Library Receives Three-Year Grant from National Endowment for the Humanities

The Massillon Public Library is delighted to announce the receipt of a $22,000 three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the further digitization of the Thomas and Charity Rotch documents.  

Thousands of pages of handwritten documents will be scanned by staff at the Ohio Historical Society.  Transcriptions and historical context will be provided by subject specialist Dr. Barbara Wittman of the University of Akron Department of History.  The final product will be included with other digitized content at www.massillonmemory.org.

The collection contains personal and business correspondence, diaries, documents, accounts, ledgers, and daybooks of Thomas Rotch (1767-1823) and members of his family. Rotch was active in the whaling and shipping industry in Nantucket and New Bedford, MA, between 1790 and 1801; in farming, sheep-raising and woolen manufacture in Hartford, CT, between 1801 and 1811; and in the laying out and settling of the town of Kendal (now Massillon) OH, and the establishment of farming, sheep-raising, and manufacturing there between 1811 and 1823. There is also much Quaker and anti-slavery material.

We are especially pleased that our project has been designated a National Endowment for the Humanities "We the People" project, an initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.  The Chairman of the NEH, James Leach, states that online access to the Rotch documents "will contribute significantly to this effort." Letters of support from the New Bedford (MA) Public Library, Nantucket Historical Association and Connecticut Historical Society convinced reviewers of the collection's national importance.

One of the reviewers stated, "This is a rich collection that has already been tapped for many different humanities research purposes. With improved access via the proposed online database of scanned, transcribed, and cataloged images, it could support a wide range of scholarly and educational efforts. Given the financial and professional resources that are generally available to a small-town public library, the applicant has done a phenomenal job caring for this collection, making it available to researchers, and developing a valuable and realistic plan for next steps. The project methodology is excellent in terms of standards and professional practices, the work plan solid, the staff well qualified, and the anticipated cost exceptionally low."

For more information, contact Sherie Brown, Head of Reference Services, at 330.832.9831 x307 or brownsh@massillonlibrary.org.

The Massillon Public Library is located at 208 Lincoln Way East.