Student Assistant Highlight: Mary Cravens

What is an archive and what is it for? An archive is defined as a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. The University of Southern Indiana has its’ very own archive on the third floor of the David L Rice Library, but many students do not know we have one or know what an archive is.

History is not an enjoyable topic for many people, because many find it boring or useless to learn about the past.  What many people do not know is that the past is our future and it often repeats itself. With an archive being set up, it helps preserve artifacts such as: clothing, newspapers, books, documents, etc. This artifacts can be used for research or just for interest. Being able to look at or touch something from the past, can make history all the more special and enjoyable, for those who may not enjoy it as much as a historian.

The University Archives and Special Collections began at USI in 1972 and is the latest repository to be established in the Evansville area. Its’ mission has been collecting material on local and regional history, with special emphasis on the African-American, German, and Jewish communities. Some specific collection groups include: local authors, African American history, local businesses, local organizations and government, Indiana labor history, communal studies groups, and oral history.

One thing that sets USI’s archives apart from other archives in Indiana is our section on our history as a university. When the university went from Indiana State University – Evansville (ISUE) to University of Southern Indiana (USI), we store documentation from both of the university names. As new as the university is, the documentation is stored within the university archives.

Working in the archives has been a great experience for me as a history major; however, not all the student assistants here are history majors. There have been student assistants who are undecided in a major but that enjoy working with artifacts and collections. The archives has many interesting artifacts, but the staff is what makes it special. Working in the archives does not feel like a job because the staff are fun and open-minded.

Being a part of this team has made me appreciate being a history major. With history being learned constantly, there is more than you might not have known, and this is what the archives has taught me. The archives is more than a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people: it is a home for those who are outcast to other majors. Many people feel as if history is not a big part of life. They are wrong and history is what you make it and that is why I am here.

Mary C.

Mary Cravens

Eye-On-Fashion with Ruth Kishline

Keep up with fashion is a large commitment for designers, fashion houses, and the consumers. Everyone wants to know what is “in-style” that season of the year and keep up with the trends.  There are fashion events throughout the year, predominantly in New York City, London, and Paris.  Fashion has come onto the big screen on television like soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, sitcom Just Shoot Me!, comedy-drama Jane by Design,  and so on; however, many movies like The Devil Wears Prada and Zoolander focuses on fashion too.  Though Evansville is not one of the fashion capitals of the world, Ruth Kishline had a clothing store in the Tri-State.



Kishline had two locations for her store here in the Tri-State area: Mt. Vernon and McCutchanville, Indiana.  Her store was “Ruth Kishline’s Country Shop”.  Her stores operated from 1931 to 1993; however, Kishline did not design the sketches for her clothing. Geraldine McFadin was the artist behind the sketches for Kishline.  They were introduced and worked together for over thirty-five years.  McFadin’s designs were sold to some renowned designers in fashion: Calvin Klein, Armani, and Ralph Lauren.  The University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Southern Indiana contains over 700 original sketches.



On top of the Ruth Kishline collection (MSS 038) dealing with fashion, there is two other collections that deal with fashion.  The Helen Wallace collection (MSS 056)  has advertisements from Chicago Herald from 1920’s and some fashion sketches.   Finally, the Beardsley Family collection (MSS 297) contains men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories from 1860 to 1975. All of these collections are available to be viewed to students and public.

Allow Me To Introduce Myself: My Name is Matthew Darnell

Matt Darnell - Scarface Poster

I am Matthew Darnell. I am a History and German major. I have worked for the University of Southern Indiana University Archives and Special Collection for three years. My job in archives is to scan photos, record documents, and to assist our patrons. Before I began my job at the archives, like many people, I was unsure what the archives really is. At first, I believed archives was only used for school documents. After working here, I have seen archives has a wide range of resources: documents, photos, correspondences, and artifacts from Civil War to the Vietnam War. One of my favorite artifacts here is a German World War I helmet.


It is interesting to see objects from fifty to hundreds years ago. I believe more professors and students should make use of archives, especially for 100 level classes in English, Communications, and History. There are many primary documents students could use for their papers. Professors should encourage their students to come to archives to see what we offer them.


Aaron Allen: History & Archives

Aaron Allen - WWII Jacket and Army Hat (Dr. Marlene Shaw's Father)

The following blog was written by student assistant, Aaron Allen

All too often, history is an overlooked field in secondary and post-secondary education.  A student cannot graduate from the University of Southern Indiana without completing at least introduction level courses in math and English; however, it is possible to complete a four year degree without taking a single history course.  This standard implies that history is not important enough to be required in the core curriculum. Through my own history courses and my time as a student worker in the archives, I have learned this is not the case.  Understanding history is important regardless of your field.  Scientists and mathematicians have to understand the history of their field of study so that they make advances in the present. Even historians need an understanding of the first individuals who started to record history.

Unlike the past, historians now understand the importance of preserving historical artifacts.  Archives, like the one here at USI, are just one way to ensure the preservation of history.  As a student worker, I get to work with these artifacts every day.  Whether it is our numerous pictures of Evansville and the surrounding area or something much older working with history is as rewarding as it is important.

History is applicable in your own life in numerous ways.  In many subjects, students want to know when they will use the material they are learning in their own life.  It is difficult to go through a single day without using some sort of math or reading; however, the question must be asked, “When do I use history in my own life?” Take for example the upcoming presidential election: government and politics is a huge aspect of history everywhere in the world.  Regardless of your political stance, understanding history can help us pick the candidate we think will help this country the most.  We can answer questions such as, “How did policies such as the one this candidate is proposing work in the past?”  It seems that politicians will bring up our nation’s history in some instances.  Comprehending United States history ourselves can help us make sure what the politicians say is accurate.

On a smaller scale, history can help us understand our local area and surroundings.  Evansville has a rich history, which I learn more every day.  My own home town has house that was once station for the famous Underground Railroad.  Knowing facts like these are more than interesting conversation topics. They are significant pieces of history.

It may not be required in your core curriculum but you should make an effort to take a history course. Just as we use reading and math skills every day, you can use a better understanding of history on a regular basis.  My time as a student worker in the archives at USI has helped me see the importance of preserving history and understanding it. My courses in history only serve to reinforce this understanding.  History continues to help me in my own life.  It can benefit and prepare anyone else in the same way.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

With recent developments of the Internet and 24-hour news cycles, access to information has dramatic increased! Prior to those developments, newspapers were the only real news outlets for the people to get their information, besides one another. The three major newspapers in Evansville were the Evansville Courier (1875-1991), Evansville Press (1920-1991), and Evansville Journal (1871-1936); however, the Courier and Press merged together and became the Evansville Courier and Press.

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Evansville Argus: 1938

Evansville did have an African-American newspaper, the Evansville Argus. It was published from June 25, 1938 to October 22, 1943. It was founded by J. Wendell Holder and he formed the Evansville Argus Publishing Company.  Courtesy of the David L. Rice Library University Archives and Special Collections, you can view the Evansville Argus for free by clicking on or copy and paste this link,

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Evansville Argus: 1943

Entertainment in Evansville!

Almost everyone has some sort of entertainment that appeals to their tastes. Some like sports and others like music, books, theatre, and so on.  In Evansville, there are a plethora of entertainment opportunities to explore and discover!  Those chances allow us to see what we like and dislike.  In the end, Evansville has been a hub for various kinds of entertainment: from the music world to the square circle of wrestling!


John Denver stated, “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”  Evansville native, Larry Aiken, seemed to believe that and followed that passion into the music industry.  Aiken was a well-known radio and television personality in Evansville.  He also was a businessman and created his own entertainment and promotion business.  A large majority of his collection relates to the entertainment industry here in Evansville.

In 1957, Aiken received a personal telegram from “the King of Rock and Roll”, Elvis Presley. Due to time constraints, Elvis was not able to be on Aiken’s program and apologizes; however, Elvis wishes on him the best with his career.

Elvis_Presley_Telegram Continue Reading

Interstate 69 Opens!


I-69 opening

After decades of debate and delays, 4 out of the 6 sections of I-69 from Evansville to Indianapolis are finally open for business.  Sections 1-3 from Evansville to Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center opened a little over three years ago: now, section 4 is open all the way to Bloomington.  State Road 37 is currently being upgraded to interstate quality; however, the route from Martinsville to Indianapolis is still being debated.  If you want to see the original routes and plans for the entire I-69 project, the archives has the publication produced by the State on Indiana in 2003.  These include the environmental and economic impact statements as well as maps and past proposed routes.  To get the latest news on the new interstate, check out the I-69 website developed by the State of Indiana, .



This piece was written by Jennifer Greene, Archives and Reference Librarian at the University of Southern Indiana.