Jody Blankenship, BA ’00

Photo of Jody

As President and CEO of the Indiana Historical Society, Jody Blankenship is a tireless advocate for bringing Hoosiers together around the state’s history and shared values.

An understanding of history, he says, makes people critical thinkers and consumers of information. And in today’s complex society, that’s no small thing.

“It’s an honor and tremendous responsibility to be charged with documenting, preserving, and making accessible, our history,” he said. “Future generations will rely on these collections and scholarship that we are creating today to understand their world. I hope that our efforts make a difference.”

Founded in 1830, the Indiana Historical Society is one of the largest history organizations in the United States. The institution operates a museum, library/archive, publishing press, media production studio, and an outreach arm that provides traveling exhibits, education programs, and more to local history organizations throughout the state.

A separate photo of Jody

In his role, Jody leads all operational areas at the Society, reporting to a 26-member volunteer board. From staff to volunteers, everyone he works with is as passionate about history as he is, he says.

“What I enjoy the most about working in this field is the people,” he explained. “It’s incredible to hear them speak about their areas of expertise and to learn from them.”

One of Jody’s most memorable projects was bringing “home” a non-profit library that was founded in Indiana but located in Texas for nearly a decade. The library’s nearly 1,600 volume collection includes six copies of the Magna Carta (the oldest from 1350), a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and the first printing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“It’s now displayed in the Indiana Historical Society’s library where anyone is able to come in and hold and read the materials, hear from the experts on these books, and converse with about them,” he said.

He’s also enthused about a forthcoming exhibit called “Resist” that focuses on how students at the University of Note Dame (and Hoosiers across Indiana) fought the KKK.

After graduating from Ohio Northern with a history degree, Jody planned to teach high school history. ONU professor Dr. Ray Schuck, however, encouraged his interest in the museum field and inspired him to attend the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Upstate New York. From there, he worked at historical museums and societies in Ohio, Kentucky, and Connecticut, before his current position in Indiana.

“ONU was foundational to my success,” he says. “The ONU faculty taught me critical thinking and how to problem solve. They also built my confidence and character so that when presented with a challenge, I am ready to face it head on with integrity.”