IHS collects, preserves and shares Hoosier history through its premier collections on Indiana and the Old Northwest – books, photographs, early maps, letters, diaries and more.
Researching at IHS
When visiting the William Henry Smith Memorial Library at the Indiana Historical Society, the Library Reference Room is available to walk-in visitors during regular hours. Those wishing to access collections materials not found in our Reference Room must do so by appointment. See Using our Library for details.
We are always collecting Indiana’s past! If you have images, documents or books that you believe would add to the Indiana Historical Society’s collection, please complete the Online Collection Donation Form. Make sure to review our Collections and Development Acquisitions Policy for the formats and subjects we collect. Please do not send the original materials you wish to donate to IHS until you have been contacted by IHS staff.
The Indiana Historical Society’s William H. Smith Memorial Library collects, preserves and makes accessible a substantial amount of material related to the American Civil War and especially to the role of Indiana’s people in the conflict. A Researcher’s Guide to Civil War Materials at the Indiana Historical Society was created in 2011 with the start of the 150th anniversary of the war. The IHS also served as a member of the Indiana Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee for Indiana’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration. The Researcher’s Guide was created and maintained by the IHS Collections and Library as a contribution to the 150th commemoration (2011-2015).
This expanded Civil War Materials listing uses the previous Researcher’s Guide as a starting point. Indiana’s participation in the Civil War was extensive and as such the IHS Library has collected a significant amount of material related to regiments and to the individual soldiers within them. This listing highlights only materials from our manuscript and visual collections. Materials in our printed collections can be found by searching the regiment in our online catalog.
It is expected that this listing will be in progress for the foreseeable future owing to the extensive collection materials housed at IHS. Questions about any regiments that have not yet been added to this completed guide can be directed to our Reference Department by emailing Reference, by calling our Reference Desk at (317)234-0321, or by referring to the Researcher’s Guide to see if we have materials related to that regiment.
This Civil War Materials listing is a work in progress, as sections are completed they will be added to this site.
Artillery: Completed April 2017.
Cavalry: Completed September 2018.
Infantry: Not Available At This Time (Currently In Progress).
This guide describes manuscript and visual collections in the William H. Smith Memorial Library that document the experiences of African-Americans in Indiana. In 1982, a collecting effort was formalized at the Historical Society to address the concern for the paucity 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, process, preserve and share information related to the history of black Hoosiers. Preserving Indiana’s African-American heritage is a cooperative venture. IHS needs your help in providing information about existing records in attics, basement and garages that can be added to the library’s collections.
As more records are collected and organized, a more accurate and complete interpretation of Indiana history will emerge. If you or someone you know has manuscripts (letters, diaries, account books, journals, etc.), rare books, photographs, or maps related to Indiana history, please contact the William H. Smith Library.
The Guide to African American History Materials in Manuscript and Visual Collections at the Indiana Historical Society is an annotated guide to the manuscript and visual holdings pertaining to blacks at William H. Smith Memorial Library. The guide is divided into six subject areas: Personal Papers (broadly defined to include those collections that pertain to a given individual); Organizations, Institutions and Projects; Communities; Education; Race Relations; and Religious Institutions.
Many of the collections listed in this guide were donated during the Black Women in the Middle West Project, a collecting effort to gather primary source materials of African-American women in Illinois and Indiana. The William H. Smith Memorial Library has the administrative records of the project, as well as numerous collections of individuals and organizations. Collections donated during the project are noted.
African-American Personal Papers
African-Americans and Education
African-American Religious Institutions
African-American Organizations, Institutions and Projects
We established the Ethnic History Collection Project to collect, preserve and make available for research materials which illuminate the history of the various ethnic groups that have played an important role in Indiana’s development.
While the Germans have by far been the largest group statewide, the presence of other groups has been significant as well. Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans and most recently, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Hispanics, have settled in the state over the years. Since its inception in the early 1980s, the Ethnic History Collection Project has obtained business records, letters, photographs and other items representing many ethnic groups with ties to Indiana.
This guide highlights some of the manuscript collections we hold, arranged into groups based on geographic location. Please note that some are listed by ethnicity alone for those that are too large to incorporate within the other groups, for example Germans and English. Not all the items listed in this guide deal exclusively with ethnic groups. In some instances, ethnic groups form a component of a larger collection. When this occurs, we indicate the relationship to the specific ethnic group.
Ethnicity can be complex and therefore to avoid any confusion collections are separated based on geographic factors and the country of origin of the person in question. This may or may not be in line with the way a person would ethnically self-identify.
Updated to Summer 2016.
The British Isles
Eastern Europeans and Russians
Southern EuropeansGreeks and Italians
Western and Northern EuropeansBelgians, Dutch, French and Swiss
The Americas and The Caribbean
IHS has more than 60 manuscript collections primarily relating to the history of Jews in Indiana. This document serves as a guide for researchers in navigating these collections. Information provided in this guide includes the collection number, name, date range and size of each collection, along with short historical background and content statements. Collections have been organized into five categories: Organizations, Congregations, Businesses, Individuals and Projects/Collections.
Two collections stand out from this list as the largest general collections of Indiana Jewish materials at IHS. They serve as a great starting point for general research:
For more specific research into the Jewish History Collections at the Indiana Historical Society, researchers can refer to the following lists of Jewish-related collections. These collections have been divided into five categories: Organizations, Congregations, Businesses, Individuals and Projects/Collections. These lists are organized alphabetically by collection name. For more complete historical/bibliographic background information and details about the contents of each collection, refer to the individual collection guides. Find full collection guides by searching for the collection number in the Library Catalog.
Midwest Railroad Research Center
In 1997, the Midwest Railroad Research Center was formed as part of the IHS library in recognition of the role Indiana has played as a national leader in the railroad industry. Indianapolis has served as a vital link between the East and Chicago, as well as being the hub of the interurban system in the Midwest. Although IHS has collected materials related to transportation history for many years, this organization help to confirm and intensify these collecting interests. In particular, MRRC emphasizes the history of electric interurban railways. Indiana was second only to another Midwestern state, Ohio, in the track mileage for interurban transportation. In addition to railroads and interurbans, IHS is also interested in materials related to railroad suppliers that help to form a better understanding of the overall history of these types of transportation.
For the MRRC collections, we are seeking donations of railroad company records; the personal and professional papers of those who worked for railroads; runs of railroad periodicals, particularly those focusing on the Midwest; records of railroad unions; original photographs; records and publications of railroad clubs and historical societies; railroad guides and directories covering the Midwest; books on Midwestern railroads; and materials on interurbans, street railways, electric railways and trolleys on tracks. For more information about the types of materials we collect, please see our Collections Development and Acquisitions Policy, specifically attachment “A” which includes a full description of the MRRC Collection Policy.
Materials already located in our collections, other than the manuscript and visual materials referenced in the attached Guide to Railroad History materials, include both digital images and printed items. The Bass Photo Co. Collection includes a group of Indiana Rail Transportation Images, a full description of this collection can be found here. Other railroad related images exist in other collections within our digital archive, so searching this collection, as well as across all collections can yield different results. A basic search of our digital collections can be done by clicking here. The William H. Smith Memorial Library also holds many printed items related to railroads and interurbans. These materials include, but are not limited to, books, catalogs, periodicals, maps and broadsides. Searching our online catalog would provide results concerning our printed material, as well as manuscript and visual materials.
Guide to Railroad History Materials
This guide describes manuscript and visual collections in the William H. Smith Memorial Library, including those collected before and after the creation of the MRRC. These collections document the history of railroads and interurbans. Collections are listed alphabetically by creator, which could be a railroad, an organization or a person. Please follow one of the links below to continue your search.
Railroad Collections, A-C
Railroad Collections, D-H
Railroad Collections, I-N
Railroad Collections, O-Z
This guide describes manuscript and visual collections in the William H. Smith Memorial Library of the Indiana Historical Society that document experiences of women in Indiana, the Midwest and the Old Northwest Territory.
We have collected women’s history for many years, and in 1986, the Board of Trustees approved women’s history as one of the special collecting areas for the library. At about the same time, we began working with the Indiana Women’s History Archives Inc. (now the Indiana Women’s History Association), an organization founded in 1983. IWHA believed that the recent papers and records of Indiana women and women’s organizations were in danger of being lost for lack of a central repository to house them, and a survey funded by the Lilly Endowment confirmed that belief. Over the last several years, we have expanded our collecting goals in women’s history to include recent materials as well as materials documenting women’s history in the Hoosier state in earlier periods.
Women’s History, Individual and Family, A-B
Women’s History, Individual and Family, C-F
Women’s History, Individual and Family, G-H
Women’s History, Individual and Family, I-M
Women’s History, Individual and Family, N-R
Women’s History, Individual and Family, S-T
Women’s History, Individual and Family, U-Z
Women’s History, Organizations and Projects, A-H
Women’s History, Organizations and Projects, I-N
Women’s History, Organizations and Projects, O-Z