Ohio Memory at 20: Share, Discover, Connect

Shenandoah Airship clock fragment, 1925. Via Ohio Memory.

Did you know that you can view more than one million Ohio history-related items from the collections of history-and-heritage organizations across the Buckeye State here on Ohio Memory? From hyper-local happenings to those of national or even international significance, you’ll find firsthand accounts of Ohio history at your fingertips thanks to contributions from the collections of hundreds of archives, historical societies, libraries and other cultural heritage institutions. Whether your interests lie in agriculture, architecture, arts and entertainment, business and labor, cultural groups, nature, politics, religion, science and technology, social movements, sports or weather, Ohio Memory has something for you.

Baby on chair with dog, ca. 1896-1912. Via Ohio Memory.

Following industry standards and using the latest technologies, Ohio Memory lets you examine materials almost as if they were in your hands–sometimes in ways impossible with the originals. Zoom and pan features let you examine details you might miss otherwise, like faces in a crowd, or patterns in the fabric of a dress. Full-text transcripts help you decipher old handwritten materials, and find your search terms more quickly in printed documents such as newspapers. Detailed descriptions including title, subject headings, location, background, date and creator accompany photographs, objects, maps and other non-text materials so that you can easily find them on the website and understand them when you do.

Ohio Memory began in 2000 as a state bicentennial project. In the past twenty years, nearly 400 cultural heritage institutions have contributed to the over one million images (and counting!) available today. It has become a premier online resource where you can find primary and secondary source materials on Ohio history, from ancient times to the present day and representing all 88 counties. Collectively they preserve and share stories of local, state and national importance.

We’ve been committed to ensuring that Ohio Memory is rich in content and reflects a balanced, comprehensive history from its inception. To aid in this, we developed the following selection criteria:

  • Historical Significance–Does the material represent either an experience common to all Ohioans or one that’s unique to a specific local community? Does it reflect one of Ohio Memory’s target subject categories?
  • Complementary Value–Does the material help Ohio Memory represent various geographical areas, time periods, cultural groups and facets of life in Ohio?
  • Scanning Potential–Is the item suitable for scanning based on its physical condition and likely image quality?
  • Ownership and Copyright–Does the submitting institution own the material? Is the material protected by copyright? If so, has permission been granted to make it available through Ohio Memory?
Water parsnip photograph, August 3, 1997. Via Ohio Memory.

Frequently requested materials and items considered to be treasures of a participating institution’s collection are also often included. Though not every part of Ohio history is covered on Ohio Memory yet, our contributors add content each year that makes the collection more inclusive. We aim to share Ohio’s diverse history as accurately, sensitively, and completely as possible by working with internal and external stakeholders to help guide our selection, description and promotional efforts.

As you may have guessed, one aim of Ohio Memory is to encourage cooperation between archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and similar institutions with Ohio history holdings. Jointly managed by the the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio, today nearly 40 still actively add content, truly making it a statewide, collaborative effort.

Ohio’s more than the mother of eight presidents, the birthplace of aviation and the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Our history comprises countless stories, some famous and some little-known. Through Ohio Memory, these stories are interwoven to offer a more complete picture of our state’s history. No matter where you’re from or where you are, we invite you to explore Ohio Memory and find your own Ohio memories there. You never know when you might learn something new about your home town or even one of your family members, recognize connections that you may not have discovered in any other way, or just become engrossed in exploring some of the remarkable photos and other reminders of Ohio’s past that Ohio Memory offers.

Thanks to Jenni Salamon, Unit Manager, Digitization, for this week’s post!

Ohio Memory is celebrating 20 years! Visit our blog all year long to learn more about our program, partners and collections!

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