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An Intern's Perspective on Larry Foster

I had no idea what to expect upon joining the Archives and Library team here at the Indiana Historical Society this fall, other than I would be working on the Larry Foster Collection. Now, more than two months in, I could not imagine my life without Larry.

From my project this fall, I have been able to go through more than 1,000 of Larry’s photographs, spanning from 1939 to 1941 so far. The range of events that Larry Foster was able to capture has astounded me. I have learned how big a role politics have had in Indianapolis through the years, as well as the Shriner community.

Foster also captured several events for Colonel Roscoe Turner, who was a renowned flying ace throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1940, Turner opened the Roscoe Turner Aeronautical Corporation, a school to train future pilots, at the Indianapolis Municipal Airport. Foster took several portrait shots of well known personalities around town. Because of his friendship with Roscoe Turner, Larry was also able to capture several celebrities coming into the airport. Stars Judy Starr and Don Novis were photographed, as well as several popular politicians such as Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey and Colonel Theo Roosevelt Jr. Norwegian figure skater and film star Sonja Henie was also photographed in Union Station in Indianapolis in January 1941.

It has been fun to come across some personal photos of Larry Foster. So far, going through the negatives, I have found photos of Foster from 1919, 1930 and 1940. In addition, I have been able to find more information on Larry’s twin brother DeWitt, as well as Foster’s obituary from May of 1961 in the Indianapolis Star.

The biggest challenge, as well as mystery, is how private he was with his personal life. He never seemed to photograph personal moments in his life, or they were removed by his wife Vivian before the Indiana Historical Society received the collection. I have begun to consider even the smallest pieces of information about Larry Foster small victories. These small victories have come to be the biggest accomplishments into a deeper look into Foster’s life, as well as his impressive photography career. Each day, going through Larry Foster’s photography collection, I am taken back into a piece of history unfamiliar to me. However, I am able to become a part of each moment as I read Larry’s notes in comparison with the image.