Indiana Social History Books and Articles

The books and articles below are about topics in Indiana social history. See the right column for more info about this website.

“Indiana Emigrants to Liberia”

The Indiana Historian March 2000

Indiana Historical Bureau
Anthrop, Mary, ed.Go to Article

16-page article by Indiana’s state historical bureau on Indiana’s efforts in the first half of the 19th century to remove black residents of the state by settling them in Africa, then termed “colonization”. Includes information on 19th century legal discrimination in Indiana and the American Colonization Society. Also a bibliography (including internet resources) and a list of known Indiana emigrants to Liberia.

“A Full Supply of the Necessaries and Comforts of Life”: The Owenite Community of Blue Spring, Indiana

Indiana Magazine of History Vol. 107, Issue 3. 2011, pp 235-249

Bloomington: Indiana University
Bakken, Dawn E.Go to Article

This article is more valuable for its explanation of the American Owenite movement than for its sparse description of the short-lived experiment at Blue Spring, near Bloomington. The Constitution of the Blue Lick community is completely reproduced here.

See also: Podmore, Frank, Robert Owen in Century Past Biographies: M, N & O

experimental communities, Robert Owen, Indiana history, Indiana Magazine of History, American history

Education and Reform at New Harmony: Correspondence of William Maclure and Marie Duclos Fretageot, 1820-1833

Indianapolis. Indiana Historical Society 1948
Bestor, Arthur E.Go to Book

“[William] MacLure was the principal associate of Robert Owen in the social and educational experiment of the middle 1820’s [i.e. New Harmony], and was himself the prime mover in making the community by the Wabash the greatest center in its day of scientific research and publication in the West. The letters that passed between him and his trusted adviser and deputy, Madame Fretageot, or a period of nearly fifteen years constitute the only continuous contemporary record of the genesis, culmination, and dissolution of Owen’s social experiment and of the steadier advance of the scientific and educational programs connected with it.” – from the Editor’s Preface. Chapter headings are:

-William MacLure and the New Harmony Experiment
-MacLure and Owen join forces. 1820-1825
-The New Harmony Kaleidoscope. January – September 1826
-Owen and MacLure reach an open break. October 1826 – May 1827

New Harmony community, Owenite community, experimental community, Robert Owen, free online book

The Development of Public Charities and Correction in Indiana

Jefferson, IN: Indiana Reformatory Printing Trade School 1910
Board of State CharitiesGo to Book

History of the Underground Railroad as it was Conducted by the Anti-slavery League …

Oakland City, IN: Cockrum 1915
Cockrum, William M., Col.Go to Book

(title continued) “…Including many thrilling encounters between those aiding the slaves to escape and those trying to recapture them”

This is a book of true stories from the 1850s that include some incidents in which the author personally participated as a young man. The book describes the work of people in the Anti-Slavery League who operated south of the Indiana border to contact slaves on plantations and effect their initial escapes, connecting them to other members of the organization who would pass them along the underground railroad to Canada. The book also describes the activities of slave hunters in Indiana who, greatly encouraged by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, hunted both escaped slaves and free African Americans, returning both to the slave south. The Anti-Slavery League operated against these gangs.

For links to books about the issue of slavery in Indiana and Illinois, see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Coffin, Levi, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F; and
Haviland, Laura S. , A Woman’s Life-Work in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

underground railroad, Anti-slavery League, abolition, 19th century, 1800s, books, public domain, history

Indiana Social History

“The Harmonist Movement in Indiana”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 19, Issue 2, 1923, pp 188-200

Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Denehie, Elizabeth SmithGo to Article

A useful reference work is: Adams, J. A., The New Encyclopedia of Social Reform (1908) in Section303 Social processes in Social Sciences, Sociology, Social Institutions

Harmonism, George Rapp, Rappites, experimental communities, religious communities, online history magazine

“Frances Wright’s Experiment with Negro Emancipation”

Indiana Magazine of History Vol. 35 no. 2 (June 1939): 141-157

Bloomington: Indiana University
Elliot, HelenGo to Article

Frances Wright (1795-1852) first visited the U.S. from her home in England in 1818 and published in London a successful and admiring account in 1821 called Views on Society and Manners in America. After a close association in England with various reformers, she returned to the U.S. in 1824 and traveled for a time with the group accompanying the Marquis de Lafayette, who had participated in the American Revolution. On this visit she investigated slavery, meeting with both abolitionists and slave-owners, and also spent time at New Harmony, IN. In 1825 to 1826, with the assistance of George Flower from the English settlement at Albion, IL, Wright planned and implemented an experimental system for emancipating slaves at an estate she called Nashoba.

emancipation, anti-slavery, abolition, Nashoba, Frances Wright, 19th century, 1800s, U.S. history

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves: Indiana Narratives

Washington: Work Projects Administration 1941
Federal Writers ProjectGo to Book

This book contains accounts of interviews carried out from 1936 to 1938 with approximately 60 former slaves living in Indiana. Note that other volumes of oral interviews were also prepared in other states as part of this Federal Writers Project.

slavery, oral history, personal accounts, social conditions, American history, Federal Writers Project

Indiana Social History

German Settlers and German Settlements in Indiana: a memorial for the state centennial, 1916

Evansville, IN: 1915
Fritsch, William A.Go to Book

The author explained in the Preface of this small book that he was a German by birth and education, and had been a citizen of Indiana for over 50 years during which he had traveled widely around the state. He wrote that, “He believes that over half the population of the state are either German or of German descent and feels that they have not received due credit for their share in the development of the state. For many years he has devoted his leisure hours to the task of gathering facts and data regarding the Germans as a factor in the upbuilding of the state…” Chapter headings are:

-The Early Settlers of Indiana
-New Harmony a German Settlement
-Other Immigrants
-Germans in the Civil War
-After the Civil War
-German Industry and Public Institutions
-Pioneers in the Learned Profession
-German-American Alliance of Indiana

Some suggested works for genealogy research in Indiana: Genealogy & Local History – Indiana

For works about immigration of various ethnic groups, see:
Ohio Social History
(Scotch-Irish and Welsh);
Illinois Ohio Social History (Norwegians);
Michigan Social History (Dutch, Jews and Armenians);
Wisconsin Social History (Czechs, Danish, Cornish, Germans, Norwegians, Dutch, Swiss, Belgians, Greeks and Icelanders)

German immigration, German settlers, immigrants in America, New Harmony IN, German-American Alliance, Indiana settlers, free ebooks, history

“A Letter of 1832”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 25, Issue 3, September 1929, pp 242-245

Bloomington: Indiana University
Fussell, MarthaGo to Article

Martha Fussell had recently arrived at Pendleton, on the Indiana frontier, when she wrote this letter home to her husband’s parents.

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

Indiana frontier, pioneer life

Prairie Farms and Prairie Folk

London: Hurst and Blackett 1872
Gillmore, ParkerGo to Vol 1|Go to Vol 2

These two volumes appear to be reminiscences of the author – mainly of his youth in southern Indiana and Illinois. There are numerous anecdotes that portray life in pioneer days.

farmers, farming in Indiana, frontier life, prairie farmers, Indiana agriculture, books, books online free

“The Coming of the English to Indiana in 1817 and Their Hoosier Neighbors”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 15, Issue 2, 1919, pp 89-178

Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Iglehart, John E.Go to Article

British immigration, English settlers, Vanderburgh county IN, pioneers, free online history, history

Indiana Social History

“A Forgotten Feminist: The Early Writings of Ida Husted Harper, 1878–1894”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 73, Issue 2, June 1977, pp 79-101

Bloomington: Indiana University
Jones, Nancy BakerGo to Article

Also see: Johnson, Helen Kendrick, Woman and the Republic; a Survey of the Woman-suffrage Movement in the United States and a Discussion of the Claims and Arguments of its Foremost Advocates in Section 324 The political process in Political Science, Economics, Labor

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

Indiana feminist

“Ohioans in Northern Indiana before 1850”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 49, Issue 4, December 1953, pp 391-404

Bloomington: Indiana University
Lang, ElfriedaGo to Article

regional migration

The New Harmony Movement

NY: Appleton 1905
Lockwood, George B.Go to Book

A somewhat academic history of the movement. Chapter headings are:

-New Harmony’s Place in History
-The Rise of the Rappites
-The Rappites in Indiana
-The Rappite Hegira
-Robert Owen and the Industrial Revolution
-Agitation in England
-The New Moral World
-The Founding of New Harmony
-The Preliminary Society
-“The Half-way House”
-The “Permanent Community”
-The Social System on Trial
-The Duke of Saxe-Weimar at New Harmony
-Two Views of New Harmony
-Community Progress
-Community Disintegration
-Robert Owen’s Farewell Addresses
-The Ten Lost Tribes of Communism
-Woman at New Harmony
-The Educational Experiment
-Josiah Warren
-Robert Owen’s Later Life
-New Harmony’s Later History
-The MacLure Library Movement
-Robert Dale Owen
-Appendix: Sources

See also: Podmore, Frank, Robert Owen in Century Past Biographies: M, N & O

New Harmony, Robert Owen, Rappites, Owenites, Robert Dale Owen, books, online books

“The Flow of Colonists To and From Indiana Before the Civil War”

Indiana Magazine of History Vol. 11, No. 1 (March 1915) pp 1-7.

Bloomington: Indiana University
Lynch, William O.Go to Article

The author was a professor of American history at Indiana State Normal School. In this brief article Professor Lynch drew upon the censuses of 1850 and 1860 to describe the origins of Indiana residents before 1850, and show how migration patterns into Indiana were changing in the 1850s.

migration in Indiana, settlers, Civil War, 19th century, 1800s, public domain

The Diaries of Donald Macdonald, 1824-1826

Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society 1942
Macdonald, Donald Go to Book

This book contains the journals of two visits by Captain Donald Macdonald to the U.S. from his home in Ireland, in 1824-25 and 1825-26. Both journals contain accounts of his visits to New Harmony, IN.

diaries, journals, New Harmony Indiana, 19th century, 1800s, travelers, books, online free books

Indiana Social History

History of the Regulators of Northern Indiana

Indianapolis: Indianapolis Journal 1859
Mott, M.H. Go to Book

Soon after the sale of public lands in northern Indiana began in 1835 and 1836, that country began to be particularly infested with horse thieves, blacklegs, etc. Their operations extended into southern Michigan because they, of course, knew no state bounds. The inhabitants suffered so much from their depredations that the State Legislature passed on March 9, 1852, an Act authorizing the formation of companies for the detection and apprehension of horse thieves andother felons, and defining their powers. These groups were known as regulators. The first group, known as the LaGrange County Rangers, was organized September 20, 1856. Other groups organized rapidly and effectively cleared the country of these ‘nefarious operators’.

Regulators in Indiana, criminal gangs, crime, Lagrange county Rangers, Lagrange county IN, books online free

“Pioneer Life”

Indiana Magazine of History Vol. 3, Issue 1 pp 1-11, Mar 1907; Volume 3, Issue 2 pp 51-57, June 1907; Vol 3, Issue 3, pp 125-131 Sep 1907; Vol 3, Issue 4, pp 182-188 Dec 1907

Bloomington: Indiana University
Parker, Benjamin S.Paper 1|Paper 2|Paper 3|Paper 4

This article, issued in four installments, was written from manuscript material that the author was working into a book on the history of Henry County, IN. Topics covered include:

Paper No. 1: Early Manners and Customs: The Ruffian Element; Early Fighting and Rude Amusements – Cooperative Tasks and Social Accompaniments; House-raising, Logrolling, etc.; Pastimes; Pioneer Feasts; Dances and Play-Parties of the Young People.

Paper No. 2. The Old-Time Singing Schools; “Missouri Harmony” and other Singing Books, Debating Clubs, Literary Societies and other Amusements, Winter Sport, Religious Life and its social Side.

Paper No. 3. Early Credit System and Scarcity of Money, The Backwoods Cabin and its Construction, Improvement; the Hewed log house, Capacity of the “Hoosier’s Nest”, Household Equipment, Culinary Utensils, the Fireplace; “Reflector” and “Dutch Oven”, Home-made Woodenware, the Gourd, furniture, the Loom and the Spinning-Wheel.

-Paper No. 4, Clothing of the Pioneers; the Deerskin and Its Uses; Picturesque Costumes–Home-made Fabrics: Linsey and Jeans–Dye-stuffs Used: Butternut, Walnut and Indigo–The Styles of Garments–Pioneer Finery; Ladies and Gentlemen of the Old School–The Quaker Costumes–Footwear; the Introduction of the Boot–The Surtout, Cloak and Shawl–A Traveling Outfit–Superstitions.

Related books are at: Making Cloth and Clothing on the Frontier

frontier life, social customs, Henry county Indiana, logrolling, Play-parties, house-raising, literary societies, log house, pioneers, pioneer clothing, frontier history, history

A Rural Survey in Indiana

NY: Redfield 1911?
Presbyterian Church in the USA Go to Book

“Hoosier Origins: The Nativity of Indiana’s United States–Born Population in 1850”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 81, Issue 3, September 1985, pp 201-232

Bloomington: Indiana University
Rose, Gregory S.Go to Article

Some suggested books for genealogy research in Indiana: Genealogy & Local History – Indiana

regional origins of Indiana settlers

“Indiana State Aid for Negro Deportation”

Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association Vol IX, 1915-18, 414-21

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mississippi Valley Historical Association
Sherwood, Henry NobleGo to Article

Beginning in 1831 no slave or freedman was allowed to settle in Indiana unless he gave a $500 bond, signed by a white man, for his good behavior. The state constitution of 1850 went further, prohibiting negroes and mulattos from settling in Indiana, and imposing fines up to $500 for anyone encouraging them to do so. After ratification of the Constitution there began a movement among the churches as well as the state government to deport to Africa any freedmen already in Indiana. This paper describes the history of that movement.

The Bicycle Boom and the Bicycle Bloc: Cycling and Politics in the 1890s

Indiana Magazine of History Vol 104, Issue 3, 2008, pp213-240

Bloomington: Indiana University
Taylor, MichaelGo to Article

“Eleutherian Institute: A Sketch of A Unique Step in the Educational History of Indiana”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 19, Issue 2, 1923, pp 109-131

Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Thompson, William C. Go to Article

Eleutherian Institute, Jefferson county IN, anti-slavery, abolition movement, African-American schools, bi-racial education, Thomas Craven, American history

Indiana Social History

Women in Industry

Bloomington: Indiana University 1918
Trent, Ray S.Go to Book

The author was a professor of Economics and Sociology in Indiana University. The study applies to working women nation-wide, but one of the author’s stated goals was to influence applicable laws in Indiana.

“Home Life in Early Indiana”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 133-161, 1914; Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 284-320, 1914

Bloomington: Indiana University
Vogel, William F.Go to Part 1|Go to Part 2

Chapter and section titles for both parts of this article are:

Chapter 1. The Home
-Location of the House
-The Half-Faced Camp
-Cabin of the Earlier Period
-House of the Later Period
-Furniture and Fireplace Equipment
-Method of Cooking
-Articles of Food
-Homemade Utensils
-Lighting of the House
-The Problem of Clothing

Chapter 2. Occupations
-Wild Game and Hunting
-Bee Hunting
-Clearing the Forest
-Domestic Animals
-Farm Implements
-The Harvest Season
-Hunting Ginseng
-Sugar Making
-Difficulty in Obtaining Salt
-Stores and Trade
-Pioneer Mills
-Roads and Travel
-Old Time Taverns

Chapter 3. Sickness and Physicians
-Prevalence of Sickness
-Hard Lot of the Sick
-Ague and Fever
-Doctors and Methods of Treatment
-Milk-Sickness and Cholera
-Spells and Charms

Chapter 4. Churches and Preachers
-Early Catholic Missionaries
-Early Protestant Preachers
-Family Worship
-Church Buildings
-The Camp Meeting

Chapter 5. Teachers and Schools
-Education under the French
-Interest of Indiana in Education
-Home Schools
-A Pioneer Schoolhouse
-Early Teachers
-Books and Methods of Instruction
-Loud Schools
-Barring the Teacher Out
-Hardships of Pioneer School Children
-Real Education of the Early Hoosiers

Chapter 6. Social Life
-Log Rolling
-Quilting Bee
-The Shooting Match
-Goose Pulling
-Social Games
-Sleigh Rides
-The Spelling School
-Singing Schools
-Debating Societies
-The Infare
-Training Day
-Circus Day

Also see: Cooking and Housekeeping Books – 19th Century

frontier life, social customs, pioneer life, frontier hardships, frontier religion, history of medicine, education history, pioneers, frontier schools, frontier recreation, Indiana frontier

“A Station of the Underground Railroad”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 7, Issue 2, June 1911, pp 64-76

Bloomington: Indiana University
Waldrip, W. D.Go to Article

The story of the “Union Depot” of the Underground Railroad in Newport, IN, in Wayne county. The author claims this was the most famous depot on the railroad.

For links to books about the issue of slavery in Indiana and Illinois, see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

underground railroad, Indiana anti-slavery

“Local Life and Color in The New Purchase”

Indiana Magazine of History Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 215-233, 1913

Bloomington: Indiana University
Woodburn, James Albert Go to Article

This entertaining paper was an address by Professor Woodburn, from Indiana University, to the History Society of Wabash College. It describes life among settlers in the “New Purchase” region of Indiana in the 1820s, just after it was opened to settlement. He drew heavily upon stories and descriptions from the book, The New Purchase, or Seven and a Half Years in the Far West by Robert Carlton (real name Baynard Rush Hall), which can be found on the Indiana Biographies and Memoirs page of this website.

New Purchase region Indiana, settler life, pioneer life, pioneers, Indiana frontier, Baynard Rush Hall, free online history, history

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Social History’ pages.

Great Lakes Social History

Ohio Social History

Illinois Social History

Michigan Social History

Wisconsin Social History

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