Cuyahoga County’s Old Documents Get New (Old) Building

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Cuyahoga County officials Thursday cut the ribbon to open the new site of the county archives. Records long held in an ornate 19th century mansion on the west side have been moved to a six story warehouse in Cleveland’s midtown neighborhood.  

The massive brick building at East 40th and Perkins was once a Halle’s warehouse. Now the Board of Elections storage, public records from Children and Family Services, and the archives are housed in the building that the county leases. 

A new scanner to digitize film and microfilm.  (Urycki/ideastream)

In the archives you can find maps and surveyor records that are 150 years old and naturalization papers where people can track family members who arrived during the big immigration wave in the early 20th century. 

“So if he sought citizenship here in Cleveland,” says County Archivist Dr. Judith Cetina, “we may have declaration of intention. We may also have the petition for naturalization which can give place of arrival, exact birthplace, names of others in the family.” 

Cetina says they even have signed legislation by the very first county commissioners.

“And the very first measure passed by county commissioners was to set a bounty for wolf scalps. This was 1810, June 6th.”

Before cutting a ribbon County Executive Armond Budish said knowing the area’s history helps residents better build the future. 

He credited former council member C. Ellen Connelly for pushing to find a new space for the archives. 

Cuyahoga County officials cut the ribbon to open the County Archives office.  (Urycki/ideastream)

The files also include photos of President Franklin Roosevelt in his car at the 1936 Great Lakes Exhibition in Cleveland.

“I think the county engineer was running for office in 1936,” says Cetina. “So he sent a photographer to the Great Lakes Exhibition and he had some folks campaigning.  And so thus we become the beneficiary of those photographs.”

Large books of records going back to the early 1800's (Urycki/ideastream)

Cetina said the space isn’t much larger than what they had at their former space in Rhodes mansion in Ohio City but she says having it all on one floor makes it easier to navigate. She adds that they now have space to use for guest speakers, historians, and scholars.

Records kept by the Department of Public Works:

  • Abstract of Votes, 1893-1974, Board of Elections
  • Atlases: Cuyahoga County, 1852, 1874, 1892, and 1903; also City of Cleveland, 1881 and 1898
  • Birth records, 1849-1908
  • Board of County Commissioners Journals, 1810-1985
  • Board of Elections Register of Naturalized Voters, 1836-1972
  • Civil War Bounty Record, 1861
  • Cleveland City Directories, 1837-1939 (not inclusive)
  • Coroner's case files, 1833-1900 (not inclusive)
  • County Building Commission Journals, including Cuyahoga County Court House, Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, and certain other county buildings and bridges
  • County Surveyor's Records,1823-1893
  • Death records, 1840-1908
  • Divorce case files, 1876-1882, Court of Common Pleas; also Ohio Supreme Court records, 1811-1858; and Court of Common Pleas Special Docket files,1876-1922
  • List of Electors, 1893-1982, Board of Elections
  • Marriage records, 1810-1941, originals; and index, 1810 to the present, available on microfilm
  • Naturalization records, 1818-1971, Court of Common Pleas; also Probate Court naturalization records, 1859-1901
  • Necrology File, 1850-1950, 1951-1975
  • Probate Court estate case files, 1813-1913; indexes, 1813-1941
  • Registration and Charters of Religious and Other Societies, 1845-1924
  • Road Records, 1802-1898
  • Tax Duplicates, 1819-1986 (not inclusive)
  • Township and ward maps, 1860,

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