From Ohio History Central
Exterior view of the building formerly occupied by the Ohio Archeological and Historical Society, now the Ohio Historical Society, at 15th Avenue and High Street in Columbus, Ohio, 1931.
The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society was formed in 1885. It was a predecessor of the present 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 a historical society to document Ohio's history occurred on February 1, 1822, when the state legislature enacted 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 hopefully its residents would be more willing to participate in the organization. The society merged its collections 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. This organization eventually became known as the Ohio Historical Society.
The Ohio Historical Society is a private, non-profit organization. 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 the Ohio government proved beneficial to the Ohio Historical Society. For example, in 1891, the Ohio legislature granted oversight of Fort Ancient State Memorial to the 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.
By 2004, the Ohio Historical Society collections included more than 1.5 million items related to all aspects of Ohio's past. For additional information on the Ohio Historical Society, please visit the organization's website at OhioHistory.org or call 1-888-909-OHIO.