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307 records

About this collection

The Muncie Public Library Historic Documents digital collection includes ledgers and circulation books between 1891 and 1902 documenting the What Middletown Read digital collection as well as correspondence from Muncie's first librarian, Hattie Patterson, ranging from 1874-1881.

Hattie Patterson Correspondence


The Hattie Patterson Correspondence digital collection includes postcards, advertisements, letters, flyers, and catalogues from several publishers, including the American Library Association, Porter & Coates, Jansen, McClurg & Company, Scribner & Company, Robert Clarke & Company, H.O. Houghton & Company, and the Macmillan Company.


Muncie's first circulating library, located at the post office, was established in 1868. Library services were provided by Henry C. Marsh, who also served as the local postmaster. Discussions of an adequate public library were introduced in 1873, followed by an organized meeting of notable stockholders on May 30, 1874. Initial stockholders of the public library initiative were Hamilton S. McRae, Walter March, William B. Kline, William Brotherton, Carlton E. Shipley, Thomas J. Brady, Erville B. Bishop, James Boyce, Marcus C. Smith, William Glenn, James N. Templar, Stanton Hussey, Frank Ellis, N. F. Ethell, David H. Case and John W. Ryan.


In July 1874, the city council passed an ordinance donating $3,000.00 to the library project. The city donated an east room on the second floor of the city building free of rent. Hattie L. Patterson was chosen librarian at a salary of $250.00 per year, with the privilege of selling stationery in the library rooms. She served as librarian until 1881.



What Middletown Read Documents


The What Middletown Read digital collection features two accession catalogs assigning a number to every book acquired by the library from 1875-1902, a book borrowers register listing the names, addresses, and patron numbers of each person who registered as a library user the same period, and circulation ledgers recording the names of library patrons and the books they checked out between 1891 and 1902, with one gap, May 1982 to November 1894.


The circulation ledgers include approximately 180,000 transactions. Rediscovered during the Muncie Public Library's renovation of its downtown Carnegie Library in 2003, these records represent among the largest resources for exploring reading behavior in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. They report in extensive detail the library use in Muncie, the city profiled in the famed "Middletown" studies by Robert and Helen Lynd, making them all the more valuable.


These records also serve as the basis for the "What Middletown Read" database, a project jointly undertaken by the Center for Middletown Studies, Ball State University Libraries, and the Muncie Public Library. With support from the Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation and the Muncie Public Library, these units have collaborated to create a fully searchable online database that permits users to explore library use during the 1890s and early twentieth century in fine detail.



Grace Keiser Maring Hunt Library Documents



The historic artifacts digitally reproduced in the collection are solely owned and controlled by Muncie Public Library, and not by Ball State University. Inquires about usage, reprint, and permissions should be directed to the Muncie Public Library - Local History & Genealogy, Carnegie Library (301 East Jackson Street, Muncie, Indiana 47305 - (765) 747-8208).


Muncie Public Library - Local History & Genealogy @ Carnegie LibraryWhat Middletown Read Database

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