Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pioneer Cat, by William H. Hooks & Charles Robinson (Illustrator)

Speaking of pioneers, as we are about to, our book trailer for Pioneer Cat (below) features an instrumental version of the folk song Old Settlers, music written by Daniel E. Buckley, MPL composer.

Pioneer Cat, written by William H. Hooks and illustrated by Charles Robinson (Random House Books for Young Readers, 64 pages, 1988) (ISBN 039482038X), is a children's book in the Stepping Stone Series.

Nine-year-old Kate Purdy and her family leave St. Joseph, Missouri, bound for the Oregon Trail and westward migration. Kate finds a cat and decides to keep her. So the cat and her kittens become stowaways, for whom Kate and her new friend, Rosie, must secretly care. Along the journey, Kate and her new friends, both feline and human, and her family (as well as the other families traveling together) must overcome a staggering array of obstacles, hardships, setbacks, and surprises. The pioneers must learn to interact with Native Americans, in addition to wild animals and nature's most rugged, rigorous landscapes. It is truly an adventure like no other, and young readers will enjoy taking the trip vicariously with Kate and her companions.

School Library Journal recommends the book for readers ages 9-12, while Publisher's Weekly gauges the audience to be ages 8-10.

Morgan County, Indiana Historical Resources, Part #1

Middle-aged patrons who visit the MPL Indiana Room to research county history frequently say that they couldn't have cared less about the subject when they were younger, but now that they have reached their forties, fifties, or sixties, their curiosity about their county history has blossomed. So they arrive, looking for introductions.

An excellent starter resource for Morgan County, Indiana history is Morgan County (2007), one of Arcadia Publishing's Postcard History Series, written by Joanne Raetz Stuttgen and Curtis Tomak. This book is a collection of historical postcards and photographs from roughly the last 125 years. It is divided into geographical sections, each focusing upon a Morgan County community or area for which these images have survived. The visual history is enjoyable and provides a smooth introduction to life as it was once lived in this part of central Indiana. Copies are readily available from online booksellers or various Hoosier public libraries (see bottom of next paragraph).

Another fine compilation of historical anecdotes for Morgan County, Indiana is Morgan County Scrapbook, volumes I-II (1985; reprinted, 1996), edited and compiled by Becky Hardin, who was the county historian at the time of publication. The first volume is a collection of historical snapshots for various communities in the county, examining primarily business and cultural history, with prominent persons highlighted. Each geographically defined section features short articles that include reproduced newspaper clippings and photographs along with commentary. Volume two concentrates upon schools and churches. There is a substantial amount of county history available in this set, and anyone interested in researching the subject should be sure to peruse these resources, which are available at Mooresville Public Library, Morgan County Public Library, Plainfield-Guilford Twp. Public Library, Greenwood Public Library, and the Indiana State Library (among libraries in the Evergreen Indiana integrated library system). Copies may be purchased from the Morgan County History & Genealogy Association.

If you live (or have ever lived, or plan to live) in Morgan County, Indiana, you will find that it has a rich, extensive, and interesting history spanning two centuries. Beneath the surface of everyday life, there is much from the past awaiting your discovery and exploration.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Precipitated Spirit Paintings, the Bangs Sisters, & Camp Chesterfield, Indiana

Psychic mediumship has become a more socially acceptable topic, at least for the popular media. Books, television programs, movies, and web sites devote considerable attention to the subject. Although scientific materialism, which discounts survival of bodily death, and so-called "mainstream" religions continue to disparage psychic phenomena, millions of people entertain at least a casual interest in the subject. Much of this criticism has been directed toward spiritualism, which became a religious movement over 150 years ago and has endured critics, many professing "the truth" of alternative faiths. Religions have a long history of sniping at one another, and, unfortunately, so does science, which itself can become a religion (commonly called scientism, which is a belief in certain scientific viewpoints as a matter of faith rather than veridical evidence). True science, of course, openly and objectively considers the facts based upon experiment and careful observation of data, regardless of preconceptions or prevalent theories.

Today is not unlike a century ago, when millions actively believed in survival of bodily death and communication with the departed. Then, as now, these pursuits were ridiculed by establishment science, with its reductionist, materialistic interpretation of life and death. Unlike today, however, the press ofyesteryear brutally attacked those inquiring into psychic phenomena. Only the most courageous scientists and investigators publicly studied the matter and published their results.

Two organizations that attracted some of the last two centuries' brightest minds were the British Society for Psychical Research and its American counterpart. Some of the most brilliant scientists of the period--Alfred Russel Wallace, Oliver Lodge, William Crookes, William Barrett, Camille Flammarion, Charles Richet, Cesare Lombroso, Gustave Geley, and William James, to name just a few of the intellectual cream-of-the-crop--investigated paranormal activities for decades, carefully scrutinizing the evidence, remaining skeptical but open-minded (for the most part), until, finally, after (it bears repeating) decades of intensive research, they were ultimately convinced of the reality and genuineness of the phenomena. Many academics, such as Frederic W. H. Myers, Richard Hodgson, and James Hyslop, as well as prominent authors, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Hamlin Garland, and Maurice Maeterlinck, and other professionals, such as Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore, the Rev. William Stainton Moses, and the Rev. Charles L. Tweedale, devoted enormous time and energy to psychical research. They, too, reached favorable conclusions regarding the truth and authenticity of certain of the paranormal phenomena they encountered. Along the way, these researchers and many others also discovered fraud and were prompt to discredit charlatans; but all were equally prompt to admit that they had witnessed bona fide paranormal phenomena. This pioneering exploration of psychical science has been all but forgotten today, but anyone interested may easily ferret reprints of the fascinating original publications.

One expression of mediumistic power is the spontaneous production of paintings attributed to spirit forces. The Bangs sisters of Chicago were carefully studied by Vice-Admiral W. Usborne Moore, and he received convincing proof, under ideal test conditions, that portraits of deceased persons could be rapidly painted by "spirit forces" in the sisters' presence. Usborne Moore, who began his study totally skeptical, stated in his book, Glimpses of the Next State (London : Watts & Co., 1911), that fraud or collusion could be absolutely excluded as an explanation for the Bangs sisters' precipitated portraits, given his stringent precautions in place during the creation of the artwork.

The sisters' paintings were created at many places, including a Hoosier religious community, Camp Chesterfield (Chesterfield, Indiana), which is located in Madison County and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. Many Bangs precipitated spirit portraits are displayed there. A few of the paintings may be seen in The Bangs Sisters and Their Precipitated Spirit Portraits, originally compiled and written by Irene Swann (Chesterfield, Ind. : Hett Memorial Art Gallery & Museum, 1969, rev. 1991), a digital copy of which is available in our Evergreen Indiana online catalog (click the links under "electronic resources"). These paintings are well-crafted, tasteful representations of deceased persons, some of whom allegedly were the impetus behind the artwork.

To learn the mechanics of precipitated spirit painting, you should read Usborne Moore's book, or Precipitated Spirit Paintings, by Ron Nagy (Lakeville, Minn. : Galde Press, 2006). The color images included in Swann's and Nagy's books are striking and intriguing. Readers may decide for themselves as to the likely origins of the art, but it remains another of those interesting paranormal mysteries that are, if nothing else, fun to examine.

Karl C. B. Muilliwey, guest blogger
Paranormal investigator & author of Haunting at Sycamore Lake and Shelf Doll (see book trailers below)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

May Wright Sewall: Courageous Crusader in Education, Women's Suffrage, World Peace, and ...

May Wright Sewall (1844-1920) was a courageous crusader for women's suffrage, world peace, mediation, and education. She and her husband, educator Theodore Lovett Sewall, founded the Girls' Classical School in Indianapolis. She was universally acknowledged as an extremely organized, personally driven, highly intelligent woman who was eminently practical, pragmatic, logical, and keenly analytical. She was also known to be tough-minded and could handle business efficiently. She skillfully interacted with a wide range of socially and politically active people. Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library has a collection of May Wright Sewall's papers in its digital archives that you may wish to peruse, if you would like to learn more about this remarkable woman's tireless efforts to serve, as her acquaintances said, "so many good causes." Pulitzer Prize winning author Booth Tarkington plainly stated that, along with Benjamin Harrison and James Whitcomb Riley, Mrs. Sewall would be considered as one of the "three most prominent citizens" of Indianapolis, during a time of unprecedented growth and social and economic expansion.

Most people who knew May Wright Sewall had no inkling of another of her passionate interests: psychical research. For nearly forty years she studied psychical and mediumistic phenomena with the same skeptical, critical mind that she applied to all her other professional activities. She kept her spiritualistic pursuits private, because she feared that these would be misconstrued in the press and would be used as weapons by opponents of the causes she championed. She was reluctant to commit her personal paranormal experiences to print, but, upon the encouragement of her closest friends, including Booth Tarkington, she agreed to publish her purported communications with the deceased.

Neither Dead Nor Sleeping, first published in 1920 by Bobbs-Merrill of Indianapolis (thanks to Booth Tarkington), and which was republished in a special edition by Cathar Press in 2008 after nearly 88 years out-of-print, recounts twenty years of alleged communications with purportedly deceased spirit entities, including her late husband, deceased composer Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894), and late physician Père Condé, whose across-the-veil instructions cured Mrs. Sewall of Bright's Disease, which her earthly doctors had declared incurable and ultimately fatal. The information is presented honestly and directly; it is difficult to imagine a more straightforward, sincere presentation. The author intended to describe what for her were true, factual events, just as she had done in each of her other books on the various subjects she mastered.

It is interesting that ad hominem arguments often acknowledge the lucid, insightful, and well-reasoned aspects of a particular person, only to dismiss their investigations into psychical, paranormal phenomena as being, at best, eccentric or, at worst, insane. Even Mrs. Sewall's biographer, Ray E. Boomhower, dismisses her interest in psychic science as having fallen into the depths of the spiritualistic "craze" (and, therefore, by implication, gross ignorance). This is the typical response by someone who knows nothing about the subject but is prepared to peremptorily dispense with it. Even if one reads no further than Mrs. Sewall's book, one will learn that this was no foolhardy lady writing whimsical nonsense; rather, it is a carefully analyzed investigation of events that shake the foundations of our world views based on normal, everyday experiences.

Whether or not one believes her, Mrs. Sewall's story is fascinating on its face and reads like an adventure with the unknown. It reminds us that, even in places like Indianapolis, there are hidden mysteries worth exploring.

The book is available to check-out from our Evergreen Indiana catalog.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Titanic Artifact Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum

The Titanic Artifact Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum ends its nearly four month run tomorrow (Sunday, January 16, 2011). If you missed seeing it, that's a shame. The exhibit displayed items recovered from various salvage operations made to the ship's final resting place on the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean (at a depth of two-and-one-half miles).

What made this exhibition memorable was its personalization. At the beginning, you are assigned a ticket with an actual passenger's name and descriptions about his/her personal life. You learn passengers' occupations, social status, traveling circumstances (alone or with companions), and a few interesting facts about these individuals. Then you walk through the exhibit, exploring recovered artifacts along side vivid descriptions of the ship, its crew and passengers, and circumstances of the ship's maiden voyage leading up to the crucial iceberg collision. There were an amazing array of artifacts, most restored to spectacularly pristine condition, considering their exposure to salt water at pressures of up to 6,000 pounds per square inch. Some of the visitors (to whom certain passenger identities were assigned) may have encountered these persons' artifacts, or they may have seen their verbal descriptions or photographs. Near the exhibit's end there was a discussion of how the artifacts were recovered, and a looping video showed images of items in the debris field, many of which were on display.

Upon exiting, visitors found passenger and crew lists indicating survivors and those who perished. Everyone searched for the name of his/her passenger that had been assigned. Mine was Arthur H. Gee, of Lancashire, England, who, at age 47, was traveling alone to New York bound for Mexico City to manage a British factory. He planned to retire upon his return home. I discovered if he survived the Titanic's sinking. After experiencing the relics from the sunken ship and the vivid details of its first and final voyage, I felt a powerful personal impact in learning "my" passenger's fate.

If you, too, wish to know what happened to Mr. Gee, click here.

I first became facinated with the Titanic at age 10 after seeing the first episode of an Irwin Allen sci-fi television program, The Time Tunnel, in which the two main characters, scientists played by James Darren and Robert Colbert, travel back and forth through time (sort of an Americanized Doctor Who without the story line sophistication), beginning with the Titanic. Although I found reading difficult, I attempted and completed Walter Lord's classic book, A Night to Remember (first published in 1955 and adapted as a motion picture in 1958). I subsequently saw the film on television a year or two after reading the book. What made the Titanic story personally significant was the coincidence of its sinking on my birthday, and the survival of Daniel Buckley, an Irish third-class passenger, born in 1890, who was an accomplished song writer (click here to watch and listen to a rendition of his most famous song). My surname ancestors were poor, London East Enders who had emigrated to America in the late 19th century, but seeing my surname in the passenger and crew manifests (at the back of Lord's book) gave me pause, although there is no family relationship of which I am aware. (Daniel Buckley served in the U.S. Army in World War I and was killed in combat trying to save the lives of his wounded comrades. He was one of the last (possibly the last) American soldier killed in the war.

Coincidentally, my son's name is Daniel, although it had nothing to do with the Titanic passenger. He, too, is a composer, as you may know by watching our library's YouTube videos. These coincidental details bring home the human tragedy of the Titanic's sinking. There needn't have been so great a loss of lives, if the White Star Line had cared more about providing ample lifeboats instead of unimportant aesthetic or space-use considerations.

If you are able to attend the exhibition in the future at its various touring destinations, please make every effort to go. It is an emotional and thought-provoking, human experience.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Support Your Libraries (Cosmic Version)

We have tried another variation of our Support Your Libraries program trailer. This video features as its soundtrack "Cosmic Liturgy (Doctrine of a New Beginning)" from the music CD Andromeda by Daniel E. Buckley (2011). We hope you enjoy it.

This compares favorably to our previous two versions.

We hope you enjoy this (and all of our other) YouTube videos.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Free MPL Bookmarks!

We are revising some of our free bookmarks today. Here are two that feature a couple of our blogs, like the one you're reading, actually. Click on each image to enlarge it, if you would like to print the bookmarks. To visit the blogs, just click the text hyperlinks above each image.

MPL Indiana Room Treasure Trove Blog

Cat's Eye View (@ MPL)

Thanks for following our blogs!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

MERLIN Magnifying Reader Machine Available

2015 UPDATE:  The MERLIN magnifying reader machine is now located across from the adult information desk, next to the adult reference shelves.

At the MPL Circulation Desk, there is a Microsoft-PowerPoint slideshow continuously running called Town Crier, which alerts patrons to upcoming library events, programs, services, and other activities or items of interest. There are four slide categories, designed by Suzanne Walker, MPL Youth Services Librarian: Patron Connect, Book Connect, History Connect, and Event Connect.

One slide (at top) advises that the library's Indiana Room offers a MERLIN magnifying reader machine for patrons who need to enlarge what they are looking at. The magnifier enlarges anything that is placed on the scanning platform--print materials or other physical objects--and projects the larger image onto the screen. The picture below gives a clearer illustration:

MERLIN is available thanks to a generous donation from the Mooresville (Indiana) Lions Club in March, 2005. The magnifier is a wonderful tool for anyone researching difficult-to-read documents, fine print, or obscure details.

If you are interested in using MERLIN, please visit the MPL Indiana Room, or check with the MPL Information or Circulation Desks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Divine Life of Animals: One Man's Quest to Discover Whether the Souls of Animals Live On, by Ptolemy Tompkins.

Ptolemy Tompkins' book, The Divine Life of Animals, is intriguing, well written, provocative, and analytically grounded. It will open readers' minds to interesting philosophical and religious discussions. Our book trailer is reprised below.

I revisit Tompkins' book to mention an experience that personally validated the divinity of animals. Skeptics will scoff that my interpretation is anthropomorphic, and that the displayed behavior was nothing more than a bizarre instinctive ritual. (In critical thinking circles, the previous sentence is called "setting up a straw person," meaning that a statement is submitted solely for the purpose of being subsequently struck down.) But, instead of countering the proposition, I merely smile and, seeing no need to say anything, say nothing. I gave up trying to convince people of my opinions when I changed careers over two decades ago, when formerly I was paid handsomely to persuade ordinary people that my clients' positions were valid, truthful, and, usually, worthy of compensation. Arguing was great fun, especially when I was a high school debater, but that was so long ago that hardly anyone living would remember it.

The divinity of animals was convincingly demonstrated to me one summer day a few years ago, when one of my cats, an adult marmalade male named Jack (for Jack-O-Lantern) was sitting a few feet from where I was finishing some minor landscape repair. I noticed that Jack was casually watching something in the tall grass a few feet further from us. From the grass emerged a field mouse, who walked slowly and deliberately toward a piece of limestone. This was about three feet from me and a little over a foot from Jack. The cat and the mouse eyed one another with mild curiosity. Then, an incredible thing happened. Jack and the mouse simultaneously stretched toward each other and affectionately touched noses, as Jack was prone to do when he expressed affection to other members of our family (humans, cats, and dogs). A moment later, Jack carefully reached out with his right paw, the thumb of which he routinely sucked like a human baby, and, rather delicately, flipped the mouse onto its back. The mouse promptly righted itself but did not run and did not seem overly concerned. Jack repeated the process a couple more times, with the mouse merely turning itself back on its feet and awaiting the next flip. I decided that it might be best to separate the pair, in case instinctive predator/prey behavior surfaced violently, and so I reached out to pick up Jack. He stepped lightly sideways to avoid my grasp, and the mouse, apparently sensing that the game was being interrupted, turned in a most emotionally detached fashion and sauntered into the tall grass again. Neither animal moved quickly. The mouse clearly felt no fear, and Jack showed no predatory interest, although Jack was an accomplished hunter and routinely left partially mangled carcasses of mice and moles on our front porch for our inspection and praise.

Both Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson remind us to recognize divinity in surrounding nature. Jack and the mouse gave me a fine display of their spirituality. It was one of the most amazing sights I've been blessed to witness.

Jack was killed by a motor vehicle nearly four years ago. Although I still grieve his physical absence, I am convinced that we will meet again and will touch noses, so to speak, in a different type of existence. I didn't need Tompkins' book to satisfy me at a deeper emotional level of this truth (I have had other, further experiences that convinced me beyond reasonable doubt), but I admit that, intellectually, Tompkins' rational analysis was, at times, compelling.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Samuel Moore Parkway (Old State Road 67)

Recently I saw a street sign at Old State Road 67 and Indianapolis Road in Mooresville, Indiana, which announced that I was driving along Samuel Moore Parkway. Historically, this was State Road 67 (now, "old" because the "new" S.R. 67 bypass had been opened in 1959 and became dual lane south of Mooresville in 1964-65). "Old" 67 entered town, not surprisingly, as it still does, becoming Main Street and running up to the Indiana Street intersection, when the "old" state road turned left and moved south toward Brooklyn and Martinsville.

This was the main artery moving traffic through and into Mooresville. According to the local newspaper, last July (2010) the Mooresville Town Council voted not to rename Old S.R. 67 as Samuel Moore Parkway. The article says "Sammy Moore Parkway," which may be accurate as far as the council's discussion was concerned, but nobody familiar with the town founder would have called him Sammy. "There was nothing Sammy about Samuel Moore," concluded Wanda Potts, Mooresville historian and Indiana Room Librarian at Mooresville Public Library (1966-2002). Now, Sammy is a fine nickname (just ask my daughter), and I think it quite descriptive of some famous, courageous Mooresvillians (e.g., Sammy L. Davis, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient), but it is too informal to capture the austerity, formality, and reservation of Samuel Moore.

Renaming the old stretch of state highway after the town founder makes sense. Moore platted the village in 1824, and the town bearing his name still expresses the mark he made on its geography, business development, social structure, growth, and historical significance. The first frame construction business was Moore's general store, which stood where Hadley mini-park is located today. The heart of Mooresville was Samuel Moore; therefore, it seems logical to rename the original heart of the town's transportation network, Old S.R. 67 (before it joins Indianapolis Road), after him.

There is, of course, the perfectly valid argument that "Old 67" is so entrenched in the public consciousness that renaming it would be more symbolic than practicable. There, too, is considerable history behind the old state road designation, and this should not be lightly discarded.

Perhaps I missed mention in the Mooresville-Decatur Times of the renaming in the latter half of last year, but if it were done, it is certainly a welcome historical tribute to a man whose vision launched the town many of us call "home."


Blevins, Aaron. "Old Ind. 67 stays Old Ind. 67 for now," Mooresville-Decatur Times, July 10, 2010, p. A1.

"Rd 67 dual lane set for 1964-65," The [Mooresville] Times, March 7, 1963.

"Rd. 67 bypass ribbon cutting at Rd. 144 cross scheduled today," The [Mooresville] Times, Dec. 10, 1959, p. 1.