Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

March 23 show - encore presentation

Amelia Earhart and her Indiana connections

Amelia Earhart in stride beside her plane. Image courtesy Purdue University.She vanished more than 75 years ago over the South Pacific while attempting to fly around the world in a Lockheed Electra 10E twin-engine airplane sponsored by Purdue University. That's just one of the connections between famous aviator Amelia Earhart and the Hoosier state.

She was particularly associated with Purdue, which has the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts associated with the famous aviator, whose disappearance in 1937 remains a mystery.

To explore the sky-high stack of Earhart links to Indiana, Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, an aviation expert, joins Nelson in studio for one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives. (Its original air date was Sept. 15, 2012.) Our salute to Women's History Month makes a re-broadcast of this show particularly appropriate.

Amelia Earhart in 1931 set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet in a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro plane.During the final two years before Amelia Earhart vanished, she was a sort of visiting celebrity-in-residence on the West Lafayette campus, where she was a career counselor for women students, and where she lectured and conducted conferences. She also was an adviser to the university’s department of aeronautics.

Despite her fame, "Lady Lindy" chose to stay in a women's dorm (then known as South Hall, today it's part of Duhme Hall) and eat with students in the cafeteria.

In 1935, the same year she joined the Purdue faculty, Earhart visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She became the first woman to receive an official position during the  Indianapolis 500. serving as a race official. Earhart also demonstrated a parachute  training device before the race began.

The pioneer aviator was just 39 years old when she disappeared with her navigator, Fred Noonan, while flying from New Guinea to the Howland Islands. Another famous aviator had Purdue ties. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was in Purdue’s class of 1955. His statue on campus was covered with flowers on the day of his death, Aug. 25, 2012. Image courtesy The Exponent.She was attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.

Purdue's sponsorship of her Lockheed Electra included arranging for financial assistance from Indianapolis business leader J.K. Lilly and other donors. The huge collection of Earhart memorabilia at Purdue includes some of her flight suits, logs and diaries, lecture notes, poems and even a pre-marital agreement with her husband, George Putnam.

Amelia Earhart  wasn’t a native Hoosier. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart earned her pilot’s license in 1922 and within a month set an altitude record (14,000 feet) for a woman aviator.

John Norberg.Subsequently, her list of record-breaking achievements included becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, and two years later setting a speed record (181 mph) for a woman in flight.
Invitations to establish a relationship with Purdue apparently were appealing for several reasons. She  liked the fact that engineering and mechanical training were fully open to women students, and she was appreciative that, in 1935, Purdue was the only university in the country with its own airstrip.

Our guest John Norberg has written extensively about Earhart's colorful life. During our show, he confirms various accounts about the impact of her stay on the Purdue campus. They include an appeal by women students to administrators after they observed the celebrity aviator in slacks. Under a dress code enforced in the mid-1930s, women students at Purdue were prohibited from wearing slacks.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through Indiana Humanities. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

March 30 show

Frank Lloyd Wright and Indiana houses he designed

The “Woodside” house in Marion, Ind., was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Probably the best-known is Samara, a single-level "Usonian" house in West Lafayette built in the 1950s for a young faculty couple at Purdue University. But the world's most famous architect of the 20th century - and, arguably, its most flamboyant, influential and imperial - also designed other houses across Indiana, including at least one in his trademark Prairie style.

Frank Lloyd Wright had other connections to the Hoosier state as well. His son, John Lloyd Wright, designed a building in LaPorte County that's now considered endangered.

In addition to Samara, which now is owned by a private foundation established by the owner of the house (who continues to live in it), Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed houses in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Gary, Marion and other Hoosier cities.

To share insights about these homes and Indiana-related aspects of the architect, Nelson will be joined by two guests. They are Linda Eales, associate curator of Samara (which was built for Dr. John Christian, a Purdue bio-nucleonics professor, and his late wife Catherine), and Scott W. Perkins, a nationally-known Oklahoma-based expert on Wright, as well as on the interiors of the buildings, for many of which the architect designed furniture and textiles.

Here's how a PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick summed up Wright:

The K.C. DeRhodes House is one of two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in South Bend, Ind. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks."He was an authentic American genius, a man who believed he was destined to redesign the world, creating everything anew. Over the course of his long career, Wright designed over 800 buildings, including such revolutionary structures as the Guggenheim Museum, the Johnson Wax Building, Fallingwater, Unity Temple and Taliesin. Wright's buildings and ideas changed the way we live, work and see the world around us."

He wasn't a Hoosier - and, in fact, never even visited the sites of several of the Indiana houses he designed, including Samara. (The Christians visited the architect at his Wisconsin studios and consulted by phone, photos and mail.) Samara  has a sunken living room, cabinets and other furnishings designed by Wright; even the china is patterned after some he designed for the Imperial Hotel in Japan. It's open for group tours by appointment.

Some other tidbits:

  • Our guest Scott W. Perkins will discuss Indiana's connections to Wright in a presentation April 11 at Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Avenue. The program at 6 p.m. is free, but RSVPs are required.
  • The Wright-designed home in Marion was owned for several years by the late radio-TV writer Madelyn Pugh Davis, an Indy native who helped create I Love Lucy, and her late husband, Dr. Richard Davis.
  • "Usonian" is a word Wright made up. Shorthand for "United States of North America," it was coined to tout distinctively American architecture.

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