Free online Ohio history books and articles, covering the 17th to the 20th centuries. These are general or comprehensive histories covering a wide range of subjects. Histories of particular topics of Ohio history are found on more than a dozen subject webpages about Ohio history on this website.
Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.
Including Narratives of Early Explorations, the Struggles between France and England for the Possession of the Valley, the Wars with the Indians, Organization of the State, the Adventures of the Early Emigrants, Life in the Solitudes of the Wilderness, Biographical Sketches of All the Governors of Ohio, and of Many Others of Her Most Illustrious Sons, and Most of the Important Events Attending the Birth, Growth and Maturity of a State Now Truly Imperial in Population, Wealth and Power
Abbott, John S. C.
Detroit: Northwestern 1875
John Stevens Cabot Abbott (1805-1877) was an American historian and a pastor in Congregational churches in Massachusetts. He wrote a number of inspirational or religious books, including a history of Christianity and guides for Christian living. He also published a variety of popular histories, primarily on European subjects, and a History of the Civil War in America.
– Summary of info in Abbot’s Wikipedia entry
This 850-page early survey of Ohio was a popular rather than an academic history, with a good supply of anecdotes and an emphasis on lively action and stories of human interest. However, it seems fairly well-researched and wide-ranging for a popular history of that era.
For historic maps of the Great Lakes region and states, see:
Great Lakes Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Ohio Maps, Atlases & Map Collections;
Indiana Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Illinois Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Michigan Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers;
Wisconsin Maps, Map Collections & Gazetteers
Cincinnati: Glezen & Shepard 1838
Caleb Atwater (1778-1867) was a Massachusetts Presbyterian minister and then a New York lawyer and businessman. In 1815 he moved to Circleville, OH (south of Columbus) and began practicing law. He later was a postmaster and state legislator. Today he is best known as one of the first people to study prehistoric earthworks and their artifacts in the Ohio Valley. The present-day Ohio historical marker in Circleville dedicated to Atwater says that “his life and work as a teacher, minister, lawyer, legislator and scholar greatly influenced early 19th century Ohio”, mentioning his critical role in the passage of Ohio’s Public School Law and his early thoughts in History of Ohio on conservation and ecology. The marker concludes by saying that “scholars today are still intrigued by this eccentric and fascinating visionary.”
See our 10 webpages with hundreds of books on American history at American History Books
Also see our collections of articles at Articles on U.S. History until 1800 and Articles on 19th Century U.S. History
Boston: Lothrop 1888
Bownocker, J. A.
Chicago: Rand, McNally 1906
Carpenter, William Henry and Arthur, T.S.
Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo 1854
A volume in the Lippincott series Cabinet Histories of the States.
A Study of the Early Influence of Pennsylvania and Southern Populations in Ohio
Chaddock, Robert Emmet
NY: Columbia University 1908
Books and articles on War in historic Ohio
Chase, Salmon Portland
Cincinnati: Corey and Fairbank, 1833
Cochran, William Cox
Cleveland: Western Reserve Historical Society 1920
Downes, Randolph Chandler
Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society 1935
Dr. Downes was a historian on the Western Pennsylvania Historical Survey, and this book was the third volume in the “Ohio Historical Collections”; a series sponsored by the State Archaeological and Historical Society and the History departments of several universities. Chapter headings are:
1. The Conquest, 1788-1795 – 2. The People of Frontier Ohio – 3. The Problems of Trade – 4. The Reign of Winthrop Sargent – 5. Political Reform – 6. The Statehood Contest – Cincinnati Phase – 7. The Statehood Contest – Chillicothe Phase – 8. The Making of the State
Galbreath, Charles Burleigh
Chicago: American Historical Society 1925
Vols 3-5 are biographical material. The index of names is near the front of vol. 1.
Gregory, William M. and Guitteau, William Backus
Boston: Ginn 1922
The Journal of a Tour into the Territory Northwest of the Alleghany Mountains; Made in the Spring of the Year 1803 …
With A Geographical and Historical Account of the State of Ohio. Illustrated with original maps and views.
Harris, Thaddeus M.
Boston: Manning & Loring 1805
Thaddeus Mason Harris (1768-1842) was a Harvard-educated Unitarian minister and librarian at Harvard. In 1803, suffering from illness and depression, he was advised by his doctor to travel. He and his brother then started out for Ohio, traveling through Pennsylvania by carriage. Part 1 of the book was written from Harris’ travel journal notes, beginning near Shippensburg, PA, describing their trip over the Alleghenies to Pittsburg, on to Wheeling by carriage, and then to Marietta, Ohio by keelboat. The comparatively brief Part 2 is an account of his return trip. These travel accounts contain descriptions of geographical features and accounts of the significant towns.
The remainder, and majority of the book, is entitled “Geographical and Historical Account of the State of Ohio”. Written largely from information provided by General Rufus Putnam and several other men that Harris met in Marietta, it must have been one of the earliest attempts at a comprehensive history of Ohio.
Books and articles about everyday life, women, ethnic groups, social issues etc. at Topics in the social history of Ohio
NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1947
Harlan Hatcher was a Professor of American Literature at Ohio State University when he first published this book in 1940. He later served as President of the University of Michigan, from 1951 to 1967. Chapter headings are:
– Grandfathers – The Lay of the Land – Almost Forgotten Men – The Fight for the Land – A Frenchman and a few Englishmen – The Wars come to Ohio – Forests and Fences – Settlements and Villages – Fashioning a State – The River called the Beautiful – The National Pike – Lake Erie and the Ohio Canals – Floods – Johnny Appleseed – The French Five Hundred – Blennerhassett’s Island – God’s Kingdom in Ohio – Ohio’s Taste in Houses – A Commonwealth of Colleges – Arts, Artists, and Museums – Among Ohio Writers – Ohio Men in the White House – What is Ohio? – Bibliography
Boston: Four Seas 1920
Life in the early days in Licking county.
Historical Collections of Ohio: Containing a Collection of the Most Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, Etc. …
Relating to Its General and Local History, with Descriptions of Its Counties, Principal Towns and Villages : Illustrated by 177 Engravings Giving Views of the Chief Towns, Public Buildings, Relics of Antiquity, Historic Localities, Natural Scenery, Etc.
Cincinnati: Derby, Bradley 1850
History both general and local, geography with descriptions of its counties, cities and villages, its agricultural, manufacturing, mining and business development, sketches of eminent and interesting characters, etc., with notes of a tour over it in 1886. Illustrated by about 700 engravings. Contrasting the Ohio of 1846 with 1886-90.
Cincinnati: State of Ohio 1896, 1907
Henry Howe (1816-1893) was born and raised in Connecticut. In 1840 he sought out John W. Barber, who had recently published Historical Collections of Connecticut; a book that greatly impressed Howe. It had been written for the general reader, and, in Howe’s words, “it seemed, in its variety, to have something adapted to all ages, classes and tastes…” “The book, therefore reached more minds, and has been more extensively read, than any regular state history ever issued”. Howe suggested to Barber that together they research and write a similar book for New York State. They became partners, first producing Historical Collections of New York, and then similar volumes for New Jersey and Virginia.
In 1846 Howe and Barber began preparing for a history of Ohio with a tour of the state that would last more than a year and take them to 79 of 83 counties. Historical Collections of Ohio appeared in late 1847, becoming Ohio’s best-selling history book of the entire century. In 1848 Howe married and became an Ohio resident by moving to Cincinnati. He continued to write history for many years, and Ohioans often asked him about the possibility of an update to the Ohio Historical Collections. Finally, nearly 40 years later, he started out in 1885 to retrace his steps and collected material for a 3-volume set that contrasted Ohio of the 1880s with Ohio of the 1840s. He completed the project but unfortunately it ended as a financial disaster for Howe and he died deeply in debt.
– The Wikipedia entry for Howe was a source for these notes.
The 1880s Collections, originally a 3-volume set, was consolidated into two large volumes in later editions, like those offered above.
Also see histories of regions and cities of Ohio in: History of Ohio Cities, Counties & Regions
Hulbert, Archer Butler, ed.
Marietta, OH: Marietta Historical Commission 1918
Introduction: A Territory in the Making – Part 1: The Antecedents of the Ordinance of 1784 – Part 2: Ohio in the Papers of the Continental Congress – Part 3: Journal of John Matthews
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1891
“The special significance of the book is seen in the explanatory title. While admirably qualified for his task, the writer maintains some opinions that, to say the least, are doubtful, as that the Old Congress insisted upon its jurisdiction over the Old Northwest. He minimizes, too, the legal value of the Ordinance of 1787.”
– Literature of American History; a bibliographical guide 1902
An Elementary History Prepared for Use in Schools, and for the General Reader
Laning, Jay Ford
Norwalk, OH: Laning 1897
Books and articles on Politics & Government in historic Ohio
Martzolff, Clement L.
Columbus: Ohio Teaching 1919
Ohio Annals: Historic Events in the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Valleys, and in other portions of the state of Ohio …
Adventures of Post, Heckewelder and Zeisberger; legends and traditions of the Kophs, Mound builders, red and white men; Adventures of Putnam and Heckewelder, founders of the state; Local history, growth of Ohio in population, political power, wealth and intelligence
Mitchener, Charles H. ed.
Dayton: Odell 1876
This 1870s popular history seems to be drawn from a wide variety of sources, although none are listed. Much of the book is an early history of the state, beginning with its geological origins but mostly consisting of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th. It emphasizes dramatic incidents and heroes. It is interspersed with about 30 “Legends and Traditions”, which seem to be stories or incidents that had been passed down orally, often by local Native Americans. Toward the end of the volume there is a focus on the history of particular regions (as indicated in the title), and the last chapter includes a collection of lists and tables.
Overman, William Daniel
Akron: Atlantic 1958
Each town gets a brief description as well as some info about the origin of the name, if available.
Pearson, Francis B. and Harlor, J.D.
Columbus: Heer 1903
Perkins, James Handasyd, edited by Channing, William Henry
Boston: Crosby 1851
A reviewer said of Perkins that he was “… a careful student of the early history of the country, and contributed many articles to the periodical literature of his day on the subject of Indian history and border warfare, which have been collected … [in the subject volume]”.
About two-thirds of Vol. 1 consists of a biography of Perkins, followed by a section of verses, and then ‘tales’. Vol. 2 is made up entirely of ‘historical sketches’. Chapters of Vol. 2 relevant to Ohio are:
– Early French Travelers in the West – English Discoveries in the Ohio Valley – The Pioneers of Kentucky – Border War of the Revolution – Settlement of the Northwestern Territory – Fifty Years of Ohio.
Porter, M. E., Mrs.
Cincinnati, Elm Street 1871
A non-technical, promotional description of Ohio’s geography and economy in 1870. Chapter headings are:
Buckey Blossoms – Railroads of Ohio – Churches of Ohio – Counties of Ohio, Alphabetically arranged – State Officers – Ohio’s Soldiery – Schools of Ohio – Cities of Ohio – State Charities – Public Buildings
Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Ohio
Ohio History Vol. 111 (Summer-Autumn 2002) pp 101-120
Potts, Louis W.
Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Manasseh Cutler was a Congregational Minister who in 1786 joined with other veterans of the Revolutionary War to form the Ohio Company of Associates. The Ohio Company’s purpose was to buy a large tract of land in the Ohio country, which had recently been acquired by the U.S. government from Great Britain. Cutler was one of the five directors of the Ohio Company and one of the two most active and conspicuous leaders. The other was General Rufus Putnam. This academic article by a history professor reviews Cutler’s role in steering the project to fruition, and explores the part that Cutler’s religious and personal beliefs played in the design of the Ohio settlement at Marietta.
Randall, E O, and Daniel J. Ryan
New York: Century History 1912
Emilius O. Randall (1850-1919) of Columbus, OH was a Law Professor at Ohio State University and the official reporter of the Ohio Supreme Court. Appointed by the Governor as a Trustee of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, he also served as Secretary and Editor. He edited 28 volumes and authored several books and numerous articles for the Society. Daniel Joseph Ryan (1855-1923) was a Republican politician in the Ohio state legislature and an historian of Ohio.
“The first two volumes written by Mr. Randall, cover the pre-state period of Ohio history; volume 3, written by Mr. Ryan, shows how in the two-score years ended in 1837, the Ohio wilderness was tamed and how popular government and statehood was established; in volume 4 Mr. Ryan undertakes to present an accurate and impartial history of the state of Ohio from 1837 down to the present time. The fifth volume contains treatises by selected writers on the literary men and women of Ohio, the Judiciary, the doctors and medical colleges, the state’s relation to the Great Lakes, and the manufacturing interests of the state.”
– The Book Review Digest
Randall wrote in the Preface of Vol 1 that he carefully consulted all publications of second-hand authority available, and examined reprints of original documents. He also visited nearly every site in the state that touched upon his narrative. He said these volumes were written “with the purpose of concisely portraying the more important events in early Ohio history and presenting them in their relative and chronological order, in simple narrative form for the general reader. A history for the public should be first reliable, second readable.”
Roseboom, Eugene Holloway and Weisenberger, Francis Phelps
NY: Prentice-Hall 1934
Books and articles about work, medical care, business & industry, etc. at Ohio Economic History
Taylor, James W.
“As the dates on the title-page indicate, the work is devoted entirely to the aboriginal history of the State, previous to the Territorial period. The early Jesuit Missions, the wars of the Eries and Iroquois, the border warfare which was raging for nearly a quarter of a century between the inhabitants of Pennsylvania, and the Delawares, Shawanese and Wyandots, are the subjects which nearly fill the volume. Besides the mass of matter which such a volume is expected to contain, portions of the following narratives are given: “Gist’s Diary,” “Roger’s Expedition,” “Bradstreet’s Expedition,” “Bouquet’s Expedition,” “Clark’s Campaign,” “Crawford’s Campaign,” “Smith’s Captivity,” etc. Taylor’s Ohio was intended as a text book for schools.” -Peter G. Thomson
For works on the Old Northwest under the French regime (until about 1760), see: Great Lakes General History
Thwing, Charles Franklin
NY: Pearson 1901
A volume in the series The Story of the States, published by Pearson’s Magazine. Includes many illustrations.
Utter, William T.
Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society 1942
This is Volume 2 in the 6-volume series History of the State of Ohio, sponsored and published by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society in the early 1940s. The author was a professor of history at Denison University. Chapter headings are:
– Building a State Government – State Politics in 1812 – Ohio and the Nation – Ohio and the War of 1812 – Acquiring a Farm – The Farm in Production – Waterways – The Building of Roads – Growth of Industries – Financial Disaster – The Course of Politics, 1816- 1825 – Sickness and Doctors – The Struggle with Human Depravity – A Maturing Society
Some of the topics found in the index are:
Seth Adams, Steamboat Aetna, Johnny Appleseed, Caleb Atwater, Austinburg turnpike company, missionary Joseph Badger, Robert Heriot Barclay, Baum and Perry, Nathaniel Beasley, Philemon Beecher, Bishop Robert Hamilton of Miami University, Harmon Blennerhassett, Blue Laws, Bonus Law, Chauncey Boucher, Broadhorn river-craft, Ethan Allen Brown, Ebenezer Buckingham Jr., steamboat Buffalo, Jacob Burnet impeachment, Aaron Burr Conspiracy, Charles Willing Byrd, Ohio Constitutional Convention, Cadiz turnpike company, Senator Alexander Campbell, Ohio Board of Canal Commissioners, Ohio Board of Canal Fund Commissioners, Cane Ridge revival meetings, Canton land-office, Chesapeake-Leopard crisis, Lewis Cass, Major-general Lewis Cass, Capital Northwest Territory, Chillicothe, Chilicothe Supporter, Fredonian, Spirit of the West, Western Spy, Liberty Hall, Cincinnati Literary Gazette, Coshocton stage line, Cotillion clubs, Renselear W. Cowles, Zadoc Cramer, William Harris Crawford, William Creighton Jr., Dayton turnpike company, Jeanne Phillips Darby, Ephraim Cutler, Washington Benevolent Society, Cumberland Road, National Road, George Croghan, Emigrant guides, Enabling Act, steamboat Enterprize, Era of Good Feeling, Female Society of Cincinnati for Charitable Purposes, Fence-viewers, Paul Fearing, Gnadenhutten settlement, William Goforth, Ohio Federalist, Charles Hammond, Tammany Society, Miami Intelligencer, Judge Stanley Griswold, Nathan Guildford, Governor Samuel Huntington, chief justice Samuel Huntington, Husking-bees, Indiana Territory, Lancastrian schools, Peter Landerback, Latrobe steam-engine, flagship Lawrence, Harriet Martineau, C. L. Martzolff, Merino sheep in Ohio, Return Meigs, Leander, Munsell, Natchez Trace, Non-intercourse Act, ship Niagara, Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Ohio Valley Historical Series, Old Northwest, Calvin Pease, Overseers of the Poor, Ordinance of 1787, Ordinance of 1785, War of 1812, Revolutionary War, Henry Proctor, Rufus Putnam, Querist, Raisin River massacre, Refugee Tract, Felix Renick, Scioto Salt Works, Seneca Indians, Fort Seneca, Shakers, Wyllys, Silliman, Henry Miller Shreve, Isaac Shelby, Shawnee Indians, suspension of specie payments, Symmes Purchase, Benjamin Tappan, Battle of Thames, W. Dudley’s defeat, Tecumseh, temperance, Tiffin land office, Edward Tiffin, steamboat Vesuvius, Isaac Van Horne, Nathan Updegraff, Wyandot mission at Upper Sandusky, Universalism, Firelands, Hartford hymns, Western Reserve Historical Society, flatboat-building, carding mill, Methodist circuit, Dudley Woodbridge, Steubenville Gazette, Fort Dearborn massacre, Lancaster Adler, Cincinnati Lancastrian Seminary, James Findlay, James B. Finley, massacre at Frenchtown, William Henry Harrison, Harrison Land Act of 1800, Hopewell furnace, Samuel Prescott Hildreth, Thomas Hinde, Hudson River Monopoly, General William Howe, Thomas Kirker, Louisiana of Marietta, Duncan McArthur, Fort Malden, Fort Mackinaw, Michigan Territory, Moravian Indian missions, Jeremiah Morrow, Simon Perkins, Roderick Peattie, Philomathic Athenaeum, Poland-China hog, Nicholas J. Roosevelt, Convention against Enabling Act, Chillicothe Tammany Society, Fort Stephenson, Battle of Tippecanoe, Justice George Tod, Toledo Treaty, Comfort Tyler, Jabez True, Wachatomaka, Western Reserve Chronicle, Bezaleel Wells, Zane’s Trace, David Ziegler, Ebenezer Zane, Western Intelligencer, Xenia Tammany Society, Muskingum Messenger.
Also see histories of regions and cities of Ohio in: History of Ohio Cities, Counties & Regions
Venable, William H.
Cincinnati: Ohio Valley Press 1888
William H. Venable (1836-1920) was born in Warren County, Ohio and was a teacher for most of his adult life. He also was a prolific writer, poet and historian; and was an authority on literature in the Midwest. You can find his book Beginnings of Literary Culture in the Ohio Valley; Historical and Biographical Sketches on the Great Lakes Cultural History page of this site. Chapter headings, with a few of the topics within, are:
– France and England in the Western World. Conquest of New France, Ohio Land Company of Virginia.
– Massachusetts Colonizes the Ohio Country. The Ordinance of 1787. The Ohio Land Company of Massachusetts.
– The Queen City and the Buckey State. The Symmes Purchase, Losantiville and Filson. The State of Ohio.
– Westward by Hoof, Wheel, and Keel. Tracking Forest Paths. First Wagon Roads to the West. Down the River in 1792. The Wagoner of the Alleghanies, Thomas Corwin on the The Great West.
– Rapid Settlement of the Central States. A Century’s Increase of Population and Growth of Settlements. “Go West, Young Man!”, Pioneer’s House and Home.
– Log-Cabin Life in the Ohio Valley. Costume and Furniture. War on the Woods. The Apple Cutting and the Frolic. The Primeval Forests of Ohio.
Collection of Documents & Records in Ohio History
Washington: Smithsonian Institution 1851
This small archeological study contains descriptions and drawings of 18 ancient sites in Ohio. The Table of Contents lists the sites:
– France and England in the Western World. Conquest of New France, Ohio Land Company of Virginia. – Massachusetts Colonizes the Ohio Country. The Ordinance of 1787. The Ohio Land Company of Massachusetts. – The Queen City and the Buckey State. The Symmes Purchase, Losantiville and Filson. The State of Ohio. – Westward by Hoof, Wheel, and Keel. Tracking Forest Paths. First Wagon Roads to the West. Down the River in 1792. The Wagoner of the Alleghanies, Thomas Corwin on the The Great West. – Rapid Settlement of the Central States. A Century’s Increase of Population and Growth of Settlements. “Go West, Young Man!”, Pioneer’s House and Home. – Log- Cabin Life in the Ohio Valley. Costume and Furniture. War on the Woods. The Apple Cutting and the Frolic. The Primeval Forests of Ohio.
Wittke, Carl Frederick, ed. and others
Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society 1941-1944
This is a 6-volume series, but Vol 6 is not available online. Titles and authors of Vols 1-5 are:
Vol 1. The Foundations of Ohio, Bond, Beverley W. Jr
Vol 2. The Frontier State 1803-1825, Utter, William T.
Vol 3. The Passing of the Frontier 1825-1850, Weisenburger, Francis P.
Vol 4. The Civil War Era 1850-1873, Roseboom, Eugene H.
Vol 5. Ohio Comes of Age 1873-1900, Jordan, Philip D.