About 30 journalism students from Indiana University visited the Ernie Pyle State Historical Site recently. The site is closed and half of the letters, and many of the uniforms, World War II era gear and other artifacts have been removed. The materials are warehoused in Indianapolis, where state museum officials say they will be utilized in an expanded and improved Pyle exhibition.
The students were given a private tour by the nonprofit organization called Friends of Ernie Pyle that’s now in control of the site. The group is undergoing a fundraising campaign and hopes to reopen the museum to the public in May. While the site has benefitted from several large donations, it needs funds to hire a permanent director instead of being entirely dependent on volunteers.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists claims Ernie Pyle as its patron saint and named their most prestigeous journalism award in his honor; therefore, NSNC has a special interest in the events taking place in Indiana. The state was about to give up ownership of the historical site shortly before the Indiana Conference last summer and was the subject of several articles on the NSNC website.
The Ernie Pyle State Historical Site includes Pyle’s boyhood home, which was moved into Dana from the outskirts of town. According to student reports, the facility still has much of Pyle’s personal gear and World War II era items.
Pyle is an alumnus of Indiana University and the Journalism School at the university is named after him. Some of Pyle’s memorabilia and photos of him are displayed in the lounge at Ernie Pyle Hall.
If the site was closed, it would be a great loss in the heritage of the Journalism School at Indiana University, according to Associate Professor Owen Johnson, since Ernie Pyle is the most famous student who has ever studied there.