Digging Up Your Roots

The Ohio Genealogical Society is a non-profit library with over 60,000 volumes of family histories, Bible records, cemetery listings and much more. Guests and members use the facilities for family research, to learn where their ancestors came from and to learn about themselves with advice from library volunteers. OGS is a great resource for anyone curious about their family history and it’s not just Richland County or even Ohio. The Ohio Genealogical Society has documents from many states (especially the Midwest and East Coast) and even some countries. Trace your family back across the years and miles till they reach you. It’s not like what you see on popular tv shows, genealogy takes research and determination. Come prepared with a few names and dates and get digging for your roots.

Research Resources

Most of the Library’s resources are available to the public. This includes the 60,000 volume research library, local and family histories covering all 88 counties in Ohio, transcriptions of tombstones, marriage and death certificates, obituaries, yearbooks and church directories. They even have 4000 family Bible records donated by members. The library also has wifi and a computer lab with access to popular databases such as ancestry.com, census.gov and the national archives.  There is a modest collection of newspapers from the area, most of them converted to microfilm. There are also files of ancestor charts compiled by members over the years. Index files allow you to find ancestor names and their corresponding charts. The library also houses the Whissemore Ohio photograph collection, documenting early Ohio life in black ad white. The society also houses information on different lineage societies that you might be able to be a part of, like First Families of Ohio, The Mayflower Society, War of 1812 Society and Daughters of the American Revolution. There is a $5 fee to use the library each day.

Benefits of Membership

If you are working on a project or plan to visit often, an annual membership is the way to go. Members pay a yearly fee to help support the Ohio Genealogical Society. For this, they receive OGS Quarterly Newsletter and Ohio Genealogy News. Members have free use of the library and get special notice on classes and upcoming workshops. Members also have access to an exclusive online digital library to continue their research from home. Members can attend the annual conference held in Columbus each Spring. On average, 700 people attend this four-day event each year. Hosted by speakers from all over the world, members are treated to workshops and vendors from across the country.

Other Amenities

Even if you aren’t a hard-core researcher, The Ohio Genealogical society also offers classes and workshops that are free and open to the public.  They typically hold several options a month from April through October. Subjects vary depending on demand and speaker availability. Upcoming classes include talks on cemetery transcriptions, medical diseases, beginner’s genealogy research, court records, coroner’s inquests and more. They also have meeting space available to groups for presentations, meetings and quiet gatherings, especially geared toward lineage and research organizations.

Finding Clues

Many people come to The Ohio Genealogical Society searching for their roots or to fill in the holes of their family tree. Even kids who come in working on school projects make discoveries they may not have found otherwise. Library Director Tom Neel says that this isn’t just research, which can sound very dull to some people. “It’s like a puzzle”, says Neel. One longtime user of the library said “It can be addictive. You find one name and it leads you to another and you just can’t stop.” Let the experts and volunteers of the Ohio Genealogical Society help start you on your journey to the past.

Tom Neel, Library Director
Samuel D. Isaly Library
Ohio Genealogical Society
611 SR 97 W
Bellville OH 44813-8813