“Muncie is a resilient community and our history bears this out. For a century and a half, we’ve transitioned time and again, improving our quality of life, experimenting within the arts and industry, and celebrating all the unique traits that make Muncie a great place to live.” —Chris Flook (Muncie native)


The city of Muncie gets its name from one of the two primary languages (“Munsee” and “Unami”) of the Lenape Native Americans who lived in Delaware County from the 1790s until 1821.

After the American Revolution, numerous Native groups formed the pan-tribal Western Confederacy to block white settlement and retain Native territory. A series of victories over American forces ended with a defeat of the Confederacy in 1794, leaving bands of Lenape (Delaware) Native Americans without a place to live.

The Miami tribe invited these bands to establish villages along the west fork of the White River, primarily as a buffer against white settlers pushing west. Three Lenape villages existed in Muncie at different times over the course of three decades; additional village sites were located in Madison, Hamilton, and Marion Counties.

Despite their relatively brief stay, the place names of Muncie, Delaware County, Yorktown, Anderson, and Buck Creek all serve as an homage to East Central Indiana’s Lenape inhabitants.

 Documentary: The Lenape on the Wapahani River


Muncie was officially incorporated in 1865 as a largely agricultural settlement. When natural gas was discovered in the late 1800s, shrewd businessmen flocked to the area to set up industry.

The Ball Brothers (creators of Ball Jars, pictured right) relocated their glass business to Muncie in 1886 and became one of the region’s largest employers and benefactors. Their significant generosity directly contributed to the creation of Ball State University, Ball Memorial Hospital, the Masonic Temple (now Cornerstone Center for the Arts), and Minnetrista Museum & Gardens. The Ball Brothers Foundation continues their philanthropic legacy to this day.

Documentary: A Legacy Etched in Glass: The Ball Brothers in Muncie


Over the past nearly 100 years, marketers, social scientists, journalists, and documentarians have sought out Muncie to explore the development of modern American society up-close.

This consideration of Muncie as “Middletown, U.S.A.” began with sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd, who came here in 1924 to study the impact of rapid industrialization in a typical Midwest community. Their work, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture (1929), is one of the most well-known cultural anthropology studies of the 20th century.

Today, both Muncie and the nation are in the midst of another dramatic transformation—the shift from manufacturing to a knowledge-driven economy. Ball State University’s Center for Middletown Studies, established in 1980, investigates small-city experiences in the midst of this transformation.

 Documentary: Stories and Legends: Historic Preservation in Muncie, Indiana