The Society of Indiana Pioneers was founded in Indianapolis in 1916 as part of the state centennial. Its purpose is “to honor the memory and the work of the pioneers who opened Indiana to civilization.” Members file papers to prove descent from a settler ancestor who meets the residence requirements established by the organization. Eligibility dates depend on the area of the state in which the ancestor originally settled. For much of the southern and central part of the state, ancestors must have settled in Indiana by December 31, 1840. For the remaining counties, concentrated in the northern portion of the state, the date is December 31, 1850.

Charles N. Thompson created this map illustrating pioneer periods (1790-1844) in Indiana, 1932
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

The offices of the society are located in the Indiana State Library And Historical Building. The group organized the first Indiana History Conference in 1919, and it sponsors two pilgrimages per year for members to historical areas. An annual meeting and dinner are held in November. The society also publishes a seasonal newsletter and maintains a website that reveals new members as well as the group’s latest happenings.

In its early years, the society’s membership was heavily weighted toward Marion County (67 percent in 1921). By 1990, the county accounted for only 18.4 percent—304 of the society’s 1,650 members. Membership has decreased in the first decades of the century. In 2020, the Society of Indiana Pioneers had about 1,200 members.

Revised March 2021

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