Category Archives: Family History

The Largest Syrian Colony Outside of New York

Below is an excerpt from a recent article in the IHS publication, Traces. By 1900 there were vibrant Arabic-speaking communities across Indiana, including in Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Michigan City. But Fort Wayne was special, at least according to its Syrian residents. Alixa Naff, who developed the Smithsonian Institution’s collection on Arab American history, wrote […]

Dancing the Blues with Hoagy Carmichael

A few years ago, I walked into the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) carrying a box of family photos. Among my photos was one of Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) with my late mother-in-law, Myrtle Goldfinger (1917-2011).  At the time, I knew nothing about the photo beyond what I had heard from family members: Myrtle had been a […]

2022 Centennial Business Awards

In 1992, the Indiana Historical Society founded the Historic Business Register to recognize Indiana companies continually in business for a century or more to encourage the preservation of historically significant business-related archival materials, and to develop an awareness of Indiana’s rich business and industrial heritage. Since that time, more than 500 companies have been honored […]

One Roof, Two Churches: Shared Faith of Mexican and Black Catholics During the Segregation Era

Segregation in all its forms, shaped how and where certain populations lived, shopped, played and worshiped. This is more noticeable in large urban centers, easily supported by population density. A symptom of this is seen in auto-segregation or self-segregation, mostly among ethnic or religious groups. In the Midwest, examples of this can be seen in […]

Fiestas Patrias Parade and Indiana’s First Mexican Queen

Every September in Indiana Harbor (East Chicago), Lake County, Indiana there is an annual parade and events for Fiestas Patrias, a celebration of Mexican Independence Day. The earliest record of this Hoosier staple celebration of Mexican heritage was in 1924. The Times reported on August 21, 1924, a planned September celebration of Mexican Independence being […]

By the Train Loads: Mexican Repatriation Movement in the Midwest, Part II

“It was during these hard years of the early 1930s that mass groups of the parishioners departed in whole train loads for Mexico.” Silver Anniversary, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, East Chicago, Indiana, 1927-1952 Part One of this blog series laid out how many individuals were repatriated to Mexico by 1932, how it was funded, […]

George Merritt Family – Part II

Ernest Merritt, born in Indianapolis two weeks after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, would grow up to become the head of the physics department at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He worked closely with Edward Nichols, with whom he co-founded the important physics journal Physical Review. His biographical memoir on the National Academy of Sciences […]

From Civil War to Indianapolis Parks, George Merritt’s Family Made an Impact

A collection of materials from the Merritt family of Indianapolis, recently added to our collections, embodies the wide variety of activities in which they engaged. From early industrial success to service during the Civil War, parks, schools, women’s suffrage, elder care, and even an 8-year-old’s entrepreneurial spirit, it’s all here. George Merritt, once termed “the […]

Asian Businesses of Monument Circle: Ikko Matsumoto

Indianapolis of the 19th and 20th centuries never had a large enough Asian population that would lend itself to create nor sustain an ethnic commercial corridor such as a “Chinatown.” This is partly due to a series of anti-Asian laws which stymied potential growth. From 1892 through 1948, Monument Circle would host a number of […]

Sylvia’s World, Part 3 – Isadore

As we’ve explored Sylvia Dichner’s life (Part I and Part II) in Indianapolis, we have encountered the man who would become her husband, Isadore “Izzy” Weiss. While Sylvia’s story connects us to life in Indianapolis as a young working person in the Great Depression, Isadore’s life links the past with the unfortunate current events we […]