Title Reviewed:
A Book of Memories

Author Reviewed:
Hilton U. Brown

Donald F. Carmony


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 201-203

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

A Book of Memories. By Hilton U. Brown. (Greenfield, Indiana: Old Swimmin' Hole Press for Butler University, 1951, pp. 339. Index. $3.50.)

Hilton U. Brown is one of the few Hoosiers who have lived in Indiana since before the Civil War. His memory of events, personalities, episodes, and movements, spans a period of almost ninety years. A Book of Memories is an apt title for these recollections of the dean of Indiana newspapermen. This volume is neither history nor autobiography in the usual sense. It reflects a substantial degree of understanding, a generous tone, and even a spirit of youthfulness. The author's apparent conservative leanings are grounded upon a considerable knowledge of human nature. Hilton U. Brown has obviously found zest in living; he is not unduly sentimental about the good old days, nor does he find only sordidness and corruption in recent years. Perhaps his study of Greek and Roman civilizations—of language, history and literature—gave him a perspective about mankind which has abided with him to his present age of ninety-three.

This book has many glimpses and sidelights concerning men, incidents, trends, and episodes which will be helpful to historians and others. Many who use this volume will wish its author had told more, while historians will naturally check him against other accounts in accordance with the standards and practices of their profession. These random recollections include useful information regarding college life at Butler, the establishment of the William H. Smith Memorial Library, the days of mule-drawn street cars in Indianapolis, the coming of the telephone, ballot-stuffing at elections, Catherine Merrill as a teacher, the location and purposes of the Woollens Gardens, the "literary" names for Irvington streets, the Sim Coy chapter of boss rule and corruption in the Hoosier capital, the strained relations between Theodore Roosevelt and Charles W. Fairbanks, the editorial ability of Berry R. Sulgrove, the personality of Benjamin Harrison, the establishment and evolution of the IndianapolisNews, the merger of the former and the IndianapolisStar, Harvey Wiley as a member of the Butler faculty, and so forth.

The memories are principally clustered around three threads: Butler University, the IndianapolisNews, and the life of the Hoosier capital. Hilton U. Brown has served on the Butler Board of Trustees for sixty-nine years, and as president of this body for half a century. He attended the preparatory department at Butler and was graduated from the college in 1880, when it was located in Irvington. Since 1881n r for seventy-one years—he has been on the staff of the IndianapolisNews holding sundry positions from market reporter to Vice-President of the Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc. The association with the News has been his "main beat." His service on numerous boards and committees which have considered or dealt with many aspects or problems of the life of Indianapolis has marked him as one of its prominent civic leaders. His counsel with many other committees and groups have added to his influence through the decades.

Mr. Brown has told much about many things, but in so doing he has revealed considerable of himself. None can record his memories of others without telling something about himself. The author deserves an orchid for adding the words "Permission to reprint granted," beneath the copyright description. Possibly here he WM acting M a newspaper man who wants information to be unfettered and without needless restrictions. Whoever compiled the index should have realized that names alone do not make a satisfactory guide. The book has a certain composite touch—as indicated in the postscript—which may be common newspaper practice, but offers some difficulties by way of interpretation. The generous use of verbatim quotations poses similar problems. Such criticisms, both favorable and unfavorable, are obvious to the careful reader. Hoosiers should be grateful for this further addition to their literature. Perhaps with this beginning Hilton U. Brown will decide to add another volume in order to record more of his memories as he enjoys the years of life beyond that commonly allotted to man.

Indiana University

Donald F. Carmony

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.