People of Color Residing in Bloomington in 1913 and Earlier

Blog post by Randi Richardson


In 1913 Byron K. Armstrong, an individual of color and founder of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, wrote a thesis titled “Colored Population of Bloomington.  It was written under the direction of Dr. U. G. Weatherly in compliance with the requirements of the Department of Economics and Sociology of Indiana University for the Bachelor of Arts degree.  The 56-page paper covers many aspects of the local Afro American race as well as racial relations in Bloomington at the time. The document is available online at

Dr. Byron K. Armstrong

Based upon a review of the appendix, it appears that Armstrong either did some extensive surveys of people of color in the Bloomington community or had someone do the work for him.  Unfortunately, his thesis includes only a statistical analysis of the surveys.

A portion of Armstrong’s thesis, pages 19-20, provided information pertaining to the size the of Bloomington’s “negro” population.  However, the paper is not footnoted and, consequently, the reader must question how some of the information was obtained and its credibility.  A small portion of the paper has been transcribed below exactly how it was written:

The colored population was 25 in 1860.  Hence from this fact we may conclude that before this date there were no negroes in Bloomington.  This is due to the fact that the negro population of Bloomington is made up of ex-slaves.  In 1870 the population had jumped to 259.  This enormous rate of increase is due to the coming in of the freedmen.  From this time on the population has increased very slowly which proves that the source of the negro population of Bloomington was the southland.  The growth of the negro population 1860-1910 is as follows:

1860 – 25

1870 –259

1880 –345

1890 –408

1900 –428

1910 –438

From this table we can see that since the influx of the freedmen from the South has ceased, the population is now at a standstill.  Bloomington is like many other small towns in the North, the negro population is slowly decreasing.  The causes for settlement in such districts are no longer active.  The negro is no longer attracted to these districts as were the old slaves.  He is now rather attracted to the larger cities where there is more social utilities and economic advantages.

Comparing the white population with that of the colored population we see that there are 8,838 people in Bloomington.  Of these 438 are negroes, or about one twenty-second.  Increase of negroes and whites since 1900:

White                           Negroes


1900                6034                            428

1910                8400                            438

It is to be noticed that while the negro population has remained stationary that the whites have increased very fast.  First there has been no increase of the birth rate of negroes over the death rate.  Second, it is probable that some of the younger negroes have migrated to the larger cities.  Third, the economic and commercial activities of Bloomington have developed wonderfully and have reacted on the size of the white population by increasing it.

Two years prior to the completion of Byron’s thesis, in 1911, he founded the first chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a fraternity for young men of color, at Indiana University.





Blog post by Randi Richardson

David Starr Jordan was the seventh president of Indiana University.  He was inaugurated on January 1, 1885, becoming the nation’s youngest university president at the age of 34 and the first president of Indiana University that was not an ordained minister.

David Starr Jordan c. 1880.  Photo courtesy of IU Archives.

During the course of his six-year presidency he oversaw the university’s growth at the new campus in Dunn’s Woods, improved the university’s finances and public image, doubled the enrollment and increased the number of faculty.  Eventually Jordan Avenue, Jordan River, Jordan Field and Jordan Hall would be named in recognition of his many accomplishments.  What is lesser known is the role he played in the history of American eugenics.

Jordan, who graduated from Cornell University with a master’s degree in 1872, came to Indiana University in 1879 as a professor of zoology.  About that same time, Francis Galton was pioneering the principles of eugenics in England based, in part, upon the theories of his half cousin, Charles Darwin who published works about the survival of the fittest.  Not long afterward, Jordan became an advocate of eugenics.

Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aim at improving the genetic quality of a population through selective breeding.  On the positive side, eugenics might include programs that encourage particularly “fit” individuals to reproduce.  On the negative side, eugenics has prompted marriage restrictions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction.  After becoming popular in the United States, eugenic programs also became popular in Germany where they evolved into a lethal solution under Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Although Jordan did not coin the term eugenics, he was among the first to call attention to it in the U. S. when he published The Blood of the Nation: A Study of the Decay of Races through the Survival of the Unfit in 1902.  By then he had become the founding president of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, ranked as one of the world’s top universities, and an early leader of the U. S. eugenics movement.

In 1906, Jordan became chair of the eugenics section of the American Breeders Association, the first organization in the U. S. devoted entirely to eugenics.  A year later, in 1907, the first eugenics/sterilization law was passed in the U. S.  Hoosiers may be surprised to learn that it was in the state of Indiana and heavily influenced by Jordan’s authority.  That law was revised in 1927 and repealed in 1974 after more than 2,300 of the state’s most vulnerable citizens were involuntarily sterilized.

California became the third U. S. state to pass eugenics/sterilization legislation.  By 1921 that state accounted for nearly 80% of all forced sterilizations in the U. S. thanks in large measure to the prominence and organizational abilities of Jordan, who by then had been in California for more than two decades, and the resources of Ezra Gosney, an American philanthropist and eugenicist.

Gosney founded the Human Betterment Foundation (HBF) in 1928 in Pasadena, California, primarily to compile and distribute information about compulsory sterilization legislation in the U. S. for the purposes of eugenics.  Jordan, then chancellor of Stanford, was an initial member of the HBF’s board of trustees.  In 1935, the HBF took credit for inspiring the eugenics program in Germany.

Adolf Hitler was obsessive in his attempts to create a superior Aryan race through forced sterilization and ethnic cleansing.  From 1933-1945 the eugenics movement in Germany began the cleansing by deportation and ended with the horrific “final solution” and the elimination of some 6,000,000 Jews and other less desireables such as Gypsies and homosexuals in concentration camps and mass killing centers.

Once fairly mainstream, it was through the negative association with Hitler that the eugenics movement fell into disfavor during the second half of the twentieth century.  Support for eugenic theories plummeted.  Ultimately there were more than 65,000 forced sterilizations in 33 U. S. states.  The last forced sterilization in the U. S. was performed in Oregon in 1981.

Jordan Hall, 1962. Courtesy IU Archives.

Jordan died at his Palo Alto home in 1931.  In 1937 a new Palo Alto middle school was named in his honor.  In 2015, a student’s book report about Jordan’s influence on the eugenic movement sparked an interest in renaming the school; in 2018 the name was changed in favor of Frank Greene, Jr., an African-American memory chip inventor.

In June 1956 Jordan Hall at IU-Bloomington was formally dedicated.  It houses the biology department and was named for the university’s past president who was also a foremost ichthyologist.  In the fall of 2017 the walls of Ballantine Hall were plastered with notes urging IU to rename the building in light of the leadership role Jordan played in the eugenics movement.  This was during the same time that the renaming of the Wildermuth Intermural Center was under consideration because Ora Wildermuth, for whom the building named, was identified as a racist.

Although the matter or renaming Jordan Hall came up again for discussion in the late fall of 2018, no action was taken and interest among the students and faculty seems minimal.  Could it be that too few people know Jordan’s history?   Or is it that they don’t care?




Blog post by Randi Richardson

Although the location, or even the existence, of certain buildings in Monroe County are a mystery to some residents, everyone knows the tall, limestone building at Second and Rogers—Bloomington Hospital.

I learned the early history of this building recently when Cynthia (Shephard) Burroughs from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, stopped by the History Center with a fat envelope of clippings collected by her mother, Alice Shephard.  Alice was married to the late John H. Shepard, a native of White Bear Lake, who came with his wife and three children to Bloomington in 1960 at the age of 33, from Tarpon Springs, Florida.

John H. Shepard, undated picture probably from Bloomington Telephone, received with Shepard clippings 2018.

Shephard was hired by the twelve-member board of hospital directors, six of whom were elected by the Local Women’s Council, to be the hospital’s new administrator.  The task before him would be a challenge.  It would be his responsibility to make the board’s proposed expansion of the hospital a reality.


There was no doubt that the hospital was badly in need of expansion.  As late as 1962 the hospital had only 75 beds, just one for every 1,000 Monroe County residents, and the State Board of Health recommended four per 1,000.  Patients were tended to by 53 doctors on staff and a grand total of 181 other hospital employees including nurses to housekeepers and everything in between.  Due to the shortage of space, patients who required more than a short-term stay were often transferred to other facilities.

Upon his arrival, Shephard discovered the only thing done toward the expansion was the completion of a community survey.  In the first four months he was here, he did 130 speeches in an effort to pull the community together so that a successful fundraising campaign could be initiated.  The estimated cost of the new hospital was $3,800,000.  Of that amount, an anonymous Mr. X had pledged $150,000 to the campaign fund.  Eventually, nearly half the cost of construction would be funded by private donations.

It was anticipated that the actual work on the expansion would begin late in 1963.  Prior to that time several important changes took place.  In late 1961, a 19-room, 2-story house at 601 W. 1st St. was moved to the north side of the hospital property.   This house had been owned by the hospital for a number of years.  It was originally purchased as a residence for nurses but in the recent past had been used for furniture storage.  Once situated on the hospital grounds, the administrative offices, waiting room, dining room and labs from the first floor of the hospital were moved into the house making room for a 25-bed nursing unit.  Although considered only temporary, the relocated departments and operations would remain in the repurposed house until the new hospital was complete.  Moving day into the repurposed facility began in February 1962.

The Hopewell House was Bloomington’s first hospital.  It was razed in 1963.  Photo from the author’s personal collection.

Another major change took place in the summer of 1963 with the razing of the 10-room house purchased in 1905 for use as Bloomington’s first hospital and later used as a residence for nurses.  It was built by Absalom “Ab” Ketcham. Ab worked as a station manager for the Monon.  He and his wife, Nora, sold the house to Isaac Hopewell around the turn of the century and it became known as the Hopewell House.  After owning the house for less than three years, Hopewell sold it to the hospital.


Right on schedule, the bones of the new, 5-story hospital began to take shape.  It was to be connected to the old hospital by a two-story walkway.  Floors one through three would be totally finished with bed space for 140.  As a cost-efficient measure, however, space for an additional 160 beds on floors four and five would be shelled in and finished at some future time when community growth demanded more expansion.


House at 601 W. 1st Street prior to its relocation on the hospital grounds.  From the Bloomington Telephone, September 26, 1961, received with the Shephard clippings.

Under the direction of Shepard, work progressed without apparent incident.  Finally, in March 1965, the much needed and long dreamed of new hospital was a reality—quite a feather in the cap of such a young administrator.

Having finished what he started, Shepard looked around the country for other career opportunities.  It wasn’t long before he was approached by a hospital in Oakland, California.  They had expressed interest in him before his sojourn in Indiana.  In the late summer of 1966, they made him another lucrative offer, one he couldn’t refuse.  His new job began on January 1, 1967, and Roland “Bud” Kohr was appointed to fill Shepard’s vacancy as the hospital’s new administrator.

Today Bloomington Hospital has been expanded a number of times. 

Today Bloomington Hospital has been expanded a number of times.  However, once again the building has been outgrown and no longer meets the needs of the community.  There is no more room to expand on the existing property, and a new hospital is already under construction in a new location off the Highway 45/46 Bypass.  Ground has been broken and a new dream will become reality in the next year or so.

More information about the history of Bloomington’s hospital is available in a vertical file labeled “Hospital–History” at the Monroe County History Center.  The file includes all the clippings donated by Shepard’s daughter in 2018.




Blog by Randi Richardson

The Institute for Sex Research (ISR) at Indiana University was established in 1947 under the leadership of Alfred Kinsey.  Prior to that time Kinsey had been extensively involved in sex research and had compulsively collected a great number of books and other related materials.  Obviously thinking ahead to the needs of the Institute, he offered Jeanette Howard Foster a lucrative position as the Institute’s librarian.

Photo from the IU Archive Collection.  Used with permission.

Jeanette was no ordinary librarian.  She was among the first librarians ever to graduate with a Ph.D.  Her degree was obtained from the Graduate Library School at the University of Chicago, the first school in that nation to offer a doctorate in library science.  Jeanette entered the library program in 1933 just a few months short of her 38th birthday and received her doctorate in 1935 taking only two, rather than the customary three, years to complete her degree.

Like Kinsey, Jeanette also collected books with a sexual theme.  Unlike Kinsey, however, Jeanette’s collection was strictly focused on lesbianism.  An avid scholar and a lesbian herself, Jeanette hoped one day to publish a comprehensive bibliography of lesbian literature.

When Kinsey offered Jeanette a position at the Institute, she was well aware that the position would provide her with easy access to Kinsey’s goldmine of rare books including those relevant to her own research.  So not surprisingly, she accepted Kinsey’s offer and began working at the Institute in early 1948.

Initially, Jeanette lived in the IU Union Club but soon found more permanent lodging at 416 E. 4th Street.  In 1950, she fell in love with one of her co-workers, Hazel Toliver, who lived with her mother, Myrtle Toliver, in a nearby apartment at 425 ½ S. Henderson.  Although Jeanette found her personal life to be quite to her liking, that same did not hold true for job satisfaction.

The Institute staff found Kinsey to be a leader who always needed to be in control.  He was a micromanager who “cracked the whip” and expected others to be at his beck and call at any time of day or night.  Jeanette, who had held several responsible faculty positions, was not used to Kinsey’s management style.  Additionally, she was offended when Kinsey made sexual overtures toward her.  And lastly, but certainly not among the least of Jeanette’s complaints, Kinsey would not let her catalog books according to the either the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal Classification system.

Kinsey had developed his own system for cataloging his books.  “Using a self-made pneumonic taxonomic system of approximately 25 categories, he expected books on medicine to be classified under M, prostitution under PR, modern fiction under MF, erotic books under ER, and so forth.”  Adhesive tape on the back of the spine, down near the bottom, identified the category and a line under that noted the first three letters of the author’s name.

Jeanette did everything she could to persuade Kinsey to use one of the standard library classification systems, but he simple would not budge.  He boasted of Jeannette’s doctoral training yet made her feel as though she had never had any training or experience.  She found herself playing more of a support role, and a clerical one at that, rather than being an integral part of a team working at the forefront of sex education.  Four years later, she was at her breaking point.  Along with Hazel, they began searching for alternate positions with other universities.

They left the Institute in 1952 and moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where both had positions at the University of Kansas City–Jeanette as a reference and interlibrary loan librarian and Hazel as an assistant professor.  Jeannette, however, remained friendly with Kinsey.  They corresponded occasionally until his death of natural causes in 1956, and for the remainder of his life Kinsey never hired another librarian.

SOURCE—Joanne Passet, Sex Variant Woman:  The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster (Philadelphia PA:  Perseus Books Group, DeCapo Press) 2008.  For more information about Kinsey visit

Friendship Separate Baptist Church

My name is Mason Davis and I go to Tri-North Middle school. In my free time I like to bike around our neighborhood and discover new places. There are a lot of cool things hidden in the woods, but one seemed to stick out to me more than the rest. I was looking at Google Maps and out in the middle of nowhere there was a church. I was curious, so I went out to go find it and all that’s left are some old headstones and a foundation.

The steps and foundation of the entryway is all that was left after the church (as shown below) was razed.

I went to the Indiana Room at the Monroe County Public and found that Rev. Benjamin Whittington started a church in the log school house located by Friendship Graveyard in 1857. In 1867, a one room log church was built nine miles east of Bloomington on Friendship Road.

There wasn’t a picture and I really wanted to see what it looked like so I went to the Monroe County Historical Society. There I found that what’s left of the foundation is only the stoop and the church was much bigger. The church was actually torn down and saved, then later built in the Indiana University Outdoor Museum.

friendship2I enjoyed hunting down and discovering the church and researching it. I later found out that my great grandpa actually remembered when the church was still established on Friendship Rd. I hope to continue to find new things around my neighborhood. There’s actually an old iron bridge over Stephens Creek that I want to learn about next.


The Changing Face of a Funeral Home

Blog post by Randi Richardson

funeral home

For twelve years Charles Gilbert Shaw had his photo studio at 100 ½ W. Sixth Street and lived with his wife, Coralie, a few blocks away at 211 E. Sixth.  In the spring of 1937, Walter Allen purchased Shaw’s home and moved the Allen Funeral Home, established in 1917, from 212 S. Walnut into Shaw’s vacated residence.  A full-page ad in the 1938-39 Bloomington City Directory shows the funeral home, as shown above, in its new location.

For more than 25 years, the Allen Funeral Home remained on the northeast corner of Sixth and Washington across the street from the public library that now houses the Monroe County History Center.  Sometime between 1964 and 1966, the business moved into a brand new building on East Third Street not far from the then new and very popular College Mall.  The vacated property at 211 E. Sixth was converted for use as the courthouse annex.

Later yet, the original structure was expanded, modified, gated and painted white.  It became known as the Allen Court apartment complex.  If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see the bones of the old building under the rather elegant-looking façade at the entrance of the complex.  The appearance of the existing structure is very different from that of any other apartment complex in Bloomington.

We are lucky to have had this historic property so well preserved!



First Methodist Church Destroyed by Fire

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The First Methodist Church, dedicated in 1909, was destroyed by a $250,000 fire discovered on the morning of Wednesday, April 7, 1937.  Also destroyed by the fire was a $30,000 organ and great sheets of valuable, imported art glass.  Located at 4th and Washington streets, the First Methodist Church was the largest church in the community.  As a crowd watched the building burn, many commented on the fact that the cross was still intact above it.  The cross, lighted each night, had been one of Bloomington’s landmarks since it was erected after the death of the late Benjamin. F. Adams in 1910.  He donated the cross and his will provided a fund for its lighting and maintenance.


Rev. W. E. Moore of the First Christian Church, a block north of the fire, discovered the blaze from a window of his study and turned in the alarm.  By the time firemen, under the direction of Chief B. M. Hazel, arrived on the scene, the interior of the dome was already in flames.   Heavy smoke handicapped the ability of the firemen to train their hoses on the center of the blaze.  Approximately 3,000 feet of hose was laid down.  Efforts were continued inside the church for more than two hours before firefighters were driven to the street by the heat, smoke and falling debris.

A crowd of probably 3,000 gathered near the church as news of the fire spread quickly all over the county.  Police were compelled to rope off the area to keep the crowd out of the way of firemen and to prevent injury.

The 2-story, frame home of Len Field, head of the Field Glove factory, located on Washington Street across an alley and north of the church, was endangered by showers of hot embers.  Firemen who kept streams of water playing on the house from time to time were able to save it.

It is recalled that two men were killed when the church was under construction.  One of them, a steel worker, fell to his death from the high dome when he was loosening a rope which had caught on the derrick which was hoisting steel beams to the top of the tower.  The rope struck him as he loosened it, knocking him from his position.  The other fatality occurred when one of the workmen was tearing down scaffolding on the inside of the building–the board on which he was sitting fell and he met death in the plunge to the floor.  Much of the stone used in the construction of the church was donated by devout quarry owners of Monroe County.

The destruction of the Methodist Church by fire brought to Bloomington in 1937 the largest loss by fire since the destruction of the Telephone office and the Gentry building in March 1924 when the fire burned out of control for more than 12 hours.  The loss of that fire ran to over half a million dollars.

For a brief synopsis and somewhat different version of the disastrous fire check out the information on the Monroe County Time Line compiled by the Monroe County Public Library.  Scroll down to 1937, Apr 7—First Methodist Church fire.


Source:  Bloomington Daily Telephone, April 7, 1937, p. 1+.