Muncie, Indiana

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Aerial view of Muncie

Muncie is a city of Indiana in the United States. It is known as "Middletown USA" because many sociological studies were conducted there because it was said to be the typical American city.[1][2] The population of Muncie in 2011 is 67,430 people.[3]

Muncie is in Delaware County, about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis.[3] The county was named after the Delaware Indians, a native American people, who had moved west from Ohio in the 1770's. They settled along the banks of the White River. One of the settlements was named Muncietown.[3] In 1818 the Delaware signed a treaty with the US Government and moved out of the area to go further west.[3]

Middletown[change | change source]

Sociologists, Robert S. Lynd and his wife, Helen Merrell Lynd, studied Muncie in the 1920s. They wrote two books about life in Muncie called Middletown: A study in modern American culture[4], and Middletown in Transition [5]. They wanted to study the typical small American city, which of course can not exist. They wanted to see how life in a city had changed from 1890 to 1925.[6] They were going to study a city they way an anthropologist would study a primitive tribe.[6] They decided to look at six parts of living in a city[4]:4:

  1. Getting a living
  2. Making a home
  3. Training the young
  4. Using leisure time
  5. Religious practices
  6. Community activities

They chose Muncie because it shared features with many other small cities.[4]:3 The selection was based on the following[4]:8:

  1. The city has to share features with many other small cities.
  2. It had to be small enough, and not too diverse, to make the study possible.
  3. It had to have a temperate climate.
  4. Enough growth to cause some problems for people living in the city.
  5. Industry with modern equipment.
  6. Variety of industries, not a one factory town.
  7. An artistic life in the town, but not relying on a university or college to make it happen.
  8. No unusual features or problems.
  9. It needed to be in the midwest of America to have a mix of people.
  10. A population between 25,000—50,000.
  11. It had to be a self contained town, not a satellite of a larger city.
  12. Very small population of African-American and foreign born people. This was to keep the focus on cultural change not affected by racial changes.

Muncie was chosen from the 143 cities that met the above descriptions. Since then Muncie has been studied by other sociologists looking at life in America.[1] The Ball State University in Muncie runs the Center for Middletown Studies to continue the research.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Ball State University - Center for Middletown Studies". cms.bsu.edu. 2011. http://cms.bsu.edu/Academics/CentersandInstitutes/Middletown.aspx. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  2. "Middletown, the 'typical' American city:". IU News Room: Indiana University. 2011. http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/2502.html. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "History of Muncie". City of Muncie, Indiana. 2011. http://www.cityofmuncie.com/index/historyofmuncie/historyofmuncie.asp. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Lynd, Robert S.; Helen Merrell Lynd (1929). Middletown: A study in modern American culture. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace and Company. ISBN 0156595508. http://www.amazon.com/Middletown-Study-Modern-American-Culture/dp/0156595508#reader_0156595508.
  5. Lynd, Robert S.; Helen Merrell Lynd (1937). Middletown in transition: a study in cultural conflicts. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company. http://books.google.com/books/about/Middletown_in_transition.html?id=qwpmAAAAIAAJ.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Middletown". The First Measured Century. 2011 [last update]. http://www.pbs.org/fmc/segments/progseg4.htm. Retrieved July 31, 2011.