Indiana Album encourages Hoosiers to share their photographs, past and present, for online database

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Joan Hostetler wanted to create a resource for people across the state where they could find old photographs and documents that tell Indiana’s story.

“We want any building, any place, any business, any house, any farm scene,” Hostetler said. “People doing interesting things because it adds context to stories that people are telling.”

Hostetler is the executive director of the Indiana Album. It’s a nonprofit organization that borrow Hoosiers’ photos and documents from all eras, digitizes them, catalogs and shares them on their website. You can visit that website at

“We found that a lot of the greatest history is in grandma’s attic,” Hostetler said.

The executive director adds there are learning opportunities within the photos as well.

“For example, there was an interior of a store and it named the dog and then it said, ‘became a rug,'” Hostetler said. “Okay, well what does that mean? It meant that when the dog died they loved the dog so much they turned it into a rug. So that takes us down the rabbit hole of research in that was a common thing to do.”

Indiana Album serves people across the state. Hostetler said they have a significant amount of material from Indianapolis, but are looking for more representation of the minority communities.

“We’re missing pockets of the state,” Hostetler said. “We’re also very heavy on white and not getting the rich ethnic history or the African American history so we’re curating it, not just taking what’s coming to us. We want the first photograph of a gay marriage in Indiana as well as 1860s images.”

The nonprofit allows most people to use its online material for free. That includes images used for personal, nonprofit, and educational purposes. They do want people to contact them to order prints, high resolution scans or for commercial use.

“Anybody can use those images,” Hostetler added. “We like them to leave the credit band at the bottom because we promised to credit all the collections and the great people who are sharing with us.”

Indiana Album hosts Scan-a-thons regularly. They will help with scanning your photos, they just ask that you fill out a form ahead of time. You can find the form and the dates of upcoming Scan-a-thons by visiting

Indiana Album also encourages help with identifying images on its Facebook page. That is also where they have information for volunteering.

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