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Ohio Historical Society Puts History To Work For Ohio

AmeriCorps Volunteers To Lend A Hand Locally

August 24, 2010

With revitalized neighborhoods and thriving businesses to point to as success stories, preserving and promoting history does increase economic development on state and local levels. Because of this, the Ohio Historical Society is committed to support and lead the effort to put Ohio’s history to work through historic preservation and heritage tourism for the benefit of its citizens and communities at a time when local economies are struggling to recover from the deep recession.

“History has a vital role in the economic development of our state’s cities and towns,” said Burt Logan, OHS executive director and CEO. “Naturally being the entry point for all things related to Ohio history, the Ohio Historical Society is leading several statewide initiatives that will contribute to local development. These efforts will benefit from trained volunteers working directly in Ohio communities.”
 
About The Ohio History Service Corps Program
 
Thanks to a $260,000 grant from the Ohio Community Service Council, one of only three new AmeriCorps grants, the Ohio Historical Society has created the Ohio History Service Corps, a program that will engage AmeriCorps volunteers to educate Ohioans on why history is relevant and how it can be used as an effective economic development tool. Partnering with local history organizations, the Ohio Historical Society will be placing 20 AmeriCorps service members in communities across the state for the next year.
 
The AmeriCorps volunteers will focus on the continued preservation and promotion of the state’s historic resources to stimulate tourism and economic growth. AmeriCorps members will serve in teams to promote, raise awareness and preserve Ohio’s strong history through educational experiences for community members.
 
The Ohio History Service Corps program will have three components: Civil War 150 Leadership Corps, Ohio History Tech Corps and Ohio Historic Preservation Corps. Each of these AmeriCorps volunteer groups will help local organizations put history to work in their community.
 
With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War being observed from 2011-2015, the Ohio Historical Society, in conjunction with the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums, will have the Civil War 150 Leadership Corps assist communities in preparing for the upcoming commemoration. Working with staff of the partner organization, corps members will assist in Civil War-related educational and public programming, special events, regional initiatives and basic collections care. Participating partners in the CW150 Leadership Corps include: Wood County Historical Center in Bowling Green; Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont; Oberlin Heritage Center in Oberlin; Youngstown State University in Youngstown; Dennison Depot Railroad Museum in Dennison; Ohio Historical Center in Columbus; Piqua Public Library in Piqua; National Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati; Quaker Heritage Center in Wilmington; Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Athens County Historical Society in Athens.
 
The goal of the Ohio History Tech Corps is to build capacity for history organizations to develop long-term digitization projects, the process of converting information into a digital format, such as historic photographs, newspapers, maps and even objects, to provide access to users who may never be able to visit a history organization. The program will use the infrastructure created by Ohio Memory, a collaborative digital library that includes 353 historical organizations, libraries and museums. Partner organizations include: Wood County Historical Center; Youngstown State University; Cincinnati Public Library; Ohio Historical Center; Southeast Regional Library System in Wellston; and the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library of Pike County in Waverly.
 
The Ohio Historic Preservation Corps will be used to pursue three historic preservation projects in four Ohio communities: Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Mansfield. Five AmeriCorps members will identify and record historic buildings in the Ohio Historic Inventory, develop and implement a model neighborhood preservation program and help with capacity building, promotion and economic restructuring in conjunction with historic downtowns revitalization programs and the Ohio Main Street program. Heritage Ohio, Preservation Ohio, city of Cleveland, city of Columbus and the city of Cincinnati will be participating partners in the program.
 
Eighteen organizations and government entities will be partnering with the Ohio Historical Society on the Ohio History Service Corps program for the next year. Each will contribute a $1,500 match in addition to providing inkind operational support for service members.
 
According to Logan, the Ohio History Service Corps program is built upon partnership and volunteerism. For Ohio’s public history community, AmeriCorps members will provide much-needed organizational and community capacity building, which will help long-term development efforts. The intention is to continue the program for an additional two years dependant on further AmeriCorps grant funding.
 
“Ohio History Service Corps will place a new generation of community organizers, public servants and public historians across the state to build community and infuse our work with a wonderful influx of new ideas,” Logan said. “In the future, we’ll be able to point to success stories from this program that history really does work for Ohio.”
 
The Ohio Historical Society is looking for members to fill the 20 full-time positions. The term of service runs from Oct. 1, 2010 to Aug. 31, 2011. A service member will receive a stipend of $11,800, health insurance and an educational award of $5,350 that can be used for college or to pay off existing school loans. Contact 614.297.2392 or visit https://my.americorps.gov for more information and to complete the required online application. The application deadline is Sept. 20, 2010.
 
About Ohio Community Service Council, Ohio Historical Society
 
The Ohio Community Service Council’s mission is to strengthen Ohio communities through service and volunteerism. Established by state statue in 1994, the Council administers programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Ohioans engaged in national service and volunteer activities.
 
Established in 1885, the Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and architecture. For more information about programs and events, call 614.297.2300/800.686.6124 or go online at www.ohiohistory.org.