Picture it… Indianapolis… 1852.

Image traveling through a forest so thick that you could do it without ever touching the ground. You could go from tree limb to tree limb, with very little visible grass or flowers, just climbing along. Now imagine this area being Indianapolis, circa 1780. Up until around 1820, the area we now know as the capitol of Indiana was exactly that, a massive dense forest. Settlers then moved in, cleared land, began farms and started to form a community.

Several maps of early Indianapolis show the layout of the mile square, but it wasn’t until 1852 that we saw the first map of the city with any detail.

When we first got this map out and saw exactly what we had to deal with, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to digitize it. In fact, the two pictures below show what the book looked like. It had been dissected, glued onto linen and folded to fit on the shelf, which was a very common library practice early on. Nowadays, we don’t do that.

Rebecca, our conservator, painstakingly took pictures of each section, then recreated the completed image that you now see in our digital collections. This was a several day process. Now this extremely rare map has come back together and we can study it and learn what the layout of the city was like in the early 1850s.

For example, the railroad lines and their depots beeline the map, showing how the trains moved merchandise, goods and passengers in all directions. Passengers might have seen a map like this hanging at the train station. Checking the legend, they could have found several houses for accommodations, such as The Palmer House (H) or The Bates House (J), both at the corners of Illinois and Washington Streets, just a few blocks up from the station. After getting settled in, they might have walked up to the governor’s residence to pay a call on Joseph Wright, Indiana’s governor in 1852.

The map also shows the small portion of the massive 296-mile planned canal system and its path through the city; only eight miles of the canal were completed. Beginning at the White River, the canal ran east, then headed north and south. The canal helped facilitate interstate commerce and also provided alternative transportation for passengers.

Most of the transportation routes, such as the canals and railroads, are south of the residential areas, including the current Lockerbie Square and the old Northside neighborhoods. Oftentimes, residential areas grew north of the industrial areas as winds would blow the smoke and pollution south.

Later maps, such as those published in 1855 and 1866, show fewer details. Both maps can be viewed on the Library of Congress’s website. We have the maps at the state library, but the Library of Congress has done such a great job digitizing their copies that we just refer researchers to those digitized maps. Our copies, sadly, are in need of much repair.

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

An intern’s preservation experience at the Indiana State Library

I am a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington. When the time came to complete an internship, I decided to learn about government documents by applying to intern with the Indiana State Library – our regional depository of federal documents. The Indiana State Library joined the preservation steward program early. This program asks libraries to commit to keeping and preserving government documents of their choice. As their intern, I had the opportunity to sort through a large collection of oversized documents in order to add them to ISL’s preservation stewardship agreement.

The best part about working with large, old documents is that they are full of beautiful maps, drawings and other images.

The documents I handled were all from 1965 or earlier. The oldest document that I handled was the Laws of the United States of America printed in 1796.

In addition to working on the stewardship program, I worked on lists of documents posted to the Indiana Needs and Offers Database. These are documents that a library wants to remove from their collection, but first offers them to the regional library, then other libraries. The Indiana State Library will claim any document posted to these lists that is not currently part of their collection. My job was to find these items on the shelves – easier said than done! I spent hours hunting down public document call numbers and checking shelves to ensure that the library did not miss a chance to add new documents to the collection.

Finally, I learned about digitization, a critical skill for a new librarian as libraries all over the country have ongoing digitization projects. I digitized a series of Indiana state elections results from 1960 to the 1980s. It is great to be a part of the preservation of Indiana history.

My internship at the Indiana State Library has been informative and given me important experience with the everyday work of government documents librarians. Thank you to all of the talented librarians who took the time to teach me over the last few months!

This blog post was written by Rachel Holder, a graduate student in library science at Indiana University Bloomington and the Federal Documents Intern with the Reference and Government Documents Division.

Maps of Jennings and Ripley County, by William W. Borden (c. 1875): Part 2

To read part one, click here.

When this handmade plat book made its way to me to be scanned, I discovered a very interesting story. It started with the description and metadata creation. In layman’s terms, in case you’re not familiar with “creating metadata,” it means assigning subject terms to an object so you, me and other researchers can find the item when you search the collections, and often through a Google search.

This plat map book shows land ownership in townships in Jennings and Ripley Counties. It was hand-written by William W. Borden of New Providence (now Borden), Indiana, in 1875.

As I looked at the inside of the front cover, I thought “Who is W.W. Borden of New Providence, Indiana?” and even more so “Where is New Providence?” I had no idea. It wasn’t on a map. So, with a quick internet search, I found that New Providence is now called Borden, located in Clark County.

From there came a flood of information. William W. Borden was a well-known state geologist, a collector and a curator. In fact, his will specifically directed his heirs to maintain a museum of his collection. Alas, the museum didn’t last and his collection dispersed. Somewhere over time, this handmade plat book made its way to the Genealogy Collection here at the Indian State Library. You can learn more about Borden here.

Maps of the counties.

I can imagine Borden, on a horse, wondering the hilly back roads of Jennings and Ripley counties on a summer day drawing up maps showing the locations of rivers,  laying out the townships and asking the locals “Who lives there?,” while jotting down the names of the land owners.

Map of Columbia Township.

My theory is that Borden was out learning how to plat maps, studying the geological landscape and collecting local specimens. Little did he know that someday his note book would end up being a genealogical resource for researchers. Although probably not complete, each township map shows the owners of the land at a specific point in time – 1875. On a personal note, I had family in Ripley County and even though I still haven’t found them on any of Borden’s maps, I wonder if he rode by and waved.

Map of Shelby Township.

I also can’t help but wonder if he would stop for some lunch under a shady tree and read since there are two sections of notes: One on the Mound Builders and the other on the Aztecs.

Notes on Aztecs.

Regardless, this is one example of the great items waiting to be discovered in the collections at the Indiana State Library. One man’s creation has become a wealth of information for researchers, be it someone studying genealogy, someone wondering how one geologist learned about his surroundings or even someone wanting to study cartography. I’m sure Borden would be pleased.

The Indiana State Library’s Digital Map Collection continues to grow and new maps are being added all the time. To see more of our general digital collections, check this out.

This blog post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. For more information, email Christopher.

Maps of Jennings and Ripley County, by William W. Borden (c. 1875): Part 1

This will be part one of a two-part feature on this collection item. Please be sure to check back in the near future for part two from Chris Marshall, who will give more information about the map book’s creator and the historical importance of its contents.

Rescuing a Book of Hand-drawn Maps from Repairs Gone Wrong

When Indiana Division Librarian Chris Marshall recently brought me a book of hand-drawn maps for consultation, it was a bittersweet experience. This little volume created by William W. Borden in 1875 contains notes, maps, and delightful remnants of pressed plants, evidence of which only remains in the impressions and acidic discoloration in the paper. Chris had selected the volume for digitization due to a patron request, but it needed some conservation treatment beforehand.

 

Suffering from loose pages, pages stuck together, taped hinges, and a fragile leather cover completely encased in stiff library book cloth with what was likely an overzealous coating of paste, this little book had received so much well-meaning but poorly executed repair work that it could barely open. A little pocket at the back also held three additional maps, each broken at their fold-lines in four sections. After some discussion with our Genealogy Division Supervising Librarian, Stephanie Asberry, a treatment plan for how best to restore access to this volume was agreed upon.

Here was the plan:

  1. Separate text block from binding safely
  2. Remove tape
  3. Separate all pages adhered together if possible
  4. Mend all loose pages back into sections
  5. Re-sew text block in a way that allows a relaxed, flat opening
  6. Mend the three additional maps back into one piece
  7. Send all to Chris Marshall for digitizing
  8. See if the original leather binding can be rescued from the book cloth
  9. Rebind either in original binding or new case, storing old binding with the book

As you can see, we are currently up to step eight:

Stuck pages have been safely separated. The title page seen in the first before image was a later, modern addition that Borden would not have intended to be there. We decided to separate the page and use the information for cataloging only.

Pages have been mended back together and the text block sewn back together for a comfortable, flat opening.

The pages can now relax flat.

Loose page from the before images above has been mended back in.

Lovely acidic discoloration left behind from a long-missing plant fragment.

While I was able to very carefully remove the book cloth from the leather binding, the leather is very stiff and brittle. Because it no longer flexes, it would not be safe to rebind back into its original binding.

When I receive the volume back from Chris from digitization, I will rebind it in a new case and create a box for the volume, the extra maps, and the original binding. At that point it will be readily available for researchers to view in person in addition to the digitized copy Chris will make available online in the near future.

Stay tuned for a part two about this map book in the near future! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about William W. Borden, the Indiana Historical Bureau had a wonderfully written feature about him in The Indiana Historian, December 1995 available here.

This blog post was written by Rebecca Shindel, Conservator, Indiana State Library.

Using maps online

It seems true that the most informative maps to use for local history and genealogy research are maps with the greatest amount of detail. The three most recommended, and requested, maps at ISL are these large scale varieties: plat maps, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and the 7.5 minute topographic map series. Coverage varies for these maps, but you will certainly find the area you are investigating on at least one of these maps. To the great advantage of researchers (and preservationists) these maps are increasingly being made available online.

The USGS 7.5-mintue topographic maps cover every inch of Indiana ground with editions dating back to the late 1940s. One inch represents 2000 feet, so perhaps they are better described as medium-scale. Regardless, they are detailed enough to pin-point a neighborhood and figure out what the landscape of grandpa’s farm looked like. They are offered multiple places online. You can find them at the USGS Store and also at the USGS’s new online viewer. The maps are free to download either way you go at it.

An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Jackson County, Indiana; Driftwood Township. Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.

Showing even more detail of grandpa’s farm (perhaps even the cows, pigs and grandma, too) are the historical plat atlases. Most of Indiana’s historical plat atlases are available online. Not all of them are online yet, but ISL is working to fill the gap! IUPUI, Ball State, Ancestry and the Indiana State Library are making an effort to digitize these helpful maps. The atlases were published by county, with individual maps of each township. These often have some biographical and statistical information as well. These are great for rural areas. Try looking for plat maps at the following sites:

Indiana State Library Map Collection

IUPUI Historic Indiana Atlas collection

Ancestry.com has a collection called U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918. This collection includes maps from across the county and covers about 60 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are the most detailed maps you will find of developed areas. IU Bloomington has a nice collection of pristine pre-1924 Sanborn maps available online: https://libraries.indiana.edu/union-list-sanborn-maps

IUPUI has digitized the state library’s Indianapolis volumes and they host them in their Indianapolis Sanborn Map and Baist Atlas Collection.

And of course, don’t forget there are thousands more maps that haven’t yet been digitized. Investigate the thousands of print maps we hold in the Indiana State Library Map Collection.

Happy hunting!

This blog post was written by Monique Howell of the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

Digitizing Indiana Atlases and Maps

The Indiana Division has a wide assortment of rare and valuable atlases in its collection, and to make them more accessible to people, we’ve taken the initiative of putting them online. This process involves finding out which atlases aren’t already digitized, and making sure the books are in good enough condition before scanning them.

After they’ve been scanned in at a high resolution, we edit the files with programs like Adobe Photoshop and then upload them online through contentDM. From there, they’re on the web for the entire world to see. You can look at them here: http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15078coll8

A map of Johnson County, from “An Illustrated Plat Book of Shelby and Johnson Counties, Indiana (1900)”
Map of Johnson County

In addition to providing detailed maps of Indiana counties, these atlases show information on property owners, offer family histories, and provide useful facts about the time period they were published in. When you’re researching your family tree, be sure to take a look at these books because they might even show you a picture of your ancestor along with exactly where they lived!

Photographs of County Officials, as they appeared in a “Descriptive Atlas of Jackson County (1900)”
County Officials

These atlases also had maps of the United States and the entire world, so that readers could learn more about them as well. Not only that, but the world maps had interesting statistics on the power of nation’s armies and navies, their various national debts, and how much railroad and telegraph infrastructure each country had. These maps provide a marvelous portal to the history of the late 19th century.

Map of the World, from “An Illustrated Plat Book of Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties, Indiana (1899)”
Map of the World

This blog post was written by Justin Davis, Indiana Collection Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana Collection Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.