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Outside View of the Indiana Historical Society Building
Plan your visit
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Thursday10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
Indiana Experience Admission Free IHS MembersFree Children under 5$9 Adult$8 Seniors 60 and older$5 Youth ages 5 through 17 Free parking with admission in lot off New York.

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Canal level map of the History CenterFirst level map of the History CenterSecond level map of the History CenterFourth level map of the History Center

For the young and young at heart

FUN FACTS

Indiana became a state on Dec. 11, 1816, when President James Madison signed the congressional resolution admitting Indiana to the Union. Indiana is the 19th state. Corydon remained the first state capital until 1825, when the capital was moved to Indianapolis. Indiana’s first governor was Jonathan Jennings. For information on Indiana, check out the links we’ve provided here:

WHAT IS A HOOSIER?

How did Indiana get its nickname as “The Hoosier State”? And how did people from Indiana come to be called “Hoosiers”? There are many different theories about how the word Hoosier came to be and how it came to have such a connection with the state of Indiana.

One of the earliest known uses of the term is found in an 1827 letter that states, “There is a yankee trick for you – done up by a Hoosier.” Other early uses provide some clues about the meaning of the word. In 1831, Gen. John Tipton received a proposal from a businessman offering to name his boat the “Indiana Hoosier” if Tipton would give him business in the area. Sarah Harvey, a Quaker from Richmond, explained in an 1835 letter to her relatives, “old settlers in Indiana are called ‘Hooshers’ and the cabins they first live in ‘Hoosher nests’ . . .”

The word “Hoosier” was widely used by the 1830s. Around this time, John Finley of Richmond wrote a poem called The Hoosier’s Nest, which was widely read. He wrote the word as “hoosher” and did not explain its meaning, which leads historians to believe that Finley felt his readers would already know and understand the word. Finley wrote, “With men of every hue and fashion, Flock to this rising ‘Hoosher’ nation.”

So, what does the word mean? In 1848, Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms defined “Hoosier” as “A nickname given at the west, to natives of Indiana.” In John Finley’s poem, the word “Hoosher” seems to refer less to the pioneers of Indiana and more to the qualities he thought they possessed, like self-reliance and bravery.

No one seems to know how the word “Hoosier” came to be. Some people think it was meant to mock Indiana as a rough, backwoods and backwards place. Others think that early settlers used the term with pride to describe themselves as a hearty, courageous group. One historian, Jacob Piatt Dunn, even suggested that the word “Hoosier” originally referred to boatmen who lived on the Indiana shore. We may never know for sure, but research and debate are likely to continue about this mysterious word.

The following theories and stories about the origin of the word “Hoosier” are known to be false:

  • It comes from the word Hoosa, which means American Indian maize or corn.
  • Hoosier’s Men was a term used for Indiana employees of a canal contractor named Hoosier.
  • “Who’s ear?” – Writer James Whitcomb Riley joked that this question, supposedly posed by early Indiana settlers following tavern fights which had resulted in someone’s ear being cut off and left on the floor, eventually became the word “Hoosier.”
  • “Who’s yer/here?” – This was supposedly the way early Indiana settlers would respond to a knock on their cabin doors. The story goes that it was eventually shortened to “Hoosier?”
  • “Who’s your [relative]?” – Again, legend has it that this question was eventually shortened to “Hoosier?”
INDIANA STATE FLAG

The Indiana General Assembly adopted the Indiana state flag in 1917. The flag was designed by Paul Hadley of Mooresville as part of Indiana’s centennial celebration flag design contest. The flag has a blue background with yellow symbols. The torch in the middle of the flag represents liberty and enlightenment. The rays illustrate their far-reaching influence. There are a total of 19 stars on the flag, with the outer circle representing the 13 colonies. The stars in a semi-circle stand for the states admitted to the Union prior to Indiana. The star directly above the torch symbolizes Indiana, the 19th state.

INDIANA STATE SEAL

The Indiana constitutions of 1816 and 1851 both provided for a state seal. The design for the current state seal is based on designs used since Indiana was a territory. It was approved as the official state seal design by the 1963 General Assembly. Indiana’s state seal depicts a scene from the pioneer era of the territory and state. There are three hills in the background. A setting sun is beginning to disappear behind the hills. On the right of the seal are two sycamore trees and a woodsman with his ax is nearby. He has begun to cut a notch in one of the trees. A buffalo in the foreground is jumping over a log and facing to the left. The ground near the woodsman and buffalo is sprouting shoots of blue grass.

INDIANA STATE FLOWER

The 1957 Indiana General Assembly adopted the peony as the state flower. The zinnia was the state flower from 1931 to 1957. The peony blooms in late spring and is usually red or pink but can be white. The peony is grown all over the state and is a popular decoration at cemeteries for Memorial Day.

INDIANA STATE TREE

The tulip tree, also known as the tulip poplar and yellow poplar, became Indiana’s state tree in 1931. The tree usually grows to be 100 feet tall or more. The flowers, which bloom in the summer, are yellow in color and look like tulips. The tulip tree can be found throughout the state. Wood from the tree is soft white in color and can be used to make furniture, trim and cabinets.

INDIANA STATE BIRD

In 1933, the Indiana General Assembly chose the cardinal to be the state bird of Indiana. Also known as the redbird, the cardinal is the state bird of seven states: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The bright red males are easily spotted, especially in the winter. Female cardinals are brown with a dusty red crest. Cardinals build nest in bushes and brushy areas and are frequent visitors to bird feeders.

INDIANA STATE SONG

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away, written by Terre Haute native Paul Dresser and dedicated to 14-year-old Mary E. South of Terre Haute, whom Dresser had never met, is the state song of Indiana. First published in July 1897, the song was adopted as the official state song on March 14, 1913, by the Indiana General Assembly. The state song is the oldest of Indiana’s state emblems, being adopted four years before the flag.

Paul Dresser was the brother of noted Hoosier writer Theodore Dreiser. He supposedly was so scandalized by his brother’s frank writings that he changed his name from Dreiser to Dresser.

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away

Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
Oftentimes my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood,
Where I first received my lessons, nature’s school.
But one thing there is missing in the picture,
Without her face it seems so incomplete.
I long to see my mother in the doorway,
As she stood there years ago, her boy to greet!
Many years have passed since I strolled by the river,
Arm in arm with sweetheart Mary by my side.
It was there I tried to tell her that I loved her,
It was there I begged of her to be my bride.
Long years have passed since I strolled thro’ the churchyard,
She’s sleeping there my angel Mary, dear.
I loved her but she thought I didn’t mean it,
Still I’d give my future were she only here.
Oh, the moonlight’s fair tonight along the Wabash,
From the fields there comes the breath of new mown hay.
Thro’ the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.

INDIANA CONSTITUTION

Indiana has had two constitutions. The first was adopted in 1816. Only white male citizens over the age of 21 who had lived in Indiana for one year could vote. The constitution also provided for free public education through the college level. Slavery in Indiana was prohibited, however, this law did not apply to slaveholders who lived in Indiana prior to the constitution taking effect.

By 1851, Indiana was poorly managed and in debt and citizens voted to amend the original constitution. The 1851 constitution called for more frequent elections, put restrictions on state debt and established biennial (every other year) sessions for the General Assembly. Unfortunately, the constitution contained racism, in the form of Article XIII, which prohibited African-Americans from settling in the state. The 1851 constitution has been amended numerous times, but it still stands as Indiana’s constitution today.

Original Text of the 1851 Constitution

OTHER STUFF
  • The State Motto, “The Crossroads of America,” was adopted by the Indiana General Assembly in 1937.
  • The 1996 General Assembly adopted the Wabash River as the State River. The Wabash flows from Ohio through Indiana to the Indiana/Illinois border before flowing south to the Ohio River.
  • The State Stone, Salem Limestone, which is quarried in south and central Indiana, was adopted by the 1971 General Assembly.
  • In 1984, English was made Indiana’s Official Language. In 1995, American Sign Language was also recognized as a standard, independent language used by the hearing, deaf and hard-of-hearing in Indiana and throughout the United States.
  • Arthur Franklin Mapes of Kendalville penned the state poem, Indiana, which was adopted by the 1963 General Assembly.

 

Indiana

God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams,
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams.

Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.

I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must heed the native call,
For a pagan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.

I must walk where squirrels scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland … green and dense.

I must learn more of my homeland
For it’s paradise to me,
There’s no haven quite as peaceful,
There’s no place I’d rather be.

Indiana … is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty … all its own.

Lovely are the fields and meadows,
That reach out to hills that rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on … through paradise.

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Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202(317) 232-1882
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