Polis Center at IUPUI collaborating on new web-based 'Encyclopedia of Indianapolis'

Indianapolis skyline seen from campusView print quality image
The Polis Center at IUPUI is collaborating on a digital "Encyclopedia of Indianapolis" that will cover two centuries the city's history. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Information on the development of Indianapolis over the two centuries since its founding will be freely accessible in an updated, digital "Encyclopedia of Indianapolis," currently under development and scheduled for a launch date in December. This dynamic, highly visual and interactive platform will provide researchers with information on how Indianapolis and Central Indiana have changed in the past 25 years since the encyclopedia's 1994 print edition.

Designated as a legacy project of the Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission, the new "Encyclopedia of Indianapolis" will link resources from multiple organizations across desktop and mobile devices. It will add content to reflect developments since 1994 along with a document-and-image-rich interactive timeline. Citizens and organizations can add their own special timelines or histories, suggest entries, and offer corrections and comments. Each neighborhood in the city will have its own entry, giving residents information about the places where they live.

Users will be able to explore and discover information by event, name, date, place, keywords or topic. The multimedia platform will include text, audio, video, images and story maps, with the ability to access content from other digital collections housed elsewhere.

Developed by the Polis Center at IUPUI in collaboration with the city's major cultural and heritage institutions, the encyclopedia has its ownership vested in The Indianapolis Public Library. Collaborating partners include the city's major heritage and cultural organizations: the Indiana Historical Society, the Institute for Civic Leadership and Indianapolis Mayoral Archives at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana Landmarks, IUPUI's University Library, Butler University Archives, Indiana State Library and Historical Bureau, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, and Indiana Humanities.

"This new platform will be of interest to every person who wants to know about Indianapolis and Central Indiana," said David J. Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center and the encyclopedia's editor-in-chief. "This dynamic resource will allow us to add new material continuously, so all of us will have access to timely and comprehensive information about where we have been and where we are headed as a city and region."

The digital encyclopedia will include features designed to take full advantage of web technologies, eventually including immersive capabilities. The online platform will be especially useful to the media, government, and professionals and individuals with interest in planning, economic development, tourism, education, leadership development, arts and culture, neighborhood development, health, social services, philanthropy, religion, and other areas key to the development of a vibrant, innovative and prosperous city.

"This resource provides a comprehensive gateway to the story of our city," said Jackie Nytes, CEO of The Indianapolis Public Library. "Anyone wishing to explore Indianapolis' many milestones and the rich tapestry of its civic and cultural organizations can do so online 24/7 after the site is launched. The library is excited to play a role in its creation."

Financial support for the project has been provided by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation Inc. and Lilly Endowment Inc. Fundraising will continue for special features, content and technical development, and operational support.

For more information, visit the project on Facebook.