Monday, April 3, 2017

790. Where Is the IPS Archives Room?

    About a year ago, the Genealogical Society of Marion County approved an "IPS-SIG Project" to collect and digitize both student and staff records of the Indianapolis Public Schools. We have had some success in doing this project (Disclaimer: I proposed this project and serve as the Chair.), but the project success is mostly in spite of IPS and not because of it.
    You would think that a public entity whose main reason for existence is education would be more concerned about documents and history. If you think so, you are sadly mistaken. With a few exceptions, finding and getting access to any IPS records is like getting a tooth pulled without Novocain.
   For one thing there is not any central IPS location for their records. There is a little dab here and a little pile there, but mostly very little of anything. Many records that I know from personal experience (I am a retired IPS supervisor.) existed in the not too distant past are nowhere to be found today. My nightmare is that they wound up in a dumpster at the order of a careless administrator.
   During my tenure at IPS from 1973 to 2002, my department participated in the closing of somewhere between 50 and 60 schools, following the Desegregation suit--thank you very much, Federal government! (And, yes, that was sarcasm)
   Try to find any records from those buildings today; if you find any, I'll take my hat off to you. And even more rare is finding a current IPS staff member who cares one way or the other.
    The folks who care the most are a handful of school alumni who have made an effort to gather some student and staff materials and keep them available. We (GSMC) have had great experiences with School 21 and Manual High School, so far, and hope to find other islands of hope.
    What all of us need is an IPS Archive, that could stem the practice of shuffling materials around like unwanted stepchildren.

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