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Indiana Cities & Places – Local Histories of Indiana

This Webpage has links to free books & articles about towns and cities in Indiana, especially Indianapolis. There are also collections of old county histories, and books about Indiana regions.

Indiana State and County Histories. 78 volumes

Indiana Memory Digital Collections
Indiana State Library

This collection contains published volumes on Indiana history in general and individual county histories published before 1922.

Online County and Town Histories Website – Indiana

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.

The People’s Guide; a Business, Political and Religious Directory of Bartholomew Co., Ind….

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.

– Boone Co.

– Hamilton Co.

– Hendricks Co.

– Henry Co.

– Johnson Co.

– Marion Co.

– Morgan Co.

– Vermillion Co.

“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

Henley, Miss
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. Indiana county history.


Indianapolis

Indianapolis Collection

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. Historic Indianapolis, Indianapolis Indiana history.

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 historic Indianapolis.

A Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City…

A Chronicle of its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables

Holloway, W.R.
Indianapolis. Indianapolis Journal 1870

This volume contains a wide variety of information about historic 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]

See our books & articles on Indiana economic topics

A.C. Howard’s Directory for the City of Indianapolis …

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. History of Indianpolis Indiana.

Making a Capital in the Wilderness

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. Historic Indianapolis

Indianapolis: The Story of a City

Leary, Ed
Bobbs-Merrill 1971

Early reminiscences of Indianapolis…

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.

Historical romance novels online free at Century Past

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.

History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana

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
-Churches
-Schools and Libraries
-Manufacturing Interests
-Civil List
-[Separate chapters for each of 9 townships]


Northern Indiana

The Fort Wayne Story: A Pictorial History

Ankenbruck, John
Windsor 1980

Northwestern Indiana from 1800 to 1900, or, A view of our Region through the Nineteenth Century

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

See our collection of novels set in Indiana

Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley

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.

The Pictorial History of Fort Wayne, Indiana …

– Volume 2

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. History of Fort Wayne Indiana.

The Story of Gary Indiana

An illustrated story of the building of the most marvelous city on the American continent

Harries, Howard Hamilton
Gary: 1908

History of Gary Indiana.

Recipe book pdf free download at our food & drinks page

Fort Wayne in 1790

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. History of Fort Wayne Indiana.

Greater Lafayette: Indiana’s Star City

Holland, Lynn, Matthey, Jan & Mayer, Kathy
Montgomery Al: Community Communications 1999

“This book celebrates the fortuitous combination of people and places that created Greater Lafayette. The words and Photos will take you on a journey through the history, development, and growth of the community, including education, business, technology, sports, arts, and attractions.” -Back cover

Magic Middletown

Hoover, Dwight W.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University 1986

A history of Muncie, IN. Muncie became famous in the 1920s at ‘Middletown’, the model American city discovered and studied by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd. At the time of the study a local photographer made countless phots of the town and its people. These photos and the Lynds’ studies were used by the author, a Professor of History at Ball State University, for this book.

Legends and Losers: Trivia from the South Bend and Notre Dame Region

Jones, Andy
South Bend: And Books 1999

“A treasure chest of trivia, both well known and little known about two very specail unique places – the University of Notre Dame and the community of South Bend.” – book cover

Pioneer Sketches of the Upper Whitewater Valley. Quaker Stronghold of the West

Knollenberg, Bernhard
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. ”

City of the century: A History of Gary, Indiana

Lane, James B.
Indiana University 1978

South Bend in Vintage Postcards

Palmer, John
Charleston, SC: Arcadia 2005

“In the early 20th century, South Bend, Indiana’s population more than tripled. Established industries like Studebaker and the Singer Sewing company rose to unprecedented heights of production, new businesses took root, and immigrants flooded into the area.
Photo postcards, originally a quick and inexpensive form of communication, became key documents of South Bend’s growth, recording events, businesses, landmarks, and people. Through nearly 200 vintage postcards, this book details South Bend’s story from the turn of the 20th century to the aftermath of World War II.” – Publisher

Graphic novels for kids online

Shipshewana

Pratt, Dorothy O.
Bloomington, IN: Quarry 2004

“A cultural history of one Indiana Amish community and how it has successfully resisted assimilation into the mass culture of America today.” – Book cover

The Frances Slocum Trail

Winger, Otho
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.


Southern Indiana

The History of Early Terre Haute from 1816 to 1840

Condit, Blackford
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. History of Terre Haute Indiana.

Thousands of books to read online for free at Century Past

A History of the City of Vincennes Indiana, from 1702-1901

Cauthorn, Henry S.
Terre Haute: Cauthorn 1902

History of Vincennes Indiana.

New Harmony at the Millennium: The Past and the Future on View

Historic New Harmony
New Harmony, IN: Historic New Harmony 2000

“An explanation of a three part exhibition on the history of this American utopian dream site in New Harmony, Indiana.”

The Colonial History of Vincennes, Under the French, British and American Governments

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

Law, John
Vincennes: Harvey, Mason 1858

History of Vincennes Indiana.

The Buffalo Trace

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.

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