Have you had a great experience using the Ohio Historical Society’s archives at the Ohio History Center in Columbus? Share your story and inspire others!
Share Your Story
Have you discovered a real treasure? Tracked down information about an elusive ancestor? Found our staff to be particularly helpful with your research? We invite you to share your story during our third annual I Found It In the Archives contest.
The Ohio Historical Society is participating in the Society of American Archivists’ national competition again in 2013. We’re accepting written or video submissions through Jan. 31, 2013.
E-mail your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to:
Ohio Historical Society
ATTN: Lisa Long
800 E. 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43211-2474
Winner Will Be Chosen Through Online Voting
After online voting, a winner will be announced on Feb. 28, 2013. The prize package includes a one-year Ohio Historical Society family membership; a voucher for a free genealogy workshop at the Ohio History Center in 2013; and a behind-the-scenes tour of our archives storage area at the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
The winning entry will be submitted to the Society of American Archivists’ national competition. Find more information about submitting your entry on our Collections Blog at ohiohistory.wordpress.com.
Here’s Last Year’s Winning Entry
Here’s last year’s winning entry by Brian Fox of Pickerington, Ohio, who uncovered an 1897 Toledo scandal in the course of doing family history research at the Ohio History Center:
While doing standard obituary lookups in the Toledo Blade microfilm at the Ohio Historical Society archives, I was getting to the bottom of my list when I came to Maggie Kohne who died May 17, 1897. She had been on my list for some time and I always resisted looking for her because I already knew when she died and other family relationships and I figured her obit -- if it existed -- would take too long to find and reveal nothing important. Boy, was I wrong!
As I had some extra time that day, I sat down to search for Maggie and found the following in the May 17 issue:
Called the Coroner
Mrs. Fred Kohne, of 1749 Superior St., died very suddenly at 11 o’clock this morning of uterine hemorrhage. Neighbors reported the matter to Coroner Henzler, intimating that there was something wrong. The coroner will investigate the cause of death. He said to the Blade that he believed everything was all straight but would look into the matter further to satisfy the suspicious ones.
My interest now piqued, I checked subsequent Blades (and other Toledo papers at the archives) and was drawn into a major scandal of the day, which was covered for weeks by the Toledo media.
What happened is that Fred and Maggie had had seven kids in about 12 years of marriage. When Maggie became pregnant with their eighth, she and Fred agreed to abort the child which, of course, was illegal. Their family doctor, William Gardiner, provided the services they sought and, in the process, Maggie developed blood poisoning and died.
The case included an initial investigation by the coroner and police detectives, a graveside autopsy, a sensational coroner’s inquest featuring testimony from Fred Kohne, Dr. Gardiner, Kohne neighbors and others. To add more flavor to this soap opera is the fact that Maggie’s father was a captain in the Police Department who refused to tolerate the coroner’s initial foot-dragging in the case. Dr. Gardiner was indicted. I have not yet discovered the conclusion to the case.
This sad story impacted my research by giving my subjects a very real human face, real emotions and a compelling -- if tragic -- story. It also provided a tremendous glimpse into the times in which the Kohnes lived. It also shows that one should NEVER assume that a particular bit of research will glean nothing of importance!