• Welcome!

    The Special Collections Division houses the genealogy and local history materials of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Our goal is to collect, preserve, and provide access to the history of Summit County, and to continue to maintain one of the area’s most extensive genealogy collections.

  • Local History Database

    The database contains references to the Library's local history collections as well as the Summit County Historical Society's collections. Search the index to the collections.
  • Summit Memory

    Visit the online scrapbook of Summit County History at www.SummitMemory.org
  • Summit County World War II News Index

    This database indexes the names of Summit County servicemen and servicewomen who were named in the Akron Beacon Journal during World War II. Some non-military names are also included. This database currently includes records up through April 30, 1943. World War II Database
  • Summit County Myths Wiki

    Find out if that rumor, myth or legend about Akron or Summit County Ohio is true - visit the Summit County Myths Wiki.

Main Library will be closed on Sundays beginning May 24 through Labor Day.  Online access and the library catalog are available 24/7 for your convenience.

Main Library will be open again on summer Sundays beginning in 2016, once the collection of the recently approved levy begins in January 2016.


Save the Date: OHC to Present Newspaper Programs on Monday, July 13

ADD 1 May 1899

Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program at the Ohio History Connection (OHC) and Reference Archivist in the OHC Archives/Library, will present two programs at Main Library on Monday, July 13.

From 3:00-4:00 pm, she will present “Why, Who, What, When, Where & How: Digitizing Your Local Newspaper. This program is geared toward staff and volunteers at libraries and other cultural institutions interested in digitizing their local newspapers.

From 6:30-7:30 pm, Jenni will present “Unearthing Your Roots with Ohio’s Newspapers on Chronicling America.” This program is geared toward researchers interested in learning how to use the Library of Congress website Chronicling America to find clues to your family history. Chronicling America contains digitized newspapers from around the country, including more than 318,000 pages from 129 historic Ohio newspapers published from 1836 to 1922, representing 58 counties.

Both programs will take place in Meeting Room 2AB on the High Street Level of Main Library. To register, call Special Collections at 330-643-9030 or email us at speccollections@akronlibrary.org. These programs are made possible through funding from the National Digital Newspaper Program, a collaborative grant program of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.


German Genealogy Program May 2

There’s still tiNancy Ottmanme to register for German Genealogy with Nancy Ottman on Saturday, May 2, 10:30 am – 12:45 pm at Main Library.

A longtime member of the Ohio Chapter of Palatines to America (PalAm), Nancy will present two lectures:

Beginning German Genealogy
How to collect information on your family including what to ask, where to look for confirmation, and how to record the information. Naming practices and the difference between primary and secondary sources will also be reviewed. The focus will be on German genealogy, but the basic concepts apply to all ethnic families.

The 19th Century German Traveler
Follow along with a traveler’s journey including how he decides to leave Germany, what he takes with him, and what happens on his voyage to America.

The program is free and open to the public, and free parking is available in the High-Market Parking Garage. To register, call Special Collections at 330-643-9030 or email us at speccollections@akronlibrary.org.



Spring Issue of Past Pursuits Now Available

Past Pursuits spring 2015The spring issue of our quarterly newsletter Past Pursuits is now available on our Newsletters page. Highlights include an update to our Akron Beacon Journal Photograph Collection on Summit Memory, the 175th anniversary of Summit County, and online resources for New York genealogy.

If you would like to subscribe to Past Pursuits by email, please contact us at 330-643-9030 or speccollections@akronlibrary.org.


The Ohio History Connection’s Ohio Memory Madness Kicks Off Tuesday, March 17

Ohio Memory Madness logoIn the spirit and fun of college basketball’s March Madness, the Ohio History Connection and the Special Collections Division of the Akron-Summit County Public Library invite you to participate in Ohio Memory Madness – a bracket of sixty-four historical events from across the state all competing for the unique distinction of being named the 2015 Ohio Memory Madness Champion. Since the historical events featured in the bracket are unable to play tournament style basketball, the winner of Ohio Memory Madness will be determined by public online voting at  http://www.ohiohistoryhost.org/madness/.

The Ohio Memory Madness bracket features images of a variety of historical events pulled from Ohio Memory, the collaborative digital library project of the Ohio History Connection and the State Library of Ohio, with digital collections from 360 cultural heritage institutions representing all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Special Collections is proud to have the All-American Soapbox Derby represent Summit County in this statewide competition. This 1962 photograph shows Topside, the area at the top of the hill where the racers are lined up and inspected prior to each race. The All-American Soapbox Derby has been a treasured Akron institution since 1935.

Event images will go head to head beginning March 17, and the voting is scheduled as follows:

First round: March 17–20
Round of 32: March 21-25
Sweet 16: March 26-28
Elite 8: March 29-31
Final 4: April 1-4
Championship: April 5-6

The public can vote throughout the tournament to be sure their favorite event image makes it to the championship – they can also enter to win a prize pack from the Ohio History Connection including tickets to the Ohio History Center in Columbus, a Retro Ohio T-shirt, and an assortment of Ohio munchies to enjoy while watching that other sport.

Don’t miss your chance to vote for the Ohio Memory Madness Champion! Your vote can make one of Ohio’s historical events go all the way this March.


Summit County’s 175th Anniversary

Summit County map 1874Summit County was created 175 years ago today on March 3, 1840. The new county was formed after local legislators spent over six years entreating the Ohio General Assembly, and after intense opposition from the neighboring counties of Medina, Portage, and Stark, which stood to lose several of their townships. During the next few days residents celebrated with several ceremonies, parades, ringing bells and firing cannons. The next task was to create a county seat, sending Akron and Cuyahoga Falls into furious competition. Akron eventually won out two years later, and the dedication of the first courthouse, dedicated in 1843, had a surprise visitor: Former President John Quincy Adams, en route to Cincinnati on the Ohio and Erie Canal.



Ohio Chautauqua 2015 Comes to Akron: June 23-28

 In June 2015, Hardesty Park and Main Library will be the sites of an exciting week of learning and entertainment as Akron hosts Ohio Chautauqua 2015.  During the week of June 23 – June 28, our community will have the opportunity to experience the “Journey Stories” of some of history’s most compelling historic figures. All area residents are invited to join us in Ohio Chautauqua’s iconic red and white striped tent to be erected under the trees of Hardesty Park.

A project of Ohio Humanities, Ohio Chautauqua 2015 will explore the transformative journeys taken by a variety of historic figures. Journey Stories will showcase Titanic survivor Edith Russell, Indian captive Olive Ann Oatman,  philosopher Henry David Thoreau, Forty-niner J. Goldsborough Bruff, and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each evening’s presentation by actor/scholars will be preceded by a musical performance by some of our community’s finest musical artists including Valerie and David Mayfield, Rachel Roberts, Alex Bevan, Boy=Girl featuring Jennifer Maurer and Paul Kovak, and The LeGrair Brothers.  During the day, audiences are invited to Main Library explore more aspects of each theme by attending hands-on workshops for children and special adult programs presented by the scholars.  For more information and a complete schedule of events, click HERE.

chautauqua logo



Jim Beidler head shotOn Saturday, August 22, Special Collections, in collaboration with the Summit County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, will present genealogist James Beidler and Discovering Your German Ancestors. This all-day program will include sessions on German migration, church records, online research, tips for understanding the German language, and how to to discover your ancestor’s home village. We hope you will join us for this FREE program.  For session descriptions, click HERE.  If you’re interested in registering, please call the Special Collections Division:  330-643-9030 or email us: speccollections@akronlibrary.org




Ohio Genealogical Society Annual Conference

CaptureThis year’s OGS conference will take place April 9-11 at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel.  If you haven’t attended an OGS conference, it’s a terrific event with dozens of sessions on topics of every imaginable aspect of genealogical research.  Special Collections has conference booklets, but you can also view the complete schedule here.


1965 Selma Sympathy March in Akron

SelmaOn March 15, 1965, Akron residents, students, and clergy marched 19 blocks – from Mt. Olive Baptist Church on Bartges Street to City Hall.  Organized by the Committee for Justice and Equality, and in sympathy with civil rights marchers in Alabama, the march was peaceful, ending with prayer and the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”  This photograph was taken by local African American photographer, Opie Evans.  Additional photographs of the march, along with 124 more photographs of Akron’s African American community taken by Mr. Evans may be seen on Summit Memory.  These photographs were contributed by Archival Services, University of Akron.