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Hoosiers and the American Story

Mural in Broad Ripple post office
Mural in Broad Ripple post office

Designed for middle and high school learners, the adventures in Hoosiers and the American Story by James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss are written to stimulate dialogue. Each chapter begins with an overview highlighting main themes in American history and connects to the Indiana stories that follow. The four case studies in each chapter about individuals who have shaped our state in interesting ways and everyday people and their experiences.

The chapters are richly illustrated with images and documents from a wide range of archives and libraries around Indiana and beyond. Throughout the book are sidebars highlighting interesting places that you can still visit today, such as the Turnvereine and Athenaeum in Indianapolis and New Harmony in Posey County.  Each chapter concludes with a selected bibliography of both primary and secondary source materials. Also included are student guides and activities with essential questions and two to three activities that focus on primary source material, literature and more.

Since its publication in 2014, IHS has distributed more than 50,000 free copies to teachers and students across Indiana. In 2016, the American Association for State and Local History  awarded IHS a Leadership in History Award for Hoosiers and the American Story.

Download the entire book for free here; this may take several minutes, or see each individual chapter below to review and download.

The Franklin College Education Department created fourth grade activities and lesson plans for every chapter of Hoosiers and the American Story. Find them at the bottom of each section.


Early inhabitants, and the white settlers that followed centuries later, in what is now Indiana were river-centric – they lived and traveled along rivers. The Wabash River was one of the most important rivers to these early inhabitants. As the native peoples paddled their canoes from the south to the northeast on the Wabash toward Lake Erie, they had to stop and carry their canoes over swampland to first reach the Saint Mary’s River, which connected to the Maumee River. This portage, or land passage connecting two bodies of water is where the largest Miami Indiana village of Kekionga was located – now known as Fort Wayne.

In this chapter:
Major Native American Groups in Indiana, 1700s–1830s
The Prophet and Tecumseh
Frances Slocum/Maconaquah (1773–1847)
The Potawatomi Trail of Death

Download Chapter 1: Native Americans in American History

Chapter 1 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: Native Americans in Indiana History


During the late 18th century, the population on the East Coast was growing. People were having large families, and more immigrant groups were steadily arriving. The people needed more land, and they knew where to find it – the western frontier. In its Proclamation of 1763, the British government had insisted that the colonists stay east of the Appalachians. This restriction was one of the many grievances that sparked the Americans’ fight for independence. Motivated by victory over the British during the American Revolution and inspired by George Rogers Clark’s victory on the Wabash in 1779, the Americans were determined to cross the Appalachians and settle the land all the way to the Mississippi River.

In this chapter:
George Rogers Clark and the Fall of Vincennes
Indiana from the Northwest Ordinance through Statehood
William Henry Harrison (1773–1841)
William Conner (1777–1855)

Download Chapter 2: American Expansion across the Appalachian Mountains

Chapter 2 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: Territorial Indiana, American Revolution and Statehood 


Thousands of people crossed the Appalachian Mountains and traveled the rivers and trails to the new state of Indiana in the first decades of the 19th century. This westward movement featured three general streams of migration. The largest stream was from the South, who tended to settle mostly in southern Indiana. Next in size were pioneers from the Mid-Atlantic states – mostly Pennsylvania and New York – who tended to settle in central Indiana. Smallest was the movement from the New England states, who tended to settle in the northern region. Pioneer Hoosiers set down the patterns and beliefs that persist to our day. They believed in freedom and wanted the democracy and good government that had been promised in Indiana’s 1816 and later 1851 Constitution.

In this chapter:
Abraham Lincoln, Hoosier
Connecting Indiana: Building Early Roads and Canals
Development of Indiana’s Educational System
1851 Constitution

Download Chapter 3: Pioneers and Politics

Chapter 3 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: Territorial Indiana, American Revolution and Statehood


For the most part, Hoosiers were grateful that their Constitution of 1816 prohibited slavery. Most felt slavery was the South’s problem, not Indiana’s. Many believed, too, that blacks, slave or free, were inferior to whites. Indiana laws denied free black men and women the right to vote, to give testimony in a trial with whites, or to marry a white partner. When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Indiana joined the Union. The state’s role in the War was complex and even contradictory. Sometimes labeled the most southern of northern states, Indiana offered strong military support to the Union in the war. While devoted to the nation, Hoosiers divided bitterly over the policies of Governor Morton and President Lincoln.

In this chapter:
Antislavery Agents and the Underground Railroad
Hoosier Attitudes toward Slavery
Indiana’s Black Civil War Regiment
Hoosier Officers and Ordinary Soldiers

Download Chapter 4: Abolition and the Civil War

Chapter 4 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: Abolition and the Civil War


Life changed rapidly for Hoosiers in the decades after the Civil War. Old ways withered in the new age of industry. As factories sprang up, hopes rose that economic growth would make a better life than that known by the pioneer generations. United States census workers counted more and more miles of railroad track, tons of steel, and crates of shoes and canned tomatoes. Hoosiers were at the center of this unprecedented growth. By the end of the 19th century, Indiana was among the top ten manufacturing states in the nation.

In this chapter:
Indiana in the Railroad Age
Changes in Agriculture

Download Chapter 5: The Age of Industry Comes to Indiana

Chapter 5 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: 1880 to 1920: Industrial Age, Progressive Era and World War I


In the late 19th century, Indiana moved along with the nation, experiencing increasing immigration, rapid industrial change that came with a new invention – the automobile, and big city growth. Indiana developed a culture of its own. Hoosiers claimed to be the most American of Americans, but they also developed pride in being different from Texans or New Yorkers. They liked the Indiana way of doing things, including being fiercely independent and self-sufficient, intensely political and wary of the government, and community-focused. The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought revolutionary changes that had Hoosiers grappling with “new” immigrants who were recruited to work in automobile factories.

In this chapter:
Immigrants Come to Indiana, 1850–1920
African American Hoosiers
Hoosiers Make Cars
Gary, A New City

Download Chapter 6: Immigrants, Cars, Cities, and a New Indiana

Chapter 6 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: 1880 to 1920: Industrial Age, Progressive Era and World War I and Immigration and Ethnic Heritage


Hoosiers loved politics. On the frontier they gathered eagerly for stump speakers and campaign hoopla. William Henry Harrison’s log cabin campaign of 1840 was great fun, but politics could also be deadly serious, as in the Civil War era, when Indiana’s political choices helped decide the future of the nation. In the late 19th century, Hoosiers created their own style of politics to fit their beliefs. Politics became a means by which Hoosiers created and identity, a sense of belonging to the same state and caring about it.

In this chapter:
Benjamin Harrison and Indiana-Style Politics
Improving Hoosiers: Dr. John N. Hurty and Progressive Health Reform
Albert J. Beveridge: Hoosier Reformer in the Nation’s Spotlight
Albion Fellows Bacon: Indiana’s Housing Reformer

Download Chapter 7: Progressive Era Politics and Reform

Chapter 7 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: 1880 to 1920: Industrial Age, Progressive Era and World War I


The “Roaring Twenties” followed a decade of contradictions, beginning with a golden age of the arts and closing with “a war to end all wars.” The Great War laid a base for the troubling twenties. Indiana had long been divided by ethnicity, race, religion, gender and class. The decade of the twenties brought those divisions to the surface, particularly with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. There were bursts of sunlight, though. “Hoosier Hysteria” was born as basketball became one of Indiana’s favorite pastimes; the automobile continued its rise in popularity; and the rhythms of jazz and ragtime came to symbolize new types of freedom.

In this chapter:
A Klan State?
“Hoosier Hysteria”: The Rise of Basketball in Indiana
Risky Business: Bootleg Booze, Flappers, and French Lick
The Musical State of Indiana

Download Chapter 8: The Roaring Twenties

Chapter 8 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: The 1920s and the Great Depression


The depression that followed the prosperity of the 1920s was deeper and lasted longer than any other economic downturn in Indiana history. Many Hoosiers lost their jobs and could not find work. Widespread unemployment spread across all types of jobs and workers – skilled and unskilled, white and blue collar. The massive storm of the Great Depression challenged Indiana’s traditions as had nothing before. Hoosier began to think that government needed to step in and step up. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States officially entered World War II. Brutal, global and total, this war reached deeply into Indiana, affecting every aspect of Hoosier life.

In this chapter:
Governor Paul V. McNutt and the “Little New Deal”
New Deal Projects in Indiana
World War II: Hoosiers on the Home Front
Eli Lilly and Company: A Hoosier Business Goes Global

Download Chapter 9: The Great Depression and World War II

Chapter 9 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: The 1920s and the Great Depression and World War II


The end of World War II to the end of the 1960s was the longest period of sustained economic prosperity in American history. Indiana would be at the center of a steep ride up. In Indiana, massive quantities of steel shipped out of the Calumet Region to build cars in Kokomo, refrigerators in Evansville, diesel engines in Columbus and heavy-duty trucks in Fort Wayne. Workers at Conn and Selmer created band instruments in Elkhart, and RCA workers built television sets in Bloomington. Then in the 1970s globalization ushered in a new era along with increasing automation in factories. The changes kept rolling in through the turn of the 21st century and have made a world very different than that known by the generation of the Great Depression and World War II.

In this chapter:
Car Culture and Suburbanization
Educating Hoosiers: The Evolution of Indiana Public Schools
Farming Advances and Adaptations
RCA: A Tale of “Creative Destruction”

Download Chapter 10: Economic Change Blows through the Hoosier State

Chapter 10 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: From the 1950s to the 1970s


Indiana’s democracy has been fraught with tensions surrounding such issues as majority rule, individual rights, and minority freedoms. Differences over race, gender, religion, sexuality and personal beliefs rumble through the state’s history. Yesterday and today Hoosiers face tough questions about the meaning of democracy, not just in school textbooks, but in everyday issues concerning justice, equality and freedom. These issues are often at the heart of legislative discussions and election battles – in Indiana and America.

In this chapter:
Robert Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary
The Struggle for School Desegregation in Indiana
Equal Rights for Hoosier Women
The Messy Business of Democracy

Download Chapter 11: Justice, Equality, and Democracy for All Hoosiers

Chapter 11 Fourth Grade Lesson Plan

Find more curriculum: From the 1950s to the 1970s

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