working with the Historic Muncie project are discovering history in their backyard as they uncover information
on some of the community’s most fascinating historical sites, including the
hospital where bank robber John Dillinger stayed (Whitney Hospital).
home of Ball State University—was once coined "Middletown, USA" by a
study done in the 1920s for its representation as the typical Midwestern place
to live. Several community programs continue to work from this study and
document the city's rich history of industry and culture.
Eiler, '12, MA '14, a graduate student in the telecommunications digital
storytelling program, was involved in Historic Muncie in spring 2012. She says the experience allowed
students to become immersed in a part of Muncie they never knew existed.
my favorite part of this project," Eiler says, "to see the face of
new students when they walk into one of the historically preserved homes for
the first time. I saw a change in them."
Muncie is an immersive learning project that chronicles the history of Muncie through an interactive online
museum detailing the city's 12 nationally recognized historic districts. The
program is funded by a Provost Immersive Learning Grant and began in fall 2011, when 42 students from six majors collaborated to produce
photos, video, website content, and documentaries. The Historic Muncie website
now serves as an educational resource on the architectural past of the
part of Historic Muncie, student teams produced documentaries and essays
highlighting each of the city's historic districts, its architectural style,
and contribution to the community. In addition to providing research resources,
the project also aims to educate the public on the continuing struggle of
preserving historic areas in a town striving for change.
culture changes rapidly now, but we need to take the time to look back on where
we came from," Eiler says. "If we don't stop and look back, these
historic structures will be gone completely."
Muncie won statewide acclaim in 2012 when the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources presented it with the Governor's Award for Preservation of Historic
Places. The team's documentary Stories
and Legends also won an Aurora Award for Platinum Best of Show in May 2012
and screened four times during the prestigious Heartland Film Festival in
Indianapolis. The film explores historic preservation while tracing efforts to
restore structures in Muncie, including an old railway stop (C.R.M. Depot) and
the resting place of the city's rich and famous (Beech Grove Cemetery).
project director and telecommunications instructor at Ball State, says the
class has helped connect students with neighborhoods and residents they wouldn't
normally associate with.
project and documentary provide an excellent framework for students to work
collaboratively across disciplines as well as with the community," he
says. "We had a tremendous amount of support from many community organizations
says this support and the opportunity for students to assist the community make
Historic Muncie meaningful.
all were blessed to experience the real Muncie, Indiana," Eiler says.
"We saw the strength and endurance of people who have been fighting to
save it and will continue to rebuild."
fall 2012, about 30 students continued the project, working with
preservationists from Muncie at the Midwest Restoration Festival to produce four short-form
documentaries. Other partners include Ball State's Center for Middletown
Studies, Indiana Historical Society, Minnetrista Cultural Center, Muncie Public
Library, and East Central Neighborhood Association.
Building Better Communities
Center for Middletown Studies
College of Communication,
Information, and Media
Department of Architecture
Department of English
Department of History
Department of Journalism
Department of Telecommunications
Digital Storytelling Graduate
Historic Preservation Program
Provost Immersive Learning Grant