History objects in all shapes and sizes--from the W.P. Snyder Jr. riverboat to hat pins and political buttons--illustrate life in Ohio from early statehood to the present.

Collecting is a key function that allows 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, curators make these important objects available to the public and preserve them for countless generations of Ohioans in the future.

The History Collection contains over 100,000 objects that range from tiny buttons to automobiles and planes. You can learn about many of these objects and see their photographs in the online object catalog by clicking on the link below.

Hand-carved and painted wooden totem pole made in Alaska around 1923 and gifted to President Warren G. Harding.

Hand-carved and painted wooden totem pole made in Alaska around 1923 and gifted to President Warren G. Harding. Ohio History Connection, H 15928.

 

Ohio History Connection's Most Significant History Collections

Meet our History curators

Becky Preiss Odom, Ph.D., History Curator/Manager, Curatorial Department

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Becky Odom has a bachelor's degree in history from Haverford College and a master's degree in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. She earned her doctorate in American studies from Saint Louis University. Her research and teaching focused on material and visual culture, clothing in American society and American cultural history from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression, particularly World War I and German-American identity. She has worked extensively in museum education and collections and with quilts, costumes and furniture at numerous museums.

Becky joined the Ohio History Connection in 2014, and she curates the quilt, textile, fine art, and decorative arts collections. Becky has contributed to several exhibits at the Ohio History Connection’s 50 plus sites throughout the state of Ohio, including the traveling exhibit Ohio Women Vote: 100 Years of Change; Lilly’s World: Decorative Art and the Art of Lilly Martin Spencer, 1840-1900 at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster, Ohio; Creative Ohio: Artists, Artwork, and Their Inspiration at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio; and Zanesville Art Pottery: Mass Production and the Craft Tradition at the National Road and Zane Grey Museum in Zanesville, Ohio. You can also see Becky speaking about the collections or historical topics such as the art of Elijah Pierce, caring for your wedding dress and World War I posters on numerous episodes of WOSU's Broad and High and Columbus Neighborhoods.

Cliff Eckle, History Curator

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Cliff Eckle received a bachelor's degree in history from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Cliff has worked at the Ohio History Connection since 1987, first as a cataloger, then a collections specialist and now a curator for the History Collection. He has worked extensively with political memorabilia, currency, military collections, commemorative items, firearms and flags.

Cliff has contributed to numerous exhibits at the Ohio History Center, including Ohio and the Civil War; Controversy: Pieces We Don’t Normally See; the traveling exhibit Ohio and the Civil War: 150 Years Later; and Controversy 2: Pieces We Don’t Talk About. He led the exhibit teams for Follow the Flag that showcases Civil War battle flags carried by Ohio troops and The War of 1812: Ohio on the Front Line.

Cliff has also assisted with restoration projects and exhibit development at multiple Ohio History Connection sites, including the Adena Mansion and Visitor Center in Chillicothe; Fort Meigs Visitor Center in Perrysburg; the Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace in Point Pleasant; the Grant Schoolhouse and the Grant Boyhood Home, both in Georgetown; and most recently the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio.

Marlise Schoeny, History Curator

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Marlise Schoeny has a bachelor’s degree in history from Miami University and a master’s degree in textiles and clothing from The Ohio State University. Her graduate studies focused on the history of clothing, particularly the relationship between clothing and identity in the nineteenth-century, and the interpretation of clothing artifacts in museums.

Marlise joined the Ohio History Connection in 2022, and curates the costume collection. Prior to joining the Ohio History Connection, Marlise was the Assistant Curator for The Ohio State Historic Costume & Textiles Collection for ten years. While at OSU, Marlise worked extensively with OSU faculty to incorporate historic textiles and clothing into the classroom. Additionally, she researched and worked with Curator Gayle Strege, to mount numerous exhibitions. These included The Columbus Fashion Story, History’s Closet: Teaching History Through Clothes, And the Bride Wore…, Campus Fashion: 150 Years of College Style, and Fashion & Music among others. Marlise can often be found giving invited presentations on the history of the white wedding dress and the history of dress reform in the nineteenth century.

Preserve your family treasures!

Heirlooms are the objects that connect us to our family histories. Over the years, a combination of time and the elements can wear these objects out, making them too fragile to handle or destroying them altogether. But there are some simple steps you can take to slow this deterioration and extend the life of these objects for future generations of your family.

General Tips:

  • Store your objects in a cool, dry place--avoid attics, basements and garages.
  • Avoid using old cardboard boxes for storage.
  • When storing newspapers, textiles or other flexible materials, package them loosely with as few folds as possible.
  • Label photographs with a pencil or an archival pen.
  • Use archival- or museum-quality materials to store photographs and objects.
  • For more helpful information about specific objects and artifacts, check out our Preservation Resources LibGuide.

 

History Curator Becky Odom demonstrates how to pad the fold of a wedding dress.

History Curator Becky Odom demonstrates how to pad the fold of a wedding dress.

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FAQ

How can I get an image of a museum object?

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Contact Ohio History Connection’s Digital Services department at 614.297.2530 or by sending a message using the Contact Us page and selecting "Images-Rights, Permissions and Image Ordering." Be sure to include the catalog number of the object that interests you. There may be costs and fees associated with your request that vary with the intended use.

Can I arrange to see an object from the museum collections if it is in storage?

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While we prepare to move our collections to a new facility, the History Collections will not be accessible. We look forward to having you visit our new facility once the move is complete.

Can I take my own photographs of museum objects?

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Yes, you can take photographs of objects on display for personal use. If you make an appointment to see a museum object in storage, you can also take photographs. There may be costs and fees associated with your photography request that vary with the intended use.

Can Ohio History Connection staff tell me how much an object is worth?

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For ethical and professional reasons, Ohio History Connection staff cannot provide monetary values of historic materials. To find an appraiser, you can consult the membership directories of the American Society of Appraisers, International Society of Appraisers or Appraisers Association of America. Find more information on appraisals here.

Where can I get information or assistance to preserve objects?

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A great deal of credible information about the care of historic materials is available on the web. Visit our LibGuide for links to our favorite online materials.

Can objects from the Ohio History Connection’s collections be borrowed for exhibits by other organizations?

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While we prepare to move our collections to a new facility, the History Collections will not be accessible or available to borrow. We look forward to working with you in the future once the move is complete.

Are all of Ohio History Connection’s museum objects on exhibit?

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A large portion of Ohio History Connection’s museum objects is on display at Ohio History Center in Columbus and Ohio History Connection's network of more than 50 museums and historic sites throughout the state. When objects are not on display, they are stored in Ohio History Connection's highly secure, temperature-controlled collections facility. Although Ohio History Connection would love to have all of our objects on exhibit at all times, it is necessary to rotate items on and off exhibit for their long-term preservation. Many of the items in our museum collection can be viewed in our online catalog.

What happens to objects that are donated to the Ohio History Connection?

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Donated objects are preserved for the education and enjoyment of all Ohioans. They are available for use in exhibits and educational programs at the Ohio History Center in Columbus and the Ohio History Connection's network of more than 50 museums and historic sites. You can find information describing many of our objects in Ohio History Connection's online collection catalog. Images of a growing number of objects are accessible through the Ohio Memory digital repository.

Are you accepting new donations of museum objects?

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Yes! The history curators at Ohio History Connection are continually seeking quality objects to add to the museum collections. See our Donations Guide for more information on what we accept and how to contact us.

Do you ever purchase objects for the museum collections?

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Ohio History Connection has limited funds to purchase museum objects and occasionally acquires items from auctions and private individuals. If you know of an item that Ohio History Connection may be interested in purchasing, please contact the Curatorial Department at 614.297.2535 or by sending us a message using the Contact Us page and selecting "Collections" from the drop down menu.

I have a piano that I no longer want, but it has very little connection to Ohio. What can I do with it?

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Many organizations in Ohio are willing to take donations of pianos. Try contacting churches, schools or other organizations in your area to see if they need a donated piano.