Monday, July 28, 2014

Local History & Genealogy Resources in our Library

The Special Collections Division in the Akron-Summit County Public Library
by Joanna Wilson

If you are a regular follower of our blog Akron Empire, then you may be familiar with how much we love our local history.  We have welcomed two posts from guest blogger Juniper Sage who toured John Brown House and Perkins Stone Mansion.  And, I have written about my tour of Hower House, and the bicycling tour by How We Roll UA that stops at local landmarks and historical locations downtown.  These experiences also sparked my writing the history/nostalgia book A is for Akron.  More recently, I've been spending quite a few hours in the Special Collections Division at Main library.  If you have an interest in local history like I do, then this is a place of interest for you too.

The Special Collections Division located on the third floor of the Main library specializes in materials related to Local History and Genealogy.  These librarians are the ones who administer the endlessly fascinating digital scrapbook  They also keep a regularly updated blog Special Collections that shares about upcoming classes, teachers' resources, and how-to instructions for research.  The shelves in the Special Collections room hold reference copies of Akron and Summit County history books as well as history books about every other Ohio county.  In these stacks, you'll also find genealogical resources such as city directories, indexes to aid in finding newspaper obituaries, vital statistics (birth and death records), and more.  The friendly, knowledgeable, and infinitely patient staff in the Special Collections Division can guide you towards using their resources to research your family history, the history of your home or property, as well as any topic of local history.

Screen shot of the Genealogy and Local History database links from the ASCPL website.
Of course, the Akron-Summit County Public Library's website offers access to quite a few on-line databases.  With your library card, you can research these databases using your own computer--day or night.  Or, you can come into the library and use one of their computers.  If you are interested in Summit County history, you can have access to local newspaper archives, historical maps, and the local history database.  If you are interested in Genealogy, you can also access several ancestry sites, census records, military records, world vital records sites, and more.  The bulk of the people I come across using the resources at the Special Collections Division are researching their family tree including obituary searches using the microfilm machines to scan from decades-old Akron Beacon Journals.

Repeatedly, I've heard that our Akron-Summit County Library's Special Collections resources are some of the finest in the whole state.  Yet many aren't even aware of the archives available to them in this downtown location.  The Special Collections is also the repository of the photos and documents from The Summit County Historical Society.  They also hold archives from the Ohio Ballet, The Soap Box Derby, The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (formerly known as The World Series of Golf), and maps of the Metro Parks, to identify just a few.  An exciting new project they have undertaken is creating a collection of recordings of local musicians to preserve Summit County's rich musical heritage.  If you're a local musician that has recorded a CD, please consider donating one to this growing collection (you can contact them by email with questions at:

I feel like I've barely scratched the surface sharing with you what local history and genealogy resources are available through our fine library.  You may need to discover this treasure for yourself!

Local History and Genealogy resources are available through the Special Collections Division
located on the third floor of the Main Library, in downtown Akron
60 S. High Street, Akron OH 44326
facebook page link: Special Collections at ASCPL
twitter link: @SCAkronLibrary

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