The Ohio Historical Society holds hundreds of manuscript collections pertaining to the military history of Ohio. These collections range in time from the Revolutionary War through to the recent conflicts in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. These collections may contain one letter written from a soldier to his wife, up to and including whole boxes of letters, diaries, maps, pictures, small ledgers to large bound volumes. Other oversize items include war posters, muster and pay rolls, panoramic pictures of military units and camps, and colorful commemorative rosters for companies.
The scope of our Civil War collections is unmatched in the state of Ohio. They include muster and pay roll collections from private sources, as well as the muster roll collection in the State Archives. There are hundreds of letter collections, diaries, journals written by high ranking Union Army officers, such as Godfrey Weitzel, Emerson Opdycke, and Alexander McDowell McCook, as well as many rank and file soldiers. One pocket sized diary written in pencil records the experiences of a young soldier, William McKinley, who would become Governor of Ohio and President of the United States. The manuscripts are complimented by photographs, prints, sheet music, the official Ohio roster, regimental histories, and a great number of Civil War books. There are also extensive records of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of the Ohio, a prominent organization for Union veterans.
World War I is represented by manuscripts, photographs, and books related to Ohio units, including the 37th Infantry Division, known as the ‘Buckeye Division.’ Related materials are found in the World War I War History Commission records compiled by the state of Ohio and housed in the State Archives.
Spanish American War manuscripts include letter collections, rosters, unit histories and records of the United Spanish American War Veterans. Letter collections, the official roster of Ohio troops, State Archives and militia records are among the materials representing the Mexican War. War of 1812 materials include letter collections, books, maps, and a large collection of material compiled by the Anthony Wayne Parkway Board to document the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars of the 1790’s in the Ohio country.
A highlight of the Society’s World War II era collections are the papers and photographs of General Robert Beightler, commander of the 37th Infantry Division. Many Ohioans served bravely with the 37th in the Pacific Theater. There is also the Columbus World War II Roundtable Collection which contains oral history recordings of Ohioans who served in the War. Related World War II collections include the extensive War History Commission files collected by the state and maintained in the State Archives.
Manuscript collections documenting the experiences of Ohioans who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War and more recent conflicts are currently more limited, but are expanding as more material is generously offered for donation.