Search Close
Plan Your Visit
Outside View of the Indiana Historical Society Building
Plan your visit
Tuesday through Saturday10 a.m. - 5 p.m
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
Save $2 per ticket (adults & seniors) when you purchase online.
Purchase Tickets
Indiana Experience Admission $15 Adults$14 Seniors (60 and over)$5 Youth (ages 5 through 17)$2 Access Pass HoldersFree Children under 5Free IHS MembersFree Educators and Military Free parking with admission in IHS lot off New York Street.

Our Favorite Things

February 20, 2023

Late last year I gave staff across the institution the opportunity to let us know what their favorite item in our collection was. For me, this is an ever-changing item, that requires I make a different selection from every part of our collection: manuscripts, photographs, maps, books, and more. I can’t pick just one!

I understood when I tasked our staff with this that their reasoning behind why an item was their favorite would be varied. With a physical exhibit of these items in our library preparing to close, I wanted to give more people an opportunity to see our staff’s selections and why each staff member selected them.

Please vote for your favorite, by sharing that item’s number in the comment section below or on our Social Media post for this blog. Enjoy!

1. “This letter is from Indianapolis native Ernest Reiman Steeg’s World War II correspondence, almost all written to his mother. … His letters are often poignant, showcasing a talent he began to nurture as a writer for the Shortridge Daily Echo. Upon reading … one of his letters, I paused for a moment to mourn the loss of a person who might have become a brilliant writer if he had survived the war. … Steeg’s writing survives in this collection of his letters and in the Echo archives.”
Letter, 18 April 1944, Ernest ‘Rei’ Steeg to ‘Dearest Mother’ Indiana Historical Society, M1041
Mikayla Knight Kinley, Assistant Reference Librarian

2. “My favorite [item] is this picture of Mariah Mendenhall from Jay County. She traveled on horseback to deliver babies… Mariah fascinates me because my grandmother, Lizzie Mae DuBois, was a midwife in Crawford County for the first part of the twentieth century. My dad, her youngest, used to go on visits with her. … I am so proud of my grandmother for doing this much needed, brave work in the hills and forests of southern Indiana…”
Mariah Mendenhall, ca. 1890, Indiana Historical Society, P0411
Teresa Baer, Managing Editor, IHS Press

3. “Hands down, the most terrifying Santa I’ve ever seen – and the kids don’t seem thrilled about the encounter either!”
Annual Yule Party at Marion County Courthouse, Indiana Historical Society, P0569
Jeannette Rooney, Assistant Director, Local History Services

4. “While we don’t know the story behind this photo, it appears to be two men, wearing what was traditionally seen as women’s clothing, taken nearly 100 years ago. So, one of the things I like about this photo is that it exists at all. As evidence of LGBTQ+ existence was often erased by family or the person themselves, finding items like this is like uncovering a rare gem. And while these gentlemen may not have fit under any of those capital letters above, it still shows men in clothing not meant for the male gender in their time. While we may not agree with all people, everyone’s history deserves to be preserved.”
Mr. Estebrooks and Bayfield Dressed in Evening Gowns at Root’s Party, Martin Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Dan Shockley, Creative Director, Exhibitions and Audience Experience

5. “My husband and I adopted our beagle in 2017, Beags, for our first anniversary. Beags was a tubby beagle, and we spent a lot of time helping him get healthy. He was a senior dog when we adopted him, so Covid was a blessing for us as it meant that we got to spend much more time with him than we would have normally. He passed away in August 2022. … Seeing images in the collection of people with their dogs warms my heart …”
Hopeful Contestants Preparing for the 1932 Indiana State Fair Dog Show, Indiana Historical Society, P0490
Bethany Hrachovec, Director, Education and Engagement

6. “I believe [the letter from William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid] is an amazing piece of American, Western, and Hoosier, given Lew Wallace’s ties, History. It has major American significance and would be an excellent item from our collections to do more with at the Society.”
Letter, 12 December 1880, William Bonney to Lew Wallace, Indiana Historical Society, M0292
Katie Berndt, Actor/Facilitator

7. “I’ve loved this image of the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets for years. I even have a copy of it on my office wall. It transports me to a different way people experienced the city I live in. Looking at it, I imagine the sounds, the smells, and the bustle of Indianapolis… It’s fascinating to think about the lives of the people in the picture and what they knew that I don’t. They built the world we live in just as we build for future generations.”
Washington Street, 1906, Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Susan Sutton, Director, Access & Preservation

8. “This photo is my favorite thing because, simply put, it’s so cool! I suppose a major part of why I like it is the mystery around how the photo was able to be taken. It also reminds me that even though I thought underwater photography was a newer pursuit, it wasn’t! Humans have always been searching for interesting ways to capture moments in time.”
Swimmer Underwater, 1937, Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society
Regan Steimel, Reference Librarian

9. “My favorite items are our Magic Lantern slides of the Dunes! I find them interesting because I love both Magic Lanterns (and their beautiful, hand-painted slides that provided entertainment and education from the 1700s on) and Lake Michigan. Our collection manages to combine a place I love with an incredible, but little-remembered media I love.”
Trees and Dunes [#54], Glass Lantern Slide, ca. 1925, William F. Gingrich, Indiana Historical Society, P0305
Marianne Sheline, Director, External Engagement and Special Initiatives

Amy Vedra

Amy Vedra is the director of reference services. She is currently reading her way through the Great American Reads list.

Share this post:
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share with Email
Facebook Comment
Thanks for Reading! If you enjoyed reading our blog, try our InDepth Stories
map of area around IHS location
Drop us a line
Let's talk
Full Staff Directory
Our Hours
ExhibitsOpen 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through SaturdayWilliam H. Smith Memorial LibraryOpen 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through SaturdayHistory MarketOpen 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through SaturdayStardust Terrace Café HoursOpen 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Never miss a story!
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202(317) 232-1882
© 2018 Indiana Historical Society Privacy Policy
The Indiana Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.