Emma Christy Baker

Emma Christy Baker (1865-1955)

Born in Salem, Indiana, but growing up in Indianapolis, Baker’s laundry business had already made her well-known in the community when the local police department decided to hire some women, perhaps in part because so many men were away for World War I. On June 15, 1918, she became not only the first Black woman hired by the Indianapolis Police Department, she was the first woman, period.

She continued to serve the department until 1939 when she retired from a position as a jail matron.

Her grave went unmarked until an article in the police department’s newsletter brought her to the attention of Officer Marilyn Gurnell, one of many Black women who had followed in her footsteps. Gurnell led a fundraising effort in nearby schools in 2003 to place the marker which notes her burial and that of her husband and son near her parents and other family members. One of them is her uncle, Levi Christy, who was a teacher, school principal, and editor and proprietor of the city’s second black newspaper.

The plaque on top of Baker’s monument reads:
Emma Christy Baker was appointed June 15, 1918 by the Indianapolis Police Department. She was the first female and the first African American female to serve as a police officer in Marion County. She retired in 1939 after 21 years of serving the community.

Read more about Baker here.

Section 37, Lot 822; GPS (39.8227212, -86.1757577)