Indiana University Bloomington


Lebanon High School Community Center named for Herman B Wells

Sally Shaw Tanselle, B.A. 1963

The Herman B Wells Chapter of Boone County of the I.U. Alumni Association joined with Lebanon, Indiana city and school officials on November 14, 2013 to dedicate the new Herman B Wells Community Center at Lebanon High School.


Remembering Wells from the Early 60s

By Sally Shaw Tanselle, B.A. 1963

As Arbutus Administrations Editor for the 1961 Arbutus, I interviewed then President Wells.


Wells in Brown County

James Capshew

"By reason of some mysterious atmospheric richness, the hills and dales and wild, woodsy landscapes are bathed in a beauty of tints all their own, and this, coupled with an abundance of log cabins and the quaint living conditions, survivals of the pioneer period, made Brown County a wonderful find for those persons who are searching for the unusual in human life and nature." George Cottman, 1935.

Herman Wells found the hills of county Brown irresistible in the 1930s, and he rented a series of cabins to live in during the summer when he was a professor, dean, and president. This article by Cottman, published in the Indiana Magazine of History, gives some flavor of the place and its past.

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Memories of a Former Student

By Sam Jacobs (IU class of 1965)

I was a freshman during Dr. Wells' final year as president, 1961-62.


IU campus holds reminders of effort to honor World War I veterans

Mike Leonard

Published in the Bloomington Herald-Times, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day means different things to different people, obviously, from attention to the Indianapolis 500, “the Memorial Day Classic,” to the beginning of the summer season to reverence for those who fought and died in service to their country.

Often overlooked, and to many, unknown, is the considerable attention paid to World War I veterans on the Indiana University campus.

Memorial Stadium. Memorial Hall. The Indiana Memorial Union. All owe their names, if not their very existence, to the Memorial Fund Campaign launched by IU shortly after the end of “the war to end all wars.”

The subject came to mind most recently in reading James Capshew’s exhaustive biography, “Herman B Wells: The Promise of the American University.”

Wells was involved with the fund as a student contributor, an administrator who made use of some of the funds, as well as one who used the fundraising campaign as a template for future campaigns.

IU Archives materials indicate that students, faculty and alumni launched the campaign to simultaneously honor veterans and raise money for facilities identified as essential for the growing campus. President William Lowe Bryan tied the campaign into the university’s centennial celebration of 1920, and in 1921, the alumni council authorized a campaign to raise $1 million (later upped to $1.6 million) to fund construction of three specific facilities.

As Capshew observed last week, “The actual buildings — the first women’s dorm, the stadium, and the union — were highly significant for the entire student body. Memorial Hall served as a symbol for IU’s institutional commitment to co-education as well as an early example of university efforts to house the students.”

He noted that silly as it seems now, the women’s residence hall was placed at the southern border of campus on Third Street to put it as far as possible from the men’s dorm, Smith Hall (now the Collins Living-Learning Center), just south of 10th.

“The IMU and the stadium brought the academic community together to build school spirit, among other things,” Capshew said. “It was also a way for this university, relatively penurious, to keep up with other universities during a period of expansion.”

Old Memorial Stadium is gone now, replaced by an arboretum. But the current football stadium retains the memorial designation — as well as the mainmast from the World War II battleship, the USS Indiana.

Memorial Hall still serves as a small and dated residence hall but could well be refurbished as the university moves to “repurpose” several old buildings in the core campus from office buildings to centers of student activity.

The IMU remains one of the greatest and grandest student unions in the country. And it retains a remarkable link to the heritage of the Memorial Fund. Inside the Memorial Room in the student union is the Golden Book — a massive repository of university history that lists the names of military veterans associated with IU (and fund contributors) from the War of 1812 through World War II.

In November 2011, IU unveiled an impressive digitization of the book that allows visitors to scroll through the 20,000-25,000 names listed — something impossible to do when the invaluable book was preserved under glass. Efforts are under way to add IU-related veterans since World War II.

Wells rededicated the Memorial Room in 1961, a year before he stepped down as IU president. And as Capshew noted in his biography, the revered IU leader reflected poetically on the power and purpose of memorialization.

“What man in his inner self does not have a small room of memory, where, if he stops to look, are stored reminders of the things in his life which have made it full of wonder in the having of them, and of sorrow at their loss?” Wells asked.


Alma Pater: Herman B Wells and the Rise of Indiana University

By James H. Capshew

(Alma Pater: Latin=bounteous father [Almus Pater]; cf. Alma Mater)


The new century had not lost its shine when Herman B Wells was born in Jamestown, Indiana, in 1902. His father, Joseph Granville Wells, a teacher and farmer, was working all day in the fields on June 7, while his mother, Anna Bernice Wells, labored at home for several hours. When Granville returned home in the evening, his wife and newborn son greeted him. The parents could not have been prouder.


The Woodland Campus
Indiana University Bloomington - A Historic Walking Tour 

This brochure from IU includes history and information about the campus, including a tree identification section. Dr. Wells was instrumental in protecting the Indiana University woodland campus.

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Indiana University as the "Mother of College Presidents": Herman B Wells as Inheritor, Exemplar, and Agent

by James H. Capshew

Herman B Wells Distinguished Lecture of the Institute and Society for Advanced Study given on October 29, 2010; ©2011 Indiana University; 25pps

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Herman B Wells
The Man Who Shaped Our World

by James Capshew, as told to Jeremy Shere

9 pps, published in Bloom Magazine
February/March, 2009

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Encounters with Genius Loci
Herman B Wells at/and/of Indiana University

By James H Capshew

Perspectives on the History of Higher Education 28 (2011): 161-192 ©2001. ISBN:978-1-4128-1859-9

Iconic Leaders in Higher Education
Roger L. Geiger, editor
Penn State, Transaction Publishers - Rutgers

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Podcast: Jim Capshew discusses his new biography of Herman B Wells

IU Press's Laura Baich speaks with IU faculty member James Capshew about his new biography. They discuss Capshew's experience writing the book and Dr. Wells's legacy to IU and higher education.

Wells at 85

By Richard Gilbert, April 10, 1988

Published in the Bloomington Herald-Times, April 10, 1988.

Legendary former president remains a living symbol of IU (Cutline) Info: Almost from the time he began his association with IU as an undergraduate, Herman B Wells' long life has been devoted to the university. Fifty years ago, he became IU's president, having been a professor and dean. The secret of his phenomenal success and popularity as a leader may lie in his most elusive quality - charisma.


Memories of Herman Wells

By Howard Gest, September 1979, London

I was on sabbatical leave doing research in the Biochemistry Department of Imperial College.  On Sunday, September 2, an article in the London Times announced that Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet (OBE), his wife Ginny (plus their dog Charlie), two explorer colleagues and 14 volunteer team members would begin their Transglobe Expedition at midday, departing from Greenwich (near London).