William (Bill) Selm
2019 Hoosier German-American of the Year
William L. Selm researched and wrote the NHL nomination of the Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus). He earned a B.A. in History with a German minor at Indiana State University, Terre Haute (1979) and an M.A. in Historic Preservation Studies at Boston University (1981). During and after graduate school Selm worked as an architectural technician for the National Park Service North Atlantic Regional Office/Charlestown Building Conservation Laboratory. He also was a laborer on the restoration crew of two colonial-era NPS sites: John Adam Birth Place and the Capt. William Smith House, both in Massachusetts.
Selm returned to his native Indiana to work as the staff historian for the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission from 1983-92. In that capacity he researched and wrote the histories of hundreds of historic Indianapolis buildings in the course of preparing Historic Area Preservation Plans, National Register nominations, HABS reports, and documentation for commission review at its hearings.
In 1983 Selm was appointed by Indiana Governor Robert D. Orr to the Indiana State German Immigration Tricentennial Commission. As a commission member, he conceived, organized, and curated “The German-American Experience in Indiana” exhibit hosted by the Indiana State Museum in 1983-84. With fellow commission members he founded in 1984 the Indiana German Heritage Society and has served continuously as an IGHS board member since its founding. This state-wide organization promotes the discovery, study, and understanding of the state’s rich German heritage through research, conferences, publications, exhibits, and celebrations. He researched and wrote Wegweiser, a Self-guided Tour of German-American Sites in Indianapolis (2008) and the traveling exhibit “Wegweiser: German Place Names in Indiana” (2012). In the 1980s he served on the Board of Directors of the Athenaeum Turners and in 1991 cofounded the Athenaeum Foundation, Inc. to rescue restore, and revitalize the Athenaeum (Das Deutsche Haus). He served 10 years as the architectural historian member of the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board (2002-12), appointed by Indiana Governor Joseph E. Kernan. Since 1988 Selm has been an adjunct faculty member of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis teaching Indianapolis Architectural History, Western Architectural History and the History of Furniture and Interiors. He is an IUPUI Max Kade Fellow. Selm continues as a free-lance tour guide, lecturer, and as a researcher and writer of National Register nominations, 106 Review studies, and other endeavors related to history and historic preservation.