Local Government Records collection

 Collection – Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-1247

Collection Overview


Records documenting local government activities from throughout the 19-county region of Northwest Ohio from roughly 1833-1980. Includes city, county, court, township, school district and other entities' records in the form of logs, annual reports, minutes, dockets, and other records. Also includes records documenting a series of projects to return records to local government entities in several phases between 2002-2019.


  • Creation: 1833-1989


48.35 Cubic Feet (86 archival boxes)

Biographical / Historical

The Center for Archival Collections (CAC) at Bowling Green State University was a founding member of the Ohio Network of American History Research Centers that was established by the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) in 1970. The cooperative regional network was established as a solution to the challenges posed by the significant volume of county records held throughout Ohio: many counties lacked adequate storage conditions and trained staff to organize, manage, and preserve records. The OHS faced similar challenges: a lack of space to store records from all 88 counties and a sufficient number of trained archivists. The regional model – based at the two largest state historical societies and the six state universities – drew upon storage spaces and staffing models already in place, distributed the total costs of archival preservation, and provided regional access to historical records.

The effort was based on state law and operated within Ohio’s legal framework. Legislation passed in 1959 created a mechanism to formalize retention and disposal of government records, with a requirement that each county, municipal corporation, township, and school district establish a records commission responsible for outlining a process preceding records disposal and destruction. The OHC was notified of the approval of destruction lists and had a window during which staff could select records deemed to have historical value. In this way – making selections from lists approved for destruction - the network obtained and accessioned records for long-term retention and preservation.

The charter for the ONAHRC established the geographical collecting areas for each of the centers; the CAC became responsible for records within 19 counties on Northwest Ohio. Signed agreements established that legal title to all records covered in the agreement resided with the OHS and that the network centers served as regional archival depositories for the OHS.

In 1971 network representatives began visiting local governments and inventorying and identifying historic records. Appropriations made by the General Assembly beginning in 1975 allowed OHS to hire local records specialists to provide assistance to county governments with their records management programs. These individuals were employed by the OHS but hosted at each of the network centers and coordinated by the State Archivist.

The local government records program devoted most of its efforts to county records until 1980. With funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the OHC published the Ohio Municipal Records Manual in 1981 and conducted municipal records management workshops before statewide budgetary issues began to cut into the local records program in 1982. A decline in activity continued due to lack of funding and gradually network positions were cut. The last network positions were funded in 1996; the position in the CAC was vacated after June 1991.

By 2002, the CAC was no longer actively collecting local government records unless they were vital records or could be microfilmed. In the years prior, many records were microfilmed by the CAC for preservation purposes and then disposed of by the municipalities, while other original records were sent to the CAC for storage. By 2002, staff had begun to actively deaccession print materials, contacting local governments to encourage them to fund microfilming of their permanent records or failing that, to take custody of their records. Concentrated efforts were made to return records in 2002-2004, in 2011, and again in a final push in 2017-2019. The records described in this inventory are those remaining on the shelves in print from after various deaccessioning efforts. All records returned in 2017-2019 were returned to organizations that had plans to make the records accessible in their county records centers (built after initial establishment of the network), via partnership with another local repository, or in their own offices. CAC staff are unaware of any intent to destroy records that were returned through these efforts. Records related to the deaccessioning process are available in boxes at the end of the collection and are described below.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Local government records held in microfilm are described in our microfilm inventory

Cultural context

Genre / Form



Guide to the Local Government Records collection
Michelle Sweetser
August 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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