to “go bad” also gained him support in eyes of the public. Finally, being shot in the back didn’t seem fair to some. But after fourteen months of robberies and escapes, almost all newspapers thought him a villain rather than a hero.

Why do you think Dillinger continues to be such a fascinating figure?

His exploits, his personality, and the fact he remains an icon in popular culture all testify to the ongoing public fascination with him. The name Dillinger even sounds a dangerous. He is both hero and desperado. This book’s cover makes that point with his menacing countenance staring at the reader while there is a simultaneous passing resemblance to movie star of the era of Humphrey Bogart. Other examples abound. There have been about a dozen books on him over the past fifty years. Four motion pictures--the latest starring Johnny Depp--and also several documentaries. There is a  Dillinger tour that begins in the Wisconsin lodge where he escaped FBI agent Melvin Purvis and then moves to Chicago’s Biograph Theater the scene of his death. The tour ends in Indianapolis at Crown Hill Cemetery, the location of his grave. There is a Dillinger Museum in Lake County  in northern Indiana. A few months back Dillinger's father’s farmhouse in Mooresville appeared in a real estate advertisement and the home wasn’t even for sale. Earlier this year a political commentator on NBC, when asked if Hillary Clinton was going to run for president, answered, “Does Dillinger rob banks?” He used the present tense as if Dillinger were still alive! And he didn’t have to identify the reference to Dillinger, dead eighty years in July.

What is your next project about?

I am working on a long scholarly piece on Indiana University president Herman Wells’s leadership and how he built IU by supporting controversial researchers, such as the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. There are two other Indiana ideas bouncing around in my mind. One would be to focus on the early years of World War I flying ace Captain EddieRickenbacker. His strong connection to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as both racer and track owner plus his involvement in the automotive industry of the 1920s. While from Ohio, not Indiana, Rickenbacker had a flamboyant and adventuresome personality and might make for a good young adult book. The other thought I have had is something on the theme of Indiana gas stations. My grandfather and father owned a “Hoosier Pete” filling station in Marion, Indiana from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s.  Maybe a pictorial book with commentary on the role these stations played in popular culture from the 1920s to the present. 




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Dillinger Book Selected for National Book Festival

The Indiana Center for the Book has selected the IHS Press youth biography Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger by John A. Beineke to represent Indiana at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The book will be featured on the Festival's "Discover Great Places through Reading Map."

The book selection is based on criteria where each states selects one title of fiction or nonfiction that is relevant to the state or by an author from the state and that is a good read for children or young adults. The map is distributed at the Pavilion of the States at the Festival.

"This selection is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about history's most notorious Hoosier," said Suzanne Walker, Indiana Center for the Book director. "While most books about John Dillinger are scholarly or adult-themed in nature, Hoosier Public Enemy tells this compelling crime drama in a way that is educational and entertaining for young readers."

The National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall on Saturday, August 30. It will feature award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators in several pavilions dedicated to categories of literature. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with mascots and storybook characters, and participate in a variety of learning activities.

The Indiana Center for the Book is a program of the Indiana State Library and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. The Center promotes interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries, and Indiana's literary heritage by sponsoring events and serving as an information resource at the state and local level. The Center supports both the professional endeavors and the popular pursuits of Indiana's residents toward reading and writing.
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John Dillinger Youth Biography Released

During the bleak days of the Great Depression, news of economic hardship often took a backseat to articles on the exploits of an outlaw from Indiana—John Dillinger. For a period of fourteen months during 1933 and 1934 Dillinger became the most famous bandit in American history, and no criminal since has matched him for his celebrity and notoriety.

In Hoosier Public Enemy: A Life of John Dillinger, ninth volume in the Indiana Historical Society Press’s Youth Biography Series, John A. Beineke delves into Dillinger’s life from his unhappy days growing up in Indianapolis and Mooresville, Indiana; his first unlucky brush with the law; his embracing of a life of crime while behind bars at the Indiana Reformatory; his exploits as the leader of a gang that terrorized banks and outwitted law enforcement in the Midwest, earning a reputation as a Robin Hood-style criminal,; and his headline-grabbing death in a hail of bullets on July 22, 1934, at the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Dillinger won public attention not only for his robberies, but his many escapes from the law. As Beineke notes in the book, Dillinger’s breakouts, getaways, and close calls were all part of the story. The escapes he made from jails or “tight spots,” when it seemed law officials had him cornered, became the stuff of legends. While the public would never admit that they wanted the “bad guy” to win, many could not help but root for the man who appeared to be an underdog.

Another reason that the name Dillinger still resonates with the public is that his raids on banks coincided with the rise of new crime-fighting methods. These modern approaches were employed by newly created agencies of the government to battle the innovative technologies used to carry out the crimes. Powerful automobiles and modern and deadly weapons were used by the men (and some women) who were labeled as “public enemies.”

There was also the Dillinger personality. He was viewed as the gentleman bandit, letting a poor farmer keep the few dollars on the bank counter rather than scooping it up with the rest of the loot. He was polite and handsome. Women liked him. One of Dillinger’s girlfriends, Polly Hamilton, once said, “We had a lot of fun. It’s surprising how much fun we had.” All this made good copy for newspapers around the country. It seemed like a Hollywood movie and Dillinger was the star.

Although his crime wave took place in the last century, the name Dillinger has never left the public imagination. Biographies, histories, movies, television and radio shows, magazines and newspapers, comic books, and now Internet sites have focused on this Indiana bandit. If the public enjoyed reading about the exploits of these “public enemies” or viewing the newsreels in the movie theaters of that day, so did Dillinger. Ironically, it was outside a theater screening a movie about gangsters that his life ended.

Beineke is distinguished professor of educational leadership and curriculum and also professor of history at Arkansas State University. He has been a public school teacher, university administrator, and program director in leadership and education at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Beineke is the author of And There Were Giants in the Land: The Life of William Heard Kilpatrick; Going Over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey; and Teaching History to Adolescents: A Quest for Relevance.  An inductee of the Marion High School Hall of Distinction and an Outstanding Alumnus of Teachers College Ball State University, he has also been a summer research fellow at Harris Manchester College Oxford University.  Beineke and his wife, Marla, live in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Hoosier Public Enemy costs $17.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.


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IHS Press Books Named as Award Finalists

Two publications from the Indiana Historical Society Press have been named as finalists in Foreword Review's 2013 Book of the Year Awards. The books and the categories they are entered in are as follows:


  • Indiana Out Loud: Dan Carpenter on the Heartland Beat, Essays Category
  • Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary, Regional Category
Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. June 27 at the American Library Association's annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.



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Memories of Hoosier Family Doctors

An initiative of the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians and the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Family Practice Stories: Memories, Reflections, and Stories of Hoosier Family Doctors of the Mid-Twentieth Century, is a collection of tales told by, and about, Hoosier family doctors practicing in the middle of the twentieth century. 

Edited by Richard Feldman, MD, the stories celebrate that time in America considered by many to be the golden age of generalism in medicine a time that conjures up Norman Rockwell s familiar archetypal images of the country family doctor and a time when the art of healing was at its zenith.

The book is divided into two sections. The first is a collection of reflective essays on various subjects, some written by individuals who participated in interviewing these older doctors, some by invited essayists, and others the perspectives of the doctors themselves concerning medicine and their careers. The second part contains a large collection of stories from Hoosier family physicians that practiced in this era. The stories are specific episodes in their careers and reveal much about how these family doctors touched the lives of their patients and their influence on their communities.

Feldman is a lifelong Hoosier who grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He is a 1972 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, and a 1977 graduate of the IU School of Medicine. After completing one year of psychiatry residency at IU, he finished his postgraduate medical training at Franciscan Saint. Francis Health Family Medicine Residency in 1980. He is a frequent lecturer, locally and nationally, on public health and medically-related subjects. He writes for the Indianapolis Star as an editorial page columnist on health-related issues.

Family Practice Stories costs $24.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

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History of Crown Hill Cemetery Available

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, Crown Hill Cemetery has been a vital part of the Indianapolis community dating back to its first interment, Lucy Ann Seaton, on June 2, 1864. Since then, Crown Hill has grown from a “rural cemetery” into the nation’s third largest private cemetery and is a community treasure that serves a broad range of needs and stands as a monument to the memories of hundreds of famous Hoosiers and the thousands more who selected Crown Hill as their final resting place.

Published by the Indiana Historical Society Press in cooperation with the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, and Sanctuary examines the cemetery’s complete history and places its story in a the larger historical context of the development and growth of American landscape architecture. In addition, the book includes vignettes of the famous families and individuals buried and/or entombed at Crown Hill and numerous photographs of the cemetery, its remarkable architecture, intricate sculptures memorializing the dead, and its lush landscape in every season. The cemetery is not only a place of memory, but it is also a place of contemplation for thousands of Indianapolis residents that pass through the site annually for such special events as Memorial Day, Benjamin Harrison’s birthday, Veterans Day, and other public and private group tours. Its rural setting also draws nature lovers to see deer, foxes, red-tailed hawks, and the more than 250 species of trees and shrubs on the grounds.

As far back as 1711, there were those who advocated for the development of landscaped cemeteries in rural settings. Since the founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1831, Americans had looked to bury their loved ones in these rural cemeteries located on the outskirts of cities and towns across the United States. These locations were civic institutions designed for use by the public as a place to enjoy refined outdoor recreation and be exposed to art and culture.

The first burial ground in Indianapolis was a five-acre tract on Kentucky Avenue near the White River. The 1821 graveyard became the nucleus of Greenlawn Cemetery (later known as City Cemetery). By the 1860s this cemetery was unable to meet the needs of the growing capital city. With the suggestion of a Fort Wayne businessman, Hugh McCullough, some of the leading citizens of Indianapolis called upon John Chislett, a landscape architect from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the development of what came to be Crown Hill Cemetery, which began with 274 acres bought for $51,000. Over the years additional acreage has been added to Crown Hill, the last coming in 1911.

Today, the cemetery occupies a 555-acre plot of land in northwest Indianapolis, bordered in the south and north by Thirty-second and Forty-second Streets respectively. More than 200,000 individuals are buried there, including many notable native and adopted Hoosiers. 

Crown Hill: History, Spirit, and Sanctuary costs $39.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.

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Interview with IHS Press Author Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter, author of the IHS Press book Indiana Out Loud: Dan Carpenter on the Heartland Beat, has been writing for the Indianapolis Star since 1979. In writing for the state's largest newspaper, Carpenter has covered the life and times of some notable Hoosiers, as well as serving as the voice for the disadvantaged. An Indianapolis native, Carpenter answers some questions about his work and career.

What influenced you to go into the journalism profession? 

I fell into writing not long after I learned to read, and fell in love with bylines and readers as a high school newspaper reporter. College in the 1960s, an era of explosive politics and social change, sealed the deal for one who yearned to be in on the action, or more precisely on the edge of it.

What were some of your early jobs with newspapers? 

First was the Greenfield (Ind.) Daily Reporter, where I covered police, fire, city hall and, on nights and weekends, high school sports. I also learned photography there by the sink-or-swim method. Next, 180 degrees removed, was the Milwaukee Courier, an African-American weekly where I practiced by straight and advocacy journalism and learned the priceless lesson that "straight" depends on where one stands.

How do you come up with the ideas for your columns? 

The general flow of news provides lots of ideas for spinoff features, further digging and commentary. Countless contacts accumulated over all these decades keep me supplied with possibilities and in touch with pursuits, people and causes that otherwise would be ignored or not given justice. My reading beyond the news, from history to poetry, often inspires themes and style turns.

Over the years, have you received regular comments from readers, both positive and negative, on your work? 

Many, but rarely a deluge on any single story. Gun control, religion, President Obama, marriage equality and Bob Knight (still) can be counted on to stir response. Rarely is there not a fair distribution of positive and negative.

With all the problems seemingly besetting the profession, would you encourage young people to pursue journalism as a career? 

Absolutely. But be nimble. The technology and market trends that have us multi-tasking and risking accuracy and nuance for speed and distribution will doubtless continue to accelerate and change. The writer who wishes to tell rich, humane, politically courageous, exhaustively researched stories will find his/her New Yorkers, Salons and even room in the daily "press." But he or she will need a closet full of hats to get established as an employee. Freelancers and bloggers likewise will have to be more resourceful than ever if they're to make a living. There's always PR and advertising, and more power to them. But we know what kind of word-and-picture-maker America needs. Desperately.

Any ideas for future writing projects? 

I'm fussing with a second book of poems for breathlessly waiting publishers out there. I also pine to write some intensive magazine-type stories from some of the locales I have observed from afar as a local newsie -- Haiti, Cameroon, the Middle East, etc. I am weighing the notion of teaching for a semester or so in a foreign country and writing about the experience, the place, the people.



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Indiana Out Loud: Dan Carpenter Book

Since 1976, Dan Carpenter’s writing has appeared in the pages of the Indianapolis Star as a police reporter, book critic, and renowned op-ed columnist. In writing for the state’s largest newspaper, Carpenter has covered the life and times of some notable Hoosiers, as well as serving as a voice for the disadvantaged, sometimes exasperating the Star’s readership in central Indiana as the newspaper’s “house liberal.”

Indiana Out Loud, now available from the Indiana Historical Society Press, is a collection of the best of Carpenter’s work since 1993 and includes timely and engaging examinations of the lives of such intriguing people as wrestling announcer Sam Menacker, survivor of the James Jones People’s Temple massacre Catherine Hyacinth Thrash, Indianapolis African American leader Charles “Snookie” Hendricks, Atlas Grocery impresario Sid Maurer, and coaches James “Doc” Counsilman and Ray Crowe. The book also includes a healthy dose of literary figures, politicians, historians, knaves, crooks, and fools.

As Carpenter notes, the book “presumes to make itself heard as a distinct voice of this place in this time of economic struggle, political divisiveness, creative persistence, flammable faith, terror brought home and war, seemingly, without end or limit.

“The cumulative sound comprises the sweet and strident, the measured and manic, the deafening and the barely detectable. It is as sharp as the orchestrations of a legendary neighborhood grocer and as seductive as the baritone riffs of a celebrated junkie poet. It shrieks against arbitrary war and enforced poverty. It sings the pain of inevitable loss and the praises of improbable gift-bearers.”

Carpenter is an Indianapolis native and a graduate of Cathedral High School and Marquette University. In addition to his work for the Indianapolis Star, he has published poetry in Illuminations, Pearl, Poetry East, Flying Island , Tipton Poetry Journal , and Southern Indiana Review. Carpenter’s book Hard Pieces: Dan Carpenter’s Indiana, was published by Indiana University Press in 1993. He lives in Indianapolis’s Butler-Tarkington neighborhood with his wife, Mary, and children, Patrick and Erin.

Indiana Out Loud costs $16.95 and is available from the Indiana Historical Society's Basile History Market.



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IHS Author Series Set

An Indiana politician and environmentalist, a Hollywood movie director, a mysterious totem pole, and a beloved Indianapolis store will all be featured in this summer's Indiana Historical Society Author Series. The programs, free and open to the public, begin at noon in the multipurpose room at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis. 


The Author Series schedule is as follows:
  • Tuesday, June 18--Ray E. Boomhower, The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana
  • Tuesday, July 16--Wes D. Gehring, Robert Wise: Shadowlands
  • Tuesday, August 20--Richard D. Feldman, Home before the Raven Caws: The Mystery of a Totem Pole
  • Tuesday, September 17--Kenneth L. Turchi, L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America

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L.S. Ayres, Immigration Books Honored

The IHS Press book L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America, written by Kenneth L. Turchi, won first place in the Midwest Regional Interest: Text category at the 23rd annual Midwest Books Awards. Ray E. Boomhower, senior editor at the Press, was on hand at the event in Bloomington, Minnesota, to receive the award from Sherry Roberts, chair of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, the group that sponsors the awards.

The competition attracted 187 books, entered in 44 categories, from 75 publishers in a 12-state Midwestern region. The Midwest Independent Publishers Association is a nonprofit professional association that serves the upper Midwest publishing community, advancing the understanding and appreciation of publishing production, promotion, and related technologies, professions, and trades.

Also, the IHS Press book Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants, written by M. Teresa Baer, is one of three finalists in the Teen: Nonfiction category in the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Winners will be announced at a May 29 ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. 

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Biography Wins SPJ Honor

The IHS Press book The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana captured first place in the non-fiction book category at the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists' annual Best in Indiana journalism contest.

The judge for the category said of the book: "Ray E. Boomhower's thoroughly researched and documented biography of Jim Jontz is a touching story well told--an inspiring portrait of a man's passion for the environment."

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IHS Press Books Nominated for Awards

A number of IHS Press books have been named as finalists in the annual Midwest Book Awards sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. Winners will be announced on May 8 at the Bloomington Center for the Arts in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The IHS Press books named as finalists are:

  • Robert Wise: Shadowlands by Wes D. Gehring in the Biography category
  • L.S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America by Ken Turchi in the Midwest Regional Interest, Text, category
  • Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants by M. Teresa Baer in the Young Adult, Nonfiction category
  • Paint and Canvas: A Life of T.C. Steele by Rachel Berenson Perry in the Young Adult, Nonfiction category


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IHS Press Books Finalists for National Awards

Three IHS Press books have been named as finalists in ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year Awards. Those books nominated and their categories are:

  • Robert Wise: Shadowlands by Wes D. Gehring in the biography category
  • Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants by M. Teresa Baer in the young adult nonfiction category
  • Paint and Canvas: A Life of T. C. Steele by Rachel Berenson Perry in the young adult nonfiction category
The finalists were selected from 1,300 entries covering sixty-two categories of books from independent and academic presses. These books represent some of the best produced by small publishing houses in 2012.

Over the next two months a panel of sixty judges, librarians and booksellers only, will determine the winners. Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards, as well as Editor's Choice Prizes for fiction and nonfiction, will be announced at the American Library Association's annual conference in Chicago on Friday, June 28. ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards program was created to highlight the years most distinguished books from independent publishers.
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Poetry Book Wins Honor

The IHS Press book And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, has won the poetry category in the Indiana Center for the Book's 2012 Best Books of Indiana competition.

The poetry category judges called the book "an encapsulation of an essential part of our state's literary history," and noted it was "deserving of a place of honor in the personal library of any lover of things either poetic or Hoosier. As a resource for a connoisseur or novice, it would be well placed on a bookshelf next to Czeslaw Milosz's A Book of Luminous Things and Garrison Keillor's Good Poems."
Finalists in the poetry category included Airmail from the Airpoets and Rob Griffith's book The Moon from Every Window. 


Kander's poetry has appeared in Flying IslandCalifornia QuarterlyBathtub Gin,WindSouthern Indiana Review, and Shiver. Her chapbook Taboo was published by Finishing Line Press in 2004. She has compiled and edited two volumes of poetry, The Linen Weave of Bloomington Poets and Celebrating Seventy, both published under Wind’s logo. 

Greer’s poems have appeared in Streets MagazineFlying IslandWind, and other publications. He has been active with the Bloomington Free Verse Poets, and he coedited, with Kander, Say This of Horses: A Selection of Poems published by the University of Iowa Press in 2007.

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Interview with Author of L. S. Ayres Book

Photo by Zach Hetrick

Kenneth L. Turchi developed an interest in retailing while working for a clothing store in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Indiana. He worked for L. S. Ayres and Company while in college and later earned a law degree. He has spent most of his career in marketing and strategic planning in the financial services industry. Currently Turchi is assistant dean at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington. Here he answers questions about his new book for the IHS Press, L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America.

What inspired you to write a history of L.S. Ayres and Company?

I've always been interested in retailing. My first job in high school was as an errand runner at The Golden Rule, a small chain of now-defunct women's clothing stores in my hometown of Crawfordsville. Later I worked for Loeb's of Lafayette and for L. S. Ayres. Researching and writing this book was a way for me to explore an area of interest in depth and meet some great people. It was an easy topic to choose: Ayres enjoyed such respect for its integrity, both as a merchant as an employer.

What made Ayres different from other department stores?

At least two things: Ayres was among the first department stores to anticipate the shift from dressmaking to ready-to-wear after World War I. To help customers make that transition, they came up with "That Ayres Look"--a slogan that signaled to its customers that ready-made fashions were just as desirable as custom-made ones, regardless of price. The slogan served them well for more than fifty years and set the pace for the store's commitment to quality, from the designer salon to the downstairs store.

Second, Ayres saw itself as being in the merchandising business, not the department store business. This broad strategy took them into new lines of business: discount stores, trade sources, specialty stores, all of which anticipated market trends years in advance. I believe that if the company hadn't made a couple of strategic errors in the early 1970s (and the economy had cooperated), they would occupy the space now owned by Target Corporation, which followed a similar growth path to Ayres. (Target was the discount-store arm of Dayton's, a Minneapolis department store similar to Ayres.)
Is there one individual from Ayres that stood out to you while you were doing your research as a person who typified the best of Ayres?

I would name two: Ted Griffith, who married into the Ayres family and guided its growth from the 1920s until about 1960. He was a master merchandiser and by all accounts an exemplary leader. Jim Gloin also comes to mind: he was the store's numbers man who kept things going during World War II and set the stage for its growth and diversification in the 1960s. Other names come to mind, too: Dan Evans, John Peacock, and Elizabeth Patrick.

Looking back, was there a way for Ayres to have survived into the twenty-first century?

As mentioned, Ayres made a critical decision in the late 1960s to continue building its department store franchise, which impeded growth of its Ayr-Way discount stores. If they had cast their lot with discount and specialty retailing, we quite probably would all be shopping at Ayr-Way rather than Target, and at Sycamore Shops rather than The Limited.

But other than that, Ayres as a traditional department store, where you could spend the day browsing for everything from furniture to sheet music to sewing notions to typewriters, could not survive today. Shopping habits have changed, and customers aren't as willing to pay for service over price. A few specialty retailers--Nordstrom, Crate and Barrel--have taken over the high-end general merchandise market. Macy's does a good job as a department store, but not in the traditional sense, and its results depend heavily on promotional pricing.

Are you working on another book?

Yes! Watch this space.


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New History of L.S. Ayres and Company Released

In 1872 Lyman Ayres acquired a controlling interest in the Trade Palace, a dry-goods store in Indianapolis. Two ears later, he bought out his partners and renamed the establishment L. S. Ayres and Company. For the next century, Ayres was as much a part of Indianapolis as Monument Circle or the Indianapolis 500. Generations of midwestern families visited the vast store to shop for everything from furs to television sets, to see the animated Christmas windows, and, of course, to visit Santa Claus and enjoy lunch in the Tea Room.

As Kenneth L. Turchi highlights in his new IHS Press book L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America, Ayres was more than just a department store. At its helm across three generations was a team of visionary retailers who took the store from its early silk-and-calico days to a diversified company with interests in specialty stores, discount stores (before Target and Wal-Mart), and even grocery stores. At the same time, Ayres never lost sight of its commitment to women's fashion that gave the store the same cachet as its largest competitors in New York and Chicago.

What was the secret of Ayres's success? In the book, Turchi traces the store's history through three wars, the Great Depression, and the changing tastes and shopping habits of America in the 1960s and 1970s. Examining Ayres's hundred years of management decisions, he offers strategic takeaways that explain not only the store's success, but that also apply to anyone who wants to be successful in business. Along the way, he describes the store's phenomenal growth while offering a behind-the-scenes look at this beloved and trusted institution.

Turchi developed an interest in retailing while working for a clothing store in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Indiana. He worked for L. S. Ayres and Company while in college and later earned a law degree. He has spent most of his career in marketing and strategic planning in the financial services industry. Currently Turchi is assistant dean at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington. This is his first book.

L. S. Ayres and Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America costs $29.95 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.
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Cassell Wins Dunn Award

Frank A. Cassell of Sarasota, Florida, is the winner of the annual Jacob P. Dunn Jr. Award for the best article to appear in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. His article, "A Hoosier Love Story: The Courtship of Josie Chafee and Salem Hammond," appeared in the the magazine's spring 2012 issue.

In his article, Cassell explored the love affair between Chafee and Hammond of Petersburg, Indiana, in the hundreds of letters the two wrote one another. The letters also reveal details of everyday life in Petersburg during the turbulent decades between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.


Cassell is emeritus professor of history and emeritus president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. He earned his bachelor's degree from Wabash College and his master's degree and doctorate from Northwestern University.


Named for the noted Indianahistorian and author, the $500 award honors the article that in the opinion of the Traces editorial board and staff best serves the magazine’s mission. This mission involves presenting thoughtful, research-based articles on Indiana history in an attractive format to a broad audience of readers.


Dunn, who helped revitalize the Society in the 1880s, produced such standard works as the two-volume Greater Indianapolis (1910) and his five-volume Indiana and Indianans (1919). In his remarkable career, Dunn also worked on a variety of Indianapolis newspapers, campaigned to establish free public libraries, endeavored to preserve the language of the Miami Indians, and prospected for minerals in Haiti.


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