New web-based encyclopedia to feature 200 years of Indianapolis history

Information on the development of Indianapolis over the two centuries since its founding will be freely accessible in an updated, digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, currently under development and scheduled for launching in December 2020. This dynamic, highly visual and interactive platform also will provide researchers with information on how Indianapolis and central Indiana have changed in the past 25 years since the encyclopedia’s 1994 print edition.

Designated as a legacy project of the Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission, the new Encyclopedia of Indianapolis will link resources from multiple organizations across desktop and mobile devices. It will add content to reflect developments since 1994 along with a document-and-image-rich interactive timeline. Citizens and organizations can add their own special timelines or histories, suggest entries and offer corrections and comments. Each neighborhood in the city will have its own entry, giving residents information about the places where they live.

Users will be able to explore and discover information by event, name, date, place, keywords, or topic. The multi-media platform will include text, audio, video, images and story maps, with the ability to access content from other digital collections housed elsewhere.

Developed by the Polis Center at IUPUI in collaboration with the city’s major cultural and heritage institutions, ownership will be vested in The Indianapolis Public Library. Collaborating partners include the city’s major heritage and cultural organizations: Indiana Historical Society, Center for Civic Leadership and Indianapolis Mayoral Archives (University of Indianapolis), Indiana Landmarks, IUPUI University Library, Butler University Archives, Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau, Indiana Archives and Records Administration and Indiana Humanities.

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis is developed by the Polis Center at IUPUI in collaboration with the city’s major cultural and heritage institutions; ownership will be vested in The Indianapolis Public Library. (Submitted photo)

“This new platform will be of interest to every person who wants to know about Indianapolis and central Indiana,” said David J. Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center at IUPUI and the encyclopedia’s editor-in-chief. “This dynamic resource will allow us also to add new material continuously, so all of us will have access to timely and comprehensive information about where we have been and where we are headed as a city and region.”

The digital encyclopedia will include features designed to take full advantage of web technologies, eventually including immersive capabilities. The online platform will be especially useful to the media, government and professionals and individuals with interest in planning, economic development, tourism, education, leadership development, arts and culture, neighborhood development, health, social services, philanthropy, religion and other areas key to the development of a vibrant, innovative and prosperous city.

“This resource provides a comprehensive gateway to the story of our city,” said Jackie Nytes, Indianapolis Public Library Chief Executive Officer. “Anyone wishing to explore Indianapolis’ many milestones and the rich tapestry of its civic and cultural organizations can do so online 24/7 when the site is launched. The library is excited to play a role in its creation.”

Financial support for the project has been provided by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc., and Lilly Endowment Inc. Fundraising will continue for special features, content and technical development, and operational support.

For more information, visit Facebook at and Twitter at