In the 1920s, Robert and Helen Lynd led a team of sociologists in a study of a typical middle-American community. The Lynds chose Muncie as the locale for their field research, although they never specifically identified it as “Middletown” the fictional name of the town in their study. Muncie received national attention after the publication of their book, Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture (1929). The Lynds returned to Muncie to re-observe the community during the Depression, which resulted in a sequel, Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts (1937). The Lynds’ Middletown study, which was funded by the Rockefeller Institute of Social and Religious Research, was intended to study “the interwoven trends that are the life of a small American city.”
The Lynds were only the first to conduct a series of studies in Muncie. The National Science Foundation funded a third major study that resulted in two books by Theodore Caplow, Middletown Families (1982) and All Faithful People (1983). Caplow returned to Muncie in 1998 to begin another study, Middletown IV, which became part of a Public Broadcasting Service documentary titled “The First Measured Century“, released in December 2000. The Ball State Center for Middletown Studies continues to survey and analyze social change in Muncie. A database of Middletown surveys conducted between 1978 and 1997 is available online from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). Due to the extensive information collected from the Middletown studies during the twentieth century, Muncie is said to be one of the most studied cities of its size in the United States.
In addition to being called a “typical American city”, as the result of the Middletown studies, Muncie is known as Magic City or Magic Muncie, as well as the Friendly City.
The Bob Ross Experience
From an unassuming public television studio in Muncie, IN, Bob Ross inspired generations of viewers with his soft-spoken voice and pallet knife. While “The Joy of Painting” is popular around the world, many people do not realize much of the series was filmed in the historic L.L. Ball home on Minnetrista’s campus.
His studio will be open for painting and workshops. There will also be chance to experience his many beautiful paintings. In Bob’s own words, “Beauty is everywhere-you only have to look to see it”.
To order tickets: http://www.minnetrista.net/bobrossexperience
Special “Bob Ross Special” Special hotel room prices at participating hotels:
- Comfort Inn and Suites, Muncie, 765-587-0294
- Courtyard by Marriott, Muncie, 765-287-8550
- Fairfield by Marriott, Muncie 765-282-6666
- Hampton Inn and Suites, Muncie, IN, 765-288-8500
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel, Muncie, 765-289-4678
Emily Kimbrough was born in Muncie, Indiana on October 23, 1899 and died February 10, 1989 at her home in Manhattan. In 1921 she graduated from Bryn Mawr College and went on a trip to Europe with her friend Cornelia Otis Skinner. The two friends co-authored the memoir “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” based on their European adventures. The success of the book as a New York Times best seller led to Kimbrough and Skinner going to Hollywood to work on a script for the movie version. Kimbrough wrote about the experience in “We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood”.
Kimbrough’s journalistic career included an editor post at Fashions of the Hour, managing editorship at the Ladies Home Journal and a host of articles in Country Life, House & Garden, Travel, Reader’s Digest, Saturday Review of Literature, and Parents magazines. Kimbrough’s “Through Charley’s Door” (published 1952) is an autobiographical narrative of her experiences in Marshall Field’s Advertising Bureau. Hired in November 1923 as the researcher and writer for the department store’s quarterly catalog, Fashions of the Hour, Kimbrough was later promoted to editor of the publication. In 1926, she was recruited by Barton Curry with Ladies’ Home Journal, and left Marshall Field’s to become Ladies’ Home Journal’s fashion editor, a position she held until 1929. Between 1929 and 1952, Kimbrough was a freelance writer, with articles published in The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly among others. In 1952, she joined WCBS Radio.
The Emily Kimbrough Historic District is a historical neighborhood in downtown Muncie, Indiana. Established as a Muncie local historical district in 1976, it was eventually added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1980. The District was named after the author and journalist, who spent much of her childhood in the District. Her former home, located at 715 East Washington, is still standing today. Muncie and her old “East End” neighborhood are reflected in much of her writing. Most houses in the District were built after the discovery of natural gas in 1886; citizens who profited from the natural gas enterprise built many of the houses. The District soon became the neighborhood of Muncie’s socially elite and prosperous citizens. In the late 20th Century, the city of Muncie began redeveloping the downtown area and also began restoring the historic neighborhood. Many homes in the District have now been renovated and restored to their original state. The District remains a significant part of Muncie history and culture. Since 1976 the East Central Neighborhood Association in Muncie, Indiana, has sponsored the Old Washington Street Festival. The Festival is held annually in the neighborhood, promoting the historical gas boom days and the unique architecture of the homes. The festival offers house tours of the many homes in the District.
Another famous alumni of Ball State University is late-night talk show legend, David Letterman. Letterman was born in Indianapolis and graduated from Ball State in 1969. Letterman launched his career in radio on the Ball State radio station WBST and later WAGO AM 570.
After graduation, he took a position as a weatherman on a local Indianapolis television station WLWI. In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles with hopes of becoming a comedy writer. His accomplishments caught the attention of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He soon was a regular guest and became a favorite of Johnny Carson.
Letterman credits Carson as the person who influenced his career the most.
David Letterman joined the late night talk show circuit with his own show in 1982. Be sure to checkout “Dave’s Alley” on Walnut Street, next to the famous Vera Maes Bistro. In the alley is a mailbox that collected “Letter’s to Dave” for his late-night show.
Over the years he has earned multiple Emmy Awards, as well as a Peabody Award for his production company, Worldwide Pants. Letterman hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, and is the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. He retired in 2015.
His continued support of the university and its students prompted Ball State to name its newest communication building after him. In September 2007, the David Letterman Communications and Media Building was dedicated. Letterman’s support has also created Ball State telecommunication scholarships. David Letterman donated funding that resulted in a lecture and workshop series attracting business and media leaders as well-known as Ted Koppel, Rachel Maddow, and Oprah Winfrey. At times Letterman has joined the series along with the dignitaries.