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Hoosier History Live!

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Hoosier History Live! is brought to you by:

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If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live!, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.

New shows online! See below for several newly available online MP3s for your listening! Also listen to segments of some past shows as podcasts on our "Listen" page. Or listen live on WICR Online when the show is under way.

World War II vets look back. This show aired June 4, 2016. Online audio underwritten by Gordon and Mark Dreyfus in honor of their parents, Walter N. and Catherine F. Dreyfus, both WWII veterans.

Persian/Iranian heritage in Indiana. This show aired Oct. 17, 2015. Online audio availability underwritten by ShowCase Realty.

Ernie Pyle and John Bartlow Martin, journalists. This show aired May 23, 2015. Online audio availability underwritten by Ernie Pyle World War II Museum.

HIV history in Indiana. This show, aired on April 25, 2015, is now available for listening online.

Guinness World Records and Hoosiers. This show, aired on Jan. 31, 2015, is now available for downloading and listening!

James Whitcomb Riley: before he was famous. This show, aired on Nov. 22, 2014, is now available for downloading and listening!

Historic women's groups. This show, aired on Oct. 25, 2014, is now available for downloading and listening!

World War I and Indiana. This show, aired on Sept. 27, 2014, is now available for downloading and listening!

From family grocers to supermarkets. This show, aired on July 19, 2014, is now available for downloading and listening!

Victorian-era and ethnic holiday traditions. This show, aired on Dec. 21, 2013, is now available for downloading and listening!

Winona Lake, Warsaw, orthopedics and Grace College. This show, aired on Aug. 31, 2013, is now available for downloading and listening!

Former Indy Mayor Bill Hudnut. This show, aired on June 8, 2013, is now available for downloading and listening!

Frank Lloyd Wright show. This show, aired on March 30, 2013, is now available for downloading and listening!

Ayres show. You can listen now to a freshly archived show, "L.S. Ayres and Company history," originally aired on Jan. 19, 2013.

Full show descriptions are on the Archives page.

  Nelson Price at microphone, 2011.  

Welcome. Hoosier History Live! is a weekly radio adventure through Indiana history, live with call-in, hosted by Nelson Price, historian and author of Indiana Legends and Indianapolis: Then and Now. Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Each week, the program includes a featured guest and topic, a call in from The Roadtripper with a tip about a Hoosier heritage-related road trip, and a Hoosier History Trivia question, complete with a prize for the correct answer. Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.It is the nation's first and only call-in talk-radio show about history, premiering as a live weekly show on Jan. 12, 2008.

Call-in number is (317) 788-3314.

The program airs live on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Time on WICR at 88.7 FM from the University of Indianapolis. You can listen to Hoosier History Live! on WICR Online.

Books by Nelson Price

Book cover of The Quiet Hero, A Life of Ryan White, by Nelson Price.

Indiana Legends book cover.Book cover of Indianapolis Then and Now, 2016 edition, by Nelson Price and Joan Hostetler, featuring photos by Garry Chilluffo.

Email newsletter


Hoosier History Live! thanks our partners who help the show to go on!

Website design, email marketing and PC consulting.

Fraizer Designs
Graphic design and illustration.

Visit Indy
Promoting Indy and providing us with wonderful prizes for our History Mystery contest, including museums, sporting venues and great places to dine.

Our anchor radio station, on the campus of University of Indianapolis.

Heritage Photo and Research Services


Sept. 24 show

Landmark buildings reborn as schools

The former Marion County Children’s Guardian Home today is the Irvington Preparatory Academy, at 5751 E. University Ave. in Indianapolis.
Photo courtesy Don Flick.(Sept. 24, 2016) - Shaped like a ship in some ways, one building is on the banks of the White River and was used to train radio operators in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Another building was the home of an art institute and a gallery that preceded the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

And a third historic building housed generations of children who were abused, neglected or abandoned.

All three landmarks in Indianapolis have been - or will be - converted into charter schools.

The newest, to be called Riverside High School, is expected to open next fall in the former Heslar Naval Armory, a white Art Moderne structure built in the 1930s on West 30th Street. It will be the second campus of Herron High School, a widely acclaimed charter school that opened in 2006 on the former site of what began as the John Herron Art Institute in 1902.

In Irvington, the historic neighborhood on the east side of Indy, the former Marion County Children's Guardian Home has become the site of Irvington Preparatory Academy.

The Marion County Children's Guardian Home opened the building in 1918 for children in need of emergency shelter. (According to an article in Connections magazine, a publication of the Indiana Historical Society, an earlier structure that served as a county guardian home on the Irvington site was destroyed by a fire.)

Don Flick.To share insights about the three landmark buildings and the process of converting them into schools, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:

  • Janet McNeal, president and head of school at Herron High, which is at 16th and Pennsylvania streets. When Riverside High School opens, she will serve as the president and head of both schools. Herron, which is attended by more than 830 freshmen through seniors, currently has a waiting list of more than 400 students. Riverside is expected to open with 200 freshmen in 2017, with another class added annually until it also serves 9th- through 12th-graders.
  • Sharon Gamble, vice president for development at Indiana Landmarks, the statewide historic preservation organization that has played a key role in the planned re-use of the Naval Armory. The highly distinctive structure is 60,000 square feet and has dozens of nautical elements. They include porthole windows on interior doors, a room used to simulate conditions on a submarine, and a naval officers' barroom that will become a coffee lounge for teachers. A former drill hall will become a gym used by students at both Riverside and Herron high schools.
  • And Don Flick, an Irvington-based architect who converted the Marion County Children's Guardian Home into a charter school. Don, a principal of Pyramid Architecture, also is the board president of the Irvington Historical Society. In 2010, Irvington Prep moved into the historic building after opening (with a different name) elsewhere in the neighborhood four years earlier.

Janet McNeal.The Naval Armory trained naval officers until 2015. When radio operators were being trained in the building during World War II, "it is believed that top-secret planning for important battles occurred there," according to an article in Indiana Preservation,a magazine published by Indiana Landmarks.

After World War II, the armory trained naval reservists. The building also served as a meeting space for reservists and their families.

Sharon Gamble.Many students in the new high school in the historic building are expected to come from the Riverside neighborhood, where the former armory is located. Even before the armory was built during the Great Depression, the site along the White River had distinctive uses. In the early 1900s, the Indianapolis Canoe Club was located there.

The beginnings of the Marion County Children's Guardian Home even predate that. An emergency shelter program for neglected, abused and abandoned children in Indianapolis was begun in 1889.

"Thousands of children went through the home's program over its 120-year history. ... For many, it was the only stable home they had ever known," according to the Connections article.

"This was a new concept. It was not an orphanage or reformatory, but a rescue program for children, initially ages newborn to 15 years, who were neglected, abused or abandoned by family or guardians."

Heslar Naval Armory on White River in Indianapolis, built in 1936, will debut in 2017 as Riverside High School, a classical-education charter school following the Herron High model.
Photo courtesy Hadley Fruits and Indiana Landmarks.The Connections article notes that the last child to reside at the Marion County Children's Guardian Home departed in 2009. The guardian home - now Irvington Prep - is located at 5751 E. University Ave.

At the Herron site, generations of students from across Indiana and beyond studied at what became the John Herron School of Art. Now part of IUPUI, the art school moved to the main campus - along with the Herron Gallery - before the launch of the charter school.

With a classical liberal arts curriculum, Herron High requires all students to take Latin, grammar, logic and rhetoric. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Herron in the top one percent of the country's public high schools.

So, with the waiting list, the need for a second campus has been apparent. The Naval Armory has been owned by the city since the Navy moved out. The city has been shifting ownership to Indiana Landmarks, which, in turn, will transfer the title to the high school. Herron High officials are in the midst of fund-raising for the conversion project.

Another example of the evolution planned for the Naval Armory: A mess hall - with paintings done by the WPA during the Depression - will be converted into a student cafeteria for the Riverside High School students.

Roadtrip: Thorntown, Stookey's and Serum Plant Road

Guest Roadtripper Bonnie Carter of Zionsville suggests a visit to Thorntown in Boone County, just northwest of Indianapolis. Thorntown is celebrating its Festival of the Turning Leaves this weekend. Enjoy a parade, a corn hole tournament, and a banjo and fiddle contest; all that a small Indiana town has to offer as we celebrate the coming fall season.

Hungry? Bonnie recommends Stookey's Family Dining in Thorntown for home cooking, including steaks, catfish and onion rings.

And don't forget to drive down Serum Plant Road; Bonnie became fascinated with the name of this road and did a little research. It turns out that hog cholera was a huge problem in the country a hundred years ago, and in 1916 a group of local hog breeders put together the Swine Breeder's Pure Serum Company, which had a big manufacturing plant along this road. The plant no longer exists, but Bonnie will share a little more local history on Saturday.

History Mystery

A historic structure built of limestone in downtown Indianapolis has had several vastly different uses. It opened in 1901 as a Protestant church. In the late 1940s, though, the congregation moved to the north side.

The limestone building became an educational institution, offering post-high school training. Even though the structure housed a training institution for more than 50 years, minimal alterations were made to its interior, which included a sanctuary from its decades as a church. The training institution moved out in 2003.

In recent years, the limestone structure in downtown Indy was converted into condos.

Question: Name either the church that initially was housed in the historic building or the training institution that was located in it for more than 50 years.

Hint: The historic building is near the downtown (central) branch of the Indianapolis Public Library.

The prize is a Family 4-Pack to Conner Prairie, including 4 tickets to the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Visit Indy. Still some nice weather left in the season to soar up in the sky with this tethered balloon!


Underwriting the project

We are not staff members of any organization; rather, we are a small, independent production group trying to keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web and in your inbox. Your gift goes primarily to support those individuals who are working so hard on the project, as well as to help defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software and our audio editing costs.

If you believe in supporting local artists, writers, historians and performers, look no further!

It takes only seconds to help us out. Just click the yellow "Donate" button, above. Or, if you prefer the paper method, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to Hoosier History Live, P.O. Box 44393, Indianapolis, IN 46244-0393.

We also try to maintain some of those old-fashioned journalism principles about trying to keep editorial content separate from financial contributions.

For questions about becoming an underwriting sponsor (the underwriter level includes logos on our website and newsletter and spoken credits in the live show), contact our producer, Molly Head, at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, or (317) 927-9101, or Garry Chilluffo, our media+development director, at gchill@hoosierhistorylive.org.

Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.

If you are interested in forming your own listening group, all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business.

The Central Library in Indianapolis is willing to provide a space for a listening group if someone would volunteer to host the group. For more info, contact producer Molly Head.

Oct. 1 show

All about Ben-Hur

First, it was an enormously popular novel of the 1880s written by Lew Wallace, an adventurous, flamboyant Hoosier who was a Civil War general, attorney, diplomat and politician. Many historians believe that, other than the Bible, Ben-Hur was read by more people in its era than any other book.

Ben-Hur also has been the basis for blockbuster movies and theatrical productions. The 1959 film version starring Charlton Heston won a then-record eleven Academy Awards.

In the wake of yet another movie remake (released in August) of Ben-Hur, Nelson will be joined by three experts to explore all aspects of the cultural phenomenon associated with chariot races, the Roman Empire and slave ships.

Wallace (1827-1905), the son of Indiana's sixth governor, wrote Ben-Hur without ever having visited the Middle East - although, following his book's spectacular success, President James Garfield appointed him diplomat to Turkey. Earlier, President Rutherford B. Hayes had appointed him governor of the New Mexico Territory.

Our guests will be:

  • Larry Paarlberg, director of the Gen. Lew Wallace Study & Museum in Crawfordsville. In addition to housing an array of Wallace's personal possessions, the museum has artifacts from the various movie versions of Ben-Hur, including a silent film in 1925 that became one of the top-grossing motion pictures of its era.
  • Chandler Lighty, director of the Indiana Historical Bureau. A native of Montgomery County, Chandler was the public historian at the Gen. Lew Wallace Study & Museum early in his career.
  • And Howard Miller, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas-Austin and a renowned Ben-Hur scholar. He is working on a book about its cultural impact and will join us during a visit to Crawfordsville, Wallace's adopted hometown.

The title character in Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince who lives in Roman-occupied Jerusalem during the coming of Christ.

Some history facts: Wallace apparently wrote most of the novel underneath a beech tree near his Crawfordsville home; he completed it while serving as governor of the New Mexico Territory. (During his stint in the West, Wallace dealt with various gunslingers, including Billy the Kid.)

And by 1900, Ben-Hur had become the best-selling novel of the 19th century, exceeding the legendary Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Additional research courtesy Mick Armbruster.

8-year soiree on Feb. 25 was historical fun

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett enjoyed meeting the Herron String Quartet at the 2016 Hoosier History Live soiree. Picture shows Hogsett and the four young women with their instruments in the wood-lined Cook Theater in the Indiana Landmarks Center in downtown Indianapolis.

Photos continue to roll in from the Feb. 25 Hoosier History Live party to celebrate our 8 years on the air. This week's featured image is of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett with the four fine young musicians of the Herron String Quartet who provided such lovely music in the entry hall at Indiana Landmarks Center as the event got under way.

If you have a good photo that you would allow us to use for publication in our e-newsletter and website, please consider emailing it to us at news@hoosierhistorylive.org. Do include the name that is to receive credit.

Thanks again to corporate supporters Indiana Landmarks and Jacquie's Gourmet Catering, as well as event sponsor Core Redevelopment.

Thanks also to individual contributors Anne Laker, Jim and Marjorie Kienle, Dennis Arbuckle, Joe Young, Kathleen Angelone, J. Scott Keller, Jennifer Q. Smith of AvantGarb, Georgia Cravey and Jim Lingenfelter, Barbara and Michael Homoya, Margaret Smith, Peggy Hollingsworth, Lorraine Vavul, Rita Kohn and William McNiece.

Presenters included CEO of Indiana Landmarks Marsh Davis, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, WICR program director Henri Pensis and Indiana Bicentennial Commission Executive Director Perry Hammock, as well as host Nelson Price and producer Molly Head of Hoosier History Live.

Catering was provided by Jacquie's Gourmet Catering, and entertainment was provided by Shirley Judkins, Herron High School String Quartet and Janet Gilray of Voices in Time. Thanks to corporate supporters Indiana Landmarks and Core Redevelopment.

As a nod to the many Indiana ethnic heritage shows produced by Hoosier History Live over the years, guests were invited to dress to portray their ethnic heritage. A shout-out to the Scots, Greeks, and Germans in attendance! And thanks to Jan Wahls for portraying May Wright Sewall.

Your encouragement and participation, on all fronts and in myriad ways, are what keep us going - on the air, in your in-box and on the web. Thanks!

Hoosier History Live host Nelson Price addresses the audience at his radio show's 8th-anniversary party at Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis.

Volunteers needed

Calendar itemkeeper, listening-group host opportunities

Would you be interested in placing the Hoosier History Live show topic and dates and times and ways to listen on the Bicentennial calendar and various other free community calendars across the state? This is rather detailed online weekly public relations work, but it would help get the word out about our show. If interested, please email molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, and please include your phone number.

Would you be interesting in hosting or facilitating a listening group at Central Library in Indianapolis each week? You would be responsible for being there each week during the live show and making sure a listening device is available. And generally facilitating the discussion. If interested, please email molly@hoosierhistorylive.org, and please include your phone number.

A note of support

'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'

A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!

To Whom it May Concern:

Last Spring, my wife and I were interviewed by Nelson Price on his Hoosier History radio program, as authors of frontier and Native American history books. Mr. Price's program was so well prepared and conducted that we feel it should be made available to students and general audiences as widely as possible. His program is well-researched, all questions pertinent to the chosen theme, and moves along briskly. Listeners called in with questions and comments that were intelligent and relevant, a sign of an avid audience.

As historical writers, we try to overcome the public's indifference to history, to bring alive in any way we can the important lessons of the past, and are enthusiastic about programs and writings that make those lessons interesting. The Hoosier History Live program does that so well that we hope to see it broadcast far and wide over this historically significant State of Indiana. It is an excellent program, worthy of extensive distribution and strong support.

James Alexander Thom & Dark Rain Thom, authors
Bloomington, Indiana
July 14, 2011

Shows, we got shows

We have more than 300 Hoosier History Live! radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. And we need to get show audio onto the website, which we are doing by and by, but we sure could use some sponsorship assistance as we edit and publish audio for each archived show. Take a look at the list below and check out all the opportunities for sponsoring a slice of original Hoosier History Live! content on the Web.

No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live!, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.

What people are saying about Hoosier History Live!

"Hoosier History Live does more to promote Indiana history than does any single source."

Andrea Neal, Indianapolis author and educator

"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."

Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer

"The folks at Hoosier History Live! are able to find great stories and the people to tell them - people and stories that you seldom hear on the national air."

Dr. James H. Madison, author and IU history professor

"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant' to today's digitally obsessed consumers, Hoosier History Live! seems to have mastered that formula."

Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener

"Hoosier History Live! is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live! and be prepared to be surprised."

James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre

"Hoosier History Live! is a fantastic opportunity for people to not only learn about history, but also become a part of the conversation. Much like our mission, the telling of Indiana's stories, Nelson and his guests wonderfully connect people to the past!"

John Herbst
President and CEO, Indiana Historical Society

"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live! enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."

Jill Ditmire
Omni Media Specialist

"Distilling life experience into stories is an art. Telling stories of life experience for Hoosiers past and present will shape the lives of young people and enrich the lives of all in our state. Mr. Nelson Price brings alive the life experience of notable Hoosiers in Hoosier History Live!"

David T. Wong, Ph.D., President
DT Wong Consulting, LLC
Former Lilly research scientist who developed Prozac

"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live!"

Marsh Davis
President, Indiana Landmarks

"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"

Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007


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