The Indiana Historical Society has completed a 12-month-long project to digitize 40,000 historical papers and photographs associated with Indianapolis entrepreneur and philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker.

Madam Walker’s beauty products empire made her one of the wealthiest women of the early 1900s.

In 2018, IHS learned it was one of 17 institutions nationwide to be awarded a nearly $80,000 grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to digitize rare and unique content.

IHS assigned a team to scan and catalogue the vast collection of Walker history it received in 1982.

“When the trustees of the Madam Walker estate donated the papers of the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company in 1982, we had no idea that they would become one of IHS’s most popular archival troves,” said A’Lelia Bundles, Walker biographer and descendant.

With the completion of the digitization project, the material is now available online.

“I believe that access to Madam Walker’s personal letters and business records will transform the way everyone — from scholars to National History Day students — does research about her,” said Walker.

The digitized images and information have also been incorporated into IHS’s newest exhibit, “You Are There 1915: Madam C.J. Walker, Empowering Women.”

The exhibit, on display now through Jan. 23, 2021, takes visitors back in time with the help of costumed actors and a recreation of Walker’s Indianapolis office.

Click here to visit the IHS collections site.