2014 NHPRC Grant Opportunities

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) recently announced its grant opportunities for 2014:

  • Access to Historical Records: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals that promote the preservation and use of the nation’s most valuable archival resources. This grant program is designed to support archival repositories in preserving and processing primary source materials. The program emphasizes the creation of online tools that facilitate the public discovery of historical records.
    • Final Deadline: August 27, 2014
  • Digital Dissemination of Archival Collections: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission desires to make historical records of national significance to the United States broadly available by disseminating digital surrogates on the Internet.
    • Final Deadline: December 4, 2014
  • Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks projects that explore ways to improve digital literacy and encourage citizen engagement with historical records.
    • Final Deadline: December 4, 2014
  • Publishing Historical Records in Documentary Editions: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals to publish documentary editions of historical records of national significance.This program has two deadlines:
    • Final Deadline: August 27, 2014
    • Final Deadline: December 4, 2014
  • State Government Electronic Records: The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks projects that will accession, describe, preserve, and provide access to state government electronic records of enduring value.
    • Final Deadline: December 4, 2014

We have added these dates (along with optional and required draft deadlines) to our Calendar.

OHRAB Visits Governor’s Mansion

On September 30th, several of OHRAB’s Board Members attended Gov. Kasich’s luncheon thanking Board and Commissions members for their service to the State of Ohio.

OHRAB Members Pari Swift, Dan Noonan, John Runion, Dawne Dewey and Rhonda Freeze at Governor's Mansion 20130930

From left to right: Pari Swift; Dan Noonan, Vice Chair; John Runion; Dawne Dewey and Rhonda Freeze, Chair.

Congratulations to the 2013 OHRAB Achievement Award Recipient: the Shaker Heights Public Library!

OHRAB is pleased to recognize the Shaker Heights Public Library as its 2013 Achievement Award recipient. The Shaker Heights Public Library, in conjunction with the City of Shaker Heights Landmark Commission, created HistoricShaker.com, an online collection and reference tool capturing and cataloguing the architectural history of Shaker Heights homes dating as far back as 1915.  More than 1,000 volunteer hours were provided in the scanning of more than 10,000 index cards to create a searchable database highlighting the construction year, building materials, construction cost estimate and architect of Shaker homes.  In addition, a Smartphone app was created, allowing the public to view the digitally-recorded history of homes as well view a walking tour of Shaker’s historical landmarks, events, oral histories and people significant to the history of the city.

The OHRAB achievement award provides annual recognition to archival institutions that have demonstrated significant accomplishment in preserving and improving access to historical documents in a number of formats.  More information on the award is available here.

Press: Cleveland Plain Dealer: HistoricShaker.com wins two state awards for online database and phone app.

OHRAB Scavenger Hunt for Ohio Students

The On-line Scavenger Hunt is a great way to teach students how to find primary sources available on-line and get some practice interpreting what they find. Included in the hunt are letters, diaries, artifacts and photos telling interesting snippets about Ohio’s people and history and learn how to conduct research into historical documents and artifacts online. All are owned by Ohio archival institutions that have made them digitally available via their websites. This activity will also teach students how to recognize a primary historical source and investigate potential topics for History Day projects.

The hunt has been assembled by the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board (OHRAB), whose mission is to serve the people of Ohio by advocating, nurturing, and advising programs that identify, preserve, and provide access to their documentary heritage, which enriches the culture and protects the rights of Ohioans. This includes presenting an annual award for the best use of Ohio’s historical records in a History Day project. Board members are appointed by the governor and represent Ohio’s public and private archives, records offices, and research institutions. Administrative responsibility for the board rests with the Ohio Historical Society.

The scavenger hunt is as easy as 1-2-3…Read More…

Preserving Ohio’s Local Government Records: Why it Matters to You The Challenge

When local governments records are not properly safeguarded or made accessible to the public…

  • legal rights are jeopardized
  • citizens are separated from their past
  • government work is shrouded in mystery and doubt
  • vital records languish abandoned and neglected

Fewer than one-quarter of Ohio’s 88 counties have archives, records centers, or records management programs. Those few that do often lack adequate and sustainable funding to provide acceptable levels of staffing, environmentally sound structures to preserve records, state-of-the-art equipment to make records available, and space for research and reference services.

Records management responsibility too often becomes “other duties” assigned to untrained staff. Few local governments have the luxury of a position specifically to manage records and care for archives. Opportunities for training and professional development are few and expensive. Staff members burn out. Their turnover robs governments of institutional memory.

The Opportunity

Ohio’s Public Records Act (Ohio Revised Code Sect. 149.43) makes government more accessible to the people. It requires that all public records be available to view and copy. The records must be organized and kept in a way that permits access by everyone. Proper records training is key to fulfilling the law’s goal.

A Clermont County citizen was brought to tears after locating her grandfather’s divorce record. It settled a long disputed rumor that could never have been put to rest without the written record. She later expressed thanks to the county commissioners for the good work of the records center. Many local government workers across Ohio are grateful for records center holdings when they seek decades-old payroll records to guarantee they receive correct retirement income. Such stories are repeated daily throughout Ohio as local archives and records centers offer research and reference services to eager constituents.

Ohio’s Local Records

Local records created by Ohio’s county, municipality, and township governments document

  • vital statistics (birth, marriage, and death)
  • land ownership
  • verification of taxes owed and paid
  • infrastructure performance and safety
  • unique stories about our ancestors’—and our own—history
  • and much, much more

Local records make it possible for governments—and the citizens they serve—to remember the past, conduct business in the present and inform the future. Preservation of records and access to them make government transparent and more efficient.

How You Can Help!!!

  • Contact the Governor and your Ohio General Assembly representative to share concerns about the preservation and accessibility of local government records.
  • Contact your representatives in Congress to express support for the Preserving the American Historical Record (PAHR) legislation.
  • Volunteer at your state or local records centers or archival repositories.
  • Form coalitions with other Ohioans (historians, genealogists, and preservationists) to strengthen your numbers and allow your voices to be heard.

These are your records. This is your history. Help safeguard the past by getting involved in the present. Our future depends on it.

Download an electronic version of this brochure.

For more information

Ohio Historical Society
1982 Velma Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43211


2012 Achievement Awards

OHRAB celebrated Archives Month in Ohio this October by recognizing two archival institutions–the Euclid Public Library and the Clark County Historical Society–for significant accomplishments in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format.

The Euclid Public Library was recognized for building a web-based collection documenting its city’s history from multiple perspectives and formats. The library has digitized residents’ family photos, high school yearbooks, and local newspaper editions. The web-accessible collection also includes recordings of City Council meetings, as well as oral histories, in audio and video format, revealing multiple perspectives on the history of Euclid. This impressive range of formats and documents has expanded the public’s ability to connect with its history. Beginning as a celebration of the Euclid Bicentennial, the Library has committed to continuing this project, creating an ongoing program.

The Clark County Historical Society was recognized for its its perseverance and creativity in preserving Ohio’s local records. Like many counties, the Clark County Probate Court’s case files of wills and estate settlements, guardianship, and civil cases contain a wealth of information about the County’s history. The Clark County Historical Society brought together the expertise of staff, the enthusiasm of volunteers and interns, and a small grant for supplies to create a focused effort toward ensuring the preservation of and better access to these important local records. This project was not only ambitious, but creative in its use of resources – including the transformation of back-room activities into a public teachable moment. Because of space constraints, a significant amount of document processing occurred in the public reading room. Project staff and volunteers engaged visitors in the process, explaining how and why these records were being preserved.

OHRAB presentation to Clark County Historical Society, February 6, 2013. Left to right: Flossie Hulsizer, Marty Castle, Marguerite Brinkman, Ruth Stiles, Pat Baker, Virginia Warren, and Mel Glover (project volunteers); Pari Swift and Galen Wilson (OHRAB Representatives); Natalie Fritz (project coordinator)


OHRAB presentation to Clark County Historical Society, February 6, 2013. Left to right: Flossie Hulsizer, Marty Castle, Marguerite Brinkman, Ruth Stiles, Pat Baker, Virginia Warren, and Mel Glover (project volunteers); Pari Swift and Galen Wilson (OHRAB Representatives); Natalie Fritz (project coordinator)

Also nominated were the Miami University Libraries Digital Library, University of Akron Archival Services, and University of Dayton Libraries.