Take a Peek Behind “Hide and Seek,” a New Exhibit About Ohio Children
Posted July 8, 2024
Topics: Civil WarDaily LifeEducationArchives & LibraryMuseum Collections

By Wendy Korwin, Archives Services Manager

Some days – especially during spring field trip season – bright voices bounce off the concrete walls of the Ohio History Center. The hollow space of the second-floor plaza fills with school groups taking a break from exploring the exhibits. Grown-ups pair students with the correct lunch bags. Some groups even have nifty matching t-shirts.

Meanwhile, one floor above, my colleagues and I tend to work to a less boisterous soundtrack: the whoosh of the HVAC; genealogy questions discussed at the reference desk; staff chit-chat and coffee-making; slightly squeaky carts wheeling materials from the closed stacks into our work spaces. The difference can be jarring on days when I emerge to grab a bagel from the café (archivist carbo-loading). This place is alive.

This contrast is, in part, what inspired our Archives Services team to develop an exhibit about how young people inhabit archival spaces. They’ve always been there – in the records of state-run institutions, family collections and more. But we haven't always thought to look for them, or to make them very findable. In 2022, manuscripts curator Matthew Benz published a blog featuring kids’ faces and voices that he had discovered while working with our collections. Several of the documents from Matthew's blog are now on display.

As archivists, we work by arranging items, describing and categorizing them. The majority of our collections have been written and donated by adults, and it's usually adults who use them.  But young people are also creators – as well as editors, publishers, and curators! Many child-produced artifacts are challenging to pin with a singular label. What's the best way to catalog a ledger that a doctor once used to track patient accounts, but later became a young girl's sketch book? How about a handwritten, mimeographed newspaper that a teenager made for his neighbors? In some cases, the documents young people create offer a counterpoint to adult narratives. In others, kids might reimagine texts in ways that disrupt the ordered world that adults like myself work to construct.

We invite you to view this new exhibit for yourself up on the 3rd floor of the Ohio History Center! See our hours and plan your visit here.


Color photograph of a museum exhibit featuring a display case and a step stool.

Hide and Seek

Revisit the blog that inspired this new exhibit! Originally published in 2022 by manuscripts curator Matthew Benz.

Click to Read

Bambino (1917)

The Children's News (1930)

Exhibit Extras

Not everything could make it into our final display, but you can explore some additional items from our print and archival collections here.

Left: Cover of Bambino, a professional journal published by the Children's Hospital of Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio History Connection's holdings for this publication span from 1917 until 1943.

Right: A page from The Children's News, created by young patients at the Children's Hospital. The Ohio History Connection's Archives & Library has a single issue of this publication, dated December 1930.

Scrolling Images

1. A young visitor at the Ohio State Fair, 1985.
Richard F. Celeste Papers, MSS 600 AV

2. Four children playing in a garden in front of an outhouse, c. 1910.
Harry Kinley Collection, AV 30

3. Twins Deborah Ann and Diana Lynn Green in their Columbus home, 1959.
Green Family Slide Collection, AV 110

4. Two children on a swing set in Oberlin, Ohio, 1976.
Photograph by John G. Kenney, SAS 2734 AV

5. Advertisement for Etch-A-Sketch, 1967.
OVS 7694

Subscribe to Our Blogs