New partnership benefits students and city

UIndy-HistoryIT for blogJoining in today’s announcement at UIndy were (from left) Associate Professor Edward Frantz, director of the university’s Mayoral Archives; former Indianapolis Mayors William Hudnut and Richard Lugar; Indianapolis Colts COO Pete Ward; HistoryIT CEO Kristen Gwinn-Becker; and UIndy President Robert Manuel.

UIndy collaborates with technology firm to establish lab near campus,
digitize Mayoral Archives, create internships and bring jobs to Southside

WFYI story

Indianapolis Star story

A collaborative agreement between the University of Indianapolis and a Maine-based consultancy and software development firm will put four decades of Indianapolis history online, create hands-on learning and internship opportunities for UIndy students and bring 20 new jobs and a new corporate presence to Indianapolis’ Southside.



“This relationship, with its mutual benefits to the community and everyone involved, is an example of the type of business collaboration that the University of Indianapolis plans to develop around all of its academic disciplines,” UIndy President Robert Manuel said. “The concept is central to our role as a community anchor. With the resources of our Colleges of Health Sciences and Arts & Sciences, our Schools of Business and Education, and our centers for education reform and aging studies, we can attract new development and enhance the quality of life in our part of the city, while also enriching the educational experience for our students.”

HistoryIT is the firm contracted to digitize and create an online interface for UIndy’s Mayoral Archives, a collection of documents, images, recordings, physical artifacts and other items from the administrations of former Indianapolis Mayors Richard Lugar, William Hudnut and Stephen Goldsmith, expected later to include those of Bart Peterson, all of them former UIndy trustees.

The collection, which essentially details the reinvention of an American city, currently occupies more than 600 file boxes in storage on campus. A year from now, however – thanks to HistoryIT’s innovative process of digitally scanning, tagging and indexing archives – the entire collection of more than a million items will be available online for easily searchable viewing by students, researchers, policymakers and armchair historians alike.

Economic development, student engagement

That digitization process, funded primarily by a $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., is only part of the initial two-year agreement between UIndy and HistoryIT. The university has provided the leased space near campus where HistoryIT is establishing its second Digital Innovation Lab, not only to execute the current project but also to serve as a Midwestern hub for product and client development.

Now, in a long-empty retail space at Madison and Hanna avenues, the company is hiring 20 local employees this fall and diversifying the area’s business base. Meanwhile, UIndy and HistoryIT are finalizing an agreement to share revenue from new business generated through the collaboration.

“The Mayoral Archives project alone is a big win for my company, and the broader partnership is a key element of our national growth strategy,” said HistoryIT Founder and CEO Kristen Gwinn-Becker. “Our Indianapolis facility will allow us to digitize and make searchable a great number of Midwest-based collections – for politicians, businesses, government papers, organizational collections, and even for families.” The proximity and involvement of UIndy students and faculty is an added value, she noted: “We are thrilled to be able to draw on the expertise at UIndy, as well as to provide training and professional development opportunities for students and new graduates.”

For UIndy students, the agreement includes the development of a paid internship program and the integration of HistoryIT operations into university curriculum in programs such as History, Political Science and Pre-Law, as well as the new Digital Media Studies program being developed by the departments of Communication, English, Art & Design and Computer Science.

“This partnership will give our students access to archival materials that no other researchers have seen, enabling them to make original contributions to the scholarship on our city’s history and politics,” said Jennifer Drake, dean of UIndy’s College of Arts and Sciences. “It also will advance the work of our new Professional Edge Center by enabling students to connect their interest in the liberal arts to cutting-edge technologies and potential career paths.”

‘Bringing the Colts to Indianapolis’

The first portion of the Mayoral Archives to be digitized was made available online today. “Bringing the Colts to Indianapolis” comprises 600 items from the Hudnut and Lugar collections pertaining to the city’s efforts to land an NFL team and generally build Indianapolis’ image as a sports capital, including photos, promotional materials and confidential documents not previously available to the public.

One interesting item is a March 1984 letter from Hudnut to then-Colts owner Robert Irsay that will resonate with anyone who recalls the team’s controversial overnight exodus from Baltimore.

“We have a blue-ribbon committee of Community leadership already lined up to welcome the Colts with red carpet treatment,” Hudnut wrote. “Mayflower Moving Company … has offered to move all your office and training facility equipment out here on a moment’s notice free of charge.”

History buffs – and Colts fans – can browse the archives themselves at


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About UIndy

The University of Indianapolis is a private, comprehensive institution of higher education founded in 1902, with a home campus of 5,400 students and partnership sites around the world. UIndy offers a strong liberal arts foundation along with cutting-edge business and professional preparation in a close-knit community that enjoys the opportunities and amenities of a major city. The university’s challenging undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs include nationally ranked offerings in the health sciences. UIndy’s mission is to prepare graduates for responsible and articulate membership in society and for excellence and leadership in their professional and personal lives.

About HistoryIT

HistoryIT is a full service consultancy and software development company headquartered in Portland, Maine. Dedicated to providing access to historical records by organizing, digitizing and tagging them, HistoryIT’s team builds digital collections for both private and public viewing. It maintains facilities in Indianapolis, Evanston, IL, and Washington, D.C., and offers its services to a wide range of clients, including archives, museums, universities, libraries, municipalities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, religious institutions and public officials. These clients find that transforming their records and artifacts into dynamic, searchable resources allows them to better support educational research, business management, fundraising and outreach.