Background of the Ohio Memory Project
The Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board (OHRAB) conceived the idea for the Ohio Memory project in 1995. Envisioned as a celebration of state history and a virtual repository, it was to be one of several products. Others included a print publication, educational materials to encourage classroom use of archival collections, and modest grants to help archives, libraries, and historical societies to process and catalog their buried treasures–valuable primary sources that are currently unknown or inaccessible. Between 1995 and 2000, the Ohio Historical Society worked with OHRAB, the State Library of Ohio, the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN), and the Ohio Library Council to refine the concept and secure funding for the project. In February 2000, OPLIN approved a grant of $500,000 to the Ohio Historical Society to launch the first phase of the Ohio Memory Project.
The first phase concluded in June 2002. During the two-year effort, more than 1,000 collections from more than 250 institutions were selected for inclusion in the scrapbook. More than 13,487 digital images were created and made available via the website at http://www.ohiomemory.org/index.html. Project staff created many of those images, although some collections were digitized by submitting repositories. Collections in the scrapbook represent a diversity of formats, subjects, time periods, and geographic areas. However, only items created before 1903 were accepted during Phase 1.
The Ohio Historical Society is able to continue the Ohio Memory Project through Ohio’s bicentennial year thanks to support from the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and the State Library of Ohio, which administers the Library Services and Technology Act Grant program. Procedures for submitting collections for consideration were similar to those used in the initial phase of the project, except that there was 1) no restriction on accepting collections created after 1903; and 2) only one submission deadline (December 15, 2002). Phase 2 was completed between October 2002 through September 2003.
In March 2002, at a ceremony held at the Ohio Statehouse, First Lady of Ohio Mrs. Hope Taft officially opened the Ohio Memory Online Scrapbook. It brought together historical materials from archives, museums, libraries, and historical societies around the state to create a large collection of primary source material, both print and three-dimensional. Acting as a single point of access to historical materials of multiple types from a variety of institutions, the site highlights connections between collections, providing more comprehensive coverage of the state’s history than any single institution could. The scrapbook identifies hidden treasures that were previously inaccessible, raises awareness of state and local history, encourages teaching and study of Ohio history using primary sources, and promotes academic scholarship and publishing. Long after the celebrations in 2003, the scrapbook will remain as a lasting legacy of Ohio’s bicentennial.