Through a collaboration with The Indianapolis Public Library, a vast collection of over 16,000 photographs, films, and archival records from Indianapolis Parks and Recreation held by Ball State University Libraries has been digitized and published freely and accessibly online.

The Indy Parks and Recreation Collection, available through the Indianapolis Public Library’s Digital Indy cultural heritage repository, highlights the rich civic value and cultural history surrounding the city’s park system. The archive documents the many educational events, recreational opportunities, arts programs, civic meetings, and community gatherings that have taken place on the grounds of Indianapolis’ 86 parks and golf courses while highlighting the distinct and artful physical landscapes of these public spaces.

Indy Parks and Recreation Digital Collection Banner

Indy Parks and Recreation Digital Collection Banner

A multi-institutional partnership proved critical in the development and success of the project. The photographs and films in the collection were primarily created and collected by Rupert Daily, an Indianapolis Parks employee whose career spanned from 1945 to 1993. Subsequently, the collection was donated to Ball State University, where is housed and preserved by archives staff in the Andrew Seager Archive of the Built Environment, a division of University Libraries located in the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning.

Douglass Park Golf Course, 1984

In 2017, The Indianapolis Public Library initiated a partnership with Ball State University Libraries to develop an online collection of these materials. Through generous grant funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc, Public Library staff digitized the collection, making it fully searchable, discoverable, and accessible to community members and global scholars alike.

The Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Collection is one of over 70 distinct archival collections held in Ball State University’s Seager Archive, a unique resource dedicated to preserving the history of Indiana’s built environment.  The Archive preserves and provides access to architectural drawings, landscape plans, blueprints, photographs, models, and building remnants that tell the stories of Indiana’s buildings, sites, and structures. Its collections are open for research to Ball State University students, faculty, staff, and the general public.

Brookside Park Soap Box Derby, 1975

In addition to supporting nearly 300 scholarly inquiries and providing numerous instruction sessions and community workshops each year, the Seager Archive advances nearly 75 professional and civic projects pertaining to the preservation and revitalization of the built environment across the state of Indiana.

The new online collection through Digital Indy also complements the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation Landscape Architectural Drawings digital collection, a Seager Archive resource published online in Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository in 2017 through grant funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

A full press release announcing the Indy Parks and Recreation Collection can be found online through The Indianapolis Public Library News and Announcements feature.