New $102M Facility for Indiana’s Historic Records

New $102M Facility for Indiana’s Historic Records

Renderings from Pepper Construction.

The massive collection of historical records in the Indiana State Archives is set to get a new home soon, now that construction is underway on a new $102 million facility in Indianapolis. That’s exciting news for Hoosier researchers, archivists, and history buffs, who agree that an upgrade has been badly needed for quite some time.

For over two decades, many of Indiana’s most important documents have been stored in a warehouse on the east side of Indianapolis that some have described as “dilapidated.” This location was only meant to be temporary after the collection was moved from the Indiana State Library during a 2001 renovation. It does not have the proper museum-grade controls necessary for the safe storage of historical records – some of which are well over 200 years old.

But thankfully, the collection will soon have a permanent home in a brand-new facility designed specifically for the task of document preservation and ease of public access.


Long Time Coming

Map from IDOA.

Plans for a modernized Indiana State Archives Building have long been in the works, dating back to 2015. The search for a new location took years, but in June of 2023 the State Budget Committee gave its final approval to begin construction on a parcel of land situated not far from the Indiana Statehouse.

Today, work is underway on a new 133,000-square foot building that will sit between Ohio Street and New York Street in Indianapolis. This narrow lot has served as a parking area since the 1960s, and contractors will have to contend with zero-lot conditions (meaning the structure will extend right up to the lot’s boundaries, with no extra room).

This location is also close to the Indiana State Museum, the Indiana State Library, and the Indiana Historical Society, forming what the project’s architects have described as a bit of an “academic research district.”


Perfect Conditions

Plans call for the establishment of a five-story building with interior features that meet the strict thresholds of an archival space. This will include mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems that balance the UV light, humidity, and temperature conditions needed to prevent document degradation. There will also be areas of the building that will utilize the latest technology for document processing, imaging, and restoration.

Outside of archival spaces, the building will have appealing features for archive employees and guests as well, which is important because thousands of people come to visit the archives each year. Many of these individuals are seeking to study specific records for academic, legal, or historical research, so a major focal point of the new building will be to make the collection more accessible to the public.

There will also be new offices, flexible spaces for meetings or events, and collaborative spaces featuring an open concept and plenty of natural light. Construction crews are also going to establish an underground tunnel to connect the new archive building to other nearby facilities.

Officials have said that vertical construction of the building structure will begin in spring of 2024 and the building could be completed and ready for occupancy in 2025.


For Future Generations

According to the Library of Congress, “Generally speaking, good quality paper stored in good conditions (cooler temperatures; 30-40% relative humidity) is able to last a long time – even hundreds of years.”

That’s exactly why a new, modernized Indiana State Archives building is going to be such an important project for future generations of Hoosiers. Preserving and learning from our historical legacy is one of the best ways our state can ensure a prosperous future. This new facility will go a long way on that regard, keeping our most significant documents safe for many years to come.



What’s Inside the State Archives?

The collection housed inside the Indiana State Archives is quite large and eclectic. All kinds of important historical records and interesting documents are preserved by the facility, including:

  • The manuscript for the 1816 Indiana Constitution.
  • The manuscript for the 1851 Indiana Constitution.
  • Photos of the Beatles at the Indiana State Fair in 1964.
  • Clark v. Johnston and Lasselle v. State (two landmark Indiana Supreme Court cases from 1820 and 1821 that concluded that slavery and indentured servitude were unconstitutional).
  • Architectural drawings of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument including the statues.
  • John Dillinger’s mug shot and prison packets.
  • The oldest document in the archives – minutes of the board of trustees for Clarksville, 1784.
  • Autographed Sammy Terry poster to Gov. Whitcomb.
  • Donald Trump’s casino application.
  • Records related to the Department of Health’s response to Ryan White and the AIDS epidemic.

What are the Most Requested Types of Records?

  • DD214s military service records of Hoosiers. (These are photostats, not originals, but they are important because of a huge fire at the National Personnel Records Center in the 1970s where many of the originals burned. Due to the fire, the photostats that the archives holds are in some cases the only extant copy of these records).
  • Naturalization records from the 1820s to mid-20th century.

Source: IDOA, Nov. 2023



Construction Partners for the Indiana State Archives Building


Sources: IDOA, Pepper Construction


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