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Resources to Celebrate Black History Month

January 27, 2021

In 1979, a collecting effort was formalized at the Indiana Historical Society to address the concern for the lack of records available for doing research on the history of African Americans in the state. The purpose of that effort continues to be to collect, preserve and share information related to the history of Black Hoosiers. Over the last several decades, IHS has worked to acquire manuscript and visual collections that document the experiences of African Americans in Indiana. Each year thousands of researchers access the materials in our library and we highlight stories found in the archives through our programs, publications and exhibits. As more records are collected and organized, a more accurate and complete interpretation of Indiana history will emerge.

Preserving Indiana’s African American heritage is a cooperative venture. IHS needs your help in providing information about existing records that can be added to the library’s collections. If you or someone you know has letters, diaries, or photographs from individuals, businesses or organizations related to Indiana history, please contact Susan Hall Dotson, Coordinator of African American History at

Visit some of our online resources to discover more about the history and experiences of African Americans in Indiana. Access thousands of photographs, documents, and publications in our Digital Collection. View letters from Madam C.J. Walker, images from the Indianapolis Recorder and more.

The Indianapolis Recorder newspaper was established near the turn of the twentieth century. Its focus was news about African Americans in local communities. In 1900, it was located at 414 Indiana Avenue. By 1918, it had moved to 518-520 Indiana Avenue where it remained for over fifty years, before moving to its current location on Tacoma Avenue. Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

Explore the history of early Black settlements from throughout the state as documented through the Early African American Settlement Heritage Initiative.

A church and a school were essential parts of the antebellum black rural communities in Indiana. Here are children at Lost Creek School in Vigo County. Indiana Historical Society.

From collections containing thousands of items to those with only a few, IHS is home to a variety of materials, including personal papers, business and organizational records and family collections.

Time travel through hundreds of journeys in Destination Indiana, including topics such as Civil Rights, African American Education, Martin Luther King, Jr. in Indiana and more.

The Indiana Black Expo was founded in 1971 to celebrate African American history and achievement. With chapters around the state, it offers several programs and events, the largest being the summer celebration in Indianapolis that draws 300,000 people annually. Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society

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