Civil War Exemptions

By:  Janice Schulz

Exemption for Caption Anderson

An exemption for physical disability

The Archives and Rare Books Library’s collection of Hamilton County Civil War Exemptions is now available in digital format on the UC Libraries’ Digital Resource Commons. The collection consists of 102 documents dated from August-October, 1862, that can be searched, viewed, downloaded and printed. The documents in this collection were created as proof of exemption status under the Militia Act of 1862, which resulted in the first attempt to conscript Union soldiers in the Civil War. This collection represents a very small window in time during the long years of the Civil War, but it marks an important turning point in how the Union built its army.

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A Look at Doing Time in Cincinnati: The Workhouse Jail Registers

By Janice Schulz

Researchers know that life events tend to leave some amazingly informative paper trails and that sometimes you can find good things in seemingly bad places. For some individuals, a prison sentence was a significant, formative life event, and the paper trails that prison stays provide can tell some interesting stories. The Cincinnati Workhouse, which operated from 1869-1985, tried to take those prison sentences and turn them into more positive experiences for inmates and society through rehabilitation, emphasis on moral ideals, and hard work. As part of our Ohio Network of Local Government Records collection, the Archives and Rare Books library holds jail registers from the Cincinnati Workhouse for the years 1877-1945.

Postcard showing workhouse

The Cincinnati Workhouse in an idyllic, undated postcard from ARB’s Nelson and Florence Hoffmann Cincinnati Postcard Collection

On March 9, 1866, the Ohio General Assembly passed an act authorizing any Ohio city exceeding 100,000 in population to erect and maintain a workhouse. A workhouse was a new concept in the field of criminal justice, responding to the emerging idea that crime was related to societal and moral issues, and providing not only punishment, but rehabilitation as well. A workhouse aimed to rehabilitate by stressing moral values, providing inmates with something productive to do, and possibly introducing them to a new trade. Additionally, they were seen to be more cost-effective than traditional jails, as inmate labor contributed to the institution’s operations and provided outside income. Continue reading

Now Available: City of Middletown City Council Meeting Minutes and Various City Board Minutes, 2001-2008

By:  Alyssa Roberts, ARB Student Assistant

Curious about what was going on in Middletown, Ohio, from 2001-2008? Our newest collection at the Archives & Rare Books Library includes minutes from the Middletown City Council meetings between January 2001 and December 2008. Additionally, the collection includes minutes from the city’s various boards, committees, and commissions from 2005 and 2006. You can discover the inner-workings of this Southwestern Ohio community’s Park Board, Golf Course Commission, or Tree Commission. Interested in Butler Country’s Middletown Regional Airport? You can now read the 2005 and 2006 minutes from the Airport Commission.  A finding aid for the collection is available through the OhioLink Finding Aid Repository.

We’d love to see you at the ARB, where you can view everything from this collection to collections from the City of Cincinnati to our rarest of rare books.  Visit ARB’s website at for more information on ARB’s collections or call 513-556-1959 or email