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What is the County Historian Program?

The Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau established the County Historian Program in 1981 in an effort to improve the historical communication network in the state. Each county has one county historian. IHS’s Local History Services Department coordinates the program.

How do I find out who the county historian is for a particular county?

Download a full list here. Or use our clickable map.

Who are the county historians?

Anyone who is well acquainted with the county and its history, able to travel in the county, available for contact and interested in local history can be a county historian. County historians are full-time teachers, dry cleaners, attorneys, librarians, farmers, history professors, stay-at-home parents and retired citizens. While some county historians have advanced degrees in history, the majority are high school graduates or have bachelor's degrees in subjects unrelated to history.

How are county historians chosen?

Local historical organizations in each county nominate county historians to renewable three-year terms. The Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau appoint the nominees as official county historians.

Are county historians paid?

No. County historians are volunteers and receive no compensation for their work. However, county historians can charge their patrons for postage or time spent researching the answer to a query. When responding to a request initially, county historians should make sure any fee expectations are fully explained. At a minimum, county historians are expected to reply to a request for help with a list of resources available in the area which may include paid researchers (including the county historian, if desired).

What are the responsibilities of the county historians?

Each Indiana county historian acts as:
• a coordinator of historical information sources for the county he or she serves
• a resource person for historical inquiries from within and without the county
• an emissary of the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau, promoting cooperation between local historical organizations while reducing duplication of effort
• an educator able to travel within the county and capable of serving the needs of his or her constituents • a student willing to devote time and effort to learning new techniques and technologies
• a historian well acquainted with and interested in the county's heritage

Do county historians initiate other programs to meet historical needs in their communities?

Absolutely! County historians are encouraged to take stock of the historical needs in their counties and address them as they develop. Examples of projects county historians have begun are:
• cemetery restoration and mapping
• working with local students and libraries on web-based history projects
• collaborating with area groups on the creation of regional history trails and tours
• fundraising for restoration of historical buildings
• compiling and indexing obituaries from historic newspapers
• offering genealogy or cemetery restoration workshops

Do county historians ever recruit assistants to help them with their work?

Yes. County historians may appoint associate county historians to add more depth to the gathering and documenting of local resources.

For more information about the County Historian Program or if you are interested in becoming a county historian, please contact us.

Jeannette Rooney
Coordinator Local History Services – County Historian Program
Indiana Historical Society
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center
450 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 233-8913