From the very beginning of the Ohio Historical Society, staff archaeologists practiced both archaeology and natural history. The close link between those two disciplines continues in many “natural history museums” today. Natural History, archaeology and modern history are all interconnected – and we cannot fully understand one without the others. In 1926 a more formal and separate natural history department was established, with Dr. James Hine of the Ohio State University becoming our first curator of natural history.
Our second curator, Edward S. Thomas continued a tradition of excellence, concentrating on insects and birds and producing many years of a nature column every week in the Columbus Dispatch. In 1942 Thomas convinced Governor John Bricker to utilize state funds to purchase the first parcel of land for the Ohio Historical Society that would become Cedar Bog Nature Preserve – the first time in Ohio that state funding was used to purchase land solely as a nature preserve. Thus began our tradition of maintaining both traditional museum collections and “living collections” in the form of nature preserves.
Today, natural history at the Ohio Historical Society remains active in collections, exhibits, and natural areas. Staff are involved with preservation, research, assisting the public with identification and general public education about Ohio’s natural heritage.