Saturday, February 25, 2012

Genealogy Collections at Local Libraries - Abundant Genealogy Week 8

During the early months of my genealogy efforts I learned that the State Library of Ohio had a genealogy section. It contained genealogy books for Ohio, of course, but also for all the other states. Some states had books for every county. The library also offered some online databases free of charge.

Just as I was learning my way around the holdings of the library and getting ready to delve into its resources, I learned that Ohio legislators had decided that the State Library of Ohio was no place for genealogy research. All the books were removed and the online databases cancelled. What a shock. The library was a very comfortable place to research.

Hallelujah, though! All books (unless there were multiple copies) were moved to the downtown building of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML). The library already had part of a floor devoted to genealogy research. The collection from the State Library increased CML's collection, which also offers the same online databases at no cost to patrons.

CML has extensive resources for the City of Columbus and for Franklin County, including many newspapers on microfilm. They have books for every state and many of the counties in those states. There are collections to support research in other countries, though they fewer in number than the local and states collections. They have other general history and research books which are available for loan. I found it a great place to begin searching.

I especially like the fact that all the books are on the shelves and open to patrons. I can search by call number or browse if I choose. They have helpful and knowledgeable staff members who can answer questions and find resources when the need arises.

The Columbus Metropolitan catalog is available online where you can search by title, author or subject and offers a link to the library's main webpage where you can find hours of operation, phone number, etc.

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The Archives Library of the State of Ohio is housed at the Ohio Historical Society. It's a larger library than CML but most of their books, pamphlets, and other holdings are hidden from view. They must be paged after finding the call number, filling out a request card, and turning it in at the desk. I find their online catalog less than user-friendly.

The resources that are readily accessible include city directories for cities throughout Ohio from time periods as early as the mid-1800s through the late 1900s. Also easily accessible are county histories and books of transcriptions of county records.

They have an extensive microfilm collection. I've found deed indexes, government records, and newspapers. Their newspaper collection comprises more than half of their microfilm collection. It includes dates beginning from about the time the state was formed through the late 1900s, for cities and towns throughout Ohio. I know many newspapers are available online now, searchable with OCR (optical character recognition), but it seems that many of the newspapers from the areas where my families lived in Ohio are not yet online. So I trek to OHS and search the newspapers there. They also have paper copies of some newspapers.

There is no charge to use this library. At the Archives Library's website you can find more information about the holdings available there.

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This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. I invite you to join in if you'd like.

This week's theme was Genealogy Libraries: Genealogy libraries (and dedicated departments in regular libraries) are true treasures in the family history community. Tell us about your favorite genealogy library. What or who makes it special?



  1. WOW, What a collection. I wish I had ancestors that lived in Ohio. It would be easier and faster for me to get to Columbus than Harrisburg.

  2. Such excellent coverage of major genealogy libraries in Ohio! Great post!

  3. I'm so glad you posted about this. I was surprised when I found out that the collection was moved to the Columbus Metropolitan and didn't know the reason behind it. About six months ago, a fellow genealogist from Cincinnati and I visited the Columbus Metropolitan. I was so impressed. Not only are the accommodations very comfortable, but as you stated, the materials are very accessible and lend themselves to browsing. We also learned about the history of the building and how it had once been slated to be torn down. It broke my heart to hear that. Thank goodness wisdom prevailed. I intend to share this post with others.


  4. Nancy,
    With your permission, I shared this post on the Hamilton County Genealogical Society blog. Stop over and let me know if it is OK as posted. If not, I will edit it. I really appreciate your willingness to share it with a Hamilton Co. audience.

  5. Great review of these two libraries, Nancy! We really should meet at one of them for a research date sometime :)

  6. Some of the local libaries here in CT have some of the best genealogy collections.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets


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