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Muncie, Indiana
Researching the Quintessential American Town
One of the many library ledgers that formed the backbone of What Middletown Read, a digitization project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Image courtesy of the Center for Middletown Studies, Ball State University.

During the Muncie Public Library’s 2003 centennial renovation, Professor Frank Felsenstein came across an untapped resource that would provide insight into American reading, tastes, and habits during the late-nineteenth century: a decade’s worth of library ledgers, recording more than 174,000 loans. With funding from the NEH, Felsenstein and his colleague, James Connolly, set out to digitize these handwritten records, turning them into an online database that would be useful to researchers from across the country and world.

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