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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Spooky Selections from the Library

October 17, 2018

This month, I am taking a slightly different approach to my post. Instead of highlighting one recently cataloged printed item, I am offering a small selection of spooky titles from the collection just in time for Halloween. I have tried my best to include a variety of themes and locales in this list. In other words, hopefully there is something for everyone. Don’t be frightened, though … A friendly librarian is always with you in the Reading Room, and we’ll be sure to keep all the lights on!

Haunted Indiana, by Mark Marimen, offers a “sampling of the ghostly tales that are told throughout the length and breadth of Indiana.” His book is divided into five parts: (I) Classic Ghosts, (II) The Old School Spirit, (III) Ghosts around the House, (IV) Bridges of Doom, Tunnels into Darkness, and Highways to the Hereafter, and (V) Haunted Landmarks. My top picks from this book are “Diana of the Dunes,” “The Faceless Nun of Foley Hall,” and “The Wolf Man of Versailles.”

Haunted Hoosier Trails: a Guide to Indiana’s Famous Folklore Spooky Sites, by Wanda Lou Willis, offers stories with accompanying maps so that brave readers can explore eerie locations for themselves. Her book is organized by region (northern, central and southern Indiana), and more than 40 counties are represented. From “The Manitou Monster” in Fulton County, to “The Ghost of Governor Whitcomb” in Putnam County, and “The Medora Haunted House” in Jackson County, there is something scary to see in just about every part of the state.

Irvington Haunts: the Tour Guide, by Alan E. Hunter, focuses solely on the historic eastside Indianapolis neighborhood. Various well-known locations are described, such as Masonic Lodge 666, the Irving Theater, Dufour’s Restaurant and the Bona Thompson Library. Houses inhabited by notoriously wicked characters, such as D.C. Stephenson and H.H. Holmes, are also included. In his introduction, the author states, “Perhaps you’ve taken other tours in other cities and other states. That makes you a ghost tourist and you, my friend, are welcome here. Whether you are a true believer, a skeptic or just a lover of history and folklore, you’re welcome in the Irv.”

If you are looking for an “older” book, I suggest Modern American Spiritualism: a Twenty Years’ Record of the Communion between Earth and the World of Spirits, by Emma Hardinge. Published in 1870, this book is dedicated to “… the wise and mighty beings through whose instrumentality the spiritual telegraph of the nineteenth century has been constructed,” and to “… the beneficent and powerful spirits through whose sublime labors the immortal world can commune with the mortal dwellers of Earth.” Of particular interest is the chapter on “Cathcart’s Spirit Room,” named for Charles Cathcart, ex-Congressman from La Porte, Indiana.

Finally, here are some honorable mentions also worth exploring: Haunted Henry County IV: Looking for Catherine …, Ghosts of Madison County, Indiana, Tristate Terrors: Famous, Historic, Female Ghosts of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, and The Bangs Sisters and Their Precipitated Spirit PortraitsHappy Halloween!

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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