Documents That Shaped America Exhibit at Indiana Historical Society

Joey Amato | May 16, 2022

The Indiana Historical Society (IHS)’s newest exhibit, Documents That Shaped America, opens May 21 in downtown Indianapolis.

America’s founding was influenced by many different writers, philosophers, politicians and leaders. Beginning May 21, the IHS will showcase many of these significant historical written works in its latest exhibit, Documents That Shaped America, on display in the Rapp Family Exhibitions Gallery.

The new exhibit features an impressive collection of early editions of some of the most important manuscripts in American history, including a first edition printing (1788) of the U.S. Constitution (one of five known copies), a first edition of the Gettysburg Address, and an early edition of Life & Times of Frederick Douglass (1893). It also features texts that helped build the major foundational pieces of Western democratic philosophy, such as a 1350 edition of the Magna Carta.

In addition to seeing items included in the exhibit display, visitors will also have the opportunity to touch history through exploring additional items from The Remnant Trust collection — through a supervised experience in either the Rapp Gallery or IHS’s William Henry Smith Memorial Library.

These items come from the collection of The Remnant Trust, which uses its collection to promote conversations on topics such as liberty and human dignity. The collection contains historic manuscripts, books and publications that encompass subjects such as religion, philosophy, politics, mathematics, science and economics. In addition to the current exhibit, IHS has partnered with The Remnant Trust to house the 1,557 items in the collection and provide public access to these important items.

“To have amassed a collection like this and bring it here to Indianapolis is just phenomenal,” said IHS President and CEO Jody Blankenship. “You would have to go to cities all over the country and around the world to see these materials, and now, through our partnership with The Remnant Trust, you can see them at the Indiana Historical Society.”

Documents That Shaped America opens to the public on May 21 and will run through January 14, 2023. It is co-presented by the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, John and Carolyn Mutz, and Care Institute Group, Inc. It is supported by Stan and Sandy Hurt and the Pierre F. & Enid Goodrich Foundation, with contributions from Lewis Bakeries and the Nicholas H. Noyes, Jr., Memorial Foundation, Inc.

For a list of items on display, or for more information about these exhibits and other IHS offerings, call (317) 232-1882 or visit