Ohio Historical Society

From Ohio History Central
Ohio Archeological and Historical Society.jpg
Exterior view of the building formerly occupied by the Ohio Historical Society at 15th Avenue and High Street in Columbus, Ohio, 1931.

The Ohio History Connection was formed in 1885 as the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, later known as the Ohio Historical Society.

The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society was not the first attempt to establish a state historical society in Ohio. The first attempt to create an organization to document Ohio's history occurred on February 1, 1822, when the state legislature approved an act creating the Historical Society of Ohio. This society only held one meeting and included such Ohio dignitaries as Jeremiah Morrow and Duncan McArthur. In 1831, the Ohio legislature directed Benjamin Tappan to establish the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio. This organization held meetings in Columbus, and its participants actively documented Ohio's past. Unfortunately, by the late 1830s interest in the society declined. A principal reason for this was the Panic of 1837 and the difficult economic times that accompanied it. 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 the hope was that its residents would be more willing to participate in the organization. The society merged its collection with that 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.

In 1875, a new historical society, the Ohio Archaeological Society, came into existence. This organization continued until 1883, when its driving force, John T. Short, a professor of history at The Ohio State University, died. This organization did not remain dormant for long. In 1885, Governor George Hoadly encouraged its reestablishment, and Albert Adams Graham, a publisher located in Columbus, agreed to take charge. Graham called for the creation of a statewide organization, with its headquarters to be located in Columbus. Sixty men met in Columbus in March 1885 and formed the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society.

Beginning in 1888, the Ohio state government began appropriating 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 state government proved beneficial to the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society. For example, in 1891, the Ohio legislature granted oversight of Fort Ancient State Memorial to the society. Originally the Ohio History Connection housed its collections in the Ohio Statehouse. In 1894, the organization moved to Orton Hall at The Ohio State University.

The organization became known as the Ohio Historical Society in 1954 and remained on The Ohio State University campus until 1970, when it moved to its present location near the Ohio State Fairgrounds. By 2014, the collections included more than 1.5 million items related to all aspects of Ohio's past.

On May 24, 2014, the organization again changed its name, this time to Ohio History Connection. The name change was motivated by changing perceptions of the word "society" identified through focus group research conducted in 2012 and 2013. The name Ohio History Connection was adopted to better describe the organization's present-day role in advancing the preservation and sharing of Ohio’s rich history and connecting Ohioans and others to it. The Ohio History Connection is a private, non-profit organization.


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