You’ve likely seen posts on the City of Wyoming Facebook page in recent weeks highlighting dates in Wyoming’s history. That’s because the Wyoming Historical Society is celebrating its 40th year of collecting and preserving the city’s storied past.
So how did it all begin? This timeline chronicles the history of the Society itself, and how the group got started with Wyoming’s 100th anniversary back in 1974. From gathering the first few artifacts to the creation of a museum of the city’s history, the Wyoming Historical Society has helped preserve Wyoming’s 152-year story.
In 1974, when several residents were preparing for Wyoming’s Centennial celebration, they started seeking artifacts to put on display. They collected items that were fairly new at that time, such as the fire chief’s chair from the 1950s. They also discovered much older artifacts, including the letter Robert Reily wrote in 1861 inviting his neighbors to his home to choose a name for this embryo village they lived in.
The first house tours were also held in 1974, even before the Society was official. These tours became an important event to raise money for the Society, and they were also an exciting event for the community. Residents opened their older homes for tours, everyone learned their interesting histories, and many people got involved by volunteering their time and energy to make the tours a success.
The collection of artifacts continued to grow over the next several years, and house tours became a beloved community event.
In 1981, residents Annie Lou Helmsderfer and Katie Bond decided the best way to preserve all the artifacts was to form a Historical Society.
On Nov. 12, 1981, Dorothy Schierenbeck, Jenni McCauley, Henry Bond, Shirley Wrampelmeier, Scott Crooks, John Diehl, Jean Anderson, and John Helmsderfer joined Annie Lou and Katie in the Helmsderfer’s living room to make the Wyoming Historical Society official.
Programs, which started in 1982, are another part of the Society’s mission. They cover a wide variety of topics, many that touch on Wyoming’s history. The Society also maintains a research library where residents can find answers to their questions about Wyoming, Cincinnati, or Ohio history, or browse through books with original paint color suggestions for their historic Victorian homes.
The Society also keeps files for individual houses and families. When the Society obtains information about a house, it’s placed in that house’s file. While every house in Wyoming has a file, not every file has information in it. If you have any history on your home, share a copy with the Society. Fifty years from now, someone can learn about their home’s background from the information you’ve contributed.
Family files began with the founding fathers of Wyoming, but the records have grown to include many families who’ve had an impact on the development of Wyoming. The Society has a collection of genealogy materials to help you research your family in Hamilton County and Wyoming, including previous copies of the Hamilton County Genealogy Society’s newsletters and several family trees.
In 2000, the Society opened its headquarters in the City Building, in space that had previously been home to the Life Squad. Before the Society had permanent office space, they held board meetings in homes and kept historic items in board members’ homes, attics, and garages.
The group finally had a place where everything could be centralized and organized. Additionally, the Society purchased a computer and computer program, Past Perfect, creating a central location to access all the memorabilia.
In 2017, the Society opened the Wyoming History Museum in the lower level of the City Building. Visitors can learn about the city’s history through several donated items on display. You’ll see artifacts from the school buildings on Wyoming Avenue and items from native cultures that lived on this land hundreds of years ago.
You can browse the Wyoming Authors Collection, an ever-growing collection of books by Wyoming authors, both current and former residents. The Society has a complete collection of Wyoming High School yearbooks, an original diploma from the first graduating class of Wyoming High School in 1885, and much more.
The Society also offers Wyoming, A Retrospective and Images of America: Wyoming, books available for purchase, as well as other Wyoming-centric books, Cat’s Meow collectibles, wine glasses, commemorative plates, and more.
Visit the museum or purchase these items on Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m., or by appointment: (513) 842-1383
“The Wyoming Historical Society is here to preserve the history of Wyoming, to educate people on that history, and to help everyone appreciate the legacies of those who have come before us,” says historian Sherry Sheffield of the Society. “You have to remember that what happens today becomes tomorrow’s history!”
For more information about the Wyoming Historical Society, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (513) 842-1383.