Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Discovering Family Picture in Ball State University Libraries' Archives

Who would have guessed that a routine trip to the periodicals section on Bracken Library’s second floor would result in me discovering a 1958 photograph of my Dad in an Archives’ exhibit?

Last Fall Semester 2006, the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Research Center displayed a special exhibit, Once There Was a Union Town: A History of Organized Labor in Muncie. As I began walking back to my office, the exhibit caught my eye, and I stopped to look at the photographs and read some of the commentary.

To my surprise, there was a photograph of officers and executive board members from Local 247 United Rubber Workers Union, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Even more surprising was that I saw my Dad, Glynson W. Story, in the photograph!

I was happily surprised, to say the least. Being raised in a hard working, blue-collar family, I always knew my parents appreciated the value of labor unions, yet I had no idea my Dad served in a union leadership role as a member of the executive board, nor had I ever seen this photograph. It turns out that the photograph had appeared in the 1958 Labor Directory and Buyer’s Guide, compiled by the Delaware County Industrial Union Council C.I.O.

Dad came to Muncie, Indiana, after World War II, along with many other Kentucky and Tennessee residents who were seeking better employment. His first job was in Muncie, with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which was located on West 23rd Street, where he worked in the 1950s and 1960s. The local plant manufactured tread for military vehicles. Although I was thrilled and proud that my Dad was part of this exhibit, I felt sad because he passed away (at age 82) only two months earlier. I regret that I could not share this special experience with him.

I brought Mom and my sister to see the exhibit. Mom recognized many of the other people in the photograph because she had been a Goodyear employee, too, and that is where she met Dad. I am grateful that I learned something new about him and am proud to add a copy of this photograph to my collection.

The serendipity of finding this photograph reminds me that libraries serve as valuable educational resources for research and learning in the university community and for members of the community at large, as well. They offer helpful librarians, a variety of spaces for collaboration and individual study, access to print and digital collections, and wonderful programs such as exhibits, lectures, and special events. All of these provide learning and discovery opportunities and ways to connect with persons from all walks of life.

For information, contact Teresa L. Story, Collections Development Assistant,, (765) 285-5444.

This newsletter article first appeared in The Library Insider 5(3): 6; March 2007.

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