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Student researches IU's history for upcoming Bicentennial

July 28, 2017

KOKOMO, Ind. — As Indiana University prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary, one IU Kokomo student’s research is bringing some of its historical figures to light.

Delving into the archives, Hannah Bourne has read journals, scholarly writings, holiday cards, and program books from campus events nearly 100 years ago, details that helped her share the stories of those who have been part of IU’s story.

“It’s been interesting to learn about the people who paved the way for us to be here,” Bourne said. “I’ve learned so much about the history of IU. When I walk across campus and see the names of buildings and streets, I recognize those names, and know what those people did that was of significance. I have this feeling of all the people who came before me, and the history that came before me.”

Bourne devoted her summer to work alongside IU Historian James Capshew on projects commemorating the university’s Bicentennial, which is January 20, 2020. Her internship is through the inaugural President’s Regional Campus Summer Research Fellowship.

Some of the research included gathering historical materials, writing short biographical sketches of faculty and staff who have written IU history, and completing photo research on the history of the African American community in Bloomington.

Capshew said this information will be used in a public humanities project, a scholarly essay, and a database on IU minority faculty, staff, and student contributions, all connected to the Bicentennial.

“It contributes to understanding the story of IU, and thus part of the Bicentennial,” Capshew said.

Bourne is one of four regional campus interns, with the others representing IU East,  IU South Bend, and IU Southeast. Each one is paired with a faculty member, working on projects in history, psychology, and biology.

“This internship gives me a better idea of what I might be doing if I pursue a career in history, and the reality of the field,” Hannah said. “I am so honored to have this opportunity to be part of this program.”

Inspired by the program, she hopes to begin a similar historical research project when she returns to campus next month.

Sarah Heath, chair of IU Kokomo’s Department of Sociology, History, and Political Science, called the program “a special opportunity,” especially since it included a stipend and campus housing.

“It’s a great way for Hannah to get her hands dirty doing the history, and learning how the process works, especially with expert guidance,” Heath said. “This is a great chance to see in person how historians put together a project, or a story they want to tell.”

The two-month program provided not only hands-on learning, but Bourne’s first opportunity to live away from her home in Bunker Hill. She’s considering going to graduate school or law school in Bloomington, after completing degrees in communication arts and history and political science. 

“Being in Bloomington has been an exceptional experience for me, but IU Kokomo is home,” she said. “It’s something I have a great appreciation for, and I’m proud of coming from here.”

About the IU Bicentennial: Indiana University was founded on January 20, 1820, making it one of the oldest public universities in the nation. To celebrate its Bicentennial, IU has developed a multi-year, multi-campus program that will recognize and chronicle IU history, showcase the university’s significant contributions to the world, and set a course for the next century. For more information about the Bicentennial program, go to IU Bicentennial

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 07/28/2017