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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Civil War Collections Find New Home

December 7, 2016

I was fortunate to be hired as the cataloger of Printed Collections at the end of 2013. One of my very first projects was to finishcataloging two large collections of Civil War materials. I have always been fascinated by this turbulent period in our country’s history, so I was excited to start my new career with a subject matter so close to my heart. I realized very quickly that the donors of these collections, Alan T. Nolan and Gordon St. Angelo, were kindred spirits.

Alan T. Nolan was born in Evansville, Indiana, in 1923. His family moved to Indianapolis when his father was appointed U.S. District Attorney in 1933. He was a graduate of Shortridge High School, Indiana University and Harvard Law School. After clerking for Sherman Minton at the U.S. Court of Appeals, he returned to Indianapolis and practiced law for 45 years with the firm Ice Miller Donadio and Ryan. Mr. Nolan was actively involved in the community, serving in various organizations and receiving multiple honors during his lifetime.


Following a boyhood trip to Antietam, Mr. Nolan became a passionate Civil War historian. His first book, The Iron Brigade: a Military History, was published in 1961 to critical acclaim, and Civil War Times Illustrated named it one of the 100 best books on the Civil War? in 1981. Over the years, he spoke at historical conferences, universities, colleges, and round tables and frequently contributed to historical magazines, journals, and newspapers. Mr. Nolan passed away in 2008, but his love of history lives on in the items his wife Jane donated to the IHS library.

Gordon St. Angelo was born in Huntingburg, Indiana, in 1927. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he attended North CentralCollege in Naperville, Illinois, where he was active in student politics. In 1952, he returned to Indiana and entered the retail clothing business with his father. Mr. St. Angelo was heavily involved in state Democratic Party politics, becoming the Dubois County Chairman in 1958 and 8th District Chairman in 1960. After managing the campaign of Governor Roger D. Branigan in 1964, he was elected state Democratic Party Chairman and held that position until 1974.

Mr. St. Angelo left politics to work as Senior Program Officer of community development at the Lilly Endowment, a position he held for 23 years. Like Mr. Nolan, he was passionate about community affairs and served his fellow citizens in various capacities. During his lifetime, he amassed a rich and impressive collection of Civil War materials. Following his death in 2011, they found a new home at the IHS library.

More than 600 printed items have now been cataloged from the Nolan and St. Angelo collections. All of the major people, places and political events of the Civil War era are represented. Some were published recently, while a great many others date back to the mid-19th century. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite, but I especially enjoyed cataloging the military handbooks and manuals used by soldiers during the war. The illustrations are fantastic, and one can almost picture a young recruit carrying a small copy of Army drills and regulations and referencing it during his training. As always, it is the journey of each item over time that fascinates me. To whom did it belong? How was it used? Where did it travel? I invite you to imagine the possibilities and visit the IHS library to explore both of these historical collections in person!

View titles from the Nolan collection here.
View titles from the St. Angelo collection here.

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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