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. ***


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