University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections at Ball State has announced a new addition to the University’s Digital Media Repository: the Muncie Microcosm of America Collection. The project, which has approximately 1,100 images dating back to the 1970s, gives a glimpse of Muncie, Ind., as “the typical or ideal” community in America.

In the tradition of the Middletown Studies, a classic sociological study that established Muncie as a barometer of social trends in the United States, the Muncie Microcosm of American project followed seven Muncie archetypes—children, politicians, college students, housewives, etc.—through their daily lives. The final show premiered in the Fall of 1972 at University Hall (now Pruis Hall) and featured 27 slide projectors, four film projectors, and nearly 10,000 photographic slides. During the show, as many as 14 images were simultaneously projected on a 77-foot-wide screen.

Plans are underway to augment the still images in the Muncie Microcosm of America Collection with film assets and other materials. The complete collection is available in the Ball State University Archives and Special Collections, which is housed in Bracken Library, Room 210.

“The work of the University Libraries to preserve, digitize, and describe the photographs in this collection demonstrates Ball State’s commitment to increasing the visibility of the rich history of Muncie as place,” said Matthew Shaw, dean of University Libraries. “The collection will be nostalgic for many whose memories reach to the time the photographs were taken. But, perhaps more importantly, the photographs communicate the resilience of an American community through dramatic economic, social, and cultural transitions.”

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Muncie Microcosm of America project was organized by Chicago-based architect and cinematographer John Kurtich, and was developed to commemorate the dedication of the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning building at Ball State in 1972. Richard Wismer ’74, John Reynolds ’73, Mark Peters ’79, John Dierdorf ’74, David M. Black ’74, Sherman Bynum ’73, and David I. Byers ’75, were among the architecture students involved in the project.

To learn more, contact Ball State University Archives and Special Collections at 765-285-5078 or