1890-1940: Drafting the Plan

Leadership: John J. Pettitjohn, IU Extension Division Director (1914-1918); Robert E. Cavanaugh, IU Extension Division Director then Dean (1918-1946); Leslie J. Montgomery, John W. Rittinger, and Frank E. Allen, Superintendents of South Bend school system (ca. 1909-1940)


Correspondence course mailing room at Indiana University Bloomington, 1943. Photo courtesy of Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

After attending a conference, IU faculty became convinced that Hoosiers would profit from a university extension program in the state. The extension program would share university resources with those far from the Bloomington campus. Correspondence courses were one way to connect at a distance. Faculty rode the trains to make weekly visits to small towns. High quality audio-visual materials and specially-written course texts were also delivered to schools and community centers.

The cover of a 1940 catalog (left) which describes materials, including lantern slides like the three pictured above, available to be shipped from the Bloomington campus to extension divisions in cities across the state, including South Bend. Photos courtesy of Indiana University Archives, Bloomington and the Lilly Library, Bloomington.

The first IU extension course was offered in Indianapolis in 1891. A formal Extension Division was established in 1912, expanding the program throughout the state. Extension courses in sociology were offered in South Bend by 1913. These early courses were taught not by IU professors but community leaders, including Louise Studebaker, daughter of one of the five brothers behind the Studebaker Automobile Company; and Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, who went on to co-found the pacifist Jewish Peace Fellowship and advocate clemency for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. According to the South Bend News-Times, instructors worked from an “outline of the study of people and conditions of today” supplied by Indiana University.


Front and back cover (top) and inside pages of an informational pamphlet for an IU extension course to be taught in South Bend, Indiana for the 1915-1916 school year. Click on the images to view magnified versions on individual item pages.

During the Great Depression, many area students could not afford to go to Bloomington or could not leave their families short of a paycheck. The superintendents of area schools asked IU to provide a wider variety of classes in South Bend. A center was opened in Central High School in 1933 and had an enrollment of 200 students. Courses were taught by local high school teachers with advanced degrees and the occasional faculty member who traveled from Bloomington once a week.


Hundreds of lantern slides were housed in Wylie Hall at Indiana University Bloomington (top, pictured in 1938) and were shipped to extension divisions across the state by request. Photos courtesy of Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

1890-1940: Drafting the Plan