The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (MRCPL) opened at its current location of 43 West Third Street on December 19, 1908. Since the first day in operation, the Sherman Room has had its place in the library, housing a small collection of donated furnishings, letters, and books. This collection has since grown into a unique and highly specialized treasure trove of history within the Reference Department that is still being utilized today.
Jayson Schlechty is the full-time librarian in charge of maintaining the Sherman Room collection. Along with detailed sifting through history, Schlechty is also a resource for anyone who may have questions regarding the history of Richland County, personal genealogy, an urban legend, or anything in between.
Lovers of history can utilize Schlechty as a “Human Search Engine” that specializes in Richland County knowledge.
“Once every couple of weeks someone will call or stop in and ask about a business that used to be in town. They will have some vague recollection of it or where it was. Someone called last week wanting to know the first cable TV company in town. When/if I find the answer they usually start telling me a story of when they were younger,” Schlechty says.
A researcher, historian, and storyteller, Schlechty is ready to help answer any questions that might come his way.
“I really just love the research. I've always been interested in social history, the study of the common person, and how they lived their lives. I like that I am able to tell someone's story from 100 years ago that many people have forgotten or never knew about,” says Schlechty.
More than the history of Richland County, the Sherman Room can also be used for genealogical research. The library website provides a list of genealogy databases and research guides that can be used at home or in the library. Many genealogy resources are available within the Sherman Room as well including maps, cemetery indexes, and microfilm newspapers dating back to 1823.
The newspaper and document collection of the Sherman Room was started by librarian Lois MacKellar in 1938 in the hopes to accumulate historically important papers and letters that tell the history of Mansfield as a permanent collection for the Sherman Room. This collection was added to the already established donations from John Sherman.
Prior to the library’s opening in 1908, head librarian Martha Mercer was invited to John Sherman’s estate to hand-select books for the library before the house was slated for demolition. Over 400 of these books are still housed at the Main Library, most of them being government publications from when Sherman was in office.
John Sherman was a lawyer turned politician from Mansfield. He served many years as a Senator and was ultimately elected Secretary of State under President McKinley in 1897.
The Sherman Room has recently been renovated in order to make the information more accessible. Explore old pictures, artifacts, city directories, maps, and more. There is even a collection of yearbooks from 12 different Richland County schools dating back to the early 1900's in some cases. Take a trip into the history of Richland County through the friendly staff and immense resources of the Sherman Room.
While the Sherman Room has much to offer in person, the staff has also curated a list of local history and genealogy resources on their website. Schlechty also tells a new story of Richland County history every week on the Sherman Room Blog. The link is posted on the MRCPL Facebook Page each Saturday evening as well. Learn more about the history of John Sherman and the Sherman Room in their first blog post.
Have any more questions? Research assistance is available in person (Monday-Thursday, 10 AM - 5 PM, hours subject to change), by phone (419.521.3115), by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through the mail to the Main Library earmarked for the Sherman Room.