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Christian Schrader collection

Identifier: L573

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, pencil drawings, negatives, 35mm slides, and family photographs from Christian Schrader in Indianapolis, Indiana ranging from circa 1842 to 1987, regarding Schrader’s family, friends, and early Indianapolis. Schrader includes rough dates for the subjects he depicts in the drawings, but many of them were created from his recollections later in life. There are also oversize drawings (OBE017).

Negatives are available for most of the drawings. In 1962, Robert A. Twente created 8 x 10-inch glossy photographic prints of Schrader’s drawings, courtesy of Eli Lilly. These photographic prints depict selected drawings, reproduced in color. There are also a few 35mm slides.

Most drawings have a number assigned to them which corresponds to their reproductions in the book, Indianapolis Remembered: Christian Schrader's Sketches of Early Indianapolis (1987). The photographs of the drawings (circa 1962) are labelled and organized numerically. Many of the drawings have additional handwritten descriptions by the artist about the history or Schrader's thoughts. Any dates he provided were used in the collection inventory, although the drawings themselves may have been created or completed at an unknown later date.


  • 1842-1987

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

Christian Schrader was born in Indiana on January 6, 1842, to John and Johanna Schrader. As a child, Schrader dreamed of making a living as an artist. During the 1850s and 1860s, he learned the importance of history and technique of art with other art students, including prominent portrait and landscape artists, Jacob Cox and Henry Waugh. Schrader predominately sketched in pencil using people, buildings and landscapes to record early Indianapolis.

Never identifying himself as a professional artist, Schrader decided on a mercantile career during the 1850s. By 1854, he was a clerk at George G. Homan’s dry goods store located in the Odd Fellows Building. During the 1860s and early 1870s, Schrader worked as a clerk at John Woodbridge and Company, a china and glassware shop on West Washington Street. In 1872, he opened his own store on 116 East Washington Street, known for exquisite china, glassware, queensware, and statuary.

Schrader married Emily Schreyer on June 22, 1871 and they had two daughters: Lotta (Schrader) Potter (1878-1971) and Louise (Schrader) Graham (1874-1937). Emily died August 15, 1897.

Schrader retired from his business in 1909 and moved to Denver, Colorado to live with his daughter, Lotta and her husband, Frank G. Potter. Around 1911, he returned to Indiana, moving to Madison to live with his daughter, Louise and her husband, Alexander M. Graham. After retirement, Schrader began drawing once more, with renewed interest in the early art sketches he created during the mid- to late 1800s.

Schrader is well-known for sketching Indianapolis street by street and block by block, accounting for over 170 buildings total. He relied on his early sketches to record Indianapolis as well as from his memory and the memories of others.

Christian Schrader died of a stroke on February 20, 1920 in Madison, Indiana. He was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.


Items within the collection. "Emily Thrier." Indiana, U.S., Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993. Accessed February 17, 2021.

Indianapolis Remembered: Christian Schrader's Sketches of Early Indianapolis. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1987. "Charlotte 'Lotta' Schrader Potter." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed February 17, 2021. "Christian Schrader." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed March 13, 2021. "Emily Schrader." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed February 17, 2021. "Louise Schrader Graham." Find a Grave Memorial. Accessed February 17, 2021.

Historical Note

The city of Indianapolis along the White River in Marion County was founded in 1820 as the site of the new state capitol of Indiana, shifting the seat of government from Corydon in the south by 1825. The Lënape people (Delaware Nation) had lived in the area for decades prior. At the time of Indianapolis' founding, the Delaware people were departing the state. Long inured to the effects of European and American westward expansion, they surrendered their homes and ceded any claim to land in Indiana, receiving annuities and land west of the Mississippi, as part of the Treaty of St. Mary's in 1818. They relocated along the James River in modern-day Missouri for a time. The Miami (myaamiaki) and Potawatomi (Bodwéwadmik) peoples also yielded their homelands in central Indiana as part of the same treaty, but held out a couple more decades before most of them were forced to leave Indiana and relocate west.

The Indiana General Assembly appointed Alexander Ralston and Elias Pym Fordham to survey and plan the town's design and Indianapolis was platted in 1821. Ralston's original plan consisted of a grid pattern of wide roads and public squares centered around Governor's Circle (now Monument Circle) over 1 square mile, an area often called "Mile Square" today. The plan included diagonal streets, which were eventually named Indiana, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Virginia avenues. Two notable street names in downtown Indianapolis were changed to their well-known, contemporary titles. In 1895, Mississippi Street was renamed Senate Avenue, a year after Tennessee Street became Capitol Avenue following the construction of several government buildings near the present-day Indiana Statehouse.

By 1825, the town's population of 500 had access to a post office, a school, several churches and shops, seven taverns, and a courthouse where the state legislature met until the construction of the Indiana’s third statehouse, completed in 1835. The capitol that would one day be called the "Crossroads of America" was the intersection of two early highways, Michigan Road running north to the titular Great Lake and south to the Ohio River, and the National Road, also called Cumberland Road (now U.S. Route 40), running east toward Washington, D.C. and west into Illinois. As an added transportation route, the legislature authorized construction of the Central Canal, which ran alongside the White River on the western side of the town. By the late 1850s, the city boasted several new factories, institutions for blind, deaf, and mute people, an "insane asylum", and the impressive Union Terminal, a necessity following the advent of railroads.

By 1850, Indianapolis' population rose to 8,000, but the makeup of the capitol's population was largely white, composed of European immigrants and Americans of European descent. By 1860, only 468 African Americans lived in Indianapolis, a direct result of Article XIII of the 1851 Indiana Constitution, which banned Black Americans from moving into the state. The African American population in Indiana grew during the U.S. Civil War, in spite of the discriminatory article, as Black Americans fled the South. The trend continued throughout the late 19th century and most of the new Hoosiers came to Indianapolis. By 1900, the African American population in the city had swelled from less than 3 percent in 1860 to nearly 10 percent.


Cierzniak, Libby. "Indianapolis Collected: A Road By Any Other Name." Historic Indianapolis blog, October 18, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2021.

Kappler, Charles J., ed. " Treaty with the Delawares, 1818." In Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, vol. 2, p. 170-171.Washington, D.C.,: Government Printing Office, 1904. Accessed March 22, 2021.

Monroe, Elizabeth Brand. "Built Environment." In Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, p. 23-38. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Thornbrough, Emma Lou. "African Americans." In Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, p. 5-14. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.


9 Cubic Feet (2 manuscript boxes, 6 large oversize boxes, 5 medium oversize boxes, 1 extra -arge oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, papers, and photographs, circa 1850-1987

Series 2: Drawings and artwork, circa 1850-1920

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Schrader's daughters, Lotta S. Potter and Louise S. Graham in 1930/12 and additional donations in 1962 and 1987.


No further additions are expected.

General Note

Schrader’s daughters donated his paintings and drawings to the Indiana State Library in December, 1930. Twelve paintings, donated along with the drawings, were transferred to the Indiana State Museum.

Historical Context Note

The Indiana State Library strives to provide extensive access to our diverse collections, in person and online. Materials within these collections appear as they were originally published or created and may include content that that some viewers find offensive or objectionable. These materials are preserved and presented to provide a true historical representation of their time and should be viewed within the context in which they were created.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed in 2013/06 by Bethany Fiechter. EAD finding aid created in 2013/06 by Bethany Fiechter. Collection reprocessed 2021/03/24 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid revised in 2021/03/24; 2022/11/09 by Brittany Kropf; 2021/12/09 by Lauren Patton.
Christian Schrader collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

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