Executive Director's Message
When I think about Fiscal Year 2011, I am reminded of the quote by Ohio-born Thomas A. Edison: “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” Last year was a productive year of planning for the future for the Ohio Historical Society and for seeking out opportunities for the future success of the Ohio Historical Society. This Annual Report provides an opportunity to share some of the notable milestones for the Society in Fiscal Year 2011.
This Report represents a first for the Society – we are presenting the contents as a web-based document. Links and embedded videos allow us to capitalize on technology to expand the depth of the information. If you prefer a hard-copy format, this report may be printed from this online version. Or you may order a printed version from the Society. Additionally, Welcome to Your History: 2011 Citizen’s Guide (4 MB PDF requires Adobe Acrobat ® Reader) contains a great deal of background information on the programs and services of the Ohio Historical Society. We have planned this Annual Report to work as a companion piece to the information in that document. It is available online here. (4 MB PDF requires Adobe Acrobat ® Reader)
Ohio as America: an E-Text Book for Fourth Graders in Ohio
This emphasis on embracing technology segues into our announcement of an important program we developed in 2011 and one that will be appearing in classrooms in Ohio this fall. Ohio as America is an electronic textbook presenting the history of Ohio. It has been developed through the Education and Outreach Division at OHS. The Ohio as America e-textbook for fourth grade social studies students has been specifically designed for and aligned with the new Ohio Academic Content Standards adopted by the Ohio State Board of Education. The textbook will be hosted online and will include student readings, videos from historic sites, primary source material, artifacts from the Ohio Historical Society collection, and links to other resources statewide. There is more information on the e-textbook in other sections in this Annual Report. This e-text book is a step into new possibilities for OHS.
Presenting to the State of Ohio the Funding Model Recommended by OHS
Like many other organizations, the Ohio Historical Society is working harder and smarter to generate additional earned revenue. As for public funds, every two-year state budget essentially contains a contract between the State of Ohio and the nonprofit Ohio Historical Society. The Society receives state operating funds in exchange for carrying out more than two dozen public functions. These responsibilities – ranging from operating state memorials and the State Archives to assisting local history organizations and providing educational materials to schools – are all listed in the Ohio Revised Code (most but not all, can be found in Sect. 149.30).
In FY 2011, we adopted an innovative approach to present our vision for an appropriate level of funding from the state. Recognizing that the funding from the state to OHS has been reduced significantly in the recent past, and with an anticipation of additional reduction for FY2012 and 2013, we felt it made sense to clarify how we categorize funding responsibilities.
We presented a three-tiered approach to the state that organized the funding responsibilities differently than they had been categorized before. This new structure made it easier to understand the funding relationship between the nonprofit Ohio Historical Society and the state. Our recommendations were:
- First Tier: 100% State Funded. These public functions are inherently governmental in nature and are typically funded by state agencies in other states. Operating the State Archives and State Historic Preservation Office are good examples.
- Second Tier: 50% State Funded, 50% OHS Funded. These public functions are less governmental in nature, but serve important public responsibilities that lend themselves to cost sharing. Preserving collections and supporting local history initiatives are good examples.
- Third Tier: 100% OHS Funded. These public functions, publishing and enriching public education, are more complementary of state educational responsibilities. These functions have the most potential for entrepreneurial funding approaches that can be generated from non-state sources.
We were pleased that the Governor and General Assembly accepted our funding proposal. Most of the Society’s line items in the FY 2012-13 state budget increased modestly or stayed the same from the previous two-year state budget. The vision that we have for OHS is to step boldly into the future with an understanding that balancing state funding with smart initiatives for additional earned revenue is a core part of our financial oversight. We are emboldened by the challenge. We are sincerely appreciative of the Governor and the legislators for their financial support of OHS historically and as we move into the future.
Successes throughout the Network of Sites
As caretakers of Ohio’s heritage, we are committed to collecting, preserving, and interpreting Ohio’s past. Our mission is statewide and our efforts are statewide. We moved through the seasons in FY 2011 building momentum and ending with an array of successes that benefited the 58 sites in the statewide network, the Society itself, and most importantly, the people of Ohio. For example, a newly renovated McCook House welcomed a large crowd in Carrollton, Ohio this spring thanks to the General Assembly’s $625,000 investment to complete the renovations. Additionally, due to intense work, diligence, and perseverance, several earthworks sites have been designated as potential candidates for World Heritage Site status. This distinction would draw additional global attention to the remarkable archaeological sites in Ohio. We had the official kickoff of the Ohio Civil War 150 project at the statehouse April 10, 2011. This statewide initiative includes an 18 member advisory committee from around the state to oversee programs to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Ohio (2011-2015).
Help inspire people to connect with Ohio’s past so they can better understand the present and create a better future.
When we step back from these successes, we read news reports that tell us that half of college seniors in America lack a solid base in U.S. history or civics. This void of familiarity with history results in many undesired outcomes for a vibrant democracy. I am confident that organizations like ours can, and should, do something to help fill that void. From exhibits to educational programs to restoring historic houses and providing greater visibility to the historic sites and efforts in Ohio, we possess the raw materials necessary to help inspire people to connect with Ohio’s past so they can better understand the present and create a better future. That is our mission at OHS and we challenge ourselves with it every day.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our partners, advocates, members, staff, volunteers, and history enthusiasts who energetically assist us in our important goal to be the network of historical sites that champions the history of Ohio to Ohioans and the world.