Collection SC/033 - Blanche Young Oldham Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

US ILfC SC/033

Level of description



Blanche Young Oldham Collection


  • 1914-1969 (Creation)


Name of creator


Biographical history

Blanche Cowley Young Oldham was born in Chicago, Illinois to Thomas and Mary Young. She received her degree from Lake Forest College in 1915. Oldham later got her master’s degree in Telecommunication Arts from the University of Southern California in 1953.

Oldham began a career in teaching in 1916, first in Illinois and later in Indianapolis, Indiana. She enjoyed writing and after visiting with relatives on the Isle of Man for several summers in the late 1920s and learning more about her Manx heritage, Oldham began writing children’s stories. Oldham’s passion for writing resulted in her venturing into the radio and television industry, serving as a script writer, producer, consultant and actor for local radio programs for children.

Oldham spent five summers, from 1932-1936, researching and taking classes about radio at Columbia University, Ohio State University, Wisconsin University, and University of Chicago, as well as participating in the first New York University Radio Workshop. Her expertise in radio led her to resign from teaching in 1935, taking a job in the superintendent’s office generating radio activities for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Oldham became an instructor in radio classes at both Indiana University Extension Center, from 1936-1938, and Purdue University during the summers of 1937 and 1938. Also in 1938, Oldham traveled to London to further her knowledge of radio as a student observer at the British Broadcasting Corporation studios.

Throughout the years, Oldham gave a number of talks, led discussions and wrote articles on radio education. She also served as consultant for the Radio Arts Guild. In 1944, she was granted the first Indiana Supervisory teaching license in “Radio Education and Program Production.”

Oldham married Jack Oldham in 1954. Soon after she quit her job in the Indianapolis School system and began writing her own versions of Manx folk stories she had heard while visiting the Isle of Man. These stories were published together in 1959 in a book entitled, "How the Cat Lost its Tail." Some of Oldham's other short stories were published in magazines.

Oldham was involved in many organizations throughout her life, including the Illinois Women’s Press Association, the Council of Administrative Women in Education, and American Women in Radio and Television. She was also a member of the Chicago Society of the North American Manx Association and the Association for Education by Radio.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection contains various book and short story manuscripts written by Blanche Young Oldham. There is also a finished copy of her book, "How the Manx Cat Lost its Tail,” as well as a binder with the author’s notes.

Additionally, the collection boasts photographs and other materials related to the Isle of Man, where the folk stories that make up Oldham’s work originated.

Also contained in the collection are personal materials. These include newspaper clippings, a small number of photographs of Oldham and her family and other personal documents such as the Lake Forest College Program of Commencement Week (1915) and a certificate presented to Oldham in 1946 by the American National Red Cross in recognition of her personal service during World War II.

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Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

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