At the First Annual Reunion of Pioneers of Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, Ohio, on September 10, 1875, those in attendance voted for a constitution and elected officers to establish a new organization. The stated purpose was “collecting and preserving the history of the Mahoning Valley from its first settlement, the development of its resources in agriculture, mining and manufacturing; its development in education; and to perpetuate such history, we associate ourselves together to form a society, which shall be known as the Mahoning Valley Historical Society….” They approved a one dollar membership fee, and over 400 individuals subscribed as charter members.
More than 140 years later, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society (MVHS) continues with that purpose, articulated more concisely in this mission statement: MVHS collects, preserves and teaches the history of the people of the Mahoning Valley. In 1961, MVHS took a quantum leap in acquiring, developing and operating since 1964 the Arms Family Museum of Local History in the former Wilford and Olive Arms residence at 648 Wick Avenue in Youngstown, Ohio. “Greystone,” as Mr. and Mrs. Arms referred to it, is a unique contribution to Arts & Crafts period of architecture and design in the United States in the early 20th Century. The MVHS Board of Directors and staff have, through three generations, honored the wishes of Mrs. Arms to preserve the first floor rooms of her home to show her family’s history and how she and her husband lived in the house from 1905 until their demise. Rooms on the second floor and basement level were converted into exhibit and learning galleries for the MVHS collections and educational programs, thereby fulfilling the Historical Society’s larger mission through a versatile regional history facility.
MVHS opened its archival library in the historic Carriage House from the Arms residence, located behind the Arms Family Museum, in 1984. This facility was state-of-the-art, and it allowed MVHS to make its collection of two-dimensional materials more accessible to the public and more readily available for research and program development. With the Arms Family Museum facilities, and increasingly professional staff and a core of dedicated volunteers, MVHS was successful in growing its audience, its offering of educational programs and public events, and its collection of historical materials.
In 2007, MVHS began another quantum leap by acquiring the historic Harry Burt/Ross Radio building at 325 West Federal Street in downtown Youngstown, and developing the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center at this location. The Tyler History Center is a $4 Million investment in Youngstown’s central city to create a community center focused on the history of the people of the region. It includes a new MVHS Archives facility, three exhibition galleries that include a comprehensive look at regional history, a changing community gallery that succeeds in attracting individuals and organizations to partner in creating diverse exhibits, and spaces for learning about history and interacting with media and artifacts, and an education center with classrooms and supplies for in-house learning units and special programs.
The historic second floor ballroom and kitchen facility has hosted hundreds of family, organizational, community and MVHS programs and events and can accommodate up to 300 people at a time. MVHS also has brought the Business and Media Archives collection, an important multimedia collection of artifacts and information on the history of the Valley’s radio and television broadcasting industry, to the forefront by relocating it to the publicly accessible Carriage House facility behind the Arms Family Museum.
The Mahoning Valley Historical Society a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, is recognized a leading cultural and educational institution in the Mahoning Valley region, and is respected among professionals and board members of state and local historical organizations throughout Ohio for its innovative programs and two significant historic structures and sites that are the Society’s base of operation. MVHS has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1977, a recognition shared with less than 10 percent of all museums of every discipline in the United States.