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The Dog Blog

August 24, 2023

In 2020, with many of us staying home, the Milk-Bone brand decided that August should be National Dog Month. Since then, the National Day Calendar has declared that every year we should celebrate August as such. Pictured above is one of the many pups in our collections, a portrait of C. C. Branson’s dog, from our Bass Photo Collection.

Grissom, 2022, author’s collection

Dogs have only started to resonate in my mind in the past year or so. I didn’t get my sweet dog, Grissom, until 2022, so I didn’t celebrate National Dog Month that first year. However, I celebrate what he does to complete our family every day, and I’ll especially take note of his importance in August.

Let’s take a virtual stroll through the IHS digital collections to find some representative Indiana dogs over time. I’ve selected three from each third of the state (north, central, and south). It was a difficult choice, as there are so many wonderful dogs to find in our collections. I hope you enjoy these images and look for more when you need your dog fix.

Northern Indiana Dogs:

An unidentified woman poses with her dog in Kosciusko County for photographer John Inbody, ca. 1900, Indiana Historical Society, P0469 (cropped); Jeanette Porter Meehan, daughter of Gene Stratton-Porter, holds the family dog as she poses with her son, Jimmy, and her in-laws the Meehans, image likely taken in California, 1925, Indiana Historical Society, M1235 (cropped); Gus Watanabe of Adams County stands in front of his home with his adoring dog looking up at him, 1947, Margaret R. Watanabe, Indiana Historical Society (cropped).

Central Indiana Dogs:

A woman stands with her Russian wolfhound in Hancock County, ca. 1930, Indiana Historical Society, P0003 (cropped); A toddler sits with a bulldog in Marion County, 1959, Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society (cropped); Man and children with dog jumping for a treat, early 20th century, by amateur photographer Oran Henley, Rush County, Indiana Historical Society, P0515 (cropped).

Southern Indiana Dogs:

Ola Glen McClure tends to the cat and dog on her farm, ca. 1910, Indiana Historical Society, P0577 (cropped); Irene and Bryce Ping, children of photographer, Otto Ping, sit outside their home in Brown County with the family dogs, 1924, Indiana Historical Society, P0275 (cropped); West Baden Springs Hotel Owner, Lee W. Sinclair, in the hotel’s atrium in Orange County, ca. 1910, Indiana Historical Society, P0638 (cropped).

In addition to the above photographs, thanks to the recent inclusion of our advertising ephemera to the digital collection, we can also find imagery of dogs used to sell products. The interesting part is that the products are not typically related to dogs or their upkeep. I feel this just further highlights the idea that dogs are much loved and therefore well suited to drawing the eye to an advertisement.

Advertising Dogs:

Advertising card for Morning Joy Coffee, New Orleans, LA, advertised and sold in Indiana, ca. 1890, Indiana Historical Society; Advertising card for Theo. Moench & Bro. Confectioners, Marion County, ca. 1885, Indiana Historical Society (cropped); Advertising card for Leo’s Hoosier Inn, Marion County, ca. 1900, Indiana Historical Society.

I understand not everyone is a dog lover. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience, suffer from allergies, or there is some other reason behind it. However, for those of us who love dogs, these images are hopefully a source of joy and smiles. While I’m new to the dog-loving community, never having owned a dog before now, I happily embrace my Grissom, and the imagery of all these other Hoosier dogs. I hope you do too. Enjoy!

Amy Vedra

Amy Vedra is the director of reference services. She is currently reading her way through the Great American Reads list.

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