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Monroe County History Center

From Bloomingpedia
Monroe County Historical Society History Center

The Monroe County History Center is a building located on the corner of Washington Street and 6th Street in Bloomington. It houses the Monroe County History Museum, the Monroe County Genealogy Library and the Monroe County Historical Society, Inc. it was formerly known as the Monroe County Historical Society Museum.

The Monroe County History Center is a non-profit museum, genealogy/local history research library, educational facility and museum gift store that is housed in the historical Monroe County Carnegie Library. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Monroe Carnegie Library. The History Center is operated by the 102 year old Monroe County Historical Society, Inc. and is self-sustaining.

The Society is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of the history of Monroe County.

  • Hours: Tuesday — Saturday, 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
  • Over 100 Years of Service: Society Established 1905, Museum Established 1980
  • Admission: Adults—$2, Children, 6-17 yrs.—$1, Children under 6 yrs.--Free; Members always have free admission, as does anyone who wants to use only the library.

Mission Statement

Hands-on activities and scavenger hunts await younger museum visitors.

The mission of the MCHS is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Monroe County's history, culture, and natural environment by all. To accomplish this purpose and mission, the MCHS will collect, preserve, research, interpret and exhibit the genealogy, history and artifacts of Monroe County, Indiana as well as research and interpret the relation of that County's genealogy, history, and artifacts to the State of Indiana and the United States.

To accomplish this purpose the MCHS shall at a minimum operate a museum, a local history library, and a museum store.


The Monroe County Historical Society (MCHS) was originally formed in 1905. The current Monroe County Historical Society, Inc. was incorporated in the State of Indiana on May 1, 1973.

On April 18, 2002, the Society approved new By-Laws joining the previously separate boards and finances of the Monroe County Historical Society (Board of Directors) and of the Monroe County Historical Society Museum (Board of Governors). The newly jointed body is known as the MCHS Board of Trustees. Previously the Society had been the parent organization of the museum and the museum had had its own separate board and finances.

In December 2002, our Monroe County Genealogical Society received its own charter as an official chapter of the Indiana Genealogical Society. (Our Genealogical Society had previously been an official chapter under our old By-Laws.)

"Colored School" historical marker

Center School operated on the site at east 6th Street and Washington Street from 1854 until 1913. Originally used by white students, it became the home to African-American students in Bloomington in 1881 and became known as the colored school. In 1913 the Andrew Carnegie Corporation awarded a $31,000 grant to the Monroe County Library Board for the construction of a public library. Work began with the demolition of Center School in 1914. The African-American students were moved to the Catholic School on 3rd Street and College Avenue until the newly constructed Banneker School was finished.

In February 1918 the new Bloomington Public Library opened its doors to patrons with 6,439 volumes. The building would serve the needs of county residents for the next 52 years. Following the completion of a larger, more modern, library facility on Kirkwood Avenue, the Library Board closed the Carnegie Library building in 1970.

A view of the Gayle Cook Main Gallery.

The future of the old library remained uncertain until 1978 when The Old Library, Inc. (TOLI), a nonprofit organization created to restore and maintain the building, purchased the site from the city. TOLI renovated the old building and by 1980 other nonprofit organizations such as the Bloomington Area Arts Council and the Monroe County Historical Society leased space for their operations. In 1981 the Society’s Genealogy Library moved in.

In 1994 TOLI dissolved and subsequently sold the building to the Monroe County Historical Society for $1.00. Following the successful completion of the Build History fundraising campaign, the Society added an additional 12,000 square feet to the old library building in 1997-1998. Reopened in September 1998, the facility now boasts four exhibit galleries (consisting of 8000 square feet), an expanded genealogy and local history research library, a museum store, an education room, and climate controlled storage.

In short, 202 East 6th Street has been a land set aside for learning for over 150 years.

Regular Programming

For a full listing of events and current and upcoming exhibits, please visit the History Center's website at

  • 3rd Thursday Program Series - Every 3rd Thursday of the month the History Center offers a special lecture, tour, or program that is free and open to the public. Most 3rd Thursday events are held at 7pm at the History Center.
  • Genealogy Group - Every 1st Wednesday of odd month the Genealogy Group meets to discuss topics pertaining to historical research. Meetings are free and open to the public. Presenters and topics vary.
  • Library of Congress Veterans History Project - The History Center is continuing a project to record the military experiences of Monroe County veterans in cooperation with the Library of Congress Veteran's Oral History Project to collect oral histories of war veterans. Call the office (812-332-2517) for details.
  • Monroe County Civil War Roundtable - Meeting are every 2nd Tuesday from September - June, from 7-8:30pm and are free and open to the public. Presenters and topics vary.

Staff, Officers, and Board of Directors



Board of Trustees

All Genealogy Library research is assisted by a volunteer.

Sue Ellen Bowman, Anne Cady, Mary Lee Deckard, Lee Ehman, Susan Ferentinos, Wenona Freeman, Jackie Gilkey, Judie Iverson, Liz Knapp, Kevin Leffel, Lou Malcomb, Jenn Marcum, Glenda Murray, David Musgrave, Laura Newton, Janice Partenheimer, Joyce Poling, Bob Ralston, Steve Rolfe, Sue Shelden, Saundra Taylor, Gary Wiggins, Jamee Wissink

Advisory & Emeritus Board

Ron Baldwin, De Anna Bassett, Frank Bauer, Loretta Condra, Gayle Cook, James Dawson, Tosha Daugherty, David Foster, Kay Beth Harrell, M. Phil Hathaway, Jim Kryway, Allison Lendman, Julian Livingston, Rachel Peden McCarty, Judy McClary, Kathy McFall, Claude Rice, Carol Seaman, Marilyn Skirvin, Kitch Somers, Dot Spore

Contact information

202 East 6th Street • Bloomington, IN 47408 • 812-332-2517

External Links