The Macksey Journal


Indiana University (IU) was rocked by controversy, scandal, financial struggles, and political agitation throughout the 1850s. Opportunities for student unrest were rife in Bloomington. The campus, however, was remarkably quiet and well behaved during the tumultuous decade. The disciplinary scheme implemented by the Faculty was instrumental in maintaining order. It was coined "parental discipline" and it was based on the cooperation between students, parents, and professors. The intended purpose was the application of patriarchal principles to the relationship between student and professor. For parental discipline to operate, it required a special connection between dorm, household, and edifice. Students needed to admit their status as dependents, and allow themselves to be subjected to a non-traditional source of patriarchal authority. Fathers had to allow their natural paternal authority to be assumed by the surrogate source of the Faculty. Professors needed to cultivate caring relationships with a student body they actively feared. The dimensions of parental discipline allow insight into the intersections of manhood, education, and fatherhood in the 19th century. Parental discipline at IU highlights the pliability of gender in the 19th century, and how it was molded to serve the various purposes of the actors involved.