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Indiana plants and history

Image of Sweet Coneflower from the Butler University's Friesner Herbarium

If you are looking for native Indiana plants, or Indiana history, there are two new resources you can check out online.

The nationally-recognized Indiana State Digital Archives has new digital collections available for anyone interested in Indiana heritage and genealogy. The Digital Archives enables Hoosiers and researchers worldwide to view the vast collection of historical and vital records housed at the State Archives.

The United Spanish War Veterans (USWV) database includes over 6,470 entries for members of the Indiana Department of the USWV. The database, including the Indiana subset, was created in 1904 by the merger of three smaller record sets of Spanish-American War veterans. At the peak of the war, there were over ninety camps (posts) located in towns across Indiana. Typical files contain applications, membership information, pension correspondence, and death notices (TAPS). Information on spouses &widows can also be found within many files.

In addition to USWV database, the Digital Archives has added the 945-entry DeKalb County, 1376-entry Wabash County, and 823-entry Wells County naturalization databases. The Digital Archives now holds 35 of Indiana's 92 counties naturalization databases and plans the addition of more Indiana counties in the future. These databases provide great insight into Hoosier immigration at the county level.

At Butler University, more than 10,000 pressed and dried specimens of wild Indiana plants from the Butler University’s Friesner Herbarium can now be viewed online through their searchable database.

The specimens, with their authenticating labels, provide a historical record of what was growing where and when.

Scientists, environmentalists, gardeners, teachers, artists and anyone else with an interest in Indiana plant life can look up plants based on the common name and scientific name, where and when the sample was collected and who collected it. They also are able to see what the plant looks like – or looked like, since some are now extirpated from the state.

Visitors to the site can search plants from all 92 counties and also search by growing conditions where the plants were found such as woods, bogs, or sandy soil.

In addition to the images, the herbarium site contains lesson plans for teachers to use in class, links to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant database for more information on each species and to the Butler University Botanical Studies journal, published by the Botany Department from 1929-1964. The journal was started by Ray C. Friesner, former professor and chair of the Botany Department, for whom the herbarium is named.