The Ohio Digital Network

The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library has recently joined the Ohio Digital Network which acts as a service hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).  Led by the State Library of Ohio and in partnership with Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK), Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN), and Ohio History Connection, the Ohio Digital Network builds on strong digital collection efforts across the state including the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, Ohio Memory, and the Ohio Digitization Hubs project. MRCPL is one of the 24 Ohio libraries and cultural institutions members with collections in the Ohio Digital Network. The 233,841 items in collections shared by the Ohio Digital Network represent stories that are both unique to Ohioans and part of our shared national story.   As a part of DPLA, students and teachers, researchers, and history buffs can now explore all of these rich collections from across the state in one place alongside over 40 million resources from the growing DPLA network of partners.

The collections shared by members of the Ohio Digital Network represent stories that are both unique to Ohioans and part of our shared national story. Materials such as wartime propaganda posters and oral histories about the May 4, 1970 Kent State shooting shed light on turning point moments in twentieth-century history. Collections on Latino-American experiences in rural Knox County and on Ohio’s LGBT communities represent the lives, work, and relationships of local Ohioans, and ensure that the stories, voices, and experiences of these communities are captured as part of our national heritage. Ohio Digital Network also brings unique materials for gaming (old school, that is) and ornithology enthusiasts too—the history of chess and checkers collection and John James Audubon’s beautiful bird illustrations are not to be missed.

Check out the MRCPL Collection here.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s World War II poster collection joins a rich body of wartime posters in DPLA. One of the strengths of this collection is the collection of international posters, like this poster designed to recruit women for factory work. The poster was published in London during World War II.

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed college students at Kent State University protesting the Vietnam War, killing four and injuring nine. The Kent State Shootings Oral History collection features over 125 interviews with former students, professors, law enforcement officers, local residents, and others about the experience of and impact of the shootings. Randy Gardner, a student at Kent State and eyewitness to the shootings, recalls his sense of shock as the shooting began:

“They got to the top of that rise, and they just kind of in unison turned around and just started shooting. And it was just—it was like you never gave thought to what’s in their guns. Did they really have bullets? We didn’t know. I don’t think we gave it that much thought. I don’t know why we didn’t. But it was like disbelief that they were shooting—the shock, everything, you know. But when somebody’s pointing a rifle at you and shooting, it’s no time to ask questions.”

Shared in partnership with Ohio History Connection, the Gay Ohio History Initiative collection documents organizing and activism within Ohio’s gay and lesbian communities during the 1980s and 1990s. In this photograph, members of the Stonewall Union Columbus chapter participate in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987.

Kenyon College’s Latinos in Rural America (LiRA) collection captures the stories of Latino-American residents of Knox County, Ohio. Through oral history interviews, photographs, and a bilingual exhibit, the project documents the lives, aspirations, and cultural identities of Latino Americans from different stages of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. José Ávalos, pictured here in his restaurant in Mount Vernon, Ohio, emigrated from Mexico and discusses his efforts to ensure that his children feel connected to their Mexican heritage.

For the game-lovers and strategists among us, check out Cleveland Public Library’s collection on the history of chess and checkers, which includes books dating to the sixteenth century, portraits of champion players, manuscripts, and more. In this photograph, Cuban chess prodigy José Raúl Capablanca plays forty games of chess simultaneously as part of an exhibition at the Manhattan Chess Club in 1922. His opponent at this board was 14-year-old David Warburgh of the Stuyvesant High School Chess Club.

Finally, ornithologists and nature art and illustration fans will want to explore the John James Audubon Birds of America collection from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The collection includes 435 plates from Audubon’s landmark publication, The Birds of America, which was published between 1827 and 1838, and documents the bird species of North America, including the Carolina Turtle Dove.


Newly Digitized Richland County Newspapers

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library has partnered with the Mansfield Memorial Museum, The Ohio Genealogical Society and the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society to digitize newspapers from Richland County, Ohio.  The project was made possible as a result of a $7,885 grant from the Gorman Foundation.  Those looking to research the newspapers can access the content from anywhere; there is no membership or login required.  This service is completely free to those interested.

Simply go to the address,, and enter in your search criteria.  This could be anything from a person, place or event.  The collection includes over 40,000 pages covering the years 1823-1923 and includes Mansfield newspapers in addition to newspapers from Bellville and Butler.  Any articles of interest can be “clipped” and saved to your computer or printed out.  Simply select the crop icon at the top of the page. Drag it around the desired article and select the arrow at the bottom right corner.  Follow the onscreen prompts to download or print the article.

As always it you have any issues or need assistance stop by the Sherman Room or give us a call at 419-521-3115.

Also, check out the Sherman Room page on the library website to find other useful digital resources.

We hope this will be a helpful resource for the community and look forward to working with other organizations in the future to make more content available.

Young Purdy and the Purdy Building

The Purdy name has been associated with Mansfield since its earliest days.  James Purdy and James Stewart arrived at the new village of Mansfield in 1823 and Stewart stayed immediately, while Purdy continued south through Cincinnati and Louisville.  It is said that while in Louisville, Purdy saw a slave being mistreated and decided the south would not be to his liking.  He returned to Mansfield, arriving May 29, 1823.  Purdy later constructed a home on South Main St., which was later to be the site of the Purdy Building.  This was erected by his grandson, James Purdy, the younger or “Jamie” which is written on the back of one of the cabinet card photographs located in the Sherman Room Archives.  In 1895, the young Purdy constructed the modern business and professional building where dances, banquets and parties could be held.  According to Virgil Stanfield in a News Journal article from February 7, 1982, Purdy hired the architectural firm Yost and Packard to draw up plans and Lomax and Dow were given the major construction job.  The cost of the building was $24,000.  Over the years the newspaper is filled with mention of young Purdy’s health, included fighting pneumonia in 1905.

011 Jamie Purdy 1888 copy

James “Jamie” Purdy, 1888

James Purdy 1896

From 1896 Richland County, Ohio Atlas

In 1907, Purdy sued his uncles for re-transfer of the Purdy Building property.  Purdy deeded the property to Henry M. Weaver and Joseph S. Hedges “in trust for the purpose of providing … payment for certain indebtedness in connection with the construction of the building.”  Weaver and Hedges later sold a portion of the lot to their nephew, Frank P. Lahm.  Purdy claimed his uncles ignored the trust and claimed ownership of the property.  On February 13, 1909, Judge Mansfield ruled in favor of Weaver and Hedges, saying Purdy was unable to establish any claim to the Purdy Building.  Over the next few years, there are mentions of Purdy selling land and, on April 15, 1912, he left for Portland, Oregon “for the benefit of his health.”  A 1913 Seattle, WA city directory shows a James Purdy living and working as a clerk at the Oxford Hotel.   A 1926 directory show him living at the same address, 1920 1st Avenue.

Washington state death records show a James Purdy dying in Seattle on August 14, 1933.  A brief article from September 30, 1933 in the Mansfield News Journal mentions James Purdy’s funeral here.  It simply states he died in Seattle, Washington and was born January 25, 1872.  The Purdy Building, at 22-28 South Main St. was razed in January of 1965; the site is a parking lot today.

Below are images of the newly constructed Purdy Building from the 1896 atlas of Richland County, Ohio (click on image for a larger view):


The Mansfield News. 24 Jul 1907, p. 3.
The Mansfield News. 13 Feb 1909, p. 7.
The Mansfield News. 16 Apr 1912, p. 4.
The Mansfield News Journal. 30 Sep 1933, p. 2.
The Mansfield News Journal. 24 Dec 1964, p. 10.
The Mansfield News Journal. 07 Feb 1982, p. 4H.

George Manner Schrack: From Entertainer to Minister

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George Manner Schrack, abt. 1913

George Manner Schrack was born February 18, 1890 to James Reed and Susan Amanda (Manner) Schrack.  His obituary states that his maternal great-great grandfather came to Richland County in 1818 and settled the land which would eventually become Malabar Farm.  He attended school at an early age in Fredericktown, Ohio and later studied dramatics at Kings School of Oratory in Pittsburgh, PA, graduating in 1914.  He traveled preforming in Chautauqua groups and coaching high school dramatics.  In June of 1916 George’s mother, Susan, died unexpectedly at his parent’s home near Ankneytown, Ohio.  A little over two years later, on November 1, 1918, his father would die after being gored by a “mad bull” on the family farm.  After this George enrolled at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a May 15, 1925 article from The Mansfield News states that he is home from the Moody Bible Institute visiting family.  Shortly after this in June and July of 1925 George is mentioned preaching in the Perrysville, Ohio area and in 1925 he became pastor at St John’s Lutheran Church in Perrysville.  This was to be a one-year assignment, but he remained there for over 35 years, retiring in 1961.  Also, in 1925, George was married to Clara Jones who was a former classmate of his at the moody Bible Institute.  Rev. George Manner Schrack died August 8, 1961 in Mansfield General Hospital.  His wife Clara L. (Jones) Schrack died March 2, 1982.

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