Indiana is a U.S. state located in the midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Indiana is the least extensive state in the contiguous United States west of the Appalachian Mountains. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816.
Before it became a territory, varying cultures of indigenous peoples and historic Native Americans inhabited Indiana for thousands of years. Since its founding as a territory, settlement patterns in Indiana have reflected regional cultural segmentation present in the Eastern United States; the state's northernmost tier was settled primarily by people from New England and New York, Central Indiana by migrants from the Mid-Atlantic states and from adjacent Ohio, and Southern Indiana by settlers from the Southern states, particularly Kentucky and Tennessee.
Indiana has a diverse economy with a gross state product of $214 billion in 2005. Indiana has several metropolitan areas with populations greater than 100,000 and a number of smaller industrial cities and towns. Indiana is home to several major sports teams and athletic events including the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, the NBA's Indiana Pacers, the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, and the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 motorsports races.
The first inhabitants in what is now Indiana were the Paleo-Indians, who arrived about 8000 BC after the melting of the glaciers at the end of the Ice Age. Divided into small groups, the Paleo-Indians were nomads who hunted large game such as mastodons. They created stone tools made out of chert by chipping, knapping and flaking. The Archaic period, which began between 5000 and 4000 BC, covered the next phase of indigenous culture. The people developed new tools as well as techniques to cook food, an important step in civilization. Such new tools included different types of spear points and knives, with various forms of notches. They made ground-stone tools such as stone axes, woodworking tools and grinding stones. During the latter part of the period, they built earthwork mounds and middens, which showed that settlements were becoming more permanent. The Archaic period ended at about 1500 BC, although some Archaic people lived until 700 BC. Afterward, the Woodland period took place in Indiana, where various new cultural attributes appeared. During this period, the people created ceramics and pottery, and extended their cultivation of plants. An early Woodland period group named the Adena people had elegant burial rituals, featuring log tombs beneath earth mounds. In the middle portion of the Woodland period, the Hopewell people began developing long-range trade of goods. Nearing the end of the stage, the people developed highly productive cultivation and adaptation of agriculture, growing such crops as corn and squash. The Woodland period ended around 1000 AD. The Mississippian culture emerged, lasting from 1000 until the 15th century, shortly before the arrival of Europeans. During this stage, the people created large urban settlements designed according to their cosmology, with large mounds and plazas defining ceremonial and public spaces. The concentrated settlements depended on the agricultural surpluses. One such complex was the Angel Mounds. They had large public areas such as plazas and platform mounds, where leaders lived or conducted rituals. Mississippian civilization collapsed in Indiana during the mid-1400s for reasons that remain unclear. The historic Native American tribes in the area at the time of European encounter spoke different languages of the Algonquian family. They included the Shawnee, Miami, and Illini. Later they were joined by refugee tribes from eastern regions.
In 1679 the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the first European to cross into Indiana after reaching present-day South Bend at the Saint Joseph River. He returned the following year to learn about the region. French-Canadian fur traders soon arrived, bringing blankets, jewelry, tools, whiskey and weapons to trade for skins with the Native Americans. By 1702, Sieur Juchereau established the first trading post near Vincennes. In 1715, Sieur de Vincennes built Fort Miami at Kekionga, now Fort Wayne. In 1717, another Canadian, Picote de Beletre, built Fort Ouiatenon on the Wabash River, to try to control Native American trade routes from Lake Erie to the Mississippi River. In 1732, Sieur de Vincennes built a second fur trading post at Vincennes. French Canadian settlers, who had left the earlier post because of hostilities, returned in larger numbers. In a period of a few years, British colonists arrived from the East and contended against the Canadians for control of the lucrative fur trade. Fighting between the French and British colonists occurred throughout the 1750s as a result.
The Native American tribes of Indiana sided with the French Canadians during the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years War). With British victory in 1763, the French were forced to cede all their lands in North America east of the Mississippi River and north and west of the colonies to the British crown.
The tribes in Indiana did not give up; they destroyed Fort Ouiatenon and Fort Miami during Pontiac's Rebellion. The British royal proclamation of 1763 designated the land west of the Appalachians for Indian use, and excluded British colonists from the area, which the Crown called Indian Territory. In 1775, the American Revolutionary War began as the colonists sought for more self-government and independence from the British. The majority of the fighting took place near the East Coast, but the Patriot military officer George Rogers Clark called for an army to help fight the British in the west. Clark's army won significant battles and took over Vincennes and Fort Sackville on February 25, 1779. During the war, Clark managed to cut off British troops who were attacking the eastern colonists from the west. His success is often credited for changing the course of the American Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, through the Treaty of Paris, the British crown ceded their claims to the land south of the Great Lakes to the newly formed United States, including American Indian lands which they did not own.
In 1787 the US defined present-day Indiana as part of its Northwest Territory. In 1800, Congress separated Ohio from the Northwest Territory, designating the rest of the land as the Indiana Territory. President Thomas Jefferson chose William Henry Harrison as the governor of the territory and Vincennes was established as the capital. After Michigan was separated and the Illinois Territory was formed, Indiana was reduced to its current size and geography.
In 1810, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa encouraged other tribes in the territory to resist European settlement. Tensions rose and the US authorized Harrison to launch a preemptive expedition against Tecumseh's Confederacy; the US gained victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811. Tecumseh was killed in 1813 during the Battle of Thames. After his death, armed resistance to United States control ended in the region. Most Native American tribes in the state were later removed to west of the Mississippi River in the 1820s and 1830s after US negotiations and purchase their lands.
In December 1813, Corydon was named the second capital of the Indiana Territory. Two years later, a petition for statehood was approved by the territorial general assembly and sent to Congress. An Enabling Act was passed to provide an election of delegates to write a constitution for Indiana. On June 10, 1816, delegates assembled at Corydon to write the constitution, which was completed in 19 days. President James Madison approved Indiana's admission into the union as the nineteenth state on December 11, 1816.
In 1825, the state capital was moved from Corydon to Indianapolis and 26 years later, a second constitution was adopted. Following statehood, the new government worked to transform Indiana from a frontier into a developed, well-populated, and thriving state, beginning significant demographic and economic changes. The state's founders initiated a program that led to the construction of roads, canals, railroads and state-funded public schools. The plans bankrupted the state and were a financial disaster, but increased land and produce value more than fourfold. Many immigrants went west to settle in Indiana in the early nineteenth century. The largest immigrant group to settle in Indiana were Germans, as well as numerous immigrants from Ireland and England. Americans who were primarily ethnically English migrated from the Northern Tier of New York and New England, as well as the mid-Atlantic state of Pennsylvania.
During the American Civil War, Indiana became politically influential and played an important role in the affairs of the nation. As the first western state to mobilize for the United States in the war, Indiana had soldiers participating in all of the major engagements. The state provided 126 infantry regiments, 26 batteries of artillery and 13 regiments of cavalry to the cause of the Union. In 1861, Indiana was assigned a quota of 7,500 men to join the Union Army. So many volunteered in the first call that thousands had to be turned away. Before the war ended, Indiana contributed 208,367 men to fight and serve in the war. Casualties were over 35% among these men: 24,416 lost their lives in the conflict and over 50,000 more were wounded. The only Civil War battle fought in Indiana was the Battle of Corydon, which occurred during Morgan's Raid. The battle left 15 dead, 40 wounded, and 355 captured.
Following the American Civil War, Indiana industry began to grow at an accelerated rate across the northern part of the state. With industrialization, workers developed labor unions and suffrage movements arose in relation to the progress of women. The Indiana Gas Boom led to rapid industrialization during the late 19th century by providing cheap fuel to the region. In the early 20th century, Indiana developed into a strong manufacturing state with ties to the new auto industry. Haynes-Apperson, the nation's first commercially successful auto company, operated in Kokomo until 1925. The construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the start of auto-related industries were also related to the auto industry boom.
During the 1930s, Indiana, like the rest of the nation, was affected by the Great Depression. The economic downturn had a wide-ranging negative impact on Indiana, such as the decline of urbanization. The Dust Bowl further to the west resulted in many migrants fleeing into the more industrialized Midwest. Governor Paul V. McNutt's administration struggled to build a state-funded welfare system to help the overwhelmed private charities. During his administration, spending and taxes were both cut drastically in response to the Depression, and the state government was completely reorganized. McNutt ended Prohibition in the state and enacted the state's first income tax. On several occasions, he declared martial law to put an end to worker strikes. World War II helped lift the economy in Indiana, as the war required steel, food and other goods that were produced in the state. Roughly 10 percent of Indiana's population joined the armed forces, while hundreds of industries earned war production contracts and began making war material. Indiana manufactured 4.5 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking eighth among the 48 states. The expansion of industry to meet war demands helped end the Great Depression.
With the conclusion of World War II, Indiana rebounded to levels of production prior to the Great Depression. Industry became the primary employer, a trend that continued into the 1960s. Urbanization during the 1950s and 1960s led to substantial growth in the state's cities. The auto, steel and pharmaceutical industries topped Indiana's major businesses. Indiana's population continued to grow during the years after the war, exceeding five million by the 1970 census. In the 1960s, the administration of Matthew E. Welsh adopted its first sales tax of two percent. Indiana schools were desegregated in 1949. In 1950, the Census Bureau reported Indiana's population as 95.5% white and 4.4% black. Governor Welsh also worked with the General Assembly to pass the Indiana Civil Rights Bill, granting equal protection to minorities in seeking employment.
Beginning in 1970, a series of amendments to the state constitution were proposed. With adoption, the Indiana Court of Appeals was created and the procedure of appointing justices on the courts was adjusted.
The 1973 oil crisis created a recession that hurt the automotive industry in Indiana. Companies such as Delco Electronics and Delphi began a long series of downsizing that contributed to high unemployment rates in manufacturing in Anderson, Muncie, and Kokomo. The restructuring and deindustrialization trend continued until the 1980s, when the national and state economy began to diversify and recover.
Note: Indiana was included in the Northwest Territory (1787) but became a separate territory in 1800. At that time, in addition to most of present-day Indiana, the Territory included all of Illinois and Wisconsin, the western half of Michigan, and northeastern Minnesota. In 1802 the boundary with Ohio was altered and eastern Michigan was added, but Michigan Territory was separated in 1805 and Illinois Territory in 1809, leaving Indiana Territory with the present State area except for a narrow band along the northern border; the territory also included a portion of the Michigan Upper Peninsula. On December 11, 1816 Indiana was admitted as a State with essentially its present boundaries. In 1790 the Northwest Territory had no census coverage. The 1800 census of Indiana Territory enumerated scattered communities in southern Indiana, southwestern Illinois, northern Michigan, and Wisconsin; the populations reported from present-day Illinois and Michigan are shown under those States. In addition, Hamilton County, Ohio included some population in what is now Indiana. In 1810, census coverage of Indiana Territory was limited to southern Indiana, and coverage did not include the whole State until 1830.. Total for 1800 comprises Knox County, Indiana Territory, part of which was in present-day Illinois, and the population of two settlements in present-day Wisconsin, Green Bay (50) and Prairie du Chien (65). The rest of Indiana Territory's 1800 enumerated population (5,641) is shown under Illinois (2,458) and Michigan (551).
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
Ancestry.com has the following Indiana vital record collections:
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Indiana family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.