Do you want to learn a little bit about your family, house, or community? 

Are you an advanced or expert researcher looking for more support?

The Local History and Genealogy Department is a treasure trove of information, memorabilia, resources, and expertise. Located on the third floor of Main Library, all customers are welcome and one-to-one assistance sessions are also available by appointment.


Obituaries are more than a notice of someone’s death, it’s also their life story, preserved to make sure the world remembers them. Most people go their whole lives without their life story being written. An obituary is the place where we record their memory to live on forever. 

Friends and family often want to go back for copies of these stories. The Library gets more than 8,000 requests per year to retrieve obituaries from our microfilm collection.

Family histories

Before you begin your family tree research, see if someone else has already started! We have nearly 1,800 bound books of family histories from A (Descendants of George Abbot) to Z (Zedlitz Family History.)


Microfilm may seem old-fashion in today’s digital world, but it’s an incredibly stable and efficient way to store and access archived newspapers, birth and death records, and some court and census records. The Library has six microfilm readers available to customers at no charge with no appointment needed. We have more than 1 million feet of microfilm—if rolled out, this would stretch from the top to bottom of Ohio. The collection includes The Blade from Dec. 19, 1835 through Sept. 2023 and nearly 140 other local publications.

You can print any of the microfilm pages for 15 cents a page or save them for free on a flash drive.

Local history and genealogy books

More than 68,000 books! With titles ranging from Leaders of Toledo Polonia, and Black Toledo: Afro-Americans in Toledo, Ohio 1890-1930 to Log Cabin Reminisces, history is at your fingertips. Find answers as you work through your family tree, or simply enjoy the detailed and varied accounts of life throughout the decades. 

Labor buttons

Toledo is a bastion for organized labor and union activity. Connect today’s revitalized labor movement with our shared history in the Rogowski-Kaptur Labor History Room and within our extensive digital collection.

Manuscripts and diaries

Preserved diaries, journals, and manuscripts bring us close to ordinary people and their everyday life. Births, deaths, travels, social engagements, menus, planting calendars, financial transactions, the weather, and more are written in first person narratives. We also have manuscript collections from local businesses and organizations. The Library has more than 400 manuscript collections that can be viewed by appointment. You can also schedule an appointment to view hundreds of other unique preserved materials in the Library’s Blade Rare Book Room.