The Glorious Fourth!

Costumed Uncle Sam at a July 4th parade in Hamilton, Ohio, 1968

The Fourth of July is a big deal all around Ohio, and OHS is no exception. This past Wednesday, we celebrated the Glorious Fourth in the newly-reopened Ohio Village, complete with a “Grand Procession,” patriotic speeches, vintage baseball and even a pie-eating contest! So today in honor of our nation’s birthday, we’re showing off some images of Independence Days gone by that can be found in Ohio Memory!

World War I Fourth of July float, 1918. Courtesy of Sandusky Library/Follett House Museum via Ohio Memory
Wagon-decorating contest in Hamilton, 1968


The July 4th holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although Congress voted for independence on July 2nd, the declaration was officiallydated July 4th. One year later in 1777, Philadelphia marked the occasion by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells, and fireworks, and the custom eventually spread to other towns.

During the Revolutionary War, the holiday was celebrated by rifle and cannon salutes, setting a precedent for booming noises. Since then, Independence Day celebrations have traditionally included fireworks, parades, picnics, speeches, and military displays. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the War of 1812, though it took well over a century for Congress to finally declare July 4th a federal holiday in 1941.

One of the many interesting historical items we have available in Ohio Memory, courtesy of the Ross County Historical Society, is the minutes from the “Committee for the Celebration of the Fourth of July” in 1809. This group in Chillicothe produced a 16-page document outlining their plan “to usher in the day dear to every friend of our Country, in as proper a manner as we can”–proving that the holiday was a major occasion over 200 years ago! Some important resolutions relate to the drafting of toasts, the procuring of table linens, and how invitations would be extended to the “ladies of Chillicothe.”

Fourth of July family portrait of the Hufford family of Perrysburg, Ohio. Courtesy of the Way Public Library via Ohio Memory

Some other interesting images include:

Although July 4th may be past, keep on celebrating with the patriotic collections in Ohio Memory!

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.