Why We Collect
Collecting is a key function that allows the Ohio History Connection to tell the story of Ohio and its residents. Historic objects are primary sources that can tell us much about the past, just like the written documents in archival and library collections. Objects bridge the gap to the past and connect us to those who came before in personal and tangible ways. Through preservation, exhibits, research, writing and programs, the History Collections department makes these valuable objects available to the public and preserves them for countless generations of Ohioans in the future.
What We Collect
The history collection contains nearly 100,000 objects that range from tiny buttons to automobiles and planes. You can learn about many of these objects and see photographs of them by searching the online object catalog.
Below are descriptions of some of the Ohio History Connection's largest and most impressive history collections.
The ceramics collection includes both utilitarian and decorative objects, including pitchers, crocks, vases, figurines and plates. The collection consists of stoneware, earthenware, yellow ware, white ware, art pottery, ceramic tile and porcelain made by individuals and companies throughout the state of Ohio. The manufacturing dates for objects in this collection span the history of the state. The collection also has tools for making ceramics such as ceramic molds and machinery. While focused on Ohio-made ceramics, the collection contains imported English and other European ceramics that were commonly used in Ohio.
The clothing collection focuses on garments and accessories made or worn in Ohio. It includes outerwear, underwear, headgear, footwear and accessories for men, women and children. Notable collections include clothing related to the Zoarites, Quakers, Zane Grey, Warren G. Harding and the wives of Ohio governors.
The collection contains items dating from the 18th century to the present, but it is strongest in women’s garments and accessories from the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
The Ohio History Connection has over 800 flags, making this one of the largest flag collections in the country. The collection includes the Statehouse Battle Flag Collection consisting of 553 national and regimental colors, state flags, foreign flags, military signal flags, commemorative flags, and service flags. The earliest flags in the collection are from the Mexican War, 1846-1848, while the most recent ones are from the Iraq War.
The pride of the collection is the very first Ohio flag. The Ohio legislature adopted its distinctive design on May 9, 1902.
The Ohio History Connection has a large collection of furniture dating from early settlement to the twentieth century. Much of the furniture in the collection has been used to furnish sites rather than as part of a broader Ohio furniture collection. As a result, most of the pieces date to the first half of the 19th century and are on exhibit at many of our sites. Though the collection contains a wide range of Ohio-made furniture, the Ohio History Connection also collects many pieces that were produced outside of the state that Ohioans did or would have used.
The glass collection features early-19th-century free blown and pattern mold glass from Zanesville, Mantua, Kent and several other places in Ohio. The collection includes large quantities of pattern glass goblets as well as glass made by Ohio companies like Erickson and Federal Glass. The majority of the collection was intended for utilitarian use, and it includes tools used to manufacture glass. The manufacturing dates of objects in the glass collection span the history of the state.
Military Arms and Equipment
The military collection includes a wide range of objects used by Ohio's military members, such as firearms, edged weapons, uniforms, medals, buttons, insignia, belts, cartridge boxes, canteens, backpacks and other personal gear. The objects in the collection range in date from the American Revolution to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Much of the collection is devoted to objects used in conflicts; the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Americans Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War are all represented. In addition, the collection has peace-time military uniforms and objects related to the ROTC, Ohio National Guard, and Ohio militia.
The quilt collection includes more than 500 quilts dating from 1750 to 1991 with the majority of them dating to before 1940. The collection includes quilts that represent almost every style and technique of quilt making: pieced, appliquéd and whole-cloth; hand- and machine-stitched; and album, raffle, crazy, red-work, compass, basket, figural and wedding ring patterns. This collection documents everyday living and showcases traditional quilting techniques and styles. The collection is strong in red and green quilts from the early- to mid-1800s. It also has a good selection of crazy quilts from the late 1800s. Approximately 80% of the quilts have a documented connection to Ohio.
The transportation collection contains planes, street cars, automobiles and many other vehicles that helped Ohioans get from one place to another for work or for play. A tiny tin car, an open-air trolley, a single-passenger jet, a red caboose and a horse-drawn hearse straight out of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol are just a few of the many vehicles in the collection. Our partner sites help us to tell the story of transportation in Ohio.For instance the National Road Museum focuses on our early highways and the people who traveled them, while the Armstrong Air and Space Museum’s Gemini capsule shows how Ohioans explored outer space.
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