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Indiana’s Amazing Local History Organizations

May 20, 2020

Did you know there are more than 400 historical societies and history museums in Indiana? There’s at least one in every county!

The best thing about my work in our Local History Services department is that I get to travel the state with my colleagues to visit these amazing organizations. We get to see extraordinary collections and meet the dedicated staff and volunteers who work hard to preserve and share the artifacts and stories of local communities.

Each year, the Indiana Historical Society presents awards to outstanding historical organizations for their remarkable service to their community. Here are some highlights from recent award-winning organizations. Although many are currently closed due to the pandemic, you can visit them online!

The Daviess County Museum in Washington.

The Daviess County Museum (2019 award winner) in downtown Washington recently renovated their exhibit spaces and their research room to serve their community, and last year they hosted a Shared Treasures exhibit featuring displays from local collectors. Visitors of all ages can complete fun activities to earn badges in their History Scholar Program. And, their collections are really cool! Some of my favorite items are tableware from a B&O Railroad dining car, a historical cabbage cutter and a WWII military medic helmet.

Did you know there was a 19th century shipwreck in Indiana? You can learn about it at the Historical Society of Ogden Dunes’ Hour Glass Museum (2017 award winner) located near the shores of Lake Michigan, where the all-volunteer run organization collects and preserves the history of Ogden Dunes. They also recently partnered with the town to install rotating exhibits in the town community room.

The Madison County Historical Society (2016 award winner) is an all-volunteer organization with a museum in downtown Anderson. This dedicated group is working to renovate their second-floor exhibit space to tell the stories of Madison County history. The county has long been a center of industry, and some of my favorite things to see at the museum are their collections from the Delco-Remy and Guide Lamp plants and cut glass from the Gas Boom era.

The Porter County Museum (2016 award winner) has worked hard to truly become a community-centered organization, with events such as a celebration of Dia de los Muertos, young professionals mixers and township history podcasts. Their recent exhibit, Do Your Part! A County Responds to the First World War, received an Award of Excellence last year from the American Association for State and Local History.

Former NASA Astronaut Joe Allen visits the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County in Crawfordsville. (Photo courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County)

History, art and science come together at the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County (2015 award winner) in Crawfordsville, where they engage students through thought-provoking exhibits and programs. They hold an annual Pi Day with Wabash College to celebrate physics and math, student art exhibits and so much more!

The Marshall County Museum

The Marshall County Museum in Plymouth. (Photo courtesy of Marshall County Museum)

The Marshall County Museum (2014 award winner) in Plymouth is dedicated to serving their community through a comprehensive research library, space for local events, partnerships with downtown organizations and numerous programs. And, be sure to check out their awesome train room!

These are just a sample of the awesome history organizations around Indiana. Is your local historical society or history museum doing amazing work? Nominate them today for an Indiana Historical Society award! Nominations are due July 3.

Jeannette Rooney is Assistant Director of Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society. She travels the state with LHS team members to assist local history organizations. Why? Because history rocks (and we get to make lots of ice cream stops)!

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