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Grant number like: RZ-51013-09

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Ball State University (Muncie, IN 47306-1022)
James John Connolly (Project Director: November 2008 to March 2012)

Collaborative Research
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$160,000 (approved)
$160,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2011

What Middletown Read: Print Culture and Cosmopolitanism in an American City

Preparation for the publication of a scholarly study, "What Middletown Reads;" and the creation of a freely accessible digital database of library records from the Muncie, Indiana public library.

"What Middletown Read: Print Culture and Cosmopolitanism in an American Small City" uses a recently discovered cache of library records as the basis for a historical and social study of reading behavior in an industrializing community of the late nineteenth century. The surviving documents record the individual books each borrower took from the local public library in Muncie, Indiana - the city featured in the famed "Middletown" sociological studies - for most of the period between 1891 and 1902. Historians of print culture in the U.S. have long sought this sort of first-hand evidence of reading behavior among ordinary people. The directors of the "What Middletown Read" project propose to capitalize on this discovery in two ways. They will write a book exploring print culture in Muncie, Indiana during the 1890s and they will construct a digital database derived from these records and make it freely available online to the public.