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Dawn Bakken
Indiana Magazine of History

Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2011

State history journal looks at Ernie Pyle’s college days

Sept. 9, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In its September 2011 issue, the Indiana Magazine of History considers the college career of Ernie Pyle, decades before he became a famous war correspondent.

Owen V. Johnson, associate professor of journalism at Indiana University Bloomington, offers a collection of unpublished letters written by Pyle to his family back home in Dana, Ind. Pyle writes about joining a fraternity (after having been blackballed as a freshman) and becoming a campus fixture at parties, dances, and events such as the fund drive for the new memorial union. He reflects on his work at the student newspaper and recounts an adventurous trip to Japan, showing glimpses of the journalist he would become.

Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle's photo from the 1923 Arbutus, the IU student yearbook

Elsewhere in the issue, IMH associate editor Dawn Bakken examines the brief history of a settlement known as the Blue Spring community, which was founded near Bloomington in 1826 and modeled after the utopian communities of Robert Owen. The small community's constitution reveals details of the life that attracted ordinary farmers and small-town merchants to a utopian experiment.

Finally, the issue offers a roundtable with four historians -- Bruce Bigelow of Butler University, Nicole Etcheson of Ball State, Jason Lantzer of Butler and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and James H. Madison of IU Bloomington -- who teach Indiana history at the college level. The participants discuss the distinctive features of their Indiana history classes, the methods they use to help their students learn about Hoosier identity, and the challenges of teaching the state's history as we approach the bicentennial of Indiana statehood.

The Indiana Magazine of History is published quarterly by the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. The magazine's website can be found at For general information on the articles, contact the editorial office at 812-855-4139.