• 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
  • Ohio Obituary Index

    Search for obituary citations from select Ohio newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, using the Ohio Obituary Index.

Ohio Chautauqua 2015 Comes to Akron: June 23-28

 Printable flyer

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. All events are free, and registration is not required. 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.


All Library locations will be closed Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Hayes Obituary Index Update

Special Collections staff and volunteers have contributed over 418,000 Akron Beacon Journal obituary entries to the Hayes Ohio Obituary Index since joining the project in early 2013.  Akron-Summit County Public Library is one of 63 partner libraries adding to the index created by the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.  The index includes over 3,000,000 entries from participating libraries.

obitlogo_nohayesWhile current Akron Beacon Journal
obituaries have been entered daily since early 2013, staff and volunteers also continue to  index death notices of past decades.  The completed Akron Beacon Journal years are: 1841-1889, 1891-1893, 1898-1902, 1940-1961, and 1980-1983.

Volunteers are needed to help index the incomplete years. Training is provided, and volunteers can work from home. If you would like to help with this project, contact Cheri Goldner in Special Collections at 330-643-9030 or cgoldner@akronlibrary.org.



Polly Paffilas Recipes for the Holidays

ballsMisplaced the recipe for sauerkraut balls that was in the Akron Beacon Journal in 1973?  Find it now through our online Polly Paffilas recipe index.

In 2002, Akron Beacon Journal reporter, food writer and women’s page editor Polly Paffilas donated 18 boxes of recipes on index cards. Some of the 5000 recipes are  from her own collection, and others contributed by readers during the period from 1959 – 1980.  Our Science and Technology Division created a searchable database for each of the nearly 5,000 recipes in the collection which may be searched by keyword or ingredient.  Once you find the recipe you are seeking, contact Special Collections.  We will happily make a copy and mail or email it to you.



Winter Issue of Past Pursuits Now Available

PP winter 2014 title pageThe Winter issue of our quarterly newsletter Past Pursuits is now available on our Newsletters page. Included in this issue are articles about our new Akron Beacon Journal Photograph Archives collection on Summit Memory, online genealogy resources for Kentucky, and preservation tips for digitizing family photographs. Our regular “Getting to Know…” series spotlighting notable Akron and Summit County residents features Fran Murphey, longtime Akron Beacon Journal reporter and columnist.

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



Historic Akron Beacon Journal Photos Now on Summit Memory

abjJust added to Summit Memory: 470 photographs of Akron and Summit County, Ohio, from the archives of the Akron Beacon Journal. Contributed through a partnership between the Akron Beacon Journal and the Akron-Summit County Public Library, the collection will include 5,000 unique historic photographs once completed in late 2015.  This 1946 photo of the Akron Bears Football team is just a sample of what is included in the paper’s historical photo archive.  We will be adding photos regularly, so check back often.


Ohio History Day 2015

Ohio History Day logoEach spring students throughout the country participate in National History Day, a round of scholarly competitions featuring papers, presentations, websites and other types of projects focused on a particular theme. Local contest winners are advanced to the state level, and state level winners compete in the national contest held in Washington, DC.

Summit County is part of Ohio’s District 3 contest, to be held at Case Western Reserve University on March 28, 2015.  To help Summit County students with their History Day projects, we’ve created an Ohio History Day page listing suggested project topics and resources we carry related to those topics. If you’re a teacher or student participating in History Day, be sure to take a look at what we have to offer.