Planning a Trip... Ohio Historical Society

In preparation for my trip to Columbus, I discovered that the State Archives & Historical Society is located in the very city I wish to visit. Score a point for me! The Ohio Historical Society houses records that I believe will benefit me greatly in my research for a variety of ancestors who lived in Franklin County, Ohio beginning in 1800 to present day. My primary interest in this facility's collection are the Land Records and the Naturalization Records. Most of the vital records I have obtained through or So, I'll probably skip that section of the library.

The library has a terrific website and it provided me with a lot of information that I needed to know prior to visiting the facilities. I did have a few further questions that the website did not answer. Sadly, my first attempt in obtaining answers failed (I sent an email on 1/27 and haven't heard anything to date). I had a free moment and decided to give the facility a call.

Thankfully a very friendly gentleman was willing to answer my questions. Just in case others had similar questions, I figured that I would post my questions and the answers I received.

  1. The Library Rules and Procedures page says "Notes, computers (but not the cases), notebooks, and pencils ONLY are permitted in the Research Rooms." I was curious to know if tablets (iPad, Android tablets) are considered computers and allowed. I also wanted to know if digital cameras were allowed. Guess what! Okay, you know the answer... YES. Tablet computers are allowed into the archives. And digital cameras may be used without the flash. Yeah!!! I love am set with cameras to document my finds.
  2. Having seen Who Do You Think You Are?, I wanted to know do I needed to bring a pair of gloves? Nope! They supply them when needed.
  3. The Rules page said that only the staff makes photocopies of the items. So, what are the photocopy fees? The man said $0.25, but you should really just used your digital camera. Well, I was hoping that would be what was allowed, but I'm so glad he confirmed that's what I really should do! 
I'm most interested in the Naturalization records at this point. Perhaps the Land Records (if the film indexes I ordered from Salt Lake City prove fruitful). In any case, I asked if the gentleman had any tips on how to make the most of my visit and walk me through how it would work when I arrived.

To examine the Naturalization records, I'll be going first to the Microfilm Room. It's self-service and I can access anything without filling out paperwork. Great! He mentioned that I could plan ahead and not exactly what film I was going to access by using their website to look up film numbers. What a great idea! I didn't know that was on the website. (I haven't found this information yet, but that was so nice of him to tell me to look for it). I hope I can find it before my trip to increase my efficiency.

Once I've examined the indexes, I'll be given a reference number for the original documents that are handled only by the OHS staff. If I need more than one item, then I can only use one at a time. I'll have to fill out a call slip, etc. Hopefully those I'm looking for will be in the fewest number of volumes, but we shall see.

I have to give the gentleman (who I forgot to get his name) a big round of applause for helping me know what to expect and prepare for my trip to his facility. I look forward to visiting the State Archives and hope that my family members will stand up and be counted.


  1. I was at the OHS Archives just yesterday (and the week before). A note about the camera: no tripods allowed. Without a flash or a tripod, it was a little difficult (for me, at least) to get good photographs. I finally grabbed their little standing holding the camera permission sign and balanced my camera on that.

    I find the online catalog a little challenging sometimes. Here's the link for the Archives Library online catalog:

    Another source for Franklin County history/genealogy (I can't tell if that's where you're searching) is the Columbus Metropolitan Library in downtown Columbus. Here's their catalog website: and you can get to their homepage from that.

    When will you be in Columbus?

  2. Nancy...

    Thanks for all the tips. I am focusing solely on Franklin County at this time. I have some family in Huron county, but I'm trying to twist the arm of my dear mother to work on that line for me a bit. Plus, the majority of my 4 family lines are in Franklin, so it seems that if I'm going to get a week away from the youngsters, I need to go to the place where I should reap the most benefits. (And, my dear Aunt and cousin live there!)

    Thanks for the links. They'll work just fine. I am planning on going to the downtown library. I know I'm going to look up obituaries there. I've had some success a long time ago and I'm hoping for more as well.

    Hopefully the Palatine to America organization will return my emails sometime soon so I can visit them as well.....

    I'll be in Columbus in the middle of May. Super excited.

  3. Nancy...

    Thanks for the heads up on tripods. How weird.

    Does that mean all tripods or just the large ones? I have a 'baby' tripod (a gorilla-pod). I wonder if that would work. I do find it interesting that I was told to use my camera rather than make photocopies. But you're right, low light and no tripod would be very difficult. That seems odd, doesn't it? Perhaps I can invest a contraption that is a 'wearable' tripod?

  4. I've not heard of wearable tripods but I suppose if it doesn't look like a tripod they wouldn't notice. I just now thought that I probably could have grabbed a large book and used it.

    They have a wonderful photocopier there. Instead of placing the books upside-down on the platen, they lay the book open and copy from above. It was broken the day I wanted copies. Another day when I didn't need copies from books I learned that they have a regular photocopier but use it only for flat materials, not books.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I'll be so much better prepared.


Powered by Blogger.