Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio

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Tappan, Benjamin.jpg
Photographic reproduction of a portrait of Benjamin Tappan. Tappan founded Ravenna on June 11, 1799. He was also a U.S. senator, founder of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, an active abolitionist,

and the president of the Ohio Canal Commission.

The Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio was founded in the nineteenth century to preserve and present the history of the State of Ohio.

The first attempt to create a historical society to document Ohio's history occurred on February 1, 1822. The Ohio General Assembly passed an act creating the Historical Society of Ohio. The Society included Ohio political leaders like Jeremiah Morrow and Duncan McArthur but it only held one meeting. In 1831, the Ohio legislature authorized Benjamin Tappan to establish the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio. This organization held meetings in Columbus, and its participants actively documented Ohio's history. By the late 1830s, interest in the society declined because of the Panic of 1837 and the difficult economic times that followed. Between 1841 and 1848, members convened meetings only twice.

In a meeting held in 1848, Salmon P. Chase suggested that the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio move from Columbus to Cincinnati. Cincinnati had a larger population, and its residents might be more willing to participate in the organization. The society merged its collections with the holdings of the Cincinnati Historical Society. Together, the organizations prospered. By 1874, the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio had more than seventeen thousand books in its library and enjoyed an endowment of more than eight thousand dollars. The Bulletin of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio continued to be published until 1963 when it became the Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin.

The Ohio Archaeological Society was founded in 1875.Its driving force was John T. Short, a professor of history at The Ohio State University. The organization continued until 1883 when Professor Short died. In 1885, Governor George Hoadly encouraged its reestablishment. Albert Adams Graham, a publisher in Columbus, agreed to take charge. Graham called for the creation of a statewide organization to be located in Columbus. Sixty men met in Columbus in March 1885 and formed the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society. This organization later became known as the Ohio Historical Society.

The Ohio Historical Society originally was a private organization. Beginning in 1888, the State of Ohio began to appropriate funds for its operation. In 1891, the governor of Ohio received the right to appoint six members of the board of trustees, then numbering fifteen people. This closer connection with the state government proved beneficial to the Ohio Historical Society. In 1891, the Ohio legislature gave control of Fort Ancient to the society. It was the first of many historic sites to be administered by the Ohio Historical Society.

Originally, the Ohio Historical Society housed its collections in the Ohio Statehouse. In 1894, the organization moved to Orton Hall at The Ohio State University. The Ohio Historical Society remained on The Ohio State University campus until 1970, when it moved to its present location near the Ohio State Fairgrounds.

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