THE OHIO ACADEMY OF HISTORY:
HISTORY OF A DECADE, 1932-1942
BY HAROLD E. DAVIS
Attending the annual meetings of the Ohio College Associa-
tion in the late twenties the author noted that his fellow historians
were rarely present, even in the meetings of the Social Science
Section. After attending the Ohio History Conference arranged
by Dr. Harlow Lindley in the spring of 1931 he was convinced
of the desirability of some organization, however informal, which
would bring together the historians of the State. Such an organi-
zation, it seemed, might well fill a definite need for those who were
unable to attend national meetings for one reason or another, and
might also lead the historians as a group to assume their proper
responsibility for historical activity within the State. A number
of persons with whom he discussed the idea were encouraging,
especially Professor David R. Moore of Oberlin who agreed to
father the proposal, and joined in a circular letter asking for a
meeting at a luncheon in the Hotel Cleveland, at Cleveland, Ohio,
on April 8, 1932, at the time of the Ohio College Association
meeting in that city. It should be added that Professor Moore's
enthusiasm, more than any other single factor, led to the forma-
tion of the organization, and that on several occasions he risked
overtaxing his none too sturdy health to carry through its plans.
Twenty-five to thirty historians assembled on that day in
Cleveland. After listening to a paper by Professor R. F. Fletcher
of Oberlin, a "Program for a Proposed Association of Ohio Teach-
ers of History," by the author, and remarks by Dr. Lindley, Pro-
fessor Arthur C. Cole of Western Reserve University, Professor
Wilbur H. Siebert of Ohio State University, Miss Jessie L. Cook
of Lake Erie College, and others, this group adopted a motion to
constitute themselves into a society. A committee was charged with
the double responsibility of planning the organization's program of
168 OHIO ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
spring meetings, and of carrying out Professor Cole's suggestion
for an informal and social week-end meeting in the fall. The name,
Ohio Academy of History, was chosen from three suggestions
made in the original meeting, by a poll of the members during the
While the author's "Program," presented at this first meet-
ing, was in no sense formally adopted, nor intended to be, it was
in a way sanctioned by the decision to form the Academy. This
makes it a matter of some interest, after ten years, to recall some
of the points included:
1. The aim of the association should be social in the broadest and best
sense, in the sense of an opportunity to meet and discuss questions of com-
2. . . . The first attention of the society ought to be given to plan-
ning for next year a program that will be wide in interest, and of as
high an intellectual level as possible. It might be wise to limit research
papers to those which will definitely command a general interest and lead
to some discussion. Papers and talks dealing with historical interpreta-
tions, historical trends, and what we might call historical "news" ought
to prove of general benefit and interest.
Some place should be found in the program for constructive discus-
sions of the problems of teaching college courses in history, problems of
the curriculum, of the content of courses, of the approach to subjects,
and of the bibliography of courses. Could we, perhaps, formulate a list
of history books which a student graduating from college should have
3. Should we have a session on Ohio history--a joint meeting with
the Ohio History Conference?
4. The formulation of further aims, and perhaps of a larger pro-
gram, ought to be postponed until the organization acquires some per-
5. . . .
6. Some attention should be given . . . to the question of admitting
high school teachers into the organization.
Except for the years 1932 and 1935 the spring meetings have
been held in Columbus at the time of the Ohio College Associa-
tion meetings. In 1935 the Academy held its meeting in Cincin-
nati, at the time of the meeting of the Mississippi Valley His-
torical Association meeting there.
Professor Cole, with Dean Elbert J. Benton and Miss Bertha
OHIO HISTORY CONFERENCE, 1942 169
E. Josephson, all at that time of Western Reserve University,
planned and carried out the September week-end meetings at
Mitiwanga from 1932 to 1936, using the title Ohio and Midwest
Historical Conference part of the time. Sometimes it was hard to
decide whether these were gatherings of the followers of Clio or
of some more bucolic muse. Yet no one who took part in the
swimming, tennis, golf, and folk-dancing, or in the afternoons and
evenings of conversation, in all of which these meetings abounded,
as did the equally delightful ones at Gambier in 1937 and 1940,
and at Kent in 1938, will ever forget them. Nor should their
importance be overlooked from the standpoint of the broadly
social basis upon which the program of the Ohio Academy was
originally conceived. They, too, have undoubtedly contributed
indirectly to giving Ohio historians an increasing sense of respon-
sibility for all lines of historical activity within the State.
It was in the middle nineteen-twenties that Elbert J. Benton
caustically inquired in the American Historical Review whether
the lack of Ohio historical activity was not an indication of a "low
state of culture" in this "oldest community of the Old North-
west."* It is doubtful whether such a remark would be justified
today, and without mistaken exaggeration of the importance of
our relatively simple organization, one may venture the assertion
that the Ohio Academy of History, through the simple expedient
of bringing together many of the leaders of historical activity in
the State, has contributed to bringing about this change.
It was Professor H. C. Hubbart of Ohio Wesleyan Univer-
sity, who, as president during the years 1936-37, finally brought
the Academy to adopt the project broached in the original meet-
ing, of joining forces with the Ohio State Archaeological and
Historical Society in an annual conference. The author, as presi-
dent during the next year, had the pleasure of seeing this enlarged
program carried out for the first time. This arrangement with
the State Society has given the Academy a much larger program,
and has also made possible the publication of many of the papers
presented at these meetings during the past four years.
* American Historical Review (New York), XXXII (1926), 145-6.
170 OHIO ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
At the spring meeting in 1941 the constitutional basis of the
organization was strengthened by adopting two provisions: one
for the election of a vice-president who would then become the
nominee for president the succeeding year, and one for an execu-
tive committee. The organization is now in an excellent position
to go ahead with some of the other suggestions made in the past
for making it the instrument by which the historical scholars of
the State may assume their rightful responsibility for historical
activity within the State along all lines: research, archives, his-
torical instruction in the schools, State historical activities and
publications, and the elevation of the general level of historical
consciousness throughout the State.
A list of the officers who have served the Academy is ap-
pended. The author's records show vice-presidents elected in 1934
and 1935, but the present secretary has no records to confirm this
fact. Perhaps some member of the Academy, or the parties con-
cerned can confirm or deny it, so that the principle of two wit-
nesses agreeing may be properly observed. A list of participants
in programs is also appended. Here it should be noted that the
list does not include papers presented in the meetings of the
Committee on Archives and Medical History of the Archaeological
and Historical Society, nor those of the Columbus Genealogical
Society, both of which have met jointly with the Academy during
late years. It does, however, include participants in the joint pro-
grams of the Academy and the Ohio State Archaeological and
ROSTER OF OFFICERS
Temporary Chairman, organization meeting, 1932--Elbert J. Benton
President Vice-President Secretary
1932-33 David R. Moore ......... Harold E. Davis
1933-34 Wilmer C. Harris George A. Hedger Harold E. Davis
1934-35 George A. Hedger H. Clyde Hubbart Harold E. Davis
1935-36 Howard Robinson .......... William D. Overman
1936-37 H. Clyde Hubbart .......... William D. Overman
1937-38 Harold E. Davis .......... William D. Overman
1938-39 A. Sellew Roberts .......... John Marsh
1939-40 Albert T. Volwiler .......... William D. Overman
1940-41 William T. Utter .......... William D. Overman
OHIO HISTORY CONFERENCE, 1942 171
President Vice-President Secretary
1941-42 Clarence P. Gould Benjamin F. Pershing William D. Overman
1942-43 Benjamin F. William E. Smith William D. Overman
PARTICIPANTS IN PROGRAMS
Bloomhardt, Paul F., "The Great Man in History," 1941.
Binkley, Robert C., "Should the College History Curriculum Be Altered
to Conform to the Present World Situation?" 1935.
Cameron, Meribeth E., "The Russian Angle," 1938.
Cole, Arthur C., Report of Mitiwanga meeting, 1934.
---------------, "Some Aspects of the Early Attack upon American Puritan-
Cook, Blake, "Judge John Tyler--Pioneer Jurist," 1939.
Dater, Henry M., "Albert Gallatin and the Ohio Valley--the Evils of
Davis, Harold E., "Program for a Proposed Association of Ohio Teachers
of History," 1932.
----------, "Mexico, the Key to Hemisphere Solidarity," 1941.
Davis, Stanton L., Chairman, 1940.
DeWeerd, Harvey A., "Some Observations on American Industrial Mobili-
zation for War, 1917-1918," 1940.
Dorn, Walter L., "Romanticism and Hitler" (announced); substituted:
"Strategy and Politics in General v. Ludendorff's Conduct of the War,"
-------------, "Future of Historical Study," 1938.
Fletcher, Robert F., "Early Oberlin History," 1932.
---------------, "The Course in American Cultural History," 1934.
Garrison, Curtis W., "A President's Library," 1939.
Gray, Raymond J., "Origins of the Medieval Coronation Ceremony," 1940.
Hail, William J., "What China Fights For," 1938.
Harris, Wilmer C., "What Should Constitute a History Major?" 1933.
Hatcher, Harlan H., "Historical Opportunities Offered through the Writers
Hedger, George A., Discussion leader, 1933.
Hill, Lawrence F., "Some Implications of the Present War for the West-
ern Hemisphere," 1940.
-------------, Chairman, 1941.
Hoover, Thomas N., "Beginning of Higher Education in the Northwest
Howe, George F., Chairman, 1941.
Hubbart, H. Clyde, "Should There Be a Basic History Course?" 1933.
Jordan, Philip D., "An Ohio Surgeon in Paris, 1830-1832," 1940.
172 OHIO ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Josephson, Bertha E., "Critical Investigation versus Careless Presentation,"
La Monte, John, "Cultural History," 1934.
Leebrick, K. C., "The Study of History--a Hindrance or a Help in the
Perfecting of International Organization," 1940.
Lindley, Harlow, Discussion, 1932.
----------, "Plans for the History of Ohio," 1938.
McMurtrie, Douglas, "The Record of the American Press," 1938.
McNeal, Edgar, "Teaching Cultural History of the Middle Ages," 1934.
McNiff, William J., "The Kirtland Phase of Mormonism," 1941.
Miller, James M., "The Spiritual Force in Early Western Culture," 1940.
Moore, David R., "United States-Brazilian Relations and Hemisphere
Patterson, Grove, Address, 1939.
Price, Robert, "Johnny Appleseed--the Myth and the Man," 1938.
Roberts, A. Sellew, "Should There Be a Basic History Course?" 1933.
Shetrone, Henry C., "The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical So-
ciety--a Quarter Century of Progress," 1938.
Vinacke, Harold M., "Internal Changes and Foreign Policies in Japan,"
Volwiler, Albert T., "Harrison, Blaine, and American Foreign Policy, 1889-
Washburne, George A., Chairman, 1940.
Wenner, Thomas B., "Danger Spots in the Caribbean Area," 1941.
Wilson, Charles R., "Should the College History Curriculum Be Altered to
Conform to the Present World Situation?" 1935.
Wittke, Carl, "German Universities," 1933.
Work, Ernest, "Life in Ethiopia," 1936.