• 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 is currently updated through May 31, 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.

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

 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.