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Immediate Unity

The public launch of the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis was held November 18 at a celebration at the Central Library to recognize and celebrate the support for this bicentennial legacy project. Polis will transfer ownership to the library as community trustee by the end of the year and will continue to work with the library on new phases of the initiative.

After more than two years of development, the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis is available to the public. The free-access, web-based encyclopedia, published at, builds on the information featured in the 1,600-page print encyclopedia created by The Polis Center in 1994. The original Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, now 25 years out of date, was once hailed as a national model for urban encyclopedias.

The new Encyclopedia of Indianapolis provides comprehensive social, cultural, economic, historical, political, and physical descriptions of Indianapolis while shedding light on the events, people, and organizations that shaped the city’s past and present. Visitors can research historical figures such as Madam C. J. Walker, learn what Indianapolis was like during WWI, and find timelines of current events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors of the 1,900 entries include subject matter experts from all walks of life. A search box allows users to enter a name, term, or phrase to begin a direct inquiry.

The process of updating the original entries to include image-rich and interactive content was overseen by David J. Bodenhamer of the Polis Center. The Polis Center will transfer continuing responsibility for the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis to the Indianapolis Public Library. IndyPL will ensure the ongoing updating of the interactive resource.

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis was created in partnership with The Polis Center, Indiana Historical Society, SAVI, University of Indianapolis, IUPUI University Library, Indiana State Library, The Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana Landmarks, Butler University, Indiana Archives, and Indiana Humanities. Major funding for the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis was provided by Lilly Endowment Inc., Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, R.B. Annis Educational Foundation, The Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund, Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr. Memorial Foundation, M. Jacqueline Nytes, and an anonymous donor.

The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation is raising funds to expand the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis’ content and features. To give, text EOI to 317-967-9287

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