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Meet Michael Thrall

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If you’ve been to an event at the History Center, you’ve likely seen Michael Thrall, a legislative assistant with the Democratic Caucus Staff at the Indiana House of Representatives. He talks to us about his life and why he is a longtime and active member of the Indiana Historical Society.

What made you join IHS in 1992?

A co-worker at the time who was an IHS member and who knew of my interest in Indiana history suggested it, and I decided it sounded like an interesting and educational opportunity. While I first became interested in history at a young age, when I joined I was becoming “re-interested” after putting the subject aside for a number of years to concentrate on my job. At the time, I was also beginning to develop what is now a goal of mine to become a self-taught amateur – but very serious amateur – historian in American history and particularly in Indiana history.

What do you like about being a member?

Being a member provides a little easier access to the programs and publications. The membership discount allows me to attend more of the programs with an admission charge and to purchase more books and items from the History Market than I might be able to afford otherwise.

What are your favorite events?

While it might sound cliché to say that I enjoy the vast majority of IHS events, I do. I attend all programs that are informative and/or entertaining. I very seldom miss the “Speaker Series” and “Reading Life” events. Programs about historical political events and political personalities are ones I especially enjoy.

What’s the last book you read?

The last fiction book was Laddie by Gene Stratton-Porter, and I’m currently reading the nonfiction book Gene Stratton Porter; Novelist and Naturalist by Judith Reick Long. I became more interested in the life and literature of Stratton-Porter after attending the spring tour of the Canal Society of Indiana, another history organization to which I belong. It included a church and cemetery about one-half mile from where she was born and lived during her early childhood. The family attended the church, and her father, mother and some siblings are interred there.

Do you have any hobbies?

I’m an auto racing fan. While I enjoy NASCAR stock car racing, I’m mostly interested in IndyCar open wheel racing and in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ve been in attendance at every Indy 500 since 1974 – 36 straight and 39 Indy 500 races overall – all 15 of the Brickyard 400 stock car races held at the Speedway, and all eight of the Formula One Grand Prix races that took place there. I also attended the inaugural MotoGP motorcycle race held at the IMS last year. I also have a special interest in a particular Indiana historical figure – Alvin P. Hovey. He intrigues me because he is not that well-known despite having played several significant roles in the history of Indiana and the country. It is my hope to someday do research and writing on him.