The McKell Library

Link to Database Search

The McKell Library has over 43,000 entries in its database. Included in the Library are over 17,000 books, 20,000 photographs, and 11,000 archivial documents. 

The core of the collection consists of gifts from Colonel David McCandless McKell. These gifts started in 1940 and continued for twenty-two years. After his death in 1962, his family donated his personal collection of books and manuscripts to the Society.

The McKell Collection consists of fifteen manuscripts, fourteen of them illuminated, eleven incunabula (books printed before 1501) and some 2300 other titles - primarily relating to, or written for, children. Dr. Frank Fieler's catalogue of this collection was published by G.K. Hall in 1973. The children's literature starts with Regime Scholariu (1488) and is especially well represented in the period from 1760 to 1820.

The library subjects range the entire Dewey Decimal System.  The 19th century is the most heavily represented period, but the time span extends from the 12th century to the 21st century.  The library also includes county histories, city & county directories, and school yearbooks.

Reading Room

McKell Library Reading Room

The library's strongest subject is history. Contemporary accounts of the Revolutionary War include: American archives transcribed by Peter Force (1774 - 1776) and The American Revolution written in scriptural verse in 1793.

A Narrative of the Campaign Against the Indians, Under the Command of Major General St. Clair (1812) bridges the period leading to the War of 1812. The collection of this period is outstanding and includes Adam Walker's Journal of Two Campaigns (1816), James Foster's The Capitulation (1812) and the four volume epic poem, The Fredoniad: or, Independence Preserved (1827).

Among the books on the Civil War shelves are: the histories of the 2nd, 26th, 32nd, 33rd, 46th, 73rd, 81st, 89th, and 149th regiments; the 27 volumes of Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion; Harper's Magazine, 1861 - 1865 and The Official Roster of Ohio Solders in the War of the Rebellion (12 volumes, 1893).

The archives special manuscript collections include territorial and early statehood documents and papers of David Trimble, B. F. Stone, James Swearingen, Joshua Sill and others. The papers of Walter Dun (1782 - 1838) and of Samuel Williams (1786 - 1859) contain detailed pictures of life in early Ohio.

In the archives are many items pertaining to people and life in Chillicothe and Ross County throughout their history, including family Bibles, ledgers, scrapbooks, diaries, military records, etc. Early newspapers, in print and on microfilm, are also available. The early Ohio imprints number almost two hundred.

The photo archives contain both paper and digital photographs, donated by individuals who wish to preserve images of local people, events, schools, houses, businesses, etc., for future generations.  Current images are gladly accepted, as they will be "historic" one day, as well as digital images for those who want to keep original photos.  Also included in the photo archives are postcards, photo albums, slides, negatives, stereographs, and images made by early-processes, such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.   

Special Exhibits
Special Exhibits at the McKell Library

The McKell Library is open to the public

from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.


The catalogue is available in computer and card file form and a copy machine and microfilm reader (sorry, no printer) are available.

Selected items, such as the illuminated manuscripts, are available by appointment only.

Use of the library is free to members of The Ross County Historical Society; there is a $2 fee for non-members.

Research requests by U.S. mail, E-mail or telephone are welcome.

Please click HERE to see our Library User Policy

for photocopies and digital images.


Genealogical inquiries should use the Ross County Genealogical Society website

or contact:

The Ross County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 6352
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601-6352
Phone 740-773-2715