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The mission of the Center for Middletown Studies is to build on the scholarship inaugurated by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd in their landmark studies Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937). These in-depth accounts of life in Muncie, Indiana, became classic sociological studies and established the community as a barometer of social trends in the United States.

In the years since, scholars in a variety of fields have returned to Muncie to follow up on the Lynds' work, making this small city among the most studied communities in the nation. The center continues this tradition by sponsoring and promoting research on Muncie as Middletown, on small cities generally, on the sociocultural impact of large-scale economic change, and on other themes and issues the Lynds explored.  It aims as well to take advantage of new digital technologies to advance research and teaching in these areas.

The What Middletown Read Book Launch will take place on September 29th at 6:30 pm at the Carnegie Branch of the Muncie Public Library. Frank Felsenstein and James Connolly, authors of What Middletown Read: Print Culture in an American Small City, will provide an inside look at the What Middletown Read project, including their new book and the construction of the What Middletown Read database. For more about the project from the New York Times and Slate go here and here.  Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event. 

Muncie High School Consolidation Oral History Project Public Report.  The Center has completed an effort to document experiences surrounding the merger of Muncie Southside and Muncie Central High Schools in 2014.  As part of the project, Center staff conducted oral history interviews with 25 people, including both community leaders and local residents.  They will present a public report on the project at 6:30 pm at the Kennedy branch on the Muncie Public Library.  For details about the project go here. To read or watch the interviews, go here.

Changing Gears: The Center for Middletown Studies, in conjunction with Ball State's Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education, has produced the documentary film Changing Gears: End of an Era. It explores the significance of the closing of the BorgWarner auto parts plant in Muncie, Indiana, in April 2009. The film has aired on PBS stations around the country.  To order a copy contact idee@bsu.edu or call 765-285-1600. More details on the film are available here.

Other areas of research include:

Contact us for more information about our research and resources.

    Center for Middletown Studies
    Bracken Library (BL), Room 203
    Ball State University
    Muncie, IN 47306

    Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
    Phone: 765-285-8037
    Fax: 765-285-3571