Department History

It is not readily apparent from the records when the campus’s first historians came to the resident faculty at Indianapolis, but they must have been among the very first. At least two historians–one Americanist, Hebert Walker and one Europeanist, Mary Elisabeth Seldon–were on site from the late 1940s. It is safe to say that history course work in Indianapolis predates, not only the IU School of Liberal Arts, but also the concept of IUPUI.

By 1964, when the records are clearer, the Indianapolis Downtown Campus boasted 27 resident faculty—one full professor (in Chemistry), 4 associate professors, 15 assistant professors, and 6 resident lecturers. Included were three assistant professors of history: Mary Seldon, first appointed in 1949; Bernard Friedman, 1961; and Jack J. Detzler. The appointment date of Detzler is unknown, but the fact that he had a sabbatical leave in the fall of 1966, suggests a starting time in the 1950s.

As the campus grew in the 1960s, so too did the department. Miriam Z. Langsam, of Brooklyn (borough and college) and the University of Wisconsin arrived in 1964, John Stevens from the University of Illinois in 1966, and Berthold P. Riesterer of Wayne State University in 1967.

The six department members in 1967 already had visions of both a new campus and the establishment of a major in history. It was then, as Assistant Chairman, Bernard Friedman stated, “the resident faculty in History of the Indianapolis Downtown Campus is now sufficiently large and diversified to offer a major in History.”