Influencing Academia: Denis Sinor’s Legacy at IU

Denis Sinor at 93

Denis Sinor at 93

Denis Sinor was an esteemed professor at Indiana University for over four decades. His work in the field of Central Eurasia shaped the way academics view the topic and area today. Sinor was born in Hungary on April 17, 1916, and was educated in Hungary, Switzerland, and France. Sinor was very active in the political scene in his youth, and during World War II, he served in the French Army as a member of the French Resistance. After his time in the military, he decided to enter the world of academia and after obtaining his MA in Oriental Studies at Cambridge University, he was appointed to its faculty.

In 1962, Sinor came to the United States as a visiting professor at Indiana University. His active professional life at Cambridge University surely influenced IU’s interest in him, as he wrote more than one hundred articles and reviews on the linguistics and histories of Inner Asia.

Defining Central Eurasia

Soon after joining IU’s faculty, Sinor was appointed to the head of the Uralic and Altaic program (later renamed the Central Eurasian Studies program [CEUS]). He served as the Chair for this program from 1963-1981, but continued to hold other important administrative positions as well as teaching and along the way, securing the title of Distinguished Professor, one of greatest honors IU bestows upon faculty, in 1975.

INUNRC

Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center (INUNRC)

In 1963, Sinor created the National Defense Education Uralic and Altaic Language and Area Center (later renamed the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center [IAUNRC]) and served as the Director from 1963-1988. From 1965 to 1967, Sinor was the Chairman for the Asian Studies Research Institute (later named the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies [SRIFIAS] in 2006). His work with these research centers, as well as the considerable amount of written work he produced, helped define the term “Central Eurasia” for the academic world.

Professional life

PIAC

PIAC

Professor Sinor also focused his considerable energy to professional service. He served as the editor of the Journal of Asian History (JAH) from its inception in 1967 until 2011. The JAH studies the regions of East, South, South-East and Central Asia before 1900. At IU, Sinor edited the Uralic and Altaic Series (over 174 volumes) and the Oriental Series. Sinor was a major force in the establishment of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference’s (PIAC) headquarters in Bloomington in 1962, for which he served as Secretary-General for numerous terms.

Sinor in North Pole

Sinor in the North Pole

Throughout his lifetime, Sinor traveled extensively in Asia, including Afghanistan, Chinese Turkestan, Soviet Central Asia, Northern Pakistan, Siberia, and Inner and Outer Mongolia. He received many honors within and outside of the United States from groups such as the American Oriental Society, the Oriental Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, and was the twice holder of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1968, 1981).

Professor Denis Sinor passed away on January 12, 2011. Through the gift of his papers to the University Archives, his teaching mission can continue.  Those interested in learning more about Professor Sinor, his life and his professional activities, should feel free to contact the Indiana University Archives for assistance!

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A Place to Store My Memory in the Archives: The Reflections of an Intern

These days, people collect their memories on all sorts of mediums. With multiple places to share a thought, picture, or a video, memories easily become distorted to serve the purpose of the individual recording them. We’re human, we enjoy a good story…especially one told from our own point of view. When one’s story reaches the archives, however, it is transformed into its original form with the purpose of communicating truth. Placed on a timeline, and given an historical context, it becomes greater and more meaningful than even we could express in first telling it. This fact is something I have encountered multiple times in working with various collections at the I.U. Archives. The collections I worked with were, in a sense, boxed memories. Holding truly significant evidence of a time in an individual’s life, their story was left incomplete until given order and placed within the context of I.U.’s history.

I have had the pleasure of working with three collections of retired professors. Through each of them, I have had the opportunity to peek into their research, teaching styles, and even their personal lives. With them, I have learned many things, but most specifically the value in preserving a variety of backgrounds. Before the age of postmodernism, minority groups were rarely represented in archives across the world. Given this fact, archivists reevaluated their collecting policies, began to question their personal biases, and reached out to those whose stories originally went untold. Being aware of my responsibility to these individuals, I first acquainted myself with them. I would research their lives either within obituaries or even Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Getting a sense of who they were helped me appraise and organize their collections. After being invested in a professor’s collection for a few weeks, it became hard to let one go and pick up another. However, with each collection I refined my skills and learned something new.

Along with managing collections, I was given a chance to see where archives are needed within an academic community. After the passing of one of I.U.’s esteemed chancellors, Byrum Carter, the President’s Office decided to hold a memorial in his honor. The individuals working on the project turned to the archives requesting access to his collection. My job was to collect a variety of images from his career and share them with other collaborators. I was also expected to provide an outline of his career including his early life, academic life, professional career, and achievements. Carter was a very involved administrator. During a time of enormous political upheaval on college campuses across the nation, his demeanor and management style ensured Indiana University remain devoted to carrying out its mission of education, uninterrupted by the chaos of the world. I was moved by his career and was determined to honor his memory through my work.

My memory of the archives will be preserved in this short post. In the future, it may be categorized, associated with something great or something small, or deleted entirely. In any case, my experience here will be one I will cherish. I have had a chance to experience what it means to be an archivist and work with some of the most helpful, encouraging people in the library. If one day I am fortunate enough to call myself an archivist and mentor a student, I will use the example of my supervisors to help her reach her full potential and follow her dream.

If you would like to a more detailed account of Jessica’s experience in the archives, feel free to visit her website

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Tablets in 1993?

More than 20 years ago, the Indiana University Center for Excellence in Education was committed to researching and developing an electronic textbook. They envisioned the device as “lightweight, clipboard-sized computers with built-in lessons, review drills, and data banks of reference materials.” In a time when computers were quite large and not mobile, the concept was radical and certainly before its time. The following representation depicts a typical work environment of the early 1990s:

Computer technology in the early 1990s.

Computer technology in the early 1990s.

The monitors and computer towers occupied the space of an entire desk. Did technology advanced enough even exist for the researchers of the Center to develop the tablet-sized computers they envisioned? In actuality, yes. It was surprising to learn that tablets have been around since the early 1990s and conceived as early as the 1960s.

In 1992, the Center for Excellence in Education acknowledged the impact technology would have in the future: “The advantages of computer presentation are so great that we must accept that, in time, textbooks as we presently know them will largely be displaced.” Unfortunately, however, a tablet was not the result of any of its research projects. Instead, they worked to develop virtual textbooks using the technologies that were available at the time. The model, called Papyrus 2, was a hypermedia application that combined course content, instruction and support. The software package was built to allow students flexibility and encourage exploration when working through the course content.

Would you like more information about this and other related projects? Contact the Archives about access to the Indiana University Center for Excellence in Education records, Collection C550!

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IU Professor of Zoology Conducted Research across the World

IU Professor David G. Frey’s papers recently opened to researchers at the IU Archives. Hired as Professor of Zoology in 1951, Dr. Frey taught in Bloomington until 1986. Dr. Frey was a specialist in limnology (acquatic ecology) and an authority on the Cladocera (water flea) . At IU, he established a laboratory containing over 10,000 specimens (now housed by the Smithsonian in the Museum of Natural History).

In addition to his teaching and research at IU, Dr. Frey was active in several national and international limnological organizations. Due to his involvement, which included serving as president of the American Society of Limnology and as executive vice president of the International Association of Limnology, he traveled extensively to attend conferences and to conduct research on lakes around the world.In all, he visited forty-four countries across six continents. (He never made it to Antarctica.)

Photographs and postcards from some of his travels are included in his collection at the Archives.

Hungary

Dr. Frey traveled to Hungary in 1967 to attend the first International Symposium on Paleolimnology. During the Symposium, the attendees visited Tihany, a village in Hungary on the northern shore of Lake Balaton.

Hungary 1

A view from Lake Balaton of the village, Tihany, and a Benedictine abbey (top of the photo).

A view of Lake Balaton in Hungary.

A view of Lake Balaton in Hungary.

USSR

In 1962, Professor Frey visited the USSR as part of the National Research Council exchange with the Soviet Academy. He spent most of his time in Borok, Russia, a small, protected area in the southwestern portion of the country. Heavily forested, Borok is home to a variety of birds, including a colony of grey herons, and raccoon dogs. Visits to the region are limited to fishermen, hunters, and scientists.

Main Street in Borok, Russia.

Main Street of the small community in Borok.

Borok, Russia.

Research pond at Borok.

Borok, Russia.

Road toward pond used for Dr. Frey’s research near Borok, Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austria

In 1953, Dr. Frey won both a Fulbright and Guggenheim award giving him the opportunity to study lakes in Western Europe and Austria. (He won the Fulbright again in 1985 to teach in Ireland.)

Dr. Frey exiting an Amerika Haus, likely in Austria.

Dr. Frey exiting an Amerika Haus, likely in Austria.

Dr. David Frey working on research, likely in Austria.

Professor Frey working on research, likely in Austria.

 

A partial list of the countries where Frey conducted research includes: Czechoslovakia, Nepal, Malaysia, France, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uganda.

To see the rest of the photographs or to learn more about Dr. Frey’s travels, contact the University Archives. The Frey Papers also contain his published articles and research notes.

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Indiana University and World War I: Armistice Day and the War Memorial Fund (Part 5 of 5)

The last in a five-part series highlighting Indiana University’s role in the first World War.

The armistice ending the war went into effect at 11:00 A.M., November 11, 1918 – just one week after campus reopened from the influenza outbreak. On the home front, Indiana University students and faculty and Bloomington townsfolk welcomed the end of the Great War, many with celebrations and parades around downtown Bloomington, as seen in the following photos.

Armistice celebrations in downtown Bloomington.

LARGE[1] Armistice celebrations in downtown Bloomington.

Forty-two days after many IU men were formally inducted into the S.A.T.C., the war ended. A few days after that, the War Department announced that the S.A.T.C. would be demobilized by December 21st. Although specific numbers do not exist, the 1919 yearbook reported that the majority of male students who had been members of the S.A.T.C. returned to school in the spring semester as civilian students. With the disbandment of the S.A.T.C., R.O.T.C. training resumed and four hours of training were mandatory for every male student in the spring semester.

To understand the emotion of that November day, consider these two accounts of the celebrations by members of the IU community, one from Europe and one from Bloomington.

Georgia Finley was was a professor in the Home Economics Department at Indiana University from 1914-1939. Beginning in September of 1917, she took a leave of absence in order serve as the Chief Dietician at Base Hospital No. 32 in France. During her time overseas, she regularly wrote letters home which were then published in the Indiana Daily Student. She also regularly kept a diary. The following is an excerpt from that diary, courtesy of IU’s Lilly Library:

Georgia Finley

Georgia Finley

November 11, 1918. Well, it’s all over! What joy! The news was officially given out during the morning. Troops stationed near here and ready for the front were ordered not to go because no more were needed. Then the French Comminque announced “Armistice signal.” This afternoon seventy-one shots were fired. The church bells rang. Then the overland trains chime in from the front – joyous and gaily decorated. We all felt like crying and many French women did. . . . This is the first night we have not had to black out since coming to France. The street lights are glowing.

Back in Indiana, IU student and S.A.T.C. member William Ringer (who suffered from the Spanish Flu) wrote in his diary:

One of the greatest days in the history of the world! Almost 3:30 we were awakened by a terrible ringing of bells, shouting, explosions, etc. And central called in that Germany had signed the armistice. We were ordered to ‘fall in’ and at once we marched down to Kirkwood and Indiana where all the S.A.T.C. and the Rookies and hundreds of town people. It was dark and cold, but there was excitement and noise enough. All the civilians cheering and autos honking, make a wild world. We marched three turn around the square etc. until almost 5 o’clock. Of course did not return to sleep. We had drill – and a hard one, but they announced that there would be no classes, but a parade at 2, and at 7.

War Memorial Fund

With the war ended, life slowly returned to normal in Bloomington. On campus, the most prominent legacy of the war at IU is the War Memorial Fund. The fundraising drive originated with the Indiana University Alumni Council, and was created to fill the need of the university for new buildings. IU President Bryan saw a fund drive as a way to commemorate the 1920 IU Centennial and as a way to remember those who served in the war. In June 1921, the Alumni Council gave approval and authorized a campaign to raise $1,000,000 for the construction of three buildings. The Council selected the University Librarian at the time, W.A. Alexander, to serve as the executive secretary. A large bonfire attended by 2,000 students in March, 1922, helped to encourage fundraising. The IDS wrote that “the glowing embers reflected to students visions of new structures soon to be born to grace our campus, and from the flying sparks they caught the spirit of a greater Indiana.”

1922 Memorial Fund bonfire.

1922 Memorial Fund bonfire.

The three buildings constructed as a result of the Memorial Fund were:

  • Memorial Hall, completed in 1925 as a women’s dormitory, the first one owned by the University.

Memorial Hall (1925)

  • Memorial Stadium, also completed in 1925 but demolished in 1982.

Memorial Stadium (1925)

  • Indiana Memorial Union, completed in 1932.

Indiana Memorial Union (1932)

The architectural firm Lowe & Bollenbacher designed both Memorial Hall and Memorial Stadium, while the IMU was designed by Granger and Bollenbacher.

This campus map from 1930 shows the results of the War Memorial Fund.

This campus map from 1930 shows some of the results of the War Memorial Fund.

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