“The Neighborhood of Saturdays” is a collaborative research project undertaken by the Department of Anthropology at IUPUI along with a number of community-based organizations, including the Concord Neighborhood Center, Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation, South Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, the Southside Picnic Committee, the Old Southside Neighborhood Association and the Stadium Village Business Association. Through oral history interviews and archival research, students have reconstructed a portrait of this unique Indianapolis neighborhood, located on the near Southside, that was once home to a range of immigrant groups as well as to significant populations of African-Americans and Appalachians. The students have focused primarily on documenting the experiences of two communities: Sephardic Jews who came to Indianapolis in the early decades of the 20th century - from what was then the Ottoman Empire, and African Americans, who migrated up from the south and from other Midwestern industrial cities. These two communities lived side-by-side in the neighborhood from the 1920s up to the 1960s when the Jewish residents began to migrate north. The remaining residents, many of whom were African-American, were then displaced ten years later by the construction of I-70.
The culmination of this project resulted in the publication of The Neighborhood of Saturdays: Memories of a Multi-Ethnic Community on Indianapolis' South Side. This project was funded in part through a Venture Grant from the IUPUI Solution Center and through donations from many generous community residents. We also had invaluable support from the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning and the IUPUI Department of Anthropology.
In Spring 2020, students enrolled in our community research class set out to update the story of the near Southside. Despite the fact that our fieldwork was cut short by the pandemic, students completed several digital projects. They created a website about the Old Southside and two videos featuring walking tours of different areas in the community. The Old Southside Neighborhood Video Tour recounts the stories of many of the fondly remember landmarks that we learned about from community residents. The other video covers the history of the South Meridian Street Business District from McCarty St. to Morris St. The students also created a website with old maps and photos and other artifacts documenting the history of South Meridian St., and a website on the history of the Concord Neighborhood Center, the oldest continuously operating community center in Indianapolis.
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