Wilma Lee Gibbs Moore

Wilma Lee Gibbs Moore
(3/21/1951 – 4/18/2018)

“I have spent the past 30 years doing work that I thoroughly enjoy — toiling in the Indiana history vineyard helping others find material for their storyboards. I am always surprised by special thank you notes from patrons or when authors acknowledge me in their books . . . I am humble and grateful.”
— Wilma Moore, Archivist, and Historian specializing in Indiana’s Black history.

Photo credit: Ray Boomhower

Wilma Gibbs Moore was born in Indianapolis in 1951 and grew up on the northwest side. A 1969 graduate of Crispus Attucks High School, she went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Sociology (1973) and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science (1974) from Indiana University. After working for the Indianapolis Public Library from 1977-1983, and as IU’s residence hall librarian from 1983-1986, Moore began her 30-year career as the Senior Archivist of the African American history collection for the Indiana Historical Society (IHS).

While in that position, Mrs. Moore wrote numerous articles on Black history and served as the editor of the Indiana Historical Society’s quarterly newsletter, Black History News and Notes, from 1986-2007, after which it became a regular part of the society’s Traces Magazine. She continued as contributing editor of Traces until her retirement in 2017. Moore was also a key contributor to documentation of the Underground Railroad in Indiana while working with Indiana Freedom Trails and the Indiana Landmarks’ African American Landmarks Committee. Through her work at IHS and lectures throughout Indiana, Moore raised awareness of Black history in Indiana and served as a mentor to colleagues and students. She was also able to acquire a significant number of Black history collections for IHS that document Indiana’s Black heritage. Her book, Indiana’s African American Heritage, was published in 1993.

In addition to many awards, including the Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award for significant contributions and efforts to enrich history in 2017, the Wilma Gibbs Moore Graduate Endowed Scholarship was established in 2018 to assist students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue a library and information science degree. The Wilma Gibbs Moore Fellowship to support humanities research into racism and racial injustice in Indiana was also established in 2018. Moore died in 2018 at age 67 and was survived by her husband, children and grandchildren.

Ray Boomhower, Senior Editor of Indiana Historical Society Press, and a longtime colleague of Moore’s, offers an extensive reflection of her life.

Buried in Section 213 (Field of Valor), Lot 861; GPS (39.8274522,-86.1758335)