South Bend Area Genealogical Society
"Serving South Bend, Mishawaka and Surrounding Areas"
Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library
209 Lincoln Way E
Mishawaka, IN 46544

African American Index

Elijah Powell and Peter DeKever. This index owes its existence to these two men. If it had not been for the donation of Elijah Powell’s Civil War discharge papers to the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library’s Heritage Center in 1998, this index would never have been compiled. If it had not been for Peter De Kever’s persistent search for information about the Powell family, this index would not have existed. Inspired by these two men, I decided to compile an index of African Americans and African American life as reported in local newspapers. And since the Hibberd’s city directories of 1910, 1912, and 1914 identified people of color with an asterisk behind their names, it also made sense to include those listings in the index.

Although the index covers less than a 40-year span, to date, it includes a fascinating variety of personal names, African American businesses, churches, social organizations, sports figures, musical groups, and prominent visitors, such as Booker T. Washington. Local newspapers tended to put African American news in obscure places, if it was reported at all, and certainly many events and stories went unreported. But the index does provide glimpses into African American life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Geographically, the index covers St. Joseph County and the counties which surround it. Searched creatively, by name or institution, it reveals interesting insights into the lives of local African Americans, whether good or bad. Each entry provides not only the citation, but a few key words as to the reason for that listing, whether it be attending a meeting, getting arrested, hosting guests, or preaching Sunday services.

Use the index carefully and creatively. Some “See” and “See also” references are provided, but be sure to try various spellings of names. Even newspapers spell the same person’s name differently at different times. Try nicknames, including those for churches or clubs. Not all entries for individuals or institutions will be in strict chronological order. Always remember that African Americans and African American news were not priorities for local editors.

We trust you will find this index helpful. Despite careful editing, a few errors have crept in, and I accept full responsibility for those. Please do not hesitate to contact the Society if you believe you have discovered an error. We will be happy to work to find the item you want.

David Eisen, compiler.

Click on one of the links below to perform your search in a new window:

Search the African American Index by Individual Names

Search the African American Index by Organization

The resources listed in these indexes are available at both
The Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library Heritage Center and
The Saint Joseph County Public Library Local & Family History Department

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