Native American History in Ohio

Recent comments on the blog have showed concern about the lack of appreciation that Ohioans have for our Native American past.  Ohio has a rich history of mound-builders (some sites are on the list to become UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and more recent like Tecumseh.  The archaeologists at the Ohio Historical Society recently participated in a field school at the Pickawillany site.  You can see their full blog post on the Archaeology Blog that we’ve taken a brief excerpt from:

Because Pickawillany, as both a Miami Indian town and an English trading enterprise, existed for such a relatively short period of time, items recovered during our excavations provide small snapshots of interactions between Europeans and Native cultures at almost one particular instant of time. That is, of the European material culture being infused into and absorbed by the Native populations of the trans-Allegheny west. To date we have recovered nearly 1500 items from the site of Pickawillany but they are mostly things collected from the plow zone during out metal detector surveys as well as a few isolated surface finds. Our present excavations are the culmination of several years of mapping, metal detecting and comprehensive geophysical work (remote sensing) that included magnetometer, electrical resistance and ground penetrating radar surveys. Gone (hopefully) are the days of seemingly endless test pit excavating looking for something you may or may not be lucky enough to locate. When our data were complied and compared the same relatively small area of our 35 acre site repeatedly showed the best promise, no matter which type of survey was employed. It’s just not practical to go out and dig a hole at random hoping to get lucky nor is it sound or legitimate archaeological technique.
This year’s work centered on a number of large anomalies located within about 25 meters from one another that were identified during previous magnetometer surveys.

Click here to read the entire post


How can Ohioans pay more attention to this important part of our history?

Ohio’s habit of neglecting its history risks a severe memory lapse

Have you visited an Ohio historic site or museum lately? The Buckeye State is home to about 1,000 of them. Did you know that several prehistoric sites in Ohio are soon to be included on the World Heritage List, alongside the Egyptian pyramids and the Grand Canyon? Did you know that nearly 3,700 historic properties in Ohio are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the third most in the country? To read this editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, click here.

Does History in Ohio Have a Future?

In an era dominated by technological changes, instant global telecommunications and educational emphases focused on science and math… do people still care about history, historic places or history organizations in the 21st century?

What do you think, Ohio?

Let’s be real. History and culture in Ohio are threatened, as they are elsewhere, by the economic realities of 21st century America. While Ohio is home to major cultural centers in its major cities, internationally renowned historic sites and museums, parks, world-class libraries and arts organizations, these cultural resources and institutions – as well as the travel and tourism industry that supports them – are reeling from a combination of economic woes exacerbated by huge state budget reductions.

The Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio Arts Council, for example, now receive about the same amount of annual state support they received in the mid-1980s. A lot of history has accumulated over the past quarter century. Resources have not.

Research indicates that there is a clear tie between those who say that history is important and civic participation. People connected to history are simply more engaged citizens. They are 23 percent more likely to do things like vote, join community organizations and find other avenues for civic engagement than those who say they do not think history is important. That’s good. Quite frankly, the future of history in Ohio is threatened and you are needed now more than ever.

The real stuff of history is located in your community and its institutions – the local archives, libraries, museums and the older buildings and neighborhoods throughout Ohio. Got any good stories? Tell us why history matters to you…

The Ohio Historical Society and the State Budget

Gov. Ted Strickland signed on July 17th the $50.5 billion state budget for Fiscal Years 2010-11, which reduces state spending by $2 billion compared to the previous two-year state budget. The state’s economic misfortunes have been well publicized. The state received a whopping $2.32 billion less in tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30 in comparison to the previous year, an unprecedented 12 percent drop – the state’s worst performance in at least 50 years, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. Coupled with state tax reductions enacted in 2005, the state’s dismal economy helped ensure this current two-year state budget would be the worst in generations.

Sure enough, the budget news is grim. The state budget signed on Friday makes an unprecedented disinvestment in history. The state reduced funding to the Ohio Historical Society from $13.5 million in Fiscal Year 2008 and $12 million in 2009 to $7.9 million in 2010 and 2011 – a whopping 42.5 percent reduction in just two years! In other words, Ohio is allocating a mere .69 cents per Ohioan to preserve its state history. That is the lowest allocation of state dollars to the Ohio Historical Society (in non-inflation adjusted dollars) since 1986. For more information about the Society’s recently announced budget cuts, click here.

Unfortunately, the bad budget news did not stop there. History supporters learned after budget passage that the OHS income tax check-off provision was removed from the state budget, despite bipartisan support from the House and Senate (House Bill 75 and Senate Bill 60). The Society had planned to use the voluntary contributions from the tax check-off for a competitive matching grants program for local history-related organizations. Additionally, standardized tests for 5th and 8th grade social studies were dropped (4th and 7th grade writing tests were also eliminated) as budget-cutting moves.

All of this begs the question: Does history in Ohio have a future?

We at the Ohio Historical Society are convinced that it does. The financial crisis has forced us to look hard at the way we do business. We have to work smarter than we ever have before. In the near future, we’ll be communicating how the Society is reconfiguring our programs and services to maximize our impact on history efforts throughout the state in an era of shrinking state support.

History in Ohio does have a future. However, whether that future will be one in which history thrives or merely survives depends largely on what you and I do in the present. “History is to the nation as memory is to the individual,” Ohio native Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. once wrote. Despite tremendous budget challenges, the importance of history and preservation will re-emerge in Ohio, but perhaps in non-budgetary ways. One of Ohio’s greatest strengths is its history – not only because of the stories and national impact – but because it is a powerful tool for facing the future and contributing enormously to the quality of life.

According to a recent survey of Ohioans by the University of Toledo’s Urban Affairs Center:

  • 86% say that history and historic sites are important to them.
  • More than half say history is important to their career.
  • More than three-fourths say they think about the past when making important decisions.
  • Generally, Ohioans perceive that Ohio invests the same or less on history than neighboring states and that they are inclined to think that Ohio’s elected leaders should invest more.

Thank you for your budget advocacy efforts and choosing to be engaged citizens. Now is not the time to stop. The Ohio Historical Society would like to encourage you to stay engaged at the local and state levels and to participate in public forums this fall to further discuss the future of history in Ohio. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, please feel free to send us your questions or comments to me at

Buckeye Council for History Education Conference July 23-24th

Come to the Ohio Historical Center to see the programming that OHS produces through its numerous partnerships!

Buckeye Council for History Educaiton logo

The Buckeye Council for History Education invites you to attend our 2009 annual conference at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio on July 23-24, 2009. Our conference theme is Programs, Progress, and People: Innovation in History. It reflects next year’s National History Day theme and a timely interest in the WPA and the New Deal as innovative programs.

Teacher Open House

All educators and their families are welcome to attend the Teacher Open House on July 23, 2009 from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Ohio Historical Center. Come learn about resources available to history educators in central Ohio. Admission is free.

Evening Reception and Dinner

Conference attendees are also invited to attend our opening reception and dinner, Thursday, July 23, 2009. Nick Taylor, author of American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, will speak on ” The WPA and Ohio: Some High (And Not So High) Lights.”
Please register if you plan to attend.

Conference Sessions and Luncheon

The conference will be held at the Ohio Historical Center and will run from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM on Friday, July 24, 2009. Sessions will be led by academic and public historians, top educators from the state of Ohio and professional archivists and curators. Lunch will be provided. See the detailed schedule at

Our keynote speaker at this year’s conference luncheon will be Timothy Messer-Kruse, Historian, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies, Bowling Green State University, and author of Banksters, Bosses, and Smart Money: A Social History of the Great Toledo Bank Crash of 1931.

Conference registration is free with a Buckeye Council for History Education membership. If you are not yet a member of the Buckeye Council for History Education, please click here to purchase a membership. When you have purchased a membership, please return to this page to register for the conference.

Questions/Concerns? Contact us at

House Hearing Alert–We Need Your Help!

The House Finance & Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) has set public hearings on the “impact of potential Senate budget decisions” in Statehouse Room 313 at the following times:

Save Ohio History Icon

Thursday, July 2 @ 3 pm

Monday, July 6 @ 10 am

Tuesday, July 7 @ 2 pm 

We need your voice! Don’t let Ohio History die! Please join us and other history supporters at the Statehouse and let the General Assembly know that HISTORY MATTERS!

You don’t have to speak at the hearings, but we need you to demonstrate your support by filling the hearing room and halls.

The best days to attend are Monday and Tuesday.

If you are able to attend the event please let us know by emailing Rep. Sykes’ office will alert OHS when new information is available, or if changes occur to the schedule, etc. We will alert those that plan to attend via email as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact OHS’ government relations office at

Continue reading for more information and speaking points.

Continue reading

Day 1: New Report Reveals Ohioans Passionate About State’s Past

In an era dominated by technological changes, instant global telecommunications and educational emphases focused on science and math, do people still care about history, historic places or history organizations?

Exploring the Public Value of Ohio’s History, a report by the University of Toledo’s Urban Affairs Center in partnership with the Ohio Historical Society, shows that Ohioans do care about history. Results from four separate surveys conducted by the Urban Affairs Center indicate that most respondents expressed a deep appreciation for history, feel a personal connection to it and want their state to do more to demonstrate enthusiasm for history as an educational tool and a force for stronger civic engagement. The report also discusses economic opportunities associated with Ohio history and makes recommendations for policies and programs.

“This report clearly demonstrates that history is important to Ohioans,” said Bill Laidlaw, executive director and CEO of the Ohio Historical Society. “We commissioned this study in an effort to better define how the public perceives history and how it values the past. We hope the findings will benefit decision makers—state policymakers, history advocates and organizations, educators and, especially, the public.”

About the Survey
Exploring the Public Value of Ohio’s History summarizes survey data from four different points of view: historic site administrators, visitors to historic sites and museums, social studies teachers and the general public. In all, 2,341 people, almost all of them Ohio residents, responded to surveys either by phone, in person or online during the fall of 2008. The goal was to capture the extent to which people from varying perspectives care about and perceive of the public value of history in their daily lives.

The report helps answer basic questions, such as: What events, memories and timeframes do people consider history? Do people care about their own past or that of their community? How do people prefer to use history or learn from it? Do those who say they value history differ in any way from those who say they do not? Finally, the report discusses the value of historic preservation, offers recommendations for linking history with public policy opportunities as well as 10 case studies, or examples, of how history and historic preservation activities today are strengthening communities and adding value to the public.

History, Historic Sites Valued by Public and Teachers
Responses from the general public surveyed revealed that Ohioans view history in surprisingly broad and inclusive ways. Ohioans are more likely to cite personal examples of history they lived through or remember, even as recent as Hurricane Katrina (93 percent), before citing more distant, grand events of history, such as Ancient Rome (71 percent) or World War II (50 percent).

Overall, Ohioans expressed an impressive appreciation for their state history—both at personal and more global levels. Among those surveyed, 86 percent say the state’s history and historic places are important to them. People also value history at a personal level: 76 percent said they think about the past when making important decisions; 72 percent looked to historic figures as roles models; and 94 percent said their family history is important to them.

People who visit Ohio’s historic sites felt overwhelming satisfaction with the learning (99 percent) or entertainment opportunity (96 percent) provided by the historic site or museum. Nearly 100 percent of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the visit was an opportunity to engage in quality family time. While 93 percent said that they would make a return visit within two years, almost all said they would recommend the site to others.

When it comes to teaching history, all the Ohio social studies teachers surveyed said that field trips to local historic sites enhanced the student’s learning experience and helped the teacher be more effective in the classroom. Also, teachers asserted that neither society nor the government put enough value in teaching history, especially the history of their own communities. Educators said they turn to local history organizations (archives, historic sites, etc.) to obtain primary source materials (90 percent), but want an even deeper integration of Ohio’s history in their classrooms. One teacher observed that “no one bled on the field or bravely stood up against tyranny because x=5. Children grow into responsible citizens inspired by serious study of they history.”

Another finding shows that engaging with history clearly allows people to connect with feelings of civic pride and responsibility. Almost all of the survey respondents said their visit to an Ohio site made them proud to be an American. Additionally, there is a clear tie between those who say that history is important and civic participation – they are 23 percent more likely to do things like vote, join community organizations and find other avenues for civic engagement – than those who say they do not think history is important.

The report concludes that Ohio would benefit by capitalizing on the economic and public policy opportunities that integrate Ohio history, tourism and historic preservation. Investing in Ohio’s school reform efforts, the upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial, heritage tourism promotion, historic preservation projects throughout the state and a competitive matching grants program for local history-related organizations are a few examples of opportunities for Ohio’s leaders to connect meaningfully Ohio’s history with its future.

“We know that history plays a defining role in our personal and democratic beliefs, but the emphasis on the study of history as well as our society’s investment in our state’s heritage has significantly waned,” Laidlaw said. “This report shows that Ohioans deeply value their history and that the time to invest in it, in our schools and in our communities, is now.”

Countdown Complete

Today is June 30, the last day of the fiscal year for the state of Ohio. As you look through the articles featured over the last 13 days, you’ll learn about some of the Ohio Historical Society’s outreach programs and historic sites. However, there’s so much more that we as an organization do for Ohio’s history. From special events, like Dickens of a Christmas at Ohio Village and Celebrations at Fort Ancient, to Distance Learning programs and the Archives-Library, the Ohio Historical Society helps to enrich our state’s culture by preserving its heritage. What’s in store for FY2010? Drastic budget cuts that, if enacted, would not only jeopardize Ohio’s past, but its future. You can make a difference. Save Ohio’s History today by e-mailing your state officials.


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