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The history of Ohio is intertwined with business and manufacturing. Even before statehood in 1803, businesses were established in the region; in 1793, a Cincinnati tannery became the first manufacturing venture northwest of the Ohio River. By 1900, Ohio was described as the "Gateway of the Midwest." Today, Ohio stands as one of the country's great manufacturing centers and a leader in the world of business and enterprise.

Despite the importance of business to Ohio,the records of business activities are often overlooked as important sources of our history. However, if we understand that business records can be a way of documenting not only the history of the company but also that of the community, then we can see the importance of the collection and retention of business records.

Records created by Ohio businesses reflect the interaction and inter-association of various segments of the community. Correspondence, minutes of meetings, administrative papers, financial records, in-house publications, photographs and other records document many important aspects of a company's origins, growth, and development. Companies that understand the service to their communities and to research that their archival record offers realize also that the preservation of corporate history is part of contemporary corporate responsibility.

Researchers studying Ohio history benefit from the documentation of ideas, events, and processes contained in business records.
Moreover, researchers are better able to appreciate the role of business in America's growth and development if the materials outlining its participation are readily available. Should business records be ignored, then the documentation for a vital portion of Ohio history will be lost.

The Ohio Historical Society has long recognized the importance of business in the history of the state and advocates the collection and retention of business records. With well over 100 collections -dated from the early 1800s through the 20th Century- related to business among our holdings, we are dedicated to working with Ohio businesses looking to establish their legacy and historical record. Recent examples of OHS working with two Ohio corporations in this fashion: The White Castle System, Incorporated Collection, and the Dominion East Ohio Gas Company Collection.

Other Business Collections at the Ohio Historical Society

The Society's approach to business records is twofold: first, an active collection policy enables the Archives/Library to seek out business record collections and work with potential donors to ensure that the conditions for housing and use of the collection are to the donors satisfaction. Secondly, the Archives/Library is prepared to assist Ohio businesses with building their own archival collections through advice and instruction and workshops designed to address the fundamentals of archival practice.

To better coordinate this approach, the Ohio Historical Society has established The Business Heritage Program. Designed to reach out to Ohio businesses large and small, The Ohio Business Program is a cooperative effort between the Archives/Library Division and the External Relations Department of the Society.

With it, OHS will expand their contact with businesses of the state with the objective of founding long-lasting relationships that will enrich all parties involved and further the preservation of corporate history in Ohio.

Thank you for your interest in the Ohio Historical Society!

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