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Seeing Double: Twins in the Digital Collection

April 5, 2024

I think many would agree that the worst part of the beginning of any school year, club gathering, or conference breakout group is the dreaded icebreaker.  It’s always just a little awkward to on-the-spot conjure a fun fact about oneself. Fortunately for me, I have a fun-fact ready to go. My fun fact is that I’m a twin.

There are two types of twins: identical and fraternal.  My twin (Riley) and I are fraternal and don’t look much alike, which has led to quite a few confused looks from folks. One elementary school classmate was so skeptical of our story that they, to prove we were lying about being twins, quizzed us on topics such as our birthday, mom’s name, address, etc.

Fortunately for three of these four sets of twins (if I had to guess, the pair in the back are fraternal) at the Fort Harrison school, they all looked alike. No genealogical pop quizzes for them!

Four sets of twins at the Ft. Harrison School, 1933. Martin Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

Sometimes, I get asked what it’s like being a twin. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like having a built-in best friend. Riley and I often did things together, and still do. When we were younger, we were on the same sports teams, in the same clubs, and interested in the same extracurriculars.

Lana and Dana Hopson roller-skating, 1984. Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

Monica and Monique Crain and friends sledding, 1984. Indianapolis Recorder Collection, Indiana Historical Society.

In almost all the images I’ve found of twins in our digital collection, the twins themselves are wearing matching outfits. Riley and I were no exception. In many of the photographs of us in our infancy through young childhood, we’re dressed the same.

Herman and Harold List with mother, 1897. Indiana Historical Society, P0017.

Guadalupe and Pedro Juan Velasquez and family, 1923. Zach Adamson, Indiana Historical Society.

Regan (left) and Riley (right) at their 5th birthday party, 2001. Author’s collection.

Unfortunately, being a twin hasn’t always garnered positive attention. As was the case for Eva and Miriam Mozes who were victims of Dr. Josef Mengele’s genetic experiments at Auschwitz during WWII. Eva and Miriam were just one set of thousands of twins who were subjected to cruel and often deadly experiments.

Eva and Miriam Mozes in uniform, 1955. Indiana Historical Society, M1492.

Eva Mozes Kor and Miriam Mozes Zeiger at Auschwitz, 1991. Indiana Historical Society, M1492.

To find more images of twins (and quintuplets!) in our digital collection, please visit


Regan Steimel is the Reference Librarian at the Indiana Historical Society and in her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends.

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