Groundhog Day: once a legal holiday?

Groundhog Day is quickly approaching on Wednesday, Feb. 2. We all know the routine — weather forecasters wait to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow and whether we will have an early spring or a continuation of winter snow and ice. According to an old newspaper clipping from the Sullivan County Public Library, Groundhog Day was once a legal holiday in the Hoosier state!

Why does the library have this clipping? Well, it seems that the late Dr. James B. Maple, a local doctor and historian, enjoyed researching Sullivan and Vincennes, Indiana, newspapers for material about Sullivan County. His passion was so great he filled 42 volumes of scrapbooks!

To view the Groundhog Day article more closely, click here. The short story appears in the second column, last full paragraph.


Making a joyful noise

Take a close look at this circa 1905 photograph of the Allen Chapel AME Choir in Terre Haute, Indiana. Look at the faces of these women and men. What were their hopes and dreams? What were their concerns? How important was their faith? Why was singing so important to them?

Take another look at this photograph. Notice the wrinkles. They seem to add depth and texture to the image. Thank goodness, however, that the photo was digitized!

This photo is part of the private collection of Mark Shepard of Houston, Texas. Mark’s collection of photographs celebrates the heritage and community of African Americans in the Terre Haute area.

To view this image more closely, click here.


Remembering his dream

In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17, Wabash Valley Visions & Voices shares this program from the 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Commemoration Dinner at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana. Those attending the dinner were welcomed by then-ISU President Dr. Lloyd Benjamin III. Miss Nicollette Whittington, Miss Ebony 2005-’06, served as the mistress of ceremonies.

The speaker for the evening was Mrs. Joyce Rogers, CEO/president of Indiana Black Expo. The oratory address, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” was delivered by the Rev. Elester Wilkerson of Danville, Illinois.

This program, in the Indiana State University Library collection, is available here.


Historic Hoosier hysteria

It’s winter in Indiana and that can mean one thing — it’s basketball time in the Hoosier state!

Pictured at right is the first basketball team at Booker T. Washington School, an African-American school in Terre Haute, Indiana. This photo, which is part of the collection of the Vigo County Historical Society, was taken in the early 1900s.

Booker T. Washington School was used as an alternative school in recent years until a new facility was built and the students moved there in the fall of 2010. The old building, which is located at 1201 S. 13th Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the documentation with the photograph, the first person on the second row left is the late entertainer Scatman (Benjamin Sherman) Crothers.

To view this photo more closely, click here.


It’s smokin’

This reproduction of a clay pipe used to smoke tobacco is one of the many objects that can be seen in the Native American Museum located at 5170 E. Poplar Drive in Dobbs Park, Terre Haute, Ind. Also pictured with the pipes is a twist of dried tobacco.

The Native American Museum is unique in that it is the only museum of its kind to be operated by a city parks department in the Midwest. The museum is also a partner in the Wabash Valley Visions & Voices project. The museum’s collection may be viewed here.

If the winter weather is giving you cabin fever, why not visit the Native American Museum? It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST).