History of Indianapolis from a Religious Perspective: Year Two

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 11/01/1993
End Date: 
Mon, 10/31/1994

David Bodenhamer and associates Jim Divita, Jan Shipps, and Ed Becher directed the second phase of the exploration of history of Indianapolis from a religious perspective; this phase followed an earlier planning study. Phase two projected two main purposes: (1) to test the “key events strategy,” devised during the planning grant and designed to examine the relationship between religion and American culture in the history of Indianapolis; and (2) to generate research reports and articles on religion and culture in the urban environment. The study focused on Indianapolis during World War I, specifically 1908 to 1922, from three thematic perspectives: (1) the structure, purpose and role of religious organizations, (2) the influence of religious individuals on the city’s understanding of key events, and (3) the interaction of religion and civic culture. Bodenhamer and associates believed that the key events strategy offered several advantages: it afforded a multidisciplinary approach to their study, it was an accessible research tool to both scholars and lay experts alike, and it was limited in scope yet unlimited in its potential to yield desired results. <p> Three research groups concentrated on the thematic categories outlined above. Committee chairs and project research directors formed a research oversight committee responsible for coordinating all research issues. An administrative committee composed of Jim Divita, David Bodenhamer, Jan Shipps (Co-Research Director) and Ed Becker (Co-Research Director) was formed to assure that the project met its stated goals. Robert Wauzzinski served as the project coordinator/scholar. <p> Results of the year-long study included: (1) the key events strategy worked well at discovering significant as well as less-than-significant events in the history of Indianapolis during this period, though it proved less useful in identifying key events that shaped a particular congregation’s stance on urban issues, (2) the project contributed substantially to an understanding of the relationship between religion and urban culture as demonstrated by presentations before the American Society for Church History and the Indiana Historical Society, by publishing a collection of essays, and by developing a comprehensive database linking institutions and individuals and relating them to the urban environment, and (3) the project was moderately successful in the development of ancillary case studies on aspects of religion and culture that fell outside the scope of the key events strategy.