What do these stories have in common?
A 1945 Lorain High School yearbook photograph of Chloe Wofford provides a glimpse of her future promise. Chloe is better known as Noble Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. The Ford Family Letters document the daily life of a family in Jackson, Ohio. While like many other rural families of the time who concerned with family matters and making ends meet, the Fords also were witnesses to Morgan's Raid, the only major attack by Confederate forces on the state of Ohio during the American Civil War. The menace of the Cold War is all but forgotten nowadays. But not too long ago, many Americans kept a nuclear war survival kit, containing a cloth mask and plastic coat, that declares, "You can survive if you stay alive."
The answer to the question is that they all can be found on online at one Web site www.ohiomemory.org. Users can easily learn more about these and other personal stories of Ohio's contribution to U.S. history.
Ohio Memory began as a state bicentennial project to build a searchable database of digital images celebrating Ohio's history. Hundreds of historical societies, museums and libraries from all over Ohio contributed more than 25,000 images to the project.
More is Better
The Ohio Historical Society is now launching an upgraded website, which makes it easier to upload images and partner with other institutions. New software allows a lot more images and descriptive information added to the database. The Society also developed a resource-sharing partnership with the State Library of Ohio to give both institutions access to the latest technology.
As a result of these efforts, more than 75,000 images are available in the new database. Ohio Memory is fully text searchable either by collection or by institution. Users can also save images to a My Favorites list that can be exported into PowerPoint or posted online to create a virtual exhibit.
We are excited about this upgrade, which allows us make more images available online and lets us focus on developing additional partnerships, said Angela O'Neal, manager of Preservation and Access Services. The improved website will increase access to Ohio's past and the individual stories that make up the fabric of our nations history.
Some of the exciting collections that are represented include Hopewell Culture effigy pipes found at Tremper Mound in Scioto County and objects belonging to cartoonist Milton Caniff. A number of items about Ohio presidents and first ladies can be found, from photos of President Harding's dog, Laddie Boy, to a pair of slippers crocheted by Ida Saxton McKinley to raise money for charity.
One Web Site Out of Many
In addition to Ohio Historical Society collections, other cultural heritage institutions have also made significant contributions to this project. The Columbus Jewish Historical Society, for example, added the Ohio Jewish Chronicle newspaper from 1910 through 1992, comprising more than 23,000 full-text searchable images. Additionally, the Harris-Elmore Public Library, located in northwest Ohio, added 1,000 photographs, vital records and local newspaper clippings.
Future efforts will involve adding more institutional collections, providing a means for purchasing images and increasing social networking capabilities, says O'Neal. Currently, more than 330 institutions contribute to Ohio Memory, but we would like to have more organizations add their collections to the database.
Ohio Memory partners are the Ohio Historical Society, State Library of Ohio, INFOhio and OhioLINK. Original funders include the Ohio Public Library Information Network, Ohio Bicentennial Commission and the Institute for Museum and Library Services/Library Services Technology Act.