State Symbols of Ohio

Leaves and fruit of the Buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra), designated as Ohio’s state tree in 1953. Via Ohio Memory.
Leaves and fruit of the Buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra), designated as Ohio’s state tree in 1953. Via Ohio Memory.

Did you hear? Efforts are in the works to declare “Hang On Sloopy” Ohio’s official rock song! The song has long been recognized for its Ohio ties, and was named our state rock song in 1985 by House Concurrent Resolution No. 16. But, the designation has never been codified into law in the way that Ohio’s other state symbols have been. After its March 4th approval in the Ohio House, the bill has been passed to the Senate for approval.

Quilt block by quilter Lois K. Ide, who was selected to make Ohio’s block for the tree skirt of the White House Blue Room Christmas tree in 1993.
Quilt block by quilter Lois K. Ide, who was selected to make Ohio’s block for the tree skirt of the White House Blue Room Christmas tree in 1993. Via Ohio Memory.

While we’re waiting, let’s take a look at some of those other Ohio symbols! States regularly select symbols to represent life within their respective borders, providing residents with a sense of identity and belonging. Since Ohio’s admittance to the Union in 1803, the Ohio government has adopted numerous symbols to represent the state. By the 1840s, many people already unofficially referred to Ohio’s residents as “Buckeyes”–and as we all know, even The Ohio State University eventually adopted the nickname in 1950. In 1953, the Ohio legislature named Aesculus glabra (the Ohio Buckeye) as our official tree.

Besides an official tree, Ohio also has an official motto, bird, flower, slogan, song, fossil, beverage, reptile, mammal, gemstone, wildflower, seal, pledge, nickname, and insect. How many of them can you name? Images of many of these iconic items are included on Ohio Memory if you’d like to learn more!

Ohio state quarter design by a student named Deana, via Ohio Memory.
Ohio state quarter design by a student named Deana, via Ohio Memory.

One interesting collection includes a set of designs for the Ohio quarter, which Ohioans were invited to to submit from 2000 to 2001 as the U.S. Mint prepared to print our state’s commemorative quarter. Of the 7,000 designs received, the top four were chosen by a vote of 40,000 people. Chosen designs were sent for the final decision, which had to be approved by then-Governor Bob Taft, and then sent to the United States Treasury Department for final approval. Many of the designs incorporated a variety of Ohio state symbols in clever ways. The Ohio design currently in circulation can be seen here.

We invite you to explore the selection of Ohio state symbols on Ohio Memory, and comment below with ideas for new symbols that could represent our great state!


Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

 

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