Discover the Elkhart County Historical Museum

The Elkhart County Historical Museum fosters appreciation and preservation of local history and culture through exhibits, educational programs, and an accessible library and archives.

Museum Address

Free admission. 

304 West Vistula St.
Bristol, IN 46507

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 434
Bristol, IN 46507

Phone: (574) 848-4322
museum@elkhartcountyhistory.org 

Directions to the Museum

Museum Hours

Tues-Sat - 9 AM-5 PM

Park hours subject to change without notice.

In 1968, the Elkhart County Historical Museum opened as a partnership between the newly-established Elkhart County Parks Department and the Elkhart County Historical Society.  Visitors to the Museum can explore the many people, places, and events that make up the history of Elkhart County.

The collection features over 30,000 artifacts reflecting the county’s cultural heritage and help tell the story of Elkhart County in both permanent and temporary exhibits.  Begin your experience in the newest exhibit Crossroads which tells the story of Elkhart County in three galleries.  The research library contains photos, diaries, family records, plat maps, census lists and more to help researchers uncover the past.

Unique and engaging programming is offered year-round. School field trips are available covering a range of topics and grade levels. Information on all Parks field trip options can be found here.

The historic auditorium is available for large gatherings and may be rented. More information is available here. 

Upcoming Events

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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

09/28/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

09/21/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

09/14/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

09/07/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

07/27/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Crossroads of Elkhart County Guided Tour

07/20/2024 1:00 pm
$4/person at the door (12 & under are free)
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Exhibits

The first-floor galleries are home to Crossroads of Elkhart County. These three galleries bring audiences the story of Elkhart County, often through the voices of the people who lived it. Your adventure begins with the nomadic paleo people who passed through this area thousands of years ago. Meet the Miami and Potawatomi, learn about changes wrought by the arrival of the French, explore the years of conflict and the forced removal of Native groups from the region. Enter the industrial era with the arrival of trains and discover the rise of industry, which occurred hand-in-hand with migration and the changing population. Finally, share your own memories to help us tell the rest of the story.

Crossroads of Elkhart County is complemented by changing exhibits and galleries that showcase the museum’s extensive collection. Spend time with us experiencing Elkhart County.

Fall 2023 – Summer 2024: Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz: Miles Markets Alka-Seltzer Developed by Elkhart’s Miles Laboratories, Alka-Seltzer debuted in the 1930s, and advertisements over its close to 100-year history are iconic. Many of Alka-Seltzer’s slogans and jingles have become part of the American lexicon. This exhibit documents and celebrates these campaigns and the genius behind Miles’ marketing.

2024-2026: Clues Through the Lens Doing good history is an ongoing process of asking questions. This ground-breaking exhibit invites and challenges visitors to become their own history detective by investigating photographs. What can we learn about the past from looking at historic images? What might be missing? What can we learn about ourselves and our own perspectives? Put on your thinking caps and come explore!

Snapshots from Service

Dwight Kaser’s WWII Photos

Virtual photograph exhibit created by Goshen College Public History students Emma Gingerich, O’Ryan Gary Rucker, and  Emily Strzelecki 2024

Throughout World War II, thousands of men and women from Elkhart County served at home and abroad. One such individual was Dwight Kaser of New Paris. He served as a technical sergeant on board the United States Army Hospital Ships Algonquin and the Acadia between 1941 and 1945. Both ships traveled routes in North Africa, Italy, and France. Kaser also spent time on a ship traveling from New Orleans to Argentina. In letters to home and diary entries, he expressed appreciation for the world travel he was doing and the beautiful sights he encountered. In a letter to his father in February of 1944 Kaser wrote, “I can’t tell you much about things, Dad, but I can say that I’m getting a lot of good experience on this job now, and it looks as though I’ll see a lot of this globe before it’s all over.” Look through this photo collection and see the beauty amidst war as Kaser photographed it.

The Collection

The Elkhart County Historical Society collections housed in the Elkhart County Historical Museum represent almost 12,000 years of human history in the area.  It ranges from stone tools to 21st-century pharmaceuticals, band instruments to vehicles, textiles to commercial artwork, covering a wide range of the material culture of Elkhart County.  Caring for, exhibiting and researching this collection is one of the primary goals of the museum.  For information on the collection or to inquire about making a donation, please contact the Curator of Collections at museum@elkhartcountyhistory.org.

Research

The research library contains a wide range of reference materials that, along with the archival collection, may be accessed by researchers.  Appointments are recommended.  The library collection is searchable through the Elkhart Public Library catalog.  The historic image collection is searchable through Indiana Memory.  For more information on available research materials or to initiate a research request, please email research@elkhartcountyhistory.org.