A Year of Ohio Memory: 2020 in Review

Bicentennial fireworks during a celebration in Ashland, Ohio, July 4, 1976. The image was a submission to the Spirit of Ohio Bicentennial Photo Contest. A selection of photos from this collection at the Ohio History Connection were added to Ohio Memory this year.
State of Emergency declaration from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, signed March 9, 2020. Via the State Library of Ohio Digital Collection on Ohio Memory.

Prior to the start of 2020, staff at the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio met to lay out blog topics for the year. We were looking forward to sharing Ohio Memory’s 20th year with all of you and couldn’t wait to reflect on what we had built with your help. This post, at the (almost) end of the year, was planned as a look back on 2020, and we thought that it would focus on new partners and content. Then Covid-19 hit, changing the way we worked and what we were able to bring to you.

With that being said, we’re still very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year. While the means by which we’ve continued to build Ohio Memory this year were different, the key is that we’ve continued to build, whether in content, relationships, or developments. Here are some of the things we’re proud to share with you:

September 1990 poster from the Bureau of Workers Compensation, newly added to their collection on Ohio Memory in 2020.

We brought you 24 blog posts, from the usual Ohio Memory staffers as well as from guest bloggers. Some were old friends of Ohio Memory, such as Stacia Kuceyeski, an early member of the Ohio Memory staff and current Director of the Outreach Division at Ohio History Connection. In October, she reflected on how far Ohio Memory has come since her tenure with the project from 2002-2003. In April, we heard from Jen Johnson, the Project Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Network and Digitization Consultant with the State Library of Ohio, when she told us about educational tools offered by Ohio Memory and the Digital Public Library of America. New contributor Meredith Southard of Worthington Libraries shared that forty years of The Worthington News are now available on Ohio Memory. Also making their debut on the Ohio Memory blog were Jerolyn Barbee and Derek Pridemore of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center when, in June, they gave us a history of Juneteenth.

Finally, 2020 marked several centennial anniversaries, that of the 18th and 19th Amendments, and also of the election of Warren G. Harding. The 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcohol sales and consumption in the United States, went into effect in January of 1920 and was highlighted in our January 17 blog post. In August, we focused on the 19th Amendment, which stipulated that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of sex. Warren G. Harding’s election was the topic of our first blog post in November, and you can revisit it here.

Abolitionist quilt, contributed to the first phase of the Ohio Memory project by the Clinton County Historical Society, who joined as a new contributing partner in 2020.

Although many of us found ourselves either working from home or working limited hours on-site, we still added over 120,000 new items and just under ten new collections to Ohio Memory. These aren’t the only additions, however. We also added a tool for transcription that will make Ohio Memory even more user-friendly and participatory. With the tool, visitors can transcribe original documents, such as letters and diaries, making them easier to search and discover. But we also see transcription as a means of engaging with history, and the people who made history, bringing them back to life and creating relationships with them. People who love history can often point to a moment when history turned from “ugh… dates and wars!” to a living thing, filled with fascinating people and their experiences. Transcription through Ohio Memory can make that moment happen, again and again. Five collections are currently available for transcription, with others coming soon. Have a look and see if the people and moments you find there come to life for you, too.

As of the publication of this post, there are just over three weeks of 2020 left. As we’ve seen this year, anything can happen over the course of three weeks. We hope, though, that the remainder of your year runs smoothly, that you find joy and comfort in those things that matter to you, and that you and those you care about are safe and happy.

Thank you to Shannon Kupfer-Trausch, Digital Initiatives Librarian at theState Library of Ohio, 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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