What is the Sherman Room?

This is the question I most often hear in regards to the Sherman room.  To put it simply it is the local history and genealogy room of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.  The room houses local history resources, Ohio history resources, general genealogy sources, newspapers on microfilm going back to 1823, yearbooks and much more.

Since December 19, 1908 the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library has stood at its current site on West Third Street.  From the beginning The John Sherman Room has been an integral part of the library.  According to an article in the Mansfield Daily Shield from July 2, 1907, Mrs. Mary Sherman McCallum offered to assist with the furnishing of the library under the condition that a room be dedicated to her father, the Hon. John Sherman, and be known as the Sherman Memorial.  In the article it is noted that she presented the library with a handsome mantle that was in the study of Senator Sherman, also included where many pieces of furniture along with pictures and portraits[1].  This was a great honor for the library and something that many of the people of Mansfield where proud of, Senator Sherman was great figure not only to Mansfield, but also to the people of the nation[2].

Sherman Portrait

Portrait of John Sherman given to the library by Mary Sherman McCallum

John Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio on May 10, 1823 to Charles Robert Sherman and Mary Hoyt Sherman.  He was the eighth child out of eleven which also included Charles Taylor Sherman and William Tecumseh Sherman.  John’s father, Judge Charles Sherman died when he was six years old, and when he was eight he moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio.  At the age of seventeen John decided to follow the family tradition and became a lawyer.  It was at the age of seventeen when john moved to Mansfield to study law with his brother Charles.  He studied for four years and passed the bar at the age of twenty-one.  It was in Mansfield John meet his future wife Cecelia Steward, who was the daughter of a wealthy Mansfield Judge, and entered politics.  He spent many years as a senator, sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1880, 1884 and 1888, and was elected Secretary of State under President William McKinley in 1897, in which he resigned in 1898 due to failing health.  John Sherman died in his home in Mansfield on October 25, 1900.  He is mostly remembered for two Acts that bear his name the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Sherman Silver Standard Act.[3]

The connection between John Sherman and the library goes back a few years before 1907.  In 1904 Miss Martha Mercer, head librarian of the Memorial Library, was invited to the residence of the late John Sherman by P. Tecumseh Sherman and Mrs. Mary Sherman McCallum and was asked to select books which she desired for the library as the Sherman mansion was slated for demolition[4].  The selection included:

A set of books which is very highly prized … Schoolcraft’s History of the Indian Tribes, in six volumes.  This is rare and usually sells at $10 a volume with the probability that it will be much higher.   Another set is the Explorations and Surveys for the Pacific Railroad, in thirteen volumes.  There are books galore on finance and with the addition of these books Memorial library is certainly rich in reference books.  There is a full set of Geological Surveys as well as a great many books that are now very hard to secure.  Some of these are inscribed with Senators Sherman’s signature and others with the signature of Mrs. Sherman.  A thousand volumes or more, the cream of the collection, were selected by Miss Mercer.”[5]

During the early years of the Sherman room it was located on the third floor of the library.  Since then the collection has grown and the room has moved to various locations throughout the years.  According to Boyd Addlesperger the Sherman Room moved down to the second floor in the early to mid-eighties was in various locations during that time until after a major rebuild to the library in the late eighties, when the Sherman Room finally moved to its present location.[6]

Sherman Room 3rd

The Sherman Room in its original location on the third floor.

Still present in the Sherman Room is a selection of John Sherman’s personal library including geological surveys, Civil War reports and others.  Most have a book plate while others include John Sherman’s signature.  Also included in the collection is John Sherman’s typewriter, a tea set and various photos and paintings.

There is truly a treasure trove of artifacts and material within this room that I hope to be able to share with you on this blog and other digital projects we hope to be involved in in the future.

Beginning September 2017, the Sherman Room will be open Monday 9-8 and Tuesday thru Friday 9-5, but staff will be happy to assist in any research needs any time the library is open.


[1]The Mansfield Dailey Shield, 02 JUL 1907 p1.
[2] The Mansfield Daily Shield, 19 APR 1904 p3.
[3] https://www.shermanhouse.org/JohnSherman_bio.pdf
[4] The Mansfield Daily Shield, 19 APR 1904 p3.
[5] The Mansfield Dailey Shield, 19 APR 1904 p3.
[6] Boyd Addlesperger, 02 AUG 2017.


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