Hering House Records

Summary Information


Indiana University South Bend Archives
1700 Mishawaka Avenue P.O. Box 7111
South Bend, Indiana 46634
Phone: (574) 520 – 4392
Creator: Civil Rights Heritage Center
Title: Hering House records of the Civil Rights Heritage Center
Extent: Two (2) full-width letter-sized document cases totaling 0.8 cubic feet.


The Hering House was an important center of learning and cultural activity for South Bend’s African American community in the first half of the twentieth century. It was modeled after similar efforts at Chicago’s Hull House.

In 1924, Frank Hering, history and economics professor at the University of Notre Dame, along with his wife Claribel, bought a twenty-year old church building on South Bend, Indiana’s Division Street (present-day Western Avenue). 1

Frank and Claribel, with a group of mostly white progressive reformers, established Hering House with the purpose of providing, as stated in its declaration of trust, “the colored people of South Bend, Indiana, a community center for their religious, educational, recreational and social welfare activities.” Despite Hering House’s focus on the African American community, its founding documents required that only two of the seven person Board of Directors be persons of color. This language and leadership structure remained until 1951.

With segregation rampant in many similar South Bend institutions through the 1940s and into the early 1950s (e.g. the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Christian Associations, the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Natatorium, etc.), Hering House became the predominant activity center for South Bend’s African American community. As the city integrated during the early 1950s, Hering House continued its prominence despite duplicating the activities of the aforementioned institutions. By this point, however, the facilities were in desperate need of repair, and with Hering House duplicating the services of now integrated facilities, it was increasingly difficult to justify its existence. In 1963, the Board voted to disband and officially close the Hering House. 2

Scope and Content Note:

The collection material is arranged by subject. In the event of duplicate subjects, folders are arranged chronologically. The collection documents several South Bend-specific betterment organizations, such as the Community Chest of South Bend, and the Urban League, which Hering House allied itself with beginning in 1956. Some documents make reference to “Dunbar Community Center,” the Hering House’s name for a period in the 1930s.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.
Advanced notice is required.

Usage Restrictions:

For more information about the copyright status of materials in this collection, please contact the IU South Bend Archivist.

The IU South Bend Archives respects the intellectual property rights of others and does not claim copyright for non-university records, materials in the public domain, or materials for which we do not hold a Deed of Gift. Responsibility for the determination of the copyright status of these materials rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Researchers are responsible for securing permission from copyright owners and any other rights holders for any reuse of these materials that extends beyond fair use or other statutory limitations.

Digital reproductions of archival materials from the IU South Bend Archives are made available for noncommercial educational and research purposes only. If you are the copyright holder for any of the digitized material and have questions about its inclusion on our site, please contact the Indiana University South Bend Archivist.

Preferred Citation:

[Item], Hering House records of the Civil Rights Heritage Center, Indiana University South Bend Archives.

Custodial History:

This collection was donated to the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center by Bill and Carla Maureen Roberts in December 2012, who were given the materials by Ida Mitcham, former Hering House member and later part of their staff.

Processing Information:

Processed by CRHC Tours and Collections Coordinator George Garner, beginning in October 2014.

  • Updated formatting to new Excel spreadsheet template in October 2015.
  • Updated to reflect uniform collections naming structure, December 2015.
  • Added Unique ID numbers, September and October 2016.
  • In September 2016, two items were noticed missing by CRHC Curator George Garner. One (CRHC.HERING.082) was since recovered. Item CRHC.HERING.080 remains missing.

1. Frank Hering was also the University of Notre Dame’s first basketball and baseball coach, as well as its third football coach.

2.Lisa Swedarsky, A Place with Purpose: Hering House 1925-1963, 1st. ed, On Their Shoulders : Race Relations & Civil Rights in South Bend, Indiana (South Bend, IN: Wolfson Press, 2009).