Courts in the Classroom
Supreme Court of Indiana
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dr. Elizabeth R. Osborn
Public History and
2011 Outstanding Public
History Project Award
from the National Council
on Public History
The Court hosts this interactive program each winter to commemorate a famous case challenging the prohibition of slavery found in Indiana's 1816 Constitution. The program focuses on the struggles of a young black woman, Polly Strong, to achieve her freedom.
Decades before the question of slavery tore our nation apart, the Indiana Supreme Court grappled with this issue. In the early days of Indiana statehood, Polly Strong was a young enslaved mulatto woman owned by Col. Hyacinth Lasselle, one of Vincennes' most prominent citizens. This interactive play documents the struggles of the young black woman to find out if she would be free or slave, as Indiana moved from Territory to State. The Supreme Court determined Indiana had banned slavery in 1816 and held Col. Lasselle's claim to Polly violated the State constitution.
This program was developed by Courts in the Classroom and the Leora Brown School with funding from the Indiana Bar Foundation.
We invite classroom teachers, home school groups, history clubs and so forth to contact sarah.kidwell@courts.IN.gov if you are interested in participating in future programs.