HAZEL HART HENDRICKS
AND HER SCHOOL

This is the second of three supplements to the Wikipedia article, "Henry Hart (musician)." Hazel was one of the daughters of Henry and Sarah Hart. An 1891 review of a performance by the Hart family orchestra mentions "sweet little Hazel, the seven year old wonder…holding the second violin like any master under her baby chin…a sight that carried the great audience away from itself…" Years later, Hazel became the principal of Indianapolis Public School #37, and the school was eventually named in her honor.

"The School on the Hill"
- Its First Principal 1927-1935

(Typescript contributed by The John Morton-Finney Center for Educational
Services, School and Community Relations. The account below is excerpted,
with minor editing, from Chapter III. The book and author remain to be identified.)

The "School on the Hill," located on the south side of East Twenty-fifth Street at Temple Avenue, was ready for occupancy September, 1927 [when Hazel Hendricks became the principal].

Before her appointment as an administrator of the new school, Hazel Hendricks had taught for a number of years in the intermediate and departmental grades, held the position of critic teacher, and later was assistant principal of John Hope School.

The new principal began at once to beautify the building by purchasing pictures and curtains. The first money raised for such expenditures was obtained through the sale of candy which she made in her home. Later, wholesale candy companies supplied the amounts needed. The money received from the attractively staged Christmas and Spring entertainments paid for a baby grand piano, an upright piano, stage draperies, panotrophe chimes, and dining room furniture.

Mrs. Hendricks saw the need for opportunity rooms for children who found it difficult to make normal progress in the regular classrooms; two rooms were opened for these children.

The Jug Band was begun by Florence J. Byers, a teacher, as part of the Pioneer Club program; later the principal became interested and worked hard to train the boys. Trained by Mrs. Hendricks, their pianist, these boys played expertly on jugs, spoons, washboards, drums, etc. Those possessing good voices sang to the accompaniment of the band. Their performances attracted attention far and wide, and they were constantly in demand [in] downtown hotels, clubs, hospitals, churches, both in and out of the city.

The development of the Jug or Novelty Band was one of the most outstanding features of this administrator, [who] met her untimely death [while traveling with the Band].

At the regular meeting of the Indianapolis Public School Board, September 21, 1935, Paul C. Stetson, Superintendent of the Schools paid her the following tribute:

Mrs. Hazel Hart Hendricks, a teacher and principal of the Indianapolis Schools for thirty-three years met a tragic death Friday morning, September 6, 1935. Her career with schools covered her work as a classroom teacher, a critic teacher, vice-principal of one of the largest elementary schools in the state and principal of one of the most important colored schools in the city. Mrs. Hendricks had high professional ideals and brought to her chosen work of teaching fine preparation, a genuine love for children and a personality which ensured her success from the start.

Mrs. Hendricks won a high place for herself in education in Indianapolis and was ranked as one of its leaders. She endeared herself to the thousands of children who came under her daily care and inspiration. To hundreds of them she was like a second mother. It was her keen interest in the welfare of the boys under her care which led indirectly to her tragic death. She organized her Novelty Band not so much for the purpose of promoting musical instruction as for the purpose of giving these boys an interest which would carry over into their mature years. It was, in her hands, a character development agency.

We have suffered a great loss in her untimely death and her place will not soon be filled.

                                                                        Respectfully submitted,
                                                                        Paul C. Stetson,
                                                                        Superintendent of Schools.

The above quote is from the Minutes of the Board of School Commissioners of Indianapolis, Indiana, Sept. 21, 1935, page 393. According to Delegations & Petitions Record L, 1937-1938, "On March 29, 1938, a delegation representing the Parent-Teacher Association of the school addressed the Board of School Commissioners that the building be named the Hazel Hart Hendricks School."

[The chapter closes with the words of the School Song composed by Mrs. Hendricks and sung to the tune of "On Wisconsin."]

School Song:

"Number Thirty-Seven"
by Hazel Hart Hendricks

On a hill high up near heaven,
Beautiful to see,
Stands our glorious Thirty-seven
Hail! All hail to thee!

Chorus
Thirty-seven, Thirty-seven!
To you we'll be true;
Hail, Hail! Our Thirty-seven
We love you.

Thing of beauty, joy forever!
Precepts high you give
And our aims, to forget them never;
Up to them, we'll live.

Fleeting years may come and vanish
But where e'er we'll be
From our hearts we'll never banish,
Tender thoughts of thee.

                                                                                                                                               

Shown here is the Hazel Hart Hendricks School 37, new, in 1927, the
year in which Hazel Hart Hendricks became principal of the school.
Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

HazelHHSchool1927

                                                                                                                                               

Next, we see the old school 37, in 1922.
Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

HazelHHSchool1922

                                                                                                                                               

And here's a picture at the time the school was closed in 2008.
Copyright 2010 by Indianapolis Business Journal. Used by permission.

IPS37Modern

                                                                                                                                               

The 1935 picture and article

The only picture I have been able to find of Hazel Hart Hendricks is one published on September 7, 1935 in The Indianapolis Recorder.

HazelHart1

The caption reads, "Mrs. Hazel Hendricks, Principal of School No. 37, organizer of the celebrated Pioneer Novelty Band, who died last week following fatal injuries received when the bus in which she and members of the band were returning from an engagement in Frankfort crashed into an overturned truck.

The article continues: "With thousands of her fellow citizens mourning her tragic passing, quiet, simple funeral services were held…at her home, 1121 North West Street, Monday. Though the rites were attended only by members of the immediate family, an interminable stream of friends…milled reverently about the home for hours before and through the brief, impressive ceremony. Richard Shiner, Christian Scientist church reader, conducted as the last rays of a dying day retreated from the Western sky. Beautiful tributes filled every available inch of space in the cozy, artistically appointed home. Following the service, every detail of which was gracefully interwoven by the John A Patton Funeral Home, members of the family accompanied the body to its final resting place, the family lot in Oak Hill cemetery, Evansville, Ind. Survivors are: two twin sons, Henry and Alfred Hendricks; four sisters, Mrs. William Johns, Mrs. Clotile [sic] Hawkins, both of Chicago, Mrs. Daisy McDavid, Hot Springs, Ark., and Mrs. Myrtle Fry, New York City.

Tributes included in The Indianapolis Recorder article are reproduced here in full:

Tribute by Paul C. Stetson, Superintendent of Schools

Mrs. Hazel Hart Hendricks, Principal of School No. 37, served the Indianapolis Schools as teacher and principal for thirty-one years. Mrs. Hendricks was exceptionally well prepared for her work. She was a graduate of the Indianapolis Normal School and had a Bachelor of Science Degree from Butler University.

Mrs. Hendricks had high professional ideals and brought to her chosen work of teaching not only fine preparation, but a genuine love for children and a personality which insured her success from the start.

Mrs. Hendricks won a high place for herself in education in Indianapolis and was rated as one of its leaders in this community. However, it was School No. 37 that she rendered her greatest service. She endeared herself to the thousands of children, who came under her daily care and inspiration, and to hundreds of them she was a second mother.

It was this keen interest in the welfare of the boys under her care which led indirectly to her tragic death. She organized her Novelty Band not so much for the purpose of promoting musical instruction as she did because she desired to give these boys an interest which would carry over into their mature years. The purpose of this and other organizations she had in her school was to build character.

We have suffered a great loss in her untimely death and her place will not soon be filled.

Tribute by Mathias Nolcox, Principal of School No. 4

Her versatility in the work of education, especially in the fine arts,
made for her a singular place in our public schools.

Tribute by William E. Baugh, Principal of School No. 23

Her remarkable ability as a teacher, her unexcelled efficiency,
her magnetic personality and her native originality seemed to have
combined in her work. Her influence will live long.

Tribute by Mrs. Hazel Johnson, Principal of School No. 19

Mrs. Hendricks will always be remembered for her versatility,
joviality and sympathetic interest in children.

Tribute by Emory James, Principal of School No. 17

We sorely need men and women of her type, who have a vision in
leading and inspiring young folk to lofty aspirations.

Tribute by Rose H. Thompson, Principal of School No. 56

Few of the staff of the School City have brought to work more charm,
versatility and real human interest than did Mrs. Hendricks.

Tribute by Mrs. Louie Haana, Principal of School No. 27

She did a wonderful work with her children and her place will be hard to fill.

Tribute by Mrs. Rosa Jones, Principal of School No. 79

She was a wonderful woman and had the interest of humanity at heart.

Tribute by Russell A. Lane, Principal of Attucks High School

In the untimely passing of Mrs. Hazel Hart Hendricks, the progressive
schools have lost an outstanding innovator. Her splendid name will all
almost live indefinitely in the young minds she influenced.

A Biographical Study

Another account is found in A Biographical Study of Persons for Whom Indianapolis Schools Are Named, typescript, by Frederick K. Gale, Instructor, School #44, distributed by the Public Relations Department, Indianapolis Public Schools, dated 1965. Although the account states that Hazel Hart Hendricks was born in Evansville and "was trained for teaching at Evansville…," both of which statements are doubtful, Gale adds that "She was of a musical family, a trait she inherited, and which was a prominent part of her personality."

"At the time Mrs. Hendricks was at School 37," Gale writes, "an orphanage stood where the Juvenile Aid Division is now located, the children there being assigned to her school. The work with those less fortunate children was similar to the efforts expended today with under-privileged young people. She was strongly opposed to corporal punishment, even in cases where it was ordinarily used by others, preferring to obtain even better results with a combination of kindness and firmness."

"She is remembered by teachers who worked with her as a friendly person, a natural leader, artistic in the sense that she could change a room's appearance by a simple touch or addition, generous of her time and money, and eager to help child or adult toward something better."

Acknowledgments

For help in collecting material for this supplement I am grateful especially to Shaun Davidson, Reference Librarian, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library; Cereese Woody, Microfilm Archives, City-County Building, Indianapolis; and Susan Sutton, Indiana Historical Society.

Clark Kimberling,
University of Evansville
March 2010