Stories from Cleveland History

(Click here for our Driving Tours)

Speaking of Cleveland

Our Speaking of Cleveland series features the intriguing, curious and oft-forgotten tales from Cleveland’s past. Pulled directly from the nationally-recognized collections of the Western Reserve Historical Society, these stories showcase the innovation, the grit and the pride that characterize Cleveland’s past, present and future.

Talk & Tour Series | Join us every month for a virtual tour of our museum galleries, then tune in the following week for an in-depth discussion based on the tour.

Speakers Bureau Series | Book a virtual Speaking of Cleveland program for your group. Click the link to download our 2020-21 catalog of topics.

Life in the Early 1900s

Our first set of stories explores day to day life in the early 1900s, including the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and its impact on Northeast Ohio. As historians, we know we are in for tough times, but we also know that we will emerge from this crisis, and what we learn from history can help save lives. While the news remains sobering, hope can be found in history.

Then & Now Blog

Our Then & Now blog articles are selected to help us as a community make sense of the present through a deeper understanding of the past. Covering everything from the history of gardening in Cleveland to local stories of activism, Then & Now is a great resource to help better understand the world around us.

Ohio’s Presidential Past

This video series, presented by Curator of Collections & Exhibits Eric Rivet, provides a brief look at the lives and careers of the eight men claimed by Ohio that have served as the nation’s chief executive.

Women’s History in Northeast Ohio

Women’s History Month is a time for study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. In honor of Women’s History Month, WRHS is shedding light on Ohio’s most memorable women, as well as collection items and primary resources from WRHS’s remarkable Library and Archives.

Crime in Cleveland

This video series, presented by Education & Public Programs Manager Whitney Stalnaker, explores the colorful characters of Cleveland’s crime history.

Spring Holiday Traditions

Cleveland’s diversity is its chief strength and it is during holiday seasons such as Easter and Passover that we can truly sense how well multiple cultures come together to make a whole.  With over 100 different ethnic identities represented in Northeast Ohio, what might be seen as a common holiday takes on a variety of hues. Learn more about some of these celebrations in a selection of articles exploring the history behind the traditions.

The History of Gardening

Gardens are, perhaps, the closest and most intimate tie we have to the earth.  From Eden to Babylon, and to the gardens of the Alhambra, our cultures, communities, and religions celebrate the garden and its connection to something larger. They are a symbol of growth, of life, and of hope. Throughout history, people have used gardening as a sacred resource, an escape, a celebration, and a way to come together. Click here to learn how gardening has helped cultivate our region.

Virtual History on Tap | 1920s Cleveland

Our beloved History on Tap event has gone digital! Grab a cocktail, grab your computer, and belly up to the “bar” as we dive into the fascinating world of 1920s Cleveland. Like many major US cities, Cleveland certainly had its share of illegal liquor and “mob” activity during Prohibition and it indeed saw changes in women’s fashion and challenges to what was considered proper behavior. But it was much more than that – it did “roar” in the 1920s, but not just in the clichés of that era.

Celebrate Those Who Give Black

Western Reserve Historical Society continues to build our virtual presence by bringing relevant stories and history to your home. Check out our newest online exhibit Celebrate Those Who Give Black. This Exhibition is designed to tell the rich history of African-American charitable giving, and the story of Black philanthropy in Cleveland by honoring the past, celebrating the present and inspiring the future.

A Century of Celebrations

The holidays in Cleveland have always been a magical time of year. This holiday season we invite you to discover the nostalgic holiday traditions of Cleveland with “A Century of Celebrations”. Connect with celebration traditions past and present as you explore these online collections of seasonal artifacts and nostalgic décor. From Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, to New Year celebrations, each vignette will evoke the spirit of giving, connection, reflection, and hope for the future.

Cleveland: The Air Laboratory of the World

Cleveland, at the turn of the 20th century, was blessed with the advantages of geography, financial capital and human resources. Half of the American population and more than half of the manufacturing plants in the United States were located within 500 miles of the city. Becoming the early 20th century version of Silicon Valley, Cleveland generated the innovations that would allow “Second Industrial Revolution” industries to drive the American economy for most of the century. Download this free PDF to learn more about how Cleveland helped give birth to both the automotive and aviation industries.

Driving Tours

Along the route you’ll view sites that date from the beginning of our community to its present. It’s not a “standard” tour of Cleveland, but one that focuses on important, but often little-known sites and events – and touches upon the diversity that makes Greater Cleveland a special place. The illustrated narrative guide for the tour includes many links to sites and sources that probe more deeply into the history of a particular site.


This guided virtual tour of AsiaTown is one of a series of virtual tours developed by WRHS to highlight the diverse heritages that make up our city. It is another step in our institution’s mission to document and explore the history of a truly global city — Cleveland. Johnny Wu has crafted this tour of AsiaTown, a neighborhood that he knows well as a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and organizer who has done much to promote and discover the past and the present of one of our city’s most vibrant districts. We are indebted to him for his time, expertise, and enthusiasm.


This guided driving tour explores the eastside and parts of Cleveland’s Automotive and Industrial Past from the comfort of your own vehicle.


This guided driving tour explores the westside and parts of Cleveland’s Automotive and Industrial Past from the comfort of your own vehicle.


This self-guided tour focuses on sites relating to the Puerto Rican community on Cleveland’s Near West Side. It highlights parks, small businesses, and religious and cultural institutions created and maintained over the years by the Puerto Ricans, who currently constitute the largest segment of our growing Latinx community. The Western Reserve Historical Society is grateful to Selena Pagan and Claudia Longo for their guidance and work in creating this tour.