Inaugural Lunch and Learn program from State Library scheduled for March 14

The Indiana State Library has announced the launch of a new program series called the Lunch and Learn Series. The series will run throughout 2024, with six programs already planned.

The inaugural program, “Fire Insurance Maps Online,” will take place on March 14 from 12-1 p.m. in the History Reference Room at the Indiana State Library.

Originally created to help insurance companies assess structures’ fire resistance, historic fire insurance maps now have a wide variety of uses, including historic preservation, land use research and urban development. Presenter Jamie Dunn, supervisor of the Genealogy Division at the Indiana State Library, will teach attendees about fire insurance maps and the Indiana State Library’s Fire Insurance Maps Online database.

Each program is eligible for one LEU for Indiana library staff. Click here to register.

Follow the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page for more information on the upcoming programs as it becomes available.

The Indiana State Library is located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.

Please contact Stephanie Asberry, deputy director of Public Services and Statewide Services at the Indiana State Library, with any questions about the Lunch and Learn Series.

This blog post was submitted by john Wekluk, communications director. 

The rise and fall of a city cemetery: Greenlawn Cemetery, Indianapolis

Photo of Greenlawn Cemetery, ca. 1920. “A Transcript of the Grave Stones Remaining in Greenlawn Cemetery Indianapolis.” Indianapolis: Emmerich Manual Training High School, 1920.

The Genealogy Division of the Indiana State Library recently digitized our records pertaining to Greenlawn Cemetery in Indianapolis. These records were created in the early 1920s to document the remaining graves in Greenlawn before they were removed. Many of the records come from the company that owned the land at the time. However, the most interesting part of the records are the photographs, which were created by staff and students at Emmerich Manual Training High School as part of a class project.

Greenlawn Cemetery in 1898. “Insurance Maps of Indianapolis, Indiana, Volume 1.” New York: The Sanborn-Perris Map Co. Limited, 1898.

A new city needs a new cemetery
Greenlawn was the first public cemetery in Indianapolis. Established in 1821 near the White River and present-day Kentucky Avenue, many of the earliest residents of the city were buried here. As the main city cemetery, Greenlawn served as the final resting place for everyone from those buried at public expense to prestigious Hoosiers Indiana Governor James Whitcomb and early settler Matthias Nowland.

A Long, Slow Decline

Indianapolis death records from September 1872. Greenlawn is referred to as City Cemetery in these records. “Death Records Indianapolis, Indiana 1872-1874.”

By the 1860s, the trustees of Greenlawn became concerned that the cemetery was nearing capacity. They could not purchase adjoining land due to encroaching industrial and commercial development. Despite concerns about overcrowding, burials continued in Greenlawn for another 30 years, although more and more families chose to purchase plots in the newly developed Crown Hill Cemetery.

The last burial in Greenlawn took place around 1890. By this point, the cemetery was already deteriorating. Vandalism and flooding from the river, along with neglect by the cemetery caretakers, resulted in many broken and missing tombstones and unidentifiable graves.

Greenlawn in the early 20th century

Among the events held in Greenlawn Cemetery Park was a ragtime concert by the Indianapolis Military Band. Indianapolis Star, July 31, 1904.

Public complaint about the condition of the cemetery led city and cemetery officials to move many of the remaining graves to Crown Hill and to seek other uses for Greenlawn. By 1904, part of the land had been reclaimed as a park. Although events and concerts took place there, the park did not garner much popularity with the public. In an article published on Nov. 22, 1908, the Indianapolis Star referred to the area as “Neither a first-class cemetery nor a first-class park” and proposed that the remaining graves be removed and the area converted to a “modern park.”

Newspapers reported on what was being done at Greenlawn throughout this time period. Indianapolis Star (l-r) July 7, 1907; Nov. 15, 1911; March 4, 1917.

Plans for the expanded park never materialized, but redevelopment of the land continued. In 1907, the Vandalia Railroad sought to build tracks across another section of Greenlawn. Over the next decade, more graves were cleared to make way for the railroad, cutting across the northern section of the cemetery.

Industrial expansion

The former Greenlawn area in 1927. Most of the cemetery has been overtaken by railroads and industrial development, while the city retained ownership of a few parcels on the river. “Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Indianapolis.” Philadelphia: G. W. Baist, 1927.

By the 1920s, manufacturing and industrial sites on the White River took an interest in expanding onto the Greenlawn site. During this time, the few remaining legible grave markers were documented and the records deposited at the State Library before the last visible traces of Greenlawn Cemetery were removed. Although future construction would continue to turn up evidence of burials, even into the 21st century, the cemetery largely slipped out of public memory just as it disappeared from the public eye.

More images from Greenlawn ca. 1920. “A Transcript of the Grave Stones Remaining in Greenlawn Cemetery Indianapolis.” Indianapolis: Emmerich Manual Training High School, 1920.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, Genealogy Division supervisor.

Montgomery bus boycott

Most Americans know how the Montgomery bus boycott began: On Dec. 1, 1955 an African American woman in Montgomery, Alabama named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her bus seat to a white man. This seemingly innocuous act of civil disobedience led to a year-long boycott of Montgomery’s bus system by the city’s Black population and ended up being one the early battles in this country’s civil rights movement, a campaign which sought to promote and ensure racial equality after centuries of abuse.

Shortly after the arrest, Montgomery’s religious and civic leaders formed the Montgomery Improvement Association. Led by Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Edward Nixon, the MIA quickly organized travel alternatives for the boycotters. Privately-owned cars were used for carpools and people were encouraged to walk or bike when possible. Frequent rallies were held in local churches to help bolster the public’s resolve.

First article on the boycott in Indianapolis’s preeminent African American newspaper, the Indianapolis Recorder (Dec. 10, 1955).

Running a months-long boycott of this kind required a great deal of money. Not only did the MIA need hundreds of vehicles for their carpools, but those vehicles also required gas and frequent maintenance. Retaliation against the boycotters was endemic. Many carpool drivers were habitually pulled over and ticketed for minor or non-existent traffic violations. Some lost their jobs for participating in the boycott and needed financial assistance to survive. Representatives of the MIA made their way to other cities, particularly those in the north, to explain the situation in Montgomery and appeal for both public support and funds.

In March 1956, an MIA representative named Johnnie Carr appeared at a fundraiser in Indianapolis, hosted by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Carr was a particularly appropriate person to represent the boycott. Born Johnnie Rebecca Daniels, Carr was a childhood friend of Rosa Parks. She also had been involved in civil rights activism for several years prior to the bus boycott.

Announcement of Carr’s meeting in the Indianapolis Recorder (March 31, 1956).

Program for Carr’s Indianapolis meeting from the Indiana State Library collection (ISLO 325.26 no. 5).

According to The Indianapolis Recorder’s coverage of the event, Carr spoke to a crowd of over 600 people at the Philips Temple Church and received a standing ovation. Her speech was one of absolute resolve, an assurance that the boycott would continue and that the rights and dignity of Montgomery’s citizens would prevail. The event managed to raise over $1,300 for the boycott cause (approximately $14,000 adjusted for inflation).

Indianapolis Recorder headline quoting Carr, April 7, 1956.

Carr’s prediction was correct. After lengthy legal maneuvers, the United States Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Montgomery’s practice of bus segregation was unconstitutional. The boycott officially ended in December of 1956.

The Montgomery bus boycott was an early and important victory in the civil rights campaign. Despite being a local issue to Alabama, it ended up garnering worldwide attention. Much of that was thanks to the tireless work of people like Carr and others in the MIA.

Complete digitized issues of the Indianapolis Recorder, documenting African American life in Indianapolis from 1899 to 2005 can be found on Hoosier State Chronicles.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Frank Michael Hohenberger, photographer and writer

Frank Michael Hohenberger was born Jan. 4, 1876 in Defiance County, Ohio. In his teenage years, he was an apprentice to a printer, which eventually took him to Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Star. A change in careers brought him to Lieber’s camera store, where he first encountered images of Brown County. He took off directly to Nashville, Indiana and began photographing it. In the 1920s, his images were published as prints for sale to tourists in shops throughout the town and in newspapers. As the Brown County locals came to trust him, he was allowed to photograph people in addition to landscapes and photographed the painters and other artists while they worked. There was even a point where people came to him to have their portraits taken. Hohenberger wrote a column for the Indianapolis Star and at the height of his career was selling prints internationally. This recognition led to him photographing other places in Indiana and beyond, but he always returned to Brown County.

The Indiana State Library has some of Hohenberger’s photographs around Indiana and Kentucky as well as some clippings. The bulk of his collection is at the Lilly Library at Indiana University in Bloomington and consists of his diary as well as over 9,000 photographs.

The photographs of the Indiana Dunes are on exhibit now at the Indiana State Library in the Manuscripts Reading Room, located at 315 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.

More materials relevant to Hohenberger can be found in the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections by clicking here, here and here.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

References:
Smith, Michael P. “Frank M. Hohenberger.” Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame. Accessed Aug. 30, 2022.

Frank M. Hohenberger Collection.” Indiana University Bloomington. Accessed Aug. 30, 2022.

Newly-digitized images from the Genealogy Division

Working at home during the pandemic has changed the way we approach our daily tasks. While we can’t do some things that we can do on-site from home, there are still a lot of projects that can be completed. Fortunately, I was able to upload several digitized images from multiple collections in our holdings during this time. Below are some of the images from two of the collections.

Vesper Cook grew up as Dorothy Vesper Wilkinson in Peru, Indiana. She was the curator of the Miami County Museum for 20 years and wrote some local and family histories. Her collection contains some of her research along with numerous photographs.

The photographs are of not only her immediate family, but also of her extended family as well as several her mother’s friends as teens and young adults.

Katherine Parrish was born in Indianapolis in 1921. She attended Shortridge High School and Butler University. She later married Milton Mondor. Her father was John P. Parrish, an architect who help design buildings at Stout Field along with several other buildings around Indianapolis, while her mother grew up in the area known as Nora.

The Mondor Collection has numerous family photographs, both intimate as well as staged. Most of them are of her immediate family but her parents’ extended family is also represented in the collection.

There are also photographs of John P. Parrish’s social life and his career as an architect. There are photographs of buildings around Broad Ripple and Washington Township as well as the hanger and administration building at Stout Field. He also sent many postcards home with images of the Murat Gun Club at Shiners conventions in the 1920s.

To view more digital images from the Genealogy Division check out our Digital Collections page.

Blog written by Sarah Pfundstein, genealogy librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3689 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Defunct summer fun in Indianapolis

With COVID-19 currently afflicting the nation, many fun summer activities have been altered for sanitation and social distancing purposes or have been cancelled completely. As a result, many Hoosiers have been left with rather lackluster summer options, devoid of family vacations and fun excursions. Undoubtedly, this has caused a certain degree of wistfulness as people recall past summers and good times.

Compiled here are a few fun summer excursions in Indianapolis that no longer exist. Fortunately, there can be no fear-of-missing-out because you absolutely could not visit any of these places, even if you wanted to!

Riverside Amusement Park
This amusement park existed from the early 1900s until 1970. The park land still exists under the name Riverside and fun can be had there, but the current park is nothing like it was during its heyday when it boasted of having multiple roller coasters, a massive roller skating rink and a bathing beach.

From an item in the Program Collection (L658), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

From the Postcard Collection (P071), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Wonderland Amusement Park
Another Indianapolis amusement park was Wonderland. Located on the east side of the city, the park was relatively short-lived, operating from 1906 until 1911 when it was destroyed by a fire.

Image shows park entrance in 1910. Program Collection (L658), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Like many amusement parks of the time, Wonderland hosted a variety of traveling performers who plied their death-defying feats at fairs and festivals throughout the country. In the summer of 1907, Indianapolis citizens could see stunt cyclist Oscar V. Babcock ride his bike through his thrilling Death Trap Loop.

Before and after picture of Babcock performing at Wonderland. From Oscar V. Babcock Photographs Collection (SP054), Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection.

Cyclorama
Cycloramas were a popular form of diversion in the late 19th century. They consisted of a platform surrounded by a 360 degree panoramic image. The goal was for viewers to stand on the platform and feel immersed in the scene depicted in the image, as though they were there in real life. Many popular cycloramas depicted battle scenes from the American Civil War and traveled from city to city. In 1888, the Indianapolis Cyclorama hosted a painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta. Standing at 49 feet tall and spanning over 100 yards, the painting must certainly have impressed visitors. Alas, by the turn of the century the fad for cycloramas had waned and the Indianapolis cyclorama building was eventually torn down. However, the Battle of Atlanta panorama still exists and can be viewed in person at the Atlanta History Center.

Program from Indiana Pamphlet Collection (ISLO 973.73 no. 35).

Visit the Indiana State Library’s Digital Collections to see more.

This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Sonny Wharton: ‘Southern Indiana’s best-known bartender’

During this time of social distancing, some of us are likely missing our favorite watering holes and beloved bartenders. What better time to tell one of their stories? Bartender extraordinaire, William “Sonny” Wharton was born around 1905 in Nashville, Tennessee. Our story finds him much later on in Evansville, Indiana, where Wharton was mentioned in the Evansville Argus when that newspaper first began its run in 1938. The Evansville Argus was a weekly African American newspaper published in Evansville from 1938 to 1945 and included local, national and international news. By the end of 1938, Wharton began an informal column on liquor and mixing drinks. At the time, he was likely working at the Lincoln Tap Room, located at 322 Lincoln Avenue, per articles from early 1939. It’s clear that “Sonny” had much to say and a wealth of knowledge on the fine art of imbibing. His column began with insight into the importance of garnishes, the premiere liquors to choose for your cocktails and the etiquette of glassware amongst other topics. As time went on, he also began sharing more recipes.

Wharton was best known for working at the Green Room at the Palm Hotel, which was located at 611 High Street. He was a mainstay in Evansville’s black community and his expertise behind the bar at the Palm Hotel was advertised heavily. He was “night time head bartender” in the Green Room for most of the early 1940s. By early 1939, his Argus column had developed into “Tid-bits from Sonny” and featured regular cocktail recipes. While many spirits were in limited supply due to wartime restrictions, rum was readily available during the 1940s due to trade with Latin America and the Caribbean. Rum’s availability and popularity is reflected in Sonny’s columns and recipes.

In his personal life, Wharton had a daughter with Leola Marshall of Indianapolis. Both Leola and their daughter, Juanita Oates – later Johnson – worked for the Madam C.J. Walker Company in Indianapolis. Johnson later became the manager of the Madam Walker Theatre Center. Additionally, “Sonny” was married to Naomi Wharton, but they divorced in 1941.

The lifetime of the Palm Hotel could not be determined by the author at this time, but it was advertised with “Sonny” as its bartender into 1943. Wharton’s obituary notes that he had lived in Indianapolis for 19 years upon his death in 1961, so it’s clear that he left Evansville around this time, although the reason is not known.

Thankfully, the legacy of good times and good drinks continues and Wharton left behind his column for us. I decided it was only right that one evening after work I re-create, to the best of my ability, one of the cocktails he noted as a favorite. I chose the commodore, which was referenced twice in his column. A brief internet search on this drink notes that it also appeared in “The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book” from 1935. While I had most of the ingredients on hand, mixing this drink did involve a commitment to making fresh raspberry syrup. Not as difficult as you’d think, actually! I used aquafaba in lieu of egg white and eliminated the additional half teaspoon of sugar surmising that it would push the drink over the edge in terms of sweetness for my taste. Served in a martini glass, the commodore is sweet, frothy and certainly boozy. It’s sure to brighten your day and maybe even make you forget your troubles. If fruit and rum aren’t your game, you can find more “Tidbits from Sonny” in the Evansville Argus via Hoosier State Chronicles. Cheers!

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

River city maps

Town maps can certainly be beautifully done, but they are at the mercy of the grid of streets to give them visual interest. Throw in a variable, like a winding river, and they become ever more interesting. The way the water meets the land and how a town is forced to bend along the banks adds lines and color to the maps. Where waterways meet cities the grid breaks down and leaves behind some visually rich maps.

Sometimes the river makes the city, both in development and in character. Indiana’s most famous river city is probably historic Madison, along the mighty Ohio River. Kentucky is usually omitted from maps, making it look like the town is situated at the edge of a cliff. The river is impossible to ignore there.

Likewise, Huntington was built up along a river. The Wabash, Little Wabash and the canals; waterways were ever important to its development. The maps are beautiful in the way the angled streets disorient the buildings. Especially lovely with the illustrations is this detailed map from 1879.

Other times, the city seems to develop while almost ignoring the river. Columbus seems to just dip a toe into the East Fork of the White River. Indianapolis, too, seems to be shying away from the White River and looking inward toward the circle center. Both of these towns have had interesting relationships with their rivers, but now Columbus Riverfront and Indianapolis are looking for ways to embrace their beautiful waterways.

It seems Logansport’s not afraid to straddle and nestle within the arms of the Wabash and Eel rivers. And Elkhart, too, appears not to have shied away from the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. The river seems to be coming and going, swirling and whirling on the page.

If you enjoyed looking at these maps, take time to explore some of the great digital map collections available online. Don’t we all need something for our minds to linger on right now?

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
American Geographical Society Library
Osher Map Library
New York Public Library

This post was written by Indiana Collection Supervisor Monique Howell

Haugh, Ketcham and Company Iron Works

Benjamin Franklin Haugh was born on Aug. 19, 1829 in Maryland and moved to Indianapolis with his parents by 1850. He and his brother, Joseph R. Haugh, formed a partnership in the manufacturing of architectural iron work and fencing, specializing in iron fronts, roofs, stairs, furring and lathing. In 1880, the company expanded and relocated from downtown Indianapolis to the city’s near west side due to the close proximity of rail transportation. John Lewis Ketcham, a prominent Indianapolis businessman, became a proprietor and later secretary to the Haugh, Ketcham and Company Iron Works.

OB065 Boston Photogravure Company, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library

Notably, ornamental iron from the Haugh, Ketcham and Company Iron Works could be found in the façade of the When Building located at the 30 block of North Pennsylvania Street. The structure was built in 1875 and housed specialty clothing as well as the Indianapolis Business College and the Indianapolis Law College. In 1946, the building was renovated and much of the exterior ornamentation was removed. It was demolished in 1995.

OB065 Boston Photogravure Company, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library

Haugh, Ketcham and Company Iron Works lamp posts adorned the Indiana Statehouse grounds along a retaining wall as seen below in a photograph from the Gov. Oliver P. Morton statue dedication along Capitol Avenue in 1907 and in an exterior photograph of the Statehouse taken from sometime between 1907 and 1930. The posts were removed from their limestone bases as part of a renovation project during 1946-48.

Morton statue dedication, 1907, P0 General Photograph Collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library

In 1889, the company dissolved and became known as Brown, Ketcham and Company. Benjamin F. Haugh moved to Anderson and died on Sept. 3, 1912. Ketcham died shortly after on Dec. 27, 1915.

For more information about Benjamin F. Haugh and the Haugh, Ketcham and Company Iron Works, please visit this Hoosier State Chronicles blog post.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or Ask-A-Librarian.

A city with a heart: Charitable organizations and philanthropy

Due to such a large collection of historical materials and resources relating to philanthropy and charitable organizations in the Indiana State Library’s collections, I was stumped on where to start my search. By browsing the stacks, I could see many materials on various organizations that focused on the betterment of people, society and communities. Annual reports, brochures and newsletters from various societies and organizations fill our shelves. Ultimately, by pure serendipitous discovery, my starting point found me.

With the impending bicentennial of Indianapolis, I had been focusing on adding materials to our digital collections from, or about, Indianapolis. So, while browsing our vertical files, I stumbled across a hefty file with lots of pamphlets, brochures, reports and so on. I pulled the file, and one particular item caught my eye: one about a Red Feather campaign.

I recognized the name from my work digitizing company employee newsletters. The campaign was a way of gathering up monetary donations to give to the Indianapolis Community Chest. From there, I found myself searching our collections and unearthed a range of materials about the Community Chest from its beginnings in the 1920s up to the 1950s. This became the starting point for our newest digital collection, “Charitable Organizations and Philanthropy.” The collection’s focus will be on the various organizations across the state.

Currently, I’ve only added materials about the Indianapolis Community Chest.

The Community Chest began in the early 1920s as a unified way to raise money for various social agencies around the city. It eventually became the Community Fund, and by the 1950s, was renamed the Indianapolis Community Chest.

The Community Fund was the financial arm of the Indianapolis Council of Social Agencies. Eventually, the organization morphed into what is currently called the United Way of Central Indiana. Its goal was to provide funds for various social agencies and groups such as the YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army and the Girls and Boys Scouts, to name a few. After their fundraising, the Community Fund would give the money to the Indianapolis Council of Social Agencies for distribution.

The Red Feather campaigns, popular in the ’40s and ’50s, were being promoted in many company employee newsletters, such as Ayrograms and the Serval Inklings.

In the future, I will be adding more materials about other similar organizations across the state, as well as information about the Indianapolis Council of Social Agencies.

This post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.