The Mercantile Library and Cincinnati Museum Center Awarded Statewide OHC Ohio History Fund Grants

The Mercantile and CMC were two of the eight organizations who were awarded grants to help preserve important parts of their collections

click to enlarge The Mercantile Library is one of eight organizations to be awarded a History Fund grant from the Ohio History Connection, along with another Queen City institution — the Cincinnati Museum Center. - Hailey Bollinger
Hailey Bollinger
The Mercantile Library is one of eight organizations to be awarded a History Fund grant from the Ohio History Connection, along with another Queen City institution — the Cincinnati Museum Center.

On Thursday at the Ohio State House, Cincinnati's Mercantile Library and the Cincinnati Museum Center were awarded Ohio History Fund grants from the Ohio History Connection, an organization whose mission is to "spark discovery" of the Buckeye State's stories by preserving and sharing history.

According to a release, the competition was tough this year with requests totaling $568,000 from 41 applicants. The Mercantile and CMC were two of the eight organizations who were awarded grants from the $85,900 the OHC doled out this year. Funds came out of direct donations, Ohio Income Tax refunds and sales of Ohio History "mastodon" license plates.

The Mercantile's $8,692 grant will go toward preserving the library's hand-written minute books, which span over a century of its history, from its founding in 1835 to 1964. The books are large ledgers that Cincinnati residents who held varying roles in the local corporate world and government created to record transactions, meetings, etc. 

“The Mercantile Library’s minute books are intricately enmeshed with the history of our city,” explains grant application author Cedric Rose, librarian and collector at The Mercantile Library since 2005, in a release “They contain a web of connections to so many people and stories that were part of a pivotal period in Cincinnati’s growth.”

But as time has worn on, the books have deteriorated. Thus, the project tied to the grant to preserve these little wonders is an urgent one, says Andy Verhoff, OHC's History Fund grant coordinator. The process will not only work to repair, preserve and rebound these minute books but will also culminate in them being on display to the public at the Mercantile Library. In partnership with the Public Library of Cincinnati's Local History and Genealogy Department, they will also be digitized for anyone to flip through their pages online. 

CMC's $10,000 grant, according to a release, will go toward a project to re-bag, retag and reorganize artifacts in 194 boxes from Fort Ancient village sites in the Queen City area. Along with field notes, the bags from the 1930s to 1950s are unstable and made of brown paper/plastic. 

"The old containers are in danger of rupturing and spilling their culturally significant contents, thereby losing associations and notes from field studies," a description reads. "The project preserves the artifacts and their notes by rehousing the artifacts in archivally safe containers and re-recording the notes on stable formats."

The stories and information these objects tell about the cultures who created them could be lost to history without this preservation initiative, which is managed by the CMC's curator of archaeology and conducted by its Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act coordinator and tribal liaison.

Other recipients include the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society, Fort Recovery Historical Society, Indian Lake Area Historical Society, Kent State University Foundation, Marion County Historical Society and Shore Cultural Center.

For more info, visit ohiohistory.org.

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