Chapter Management Seminar

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

15th Annual OGS Genealogy Librarians' Seminar Oct 12th

Do you need to fuel up that librarian in you to do a better research job? The Ohio Genealogical Society is holding its 15th annual OGS Genealogy Librarians’ Seminar on Friday, October 12, 2018 at the Samuel Isaly Library, Ohio Genealogical Society, 611 SR 97 W, Bellville. The fee is $25 (includes lunch) and the programs include Sunny Morton on “Comparing the Genealogy Giants: Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage”; Jen Johnson on “Connecting Ohio’s Local History with the Digital Public Library of America”; Tom Neel on “Meeting the Needs of Today’s Patron”; and Sunda Peters on “DNA: What is it & How to use it”. Please register by October 8th. This is an educational gathering for professionals who work in the genealogical and local history field in Ohio’s libraries. Librarians and library volunteers are welcome!

Monday, June 11, 2018


At one of our library volunteer work sessions each second Monday of the month, I was asked to try to give guidance on our various obituary collections at the Ohio Genealogical Society. We have indeed been collecting obituaries since our library became a reality in the early 1970s.

Walking through the front library door into the Barnes Reading Room, visiting patrons see several wooden card cabinets containing over 600,000 Ohio obituaries mounted on 3x5 cards. These were collected from 1973 to 2016 and were recently scanned by FamilySearch. Images will be open to LDS church members, and eventually a public every name index will be generated which will point users to the OGS Library for the images. Since 2017, we have been filing any new obituary cards received in cabinets in our Ellis Computer Lab for future digitization.

Many obituaries are too large for cards and we put these in notebooks in the reference area of the library. We currently have three series. The earliest series has been bound, scanned, and entries make up the Ohio obituary index found in the “Free Database” section of our web site -

We also have a partial index of our Florida obituaries on our web site - - and we have a volunteer working to complete this. These are Ohioans who were snowbirds or who retired to Florida and died there. Volunteers from our Florida Chapter OGS send us these on a regular basis.

Perhaps our most used obituary collections are those found in the Hayes Presidential Center’s Ohio Obituary Index - - developed by former OGS Trustee Rebecca Baker Hill. These now come up in an search. Our volunteers are entering a collection of 54 boxes of Central Ohio obituaries found in our Hal West Archives and have already entered several local Richland County scrapbooks. There are many county newspaper scrapbooks in our holdings that could eventually be entered into the Ohio Obituary Index at Hayes. Users find something in the index, determine the library that submitted it, and then send a fee (we ask $2.50) to that library for the obituary copy or scan.

We also have several unprocessed obituaries, both those that have been donated by members and our chapters in recent months and have yet to be filed, and larger groups like those from the Cleveland papers in our Guthrie Volunteer Room. This was a project led by the late OGS Trustee Jean Barnes. The obituaries are from 1997 to 2004 and there are thousands of them. Jean and her crew put many on cards but we now just leave them in original form and use the Cleveland Public Library’s “Necrology File” as an index - - We are also beginning to place digital copies of some our county obituary scrapbooks in the member side of our OGS web site.

Many of our county chapters have done extensive work with obituaries in their area. We house the original Crawford County obituaries in our library (going back to the 1860s) but the images are free on FamilySearch - – and an index to the massive Washington County, Ohio Obituary project was just announced by FamilySearch this week - - although the index is not quite linked with their catalog entry yet.

We also subscribe to many newspaper database providers for the benefit of our library patrons. We can get those on GenealogyBank,, and Additionally, there are free sites out there like ChroniclingAmerica -  - Ohio Memory -  -  and Google Newspapers -

Who uses all these wonderful obituary collections at the Ohio Genealogical Society? Well, quite honestly, most of the obituary requests that we receive each week are from young researchers who are working in the oil and gas industry trying to trace descendants of landowners back in the 20s and 30s who signed leases that have expired. But perhaps they will grow up to be genealogists someday! There’s a lot of good information in Ohio’s obituaries for family historians too!

Tom Neel, OGS Library Director – 6/18

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Half price MARCH MADNESS Membership Special - $40 single NEW membership (digital) in the Ohio Genealogical Society is just $20 through the end of March. Now is the time to get your relatives and friends involved. Why join a group? Educational opportunities, comradery of friends, digital resources on our web site, two fantastic periodicals, a 60,000-volume research library, thousands of Facebook friends, a BIG jamboree in Columbus next month “Blazing New Trails” for you – this is why we need to join up! Send $20 and the new member's name/address to the Ohio Genealogical Society, 611 State Route 97 W, Bellville OH 44813-8813 –

Thursday, March 1, 2018

OGS Participates in Statehood Day

March 1, 1803 is Statehood Day for Ohio, the day that we were created (although they technically didn’t ratify it until 1953). Historians of all types get together in Columbus this time each year and talk to our State Senators and State Representatives advocating for issues that impact our groups. Chris Wilson, of the Smithsonian, the keynote speaker, said that our research libraries and museums contain a “democracy of information,” in that we collectively share ownership of history viewed from all different perspectives.

The biennial state budget (House Bill 529) is under review this month. $750,000 for the “Online Portal to Ohio’s Heritage” at the Ohio History Connection and $15,000,000 for OHC Collections Storage Facilities Expansions are both items that will directly be of benefit to Ohio’s family historians. House Bill 139 is supported by the Ohio Genealogical Society. This would open  record groups that are currently closed in Ohio 100 years after their creation. We could then view that 1880 lunacy case for an ancestor. Another piece of legislation (preliminary, no number assigned) that OGS supports would provide better protection for abandoned cemeteries and unmarked human burial places (Native American mounds). The Ohio Revised Code generally applies to township and municipal cemeteries and those that are privately owned are just not covered by the rules. The Statehood Day group also hopes to increase federal funding of social studies and civics in Ohio’s schools which was dropped in 2011, perhaps as a result of all the emphasis on STEM topics. An introduction to history in our youthful days was often the seed that inspired our avocation of genealogy and local history today.

Checks are also issued at the Statehood Day luncheon to recipients of the History Fund Grants, money awarded through the check-off box on your Ohio income tax form. Some of this year’s projects would be of interest to genealogists. The Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University received $6,700 to make 100 oral histories concerning World War II accessible. The Southeast Ohio History Center (includes our Athens Co Chapter OGS) got $7,000 to digitize local photographs taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jon Webb.

The Ohio Genealogical Society is a sponsor of Statehood Day in Columbus each year and we are among hundreds who gather to advocate for history at our lovely Greek Revival Statehouse. Construction was initiated in 1839 but not completed until 1861. They ran into funding problems too!