(May 10, 1857-May 18, 1941). George S. Cottman was born in Indianapolis on the square opposite the Indiana Statehouse. His family left Indianapolis and he spent his childhood on his parents’ farm near Beech Grove where he attended the district school. In 1873, at the age of 16, he began a three-year tenure as an apprentice printer at the Indiana State Sentinel then moved back to the farm and began writing stories, plays, and nature pieces. Twelve years later, he located in Irvington and set up a printing office in his home. He published many of his own books and pamphlets.

After a few years in Irvington, he turned from fiction to historical writing because he believed there was a market for it in the local newspapers. His research led him all over the state, and he became concerned with preserving Indiana’s historical documents. He wrote articles for many local papers including the News, the Star, the Sentinel, and the Indiana Farmer.

Cottman combined much of his historical work into scrapbooks that he later donated to the Indiana State Library, where they are shelved under the title Indiana Scrapbook Collection. In 1905, he established the Indiana Magazine Of History (IMH) and served as its editor, publisher, printer, and author for two years. The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) took the publication over in 1907, with Cottman remaining as editor for several more years. One of the oldest historical journals in the U.S., IHS partnered with Indiana University, Bloomington, (IU) in 1913 to edit and publish IMH. After 2003, IU became its sole publisher.

Cottman was a respected literary figure and counted James Whitcomb Riley and T. C. Steele among his close friends. Cottman wrote Two Different Pageants for the state centennial in 1916 and several books on Indiana history including Indiana, Its History, Constitution, And Present Government   (1925), which was still used in public schools throughout the state at the time of his death.

Revised June 2021

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