A map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute

In its collections, the Indiana State Library has a map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The library’s copy of this map is a reproduction made in the 1920s from the original map held at the Library of Congress. The map shows the route of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute. The base map is compiled from surveys done by the Federal Government in the early 1800s.

The canal ran through the wilderness of a largely unsettled part of Indiana. The canal period was crucial to the development and colonization of Indiana, especially to remote parts of the state north of Indianapolis. Ultimately, the Wabash and Erie Canal would connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River in Evansville.

We realize the map is not beautiful, but take a moment to examine the digitized map closely. The canal period coincides with Indian removal in the state. Clearly mapped are the reserve lands set aside for the Miami during the removal of Indians from the state – Jean Baptiste de Richardville, Little Turtle, Godfroy. Most of the reserve lands shown on these maps can be found in the treaty made at St. Mary’s with the Miami, Oct. 6, 1818 and a treaty signed at the Mississinewa in 1826.

By 1840, all this granted land was recollected, and tribes moved west.

Learn more about the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Indiana Historical Bureau’s “The Indiana Historian: Canal Mania in Indiana.” Especially interesting is an account of early travel along the canal recorded in J. Richard Beste’s published travel book, “The Wabash; or, Adventures of an English gentleman’s family in the interior of America” (London, Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, 1855). They take off from Terre Haute on Aug. 12, 1851. Available in full text from the Library of Congress, beginning on page 191 of Volume 2.

Click here to view a hi-res version of the map of the Wabash and Erie Canal from the Ohio state line to Terre Haute, and visit the Indiana State Library Map Collection to examine maps, county atlases, plats maps and other land descriptions.

This post was written by Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor.

Conservation of a 1913 panoramic photograph

In July and August, Marissa Bartz, the Indiana State Library’s 2021 graduate conservation intern, worked on a panoramic photograph from the Rare Books and Manuscripts division which had become adhered to glass in multiple locations. It’s common for photographic prints to become stuck to the glass they have been framed in over time when exposed to water, which is why they should be properly mounted to prevent them from touching the surface. In addition, the conditions of the framing and other factors had caused tears, cockling and staining, so the photograph was in poor shape overall.

Before treatment

This particular panorama captures the flooding of the White River in March 1913. Often referred to as “The Great Flood,” this event displaced thousands, with an estimated 7,000 Indianapolis residents and around 200,000 Hoosiers altogether losing their homes. The peak of the White River flooding was estimated at over 30 feet above the flood line.

Photo adhered to glass

Commonly called a “cirkut” photo, this shot was taken by North H. Losey, located at 539 N. Meridian St. It is a particularly large example, over 62 inches wide, so it was no small challenge for Marissa!

Cardboard used as backing frame

It was discovered that the photograph was also adhered to the corrugated cardboard that was used as backing in the frame, causing additional problems. Marissa began by removing the backing mechanically with a spatula and scalpel.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the corrugated board from the back of the photograph

After this, areas that were stuck to the glass were be humidified from the back to soften and swell the gelatin emulsion. A piece of mylar was inserted between the glass and the photograph to gently release the emulsion from the surface of the glass.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz washing a section of the photograph to remove staining

A solution of methylcellulose was applied to the emulsion and left to dry. Then a flat blade was used to carefully scrape the emulsion film off the glass and re-adhere it back to the photograph.

Tears were then repaired with wheat starch paste and Japanese tissue. Areas of loss, particularly in tears, were consolidated using warm gelatin.

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz removing the photo from the glass

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz putting the pieces of the photo back together

Conservation intern Marissa Bartz surface cleaning the photograph

In-painting with watercolors was also done in areas of loss.

After treatment

The photograph is now stable and was returned to the original frame, this time with sheet of mylar protecting it from the glass. Now free from stress and protected from acidic conditions and soiling from the environment, this photograph is now stable and preserved for the future.

This post was written by Victoria Duncan, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor. 

Post road map of Indiana, 1904

Two regular questions that come across the reference desk can be answered using post office resources. The first common question is about a place name. The researcher may have a reference to a place, but that “place” is not a city or town. We often discover it’s a post office name. The Indiana State Library has a card file of post offices in Indiana. The card contains details including date the post office opened and when it may have been discontinued. These post office cards were used in making the handy reference book “From Needmore to Prosperity: Hoosier Place Names in Folklore and History” (Baker, 1995). Perhaps your library has this book.

The other request is to locate a modern address when all they know is the rural route, which is often the only detail a county farm directory would have listed. This is much more difficult to answer. There are a couple maps we can use to help find the mail route, but not the exact home. We have two sets of Post Office department maps by county, we have a set from about 1910 and another set from about 1940. The State Library has made the set from 1910 available online here. Additionally, a 1904 statewide post route map of Indiana is available online here.

The 1904 post route map is nice because one can get a larger picture of the mail system than the county maps offer. The map shows post offices, mail routes and frequency of service. According to this map, most post offices and rural routes were getting mail up to six times a week; however, some little hamlets got mail only three times a week. Mail routes were added from year to year. Using a searchable newspaper database, one may be able to find detailed route descriptions. Take for example the Salem Democrat in 1903. They published the postmasters’ detailed reporting of how many houses are on the route, how many people are served and the length of the route. Here is an example of how Rural Route 11 out of Pekin is described.

Visit the USPS website for more history about rural routes. The development of the postal system is interesting and gives context to rural life and road improvements. Rural mail delivery was thought to help keep young people on the farm since they could receive reading materials and catalogs, perhaps diminishing the appeal of town.  Additionally, rural postal routes are credited with road development throughout the nation. This article from the Fort Wayne News makes sure to lay the blame for lack of mail service on the road supervisor. Once the roads are improved, mail service will resume.

Finally, for the adventurous researcher, National Archives holds the records from the Post Office Department. Among the records are correspondence, reports and supporting documents regarding proposed rural route establishments and changes, filed by state and county. These unique tools will offer researchers geographic information for years to come.

This post was written by Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor.

Treatment of 3 rare 19th century maps at the Indiana State Library

1855 Map of Jeffersonville, Clark Co. Indiana
Jeffersonville, being positioned along the Ohio River and just north of Louisville, came out of the pioneer era as a metropolis by Indiana standards. This map shows the Jeffersonville and Indiana railroad, as well as the Clark County Plank Road. Jeffersonville was a gateway to southern markets; and later the movement of troops and supplies during the Civil War. Notice all the commerce along the riverfront: sawmills, meat packing and shipyards. Hart and Mapother Lithographers out of Louisville, have a rich body of work surviving in maps, but also print ads, pamphlet cover illustrations and letterhead. The detail on this map is really engaging.

This map came to the lab in extremely poor condition. Like most large 19th century maps, it had been adhered to a large sheet of fabric, which was very dirty. The map was also very deteriorated with lots of missing pieces. It was extremely fragile. Even handling it would cause pieces to fall off. The front of the map was also varnished, which had caused the entire map to darken and discolor. At some point, book cloth was glued to all four edges of the front. Finally, to the entire map had been “silked.” A large sheet of silk had been glued to the entire front of the map making the map appear cloudy and discolored.

The goal for treating this map was to get it to a state where it was stable and could be handled and eventually digitized. The varnish and silk were first removed, along with all the book cloth. The map was then washed, and all the fabric was then removed. The map was then lined onto a sheet of Japanese tissue.

Before treatment image of the front of the map.

Before treatment image of the back of the map.

Removal of silk from the front of the map.

After treatment image of the front of the map.

After treatment image of the back of the map.

1872 Map of Logansport, Indiana
Logansport is another Indiana city with a strong railroad tie. This 1872 map of Logansport shows many rail lines crossing through the city. This map also shows many of Indiana’s internal improvements of the era, Wabash and Erie Canal, and the unlabeled Michigan Road (Burlington Road). Another great data set on this map is the list of “Leading Business Houses of Logansport.” Something of a boomtown, Logansport’s population tripled between 1860 and 1870, going from 3,000 to almost 9,000 people. The map and the text make a wonderful snapshot of what appears to be a bustling town in 1872. Compiled from records of Julius C. Kloenne, city engineer, the subdivisions and out lots are represented in detail, showing names of additions and large landholders edging the town. Kloenne would make his own map of the city in 1876. As neat as the map is, little to be found about the publisher Barnard, Hayward and Company. In contrast, the engravers H.J. Toudy and Company, out of Philadelphia, made a fine business specializing in maps, atlases and birds-eye views until a fire in 1878 destroyed their business.

When this map was first assessed it showed a lot of problems. It was in extremely poor condition suffering from years of heavy use and prior attempted repairs. The entire map had been cut into smaller sections, in what my assume was an attempt to make the map more easily stored. Like the Jefferson map, this map was also adhered to its original fabric and varnished. Significant amounts of clear packing tape was also applied to large areas of the front, and paper had been glued to all four edges.

As with the Jefferson map, the goal for the Logansport map was to repair it for stability, safe handling and digitizing. This would mean removing all the varnish, all the tape and glued on paper, washing the map to remove discoloration, putting the sections back in their correct placement and re-lining the map onto a new sheet of Japanese tissue.

Before treatment of the front of the map.

Before treatment of the back of the map.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan removing tape from the front of the map on a tacking iron.

All of the tape removed.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan removing varnish from the map sections on a suction table.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan washing and cleaning sections of the map.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan removing the backing fabric.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan pasting out Japanese tissue for relining.

Treated section next to the untreated sections.

After treatment images of the front of the map.

After treatment images of the front of the map.

After treatment images of the front of the map.

After treatment images of the front of the map.

1876 Ohio County Centennial Map
Small in size, but rich in details, this map of Ohio County, Ind. was published to celebrate America’s centennial in 1876. The Ohio County Historical Society notes there were perhaps only 250 made. Surviving copies are quite rare. Ohio County was established just 30 years before this map was made. Notable are references to Native American sites at the time in Ohio County. George W. Morse, the mapmaker, is noted in the Ohio County history books as being present at the archeological digs in the area. He also delivered a historical address at the major Centennial Celebration held in Rising Sun the summer of 1876. The Centennial Independence Day was observed with cannons, bells and a parade. And this map!

This map was in an extremely fragile state. It had suffered lots of losses due to years of use. Like the other two maps it had also been varnished. The map had also suffered extensive water damage at some point resulting in staining throughout the entire sheet. Like the Jefferson map and Logansport map it was also adhered to its original fabric which had become very dirty and frayed.

As with the Jefferson and Logansport maps, the goal for this map was to repair it for stability, safe handling and digitizing. All of the varnish was removed, the map was washed and then re-lined onto a new sheet of Japanese tissue.

Before treatment of front of the map.

Before treatment of back of the map.

The map being washed.

After treatment of the front of the map.

After treatment of the back of the map.

This blog post was written by Conservator Seth Irwin and Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor, both of the Indiana State Library.

Conservation of an 1852 map of Madison, Indiana

This 1852 map of the city of Madison is the earliest map of the old river city held in the Indiana State Library’s collections. The detail is brilliant, done by the careful hand of Hoosier pioneer William C. Bramwell. It seems clear that this map is the original map used for the 1854 published map of the city, which is held in Madison. Bramwell seems to have an interesting biography, although little is known about the details of his life. Credits to his name include state legislator, surveyor, preacher, inventor and spinning wheel maker. Whatever his true calling, it is clear his attention to detail and craftsmanship has left us a beautifully rich and detailed map of one of Indiana’s oldest cities.

It is not known when the Indiana State Library acquired this map, or its history before it arrived at the library. When it was found in the collection it was in an extremely deteriorated and fragile state. The map was still adhered to its original fabric backing, which had become very dirty and deteriorated. As with many maps from this period, the front had been varnished, which resulted in even more deterioration. The front of the map had also become so dirty and discolored that most of the map could not be read. Many pieces of the map had broken off and become lost, and it was difficult to determine the difference between the paper areas and the cloth. It was in such poor condition, that even unrolling it would result in pieces falling off. Finally, as with many maps from this period, there was evidence of water damage as well in the form of staining.

The goals for this project were simple. In its current state, the map was unusable. It was so dirty that it could not be read, and it was so fragile that even unrolling it would result in more pieces falling off. The goals of this project were to clean the map as much as possible to remove the old varnish, the dirt and the staining and then line the map onto a single sheet of Japanese paper to allow for it to be stable enough to handle. While the goals were simple, the execution would prove to be complicated by the enormous quantity of loose pieces that would come loose once the original fabric was removed. In order to preserve the information in the map, all the loose pieces would need to stay in their correct spots throughout the entire treatment. Finally, the map would be encapsulated in a custom polyester film sleeve to allow for more protection. The below pictures outline the conservation process.

Before treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Before treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

In order to remove the varnish, the map was placed faced down on blotter paper a high-power suction table and sprayed with ethanol.

The ethanol would penetrate through the fabric and paper, solubilizing the varnish, and pull it into the blotter below.

This process was repeated until all the varnish was removed. The map was routinely lifted and checked during this process.

The blotter shows all the varnish removed from the map.

The map sections were washed in modified hot water on a rigid sheet of plexiglass for support.

The map was carefully lifted on the plexiglass support and tilted. Using a small brush and a Japanese mister, the entire surface of the maps was cleaned to remove all remaining varnish and dirt. Careful attention was paid to make sure all the loose pieces of the map stayed in their correct spots throughout the entire process.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

This image shows the progress of the cleaning of both sections.

After the map sections were cleaned, the map was placed face down on polyester film and the original fabric was carefully removed making sure none of the loose pieces moved.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

This image shows the map after the fabric was removed and the thousands of small pieces of the map that are now loose.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The map was lined onto a large sheet of Japanese paper with wheat starch paste and dried between wool felt blankets.

The top and bottom section of the map next to each other. At this point, the bottom section has already been treated and the top section had not yet been treated.

After treatment of top section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

After treatment of bottom section of City of Madison and Environs by H.G. Bramwell, city surveyor, 1852.

Conservation intern Lily Duncan encapsulating the map in a polyester film sleeve with an ultrasonic polyester welder.

Click here to read more about the conservation efforts of the Indiana State Library.

This blog post was written by Seth Irwin, conservator, and Monique Howell, Indiana Collection supervisor, both of the Indiana State Library.

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

Libraries and the 2020 census

In December of last year, Kathy Kozenski from the Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana and I brought a giant 15′ x 21′ Indiana floor map1 to the Vigo County Public Library for a program called “Get On The Map!” Library patrons, ages 3 to 15, joined us in learning about state geography as we walked in socked feet across cities, lakes, rivers and forests.

Photo courtesy of Lauri Chandler, Youth Services Manager at the Vigo County Public Library.

We discussed the cardinal directions and talked with the students about where they had lived and traveled, and where they would like to go in the future. Despite their young ages, many had already been outside of the state and even outside of the country. We asked students to identify and locate map features. Lake Michigan, one of the map’s prominent features, was a favorite.

We asked what we might find in Indiana cities or towns. Answers were:

“Buildings!”
“Roads!”
“Trees!”
“Pets!”
“Cars!”

Part of my reason for this question was to introduce the idea of the census, so we asked what else a city or town needed in order to have all of these things.

“People!,” they answered.

This provided us with a chance to discuss how many people live in different areas, and that when there are more people we need more resources. We talked about the upcoming 2020 census, why we count people and why it is important to get an accurate count so that resources can be distributed where they are needed.

We followed our map exploration with the storied adventures of Fred the Fish. Made of a small piece of muslin, Fred swam in a river – a plastic container of water – next to several different sources of pollution. We poured in small amounts of dirt, oil and trash. We demonstrated the effects of these things on Fred, and talked about how important it is to notice the effects of human population on the surrounding environment.

With the 2020 Census approaching, librarians are on the forefront of community outreach, as our jobs will involve helping patrons report data to the federal government. This will be the first U.S. census in history to provide the opportunity for online response, and we expect to welcome our patrons to answer the census at our public computers.

In October of 2018, the American Library Association issued a policy brief entitled Libraries and the 2020 Census Vital Partners for a Complete Count that explains how libraries act as “trusted partners in achieving a complete count in the 2020 census” by:

  • Delivering information about the census and hosting community outreach activities
  • Providing internet access to enable respondents to complete the census form online
  • Serving as trusted messengers, including in hard-to-count communities
  • Training data users and providing access to census statistics for businesses and community members.

ALA recently hosted a free webinar, “Libraries and the 2020 Census” through its Chapter Advocacy Exchange. You can view the webinar here. The ALA president, assistant director of government relations and deputy director of public policy addressed the important role libraries play in ensuring a complete and accurate count of people. It featured librarians planning 2020 census outreach in Montana, California and Illinois.

In Indiana, there are several ways we can participate in planning for the 2020 census, which will take place a year from now, in March and April of 2020. Local communities are building Complete Count Committees, also known as CCCs, to encourage participation. At your library, you can help by hosting outreach efforts from the Census Bureau, promoting census jobs as they are available and incorporating census information in newsletters, social media and websites. Last week, the Census Bureau released its 2020 promotional guidelines. You can retrieve the PDF here.

For more information about the 2020 census in Indiana and how you can help, visit the Census in Indiana website. Follow the State Data Center on Facebook and Twitter for census messages and contact us at the Indiana State Library with questions.

1. GENI loans out giant traveling floor maps of Indiana to libraries and schools along with curriculum guides and a trunk full of learning tools.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference & Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

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.