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Cincinnati Historical Library

Cincinnati Historical Library
Cincinnati Historical Library

© Cincinnati Museum Center

Ever wonder what life was like for your grandparents growing up during World War II? Doing research for a term paper or trying find out about your ancestors who were among the original settlers of Cincinnati? Then the Cincinnati Historical Library is the place to go. Frequented by scholars, historians, and everyday citizens, the library contains thousands of photographs, legal documents, scrapbooks, and video and audio clips that document the history of the Cincinnati area from settlement to present. Some of the audio recordings feature prominent people and events, such as a first-hand account of the Cincinnati home front during WWI, a radio broadcast of a speech delivered locally by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and home recording of the coverage of the 1944 D-Day invasion. Come lose yourself in over a century and a half of history, and discover facts about Cincinnati you never thought you'd know through the personal photographs and diaries of the citizens who inhabited the area long ago.

The Cincinnati Historical Society Library is contained within the Museum Center at Union Terminal. Founded in 1831, the library's mission over a century and a half has been to compile and preserve historically significant materials related to the greater Cincinnati area, the state of Ohio, and the Old Northwest Territory. Its collection is one of the nation's most noteworthy. Patrons of the library may access its materials for personal use as well as for research. The library's website features an online catalog, which allows users to search the records for manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, and more. Materials available to patrons in the reading room consist of the Printed Works, Manuscript, and Audiovisual Collections.

The Printed Works Collection contains magazines, newspapers, journals, letters, and scrapbooks which document the history and culture of Cincinnati. The Collection holds city, county, and regional records for censuses taken between 1790 and 1870, as well as county records and individual family histories. These, along with the assortment of family and business papers and nearly 700,000 photographs, make the Printed Works Collection a reliable source for local and regional genealogy research.

While browsing the Manuscript Collection, you will come across a wide array of original personal and business documents which provide a window into the lives of Cincinnatians past. The collection's purpose is to document the development of life and culture, and to track the changes in the everyday lives of Cincinnati residents. Here, you will also find a depository rich with the history of Cincinnati's culture, holding documents from fine arts organizations, community service groups, and women's clubs throughout the years.

In what is perhaps the Library's most impressive collection, Audiovisual, patrons can use public access booths to view photographs and videos, and listen to audio recordings which tell a more personal history of Cincinnati. These archives include newsreels, radio broadcasts, photographs, and home recordings. Guests may access these records free of charge, but are not permitted to make copies under any circumstance. Duplications of prints and recordings may be purchased for $30 per call number, but only with the mutual understanding that the duplications not be used for commercial purposes.

Attraction Information

  • Hours:
  • Monday through Friday: 12pm to 5pm
  • Saturday: 10am to 5pm
  • Closed Sunday and national holidays
  • Admission:
  • Access to the library's archives is free, but fees may be assessed for in-depth reference search requests and duplication orders.
  • Metro Stop:
  • No. 1 bus stops near the museum entrance
  • Parking:
  • Available at the museum for $6 until 4:30pm when the price is reduced to $4
  • Contact:
  • Location: 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, OH
  • Museum Center Information: 513-287-7000
  • Library: 513-287-7030
  • Toll-free: 800-733-2077
  • TTY: 800-750-0750
  • Website:
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