History of Indiana – Free History Books – State of Indiana


Free online Indiana history books and articles, covering the 17th to the early 20th centuries. These are general or comprehensive histories covering a wide range of subjects. Histories of particular topics of Indiana history are found on more than a dozen subject webpages of Indiana history on this website.

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.


The Story of Indiana and Its People

Aley, Robert Judson and Aley, Max
Chicago: Barnes 1912

Indiana 1779-1929

Bowman, Lewis S. and others
Indianapolis: Board of Public Printing 1928

A Brief History of Indiana

Carmony, Donald F. and Peckham, Howard H.
Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau 1950

This 36-page booklet covers the basics of Indiana history from 1679 to 1950. Author Donald Carmony (1910-2005) was a Professor of History at Indiana University for many years, and a leading authority on Indiana history. Co-author Howard Peckham was the director of the Indiana Historical Bureau.

See our 10 webpages with hundreds of books on American history at American History Books

Also see our collections of articles at Articles on U.S. History until 1800 and Articles on 19th Century U.S. History

Handbook on Indiana History

Carmony, Donald F.
Indianapolis: Indiana Sesquicentennial Commission 1963

Books and articles about everyday life, women, ethnic groups, social issues etc. at Topics in the social history of Indiana

The Story of Indiana

Clem, Harry M.
Chicago: Hall & McCreary 1913

Find 14 more subject pages of books and articles about Indiana at the History of the Great Lakes States Directory.

Pioneer History of Indiana, including stories, incidents and customs of the early settlers

Cockrum, William M. (Col.)
Oakland City, IN: Oakland City Journal 1907

The author writes that the book is the result of 50 years “gathering data”, …” from personal acquaintance with the pioneers, from a history of incidents transmitted from parents to children and from tradition that is accepted as reliable.” It is also clear from his acknowledgement that he spent a lot of time with archival sources.

Some of the topics mentioned in the Table of Contents:

French colonization of Indiana. Post Vincennes. Pontiac. George Rogers Clark and the English. Clark’s march from Kaskaskia to Vincennes. Later achievements and failures of Clark. Virginia cedes Northwest possessions to the U.S. Ordinance of 1787. The Northwest Territory organized. Governor St. Clair and the Indians. General Wayne’s victory near the Maumee. Terrible fighting around the place where Owensville, Indiana now stands.

Organization of Indiana Territory. William Henry Harrison, Governor. Slavery question. Laws of indenture. Settlement of Southern Indiana. The Pioneer: character, hardships, routes followed. Settlements. Thrilling and amusing incidents. Work. Dress. Indian depredations. Division of Indiana Territory. Land offices. Battle of Tippecanoe. Indiana’s tribute to Kentucky. Further history of Tecumseh and the Prophet.

Pioneer industries. Farming implements. Cooking, loom, shoe making. Witchcraft. Amusements and sports. Indiana during the War of 1812. Pigeon Roost massacre. Expeditions against the Indians. General John Gibson. Governor Thomas Posey. Logan the Indian chief. Rappites at Harmony. Indiana becomes a State. Taxes. Internal improvements. Site of Indianapolis chosen for capital. Land sharks.

Animals of early Indiana. Game birds, game animals, fur-bearing animals. Schools of early Indiana. Houses, books. Aaron Burr’s conspiracy. Panthers. Wild hogs. Shooting matches. Hunting wolves, deer. Flat boating. General Joseph Lane. The State Bank. Counties organized. Michigan’s attempted theft. Brave women. Canals, railroads, turnpike roads. Penal, benevolent and educational institutions. State universities.

Indiana in the Mexican War. Experience of two young boys with two bear cubs. Kidnapping free negroes. A slave hunt at Kirk’s Mills bridge in Gibson county. Underground Railroad. Fugitive slave law. Indian religion. The Mound builders.

Readings in Indiana History

Committee of the History section of the Indiana State Teachers’ Association, comp. and ed.

Bloomington, IN: Indiana University 1914

This is a 385-page compilation of 150 short excerpts from almost that many different sources, intended for use in schools. It covers a wide variety of topics in Indiana history. Some of the chapters and excerpt titles are:

– Indiana when Englishmen First Came
The Miami Indians, Natives of the Wabash Country, Indian Life and Customs, The French in Indiana: Ouiatanon

– George Rogers Clark Conquers the Northwest
Capture of Kaskaskia, Clark moves on Vincennes

– Coming of the Settlers
Blazing the Wilderness Trail: Whetzel’s Trace, Migration to the New Purchase

– Pioneer Farming
Cost of Preparing a new farm, Early scientific agriculture: Stock, Hogs!!

– Transportation and Travel
The “Buffalo Trace”, A plank road, Some early stage lines, an old time western tavern, Flatboating days: building a flatboat.

– Pioneer society
Some Hoosier characteristics, the shooting-match: the weapons, the “Cornstalk Militia”

– Hunting stories
Snake-killing on the Big Wea, Wolf tales of the forest.

– Civic ideals of the Pioneers
An early court scene, legislating in the backwoods

– Health of the Pioneers
Sickness and exposure in the wilderness, the life of the pioneer physician, some old recipes

– Political Parties
A Jackson convention, perils of a congressional campaign

Books and articles on Politics & Government in historic Indiana

The Young People’s History of Indiana

Conklin, Julia S.
Indianapolis: Sentinel 1899

Centennial History and Handbook of Indiana …

The story of the state from its beginning to the close of the civil war, and a general survey of progress to the present time

Cottman, George S.
Indianapolis: Hyman 1915

In the same volume is A survey of the state by Counties, embracing specific and local information, with numerous illustrations, by Max R. Hyman

For works on the Old Northwest under the French regime (until about 1760), see: Great Lakes General History

Under Three Flags

Cottman, George Streiby and Hyman, Max R. ed. and comp.
Indianapolis: M.R. Hyman 1916

This “Centennial Souvenir” is a 40-page picture book, with full-page photos or images of buildings, sites or objects with significance for Indiana’s history, and a facing page for each illustration with a one-page description.

A History of Indiana, from Its Earliest Exploration by Europeans to the Close of the Territorial Government in 1816 …

Comprehending a History of the Discovery, Settlement, and Civil and Military Affairs of the Territory of the U.S. Northwest of the River Ohio and a General View of the Progress of Public Affairs in Indiana from 1816 to 1856

Dillon, John B.
Indianapolis. Bingham and Doughty 1859

In a biographical article about John Dillon Brown in the first issue (1905) of Indiana Quarterly Magazine of History, Brown was called the “father of Indiana history”, who “not only ranks as Indiana’s first and best historian, but whose ideals, methods, character and accomplishment we deem worthy to keep continually in mind as a model to follow in historical work.”

This is the earliest survey of Indiana history on this website. While many histories from this time period were merely collections of stories from a variety of sources, Brown made a sustained effort to critically examine sources and customary stories, and weed out doubtful details and interpretations. One aspect of his approach was to make extensive use of direct quotes. He writes in the preface that readers …”will find many brief extracts from official documents, and many interesting passages, which have been copied from various manuscript journals, and from autograph letters which were written between the years 1778 and 1816.”

For historic maps of the Great Lakes region and states, see:
Great Lakes Maps, Atlases & Map Collections
;
Ohio Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Indiana Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Illinois Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Michigan Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Wisconsin Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers

Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood vol 1

– Volume 2

– Volume 3

– Volume 4

Dunn, Jacob Piatt
Chicago: The American Historical Society 1919

Author Jacob Piatt Dunn (1855-1924) was a journalist, ethnologist and historian who grew up in Indiana and published his first book on history in 1886. Among his publications were a history of Indianapolis and a dictionary of the Miami language. He served as the recording secretary of the Indiana Historical Society for over 35 years, and served four years as the state librarian of Indiana.

The first two volumes of this 5-volume set consist of a 1,200-page history of Indiana. The last three volumes consist entirely of biographical sketches. To look up a person in volumes 3, 4 and 5, use the index found in Volume 1 immediately after the Table of Contents.

Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Indiana

A History of Indiana from its Exploration to 1850

Esarey, Logan
Indianapolis: Stewart 1915

Professor Logan Esarey (1873-1942) grew up in New Albany, Indiana and served on the faculty of the History Department at Indiana University from 1912 to 1941. He is still considered an authority on Indiana history. “During his teaching and writing career Esarey was able to draw on personal experience and observation in writing of such experiences as butchering, sheep-shearing, blacksmithing, grist milling, churning, drying fruits, making maple syrup and sugar, tanning, spinning, weaving and other pioneer practices. When he explained the importance of ax, broadax, crosscut saw, sickle, maul, cradle, wedge and walking plow, he was describing tools he himself had used. He could identify dozens of trees and point out which wood was most suitable for a particular purpose. He treasured his pioneer heritage and became one of its most eloquent and understanding interpreters.”
– Bob Gagen, “Professor Logan Esarey grew up with Indiana History” FW Daily News Oct 16, 2009.

The history of Indiana as one of the frontier states is suggestive of the distinctive part which the frontier has played in the warp and woof of American history. . . . The author has used a great deal of original material but has interpreted it in his own language. He treats the old traditions sympathetically, but shows that they are largely false, and that the facts do not warrant many of the conclusions which the people have made. The subject-matter is interspersed with many anecdotes which add interest.”
“Mr. Esarey, whose previous studies on State banking and internal improvements in Indiana have familiarized him with two difficult aspects of its history, has searched every possible source of information, made the closest study of newspapers and manuscripts, and painstakingly verified even statements hitherto unquestionably accepted. His bibliography contains over three hundred items. The result is a record, the definitiveness of which is unlikely to be questioned.”
– The Book Review Digest

For works on the Old Northwest under the French regime (until about 1760), see: Great Lakes General History

“Indiana Geographical Nomenclature”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 8, Issue 2, 1912, pp 70-83

Gannett, Henry
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University

An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana …

Being a full and authentic civil and political history of the state from its first exploration down to 1875. Including an account of the commercial, agricultural and educational growth of Indiana. With historical and descriptive sketches of the cities, towns and villages … together with biographical sketches and portraits of the prominent men of the past and present, and a history of each county separately

Goodrich, De Witt C. and Tuttle, Charles R.
Indianapolis: Peale 1875

This is a popular rather than academic history, and contains many stories. The first part of the book, 330 pages, is a survey of Indiana history from French discovery of the territory until the 1870s. The second part consists of about 400 pages of county histories and biographical sketches. The indexes of portraits and biographies are found near the beginning of the book, before the table of contents. Chapter headings for Part 1 are:

– Miami Villages and French Settlements – General Clarke’s Celebrated Expedition – Clarke’s March against Vincennes – Early Settlement and Land Grants – Harmar, Scott and Wilkinson’s Expeditions – St. Clair’s and Wayne’s Expeditions – Organization of the Indiana Territory – Governor Harrison and the Indians – Statistics, Land Titles, Indian Affairs – Harrison’s Campaign – Civil Matters – Review of Civil and Political Events – Organization of the State – [Successive chapters for several Governors’ administrations, 1816- 60] – Record in the War for the Union – [Successive chapters for remaining Governors’ administrations 1860- 73] – Educational – Benevolent Institutions – Wealth and Progress – Agricultural – Manufacturing and Commerce – The Mineral Wealth of Indiana – Laws and Courts of Indiana – Official Register of Indiana

Books and articles about work, medical care, business & industry, etc. at Indiana Economic History

A Pictorial History of Indiana

Hoover, Dwight W.
Indiana University 1980       

“A lavishly illustrated, colorful chronicle of the Hoosier state and the people who made it great. Over 900 photographs, maps, and drawings and a lively accompanying text relate the fascinating history of Indiana—from the earliest-known cultures through the gleam of modern industry to the space age. The vast collection of pictures has been gathered from individuals and the archives of colleges and universities, businesses, libraries, and newspapers.” -Book jacket

“Introducing Indiana; Past and Present”

The Indiana Historian December 1998

Indiana Historical Bureau
Indiana Historical Bureau

16-page overview of the geography, history, demographics etc. of Indiana. Also a bibliography.

“Indiana Territory”

The Indiana Historian March 1999

Indiana Historical Bureau
Indiana Historical Bureau

16-page overview of territorial history, including sections on surveying and selling the public land, governance, Indians. Also a bibliography.

Collection of Documents & Records in Indiana History

Territorial Days of Indiana, 1800-1816

Indiana Historical Bureau
Indiana Territory Sesquicentennial Commission 1950

A brief, 30-page history of the period leading up to Statehood.

For U.S. histories of this period, see this page: History of the U.S. Under the Constitution – 1789-1809, and America in the Early 19th Century – 1809-1861

Books and articles on the History of the Great Lakes region

Hoosier Odd Fellows: A Story of Indiana

Kinkead, James H.
Cincinnati: Kinkead 1877

Historic Indiana; being chapters in the story of the Hoosier state …

From the romantic period of foreign exploration and dominion through pioneer days, stirring war times, and periods of peaceful progress, to the present time

Levering, Julia
NY: G. P. Putnam 1909

“A brief account of what is “most memorable, striking, and picturesque in the past and present-day history of lndiana.” lt includes the various phases of development of the commonwealth—the foreign dominion on the Wabash, the plain tale of early settlers, lndiana’s salient part in war, the development of her natural resources and the position that she has come to assume among the states in provisions for education, and the enactment of liberal laws.”
“No one could desire a more informative review of the conditions attending the transformation of the ‘western country’ from an lndian-infested wilderness into a region of prosperous and progressive commonwealths.”
– The Book Review Digest

“The author’s lifelong familiarity with the scenes, the characters, the movements, and the events mentioned, insures to the reader a sympathetic treatment of the subject. Fireside recitals by aged pioneers, addresses at old settlers’ meetings, local historical society papers, reminiscences of early citizens, State records, scholarly monographs and histories have all gone to the making of these pages.” – from the Preface. Chapter headings are:

– La Salle and the Exploration – French Dominion – British Occupation – How Spanish Rule affected Indiana – American Conquest – The Pioneers – Indiana Territory: 1763- 1816 – The New State – 1816 – Early Churches in Indiana – Crimes of the Border – The Trail – from Birch- bark Canoe to Electric Trolley – The Social Experiments at New Harmony – In the Forties and Fifties – Indiana as affected by the Civil War – Picturesque Indiana – An Indiana Type – Letters and Art in Indiana – Education in Indiana – The Quality of the People – Agriculture in Indiana – Natural Resources – The State Civilization in Indiana as shown by her Laws – Bibliography

“List of Indiana Histories”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 5, Issue 4, 1909, pp 183-184

Lindley, Harlow
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University

An online vintage collection of Settlers’ guides and ‘Emigrant Handbooks’ for the Great Lakes region

The Story of Indiana

Lockridge, Ross F.
Oklahoma City: Harlow 1956

Intended as a school textbook for use at the Junior High level.

A Century of Indiana

Moore, Edward E.
NY: American Book 1910

“The production of this work is the result of a belief that there is a field for a new history of Indiana, briefer in general narrative, though fuller in political and constitutional history, than other standard works heretofore published.” -from the Preface. Chapter headings are:

– The Geography of Indiana – Aboriginal Inhabitants – Early Explorations – Early Settlements – Saxon versus Gaul – The War for Independence – Early Jurisdictions and Territorial Government – The Slavery Question – Indian Wars – The Early Settler – Progress under Statehood – Indiana’s Part in the Civil War – Era of Modern Development – A Century’s Progress – Indiana Civics – Educational Development

-Appendix: Socialistic Experiments at New Harmony; Geologic Indiana; Miscellaneous Facts of Interest; Constitution of 1851 as Amended

Moore’s Hoosier Cyclopedia; a compilation of statistical, official, historical, political and general information …

Adapted especially to meet the needs of busy Indianians, illustrated with portraits of officials and other persons of note and prominence; complete directories of state, county, township and judicial officers

Moore, E. E., comp.
Connersville, IN: Moore 1905

“County Seats and County Seat Wars in Indiana”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1-46, 1914

Shockley, Ernest V.
Bloomington: Indiana University

Struggles over where to locate county seats had been a constant source of trouble in Indiana, even at the level of the State Legislature, from Indiana’s early days clear up to the date of publication of this article in 1913. The author reviewed the selection of county seats and described a number of bitter county seat wars.

Indiana Miscellany, Consisting of Sketches of Indian Life, the Early Settlement and Hardships of the People …

And the Introduction of the Gospel and of Schools, together with Biographical Notices of the Pioneer Methodist Preachers of the State

Smith, Rev. William C.
Cincinnati: Poe & Hitchcock 1867

The author wrote in the Preface that this book contains “… sketches and incidents of the early settlement of Indiana, and of some of the noble men and women who first emigrated to her territory. Much of what I have written has been from memory and personal knowledge. I have desired to rescue from oblivion some incidents in the history of my native State, and perpetuate the memory of some of the worthy pioneers who endured all the hardships and privations of a frontier life.” There are also many incidents and details about the early history of Methodism in Indiana.

Indiana: A Social and Economic Survey

With a chapter on charities and corrections by Cecil Clare North, PhD

Streightoff, Frances Doan and Streightoff, Frank Hatch
Indianapolis: Stewart 1916

Stories of Indiana

Thomson, Maurice
NY: American Book 1898

The author attempts to convey the history of Indiana solely through a series of “life sketches” and stories, without the usual historical narrative. Chapter headings are:

– The Very First Inhabitants – The First Human Inhabitants – Traits and Habits of Wild Indians – Early Explorers – Early French Life in Indiana – Pontiac – Clark’s Capture of Ft. Vincennes, and other Incidents – Tecumseh – the Prophet – Tippecanoe – A Daring Man – Narrow Escapes – An Itinerant Pioneer Preacher – Flatboat Days – A Great Man’s Boyhood and Youth – Black and White – A Genial Hermit – The Romance of New Harmony – A Distinguished Oddity – Frontier Pests and Afflictions – Characteristic Incidents and Anecdotes – The Period of Canals and Plank Roads – The Birth and Growth of Free Public Schools – A Raid into Indiana – Richard Jordan Gatling – The Writers of Indiana – The Latest Developments in Indiana

Public Men of Indiana: A Political History from 1860 to 1890

Trissal, Francis Marion
Hammond, IN: Trissal 1922

Please visit our collection of 2,000+ selected online magazine and newspaper articles on 40 subjects, plus online map & vintage photo collections, at Century Past History Resources

Sketches of Things and Peoples in Indiana

Wood, Aaron
Indianapolis: Olcott 1883

You can find more works like these at our other ‘General History’ pages.

Great Lakes General History

Illinois General History

Michigan General History

Ohio General History

Wisconsin General History


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