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Digital Diaries: A Little Bit of Family History in the Archives

January 18, 2018

If you work in the Indiana Historical Society Library & Archives, and you are from Indiana, sometimes you come across your own family in the collection. This week I had the pleasure of digitizing materials in the Covered Bridges collection. Although many of Indiana’s covered bridges have been lost, their history has been well preserved in collections such as the Covered Timber Bridge Committee Collection, which was commissioned by Indiana Historical Society in 1931. The history of Indiana’s covered bridges is forever linked to the small, vibrant communities that dotted the countryside between larger towns. When I opened the Dearborn County folder of the Covered Timber Bridge Committee Collection, I found an aerial photograph of the Guilford Covered Bridge and the town for which it was named.

Aerial View of Guilford, Circa 1960

I’ve heard about the Guilford Covered Bridge since I was a little girl because it was the landmark that welcomed my grandparents and their families to their little village in Dearborn County. In this aerial photo, I could spot my great-grandparents’ home where my great-grandfather J.C. Elliott practiced medicine as a country doctor. I could see the little white Methodist church where most of my father’s side of the family attended. I could see the Taylor Brothers’ Service Station where my grandfather’s extended family provided Mobilgas and a little general store. I could see the Guilford Post Office where my great-uncle was the postmaster. And I could see Tanner’s Creek, where my ancestors settled when they arrived in the early 1800s from Yorkshire, England. It’s amazing that one photo in our collection holds so much family history and sentimental value.

In 2013 I had a chance to take my family to visit Dearborn County and see some of the sites that still remain in the village of Guilford, including the Guilford Covered Bridge. Check out the Covered Bridges digital collection and please share if you have any personal stories about any of the covered bridges and the communities they served.

Guilford Covered Bridge Park, 2013

Kathy Mulder works in Digital Collections at IHS. She first became interested in history while tagging along with her grandmother who was a docent in historic Madison, Indiana.

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