- By Trevor Diamond
- Recently at the House Divided Project we met with Professor Susan Rose from Dickinson College, who is currently working with Archivist Jim Gerencser and Librarian Malinda Triller Doran on developing the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center. The online database has images, student files, and numerous other resources for both teachers and students. Professor Rose recommended several files that might serve as effective starting points for teaching and learning about the Carlisle Indian School.
Lesser Known Resources
- Both of the above files have valuable --and quite teachable-- documents even though neither student is well known.
- "The Red Man" was one of the school newspapers for the Carlisle Indian School and another source that Professor Rose recommends highly. The newspaper provides a window into both local and national news of that era. For example, this issue from 1914 featured an article on the "Indian Appropriation Bill" which had recently been passed by Congress.
- The two above photos depict three students when they arrived in Carlisle and after they had spent six months at the school. Six months is a very short amount of time for the drastic change represented in the photos --and quite different from better known Tom Torlino before-and-after photos, which showed an assimilation process over three years. Instead, these photos show the more immediate effects of the assimilation process at the Indian School.
Better Known Carlisle Stories
- Arguably the most famous aspect of the Carlisle Indian School was the football team. Coached by gridiron legend Pop Warner, the team competed posted one of the highest winning percentages of any football program in the early 20th century. Carlisle's most famous season was the 1911-12 campaign, when they completed one of college football's greatest upsets, beating perennial power Harvard 18-15. Led by future Olympian Jim Thorpe, the Indians suffered only one loss that year. Now, with the new digital resource center, students have the ability to see photos of the team that changed football in the United States. Available records include images, player rosters and game results.
- The most well known graduate from the Indian School was Jim Thorpe, who, won two gold medals in the 1912 Summer Olympics while still enrolled at the school. After leaving Carlisle in 1913, Thorpe became a professional baseball and football player and would go on to be known as the "World's Greatest Athlete." Now, anyone learning about Thorpe has access to his entire student file. This 97-page file offers a wealth of material for learning about both Thorpe and student life in Carlisle.
- Tom Torlino has become another well-known symbol of the Carlisle Indian School His before photo, taken in 1882, from when he arrived and the subsequent "after" photo, taken three years later (and following his departure from Carlisle) provides a dramatic example of the school's assimilationist mission. Many teachers are familiar with the images, but few have been able yet to explore the Torlino's student file. The records in this case are sparse, but nonetheless offer some valuable context.
- The new Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center is filled with valuable records for teachers and students. The combination of images, student files, and newspaper articles already provide a uniquely comprehensive look at life at Carlisle during the period from the 1880s through the 1910s. As Prof. Rose and others work on adding pedagogy support and other context essays, this resource will only grow in educational value.