Saturday, February 25, 2012

Buried Treasure at Cincinnati History Library and Archives

Cincinnati History Library and Archives (CHLA), formerly known as Cincinnati Historical Society Library, houses an immense collection of materials relating to the Greater Cincinnati area. This collection includes books, pamphlets, maps, photos, manuscripts, films and sound recordings. Members of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society recently had the opportunity to tour CHLA.  Our tour began in the Reading Room, which is the main room after entering the library.  The Reading Room contains basic reference materials, Cincinnati histories, City Directories and more.  Items in this room are accessible to all visitors, without need of a Call Slip.

The Closed Stacks room is a large room filled with many rows of shelves and file cabinets and, as the name implies, is not open to the public for browsing. Housed in this room are: 
  • Original local newspapers in bound ledgers.  
  • "Princeton" boxes -- referencing the type of storage container -- holding newspaper clippings about people. 
  • "Cincinnati morgue records": are not (as this blogger supposed) records from a morgue in Cincinnati, but rather newspaper clippings about various (then-living) people published in the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper!  :)  
  • Map Collection: about 2,500 maps of various sizes; from 1792 to present.  
  • "Broadsides": old posters / advertisements for events, businesses, and elections.  
  • Books, such as traveler accounts (e.g. An author's account of traveling to Cincinnati in the early 1800's). 
  • The pamphlet collection includes church histories, catalogs of local businesses; local art exhibition catalogs, local transportation pamphlets, speeches, and anti-slavery tracts.1
  • Sheet Music.
  • Ephemera: pamphlets, notices, tickets, theater programs, greeting cards, invitations, menus, etc.  See "Subject Guide to Ephemera" at the reference desk.
  • Issues of Ohio Historical Society's magazine, Timeline.
  • Original copy of the first newspaper of this area, The Centinel of the North Western Territory (1793).
It would be impossible to catalog each clipping of ephemera in the collection; they are too numerous. To request items in the Closed Stacks Room, go to the reference desk for a Subject Binder. Complete a Call Slip with the call #. If you cannot find what you're looking for, ask a librarian.

The Manuscript Room has an extensive collection of the records of businesses and organizations, drawings, journals and more.  See a detailed description of the collection here:  Manuscripts Collection at CHLA.

Before accessing manuscripts:
  1. Find your item of interest in either the online catalog, the card catalog (red drawers), or in the Register / Calendar by subject listing.
  2. Fill out a Call Slip including the Box #.
  3. Read list of Rules.
Note: Some manuscript collections have restricted access due to privacy laws or the request of the donating organization (e.g. orphanage or hospital records).

Hauck Rare Book Room "The Hauck botanical collection contains approximately 3,900 titles relating to botany, horticulture, land architecture & forestry dating from the fifteenth century through the 20th century."1 Consult with a librarian for access to the materials in this room.

The Lytle Library, a.k.a. "Genealogy Room" contains:
  • Standard genealogical indices plus in-house indices of various records.
  • Resources for other U.S. States and some International records.
  • Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Post newspapers on microfilm, including some German, African American, and Suburban newspapers.
  • Family newsletters, published Family Histories.
  • Deed Books & Indices from the Hamilton County Recorder's Office, up to 1903.
  • Mortgages and other items from the Recorder's Office.
  • Miscellaneous genealogy books.
  • Hamilton County Censuses on microfilm, including Mortality Schedules for 1850, 1860, and 1880.
  • Access to on the Library's computers.
  • Three microfilm reader machines.

The Photograph Room is not open to the public for browsing. However, you can request photos from the reference desk in the Reading Room. According to CHLA, their photograph collection is much larger than that of PLCH and includes photos of WWI soldiers, German Pioneer Society members, Cincinnati businesses and homes, and much more. To locate an item, refer to the Photograph Collection Binder which contains a list of subjects, specific photographic collections, and their corresponding call numbers.  As this is a Closed Stack Library, a call slip must be completed and signed for each item requested and must be turned in at the reference desk. Photocopies are available for a small fee. High-resolution scans are also available for a somewhat larger fee. If for personal use, there isn't a need to pay a fee to use the photo.  However, if publishing the photo, then you will need to speak with the library's Photo Curator to obtain the correct source citation and complete the 'Request to Publish' form available at the library.  Please note that some of the photographs are already available online at Greater Cincinnati Memory Project. 

NOTE:  The CHLA's collection is HUGE and not all items are cataloged. There is an online catalog, multiple card catalogs, Subject Binders, and Registers.  Items may be cataloged in one or more of these, or in none! If you cannot find what you are looking for, just ask one of the librarians.

A big "Thank You" goes out to M'Lissa Kesterman, Manager Reference Services, for giving such a wonderful and informative tour. You rock! 

Visit the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, located inside the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal:

1301 Western Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45203
Telephone: (513) 287-7030
Fax: (513) 287-7095

The library is free to everyone. No museum membership is required. Be sure to check the list of Library Rules before you visit. Parking is available in the Museum Center lot for $6.  Free parking is available on some side streets nearby.

Come, see and discover.

*** HCGS has another tour of CHLA scheduled for this Wednesday, February 29th, from 10:00 a.m. to approximately noon.  Only a few openings are left for this tour.  If you are interested in attending, please indicate by commenting on this blog post.  Someone from HCGS will reply shortly.  Thank you. ***


Genealogy Collections at Two Central Ohio Libraries

Let me introduce you to Nancy Messier, Guest Blogger. She writes a blog called My Ancestors and Me and is from Central Ohio. We had plans to write a post about some of the resources that are available at the Columbus Metropolitan Library and the Ohio Historical Society. Nancy has graciously agreed to let us reprint her post.

During the early months of my genealogy efforts I learned that the State Library of Ohio had a genealogy section. It contained genealogy books for Ohio, of course, but also for all the other states. Some states had books for every county. The library also offered some online databases free of charge.

Just as I was learning my way around the holdings of the library and getting ready to delve into its resources, I learned that Ohio legislators had decided that the State Library of Ohio was no place for genealogy research. All the books were removed and the online databases cancelled. What a shock. The library was a very comfortable place to research.

Hallelujah, though! All books (unless there were multiple copies) were moved to the downtown building of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML). The library already had part of a floor devoted to genealogy research. The collection from the State Library increased CML's collection, which also offers the same online databases at no cost to patrons.

CML has extensive resources for the City of Columbus and for Franklin County, including many newspapers on microfilm. They have books for every state and many of the counties in those states. There are collections to support research in other countries, though they fewer in number than the local and states collections. They have other general history and research books which are available for loan. I found it a great place to begin searching.

I especially like the fact that all the books are on the shelves and open to patrons. I can search by call number or browse if I choose. They have helpful and knowledgeable staff members who can answer questions and find resources when the need arises.

The Columbus Metropolitan catalog is available online where you can search by title, author or subject and offers a link to the library's main webpage where you can find hours of operation, phone number, etc.

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The Archives Library of the State of Ohio is housed at the Ohio Historical Society. It's a larger library than CML but most of their books, pamphlets, and other holdings are hidden from view. They must be paged after finding the call number, filling out a request card, and turning it in at the desk. I find their online catalog less than user-friendly.

The resources that are readily accessible include city directories for cities throughout Ohio from time periods as early as the mid-1800s through the late 1900s. Also easily accessible are county histories and books of transcriptions of county records.

They have an extensive microfilm collection. I've found deed indexes, government records, and newspapers. Their newspaper collection comprises more than half of their microfilm collection. It includes dates beginning from about the time the state was formed through the late 1900s, for cities and towns throughout Ohio. I know many newspapers are available online now, searchable with OCR (optical character recognition), but it seems that many of the newspapers from the areas where my families lived in Ohio are not yet online. So I trek to OHS and search the newspapers there. They also have paper copies of some newspapers.

There is no charge to use this library. At the Archives Library's website you can find more information about the holdings available there.

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This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. I invite you to join in if you'd like.

This week's theme was Genealogy Libraries: Genealogy libraries (and dedicated departments in regular libraries) are true treasures in the family history community. Tell us about your favorite genealogy library. What or who makes it special?

Note:  Nancy Meissner, Guest Blogger, sent me a link to another post on this topic written by Shelley Bishop for her Sense of Family blog. Here is a link to Shelley's blog and her post on what is available at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. It's interesting to see the different way bloggers approach the same topic.  
Kathy Reed

Please be aware that Nancy retains the copyright for this post. Feel free to contact her through her blog. Thanks, Nancy.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost in the Mail ....

UPDATE!!!! Good news! The checks and research requests that were 'Lost in the Mail' arrived today, 27 February - nearly a month after their initial mailing. If you have already sent a replacement check, we will mark it 'Void' and return it to you. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Library of Congress
Perhaps a sled and dog team would be a more reliable way for the HCGS to send mail between board members! A recent mailing of checks, membership renewals, new member applications, research requests, book orders and a donation to the J. Richard Abell Fund has been lost by the post office.

We are contacting as many people as possible via e-mail and regular mail.  The requests were received between January 18 and January 26, 2012. If you made a request during this time period and have not received a response from us, please contact us at or 513-956-7078. We will provide further directions to you on receipt of email or a phone call.

Please note that if you were a renewal member, your renewal has been processed for 2012. Your Tracer will arrive on schedule. However, we will need to receive another check. Please contact us as noted above if you believe you may have been affected by the lost mail packets.

Picture Credit:
"Mail Team before the Railroad Came" digital image, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog ( : accessed 23 February 2012).

This message is from the Hamilton County Genealogical Society. If you are receiving this blog-post via an email subscription, you are missing a wonderful photograph from the Library of Congress depicting a sled and dog mail team on the Skenna River.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hamilton County Records Preservation

Hamilton County Recorders Office

Jim Dempsey Director-at-Large has been working with the Hamilton County Recorders Office on records preservation. The Recorders Office is continuing to upload deed indexes and post them on their website as they become available. Some illegible deed indexes will be rescanned from the originals and put online. Also Jim is working with the Recorder to include other materials such as WPA cemetery maps. All non-deed indexes prior to 1900 will be put online on the Recorders Office website. Typed indexes by HCGS will be put on the Chapter website eventually. The online information will include a link to Bill Graver’s book Hamilton County, Ohio, Guide to Recorder's Indexes and Documents, 1794-1988 to demonstrate how it can be used in conjunction with the information included in the indexes.
His work at the Probate Court has expanded from just a name and page index to include, case number, year of record and year of recording, names of executors, administrators, guardians and parent if given. The information will be put into a searchable database.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

National Archives Puts Genealogy Lectures Online

For the first time, the National Archives has launched online videos of its most popular genealogy “how to” workshops. These videos cover “hot topics” in genealogical research such as census, immigration and military records. Now, these popular workshops led by National Archives experts are available on the National Archives YouTube channel

The National Archives-produced Know Your Records video shorts cover the creation, scope, content, and use of National Archives records for genealogical research. "The National Archives is proud to make our most popular genealogy lectures available online and ready for viewing by anyone, anywhere, at any time," said Diane Dimkoff, Director of Customer Services.

After clicking on the youtube link, look in the menu to the right for "Know Your Records." This will take you to a screen similar to the one below. Choose the video of interest to you.

You may want to bookmark this site or subscribe to it to stay on top of some of the valuable resources available to genealogists.  Thanks to Barbara Wegley, Recording Secretary, for making us aware that these lectures have now been made available to all online.