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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Guidelines and Procedures - Indiana State Historical Marker Program

Guidelines and Procedures

Revised February 2012 to implement Policies Governing the Indiana State Historical Marker Program approved by the Indiana Library and Historical Board, February 24, 2012

Jump to: Appropriate Topics   Topic and Text Restrictions  
Obtaining an Indiana State Historical Marker   Maintenance of Indiana State Historical Markers  
Relocation, Removal and Replacement

Topics and Significance

Appropriate topics and significance

Marker topics may be events, individuals, buildings, sites, and other entities that have statewide significance; regional, national, and/or international significance will be recognized as well.

  • A marker topic must have inherent significance over and above the matter of popular appeal. 
  • The mere existence of an entity generally will not constitute significance. Rather, the role or contributions of that entity must have had an effect deserving of commemoration with an Indiana State Historical Marker.

Restrictions related to Indiana State Historical Markers

  • Topics of local significance only are not eligible for an Indiana State Historical Marker.
  • No individual may be the topic of a marker until twenty years after his or her death, unless the Indiana Library and Historical Board, upon the recommendation of the Indiana Historical Bureau, makes an exception for a deceased person of state, national, or international significance.
  • Marker topics, other than individuals, generally should date from at least fifty years in the past.
  • The following topics are not eligible for Indiana State Historical Markers: historic cemeteries, standing historic county courthouses, standing Carnegie library buildings, historic districts or neighborhoods, historic bridges, and other topics/categories represented in multiple counties.
  • Neither restorers nor current owners of a historic structure may be named in the text of an Indiana State Historical Marker placed at the structure.
  • An Indiana State Historical Marker will not be allowed at an archaeological site if its location and/or text might endanger the site. The IHB may work with the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and other appropriate parties to make determinations regarding applications that fall under this guideline.
  • The IHB will not recommend to the Indiana Library and Historical Board approval of more than one marker to honor the same subject in the immediate vicinity, unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

Process to obtain an Indiana State Historical Marker

The IHB establishes dates, timelines, guidelines and procedures for applying for new Indiana State Historical Markers.

Obtaining an Indiana State Historical Marker is a lengthy process with multiple steps, each with specific requirements and time frames. The following sections are designed to guide anyone interested in obtaining an Indiana State Historical Marker through the process. Throughout the process, staff of the IHB will be available to answer questions.

The IHB will publish specific deadline dates and priorities for an annual process of obtaining new Indiana State Historical Markers following the steps outlined below. 

Contact Casey, Marker Program Manager, with questions.


Step 1. Proposed topics submitted on Intent to Apply form

Anyone applying for an Indiana State Historical Marker must first complete an Intent to Apply form; the completed Intent to Apply form must be received by the IHB by the published deadline.

  • No applicant may submit more than one Intent to Apply form for any deadline.
  • Only one marker may be requested on the Intent to Apply form.

The IHB will review the suggested marker topics on Intent to Apply forms submitted by the published deadline, using the following criteria:

  • historical significance, including IHB-designated priority topics established for a deadline, 
  • availability of primary source documentation, 
  • compliance with Indiana State Historical Marker Program Guidelines and Procedures and specific deadline requirements published annually.

No later than the published deadline for its reply, the IHB will notify each applicant whether or not the topic proposed was approved to proceed to the Application stage of the process.


Step 2. Submission of an Application for topics selected in Step 1

Applicants whose topics are approved to move to the Application phase must return a completed Application with required documentation to the IHB by the published deadline.

  • Each application will be reviewed for compliance with guidelines, priorities, and completeness.
  • IHB will determine the number of applications that can reasonably be completed before the next year’s deadline.
  • At the next Indiana Library and Historical Board meeting, the IHB will recommend the applications selected for further research and text writing to the Indiana Library and Historical Board for approval to move forward.
  • After the Indiana Library and Historical Board decision, the IHB will notify applicants whether or not their marker topics were selected to become Indiana State Historical Markers.

Step 3. Research and documentation

Throughout the research process, the IHB may ask the applicant to supply additional primary source documentation necessary to prove historical facts for the marker text and annotation. The applicant is expected to provide—by the stated deadline—any additional documentation, photographs, maps or other information requested by the IHB. Failure to return materials by the stated deadline may result in termination of the Application.


Step 4. The marker text

The IHB, working with its advisers, has final authority for the text of an Indiana State Historical Marker. The IHB will write the marker text, which must conform to IHB research standards. The IHB will not include information in a marker text unless the IHB has been able to verify that information with appropriate primary source documentation located by the IHB or provided by the applicant. The IHB will carry out a reasonable amount of research in an attempt to verify information from an applicant for use in writing the text of the marker.

The IHB will work with the applicant in determining the final text for the marker. The applicant must accept the final text, using the Applicant Acceptance of Text form provided by the IHB, before the marker can be ordered; failure to return the signed form by the stated deadline may result in termination of the Application.


Step 5: Determining the site for an Indiana State Historical Marker

A location associated with or closely related to the topic of an Indiana State Historical Marker is the preferred location for installation. If the original or authentic location for a marker is not accessible—or might be endangered—the marker may be placed in an appropriate alternate location nearby with the approval of the IHB.

  • Indiana State Historical Markers should be installed in conspicuous places accessible to the public. Desirable locations are public highways with pull-offs, parks, and city streets where persons can stop safely and read the text for its educational value.
  • Instructions for proper installation of markers will be provided to the applicant and/or another designated entity by the IHB.
  • Applicants must notify the IHB when markers have been installed.


Step 6: Approving purchase and installation an Indiana State Historical Marker

The IHB will recommend the purchase and installation of a marker to the Indiana Library and Historical Board as part of the final approval process. IHB recommendations to the Indiana Library and Historical Board shall be based upon the research, sources, and interpretation of the topic provided by the IHB, working with its advisers and the applicant.

The IHB may require a change in location from the one proposed by the applicant.


Step 7: Ordering an approved marker

The following items must be received by the IHB before an approved marker can be ordered. Failure to provide items by the stated deadline as requested by the IHB will result in delays in ordering and receiving the finished marker.

  • Installation of markers will be contingent upon receipt of permissions from site owners. IHB will provide the Ownership and Permission form to be completed by the property owner. This form will be sent to the applicant after the marker has been approved by the Indiana Library and Historical Board for ordering and installation. Any other permits/permissions must be obtained by applicants. Applicants are also responsible for installation of the marker.

    Exception: The IHB will obtain permits for markers approved for installation on state rights-of-way.
  • The applicant must complete the Applicant Acceptance of Recommended Text form. The IHB will send this form to the applicant after the marker has been approved for ordering and installation by the Indiana Library and Historical Board.
  • The delivery information for the completed marker must be provided also on the Applicant Acceptance of Recommended Text form.
  • The applicant must provide full funding (at least $2000 for 2013 deadline) to the IHB to purchase the Indiana State Historical Marker. If an applicant does not meet deadlines, causing a delay in completion of the process, the price of the marker may increase.

Step 8: Dedication of an Indiana State Historical Marker

The IHB encourages applicants to hold a public dedication ceremony for an Indiana State Historical Marker after it has been installed so that communities can commemorate both the topic of the marker and installation of the marker.

The following credit line must be included on any printed materials and in verbal presentations: “This marker is made possible through the Indiana Historical Bureau, State of Indiana.”

After receiving dedication information from applicants, the IHB will issue a statewide press release to publicize the dedication. If possible, a representative of the IHB will attend the dedication ceremony.


Step 9: Photographic documentation of an Indiana State Historical Marker

Applicants must provide to the IHB photographic documentation of the installed marker in the approved location. These photographs are important for promoting the marker and for future care and maintenance concerns. Images and media coverage will also be added to the IHB website if provided.

Maintenance of Indiana State Historical Markers

 The IHB encourages cooperative relationships for day-to-day site maintenance with local governments and private entities on whose land an Indiana State Historical Marker is installed.

  • Any Indiana State Historical Marker needing repairs must be reported to the IHB. Marker repairs must conform to the official state format as described in IC 4-23-7.2-11 and to IHB repair instructions. The IHB will work with local entities to maintain or repair existing Indiana State Historical Markers with support as possible from IHB funds that may be available for that purpose. 
  • Local site maintenance help for Indiana State Historical Markers is desirable, but is not required for the approval of a marker.
  • The IHB may authorize temporary removal of a marker for maintenance work. In an emergency situation, the IHB may authorize the removal and disposition of markers that have been damaged or are at risk.

All State Historical Markers, “including state format markers installed after 1945 and markers installed by the Indiana Civil War centennial commission, are the property of the state.” IC 4-23-7.2-11(a).

Relocation, removal, or replacement of Indiana State Historical Markers

If an Indiana State Historical Marker is deliberately or accidentally installed in an unapproved location by the applicant and/or another entity, and if reinstallation at the approved location is required by the IHB, the applicant and/or the other entity will be responsible for all costs associated with the removal and reinstallation at the approved location.

All costs associated with moving a marker must be paid by the party desiring the relocation. Markers may be relocated,

  • because of persistent vandalism in the current location,
  • if a hazard to viewers may be reduced or eliminated,
  • if a more accurate location has been determined,
  • if a change in land use has occurred putting the marker in danger, or
    because of temporary construction work.

Indiana State Historical Markers may be relocated or removed only with the approval of the Indiana Library and Historical Board upon the recommendation of the IHB. The IHB may authorize temporary removal of a marker for maintenance work. In an emergency situation, the IHB may authorize the removal and disposition of markers that have been damaged or are at risk.

Indiana State Historical Markers containing incorrect information may be removed with the approval of the Indiana Library and Historical Board upon the recommendation of the IHB.

When replacement of an Indiana State Historical Marker is requested because it has been damaged or stolen, or because the text contains errors, the marker shall be reviewed by the IHB according to marker guidelines in effect when replacement is requested. Some marker replacements may require the applicant to complete the full application process.