A new Ball State University Archives and Special Collections exhibit celebrates Muncie’s 150 year history through the scope of the Middletown studies that were conducted in the early twentieth century. From Magic City to Middletown: 150 Years of Muncie’s History runs from July 6, 2015 to September 30, 2015 on the second floor of Bracken Library.
Though the industrial revolution is an era consistently associated with the late eighteen and early nineteen century, it took time for its concepts to spread to smaller cities. For Muncie, this came in 1886 with the beginning of the Gas Boom era. Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture (1929) was a study that examined sociological changes in Muncie from 1890 to 1925. “Middletown” was the descriptive pseudonym given to Muncie, suggesting its selection was due to its “normalcy” as a typical small city representative of “contemporary American life.”
The exhibit is organized into the six categories identified in the original study by authors Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd: Getting a Living; Making a Home; Training the Young; Using Leisure; Engaging in Religious Practices; Engaging in Community Activities.
The display highlights some of the more unique local history items in Archives and Special Collections, including:
- Early diaries documenting life during the Gas Boom in Muncie
- A pardon of former Muncie Mayor, George R. Dale, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt
- An 1859 deed that documents a sale between a Mary Jane Edmonds and George R. and Louisa Andrews for a parcel of land in Muncietown
- An 1885 inventory for the Star Drug Store
- Selections from the Marsh/Ryan family papers and photographs
The Muncie Sesquicentennial will be celebrated throughout Bracken Library. In addition to Archives and Special Collections’ exhibit, the GIS Research and Map Collection located on the second floor of Bracken Library will display historical Muncie maps. An animated Muncie map and also maps corresponding to the Thomas Neely diaries are being created especially for the exhibit. University Libraries’ Information Services will provide a display of local history books on the first floor of Bracken Library.
For more information about this exhibit, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-285-5078.