Cincinnati History Library and Archives
1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45203
Visiting the Library
Hours: daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Cincinnati History Library and Archives (CHLA) is free and open to the public. Park in the Museum Center’s lot for a fee unless you’re a member, or park on the street without charge. CHLA is located on the Museum Center's mezzanine level. It is highly recommended that you call the library before visiting, since a significant portion of their collection is housed offsite and what you want may need to be retrieved before you can access it.
Hamilton County genealogical records in CHLA
Founded in 1831, CHLA has one of the most significant regional historical collections in the United States, with thousands of books, pamphlets, periodicals, ephemera, manuscripts, architectural drawings, photographs, maps, business records, broadcast tapes and special collections. Use the onsite catalog to find specific items if not found in the incomplete online version, and note the special resources below.
Guide to Cincinnati City Directories, by Bill Graver, is available only at CHLA. This guide describes all directories available, unusual information to be found in the directories, and house numbering changes.
This full-text electronic database is searchable and linked to images of the pages of five CHLA history journals:
- Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, 1906-1923
- Bulletin of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, 1943-1963
- Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, 1964-1982
- Queen City Heritage, 1983-1999
- Ohio Valley History, 2001-2006
This index of names, places, and topics in Cincinnati reference books and other resources at CHLA contains 69,883 entries from 21 sources.
CHLA's manuscript department contains approximately 11,300 collections of the papers of individuals and families and the records of churches, societies, institutions, charities, schools and businesses. The department is particularly strong in the areas of early Cincinnati history, the Civil War and Cincinnati clubs.
The number of online manuscript registers continues to grow. Many registers, online as well as many more onsite at CHLA, include indexes.
Indexes to manuscripts held by CHLA, available only at CHLA:
- Index to the Criminal Records in the Commissioners’ Reports of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County, Ohio 1857-1865/1868-1871
- Marriage Licenses 1822-32, Hamilton County, Ohio
- Index of Tax Assessors for Hamilton County 1890
- Indexes to Annual Reports of Managers of Widows’ Homes and Old Men’s Home
- Marriage Records of Madisonville Methodist Episcopal Church, 10 October 1861 to 11 November 1937
- Index: Annual Reports of the City Work-house, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1868-1890.
- Index to the Annual Reports of the Old Men’s Home of Cincinnati, 1881-1930
HCGS volunteers compiled this index:
Military Order of Loyal Legion of the United States, Ohio Commandery Records 1881-1949, Mss M644. The 71-page name index gives the entry number. Entries, also in the index, show name, rank, regiment, date (283 pages).
CHLA's collection contains the following local maps, among many others.
- Atlases indexed by community: 1869, 1884, 1914, 1922
- Insurance maps: 1855, 1891, 1904-1956
- Plat maps: 1907-1916, 1913-1922
- Topographical maps by community: 1949-1975
- Miscellaneous maps including 2,500 area maps
- Ward maps: 1820-1920
- Enumeration district maps: 1920
Map guides by Bill Graver, available only at CHLA:
- Guide to Large Scale Atlases, an index to nine atlases published between 1855 and 1922.
- Guide to Sheet Maps and Place Names indexes 144 local maps published between 1789 and 1972.
- Guide to USGS Topographical Maps explains maps rich in detail, published between 1900 and 1996.
- Virginia Military District Maps, Early 19th Century, Mss 994, a guide to 29 hand-drawn maps, each showing the name of the claimant, official survey number and number of acres.
Microfilms are not indexed in CHLA's online catalog. The collection contains the federal population census of Ohio (1820-1840) and southwestern Ohio (1850-1930) and microfilm of The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Cincinnati Times-Star.
The collection includes several Cincinnati newspapers including German and religious newspapers, most notably the only known complete set of Christliche Apologete, 1838-1941, as well as some very early newspapers and community newspapers.
Photographs and illustrations
CHLA houses close to one million archival photographs and prints, as well as films, videos, and sound recordings. Over 3,000 photos are available online, including images from the Ball and Thomas, Rombach and Groene, Lodder-Watson and Kenyon-Barr collections.
Hamilton County Recorder’s Office documents on microfilm at CHLA include 1,200 deed books, from 1794 to 1920, with a by-name index. Other indexes cover powers of attorney, leases, mortgages, releases (of mortgages), cemetery lot deeds, mechanic’s liens, partnerships, organizations, veterans’ discharges, registered land, maps, deeds (by-area deed indexes including all land-related documents), and miscellaneous records.
Vital Statistics Index
This onsite index is drawn from sources in CHLA's collections and contains births, deaths and marriages of Cincinnati, Ohio and the Northwest Territory.
page modified: 09/29/2019 JMM