The Ohio History Connection announced at Statehood Day on February 27 the recipients of $90,000 in grants from the Ohio History Fund. The History Fund is a competitive matching grant program administered by the Ohio History Connection’s Local History Services department. Money for the grants comes from you, who support the program in three ways: by donating a portion of your state income tax refund to the Ohio History Fund (the “tax check-off”), by purchasing Ohio History “mastodon” license plates, and by making donations to the Ohio History Connection designated to “Ohio History Fund.”
Your donation of a part of your Ohio tax refund is the lifeblood of the program. Most of the money the Ohio History Fund grants comes though the tax check-off, and most of that is generated during tax season, ending for many with the filing deadline of April 15. The goal of the Ohio History Fund tax check-off in 2019 is to raise $100,000. That breaks down to 11,200 donations of $9, the average tax check-off gift. For the price of lunch, you can help Ohio’s historical societies and museums make National Historic Landmark houses accessible to all, upgrade historic site exhibits for children and their care-givers, and digitize and make accessible significant local historical collections for museum visitors and researchers.
Since 2013, the Ohio History Fund has made 73 grants in 37 counties totaling $688,000. Proving there is a strong need for the grant program, it has received 347 grant proposals totaling $4.2 million in requests. To date, 34 Alliance members have received History Fund grants, totaling more than $330,000. Five of the ten recipients below are members of the Ohio Local History Alliance (indicated with **).
**Canal Fulton Heritage Society, Canal Fulton
$17,500 for to replace a roof on the society’s Oberlin House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The project will replace a roof at the end of its useful life. The house, built in 1847, is an example of the kinds of structures built in Canal Fulton when the community prospered along the Ohio & Erie Canal. The new roof, replaced in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, will protect the house and the society’s one-of-kind collections preserved inside.
**Chagrin Falls Historical Society, Chagrin Falls
$4,500 for “Digitizing The Exponent: Preserving the Sole Newspaper for Chagrin Falls and Vicinity” The project will re-microfilm, digitize, and make available online the contents of a local newspaper. It is one of the few sources available regarding the cultural and industrial history of the Chagrin Falls and its neighboring communities in eastern Cuyahoga, western Geauga, and northern Portage Counties from 1874-1883. The society receives regular requests from genealogists, local history researchers, and other organizations regarding information available primarily in The Exponent. New microfilm and digital access through Ohio Memory will make the paper’s contents easily accessible. The society will execute the project according to standards established by the National Digital Library of America (NDLA)/National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).
Cleveland Restoration Society, Cleveland
$9,000 for “African American Developers in Cleveland,” a project that will publish a history of a heretofore underrepresented group in historic preservation in Ohio: mid-century 20th century African American housing developers. The work builds on the Cleveland Restoration Society’s previous projects about African American neighborhoods in the city. Sharing the biographies of these Black builders will valorize their efforts and achievements, contribute to a sense of place for residents, and add to the body of knowledge about African American developers and suburbanization in the post-World War II period. The society will use the publication for educational programming, with distribution to area residents, neighborhood community centers and a local high school.
**Delaware County Historical Society, Delaware
$6,000 for “Cryder Research Library Shelving,” a project will replace failing pressed wood shelving with new archive-quality metal shelves. New, studier shelves will enable the society to comprehensively organize and make accessible its bound collections. Local history researchers and students who use the collection, as well as society volunteers and staff who use it to prepare exhibits and programs and address inquiries will benefit from the project.
Friends of Crowell Hilaka, Richfield
$15,250 for “Kirby’s Mill Master Plan & Construction Documents,” which will provide funds to hire an architect and structural engineer to develop a plan for the restoration of the mill, provide cost estimates to be used in fundraising, and develop construction documents. The mill, a testing site for vacuum cleaners and household appliances developed by inventor James Kirby and, later, the site of an iconic northeast Ohio Girl Scout camp, is significant to the history of American invention and in the memories of thousands of Girl Scouts. The activities supported represent the first steps in making Kirby’s Mill publically available as a part of Richfield Heritage Preserve. The master plan and documents will conform to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation.
Libbey House Foundation, Toledo
$9,158 for “Celebrating Toledo’s Disability History: Restoring Accessibility to the Edward Drummond Libbey House.” The project will make accessible Toledo’s only National Historic Landmark in time for 2020, the centennial year of the Ability Center, a project partner. Edward Libbey and the companies he founded made Toledo the “Glass Capital of the World.” In addition to founding the Toledo Museum of Art, Edward and Florence Scott Libbey directed their philanthropy in service to the city’s neediest citizens, including those served by the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, now the Ability Center. The addition of a ramp and half-bath compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Secretary of the Interior’s standards will make the house accessible to all who want to learn more about the Libbeys and how the institutions they supported shaped Toledo.
Metroparks Toledo, Toledo
$3,285 for “Revitalization of the Historic Isaac Ludwig Mill.” The Isaac Ludwig Mill, a part of Providence Metropark, is a working 19th century mill that, combined with a section of the Miami & Erie Canal, a working canal lock, and packet boat rides, interprets life in the area c. 1876. The project will update exhibits and hands-on activities at the mill and enable park staff to better interpret the site in light of newer third and fourth grade curriculum standards. The updates will also allow causal visitors to discover the mill at their own pace, in addition to first person experiences available at the site. The impact of these upgrades to be great, as the site welcomes thousands of school children, adults, and senior citizens annually.
**Oberlin Heritage Center, Oberlin
$2,007 for “Benchmarking Best Practices for Self-Guided Tours in Historic House Museums.” Under the leadership of the Oberlin Heritage Center, the project will help historic house museums in Ohio identify best practices for self-guided tours. Turning to self-guided tours is a necessity for many house museums, as volunteer tour guides in the numbers needed can be difficult to find. Center staff will derive best practices from data gathered during visits to and interviews with the staff of house museums of various sizes and capacities and share findings with the field though professional organizations serving house museums in the state.
Southern Lorain Historical Society, Wellington
$18,000 for “Willard Initiative – Phase 1.” This project will professionally conserve a large mural about Freemasonry by Wellington native Archibald Willard, the creator of the iconic painting The Spirit of ’76. The society will contract with professional art conservators to complete the work. After conservation is completed, the society will make the mural the centerpiece display in its Spirit of ’76 Museum. Based on increases in visitation during previous exhibits of Willard’s work, the society expects that exhibition of the mural will markedly increase museum visitation.
**Warren Library Association / Sutliff Museum, Warren
$5,300 for “Sutliff Museum Visitor Augmented Reality Experience.” The project will create an app for hand-held digital devices that shows promise in broadening and diversifying the museum’s audience. With a collection of over 800 documents related to the national abolitionist movement and the Sutliff family, and collections of Victorian and anti-slavery artifacts, the museum’s goal is to give visitors the opportunity to delve into the collection digitally through the option of iPad rentals or visitors’ own devices. Curiosity about the area’s history will attract some and the opportunity to use hand-held digital devices will draw others. In addition, some residents cannot afford opportunities to become as proficient on digital devices. The project, in the setting of the Sutliff Museum, will provide this chance.
Congratulations to this year’s grant recipients!
Applications for 2019-2020’s round of grants will be available in mid-June on the Ohio History Fund’s web site: www.ohiohistory.org/historyfund. In the meantime, contact Andy Verhoff, the Ohio History Fund’s coordinator, with questions: 614.297.2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.