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Outstanding Local History Organization

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Jeff Harris, director of IHS’s Local History Services department, spoke with the North Manchester Center for History’s Bill Eberly, president of the board, and Nancy Reed, director. Their organization won IHS’s Outstanding Local History Organization Award in 2009.

What are some of the North Manchester area’s history highlights?
This is the birthplace of Thomas R. Marshall, a vice president of the U.S. and a governor of Indiana. This also was the home base of Andrew Cordier, who helped to write the Charter of the United Nations. North Manchester had a number of scholarly and literary figures – like Lloyd Douglas, who wrote The Robe, The Big Fisherman, Green Light and Magnificent Obsession. Also, Gene Stratton-Porter and Ross Lockridge lived nearby. In the 1980s, Good Morning America selected us as the best small town in the United States.

What projects do you have underway?
The primary one right now is a farm collection from the Miller family with about 1,200 objects. This includes some large items – a high wheel wagon, five plows, a bobsled and other big things. This is a very large and complete collection and will make a great exhibit. Ancestors of the Miller family have lived in our community for more than 150 years.

What kinds of outreach programs do you have planned?
We are working on fundraising for our museum building. We are working with the North Manchester College Education Department and the local schools to develop interactive exhibits that meet Indiana’s education curriculum requirements. We are also developing kits and other items that teachers can take into their classrooms. The college is also having college students work teaching elementary kids in our building.