The Carlisle Indian Industrial School is a major site of memory for many Native peoples, as well as a source of study for students and scholars around the globe. Richard Henry Pratt implemented his vision for educating Native American students by removing them from their communities and bringing them to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. More than 10,000 Native American students from all over the country (and Puerto Rico) were enrolled at the Carlisle Indian School from 1879 to 1918, and this institution served as a model for many other non-reservation boarding schools across the country.
The Carlisle Indian School and indigenous boarding school movement represents a very active area of research among scholars, teachers, students (both native and non-native), Carlisle-area residents, and descendants from across the U.S. and around the world. Scholars are working hand in hand with descendants of the Carlisle students, who are learning from and contributing to this research. In the last decade, not only have many scholarly and popular books, articles and documentaries related to the Carlisle Indian School been produced, but also a number of symposia and community events, such as pow-wows and commemorations, have been held. Dickinson College faculty members have been particularly active and involved with publications and events such as these.
This project aims to develop a comprehensive searchable database of Carlisle Indian Industrial School resources. Beginning with the school records housed at the U.S. National Archives as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs papers, we plan to digitize materials that tell the story of the school and the many thousands of students who were sent there. Desiring to add to the school's history beyond the official documentation, we will seek partners among those institutions that hold additional records regarding the school, its many students, and its instructors. Subsequent phases of this project will develop the capability for user interactivity, so that individuals may contribute their own digitized photos, documents, oral histories, and other personal materials to the online collection. The website will host teaching and learning materials utilizing the digitized content and database, and will support the addition of original scholarly and popular works based on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project resources.