Q: Where can you find the largest collection of Ohio newspapers, images of WWI black infantry soldiers and photographs of early 20th Century daily life…online…in one place?
A: Ohio Memory
This month, we had the pleasure of meeting members of the Ohio Memory team. Ohio Memory is managed collaboratively between Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio. The dynamic online resource helps communities share, discover and connect to Ohio’s rich history.
Located in the Ohio History Center, Ohio Memory supports a variety of projects. They partner with 365 institutions across 88 counties in the state and provide a subscription program for 35 members (including many libraries), supporting those organizations in digitizing and sharing historical photos, yearbooks, local newspapers, ephemera and more. In fact, Ohio Memory contains over 700,000 digital images!
Grants fund important digitization projects. Little Stories of the Great War: Ohioans in World War I was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Through prestigious NEH grant funding, Ohio Memory gives greater awareness to Ohio’s contributions, features content from fifteen cultural heritage institutions across Ohio and provides lesson plans for teachers. Kristen Newby coordinates efforts for this project and told fascinating stories about what she’s learned. She digitized images from Ross County’s Camp Sherman, including images of an all-black military band as well as the camp’s library, the only non-segregated area of the camp. Kristen also uncovered incredible letters from the soldiers, including one that revealed the discovery of a German spy!
The team is working in partnership with Chronicling America to digitize Ohio newspapers as part of a national initiative and have contributed over 400,000 pages to that website by the end of 2018. Jenni Salamon leads the effort and explained reading newspapers from Ohio’s early days gives readers an interesting perspective. Researchers and the curious can learn what the political climate was like then and how much things have and have not changed today. In addition to Chronicling America, Ohio Memory’s newspaper collection contains over 360,000 pages of free-to-access content, many of which came from the Ohio History Connection’s hardcopy and microfilm holdings, which comprise the largest collection of Ohio newspapers in the world!
Lily Birkhimer manages content and outreach for Ohio Memory. She is responsible for training institutional partners, managing metadata, public inquiries and online selection. Lily is currently digitizing glass plate negatives from the Albert J. Ewing Collection. These delicate materials provide a detailed glimpse into our past. Lily records written information on the plates and their sleeves, and she leverages census information to fill in the gaps and create connections that may have otherwise been lost.
Other Ohio Memory projects include preservation of materials from the Zoar community, LGBTQ collections and information for a World Heritage project. The team contributes weekly to their blog, where you can learn more about special items from the collection and read about topics relevant to current events.
There’s so much to explore and discover. As they are always adding new resources, we’ll be taking a closer look at Ohio Memory, and we hope you do too!
Learn more about the State Library of Ohio and Ohio Memory’s Shannon Kupfer at our 2014 feature here.