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Main Library
680 Poplar St
Terre Haute, IN 47807
Text: 812.612.8275
Mon-Thu: 8 A.M. – 8 P.M.
Fri: 8 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Sat: 9 A.M. – 5 P.M.
Sun: 1 P.M. – 5 P.M.
West Branch
125 North Church St
West Terre Haute, IN 47885
Mon: 12 P.M. – 8 P.M.
Tue: 10 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Wed: 12 P.M. – 8 P.M.
Thu/Fri: 10 A.M. – 6 P.M.
Sat/Sun: Closed
12 Points Branch

2200 North 13th St
Terre Haute, IN 47804

Opening 2024!

Historical Biographies Timeline

  • Sketch of Francis Vigo

    December 13, 1747 Francis Vigo (Dec 13, 1747 — Mar 22, 1836)

    Francis Vigo was an Italian settler who assisted George Rogers Clark in his conquest of the Old Northwest. Vigo County is named for him.

  • Sketch of Chauncey Rose

    December 24, 1794 Chauncey Rose (Dec 24, 1794 – Aug 13, 1877)

    Chauncey Rose was a great philanthropist and local booster. His money and drive enabled the building of a free dispensery and what would become Rose-Hulman

  • Colonel Richard Thompson

    June 9, 1809 Colonel Richard Thompson (June 9, 1809 – Feb 9, 1900)

    Richard Thompson was a prominent local politician who eventually served as Secretary of the Navy.

  • photo of Clara Fairbanks

    August 14, 1980 Clara Fairbanks (Aug 14, 1840 – Feb 9, 1911)

    Clara Fairbanks was a wealthy philanthropist with a special interest in women and their healthcare. Her husband, Crawford Fairbanks, created the Clara Fairbanks Old Ladies Home as a memorial.

  • Photo of James Gookins

    December 30, 1840 James Farrington Gookins (Dec 30, 1840 – May 23, 1904)

    James Farrington Gookins was an artist who created in many different mediums. He is probably most famous for helping design the Art Institute of Chicago

  • photo of Demus Deming Jr.

    April 15, 1841 Demas Deming Jr. (April 4, 1841 – Mar 7, 1922)

    Son of the famed Deming family, Demas Deming Jr. was a prominent philanthropist. He helped create Deming Park, named for his father, and provided money to create Ohio Boulevard.

  • Photo of William Wiley

    December 28, 1842 William Wiley (Dec 28, 1842 – March 24, 1927)

    William Wiley is considered the father of Terre Haute schools. Eventually Wiley High School would be named for him.

  • Photo of Adolph Herz

    August 7, 1843 Adolph Herz (Aug 7, 1843 – March 20, 1901)

    Adolph Herz was a local merchant who founded the Herz Department Store in downtown Terre Haute.

  • Photo of Crawford Fairbanks

    April 25, 1853 Crawford Fairbanks (April 25, 1853 – May 28, 1924)

    A member of the famed Fairbanks family, Crawford owned several different enterprises including the Tribune. He was also a great philanthropist who donated land for Fairbanks Park. He also founded the city's first public library named after his mother Emmeline Fairbanks

  • Photo of Eugene Debs

    November 5, 1855 Eugene V. Debs

    Arguably Terre Haute's most famous native son, Eugene V. Debs was a leader for the common man. He first became famous for leading the railway workers during the infamous Pullman Strike. He then ran as the Socialist Party candidiate for President several times and recieved six percent of the vote in 1912.

  • Photo of Paul Dresser

    April 22, 1857 Paul Dresser (April 22, 1857 – Jan 31, 1906)

    One of the most popular producers of pop music from the late 19th century, Paul Dresser would achieve lasting fame as the composer of Indiana's State Song: "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away."

  • Photo of Henry C. Steeg

    May 1, 1857 Henry C. Steeg (May 1, 1857 – Nov 21, 1911)

    Henry C. Steeg was Terre Haute's mayor at the turn of the century and helped create Terre Haute's park system.

  • Kussner family crest

    March 26, 1863 Amalia Kussner (March 26, 1863 – May 31, 1932)

    Amalia Kussner was a world famous artist who specialized in miniature portraits often painted on rejected piano keys or tiles.

  • Photo of Chapman J. Root

    November 22, 1864 Chapman J. Root (Nov 22,1864 – Nov 20, 1945)

    Chapman J. Root was a local businessman who's glass company created the iconic Coca-Cola bottle.

  • Photo of Joseph Keaton

    July 6, 1867 Joseph Keaton (July 6, 1867 – Jan 13, 1946)

    Keaton was Vaudeville preformer who's "man with a table" act was widely popular. His son, Buster Keaton, would go on to new heights as one of the silent film era's top stars.

  • Photo of Alice Fisher

    January 16, 1869 Alice Fisher (Jan 16, 1869 – June 27, 1947)

    Alice Fisher was a popular and famous actress who performed all over the world including Broadway.

  • Janet Scudder

    October 27, 1869 Janet Scudder (Oct 27, 1869 – June 9, 1940)

    A famous sculptor, Janet Scudder was especially known for her fountains and creating Indiana's Centennial medallion.

  • Caroline Ball in her Paris studio

    November 11, 1869 Caroline Peddle Ball (Nov 11, 1869 – Oct 1, 1938)

    Caroline Peddle Ball was a successful sculptor whose works were exhibited around the country.

  • Theodore Dreiser with his dog

    August 27, 1871 Theodore Dreiser (Aug 27, 1871 – Dec 28, 1945)

    Theodore Dreiser was a great American writer. His novels include "Sister Carrie" and "An American Tragedy". A Nobel Prize winner, Dresier's novels focused on the hardships of modern life, especially for those at the bottom of society. His characters also often lacked a certain moral fiber.

  • photo of Dr. Frank Wiedemann with medical devices

    June 29, 1872 Dr. Frank Wiedmann (June 29, 1872 – Dec 24, 1961)

    Dr. Frank Wiedman was a medical figure who pioneered the use of x-rays in the United States and preformed the first Caesarian section in the state.

  • Photo of Max Ehrmann shooting a bow and arrow

    September 26, 1872 Max Ehrmann (Sept 26, 1872 – Sept 9, 1945)

    Max Ehrmann was a beloved poet whose most famous works, including "a Prayer" and "Desiderata" are still read and enjoyed by multitudes of people today.

  • Photo of Rose Melville

    January 30, 1873 Rose Melville (Jan 30, 1873 – Oct 8, 1946)

    Rose Melville was a famous actress of stage and screen a hundred years ago. She played her most famous role, "Sis Hopkins", thousands of times

  • Photo of Bertha Pratt King

    February 5, 1879 Bertha Pratt King (Feb 5, 1879 – Jan 16, 1962

    Bertha Pratt King was leading suffragette and teacher in the late 19th century. She also helped found the Forerunners Club.

  • Photo of Valeska Surratt

    June 28, 1882 Valeska Surratt (June 28, 1882 – July 2, 1962)

    Valeska Suratt was a silent film actress known for her "vamp" roles.

  • Photo of Charles Hyte

    October 16, 1887 Charles T. Hyte (Oct 16, 1887 – May 8, 1941)

    Charles T. Hyte was the principal of the Booker T. Washington School and a leader of the local African-American Community. The Hyte Community Center is named for him and continues his work.

  • Photo of the McMillan storefront

    September 15, 1892 Vernon R. McMIllan (Sept 15, 1892 – Dec 1, 1968)

    Vernon R. McMillan served as Terre Haute's mayor during the 1950's and also helped to invent the football helmet safeguard.

  • photo of Fannie Blumberg

    February 11, 1894 Fannie Blumberg (Feb 11, 1894 – July 9, 1964)

    Fannie Blumberg was a famous artist known for her paintngs of nature and people. She was also a famous children's book author who's work included "Rowena, Teena, Tot" and "The Last Circus."

  • Photo of Ernestine Myers Morrissey

    January 7, 1900 Ernestine Myers Morrissey (Jan 7, 1900 – June 29, 1991)

    Ernestine Morrissey was a dancer who performed in the Ziegfield Follies and toured around the country. Later she opened a dance studio in Terre Haute and taught generations of children how to dance.

  • Kenneth Martin photo

    March 14, 1902 Kenneth Martin (March 14, 1902 – Oct 1, 1999)

    For several decades, Kenneth Martin and photography were synonymous in Vigo County. At almost every event, Martin's camera was there to capture the action.

  • Photo of Katherine Hamilton

    November 25, 1902 Katherine Hamilton (Nov 25, 1902 – May 3, 1961)

    Katherine Hamilton was an early advocate for mental health patients. The Hamilton center is named for her.

  • Airline stewardesses gather for a photograph

    September 22, 1904 Ellen Church (September 22, 1904 – August 22, 1965)

    Ellen Church was the first female stewardess for any airline. She won seven bronze stars for saving the lives of wounded soldiers during World War 2. Finally she was the administrator of Union Hospital.

  • a photo of Wilson in front of his mural

    March 4, 1907 Gilbert Wilson (March 4, 1907 – Jan 16, 1991)

    Gilbert Wilson was a prominent artist who specialized in murals. His work often reflected his passion for social justice

  • Herman Moench headshot

    August 11, 1908 Herman A Moench (Aug 11, 1908 – May 22, 1990)

    Herman Moench was noted for his devotion to Rose-Hulman. He served the college for almost sixty years.

  • Pete Chalos accepts honor from Coca Cola Company

    June 27, 1927 Pete Chalos (June 27, 1927 – June 4, 2006)

    Pete Chalos was mayor of Terre Haute from 1980 to 1996 where he assisted the city in improving services, the economy, and its reputation.

  • Cynthia Shepard Perry headshot

    November 11, 1928 Cynthia Shepard Perry (Nov 11, 1928)

    Cynthia Shepherd Perry was one of the first African-American women to serve as an ambassador from the United States. She served as ambassador to both Burundi and Sierra Leone.

  • Charles Abrell headshot

    August 12, 1931 Charles Abrell (Aug 12, 1931 – June 10, 1951)

    By Dr. Dipa Sarkar Cpl. Charles Abrell lived on this earth for only 19 years, but he left a memorable legacy for his remarkable valor, self-sacrifice, leadership and patriotism. He came from a very proud military family where his father served as a career man in the Navy and his older brother served five years […]


Dr. Dipa Sarkar, Historian Emerita

Dipa Sarkar, M.D., was born in a small village outside of Calcutta (Kolkata), India in 1931. She completed her undergraduate studies at Bethune College, Calcutta and finished her medical degree at the Calcutta Medical College. She began her career as a doctor as a gynecologist delivering more than 600 babies. After her marriage to Anil K. Sarkar, M.D., she changed her practice to pathology, specializing in cancer research.

Dr. Sarkar and her husband, Dr. Anil Sarkar, finished their residency in pathology in the United States, and moved to Terre Haute, Indiana in 1969. Dr. Dipa Sarkar worked as a pathologist in Union Hospital and in Clay County and Sullivan Hospitals. While working, she also taught medical and medical technology students at Indiana State University. She helped establish the Planned Parenthood clinic in Terre Haute. She retired from medical practice in 1990.

Working for the people and helping those in need became Dr. Dipa Sarkar’s passion after retirement. She was the First President of India Association of Terre Haute, and served as a volunteer and as a board member with Life Line, CODA (Council on Domestic Abuse), the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Swope Art Museum, the Vigo County Public Library, (where she taught English to foreign students) and with Catholic Charities (where she worked as a volunteer in the soup kitchen and taught the children about cleanliness and nutrition.)

Dr. Dipa Sarkar received a letter of appreciation for her work from President Bill Clinton in 1996. She was also awarded the first Aspire Higher Award given by Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in recognition of her dedication to volunteer work. Dr. Dipa Sarkar has one daughter, Rumu Sarkar, PhD, a lawyer in Washington D. C.

As a volunteer for the Vigo County Historical Museum, Dr. Dipa Sarkar wrote many biographical articles of important people of the Terre Haute area and other articles of general interest that were published in the local newspaper, the Terre Haute Tribune Star.

Arts Illiana

Sherri Wright contributed several articles to Spectrum (issues 34 and 35 respectively) detailing 200 years of “Historic Hautians” for Indiana’s Bicentennial. This grouping of biographies features prominent citizens of Terre Haute’s past as well as lesser known names who left a large footprint on Terre Haute’s, and the Wabash Valley’s, history. Spectrum is a quarterly publication published by Arts Illiana: the Arts Council of the Wabash Valley.

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