Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants, now available from the IHS Press, tells the story of people from around the world who chose Indiana’s capital for their home.
Written by M. Teresa Baer, IHS Press managing editor of family history publications, the booklet opens with the Delaware Indians who lived in the area until they moved west in 1818. White Protestants whose ancestors hailed from England, Wales, Scotland, and northern Ireland quickly replaced the natives and were followed by poor Irish Catholics, who came to build canals and railroads. Numerous Germanic people arrived during the mid-nineteenth century, including Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. African American indentured servants and free blacks also helped to create and develop Indianapolis. After the Civil War, southern blacks poured into the city.
At the end of the nineteenth century, thousands of eastern and southern Europeans, fleeing war and political unrest, also landed in Indianapolis. American anti-immigration laws slowed immigration until World War II. From that point, Indianapolis welcomed students and professionals from Asia and the Middle East, bringing religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism to the city. It also became a refuge for immigrants from war-torn countries such as Vietnam and poor countries such as Mexico. Today, the city’s Hispanic, Indian, and Asian populations are growing rapidly. Together with the older established groups and incoming Americans—including numerous Native Americans—Indianapolis is more diverse and culturally rich than ever before.
Baer publishes The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections magazine, online publications, and family history and children’s books, including immigration and ethnic histories. Baer compiled the award-winning book Finding Indiana Ancestors, and she has authored magazine articles and book chapters on both genealogical and historical topics.
Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants costs $11.99 and is available from the IHS's Basile History Market.