Local history of Indiana places, free online. Histories of Indiana counties, cities and regions, free online. Histories of Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Wabash Valley, much more.
Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.
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Indiana Memory Digital Collections
Indiana State Library
This collection contains published volumes on Indiana history in general and individual county histories published before 1922.
This website has links to numerous free online histories and biographical collections published in the late 19th and early 20th century. For Indiana there are 4 state-wide biographical collections, and dozens of histories and biographical collections for counties. For many counties there are several histories.
together with a collection of very important documents and statistics connected with our moral, political and scientific history; also, a Historical sketch of Bartholomew Co., and a brief history of each township
Indianapolis: Cline & McHaffie 1874
The People’s Guide county directory contains separate directories for each township, starting with a brief historical sketch, followed by a listing of churches and secret societies, and then a directory of heads-of-household. It differs from most city directories mainly in the amount of information provided for individuals. Here are three sample entries from Rock Creek township:
– M. E. Church, Burnsville; pastor, J. P. Pell; Sabbath school superintendent, J. G. McCormack; average attendance, 50; value of property, $500.
– BROUGHER, A. T.; with Huffman & Brougher; Burnsville. Born in Ind. 1848; settled in B. C. 1868. Rep. Methodist.
– Burns, Daniel; farmer; 1/2 m w Burnsville. Born in Ky. 1832; settled in B. C. 1841. Dem. Christian.
People’s Guides can be found online for several other Indiana counties, all published in 1874.
“Bibliography of Indiana Local History Contained in County Histories, Atlases and Collected Biographies”
Indiana Magazine of History Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 43-54, 1910
Bloomington: Indiana University
About 130 publications are in this 1910 list, organized by counties. If a county is covered in a volume about multiple counties, that is so indicated.
A number of free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Indiana – Indianapolis”. Be patient as the page loads.
Grooms & Smith’s Indianapolis Directory, City Guide and Business Mirror, or Indianapolis as it is in 1855
Indianapolis: Grooms & Smith 1855
According to the directory, Indianapolis had a population of 1,600 in 1834, and 16,000 in 1855. The directory is of interest partly for its illustrations of public buildings and businesses, and also for the many advertisements – such as those that show the types of manufacturing done in Indianapolis.
Books and articles on education, the arts, journalism, recreation and architecture are in Indiana Cultural History
A Chronicle of its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables
Indianapolis. Indianapolis Journal 1870
This volume contains a wide variety of information about Indianapolis and also reveals a lot about mid-19th century life in Indiana. At least half of it more resembles an encyclopedia than a history or directory. The first 14 chapters make up a ‘history’ which is a lively account of the growth of Indianapolis, including many accounts of incidents and sketches of people, institutions etc. Beginning with chapter 15, the focus is on organizations and economic statistics at the time the book was written, although the authors continued to provide some historical background of the organizations.
There is no table of contents, but a short index at the beginning of the volume provides the topics. Unfortunately, half the pages are missing from the index. Index topics beginning with ‘N’ through ‘R’ are as follows:
Contents: -National Road -Newspapers -Old Settlers -Odd Fellows (see Secret Societies) -Parks -Progress of the City, General View of -Plan of the City -Population -Political -Post Office -Police -Port Packing -Prospects of the City -Ra, Governor James B., Anecdote concerning -Religious (see Churches) -Real Estate, Early Prices of -Railroads, First Charters [each of 13 railroads is dealt with separately]
Containing a Correct List of Citizens’ Names, their residence and place of Business: First Issue 1857
Indianapolis: A. C. Howard 1857
This is an early example of an Indianapolis directory. In addition to the material mentioned in the title, it contains a history of the city, an 1857 “Report to the Board of Trade on the Manufacturing Advantages, Prospects and Wants of the City of Indianapolis”, a table showing all railroad routes from Indianapolis, a directory of businesses and professional services, some details of churches, lists of public officials, and numerous advertisements.
Books and articles on Exploration & Travel in Historic Indiana
Howe, Daniel Wait
Indianapolis: Hecker 1908
This paper provides some of the historical background for the selection of the site of Indianapolis for the state capital, and narrates its founding.
with short biographical sketches of its early citizens, and of a few of the prominent business men of the present day
Nowland, John H. B.
Indianapolis. Sentinel 1870
The author wrote that he was a boy in Indianapolis in its earliest days, and for these sketches of early pioneers he drew heavily upon his own memories and experiences.
Collected Maps & Gazetteers for Historic Indiana
Sketches of Prominent Citizens of 1876 with a Few of the Pioneers of the City and County who have Passed Away…
A sequel to “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis”
Nowland, John H. B.
Indianapolis: Tilford and Carlon 1877
A small part of this book includes more sketches of pioneers, such as those in the author’s previous book (also found on this web page). Most of the book is devoted to biographical sketches of men prominent in the 1870s.
Sulgrove, Berry R.
Philadelphia: L.H. Everts 1884
Contents: -Marion County: location, topographical description, geology, Indian occupation.
-Special features of the City of Indianapolis
-First Period: early settlements, organization of county, notable events, opening of roads etc.
-Social Conditions of Early Settlers: amusements, worship, music, diseases, etc.
-Second Period: the Capital in the Woods
-City of Indianapolis: Commercial and mercantile, bench and bar, banks, insurance, press, public buildings, theatres, concerts, literary and other clubs, medical practice.
-Military Organizations in the War of the Rebellion
-Orders, Societies, and Charitable Institutions
-Schools and Libraries
-[Separate chapters for each of 9 townships]
Ball, Timothy Horton
Crown Point, IN: Donohue & Henneberry 1900
This book covers the history of the Indiana counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Pulaski, White, Newton and Jasper.
Contents: -The Indians -The Early Settlers -What the Early Settlers Found -Pioneer Life -County Organizations -Our Lakes and Streasm -Railroad Life -Political History -The War Record -Religious History -[Towns, Villages and Cities of all the Counties] -Early Travels -Public Schools -Private and Parochial Schools -Our Industries -Social Organizations -Archeological Specimens -Birth Places of the Pioneers -McCarty -Some Statistics -Weather Record
Books and articles on War in historic Indiana
Cox, Sandford C.
Lafayette, IN: Courier 1860
This collection of stories and sketches is partly made up of articles on “Old Settlers” that the author wrote for the Lafayette Daily Courier in 1859, supplemented by a number of other chapters written for this book. They appear to be mainly about Lafayette’s early days.
a review of two centuries of occupation of the region about the head of the Maumee River
Griswold, Bert J.
Chicago: Law 1917
These volumes are illustrated “with halftone engravings and three hundred pen drawings and maps by the author”. Volume 1 contains the history and Volume 2 is devoted to biographical sketches. The illustrations are of some interest, as they include a wide variety of buildings, objects and maps, in addition to the usual collection of portraits. There is also a “Story of the Townships of Allen County” by Mrs. Samuel R. Taylor.
An illustrated story of the building of the most marvelous city on the American continent
Harries, Howard Hamilton
Hay, Henry; ed. By Quaife, M. M.
Greenfield, IN: Mitchell 1921
This is a journal of about 60 pages written by Henry Hay, son of a Major Hay who was captured at Vincennes by George Rogers Clark. It presents an intimate view of life at Fort Wayne in the winter of 1789-90. There is an extensive introduction by historian Milo Quaife.
Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society 1945
This book covers the period from the earliest white settlement on the Upper Whitewater to the coming of the railroads in 1853, when larger-scale manufacturing began in the region. The author writes in the Preface that, “probably no other spot in Indiana has a fuller record of its pioneer years than the Upper Whitewater Valley. A large proportion of the early settlers were Quakers; and the Friends, having eschewed the sword, were zealous wielders of the pen. I have told my story as far as possible in the pioneers’ own words. ”
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North Manchester, IN: 1933
This 20-page booklet covers the history of a 30-mile Indian trail between Marion and Peru that once connected trading posts and later provided a convenient route for pioneers. It also contains brief historical sketches of Indian and frontier communities and other sites of interest along the route.
NY: A.S. Barnes 1900
Contents: -The Wabash River -Wabash River Craft -Indian Villages on the Wabash -The Prairie -Fort Harrison -The Founding of the Village -Post Office -The First Court House and Jail -Taverns and Tavern Keepers -Churches and Ministers -Schools and School Teachers -Early Courts, Laws and Lawyers -Early Physicians -Newspapers and Editors -Store Keepers and Port Merchants -Trades and Tradesmen -Money, Banks and Bankers -Fires and Fire Companies -Canal, National Road and Railroad -Early Poets and Poetry -A Paradise for Boys and Girls
Cauthorn, Henry S.
Terre Haute: Cauthorn 1902
from its first settlement down to the territorial administration of General William Henry Harrison, being an address delivered by Judge Law before the Vincennes Historical and Antiquarian Society, February 22nd 1839
Vincennes: Harvey, Mason 1858
Wilson, George R. and Thornbrough, Gayle
Indianapolis. Indiana Historical Society 1946
There was a trail from the Falls of the Ohio to Vincennes in frontier times that may have been originally created and used by the herds of buffalo that once lived in the area. Early travel accounts referred to it as the Vincennes Trace, Louisville Trace, Old Indian Trail, Trace to the Falls, and other names. Local residents of Vincennes referred to it as the “Buffalo Trace”. This long paper examines various accounts of it, and provides several maps.
Of nearly 250 webpages of books and other resources at Century Past History,
over 90 pages are in the group History of the Great Lakes States.