Center for Archival Collections
Local Government Records Guide: Introduction
The Guide to Local Government Records at the Center for Archival Collections is designed to assist the academician, the genealogist, the serious student, the CAC staff, and others in using local government records in research. The Guide was first published in 1981 by Deb Biggs who did an excellent job of researching the history of Ohio's local government and completing a comprehensive inventory listing of public records at the CAC. A second edition of the Guide was published in 1988 by Victor Wagher, and a third edition in 1992 by Stephen Charter. Since then, many new accessions, in both original and microfilm formats, have been added to our holdings. We hope that this version, designed for use on the World Wide Web, will prove useful to many researchers.
The list of local government records is arranged alphabetically by county and therein by municipality, township, and school district, respectively, within each county. Record series are listed under their offices of origin with their actual dates and format. Although a few record series have yet to be processed, this Guide is a comprehensive list of all local government records at the CAC.
Researchers interested in contemporary records, especially those involving specific court cases, arrests, trials, and their disposition, or any record not listed here on the CAC's inventories should contact the County Courthouse where the events took place for more information.
The Center for Archival Collections (CAC), a member of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers, was established at Bowling Green State University in 1968. The primary mission of the CAC is to aggressively acquire, preserve, and make accessible to researchers documentary materials in four broad categories--namely, Northwest Ohio, University Archives, Rare Books, and Special Collections. Northwest Ohio, the largest of the four collecting areas, deserves special consideration.
The Northwest Ohio area, a nineteen-county region, contains primary and secondary source materials which document the region's history. These collections include manuscripts, newspapers, published books and pamphlets, and local government records. The selection of manuscripts documents the cultural, social, political, and economical growth of the area. They include records of churches, labor unions, agricultural societies, literary and social societies, urban agencies, papers of public and private individuals, and photo- graphs. Newspapers are collected for their role in reporting the development of Northwest Ohio. Published books and pamphlets such as county histories, directories, and biographies supplement the primary source materials with valuable background information.
In 1968, the CAC began a local government records acquisition program with special emphasis on county records. Seven years later, in 1975, it joined with the Ohio Historical Society and six other state and private institutions to implement Ohio's Local Government Records Program. The CAC, through established Network agreements, collects and maintains historically valuable records which include those of counties, municipalities, townships, and school districts within a defined nineteen county region in Northwest Ohio.
County, municipal, township, and school district records are rich in historical data. County records provide a wealth of information to scholars and genealogists. Birth, death, and marriage records, wills, naturalizations, and deeds relate the history of individuals and families. Historical studies of the social, political, and economical growth of a region can be undertaken using county home records, tax lists, and wills. Demographic studies can make use of birth, death, and enumeration records, poll books, voting abstracts, agricultural statistics, and children's home records.
Municipal records, although basically administrative in nature, can be used for historical and genealogical research. Studies may be completed charting a municipality's growth and its legislative history through council minutes, ordinance and resolution records, and minutes of various boards and commissions. Reports on crime and violence, utilizing police blotters and mayors' and municipal court records, could be done as well. Genealogists have found cemetery and health department records to be very useful in their research.
Townships also can provide much useful historical information. Township records such as trustees' minutes, indentures, poor relief records, cemetery records, and records of boards of education and health are used for a variety of research purposes, especially for interpreting social, economic, and family history.
The records generated by school districts, including those transferred by consolidated township boards of education, are definitive sources for understanding the history of local education. Genealogists have found that class registers, enumerations, and pupils' permanent records are valuable in tracing family history.
It is through the use of these historically valuable local government records that a more complete assessment of the past can be accomplished. In addition, the use of these past records can help in planning for the future. The Center for Archival Collections and the Local Government Records Program of the Ohio Historical Society encourage the use of these precious documents which mark the extent of our bureaucracy and civilization.
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