Monday, November 28, 2011

Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio

Henry Howe (1816 -1893) was an author, publisher, historian, and bookseller, the son of Connecticut publisher Hezekiah Howe. The elder Howe’s bookshop was a popular gathering place for scholars and authors of New England.

It was at his father’s bookstore that Henry saw a copy of John W. Barber’s book, Historical Collections of Connecticut. In 1840, Henry Howe made arrangements to assist John W. Barber in preparing a similar book for the state of New York. Henry Howe worked on histories of New Jersey and Virginia. Many consider Henry Howe’s most notable project to be his Historical Collections of Ohio. Henry traveled throughout the state interviewing residents to collect historical facts. First, Henry traveled on foot, but soon he purchased a horse named “Pomp” in order to travel throughout the many counties in Ohio. He often drew sketches in public areas, which helped create interest in his work. As he collected facts and drew sketches, he also solicited subscriptions for the future book. Howe’s first edition of Historical Collections of Ohio was completed in 1847. The Ohio Historical Society states that “Eighteen thousand copies of the first edition were sold and Howe's book became the standard history of Ohio.” The title was revised and republished in several editions.

In the summer of 1885, Henry Howe decided to update his original work. This time, he covered the state by rail, and Henry carried with him a camera instead of a sketchpad. The July 23, 1886 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Henry Howe was in Sandusky gathering information for his enlarged edition of the Historical Collections of Ohio. Though the first volume of the updated title appeared in 1889, Howe ran into financial troubles. The Ohio legislature purchased 1200 copies of the first volume of the history for $12,000, and eventually the State of Ohio purchased the plates and copyright to Henry Howe’s book. Henry Howe died, heavily in debt, on October 14, 1893. The State’s purchase of the copyright helped relieve his widow’s financial woes. The Sandusky Library was given a complimentary copy of Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes by Ohio Representative W. E. Guerin, who served in the 75th General Assembly of Ohio.

John Beatty wrote in volume 2 of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly:

“In brief, ‘Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio,’ next to the Bible and Noah Webster, should find a place under every Ohioan's roof-tree….”
Today, you can find a copy of the Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes at the Sandusky Library. A variety of editions of this title are also available online, through Google Books, Making of America, and historical websites. Brief biographical sketches of Henry Howe appear in Ohio Authors and Their Books and Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900, which are found in the Reference Services area of the Sandusky Library.


The Spokesrider said...

I like learning this kind of biographical information about the local and regional historians of the 19th century. Would you mind telling us the sources you used?

Sandusky Library Archives Research Center said...

Glad you asked -- We have links to some of the sources mentioned, but I forgot to include them in the original posting. I have added those links now.

information technology said...

thanx for sharing