Primary Source Newsletter: December 2023

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December 2023

2023 Merry Christmas IHB

2023 in Review

The Indiana Historical Bureau hopes everyone is enjoying the holiday season! With 2023 coming to a close, we wanted to create a special edition newsletter showcasing the great work of our staff. Some standout work and events include:


Hoosier Women at Work: Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon

IHB teamed up with the Indiana Wikimedians again this year to bring back the popular Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. This event focused on creating and bolstering articles about important Indiana women and adding related images to Wikimedia. Over 30 passionate editors collaborated to shed light on significant Hoosier women!


Out of the Archives: LGBTQ Mini-con

In October, IHB collaborated with Purdue University's LGBTQ Center to present a virtual mini-con on queer history in Indiana. Over 70 attendees tuned in to learn about the processing of the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library collection, how to research and write LGBTQ history, and the important work the Purdue LGBTQ Center is conducting in preserving queer history on campus. 


Editing the Indiana Almanac

In September, staff members from the Public History, Digital Initiatives, and Rare Books and Manuscripts departments collaborated to update and write new entries for the Indiana Almanac, a digital resource that features over 1,000 well-researched "On this Day" posts about Indiana history. We were able to write over 50 new and diverse entries. View the Indiana almanac here.


Public Outreach

In 2023, staff at the Historical Bureau fielded over 500 research inquiries or consultations, over 2,000 state marker inquiries, published over 15 blogs based on original research, and presented at numerous conferences and events.



Bennett-Tinsley Award

BT Award


The submissions period for the 2024 Bennett-Tinsley Award is officially open! This award encourages excellence in history research and writing and seeks to recognize undergraduate students who produce scholarship on the Midwest as a region or the state of Indiana. This is a great opportunity for undergraduate students considering a career in history. 


Learn more about the award here


Staff at Work!

Top 3 Indiana History Blogs

Melba Phillips

#3 Physicist Melba N. Phillips: Indiana's Oppenheimer Connection

IHB historian Jill Weiss Simms highlights Pike County native Dr. Melba Phillips' role in the "heroic age" of physics and examines her collegial relationship with famed physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.


Jewish Women Immigrants

#2 Jewish Immigrant Assimilation and Labor in the Early Twentieth Century 

This blog examines Jewish immigration into the Hoosier state and the complex legacy of the Jewish philanthropic organizations that both provided newcomers with assistance and often encouraged the erasure of cultural markers and traditions to avoid increasing antisemitism in Indiana. 


Harry Hoosier

#1 Who is Harry Hoosier? And are People from Indiana Named for Him? 

One of the great mysteries of Indiana is where the term "Hoosier" originated from. This year, there was significant interest in the Black Methodist preacher Harry Hoosier and whether he could be the origin of this famous moniker.



Podcast Recap

Talking Hoosier History


Listen now to the 2023 Season of IHB’s award winning Talking Hoosier History podcast. Our new host, Justin Clark, who is also IHB’s Digital Initiatives Director, has reenergized the show with his talent for dramatic narrative reading, including an old-timey newspaper voice that instantly transports you to the past. In response to listener feedback, this season also includes some short episodes, perfect for classroom use or embedding within a larger lesson plan. We’re proud to present a diverse list of lesser-known stories from Indiana’s past, all of which have some connection to today’s issues and challenges. We also pull back the curtain to show you how professional historians find and interpret sources – in other words, how we do history. Released 2023 season episodes listed below and keep an eye out for the last two episodes of the season!


Episode 1- "Disguised as a Doughboy:" The Front Line War Work of Sarah M. Wilmer

Episode 2- George Ade, President Taft, and the Modern Political Campaign

Episode 3- Hook's Drug Stores: The Community-Copnscious Pharmacy 

Episode 4- Dissent & Patriotism in the Terre Haute Hungarian Community

Episode 5- Singing Hate "Off the Monument Steps:" LGBTQ Pride & Patriotism

Episode 6-"Ambassadors of Goodwill:" Mexican Bracero Workers during WWII

Episode 7- Nixon's Favorite Mayor: Richard Lugar's Mayoral Years 

Episode 8- "Justice and the Square Deal:" The Political Alliance of Mother Jones and John W. Kern


All episodes are written by IHB historians and producer Jill Weiss Simins brings each story to life with fast paced editing, music, and sound effects. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts. And subscribe, because 2024 will be our best season yet! View episodes, transcripts, sources, and further resources at: Thanks for listening!

State Marker Program

Hungarian Community Dedication

Thank you to everyone who applied for new Indiana state historical markers this year, organized or attended marker dedication ceremonies, helped survey state markers, and assisted by cleaning or repainting markers that were in need of refurbishment. With your help, over the course of 2023, we:

Placed orders for 18 new markers & 5 replacement markers


New Markers

  1. Kin Hubbard and Abe Martin (Brown Co.)
  2. Andrew “Bo” Foster (Marion Co.)
  3. Hungarian Community (Vigo Co.)
  4. Marie Stuart Edwards (Miami Co.)
  5. Hinkle Fieldhouse (Marion Co.)
  6. Lynching of John Tucker (Marion Co.)
  7. The Syrian Quarter (Marion Co.)
  8. Mary Thomas (Wayne Co.)
  9. Jane L. (Brooks) Hine (DeKalb Co.)
  10. Ray Crowe (Johnson Co.)
  11. Southside Turnverein (Marion Co.)
  12. John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery (Marion Co.)
  13. Evaleen Stein (Tippecanoe Co.)
  14. Camp Chesterfield (Madison Co.)
  15. Lynching of William Keemer (Hancock Co.)
  16. Madam C.J. Walker (Marion Co.)
  17. Lella Regula Trafelet (Switzerland Co.)
  18. Joseph Doty Oliver (St. Joseph Co.)

Replacement Markers

  1. 1846 Canal Skirmish (Fountain Co.)
  2. Ball Brothers Company (Delaware Co.)
  3. Spencerville Covered Bridge (DeKalb Co.)
  4. P-47 Thunderbolt Factory (Vanderburgh)
  5. Calvin Fletcher (Marion Co.)
Jane Hine Dedication
Henry Holcomb

Dedicated 13 new markers

  1. April 27th – Felrath Hines, Jr. (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  2. May 17th – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (Evansville, Indiana)
  3. June 11th – Allen Temple (Marion, Indiana)
  4. July 8th – Andrew “Bo” Foster (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  5. August 8th – James R. “Jimmy” Hoffa (Brazil, Indiana) 
  6. August 26th – Dr. Mary F. Thomas (Richmond, Indiana)  
  7. September 1st – Kin Hubbard and Abe Martin (Nashville, Indiana)  
  8. September 9th – “Colonel” Harland Sanders (Henryville, Indiana)   
  9. September 16th – Hungarian Community (Terre Haute, Indiana)   
  10. September 23rd Janet Flanner (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  11. September 30th – Lynching of John Tucker (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  12. November 4th – Jane L. (Brooks) Hine (Waterloo, Indiana)
  13. December 9th – Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Worked with volunteers across the state to clean & repaint markers including:

  1. Gen. Benjamin Harrison (Traders Point Christian High School)
  2. Wayne Trace (Antoine Rivarre Chapter of the DAR)
  3. Harrison’s Crossing (4-H Member and North Vermillion Middle School student Eleanor Burrows)
  4. Frances Slocum (Frances Slocum DAR Chapter)
  5. Old French House (Casey Pfeiffer)
  6. Indianapolis Times (University of Indianapolis history class)
  7. Shaffer Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Ball State University public history students)
  8. Hemingray Glass Company (Ball State University public history students)
  9. Levi Coffin (Levi and Catharine Coffin House State Historic Site)
Uindy Volunteers

Rare Books and Manuscripts

RBM AJ's Exhibit


It’s been a fun and busy year for the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. A.J.’s exhibit Indiana’s Black service during U.S. Military Segregation 1850-1950 runs through the end of the year and punctuates a great year of exhibits on subjects including bicycling, love letters, and even a guest exhibit at the Indianapolis International Airport on railroad travel. In terms of other collaborations, the INverse Poetry Archive – our continued collaborative project with the Indiana Arts Council and the Indiana Poet Laureate—had a successful 4th year with more submissions than any year prior.

Professional Development

Professional activities and outreach were exceptional this year. In March, Brittany and Lauren presented on their work processing the Northeast Indiana Diversity Library Collection (747) at the Society of Indiana Archivists Annual Meeting. Lauren also attended the Midwestern Archives Conference in Chicago and Victoria was in Bloomington in June for the Rare Books and Manuscripts annual conference. Lauren took the podium again (this time virtually) to speak on the same topic for the Out of the Archives: LGBTQ History Mini-con in October and led a follow-up “Ask Scott” event in November.


NIDL Event

Processing the Indiana State Library Collection

We continue to work on processing the Indiana State Library Collection (L570) and creating a finding aid, making it more accessible to researchers, a project which marks early preparations for the ISL Bicentennial in 2025, so look for many more cool projects in support of that celebration over the next two years!


New Technology

In October we received training on a new box-making machine—a Gunnar CMC—and A.J. has been hard at work making boxes for all of the bound volumes in our collection. The hope is that over the next couple years we will be able to make a box for every volume.


AJ Boxmaker

Digital Initiatives


Digital Initiatives has had a momentous 2023. Regarding Indiana Memory, we have aggregated over 700,000 items from 718 collections and 157 partners: 51 public libraries, 33 academic libraries, 16 historical societies, 21 museums, 9 government agencies, and 27 "other" (for-profit organizations, non-profit organizations, etc.) 73,256 of said items were added in 2023 alone. Indiana Memory has continued being a key a contributor and service hub for the Digital Public Library of America, which opens access to Indiana Memory materials worldwide, especially after its expansion into Wikimedia Commons.


Over the past year, we've added many new collections from institutions such as the Frankfort Community Public Library, the Lawrence County Museum of History, and Ball State University. We've also been working closely with the Knox County Public Library on their "Black History in Knox County" digitization initiative. They've been digitizing court and marriage records of indentured and free African Americans from around the time of Indiana's statehood. 


As for Hoosier State Chronicles, 193,484 pages of Adams and Jasper County newspapers were digitized and published in 2023, bringing our total page count in Hoosier State Chronicles to 1,589,638. We're also currently in our fifth National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) cycle, digitizing the Gary American (1927-1963), the Berne Witness (1895-1917, 1925-1926), and the South Bend News-Times (1923-1931). The microfilm has been sent to our vendor and we expect to review digitized files of these newspapers very soon. Patrons should expect these titles to be available on Hoosier State Chronicles in early 2025. Regarding non-NDNP projects, we've been working with the Walkerton Historical Society to digitize the around 40,000 pages of local newspapers. They should be available in Hoosier State Chronicles sometime in early 2024.


Indiana Legislative Oral History Initiative


It has been another busy year for the Indiana Legislative Oral History Initiative (ILOHI). 10 new interviews have been added to the collection featuring legislators who began their careers in the 1990s.  Additionally, 12 new interview transcripts have been added to the website to aid researchers interested in learning more about legislative history in Indiana. Lastly, ILOHI continues to bolster its connections with local schools through presentations like the ones at the University of Indianapolis which allow students the chance to speak with former legislators.