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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.

Muncie High School Consolidation Oral History Project.  The Center is engaged in an effort to document experiences surrounding the merger of Muncie Southside and Muncie Central High Schools in 2014.  As part of the project, we are conducting oral history interviews that give local residents the opportunity to share their views on the decision to combine the schools and the significance of the merger for Muncie’s past, present, and future.  If you are interested in participating, please contact (or leave a message with your contact details for) Rich Usdowski at 765-285-8037.  The project is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County.  For details go here.

The What Middletown Read database (www.bsu.edu/libraries/wmr) is now open for use. Praise for the project from the New York Times and Slate can be found here and 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