Shelbian Arline Dowds, wife of a local doctor, invited a group of friends to her home Sept. 24, 1984 to form a local genealogical society. The group thought there was a flourishing need for a place to conduct local family research without traveling to other towns for meetings.
The Shelby Genealogical Club was formed on March 7, 1985 and chose as its first president Carrie Foster. She would serve in various roles, as president, vice president or recording secretary, for 30 years until her death in 2016.
The club’s first goal was to encourage Marvin Memorial Library to purchase a microfilm reader, and to dedicate a room for genealogical research. There is a sizable microfilm collection of every Shelby Daily Globe from 1900, as well as issues of earlier Shelby papers. The newspapers now can be found online.
The club became a member of the Ohio Genealogical Society in 1988, and changed its name to the Richland County – Shelby Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. It is one of the oldest societies in the state.
“Shelby Spirits,” the chapter newsletter, was introduced in April 1988. According to the Sept. 1988 newsletter, the name was chosen for various reasons.
The club’s delightfully droll sense of humor came to light when they chose the name for this newsletter. “Spirit” is defined in several ways. Shelby has always been noted for its “team spirit”. Overflow attendance at school games by townspeople of all ages is remarkable. It goes beyond “school spirit.”
“Spirit” also means “breath of life,” or “the soul,” or “mood”. Perhaps our club means for this letter to set the mood for the club’s life and “vitality.”
Then there is the pseudo-macabre fascination with ghosts and goblins that haunt cemeteries… The “spirits” that dwell amongst gravestones.
There have only been two newsletter editors in the history of the chapter, Phyllis Frazee from the newsletters inception to 1997, and Ruby Bonecutter, from 1997 to 2018.
In 2000, the chapter’s website launched on Rootsweb, with Tom Clabaugh as webmaster.
The chapter has had several meeting places through the years: 1984 – 1988 Marvin Memorial Library; 1988 – 1993 First Federal Savings and Loan; 1993 – 2004 Sutter-Roush Room; 2004 – 2017 First Church of God; 2017 to present Marvin Memorial Library.
The chapter has published several books over the years pertaining to local genealogy: 1995 Shelby Oakland Cemetery and Most Pure Heart of Mary Cemetery Records; 2000 Deceased Veterans Book; 2002 second volume of Shelby Oakland Cemetery and Most Pure Heart of Mary Cemetery Records; and 2002 Shelby High School Alumni Book.
The chapter continues to promote genealogical research and the collection of family histories; to provide educational classes, workshops, lectures, and other events; to maintain an area in the Marvin Memorial Library devoted to local genealogy and history; and to promote ethical standards in genealogical research and practices.
1984 – 1988 Carrie Foster
1988 – 1989 Elvanor Straw
1989 – 1991 Phyllis Frazee
1991 – 1993 Arline Dowds
1993 – 1995 Carrie Foster
1995 – 1997 Florian H. Moore
1997 – 1999 Carrie Foster
1999 – 2003 Phyllis Frazee
2003 – 2005 Fred McKinney, Sr.
2005 – 2006 Joan Histed
2006 – 2009 Merline Sergent
2009 – 2013 Phyllis Frazee
2013 – 2018 Doris Yetzer