The latest recipients of a warm Hoosier welcome have traveled extensively. They have been cited in discussions of governance, carried by guardians of the law, proclaimed by those who have fought for the rights of women and people of color.
This is a collection of books and documents spanning several centuries that belong to the remaining trust, which has deep roots in Indiana. The non-profit organization collects manuscripts and early published works related to individual freedom, responsibility, and human dignity, then shares them for educational purposes.
Under a new three-way partnership, he will house his collection at the Indiana Historical Society, which will use materials in exhibits and put some on permanent display. The trust’s offices will be at the Columbia Club, and the pillar in Monument Circle will also host events and display artifacts.
The inclusion of the Historical Society will broaden the message of public access and the interaction that the trust encourages – allowing people to pick up and read the rare material like any other printed book. Considering that the trust’s goal is to collect works that are at least 100 years old, this becomes a big deal. He reports that his oldest coins date from around 2500 BC.
“Most of these things you can go online and read them, but it’s a whole other thing to hold them, to touch the story,” said Indiana President and CEO Jody Blankenship. Historical Society. “It gives you goosebumps to think that this stuff has been around for centuries in some cases – and who had it, who used it and how did they do it.”
Among the first opportunities the public will have to view works from the collection is the “Documents That Shaped America” exhibit, which opens May 21 at the Indiana Historical Society.
Remnant Trust Collection Contents
Among the trust’s more than 1,500 manuscripts, first editions and early works are a few gems that have long shaped philosophy, religious ideas, and social constructs.
The collections include some of the most famous titles in the world. An edition of the Magna Carta from around 1350 has decorative flourishes that flower letters in the margins. The life and ideas of Frederick Douglass populate the pages of autobiographical editions dated to the mid-nineteenth century. Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1792 “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” denounces double standards in education and other areas of life.
The list goes on, with the first editions of the Federalist Papers, John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, the Declaration of Independence, a 1734 English translation of the Koran and “Particulars of the Late Duel, Fought at Hoboken, July 11, Between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, Esqrs.”
Many works have rarity in common, but Remnant Trust chairman Chris Talley said the feature is a hook, not the determining factor.
The books are about “humanity searching for (the truth). Where is it? How do we understand the world? What is our position in the world? How do we interact?” said trust chairman Kris Bex.
Trust between people “just doesn’t exist. We don’t have it with hardly anyone. … But, if I say, ‘Well, look: Here’s a Thomas Paine “Common Sense”. Here’s a first edition ,’ we know that to be precise.”
The Remnant Trust acquired more than 90% of the works through antiquarian book dealers, and other works come from auction houses and private collectors, Bex said. The purchases were funded by philanthropic donors, Talley said.
“The fact that we are now the recipients of these books that have been passed down, in the case of Magna Carta, over the last seven or eight centuries – someone has maintained this book and it is truly appreciated and has been part of from that provenance,” Talley said. “We consider the fiduciary responsibility of the collection to be quite strong.”
Allowing the public to touch and use the materials — with care, of course — is what Bex calls a capital investment risk the trust is willing to take. Fragile documents are encased in plastic and the association is working with restoration services to make the necessary repairs.
“It’s different from taking the actual document,” Bex said. “When you go there and you pick up a 1350 manuscript of the Magna Carta that’s 700 years old that somebody wrote and carried around like a lawyer’s manual back then… You can’t do that with an iPad. It’s not the same experience.”
How the Trust Started in Indiana
The Remnant Trust itself is no stranger to Indiana. His ties to Hoosier include founder Brian Bex and involvement with former Indiana University president John Ryan. Kris Bex, who is the son of Brian Bex, said he was founded in Hagerstown and incorporated in 1997. He counts Jeffersonville and Winona Lake among the Indiana locations where he resided.
For the past eight years, the trust’s base of operations has been Texas Tech University. After the arrangement was completed, Talley said the trust decided to return to its Hoosier roots.
During its existence, Talley said it had established links with more than 125 college campuses and other institutions. The new partnership is the first time the trust has joined with the Indiana Historical Society, he said. The trust has worked with the Columbia Club unofficially since about 2001, Bex said.
After the “Documents that Shaped America” exhibit closed in early 2023, Blankenship said a portion of the Indiana Historical Society’s library would be permanently dedicated to the Remnant Trust’s collection. This will make it easier for the public to see works that don’t travel to be exhibited elsewhere. Interested persons can find the list of documents and instructions on how to consult them at indianahistory.org/the-remnant-trust.
“As part of the opportunity to bring them home to Indiana, we will expand the reach and intensify the educational program,” Talley said.
Upcoming events at the Columbia Club include Robert Woodson, a civil rights activist and social commentator, who will deliver remarks and participate in discussions May 3-4. Find more information about remnanttrustevents.com.
Looking for things to do? Our newsletter features the best concerts, artwork, shows and more – and the stories behind them