Photo of the Cleveland skyline with buildings in the foreground and Lake Erie in the background

Campus Spotlight: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The City of Cleveland celebrated its 225th birthday last week. What better time to dive into the city’s history? The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History—a joint initiative between Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society—offers readers the opportunity to take a deep dive into descriptions of the institutions, people and events that shaped our city’s story. 

The resource took root in the 1970s when Homer Wadsworth, then-director of the Cleveland Foundation, first suggested the project to David D. Van Tassel, a former faculty member at Case Western Reserve. With seed money from the foundation, the encyclopedia’s first edition was published in 1987, followed by an expanded second edition in 1996—timed to Cleveland’s bicentennial. 

Van Tassel initially envisioned the encyclopedia as something that would grow with time. The advent of the internet, provided an ample opportunity for the encyclopedia to expand once again. Today, the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History lives online and is constantly added to and updated. 

A timeline on the site traces the region’s history from the earliest known inhabitants (Adena and Hopewell Mound Builders) to modern-day memories such as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA Championship.

The site features expansive coverage on myriad facets of the region’s history, such as the city’s suburbs, influential figures in Black history, reform movements and past and current sports teams, including the recently renamed Cleveland Indians (soon-to-be Guardians in honor of the Guardians of Traffic on the Hope Memorial Bridge). 

John Grabowski, the Krieger-Mueller Joint Professor in History, joined the encyclopedia as a managing editor in 1981 and today is the editor. 

Want to learn more about our city? Check out the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History website.