LAFAYETTE — Mary Blair Immel of Lafayette is an author and genealogist whose meticulous research has brought to light stories never-before-shared with the public. For this reason, the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) is proud to present Immel with its 2019 Willard C. Heiss Family History/Genealogy Award.
Each year, IHS presents this award to a family historian for his or her distinguished service and career in Indiana family history. While Immel’s impact is undoubtedly felt in her community, families across the state and country have also benefitted from her efforts.
While living in Covington, Indiana, a local librarian showed Immel a G.A.R. enrollment book. This introduction led to a four-year project of writing biographical sketches and locating graves of 180 Civil War veterans who lived in one small Indiana community.
Immel also helped identify Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate, buried in Lafayette’s Greenbush Cemetery. She first learned of the unidentified soldiers while working as assistant to the director of the Tippecanoe County Historical Association.
Together with her husband, the late Reverend Daniel M. Immel, she spent five years researching the Confederate unknown, resulting in a book, Beneath These Stones. Immel is currently completing a book detailing another six years of research, this time on the unidentified Union soldiers killed in the 1864 train collision outside of Lafayette.
A longtime author for THG: Connections, previously known as The Hoosier Genealogist, Immel’s own genealogical and historical research led to two YA books published by IHS Press, Giant Steps: Suffragettes and Soldiers (2017) and Captured! A Boy Trapped in the Civil War (2006), a Best Books of Indiana finalist.
“IHS sells her books across the country,” said Teresa Baer, managing editor of IHS Press. “Captured is one of IHS Press’s all-time bestsellers. All of this comes from her genealogical research.”
Immel is one of the authors listed on the 1816-2016 Literary Map of Indiana. She has been published in American Heritage Magazine, Newsweek, Boys’ Life and Guideposts. Immel also appeared on the tv show History Detectives.
She will be one of 13 individuals and organizations honored with IHS’s Founders Day awards. The annual dinner and ceremony, presented by Hirtle, Callaghan and Co., takes place Monday, Nov. 4, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
For more information about IHS’s Founders Day awards, as well as IHS Press books such as Captured and Giant Steps, call (317) 232-1882 or visit indianahistory.org.