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White's Institute Collection

Identifier: FRG-29

Scope and Contents

The White's Institute Papers have come to Earlham from three sources. The two ledgers of financial records were among the Indiana Yearly Meeting records transferred from Richmond First Friends in 1984. Two boxes of historical papers were transferred from White's in 1992. The minutes, financial records, and other records were the gift of Horace Smith of Hagerstown, Indiana, a former board member, in 1992.

The collection is separated into 12 series based on the original order of its creator.

Series one. “White’s Institute Treasurer’s Ledgers” contains two physical ledgers, both dated 1852-1878. They include information regarding staff salaries and general expenses for White’s Indiana Manual Labor Institute (WIMLI). The majority of these expenses were recorded yearly on the 15th of January.

Series two. “Business Reports,” is organized chronologically and are mostly the White’s Institute Board of Trustees meeting minutes. These meetings covered topics like purchase approvals, staff raises and promotions, and future plans for new buildings and programs.

Series three. “Reports to the Superintendent” are also further separated by year. These reports were monthly summaries of the activities of the institute made by the current superintendent of White’s for the Board of Trustees to review. It contains information about the admittance/release of children, number of meals served in the cafeteria, and overall operating expenses.

Series four. “Financial Statements” is organized chronologically. It contains information regarding insurance proposals, quarterly budget reports, and staff salaries.

Series five. “White’s Indiana Manual Labor Institute (WIMLI) Financial Reports” is a different series from “Financial Statements” because WIMLI had separate expenses from the school of White’s Institute. These statements were reviewed by a certified public accountant, who then offered suggestions for improvement on money spending and bookkeeping records.

Series six. “Directories, Programs, and Miscellaneous” is organized by its different policies and programs. This includes insurance policies, graduation programs, and school directories. The file “Miscellaneous Business Reports” contains the likes of White’s Institute reports to Indiana Yearly Meeting, notification for inspection documents, and ISHAA insurance policies for athletes.

Series seven. “WIMLI Documents” is organized by topic, including official documents and bills, bank notes, registry receipts, and letters from the US Treasury Department. This series also contains photographs and negatives from WIMLI.

Series eight. “Miscellaneous Materials Collected by John W. and Ruth Ann Parker” are materials collected while the Parkers were conducting research on White’s Institute for a book, the draft and final draft of which is also included in this collection. Some of the materials include a WIMLI inmate roster, correspondence with someone trying to obtain birth certificate documents of a past member, and a 1959 White’s High School handbook.

Series nine. “Book Manuscript - Josiah White’s Legacy.” The book manuscript written by John and Ruth Parker about the history of White’s, including its evolution as a school and its impact on children in the state of Indiana. A rough draft and final draft for this manuscript are also found in series eight.

Series ten. “Correspondence” is organized into two files, one 19th century correspondence and the other 20th century. There are various types of correspondence, with little overall pattern in terms of who was sending these letters and who specifically at White’s was receiving them. Examples include correspondence from the Office of Indian Affairs/United States Indian Service, letters to and from O.H. Bales (the then superintendent), and letters requesting information about former students at White’s.

Series eleven. “Original Documents” is separated into files based on the six different folders in which they were previously arranged. Besides the fact that they are original documents that pertain to White’s Institute, there seems to be no additional common characteristics of the subject of these documents. Subjects range from student life to financial operations. Examples include student honor rolls, insurance notes, list of transfer students, newspaper clippings, terms of employment, and commencement exercises.

Series twelve. “Research Notes” is also separated based on the three folders in which they were previously arranged. These notes refer to the research conducted by the Parkers for the “Josiah White’s Legacy” book manuscript. The majority of the items in this series are copies of original documents with handwritten notes by the researchers on them. Some of the copies of original documents include newspaper clips about White’s, minutes from Indiana Yearly Meeting sessions, examinations of financial statements, and questions about White’s asked by the Office of Indian Affairs.

This particular collection would be relevant to researchers who are interested in the attempted Americanization of Indigenous peoples by schools/delinquent centers like White’s Institute/WIMLI. Even though White’s transitioned from an “Indian” school to a school for orphaned children in general and eventually a regular high school, the early years of the Institute provide evidence of how Native Americans at the school were treated and what they were taught. The collection is also relevant to researchers curious about the financial and logistical aspect of White’s and institutions like it. Many of the files pertain to operational costs. In all, this collection would give a researcher insight into 19th and 20th century Americanization efforts of Indigenous peoples, how Quakers like the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Orthodox Friends were involved in this effort, and the costs required to run an institution of this nature.


  • 1885-1986

Biographical or Historical Information

White's institute was founded in 1852 as White's Indiana Manual Labor Institute under the terms of a bequest from Josian White (1781-1850), a Philadelphia Orthodox Friend. He bequeathed $40,000 to be used for two schools for "poor children, white, colored, Indian...such as have not the means to procure food, board, clothing themselves." One was to be located in Iowa, the other in the state of Indiana, and both were to be under the control of Indiana Yearly Meeting of Orthodox Friends. The first classes were held in 1862. In 1882 the school expanded to include White's Indian Training School. Native Americans were sent from reservations west of the Mississippi by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to advance their "civilization." White's most famous student was the yankton Sioux Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938) or Zitkala-Sa, later an Earlham College student and nationally-known Indian rights activist. The Indian school was closed in 1895. After 1897, White's came increasingly to focus on orphans and children inder the care of Indiana courts, what would early in the twentieth century be referred to as "juvenile delinquents." The name was changed to White's Residential and Family Services in 1992.

Note written by


4 Boxes

Language of Materials


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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository