TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana—The Next Indiana

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book by famous Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, The 20th Century, and The Next Indiana.

The Next Indiana looks at what lies ahead for Indiana. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people.

The documentary looks at several cities in Indiana and how these communities are preparing themselves for the future: New Castle, South Bend, Gary, Warsaw, Carmel, New Harmony, and Jasper. Many of these communities thrived a century ago during the steel, car, and manufacturing heydays, but have fallen on hard times. During the last several decades, they strove to turn their communities around with innovation and high-tech.

South Bend, once the home of Studebaker, has been working to become a center of nanotechnology. Warsaw is the center of the medical device industry (which actually makes it vulnerable if it loses its edge in the field). Jasper has been looking ahead, laying high-speed fiber (GigaCity Project), reminiscent of rural electrification during FDR’s New Deal.

The documentary also touches on some challenges facing Indiana. Heroin and meth have become serious issues. Eventually, an HIV epidemic in rural Scott County, fueled by heroin addiction, forced Governor Pence to allow counties to set up needle exchange programs. In 2015, there were 543 cases of HIV across the state. By May 2016, there were 191 new cases of HIV in Scott County alone (out of 92 counties).

Another challenge is power. Most electricity in Indiana comes from Indiana coal (though it provides only 80% of electricity, down from 95% twenty years ago). Indiana has gone slowly towards weaning itself off of coal and using natural gas, solar, and wind (though I wonder if this trend will now reverse itself.)

Although Indiana established its first state park in 1916 (at its centennial), the state lags in conservation. Less than 4% of the land is protected. The state is a diverse ecosystem, from the Dunes in the northwest to the bald cypress groves in the south. The documentary calls out Goose Pond, a restored wetlands that is a major site for migrating birds.

Last, the documentary focuses on diversity in Indiana though it only touches on two groups: Latinos and Jews. Lignoir is a small northern Indiana community that is home to a large Latino community and historically a Jewish community. The Jewish community is long gone but the town has continued to maintain the synagogue left behind.

The four installments of Hoosiers: The Indiana Story are a whirlwind trip through Indiana history, places, and people. They provide a kaleidoscope of Indiana rather than an exhaustive look….and are a good jumping off point for learning about the Hoosier state.

TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana—The 20th Century

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book by famous Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, The 20th Century, and The Next Indiana.

The 20th Century covers the period of time from after World War II to the present. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people.

After World War II, Indiana was home to important car manufacturers, like Marmon, Stutz, and Duesenberg. Reliability runs to test and prove the technology going into cars started with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1911 and the initial win by the Marmon Wasp.

Cities thrived in Indiana. Indianapolis was one of the most modern cities. The Madame Walker Theatre was built on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis—the Harlem of the Midwest. French Lick was a bustling party town with 30 hotels and 15 casinos—and with 12 trains arriving daily. Opera houses existed in small communities, like New Harmony.

Indiana was awash with creative talent: singers like Cole Porter from Peru and Hoagy Carmichael of Bloomington; poets, writers, and playwrights like James Whitcomb Riley, Theodore Dreiser, and Booth Tarkington; artists like William Forsythe, Otto Stark, William Scott, T.C. Steele, and Frank Dudley.

The beauty of the Dunes was recognized and protection sought, originally by a Saturday afternoon walking club that morphed into the Prairie Club of Chicago that morphed into the Save the Dunes movement. The state park was formed in 1926, but it took Dorothy Buell another 40 years of organizing before the National Lakeshore was established.

The documentary spends quite a bit of time on racism in Indiana during the 20th century for good reason. The narrator relates the 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion. James Cameron, who escaped lynching, wasn’t pardoned until 1993.

The KKK was in its second of three incarnations. (These incarnations included combating reconstruction in the south after the Civil War, moral decay of God and country in the 1920s, and civil rights in the 1960s). One of out four Hoosiers and half of the General Assembly were members of the Klan. (Makes me wonder what skeletons may be lurking in my white family closet.) Grand Wizard D.C. Stephenson, who boasted “I am the law in the state of Indiana”, was brought down by Madge Oberholtzer after he brutally attacked, raped, and cannibalized her. The heyday of the Klan in Indiana was over (and hopefully will stay over).

The Calumet Region (Northwest Indiana) was the last of the frontier in Indiana. In 1906, US Steel bought a seven-mile stretch along Lake Michigan and set out to build a city, Gary. The company sought to avoid the mistakes that Pullman made with the Pullman company town and the 1894 Pullman strike (which incidentally, Eugene Debs was involved in). Gary flourished. Workers came from all over. The Region became a melting pot with people from over 80 different ethnicities. However, with the Great Depression, efforts were made to repatriate Mexicans. Half of East Chicago and Gary were forced out. (Hopefully, history will not repeat itself today.)

Continuing its military participation, Hoosiers fought in the wars. In World War I, 3,000 died. In World War II, the number was 12,000.

After the Second World War, the Indiana economy flourished with all sorts of industries and manufacturing: band instruments (Elkhart), TVs (Bloomington), cars (Kokomo, Anderson, Muncie, and others), diesel engines (Columbus), RVs (Elkhart), and trucks (Fort Wayne). Most car companies were bought or went under by the 1930s. Studebaker in South Bend, which started with wagons, progressed to buggies, then ended with autos, was the exception, not folding until 1963. In the 1980s, Governor Mutz, by brokering a deal with Subaru, initiated a wave of car manufacturers moving back into Indiana.

The documentary circles back around to racism in the 1960s. Housing covenants kept blacks from buying houses in white neighborhoods. Robert Kennedy, campaigning in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, announced Martin Luther King’s assassination to the crowd he was addressing. His words are credited with keeping calm in the city. Crispus Attucks, a black high school in Indianapolis, won the 1955 state basketball championship, the first for black school to do so. In 1971, the courts ordered that Indianapolis schools be integrated through busing students. Just last year, in 2015 the court reversed this order, claiming that integration had been achieved (!).

Gary, once such a flourishing, vibrant city with top-notch schools and cultural venues, has been crumbling for decades. Built to house workers for US Steel, its fortunes fell with the company’s fortunes. In 1968, Gary elected its first African-American mayor and the first black mayor of a major city, Richard Gordon Hatcher. He watched business disinvestment in Gary and white flight ensue.

The documentary then focuses on two family businesses in Indiana and how they have thrived through the generations: Phillips Patterns and Casting, Nick’s Building Supply-Door Wholesaler. These mini-perspectives show how the companies reinvented themselves in order to survive and thrive through the decades.

Last, the documentary looks at the preservation movement in Madison, an early vibrant town on the Ohio River. Like lots of Indiana towns, once manufacturing started to leave the US and Indiana, the towns became shells of their former selves. Madison started to tear down its decaying buildings, but some residents realized the treasures that they were destroying. A strong movement was born to preserve Madison’s physical history. And now Madison is a popular destination for its beautiful historical buildings and homes.

The documentary continues with a fourth part that looks at Indiana in the future.

TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana–Split Rails to Steel Rails

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book by famous Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, the 20th Century, and the Next Indiana.

Split Rails to Steel Rails covers the period of time from the Civil War to World War I and focuses on war, business, and culture. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people, like the Editorial Page Editor of the Northwest Indiana Times (Marc Chase) and a retired Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court (Randall J. Shepherd).

War seems to hold a special place in the Hoosier state, and Indiana has more than its share of war memorials. Indiana sent the most men to fight in the Civil War, second only to Delaware—two-thirds of eligible-aged Indiana men served in the Civil War. Troops were organized by ethnic groups and counties, which meant that they were often fighting side-by-side with family and neighbors.

Lew Wallace, later known as the author of Ben-Hur, selected the site of what was the State Fairgrounds—and what is currently Military Park—as the site for training volunteers. This training site—Camp Morton, named after the governor during the Civil War—morphed into a POW camp.

From 1862 to 1865, Colonel Richard Owen managed this camp of 3,000 POWs. Despite 50 prisoners dying per month, after the end of the war, the prisoners raised funds to have a sculpture of Owen made in honor of the humaneness he showed told the Confederate soldiers in the camp. (You can see the sculpture in the Indiana Statehouse.)

Governor Morton had a decidedly difficult time financially supporting the Union and funding the government. Democrat Copperheads, or those Democrats who didn’t support the Union, controlled the legislature and blocked the state contributing money to the Union cause. In a seemingly modern-day move, the Republicans fled the legislature so no quorum was possible. In retaliation, the Democrats decided not to dispense ANY money, which meant that the Indiana government risked grinding to a halt.

In an attempt to keep the government running, Governor Morton turned to the Madison banker James Lanier for funding. In 1861, the two decided that Lanier would buy $400,000 worth of bonds—perhaps not quite an above-board tactic—to prevent government shutdown.

How much of the war was waged on Indiana soil? Not much. The only battle was Morgan’s Raid in 1863, when Confederate troops crossed the Ohio River at Corydon. They blazed a path of destruction, mistakenly thinking that sympathizers to the Southern cause would rise up. None did. (I recently learned of another foray across the river, by Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson at Newburgh. Basically, Johnson’s foray was a hit and run excursion, intent on gathering supplies and firearms before retreating back over the river.)

Originally, Indiana settlements existed by waterways, the quickest means of transportation that connected communities. But in the second half of the 1800s came the railroad, which changed the pattern of population in the state. The steepest incline was in Madison; the Reuben Wells steam engine, specifically made for the Madison incline, can be seen at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis became a transportation hub for the railroads. In 1853, the first Union Station, meant to be one station shared by all railroads, was built in Indianapolis. By 1890, 120 trains were stopping in Indianapolis every day.

An equally impressive system of interurbans crisscrossed Indiana towns. Eventually, with the rise of the automobile (that had an incredible early history in Indiana) came the demise of the interurbans. (The only one that exists today is the South Shore.)

Indiana was a big center of business, from the Ball Company in Muncie to Eli Lilly, L.S. Ayres, and Madam C.J. Walker in Indianapolis. The limestone of southern Indiana was quarried for buildings such as the statehouse (1886) and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (1902). In the 1870s, the coal mines suffered through strikes and unions, resulting in the firing of workers and the hiring of their children. (Children were less apt to cause trouble or unionize, and could be paid less.)

Into this maelstrom came Eugene V. Debs. Originally he believed that the best course of action for workers was to do a good job; managers would recognize the good work with good pay. Eventually, faced with reality, he changed his views and organized unions (the railroad union in 1894) and strikes (think the Pullman strike). Change, he saw, was only possible through politics. In his core, he believed in the dignity of all people.

In the late 1800s, 13% of the population in Indianapolis was German. German immigrants looked around at the culture and traditions around them and concluded that it was lacking in refinement (ouch!). Instead, they created their own vibrant society with German organizations, clubs, symphonies, theatre, and schools.

World War I destroyed the German culture in Indiana. Kurt Vonnegut, famous 20th century Hoosier author, described how he was raised ignorant of the rich heritage of German music, literature, culture, and language—all because Germans in the early 20th century assumed that ignorance of their culture and traditions was necessary in order to be patriotic. Bits and pieces still exist today as German festivals or the Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus, which incidentally Vonnegut’s father was an architect for) in Indianapolis.

The documentary continues with a third part that looks at Indiana from World War I to the present time.

TV movie review: Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana–Birth of a State

Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana is a PBS documentary series based on the book of the same name by Indiana historian James H. Madison. The documentary series is split into four parts: Birth of a State, Split Rails to Steel Rails, The 20th Century, and The Next Indiana.

Birth of a State covers the period of time from when Indiana lobbied for statehood to just before the Civil War. The documentary is narrated by Madison and includes interviews with various people, like the President of the Levi Coffin House Association (Janice McGuire, who was my docent when I visited the historical site—by the way, she is outstanding!), the Director of Historic New Harmony (Connie Weinzapfel), and a retired Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court (Randall J. Shepherd).

Indiana was originally part of the Indiana Territory, which included Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota. The capital of the territory was Vincennes. (You can visit many historic sites there.) The Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison was pro-large landholdings and pro-slavery—positions that didn’t sit well with others in southern Indiana.

In 1813, a vote moved the capital east to Corydon on the Ohio River (and away from Harrison’s nexus of power, I’d argue). In 1816, 43 delegates met in the new courthouse in Corydon for a Congressional Convention. In December 1816, Congress recognized Indiana as a state. (Side note: You can visit the grave of Robert Hanna, one of the delegates and signers of the state constitution, in Crown Hill Cemetery.)

At the time, Indiana was home to numerous Indian tribes: Potawatomi, Wea, Miami, Delaware, Kaskaskia, Shawnee, Piankashaw, Huron, Wyandot, Ottawa, Seneca, Kickapoo. Eventually the Indians were either removed from the land or killed. Probably the most famous violent confrontation is the Battle of Tippecanoe of 1811, when Harrison decimated the Indians led by Tecumseh and the Prophet.

But also instructive is the 1824 Fall Creek Massacre of nine Indians that shockingly led to the trial of the white perpetrators and the execution of three of them. Unfortunately, this trial and conviction of white violence on non-whites didn’t set a legal precedent.

The documentary weaves a history through key places, people, and events throughout Indiana, mostly focused on southern Indiana as that was the first part of the state to be settled. Originally the inhabitants were Native Americans and French trappers and fur traders. Whites and blacks moved into Indiana from Kentucky and North Carolina—both slave states. However, the migrants from North Carolina were Quakers from Guilford County who left North Carolina due to slavery. The Underground Railroad thrived in Indiana.

The documentary discusses important early settlements like Vincennes (as the territorial capital) or Madison (as an international commerce hotspot on the Ohio River) or New Harmony (as the location of utopian societies: first German millennialism and then utopian socialism) or black settlements (Beech Settlement, Walnut Ridge, Corydon).

People, some well-known, some not, are discussed as being influential to Indiana history. William Conner, whose homestead exists as an historical park, went native, marrying a Native American woman. Later, he helped negotiate deals with the Native Americans that led to their removal (along with his wife and child) to Oklahoma. He then married a white woman and became a respectable businessman, clearly riding the wave of commerce moving from trapping and trade with the Native Americans to commerce with white settlers and landownership.

Lincoln, regularly touted as hailing from Illinois, lived his formative years (ages 6 to 21) in southern Indiana. Sophia Ramsdell Fuller left a detailed diary of her pioneer life in Vigo County. Mary Bateman Clark had a profound effect on the lives of slaves and former slaves in Indiana, setting a legal precedent about indentured servitude.

The Ohio River was key to the early settlement of southern Indiana—rivers being an important mode of transport for people and goods. The rivers allowed commerce and prosperity (for some). Canals, like the Wabash and Erie, were created for the same economic and commercial purpose. The financial woes brought on by the canal led to a revised constitution.

The original constitution borrowed language from the Ohio and Kentucky constitutions. The Indiana version became a model for later state constitutions. The 1816 constitution stressed the importance of education, legally proclaimed Indiana as a free state (though not always in practice), and gave all white men the vote regardless if they were landowners.

The constitution revised in 1851 prohibited debt (being debt-free even if that means not investing in the future seems to be a long-standing source of pride in Indiana), granted free education, and prohibited African-Americans from moving into the state (!). African-Americans already living in Indiana were required to register—a horrible idea but a fascinating source of historical information about African-Americans living in the state.

The documentary continues with a second part that looks at Indiana from the Civil War to World War I.

200 Years of Indiana Art: A Cultural Legacy

In celebration of the state’s bicentennial, the Indiana State Museum is showcasing 200 years of Indiana art. The exhibit actually spans more than the 200 years that Indiana has been a state, starting with the earliest known drawing done in Indiana (a drawing by Colonel Henry Hamilton in 1778) and ending with a sculpture made specifically for the exhibit (a limestone sculpture by Dale Enochs). The exhibit does a good job of covering the different artistic groups, styles, and mediums from Indiana.

I recognized a number of artists from other exhibits and collections and was introduced to many more. 200 Years of Indiana Art includes ten of the nineteen artists in the bicentennial exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art: Robert Indiana, David Smith, Garo Antreasian, Felrath Hines, Jacob Cox, George Winter, William Merritt Chase, the Overbeck sisters, Janet Payne-Bowles, and Frank Hohenberger.

The exhibit also includes a few of Guastave Baumann’s works; last year the Indianapolis Museum of Art hosted an exhibit devoted to Baumann. And the exhibit displays a quilt designed and made by Marie Webster. A collection of her quilts is currently on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, running until January 8, 2017.

200 Years of Indiana Art covers different artist colonies and groups around the state. The Richmond Group started in the 1870s and actually predated the better known Hoosier Group. Richmond and the environs contained many Quakers who migrated from North Carolina (for example, Levi Coffin). John Elwood Bundy, known as “the Dean”, founded the Richmond Art Association of 1898. The exhibit introduced me to the wonderfully ethereal paintings of Maude Kaufman Eggemeyer.

In 1894, art critic Harmlin Garland christened several Indiana artists as The Hoosier Group. Members T.C. Steele and William Forsyth were involved in the Indiana School of Art, which continues today as the Herron School of Art at IUPUI. In 1922, T.C. Steele was given an honorary degree from Indiana University and even had an open studio in the school’s library building (Franklin Hall).

T.C. Steele was also known as the central figure in the Brown County Art Colony in the early 1900s. Many Indiana and regional artists passed through Brown County, staying for shorter or longer times or returning sporadically over the years to paint the rolling hills and ruralness of the area.

Another art club sprang up in the southeast of the state, the Wonderland Way Art Club. Founded by James Russell in 1906, the club convened in his store as a place for camaraderie and to discuss art. The club disbanded in 1937, the year when he died.

In 1925, daughters of Indiana living in Chicago organized the Hoosier Salon, an exhibit of Indiana arts held in Marshall Field’s. The Hoosier Salon became an annual exhibit. In 1942, the exhibit was relocated to Indianapolis, first at the Block department store, then at the L.S. Ayres department store, the Indiana State Museum, and now at the Indiana Historical Society.

200 Years of Indiana Art also touches on more modern artistic movements like American Regionalism and Avant Garde. A few of the modern pieces stood out to me. Forest Frost, a 1953 color lithograph by Garo Antreasian, who left for Los Angeles in 1960, drew me in with its dark, nighttime colors. Nocturne Contours XXIV, a blue pot with lid, by Les Miley, a Professor Emeritus from the University of Evansville was striking. Porcelain and Lemons (1986) by Frederik Ebbesen Grue, who unfortunately died young in 1995, is a stunning piece. The realism of Still Life with White Lilies and Pears by Jacqueline Gnott, a watercolor that looks deceptively like a photo, is a masterpiece.

200 Years of Indiana Art is a wonderful exhibit of Indiana art, both on its own or as a complement to other bicentennial celebrations and special exhibits. You may have encountered some of these artists before or will run across them in future exhibits throughout the state and over the years. This exhibit runs from March 19 through October 2, 2016.