Title Reviewed:
A Guide to Manuscript Collections of the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana State Library

Author Reviewed:
Eric Pumroy; Paul Brockman

Author:
Saundra Taylor

Date:
1987

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 389-392

Article Type:
Book Review

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A Guide to Manuscript Collections of the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana State Library. By Eric Pumroy, with Paul Brockman. (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1986. Pp. xviii, 513. Index. $25.00.)

The Indiana State Library and the Indiana Historical Society Library have had a long and compatible relationship dating from the 1830s. This publication is the most recent example and proof

[Figure]

SAINTS PETER AND PAUL CATHEDRAL, BUILT IN 1906, AND RECTORY AS THEY APPEARED IN 1914. CRITICS CALLED THE CATHEDRAL "THAT CRACKERBOX ON MERIDIAN STREET."

[Figure]

THE FACADE OF THE CATHEDRAL UPON ITS COMPLETION IN 1936. ITS DESIGN WAS INSPIRED BY THE FACADE OF ST. JOHN LATERAN IN ROME.

Reproduced from James J. Divita, Indianapolis Cathedral: A Construction History of Our Three Mother Churches (Indianapolis, 1986), 30, 49.

of remarkable cooperation between the two libraries—one public, the other private—dedicated to the collection and preservation of materials that document Indiana history.

The volume begins with a short informative "History of the Collections" that describes the interrelationship of the two organizations, the division of collecting responsibilities agreed upon in the 1930s and 1940s, accelerated acquisition programs of both collections in the mid-1960s, and the most recent "negotiated areas of collecting emphasis" (p. xv) as determined in the early 1980s.

The Guide proper consists of descriptions of 809 major collections—major being defined as more than twenty items or at least .25 linear feet in size—of original manuscripts. Collections consisting only of copies, unprocessed collections, manuscript genealogies, and local histories have been deliberately excluded. A brief description entitled "Use of the Guide" explains the format of the entries and each element therein. Information provided for each collection includes name, inclusive dates, number of items or size, shelf number, what in-house finding aid exists, biographical sketch or organizational history note, and description of contents. Two other elements that would have been of interest, and that this reviewer definitely missed, are date and source of acquisition, including designation of whether a gift or purchase.

The descriptions are arranged alphabetically by collection title, but in two separate files: that is, first the Society Library collections, designated by "A" and a numerical entry, followed by the State Library collections, designated by "B" and a number. As the two collections often complement, or even overlap one another, and as both are physically located in the same building, it might have been beneficial to have presented a single alphabetical listing, with the unique A—B entry designations used to specify repository location. Thus, collections such as Amos Butler, Schuyler Colfax, Ed-ward Eggleston, etc., that exist in both repositories, would appear together in description form for the researcher.

The above critique is not to say that the arrangement is a weakness of the Guide, as it has an excellent index which serves the researcher well in locating pertinent materials in both repositories. The index would be even more useful, however, if some cross references for subjects had been made. For example, "insurance" is found only as a subheading under the entry "business," as is "theaters"; yet, "banking, finance, and economics" is a separate index entry unto itself. In fact, at first sight there seems to be some inconsistency in entering subjects directly or as subheadings of a broader topic. For example, under "religion" the various denominations are listed as subheadings, while churches are listed under specific name.

But to put aside these minor carpings, the fact remains that this is an excellent, well-prepared and presented, and much-needed guide to two of the most important collections of Indiana materials in the state. If only the third such collection could be so well represented through a guide to its holdings.

Saundra Taylor, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington



Published by the Indiana University Department of History.