The Indiana State Library is ideal place for historical research; whether is the genealogist researching family history, the entrepreneur using the State Data Center resources to determine the best location to place a business, or the college student writing a research paper, the State Library will have materials to fit their needs!
Recently a group of students from IUPUI taking a class, the “Nature of History” came to the library to find and use primary source material. The class examines what history is, historical interpretation, some of the common problems in doing research, and the uses of history. This class first visited the Indiana State Museum and looked at the exhibit Indiana in 200 Objects. They were to identify an object that was interesting to them. Their next task was to come to the library and using the Indianapolis newspaper card index, find an article about that object or event. Using the newspapers on microfilm, print or save article and write a short research papers incorporating the newspaper sources.
For their second assignment, each student looked at something from the library’s manuscript collection; a letter, account book, photograph, or broadside. They were to determine how to use the material in their research, looking for the historical clues one can find in this type of source.
After an hour and a half work, most of the students left with a better understanding of different types of primary source material and the intricacies of using the collections at a major research library.
The staff at the Indiana State Library performs this type of instruction on a daily basis, but usually with individual researchers. Having a large group of students was an exciting and rewarding experience for us all!