A living legacy

Students of the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) leaving class, July 1944.

The Golden Book originated with the earliest known attempt to keep track of IU veterans, a “University Soldiers” list of Spanish War veterans published in the alumni magazine, The Alumnus, in 1898. At the turn of the twentieth century, the roster expanded as a result of the growing national interest in honoring veterans of the Civil War, and versions of the list appeared appeared in issues of the Daily Student newspaper. A surge in patriotism because of the Mexican Border conflicts of 1910–18 spurred IU officials to began tracking IU students as they left campus.

Around that time, IU expanded its efforts to collect veterans’ information as part of its Memorial Fund Drive. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, students left by the train load to sign up, requiring even more fervent tracking by the university. The list, which was then printed on the back of Commencement programs, grew to more than 30 pages after WWI, and plans began for the creation of a permanent record.

In the 1930s, President William Lowe Bryan took up the cause, “so people can read the names of the sons and daughters of Indiana University who have fought in the wars of the republic,” and the Golden Book was born. The list eventually reached 10,000 names and also included individuals who had served in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippines Insurrection, the Mexican Border Expedition, and both world wars. The calligrapher of the original entries in 1932 is unknown. However, after World War II, elementary school teacher and IU alumna Dolores Rockwood, an experienced calligrapher, was hired to write the names of all WWII veterans in script on the pages of the book.

When the Indiana Memorial Union was dedicated in 1932, a large bronze plaque was laid in the floor in the atrium, dedicating the building to the “sons and daughters” who had served. Tradition says no one should step on the plaque. The Golden Book was placed nearby in a glass case, ensuring that everyone who came to campus knew of IU ’s military heritage.

In 1961, the Golden Book was moved to the Memorial Room when it was dedicated as a lasting tribute to those who serve during war. At one time the pages of the book were left open and its pages turned daily. Now, because of its age and delicate condition, it is locked in a protective glass case.

Memorial Fund

Students walking up and down steps leading to the Indiana Memorial Union
The Memorial Hall tower
Painting of the old Memorial Stadium

IU projects funded through the Memorial Fund (clockwise from left): Indiana Memorial Union, Memorial Hall, and the original Memorial Stadium.

Killed in action

In 1946, Honor Roll certificates signed by IU President Herman B Wells were presented to families of IU alumni who were killed in action during WWII. This certificate is in recognition of Robert Alvey Newton of Logansport, Indiana. Captured in North Africa, Corporal Newton was imprisoned in an Axis prison camp in Italy. He escaped and evaded recapture for six months before being killed by German commandos.

Certificate sent to the family of Robert Alvey Newton about his addition to the Honor Roll
Photo of Ernie Pyle

Everything in this world had stopped except war and we are all men of a new profession out in a strange night caring for each other.

Ernie Pyle, Brave Men

The Golden Book in the computer age

In the summer of 2011, work began on the digitized version of the book. Every page was scanned by the Digital Library Project staff and the pages were given to the Office of Veterans Support Services, who coordinated the project.

More than 10,000 names have been digitized since the project began. All the records can now be searched and browsed on a 48-inch computer touch screen located beneath the portrait of William Lowe Bryan, across the room from the historic book’s resting place in the Memorial Room. While the Golden Book cannot be touched, its names, stories, and history can still be viewed digitally.

Continuing the tradition

The Golden Book is a constantly expanding tribute to honor all members of the IU family who have served in United States military forces. With the addition of digital capability, we hope to continue this tradition for generations to come. Please help us make the book as complete and up-to-date as possible by submitting records and photographs of service members who deserve the honor of inclusion in Golden Book.