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David R. Hermansen Papers Collection

Identifier: DADA-033

Scope and Contents

This collection contains office files of David R. Hermansen concerning Hermansen’s career as an architectural educator and advocate of historic preservation, covering the period ca. 1957-1990. It fills four record storage boxes, five document cases, and two other small boxes (7.2 cubic feet). Although Hermansen was widely known for his work promoting the preservation of Indiana county courthouses, his courthouse research is not included in this collection.

Lecture notes for history of architecture courses constitute the bulk of the collection. 17 loose-leaf volumes of meticulously prepared notes (in 4 record storage boxes, catalog number 33-1) are arranged geographically (by continent) and then by historical period. Additional volumes hold notes for a televised course on the history of city planning (33-2) and notes on naval architecture (33-3).

Syllabi prepared by Hermansen for various history of architecture courses (33-4) list and give basic facts about the works to be studied in that course. Duplicated and given or sold to students, the syllabi served as study guides. The first in the series is for a course in “History of Renaissance and Baroque Architecture” at the University of Kansas, 1964. When Hermansen came to Ball State, he structured the history of architecture courses along typological lines (“history of housing", “history of city planning,” etc.) rather than the typical chronological arrangement. This is reflected in eight later syllabi for courses (or combinations of courses) at Ball State.

A 1959 syllabus on “modern architecture” by Turpin C. Bannister (33-5) evidently served as a model for those written by Hermansen. Hermansen studied under Bannister, a noted architectural historian, at the University of Illinois.

Other records concerning Hermansen’s teaching and professional practice are contained in 88 folders (33-6 through 33-86, in three document cases). Included are correspondence, reports, handwritten notes, draft HABS architectural descriptions and National Register of Historic Places inventory-nomination forms, photographs and photo negatives of buildings taken for a series of downtown revitalization workshops, press releases and newspaper clippings concerning the workshops, photographs of drawings produced during the workshops, and claims for reimbursement of expenses. The original arrangement of these records—geographically by county, in alphabetical order by county name—has been retained, except for eight folders (33-6 through 33-13) that pertain to topics broader than a single county.

Hermansen’s geographical files originally contained additional information about historic buildings and historic preservation activities in Indiana. He was an active collector of clippings, promotional leaflets for tourist sites and house museums, events calendars, maps, locally published books and pamphlets, historic structure reports, some student papers documenting historic properties, and similar materials. About 400 such items (1.2 linear feet) were transferred to the Documentation Collection (DOC-) for ease of access. A set of pasteboard dividers that Hermansen made for his geographical files, one divider for each county, with labels neatly printed in his hand, have been reused for their original purpose in the DOC-collection file cabinets.

Three additional boxes contain photographic negatives, prints, contact sheets, and slides that had been stored in the office of the College of Architecture and Planning staff photographer (catalog nos. 33-87 through 33-97). Included are images of Hermansen's Indiana County Courthouse research, city revitalization studies, student projects, Indiana round barns, preservation events, and Hermansen's retirement party. Some of the photos are by the Ball State University Public Information Service. Authorship of the other photos is uncertain. Evidently, some of the negatives were taken by Hermansen, others by College of Architecture and Planning staff photographers. Similarly for the slides, Hermansen may have taken the slides of the Emily Kimbrough House before and during restoration (catalog no. 33-96). College staff photographers probably took the slides of student work done in Hermansen’s classes (33-97).


  • Creation: 1957 - 1992


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Drawings and Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Drawings and Documents Archive.

Biographical Note

An educator, architect, historian, and preservationist, Professor David R. Hermansen (1928-1994) was the first faculty member of the new College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University in 1966. A pioneering individual, Professor Hermansen founded and became the first director of Ball State’s graduate program in historic preservation in 1976. Helping to establish the first curriculum, Hermansen structured the history of architecture courses along typological lines (“history of housing,” “history of city planning,” etc.), rather than the typical arrangement. During his tenure, he helped establish the Architecture Library and the Architectural Slide Collection, which was later named in his honor. Within three years, from 1966-1968, these centers had amassed 35,000 volumes and 6,000 slides. Professor Hermansen also initiated and administered the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) program at the college.

A native of Chicago, Hermansen received his bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and was an Army veteran. During his time as a student, he worked for an architectural firm in Chicago and Bloomington, Illinois. He taught at the University of Kansas between 1954 and 1966 and was a practicing architect in Kansas before moving to Indiana. Soon after arriving in Muncie, Professor Hermansen discovered that the Delaware County Courthouse was scheduled for demolition. He began to document courthouses throughout the state and compiled his findings in a book titled Hoosier Hysteria of the 19th Century. A photographic exhibit of his research was shown in all 92 courthouses within Indiana and also at the Octagon Building in Washington, D.C., which housed the American Institute of Architects. This project made Professor Hermansen one of the leading authorities on Indiana courthouses.

He was a director of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, member of the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board and the Muncie Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Commission, and received the first Wilbur D. Peat Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Understanding and Appreciation of Indiana’s Architectural Heritage. He retired from teaching in 1993. In 2003, he was posthumously honored by the College of Architecture and Planning Alumni Society Governing Board with the Charles M. Sappenfield Award of Excellence, an award given to CAP faculty members who have provided dedicated service to the students of the college. A historic preservation award and memorial scholarship named in his honor exists for students in the Masters of Science Program in Historic Preservation.


7 Cubic Feet (4 record storage boxes, 5 document cases, 4 slide boxes)


The David R. Hermansen Papers are arranged by subject; slides are arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

The David R. Hermansen Papers were received by Drawings and Documents Archive as a donation from David R. Hermansen on 1993/8/5; additions were made by Evelyn Hermansen in 1994; Steve Tally (college photographer) on 2004/9/15.


No additions are expected.


Program for Omega Dinner, Ball State University, 13 April 1993. The Muncie Star, 18 December 1994.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed. Finding aid created 2002/6/6 Andrew R. Seager, revised 2010/2/23 by Ryan W.Shrack; revised 2012/2/17 by Carol Street.

David R. Hermansen Papers
Created by Andrew R. Seager; revised by Ryan W. Shrack in 2010 and by Carol Street in 2012.
Created 2002/6/6; revised 2010/2/23, 2012/2/17.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Andrew Seager Archives of the Built Environment Repository

Architecture Building, Room 120
Muncie IN 47306 USA
765-285-3726 (Fax)