By Jason Alexander, Central Services Division Manager for the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, and Clarity Amrein, Community Content Coordinator, Genealogy & Local History, Downtown Main Library
The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library's Genealogy & Local History Department works with partners around Greater Cincinnati, including government agencies, to digitize historical items for online preservation. In 2022, the Library worked with the office of Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Pavan Parikh, opens a new window to digitize a one-of-a-kind trademark registry book of historic businesses in Cincinnati, an invaluable resource for local historians and genealogists alike.
Digitizing a One-of-a-Kind Historic Treasure
This year has been quite the year of discovery, according to Jason Alexander, Central Services Division Manager at the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office. Early in 2022, the office was featured on WXVU radio, opens a new window to discuss records requested by the Ohio Supreme Court that were recently rediscovered with the assistance of CHPL librarians.
The latest find was rediscovered by Court Clerk staff in June 2022, during a routine visit to the offsite Clerk of Courts Records Center facility. According to Alexander, “What intrigued us, other than the age and size of the book, was that the contents within this book all appeared to be box labels, bottle labels, stickers, etc. of various commercial products and businesses.”
The book contains documentation of businesses registering their trademarks, the earliest entry dating back to the early 1920's. During that time, businesses would provide examples of the way of their logos for registration - everything from butter wrappers to clothing tags, packaging, and more.
“It appeared to us that these were trademark submissions of some type. This created quite a mystery as we questioned why the Clerk of Courts or any local court or office would have such a book in their possession,” says Jason.
Jason reached out to Southern Illinois University School of Law's Zvi Rosen, who informed him that all of Ohio’s 88 counties were required to keep these books, but suggests that the one held by the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts is richer and more detailed due to Cincinnati's high volume of breweries during that time.
Trademark Book Now Available for Digital Viewing on CHPL.org
The digitized book is now available for viewing on CHPL.org's Digital Library. See part one of the digitized book.
"This trademark book is an invaluable resource for local historians, genealogists, and many others," says Clarity Amrein, Community Content Coordinator at CHPL, "Genealogists seeking the history of their family business can see the logo and packaging their ancestors used for their products, as well as use the accompanying legal documentation to confirm family names and business owners. Local historians can find long-lost Cincinnati businesses, some with no currently surviving documentation.
Those interested in commercial design can see the development of logos, branding, and artwork using the trademark book - and not to mention the excitement of seeing the original wrapper or label for commonly known products. This trademark book is a precious resource for digging into the rich business and industry history of Cincinnati."
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Pavan Parikh and his office have been incredibly supportive of this work to ensure that our county's history is not lost or hidden in a closet to be forgotten. CHPL is proud to facilitate free access of these amazing materials on CHPL.org, and is thrilled to work with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
CHPL is grateful to Jason Alexander, the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, and our government agency partners who support the Library's mission of public access to information!
Follow the Clerk of Court on social media to see more fascinating historical finds and check out the trademark book (Part 1 and Part 2) on CHPL’s Digital Library, where you can browse page by page or search by business name.