Indianapolis Newspapers Database, 1848-1991
Indiana State Library
Indexes Included in this Database:
This index covers the years 1848-1888, although there is very scant coverage of the years 1864,1887, and 1888. The index was created as a card file by workers with the W.P.A. during the late 1930s, who indexed the following Indianapolis newspapers:
The database is by no means complete or exhaustive, with 27,023 entries from 40 years of the newspapers. There are no entries for the Civil War, despite the almost daily coverage of battles, troop movements, and war-related events in the Indianapolis newspapers. It uses a fraction of the suggested subject headings mentioned below. There is good coverage of accidents, churches, crime, deaths, marriages, societies, and several other subject areas such as institutions and newspapers. Major events (murders, explosions, train wrecks, etc.) which happened outside Indianapolis are often included.
Card file index to articles about people, places, events, and topics in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Extremely limited for deaths; no coverage of marriages.
The database is by no means complete or exhaustive, with just over 80,000 entries. Major stories related to Indiana, people from Indiana, companies, and events are included. Regular sports coverage of high school, college, and professional sports is not included, nor are columns or editorials. Obituaries and death notices are not fully indexed.
NOT ALL ENTRIES HAVE BEEN PROOFREAD. There may be errors in inputting the dates, names, and other items. Rather than wait until the entire database has been proofread, we have chosen to make all items available, with the caveat that there are mistakes!
General Searching Instructions: (return to top)
Type in the name of the person you are seeking, or the broad subject heading you want. You can also search for particular towns or counties outside Indianapolis. If you are looking for the name of a person, you may enter the first and last names in any order. Do not use AND to link your search terms; accident railroad will find all entries with both accident and railroad in the entry.
When you are finished typing the name, be sure to click the "Start Search" button. If you do not, you will receive an error message.
How do I find a specific person?
Begin by searching for the first and last names of the person. Sometimes, the first names are abbreviated: William may be entered as Wm., James may be entered as Jas., and so forth. Very often, only initials were provided for first and middle names.
If you can't find the name you are looking for on the first try, try entering an abbreviated version of the name or search just on the last name. Remember, newspapers in the 1800s did not provide obituaries or death notices for everyone who passed away; a small portion of those who died were noted in the newspapers.
How do I find women's names?
The Indianapolis Newspapers Index includes women who are listed under their own names (i.e. Mary Smith), as well as those listed only under the names of their husbands (i.e. Mrs. W. H. H. Smith). Unfortunately, in some cases the woman is listed only as Mrs. Smith!
How do I find African-Americans?
This index was originally created during the 1930s, indexing papers from the late 1800s. Where the race of the person could be ascertained, the original indexers made the following notation (colored). You can search for colored to locate all African-Americans included in the index.
How do I find Civil War veterans?
As noted above, a search on civil war provides no results. However, the original indexers made a conscious effort to note the company and regiment of the men who died during the Civil War. To search for the men from a particular unit, enter the number of the unit and the abbreviation regt or enter the word cavalry or battery. An example:
Can I search by year?
No. However, you can search for dates on which the newspaper was published. Enter the dates as MM-DD-YYYY. An example would be 1-3-1863. Not all dates were indexed, so you may not find what you are looking for.
Your results will be retrieved in the order in which they were entered into the database. This is not always a straight alphabetical order; you will need to view all entries to make sure that you did not overlook one.
Each entry will show the name of the person or the subject heading, the abbreviated name of the newspaper in which the article was located , the date of the article, and the page and column number for the article. For example:
|Article Citation:||HENRY, Henry Death of, J. 1-7-1860, p. 2, c. 2|
In this case, Henry Henry's death is mentioned in the January 7, 1860 edition of the Indianapolis Journal on page 2, column 2.
Obtaining Copies: (return to top)
Once you have a citation, you can locate the articles in the newspaper. The Indiana State Library's Newspaper Collection has all of the necessary issues available on microfilm, for use within the library or available via interlibrary loan through your local library.
If there is a full citation (name of paper, date of paper, page, and column number), you may also request a photocopy of the article through our Ask a Librarian service. You may view our current photocopy cost list to determine the charges for your photocopies. Please allow ten working days for response requests.