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The Indianapolis Public Library Digital Collections

Welcome to the Indianapolis Public Library's digital collections. The purpose of these collections is to provide access to digital images and recordings of cultural and historical interest to Indianapolis residents as well as students, researchers and others. The Library offers these collections to allow free access to digital versions of increasingly valuable, fragile and hard-to-use originals.

If your organization is interested in contributing to our digital archives, or being included in an inventory reflecting Indianapolis' history, people, events, organizations, and places, please visit the Community Digitization Project page.

High School Collections

Arlington High School

Arlington High School was among the last three public high schools to open within the Indianapolis Public Schools system. Built in response to the rapid growth of the Indianapolis suburbs on the northeast side, Arlington opened in September 1961 ... (more)

Arsenal Technical High School

Arsenal Technical High School began as an actual U.S. Army federal arsenal. Created by an act of Congress during the Civil War, the arsenal was built on a wooded, 76-acre tract of land east of the Indianapolis city limits with buildings constructed of locally made brick and limestone hauled from southern Indiana. It was used to store ... (more)

Broad Ripple High School

Broad Ripple High School was originally established in 1886 with a two-year high school course of study for students in the little village north of Indianapolis. The school soon expanded to become a four-year institution and was annexed in May of 1923 to the city of Indianapolis, becoming the city's fourth public high school ... (more)

Emmerich Manual High School

In the late 19th century, some innovative educators conceived of the idea of a high school that would combine a traditional curriculum, including subjects such as mathematics, science, and Greek, with courses in manual skills, such as mechanics, drafting, and home nursing. The school, originally known as the Industrial Training School, ... (more)

George Washington High School

George Washington High School opened in 1927 in Indianapolis in the Haughville neighborhood. A thriving and solidly working-class community at that time, the near west side of the city was hit hard by the Great Depression and suffered through the following years from the loss of employers and neighborhood institutions. Finally, due to ... (more)

Harry E. Wood High School

In the fall of 1953, Wood High School opened in the refurbished school buildings vacated when Manual High School moved to its new site on the south side of Indianapolis. Wood was designed as a new vocational training high school with its primary focus on academics and the specific goal of providing secondary-level vocational education to ... (more)

John Marshall High School

On the far eastside of Indianapolis, John Marshall High School was one of three IPS high schools built in response to the rapid growth of Indianapolis suburbs in the 1950s and 60s. The school opened in September 1968 and saw its enrollment more than double in the first ten years ... (more)

Northwest High School

Located on West 34th Street, Northwest High School is one of three IPS high schools built in response to rapid suburbanization of Indianapolis in the 1950s and 60s. The school opened in September 1963. The sophomore and junior classes transferred to Northwest from other area high schools, mainly George Washington ... (more)

Shortridge High School

From the beginning, Shortridge High School was an innovative educational force in the city. It is the oldest free public high school in Indiana, opening as Indianapolis High School on the Circle in downtown Indianapolis in 1864. The first superintendent, Abram C. Shortridge, took the unusual steps of hiring female teachers and ... (more)

Thomas Carr Howe High School

The town of Irvington was annexed to Indianapolis in 1902 with the promise of a high school to serve the area. That school finally opened its doors in September of 1938 as Thomas Carr Howe High School, named for a former president of Butler University. The school's yearbook was named the Hilltopper for the original site of the ... (more)

Other Collections

Artifacts at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Objects can be compelling storytellers that put other times and places in context. They bridge time periods and cultures and celebrate our differences. As a collaborative effort The Indianapolis Public Library and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis have selected 1,000 artifacts from the museum collection to photograph and make ... (more)

Cool Herron Reunion Collection

In 2013, members of the Facebook group "When Herron Was Cool", all alumni of the Herron School of Art and Design, gathered for their third unofficial reunion. Called "The Reunion Project", the gathering was hosted at the former location of the art college at 16th and Pennsylvania. Currently the buildings are home to the charter school, ... (more)

English's Opera House

Formally opening on September 27, 1880, English's Opera House quickly became Indianapolis' leading theater presenting not only opera but drama, musical comedy, ballet, concerts, minstrel shows, lectures, vaudeville and film. The theatre was built by William Hayden English, businessman and 1880 Democratic vice-presidential ... (more)

Free Soil Banner

The Free Soil Banner was published in Indianapolis from 1848 to 1854. Other cities had newspapers by the same name, but the Indiana version was edited by Lew Wallace and William B. Greer, and reportedly funded by Ovid Butler, the founder of North Western Christian University, later renamed Butler University ... (more)

Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce

"The Activities of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce" provides an intriguing glimpse of the city during the period of time between the two world wars. Although the primary focus of the newsletter was local business, the interests of the Chamber extended far beyond the business community. They actively promoted the fine and performing ... (more)

Indianapolis Firefighters Museum

Opened in 1996, the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum's mission is to celebrate the history of the Fire Service in central Indiana and the Fire Departments' contributions to the community. Located on the north end of the Massachusetts Avenue corridor and originally built in 1872, the Museum resides in the remodeled Fire Station #2, ... (more)

Indianapolis Postcard Collection

Since the first copyright for it in 1861, people have found that the small, thin postcard is a quick and inexpensive way to keep in touch with others. Deltiology, the study and collection of postcards, is one of the most popular hobbies today. The cards offer unique views of life as it once was and give us a glimpse of society and ... (more)

Irvington Oral Histories

Irvington is a historic neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis, bounded by 10th Street, Arlington Avenue, Brookville Road, and Emerson Avenue. From its inception, Irvington, named for the author Washington Irving, was planned to be a community of culture and refinement. Created from the land holdings of Jacob B. Julian, ... (more)

James Whitcomb Riley Recordings

On Friday, June 7, 1912, James Whitcomb Riley finished his last recording session for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Out of around twenty recordings made during five days of readings, only four of the discs were ever issued by Victor ... (more)

Lawrence J. Downey Library History Collection

Since 1873, The Indianapolis Public Library has served the people of the city, both growing and changing to fit their needs, making it "a live thing in the whole town." ... (more)

May Wright Sewall Papers

The May Wright Sewall Papers are a collection of documents comprised of approximately 500 letters written to May Wright Sewall dated between 1879 and 1919, and three guest books with remarks and signatures from 197 guests of the Sewall house. The correspondents represented in this collection include not only people important to the ... (more)

World War I Poster Collection

When the United States entered World War I in April of 1917, a means of communication was needed to encourage the public to support it. President Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information (CPI) and its offshoot, the Division of Pictorial Publicity (DPP). Director George Creel and artist Charles Dana Gibson ... (more)