Like many state associations, the Indiana Society can trace its roots as far back as the Civil War. At that time a group of Indiana Republicans living in Washington banded together to form the Indiana Republican Club of Washington, D.C. It was a purely political organization, working to take care of its members in Washington and back in Indiana. In 1893, President Benjamin Harrison chose not to run for a second term and returned to Indianapolis. This along with the growing power of the Civil Service Commission caused interest and membership in the Society to wane and by 1903, the organization disbanded.
In 1905, it was reborn as the Indiana Society of Washington, D.C., a non-partisan social and philanthropic group. In addition to welcoming both Republicans and Democrats, another major change was made in the reborn organization. Women were permitted to join and hold office! In the early days, the Society met on a monthly basis at such well-known Washington establishments as the Ebbitt Tavern and the Willard Hotel. A reception was held for fellow Hoosier, Vice-President Fairbanks, and a large party was held in 1916 to celebrate Indiana’s 100th year as a state.
Today, with the support of the Indiana business community, the Society hosts several gatherings each year aimed at giving Hoosiers in Washington the opportunity to honor their Indiana roots. These events are attended by Republicans and Democrats alike, including Members of the Indiana Congressional delegation and their staffs, officials in the Executive Branch, and Hoosiers in the private sector.
Each year the State’s birthday is celebrated on December 11, and a party is held in May to commemorate the Indy 500. Other popular events are periodic receptions for nationally known Hoosiers, theater parties and hog roasts. The Society’s signature event is the glittering Inaugural Ball held every four years to celebrate the Inauguration of the President and the Vice President of the United States and to honor Indiana elected officials. Many fellow Hoosiers from back home in Indiana travel to Washington to attend our Inaugural Ball, widely recognized as one of the best events in the Inaugural lineup.
The tradition of holding an Inaugural Ball began in 1952 when so many Hoosiers flooded the city of Washington to attend President Eisenhower’s Inauguration, that the official balls were sold out. The Indiana Society solved the problem by hosting a dinner-dance for Hoosiers who had come to Washington for the inaugural activities. Since that time, regardless of which political party captures the Presidency, the Indiana Society has hosted a black-tie dinner dance on January 19, the eve of the official Inauguration.
The Indiana State Society is grateful for the support of its Sagamore Patrons, which, through their annual financial commitments, enable the Indiana Society to provide opportunities for Hoosiers living and working in Washington, D.C. to gather in fellowship and celebration of our Indiana heritage. To see a list of our Sagamore Patrons and to learn more about becoming a patron, click here.
Indiana Society of Washington, D.C. Officers
President: Jodi Richardson
Vice President: Joel Riethmiller
Secretary: Doug Wasitis
Treasurer: Dave Zook
Board of Directors
Prime Policy Group
Indiana Attorney General’s Office
Rolls-Royce North America
The Center on Congress
The Smithsonian Institution
Indiana Innovation Institute
The Kraft Heinz Company
Ice Miller LLP
Bose Public Affairs
Holland & Knight
Imperium Global Advisors
The Heritage Group
U.S. House of Representatives
National Council of State Boards of Nursing