Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
Or listen live from anywhere at hoosierhistorylive.org!

Feb. 22 show

'Ask Nelson' - and Andrea Neal, too

Host and author Nelson Price signs a copy of Indianapolis Then and Now for fellow author Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge at the 2013 Holiday Author Fair in Indy. Hoosier History Live photo.Once again, Hoosier History Live! will turn the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia." Just as with previous all-call-in shows, Nelson will be joined by a distinguished co-host.

Not only is Andrea Neal a syndicated columnist and a member of the State Board of Education, she is a history teacher and a former editorial page editor at The Indianapolis Star. Andrea teaches at St. Richard's Episcopal School and has been writing a popular column about Indiana history - called "Indiana at 200" - as we advance toward the bicentennial of the Hoosier state in 2016. She also is an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and a board member of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

So with these two history buffs poised to take questions from listeners (and question each other), you are encouraged to call the WICR-FM - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and ask away about Hoosier history.

Like Nelson, Andrea grew up in Indianapolis and is descended from a long line of Hoosiers; both Nelson and Andrea are board members of the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a non-profit that celebrates the state's heritage and was founded by descendants of early settlers.

Andrea will discuss the Native American group in Indiana known as the Miami. Unfortunately, they lost their federally designated tribal status more than 100 years ago due to what Andrea says was an administrative error. She plans to share details.

Andrea Neal.In terms of Hoosier history, Nelson's areas of expertise are famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.

Some of Andrea's recent "Indiana at 200" columns have focused on topics that we also have explored on Hoosier History Live! shows, including the utopian communities that attempted to flourish in New Harmony; the wine-making heritage in Switzerland County (it is believed to have been the site of the first successful winery in the entire country) and the boyhood of Abe Lincoln in what's now Spencer County.

Fun fact: In addition to last week's show about young Abe's relationships with his father, mother and stepmother, we did a program in February 2009 about Lincoln's youth. Nelson's studio guests then included Andrea and two of her eighth-grade students at St. Richard's who had immersed themselves in the early years of the 16th president.

One of the darker aspects of Indiana’s history was the bloody Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 near what is now Lafayette. This 19th-century oil painting by artist Alonzo Chappel hangs in the Smithsonian.Other recent columns written by Andrea have focused on William Henry Harrison, the first governor of the Indiana Territory in the early 1800s (decades later, he was elected U.S. president) and the bloody Battle of Tippecanoe, in which soldiers under Harrison's command defeated Shawnee forces led by the Prophet, the controversial brother of legendary leader Tecumseh.

So this is your opportunity to call in and ask questions or share insights about those topics and others related to our state's rich heritage. Nelson's book Indiana Legends, now in its 4th edition and 7th printing, features profiles of more than 160 notables, ranging from frontier figures such as Mother Theodore Guerin (a Catholic nun from France who founded orphanages, schools and the academy that became St. Mary of the Woods College near Terre Haute), who was named Indiana's first saint, to contemporary figures including Hoosier astronauts, Olympic athletes and artists.

Nelson and Andrea worked together for several years at The Indianapolis Star. Before that, he was a feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis News, and Andrea was a Statehouse reporter for United Press International. So these two Hoosier history buffs began journalism careers at almost exactly the same time.

History Mystery

Among the famous Hoosiers included in Indiana Legends, one of the books by our host Nelson Price, is a contemporary artist who has been in the news this month. She has announced plans to sell her gallery, which has been located in a former Methodist church built in the 1860s. Detail from a painting by our mystery artist.She intends to open a new gallery in New York City, although she plans to keep her central Indiana home and studio, where she paints on the upper floor of a horse barn.

The artist, who first achieved popular success with her portraits of children, grew up in Indianapolis. A teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School noticed her artistic talent and encouraged her. Celebrities who have owned her paintings include Robert Redford, the Beach Boys and the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Question: Who is she?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.

The prize is a gift certificate to Prime 47 restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, as well as a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

Roadtripper: Belle of Louisville at Indiana Preservation Conference

The Belle of Louisville on the Ohio River there. Image courtesy Suzanne Stanis.Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests a Roadtrip south on I-65 to visit the fabled riverboat, the Belle of Louisville. Though constructed in Pittsburgh in 1914 as the Idlewild, a ferry and freight packet, and living a vagabond's life in the 1950s, the Belle of Louisville dropped anchor on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River in 1962.

With engines built in the 1890s and still running strong, the Belle is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the country.

Louisville's "Legendary Lady" will be featured during Preserving Historic Places: Indiana's Statewide Preservation Conference in New Albany, Ind., April 9-11.

It's on!

Anniversary soiree on Thursday, Feb. 27 - Be there!

Hoosier History Live 6th anniversary banner.

Hoosier History Live! has been on the air for six years. Let's celebrate!

When: Thursday, Feb. 27, between 5 and 7:30 p.m.

Where: Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 N. Central Ave. in Indianapolis.

What: Meet and mingle with fellow history lovers. History Mystery live from the Cook Theater stage hosted by Nelson Price. Remarks from the podium by four-term Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut and Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan.

Also, Shirley Judkins on the grand piano with Indiana's Songwriter Legends and Indy Piano Lounge Classics, singing schoolmarm Miss Melody on guitar, Johnny Appleseed, Abe Lincoln, cash bar by Lockerbie Pub and birthday cake by Chef Maureen Dunlap.

Hosted by Indiana Landmarks. Tech and slideshow by Richard Sullivan and graphics by Pam Fraizer. Special thanks to event planners Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography and Mark Szobody of Indiana Landmarks.

This is a complimentary event; however, if you wish, you are welcome to make a voluntary contribution by using the "Donate" button at the bottom of the RSVP page, or donations will gratefully be accepted at the party.

Thanks to the following donors who hit our "yellow button" and helped to make this event possible! Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Roz Wolen, Dana Waddell and Clay Collins, David Willkie, Jeff Swiatek, Kevin Murray, Dixie Richardson, Marion Wolen, Tom Castaldi and Sharon Butsch Freeland.

We look forward to seeing you on Feb. 27!

Click here to RSVP for this event. (Please disregard if you have already RSVP'd to this invitation.)

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer

Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant

Joan Hostetler, Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, Dana Waddell, advisors


Lucas OilStory Inn

Indiana Historical Society logo.Lockerbie Pub logo.Fountain Square Theatre building logo.

Indiana Landmarks logo.Indiana Authors Award logo.

Chilluffo Photography logo.

Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Chilluffo Photography | Indiana Authors Award | Indiana Historical Society | Indiana Landmarks | Lockerbie Pub | Lucas Oil | Story Inn | The Fountain Square Theatre Building

Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgments to Monomedia, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships and individual contributions. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially. Also, see our Twitter feed and our Facebook page for regular updates.

March 1 show

Madam Walker: her life, business and theater building

As we welcome Women's History Month following our salute to Black History Month, Hoosier History Live! will explore various aspects of a pioneer entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary whose life truly became iconic.

We have the best possible guest for our show about Madam Walker, the daughter of slaves who probably became the country's first self-made African-American woman millionaire; we also will explore the Indianapolis landmark, the Madam Walker Theatre Center, that is among her legacies in her adopted hometown.

A'Lelia Bundles holds up a copy of her new book Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure at the December 2013 Holiday Author Fair in Indianapolis. Hoosier History Live photo.Nelson's guest will be Madam Walker's great-great granddaughter and biographer, A'Lelia Bundles, who grew up in the Hoosier capital, graduated from North Central High School and Harvard, then became an Emmy Award-wining TV producer. She currently is based in the Washington D.C. area.

A former ABC News executive, A'Lelia wrote a critically acclaimed biography of her legendary ancestor, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Scribner, 2001).

Now A'Lelia is the author of a new book. Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure (Arcadia Publishing) explores the construction and evolution of - as well as  the social history associated with - the block-long flatiron structure built on Indiana Avenue in the 1920s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Madam Walker (1867-1919) did not live to see the opening of the building designed as the new corporate headquarters of her Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co., which produced hair-care products sold internationally. But Madam Walker had the vision for the landmark building with a stage that, for more than 85 years, has been a venue for African-American performers such as Motown great Smokey Robinson and opera star Angela Brown, an Indy native.

When the Walker building had a grand opening in 1927, it included, in addition to the corporate offices, a movie theater, beauty salon, ballroom and a café called the Coffee Pot that was promoted with a distinctive coffee-pot-shaped sign on the exterior.

Madam Walker had been born as Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. By age 7, she was an orphan. She married during her teen years, had a daughter and, by age 20, was a widow. She found work as a laundress, but in the 1890s suffered a severe scalp disease that, as A'Lelia notes in her new book, "was causing her to go bald."

From those inauspicious beginnings, Madam Walker created shampoos, ointments and other hair-care products that became enormously popular. The company she founded eventually employed and trained thousands of women. In 1910, she moved its headquarters to Indianapolis for several reasons, including the city's "Crossroads of America" reputation as a railroad hub that enabled efficient shipping across the country for her products.

While patronizing  a downtown Indy theater in 1914, Madam Walker was startled when she was told tickets for blacks had increased sharply higher than admission for whites. She promptly instructed her attorney to sue the theater.

"Legend has it," A'Lelia writes in her new book, "that she also vowed that day to build her own movie theater."

The book includes dozens of vintage photos of the building that, since a major restoration in 1988, has been a cultural arts center. Its theater, designed in an African art deco style, not only is the venue for jazz, blues and gospel concerts, it has been the setting for performances by the Vienna Boys Choir.

A'Lelia currently is working on a book about her namesake, Madam Walker's daughter A'Lelia Walker, who was based in New York and helped influence the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

© 2014 Hoosier History Live! All rights reserved.

Hoosier History Live!
P.O. Box 44393
Indianapolis, IN 46244
(317) 927-9101