Building A Nation: Preserving and Providing Access to the Indiana Limestone Photograph Collection

Material Description

The ILPC collection of over 25,000 photographs (18,500 remain to be processed) contains an extensive range of images, including residences, churches, universities, museums, businesses, and public and municipal buildings, many of which were designed by prominent architects. Commonly, there are numerous views of an individual building, showing exterior, interior, and architectural details. The photographs were owned and used for marketing by 24 limestone companies that merged into the Indiana Limestone Company by 1926. After many years of disuse, they were abandoned in an unconditioned, dilapidated house used for storage by the Indiana Limestone Company. They were housed in 15 metal file cabinets and were roughly organized by state, with each state broken into five categories: business, educational, governmental, religious, and other. The photographs are 7.5 x 9.5 inch black and white gelatin DOP (developing-out paper) prints, mounted on linen. While some are curled from slumping in the file drawers or show minor scratches and wear, other than some dirt on the surface, the photos are in stable physical condition. Few of the photos appear to be torn, creased, or damaged. The linen is well-adhered to the photographs and has prevented them from sticking to one another in the humid storage conditions. A majority of the photographs have a formatted label adhered to the back. Categories on the labels include: four-digit ID number, subject, location, architect, type of stone, cut stone contractor, quantity (cubic feet), finish, quarry, date of erection, photographer, and other remarks. Not all of these fields are attributed on each labeled photograph. At least half of the photographs include the photographer's name on the label or are stamped with the photography company's name. The existing metadata uniquely distinguishes this collection because it provides an unusual amount of detail about the buildings and their construction.


Funding for Building a Nation: The Indiana Limestone Photograph Collection (ILPC) will support the processing, digitization, description, and online access to over 11,000 historic photographs that document the use of Indiana limestone's particular impact on the architectural and urban history of the United States. The collection of approximately 25,000 black and white architectural photographs was discovered in a dilapidated house owned by the Indiana Limestone Company. Dating from the late 1800s to the 1940s, the photos depict residences, churches, universities, museums, businesses, and public buildings, many of which were designed by prominent architects. Remarkably holistic in scope, this collection can be studied across major humanities disciplines such as American history, architectural history, history of technology, urban studies, history of photography, historic preservation, labor history, and the history of geology. The Indiana Geological Survey proposes a two-year project to make publicly available the ILPC through Indiana University Libraries' Image Collections Online.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



The Trustees of Indiana University


  • Ms. Licia Weber (Indiana Geological Survey - Indiana University)

Date Range

1905 - 1905

Geographic Scope

The photos in the ILPC represent buildings in all 48 contiguous United States, with the majority of the images from the Midwest and east coast. There are 395 photographs of buildings in Canada.


  • 18500 Photographs