Charles Roll was born August 8, 1883 to Mary and John A.
Roll. Roll was a native of Vigo County
and attended Oak Hill
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
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
During his tenure at Indiana
State Normal School (subsequently renamed Indiana
College), Roll wrote two volumes of Indiana
history in 1931, published a work on Colonel Dick Thompson in 1948, and
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,
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
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.
“Charles Roll.” Terre Haute Tribune Star 9
Jasicki, Martin. “Graduate of '06
Celebrates Another ISU Homecoming.” Terre Haute Tribune Star 20