Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Educator and the Librarian: Dr. Charles E. Rochelle and Thelma N. Rochelle

Dr. Charles E. Rochelle, a 1917 graduate of the Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University), was born on July 3, 1895 in Terre Haute, Indiana. He worked as a teacher and principal in the public schools of Evansville, Indiana for 41 years. Most notably, Dr. Rochelle served as the principal of Lincoln High School, a school built for African American students in Evansville. He retired in 1962.

In 1933, Dr. Rochelle received his M.A. from the Indiana State Teachers College. In 1942,  he became the first African American to earned a PhD in education from the University of California at Berkley. Dr. Rochelle later served as a visiting professor at A & I University (now Tennessee State University) in Nashville, Tennessee ; was secretary-treasurer of the Indiana State Board of Vocational Education (1945-1958) ; and a member of the Advisory Committee on Education for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.. He also attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he received his M.S. degree.
In addition, Dr. Rochelle was a veteran of World War I, a member of the American Legion, the Evansville Teachers Association, the Indiana State Teachers Association, and the National Education Association (NEA); and once served as a regional director for the American Teachers Association. In 1944, Dr. Rochelle and other African Americans rallied in support of Japanese American war veterans after officials from the American Legion Chapter of Hood River, Oregon removed their names from a memorial post.
In 1965,  Dr. Rochelle was appointed to the Indiana State Board of Vocational and Technical Education by then-Governor Roger D. Branigin. Four years later, on Saturday, May 3, 1969, the University of Evansville gave a dinner and tribute to Dr. Rochelle in honor of his life's work. He passed away on April 30, 1993 at the age of 98 in Evansville, Indiana.
His wife, Thelma N. Rochelle was appointed librarian for the Cherry Street Branch of the Evansville Public Library in 1942 (the Evansville Public Library is now the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Public Library).  Mrs. Rochelle was a 1945 graduate of the Indiana State Library's Summer School for Librarians (formerly the Indiana Public Library Commission Summer School for Librarians). The Cherry Street Branch was a Carnegie library that provided services to the African American residents of Evansville, Indiana from 1914 until its closure in 1954.

See related posts: Article on Evansville, Indiana's Former African American Library Branch ; The Educator and the Librarian II: Horace Mann Bond and Julia Agnes Washington Bond

Update 12/10/2012:

To view a picture of Dr. and Mrs. Rochelle from the University of Southern Indiana's digital history collection on Evansville, Indiana, click on the link below:

Sources: Library Occurrent 15.2 (1945): 1, 393. Print. ; "Indianapolis Visitor Honored with Party." Chicago Defender 3 Sept. 1938, natl. ed.: 13. Print. ; "Principal Charles Rochelle with Students in All-Black Lincoln High School in Evansville (Photo)." Hoosier History: This Far By Faith: Black Hoosier Heritage. Indianapolis: Indiana Humanities Council, n.d. 18. Print. ; "Evansville, Ind. History African American Minorities Photographs." Indiana Memory, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2010. ; Moorman, Mary Lynn J. "Just Gabbin'." The Evansville Argus 10 Oct. 1942: 3. Print. ; Holder, Marilyn J. "For Your Reading Pleasure We Recommend the Following Books at Cherry St. Library." The Evansville Argus 17 Sept. 1943: 4. Print. ; "Find Books Useful in Securing Promotions in War Plants." The Evansville Argus 19 Dec. 1942: 3. Print. ; "Yuletide Parties." The Evansville Argus 7 Jan. 1939: 3. Print. ; Chambers, William A. "Dr. C. Rochelle to Be Honored in Evansville." Indianapolis Recorder 3 May 1969: 1, 2. Print. ; "Governor Names Five to New State Vocational Board." Indianapolis Recorder 24 July 1965: 1. Print. ; Robinson, Greg. After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics. Berkley : University of California Press, 2012. 163-164. Print. ; "Rochelle Again Heads Legion." The Evansville Argus 23 July 1938: 1. Print. ; "Evansville Teacher Chosen As Leader in Youth Council 2-Day Oakland Conference." The Evansville Argus 11 July 1942: 1. Print. ; "Lincoln Students Take Part in Mock Trial." The Evansville Argus 27 May 1939: 1. Print. ; "School News." The Evansville Argus 1 Nov. 1940: 1. Print. ; "Off to California." The Evansville Argus 10 May 1940: 1. Print. ; "Attention All Legion Members." The Evansville Argus 27 May 1939: 1. Print. ; "Evansville to Hold First Chautauqua." Indianapolis Recorder 28 July 1934: 1. Print. ; "Honor War Mothers' Program Highlighted by Rochelle's Review of Our Colored Soldiers." The Evansville Argus 16 May 1942: 1. Print.

1 comment:

  1. The Charles Rochelle Collection is at the University of Southern Indiana and his photograph collection, which includes many students from Lincoln on also online at
    Jennifer Greene
    Reference & Archives, USI