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Title:Indiana state parks and the Hoosier imagination, 1916-1933
Author(s):Burrows, Steven
Director of Research:Deming, Elen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Deming, Elen
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Oberdeck, Kathryn; Ruggles, Dede; Sears, Stephen
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Indiana state parks
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on changing conceptualizations of history and heritage to investigate how the burgeoning system of state parks in Indiana between 1916-1933 reflected the state’s own struggle against modernity. I argue that the parks were physical manifestations of the “Hoosier Imagination,” part of an on-going conceptual reframing of local identity. Fully a century ago, the people of Indiana successfully campaigned to protect certain portions of the state’s original domain and to keep these areas as a heritage passed down to future generations. During an era of constant change, the parks were imagined to be part of the collective memory of the people and a connection to a mythologized pastoral history of the state, though this history often ignored or marginalized culturally problematic parts of local history such as acknowledging the role of Native Americans. However, I argue that these seemingly “natural” sites cannot be seen as distinct from urban matters. Instead, Indiana’s state parks are inexorably linked to urban matters, dynamics, and systems. Close examination of archival source material and contemporary newspapers show that the parks were central to the dissemination and display of modern ideas about history, biology, technology, and personal health, as well as evolving cultural values concerning bureaucratic efficiency. These sites afforded Indiana space to position itself in the vanguard of Progressive Era social and economic growth, creating a veritable laboratory to consolidate the newly minted authority of the state. I further draw connections between local statecraft and large-scale imperial formations, an idea that I have coined called “local imperialism.” Ultimately, this study demonstrates that the Indiana State Parks were physical sites at which Hoosier residents and institutions could continually re-imagine the past, present, and future of the state.
Issue Date:2017-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Steven Burrows
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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