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Digital Indy reveals Indianapolis Public Schools Architecture Collection

Digital Indy reveals Indianapolis Public Schools Architecture Collection

Thousands of blueprints, drawings, photographs and other documents detailing the architectural environment of the Indianapolis Public School (IPS) system are now available to view on The Indianapolis Public Library’s Digital Indy website.

The Indianapolis Public Schools Architecture Collection is the newest addition to the library’s Digital Indy archive, which includes collections of documents, images, videos and recordings that highlight local history. Digital Indy’s content may be printed or downloaded free for personal use, study or research.

The Indianapolis Public Schools Architecture Collection spans three centuries and includes documents from the 1890s through the 1970s. The educational priorities of various time periods are reflected in the design of buildings and how they were used. For example, school floor plans that highlight what was taught in classrooms during various time periods reveal rooms designated for clothing laboratory, cabinet making shop and other subjects that are hard to find in modern schools.

An aerial photo of Emmerich Manual Training High School circa 1940s-1950s. (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Public Library Digital Collections)

“The architecture depicted in this collection is the physical manifestation of the complicated history of the IPS school system at large,” said Indianapolis Public Library’s Digital Projects Coordinator Katie Farmer. “The priorities of society and culture are reflected in how the educational system developed and evolved, and images of a coal storage room inside of a school can show how the technical aspects of the buildings have changed over the decades.”

The Digital Indy team worked with Russell McClure, AICP, Facilities Management Division and Indianapolis Public Schools to select materials to include in the collection from more than 100 IPS elementary schools, high schools and other properties. Then, the Digital Indy team worked with Easterseals Crossroads to digitize the materials. More than 5,000 blueprints, including architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and landscape technical drawings, were selected to form the core of this collection. To supplement the architectural drawings, over 300 aerial and building photographs and more than 1,000 pages of other documentation were included to show the process from design through construction to functional building. Additional documents will be added during the coming months.

“Since Indianapolis Public Library first reached out in 2016 with the vision of digitizing the archives and records of Indianapolis Public Schools, it has been an incredibly rewarding journey to see the results of the tireless efforts of the digitization team to bring over a century of IPS history from dusty storage rooms and long forgotten filing drawers and make them accessible to the world,” said Zachary J. Mulholland, executive director of operations at Indianapolis Public Schools. “I’m proud of the work that has been done by the many dedicated team members to make this vision a reality, and I’m thankful to those who have supported this important work financially and otherwise. The addition of the architectural records to the already impressive digital collection will significantly contribute to all those who are interested in learning about, understanding and preserving the rich history of Indianapolis.”

The collection has been preserved in large part due to the IPS Facilities Management Division and will continue to be stored on IPS grounds. The digitization of these materials was made possible by a $1.8 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. IndyPL was awarded the grant to finish digitizing items for the already existing Indianapolis Firefighters’ Museum digital collection and to create new digital collections for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Public Schools and Indy Parks.

View the Indianapolis Public Schools Architecture Collection at digitalindy.org.

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