Charles Roll


Indiana State Normal School

Indiana State Teachers College






Charles Roll was born August 8, 1883 to Mary and John A. Roll.  Roll was a native of Vigo County and attended Oak Hill Country School while working on his family’s farm in southern Vigo County.  He was enrolled at the Indiana State Normal School from 1901 until 1906, at which time he graduated, but without a degree.  At the turn of the century, students did not receive diplomas immediately after their senior years; rather, they would earn teaching certificates that required them to teach one or two years before they would receive their full diploma.  Roll then attended Indiana University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in History.  He then went on to attend the University of Wisconsin, where he studied history with the much-celebrated scholar Frederick Jackson Turner.  Here he earned a Master’s degree, again in History.  Roll then returned to Indiana to serve as Head of the History Department at Columbus High School from 1907-1912.  After a one-year teaching stint at the University of Wisconsin, Roll returned to Indiana State Normal School in 1913, where he taught United States and Indiana history until his retirement in 1951. 


In 1911, Roll married Sylvia Opal, a fellow teacher in Columbus.  Two years later, they celebrated the birth of their first child, Charles Robert Roll, who would go on to become a lawyer in New York City.  The Rolls also had a daughter, Helen Marguerite (Roll) Marinak, who would go on to be a nurse and homemaker, likewise residing in New York City.


During his tenure at Indiana State Normal School (subsequently renamed Indiana State Teachers’ College), Roll wrote two volumes of Indiana history in 1931, published a work on Colonel Dick Thompson in 1948, and authored “Indiana’s Part in the Nomination of Abraham Lincoln” in 1948.  He also penned numerous book reviews.


Following his retirement from teaching, Roll traveled to England, Scotland, and France in 1952.  While residing in Vigo County, roll was an active member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, the American History Association, the Indiana Historical Society, the Vigo County Historical Society, and the alumni associations of both Indiana State University and the University of Wisconsin.  In August of 1974, Indiana State University bestowed upon Charles Roll and honorary Doctorate of Letters.


Roll remained actively involved in the life of Indiana State University throughout his retirement, and was always reliably present at Homecoming.  In fact, in 1976, the Terre Haute Tribune Star even dedicated an article to the fact that Roll was the last surviving graduate from 1906 still celebrating Homecoming.  Charles Roll died on January 7, 1982, at the venerable age of ninety-nine.  Having spent almost his entire life in Vigo County, he dedicated most of those years to the service of Indiana State Normal School, Indiana State Teachers’ College, and Indiana State University, for which he is still well remembered.



Karrie Johnson





“Charles Roll.” Terre Haute Tribune Star  9 Jan 1982.

Jasicki, Martin. “Graduate of '06 Celebrates Another ISU Homecoming.” Terre Haute Tribune Star  20 Oct 1979.