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Center for Middletown Studies records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RG-05-02-10

Scope and Contents

This collections includes administrative records from the Center for Middletown Studies, including annual reports, correspondence, budget and finance information, position descriptions, publications and promotional materials. The collection also includes grant and research proposals, research projects and supplementary research materials, audio and video recordings and electronic files.


  • Creation: 1970-2013

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

Ball State capitalized on the attention generated within the academic community on "Muncie as Middletown" by launching an initiative to create a Center for Middletown Studies in 1979. Dwight W. Hoover, professor of history and a recognized scholar in the fields of social and intellectual history, was the founding director.

Under Hoover's guidance, the center continued to expand and became an established academic unit within the university in 1984. Hoover retired in 1991, and E. Bruce Geelhoed, professor of history and a specialist in American business history, became the center's director. At the beginning of the 2005 academic year, James Connolly succeeded Geelhoed as director.

Over the past quarter century, the center has sponsored a wide range of research. It assisted scholars conducting the "Middletown IV" research project, the most recent replication of the Lynds' study. That work generated numerous publications, most notably The First Measured Century (2001) by Theodore Caplow, Lewis Hicks, and Ben J. Wattenburg, and its accompanying PBS broadcast series. Other recent center supported publications include Middletown Jews: The Tenuous Survival of an American Jewish Community (1997) edited by Dan Rotenburg, and the award-winning The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie's African American Community (2004) by Eric Lassiter et al.

In recent years, the center has broadened its research agenda and begun to use emerging media to disseminate Middletown research and archival material. Taking a cue from the original conception of the Lynds’ book as a “small city study,” the center sponsors a regular conference and publication series on the history and contemporary experiences of second- and third-tier cities around the world.

Its Documenting Deindustrialization initiative aims to develop online resources, including oral histories, photographs, film, scholarly studies, and other research that examines economic change and its consequences in Muncie and the Midwest since 1950.

It has also completed the What Middletown Read project, funded with a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. That endeavor includes an online database detailing library patronage and reading habits in Muncie between 1892 and 1902 drawn from a collection of Muncie Public Library records that document every book checked out by every patron for most of that period.


14.1 Cubic Feet (23 Boxes)


Arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Administrative Records, 1976-2011

Series 2: Audio Recordings, 1988-1992

Series 3: Center for Middletown Studies Advisory Board, 1980-2011

Series 4: Electronic Files, 1989-2005

Series 5: Events and Programs, 1970-2013

Series 6: Grants and Project Proposals, 1830-1920, 1953-2011

Series 7: Promotional Materials and Publications, 1974-2006

Series 8: Research Materials, 1837-1850, 1922-1930, 1954-2011

Series 9: Video Recordings, 1993-2000


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2013/12/13 by Ben Richardson. Collection reprocessed 2017/09/15 by Cody Sprunger.

Center for Middletown Studies Records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Ball State University Archives Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA