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Indianapolis Sesquicentennial Commission collection

Identifier: L575

Scope and Contents

The collection contains documents related to all elements of planning the 1971 Indianapolis sesquicentennial, which began several years in advance. Papers include correspondence between commissioners and contractors for the various events and merchandise, proposals and suggestions for events as well as general notes and memos. The bulk of correspondence involves Thomas Kibler, Executive Director of the commission.

Additionally, the collection contains information related to merchandise sold by the commission including record books, invoices and promotional materials, and information related to events run by the commission including committee reports. Resumes and original applicant photographs for Queen Contest and the Mr. and Mrs. Hospitality Event are also in the collection.

The commission’s offices were located at the Indianapolis Hilton Hotel and had a bank account through American Fletcher National Bank (now part of Bank One). The collection contains statements, payment receipts, invoices, and other budget related material in regard to the Commission’s activities.

Artifacts in the collection include original artwork relating to the logo and medallion of the sesquicentennial, a plaque given to the citizens of Marion County for their help with the Indiana sesquicentennial, and two dozen photos of exhibits from the Indiana Sesquicentennial five years earlier. Commissioner John T. Sutton’s collection of materials related to his two-year service on the commission remains filed together.

The oversize folder contains Indianapolis Sesquicentennial coin sketches, a painted logo and contest poster ranging from 1966 to 1972 (OB088).


  • 1966-1972


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.

Historical Note

In 1971, in preparation for the 150th anniversary of the founding of Indianapolis, Mayor Richard Lugar authorized the creation of the Indianapolis Sesquicentennial Commission to serve as the organization that would facilitate the city’s celebrations. George S. Diener, former state representative and senator from Marion County, chaired the commission and the coordinated the events.

Public celebrations began on January 6, 1971; the 150th anniversary the General Assembly accepted a report recommending Indianapolis become the state’s capital city. Throughout the year, the city hosted numerous events, including a beauty pageant, special exhibits at the city’s museums, co-sponsorship of the first Indiana Black Expo, a race of antique cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as the July 4th Street Fair and Fireworks Spectacular, which drew an estimated 100,000 people. The city’s religious communities united together to host an interdenominational program, “Faith for a City.” Civil War re-enactors encamped at Fort Benjamin Harrison in June to remember the events of a century earlier.

Edward Leary wrote a narrative history of the city, "Indianapolis: The Story of a City," specifically for the sesquicentennial. The commission also produced commemorative medallions and a cookbook that were sold to the public. The motto for the year-long celebration was “We Celebrate Our City.”


David G. Vanderstel. “Anniversary Celebrations.” In Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, p. 262-263. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994.


4.65 Cubic Feet (14 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from the Indianapolis Sesquicentennial Commission in 1971/11.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed in 2013/06 by Alessandro Meregaglia. EAD finding aid created in 2013/06 by Alessandro Meregaglia. EAD finding aid revised 2021/10/01 by Lauren Patton.
Indianapolis Sesquicentennial Commission 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.