Hoosier Lifelines: Environmental and Social Change Along the Monon, 1847-2020

Environmental and social change in Indiana

A sepia image of an old train at a railroad crossing
Image courtesy of Indiana State Library Monon Railroad Collection
A muddy crop field with grain silos
Image by Maria Whiteman

Hoosier Lifelines is a participatory, grassroots project of historic and artistic storytelling about environmental and social change in Indiana during the Anthropocene, our current geologic time period marked by human-driven change to Earth’s ecosystems.

Led by ERI Fellow Elizabeth Grennan Browning, the project brings together images, objects, and narratives that speak to Hoosiers’ relationships with the natural environment. Three interconnected exhibits follow the route of the former Monon Railroad to stitch together shifts in Indiana’s landscape, from New Albany in the Ohio River Valley, through Bloomington’s southern hill region, to the railroad’s northern terminus in Michigan City along Lake Michigan’s dunes.

Each exhibit has taken shape from collaborations with these communities’ local historical societies, museums, and community foundations. Through these regional partnerships, the exhibit design will respond to each place’s distinct history, people, and social and political challenges, while simultaneously using the railway as a reminder of our far-flung connections to distant places.

By gathering and displaying artifacts, the team is creating an archive to help current and future Indiana communities better understand Hoosiers' historical relationships with the natural environment and our readiness for changes yet to come.

A map of the train route
A white train on train tracks
A hand with the cities on the train route

A sampling of artifacts and images on display. Images courtesy of Indiana State Library Monon Railroad Collection and Maria Whiteman.

Exhibit Schedule

  • Bloomington, Indiana University’s Grunwald Gallery of Art, March 26-April 22, 2021