The Indiana State Archive is presently being housed in an old warehouse on the west side of Indianapolis. According to a recent article in the Indianapolis Star, the archive was temporarily moved there ten years ago. The building has many problems and the collections have been at danger many times. The State Archivists, Jim Corridan speaking at a workshop to the Society of Indiana Archivists told two stories about how close the residents of Indiana came to losing important collections. One involved a recently discovered survey map of the road from Jeffersonville to Vincennes that was made in 1805. The map was encapsulated and just two days later the roof leaked right over the map. Had this map not been protected it would have been destroyed. The other was about new shelving that was installed and had not been loaded with materials yet when another section of the roof leaked and the entire unit was covered in water.
The building currently holding the archive’s material was built in 1968 and is essential a pole barn type building with inadequate heating and cooling, as well as a roof that has had many incidents of leaking. While in today’s the world researcher are always looking for online accessible material, which the state archives has many, this does not mean the physical documents, artifacts, and records should be sacrificed. Aside from housing both of Indiana’s original constitutions, the 1816 and the 1851 versions, and many documents about the development of the state, it also has many items related to the Northwest Territorial government. All these precious resources are at risk if not properly maintained and protected. There are funds being made available to put a new roof on the structure, and this would certainly be helpful considering the number leaks that have happen during its time at this location, but it does not address primary concerns of temperature and humidity controls not to mention space for adequately housing all of the materials presently at the facility as well as future growth.
Indiana is soon approaching its 200th anniversary in 2016 and it needs to address the concerns of how we protect and maintain the history of our state. Perhaps, as suggested by the writer of the article that appeared in the Indianapolis Star, Stephen Towne, a fitting tribute to our state would be to encourage the legislators and citizens to take an active role in building a proper facility for the archives as a monument to the state’s achievements.
Towne, Stephen. “Protect priceless papers with new home for archives.” Indianapolis Star, October 11, 2011: A11
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