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Harry H. Coburn photograph collection

Identifier: SP032

Scope and Contents

This collection includes photographs from Harry H. Coburn in Indianapolis and Greenfield, Indiana ranging from 1913 to 1927, regarding the impact of the 1913 flood on the White River and the surrounding areas, such as Riverside Park, near downtown Indianapolis; James Whitcomb Riley attending his final birthday celebration at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis (October 7, 1915) and the parade at the the Riley celebration in Greenfield, Indiana (October, 1925); and events in Indianapolis during and related to World War I (1917-1927).

The World War I images are stills from the film Coburn made of various events including, army training for soldiers at Fort Harrison, including calisthenics, map reading, grenade throwing, and marching; several parades and bond drives as well as visits from Theodore Roosevelt, Will H. Hays, and French officials; Welcome Home Day celebrations on May 7, 1919; and the cornerstone laying for the World War Memorial on July 4, 1927, attended by General John Pershing.

Note the photographs of the Riley parade floats are incorrectly dated November, 1918, which was when the Riley statue erected in front of the Hancock County Courthouse was unveiled. The depicted floats are from a parade in October, 1925, and were listed in the local newspaper, The Daily Reporter.


  • 1913-1927


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Harry Humbert Coburn (1880-1958) was an Indianapolis commercial photographer and one of the first Hoosiers to embrace moviemaking. He captured numerous events in Indianapolis, Indiana on film during the early 20th century.

Historical Note

In October, 1925, the city of Greenfield, Indiana hosted a celebration honoring its beloved native son, James Whitcomb Riley, on the late poet's birthday. The highlight of the celebration was hundreds of marching school children from Greenfield and Hancock County schools and a parade of floats and vehicles from various schools and organizations decorated along themes of Riley's poems, such as "Nine Little Goblins," "The Bear Story," "The Name of Old Glory."

This event and the preceeding "Riley Days" held in schools beginning in 1913 eventually led to the creation of an annual Riley Festival in Greenfield, Indiana.


"Sun Shines on School Children." The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, IN), October 7, 1925, p. 1, 4.

Riley Festival. "Riley Festival History 1911-1921." Accessed September 20, 2018.

Riley Festival. "Riley Festival History 1925-1967." Accessed September 20, 2018.

Historical Note

The "Great Flood of 1913" took place in the midwestern United States when major rivers flooded from runofff and several days of heavy rain during March 23-26, 1913. In Indiana, the flooding of the White, Ohio, and Wabash rivers wreaked havoc in the communities along the rivers' banks. In Indianapolis, the White River's flooding devastated the city's west side, when the Morris Street levee broke on March 25th and approximately 10-15 feet of water swept over entire neighborhoods. Several bridges collapsed and industrial buildings like the Kingan and Company meat packing factory sank into the water. Around 4,000 families in west Indianapolis, mostly working class, were impacted by the flood.


Indiana Department of Natural Resources. "Indiana Underwater: The Flood of 1913." Accessed September 20, 2018.

Mitchell, Dawn. "RetroIndy: 1913 Floods." Indianapolis Star, March 22, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2018.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation; addition from General photograph collection (P0) on 2018/09/20.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digitized materials from the collection are available online in the ISL Digital Collections (

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

Coburn, Harry H. World War I, 1917-1918 film. Indiana Division, Indiana State Library. Call no. ISLI 940.3772 W927 2017. ISL Digital Collections.

Coburn, Harry H. Indiana Floods of 1913 and circa 1930s. Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, Ball State University. Digital Media Repository.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed and EAD finding aid created in 2017 January by Lauren Patton. EAD finding aid revised 2018/02/14 by Brittany Kropf. Reprocessed 2018/09/20 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid revised 2018/09/20 by Brittany Kropf.
Harry H. Coburn photograph collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.