Indiana bicentennial book by retired IU Southeast professors named finalist for Book of the Year

1st April 2016
Former IU Southeast professors Jim St. Clair and Linda Gugin

Retired IU Southeast professors Jim St. Clair and Linda Gugin with their book, “Indiana’s 200.”

By Rachel Terlep

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — A book planned, organized and edited by two retired IU Southeast professors has been named a regional finalist for the 18th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

As part of the Indiana Historical Society’s recognition of the state of Indiana’s bicentennial, professors emeriti Jim St. Clair and Linda Gugin collaborated to create “Indiana’s 200: People Who Shaped the Hoosier State,” which features Hoosiers who became famous — or infamous — for their achievements and contributions.

The book took the combined efforts of 136 people four years to put together. St. Clair and Gugin recruited several IU Southeast faculty and staff members to contribute articles to the project.

The guidelines for naming “Indiana’s 200” were simple: The person must be deceased and they must have some connection to the state. The end result was a diverse mix of people from all sorts of professions — government, business, sports, medicine, education, religion, literature and entertainment — from all over the state.

“In some instances, the impact on the state was very direct, like Richard Lieber, the person who started the Indiana state parks system,” Gugin said. “We also thought to include people like James Dean, who really impacted the culture for young people beyond Indiana.”

Some in the book are obvious choices, such as Herman B. Wells, Benjamin Harrison, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, Knute Rockne and John Wooden. Others were lesser-known gems that Gugin and St. Clair uncovered during their research. Charles G. Conn, a politician, band instrument maker and founder of the newspaper The Elkhart Truth in Elkhart, Indiana, was a personal favorite of St. Clair’s.

“I was really overwhelmed by all of his accomplishments,” St. Clair said. “He started a music instrument manufacturing company in Elkhart, he was the mayor of Elkhart, he was an author. He was a Civil War veteran, he was a prisoner of war. He was a larger-than-life person, and I had never heard his name before we began researching for this book. It was really one of the big joys of doing this, finding out about people like Charles Conn.”

Gugin, a Georgia native, said she was struck by how many movers and shakers throughout American history have had ties to Indiana.

“I think Indiana has been a very progressive state in so many areas, people who were creative and people who were really dedicated to causes,” she said.

Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd. Foreword Reviews will celebrate the winners during a program at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida in June.

St. Clair, Gugin and several other local contributors to “Indiana’s 200” will participate in an Author Talk hosted by the IU Southeast Library on Tuesday, April 5, from 7:30-9 p.m. on the third floor of the library. Each author will discuss their article then hold a Q&A. Then the floor will open for attendees to mingle, purchase books or get copies signed.

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