By Thomas Palmer

This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah. While the purpose of my visit was to attend a reunion event, I spent three days in the west experiencing much of what the city has to offer – a place where I finished my undergraduate education and which I grew to love earlier in my life.

At first glance, Richland County and Salt Lake County might seem like very different cities. Obviously, Salt Lake City is a larger community with a very diverse population; it is also the nucleus of a metropolitan area with over 1.25 million residents.

Still, Salt Lake City’s 200,000 inhabitants is only about four times that of Mansfield, and the city has always had a “vibe” which in more reminiscent of a smaller location. In fact, during the years I lived in Utah I often remarked on how much the former reminded me of the latter.

In one key area, the two counties are very much alike, as both are home to one of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States. They are places where shared heritage is valued and appreciated.

The Ohio Genealogical Society’s Samuel D. Isaly Library near Bellville boasts a comprehensive collection of materials that document the lives of Ohio’s ancestors. It is one of the largest such state libraries in the country. Some of the key resources include:

  1. Books: With over 40,000 books, the OGS Library’s collection ranges from general genealogical reference materials to specialized resources focusing on specific Ohio counties, ethnic groups, and time periods.
  2. Manuscripts: The library houses unique manuscript collections, such as family histories, personal letters, and diaries that offer a glimpse into the lives of those who came before us.
  3. Newspapers: An impressive collection of historical Ohio newspapers provides invaluable insights into the daily lives and significant events of yesteryear.
  4. Maps: The library’s map collection includes historical maps of Ohio counties, cities, and towns, as well as land ownership and military maps that can help you visualize your ancestors’ surroundings.
  5. Vital Records: Birth, marriage, and death records, cemetery transcriptions, and church records can all be found at the OGS Library. These crucial documents serve as the foundation of most genealogical research.
  6. Online Resources: The OGS Library offers access to subscription-based genealogical databases like and Fold3, as well as their own Ohio Genealogy News and Ohio Records & Pioneer Families publications.
  7. Special Collections: The library’s holdings include African American, Native American, and military records, as well as resources for researching Ohio’s early settlers.

Founded in 1894 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Family Search Library in Salt Lake City is the largest genealogical library in the world, offering a wealth of resources to help you discover your family’s history. With millions of records from all around the globe, the Family History Library is a treasure trove of information waiting to be explored.

View from my research station — one floor of the five story library contains dozens and dozens of these areas with state-of-the-art technology.

The library’s collection is staggering, with over 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, 727,000 microfiche, 356,000 books, and countless digital records. These resources span over 110 countries and include census records, church and civil registration records, probate records, and land records, among many others. The library also offers access to numerous subscription-based genealogical websites, allowing visitors to delve even further into their ancestry.

In addition to its incredible resources, the Family Search Library also boasts a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. With computer stations, microfilm readers, and ample seating throughout, the library is designed to accommodate researchers for extended periods of time. I enjoyed taking breaks from research in the Library’s well-stocked snack room.

Both libraries offer online access to many of their records. More information is available at these locations:

Ohio Genealogical Society Library

Family Search Library

Photos: Family Search Library – Thomas Palmer

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