William H. Coleman Hospital Photo: Ryan Hamlett
Coleman Hospital
Location: I.U.P.U.I Campus
Named For: William Henry Coleman
In 1927, William H. Coleman endowed the hospital for women, in memory of his step-daughter who died from pregnancy complications. Coleman was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in New York.  He moved to Indianapolis in 1880, where he started a booming lumber business that grew to have additional operations in Terre Haute and Tennessee as well, even making barrels for the Standard Oil Company.

Image curtesy of the IUPUI archive.

Image courtesy of the IUPUI archive.

Coleman married Sallie Downing Vajen, who had a daughter, Suemma, from her previous marriage to John Henry Vajen III, who died when Suemma was an infant.  Suemma’s grandfather was Michael A. Downing, who served as Indianapolis’ police commissioner and park commissioner.
Suemma was married to William Avery Atkins and became pregnant in 1923.  She and her child on died on April 24, 1924.  After her death, the Colemans donated money to Indiana University to build a maternity hospital, which was dedicated in 1927.
To learn more about the Vajen family, check out these HI articles:
What’s in a Name: Vajen Exchange Block 
Sunday Adverts: Lilly Hardware Company
Indianapolis Then and Now: Democratic Club/Indiana War Memorial, 22 E. Vermont Street

In addition, HI has also featured the Atkins family in other articles:

Indianapolis Collected: SAWS –  A Halloween History Tale
Indianapolis Collected: New Year’s Eve at the Boom Boom Room

25 responses to “William H. Coleman Hospital”

  1. Kevin J. Brewer says:

    I remember the William H. Coleman Hospital from when I was in the Science Scholars program at the IU Med Center while I was in high school at Tech (1968-1972).

    Is the hospital still standing and, if so, what is its current function?

  2. Lynne Sargent Helm says:

    Hi Steve. Thanks for posting. As a sequel, I’d suggest you continue this fascinating story with a report on the home for unwed mothers that evolved and continues to operate.

    I do have one question. Was Coleman sometimes referred to as “City Hospital”?:

    Again, thanks for your report.


  3. Diane Roberts Joslin says:

    Thank you for this interesting article – I was born in this hospital in 1946.

  4. David Dunn says:

    I was born in Coleman Hospital on September 28, 1941. When was the original hospital torn down and what replaced it?

  5. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    Hi, David,
    Coleman Hospital for Women was located at 1140 West Michigan Street. The building is still standing, but it is no longer a hospital. It is surrounded by IU Medical School and IUPUI buildings. You can read more about Coleman Hospital here:
    Sharon Butsch Freeland

  6. Be tty Sciscoe says:

    My son was born there in 1964 on December 3, 1964 it’s sad to know it is gone. My son Danny is with the Lord now!! Danny died on September 27, 2012 at Methodist hospital ☹️??

  7. Molly Kathleen Robertson says:

    My daughter was born in Coleman Hospital in February, 1958. I don’t remember much…they knocked you out in those days!
    I know I was there several days and the food was good!

  8. Doug Montgomery says:

    I was born at Coleman Hospital June 10, 1949. I am now 68 years old. I regret to say that my mother, now 88, is suffering from mental disorders and thinks that there was another baby born on that same date at that same place. I would like to be able to confirm that the hospital’s successor has no records of any such “duplicate” birth.

  9. Mary sue jones jackson says:

    I’m filling out a “Grandma, Tell Me Your Story” book and wanted to know about Coleman Hospital where I was born in November, 1945. I thought the building was probably gone, so I’m glad to know it is still standing. Since I knew none of it’s history, this article has been interesting to me. I knew the procedure was to deliver the babies with the mothers under anesthesia and to keep both mothers and babies in the hospital for several days. I believe my delivering doctor’s name was Gustafson.

  10. Tamara Zanvoedo says:

    i was born on April 1st 19– in the back of my grandmother powder blue caddillac on the back footboard. we were on our way to Coleman Hospital, didnt quite make it. But, once an officer was stopped and asked the way it was April 2nd 1965. so to say i have 2 birthdays. when i was born my grandmother said the doctor had lost his granddaughter and asked if i would carry her name since mom had no idea what to name me. so i became Tamara Ta-mar-a’.

  11. diana Millikan says:

    I was born in Coleman on June 18, 1945. My parents were based at the Army Ft. Ben. Harrison.

  12. Aida F Cowans says:

    Thank you. I was just recently told that was were l was born. I am now trying to see if there were pictures and info about my birth. I will also go visit the building that l have probably passed by numerous times.

  13. Ann Slater says:

    Aida Cowans, Have you had luck finding info about your birth? I am having problems locating a birth certificate. Thank you.

  14. Maryann Ostermeyer says:

    Hi there. I was born at this hospital in December of 1950. My mom was a high risk pregnancy at the time 34 years old…almost unheard of. Anyway, there were 30 babies on the newborn ward….all of us became very ill. Two of us survived. We both had the same pediatrician…they had no idea what cause so many babies to die but it was an epidemic of some sort. I was transfused completely as was the other baby. Can anyone track down any information about this? I recently tested for Hepatitis B…never in that danger area to get Hepatitis B…so wondering if this could have been the reason so many babies died that year on the ward….It was kept pretty quiet. I guess there were reports in the newspaper…When my dad and step grandmother went to pick me up on the 24th of December, my dad asked what the charges would be…They said nothing…just to get me out of there. Please help me track this information down. It would help so much with my medical information now.

  15. Sandy says:

    Hello Ann, have you been able to locate a birth record? I am looking for a female born at Coleman on 11 June 1951. I think I need to contact the Bartholomew Health Department to get a birth certificate. I do not know where else to locate a birth record.

  16. Karen ann says:

    Love the history my mom was born there in 1928and I am very interested in the history.

  17. Mike niehaus says:

    I was born at that hospital as well. I am interested on what info you find about it.

  18. Duncan Laing says:

    I clicked on the link for the history of Coleman Hospital and it does not work. I was born there on 10-3-1951 and recently moved back to Indy after a more than 50-year absence. Info?

  19. Tiffany Benedict Browne says:

    Hi, I am not sure I understand what is not working? I must be missing something and would be happy to try to help if you could give me a little more specific info. Thanks for contacting us.

  20. Jonathan D Shrake says:

    I was born at Coleman’s hospital on January 23 1953 looking for my birth mother and adopted.

  21. Clara J Mansfield Hogue says:

    My daughter was born at Colemans, January 15, 1963. Her name was Lynda Mansfield and an experiment was performed when electrodes was connected to her head to measure reactions as baby’s go through the birth canel. Are there any records available?

  22. Meir Frank says:

    My brother was born at Coleman Hospital in April of 1940. Our mother was about 32 y.o. Her husband graduated IU med school in 1930 and they thought they would have a good middle income life, but the Depression had just started, and few whom he treated could pay He had an office in their home and would stay home Decoration Day, July 4, Armistice Day, Xmas, etc. because travelers would have traffic accidents and the police knew that he was available. Travelers were more likely to be able to pay.

    Because they had little money, they used some form of birth control, what I don’t know, for almost 10 years, before starting to have a baby. And then, ironically, she could not get pregnant, All the birth control had been pointless. She had to have her tubes blown open by the doctor (which iiuc is still a risky procedure. Imagine 1938. ) Then she got pregnant right away, but delivery was slow, maybe slower because of pain killer, and the baby died during delivery. I think she again needed her tubes blown open, and this time, delivery was Caesarean, to avoid the previous failure. That was my brother in 1940. His father died when he was 1, she remarried and I know she again could not get pregnant until her tubes were again blown open, after which she got pregnant right away, and I was born Caesarean in 1947 when she was 39 y.o. She had two ugly scars on her belly, vertical, about 5″ long, one in the center and one an inch and a half to the side, but she thought it was well worth it.

    I went with her to a doctor’s appointment at Coleman when I was about 14 and she was in her 50’s and in the waiting room she admired a young woman’s slim ankles. My mother’s were not fat at all, but I guess they were not as slim as she wanted.

  23. Deborah Harris says:

    Where were the records on births sent when colemans closed im interested in finding out the time i was born

  24. Maureen says:

    Was born at Coleman hospital 1971 2 months premature. Born with identical twin. Was studied from birth til 3yrs old in a twin study at the hospital…..looking for any information on this study. Also looking for any information on anyone who was a nicu nurse February 1971. Ty

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