Ethnic Groups of Ohio

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This entry was originally written by Carol L. Maki and Michael John Neill for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Ohio Family History Research series.
History of Ohio
Ohio Vital Records
Census Records for Ohio
Background Sources for Ohio
Ohio Maps
Ohio Land Records
Ohio Probate Records
Ohio Court Records
Ohio Tax Records
Ohio Cemetery Records
Ohio Church Records
Ohio Military Records
Ohio Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Ohio Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Ethnic Groups of Ohio
Ohio County Resources
Map of Ohio


African American

Consult the following when researching African Americans in Ohio:

  • Alilunas, Leo. “Fugitive Slave Cases in Ohio Prior to 1850,” Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 69 (1940): 160-84. See other issues of this particular periodical for additional articles on African Americans in Ohio.
  • Fuller, Sara, ed. The Ohio Black History Guide. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Historical Society, 1975.
  • Gerber, David Allison. Black Ohio and the Color Line, 1860–1915. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976.
  • Hickock, Charles Thomas. The Negro in Ohio, 1802–1870. 1896. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1975.
  • Nitchman, Paul E. Blacks in Ohio. 7 vols. Ft. Mead, Md.: the author, 1987.
  • Turpin, Joan. Register of Black, Mulatto and Poor Persons in Four Ohio Counties, 1791–1861. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1985.
  • Wesley, Charles Harris. Ohio Negroes in the Civil War. Publications of the Ohio Civil War Centennial Commission, no. 6. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Historical Society, 1962.

The Archives—Library Division of Ohio Historical Society publishes Selected Bibliography of Black History Sources at the Ohio Historical Society and holds the state auditor’s “Special Enumeration of Blacks Immigrating to Ohio, 1861–1863,” State Archives Series 2261, and the Palladium of Liberty, the state’s first African-American newspaper (see Census Records section for information on 1863 census of African Americans).

The Afro-American Museum, Wilberforce, Ohio 45385, is the first national museum of its kind.

Native American

Twelve to fifteen thousand native inhabitants were said to have been living in Ohio country when the first European settlers arrived. The Miami lived in the western part of Ohio, and the Wyandotte were in the northwest. The Huron, the Ottawa, and the Seneca were also in the northwest. The Shawnee tribe was located in the lower Scioto Valley, the Delaware in the Muskingum Valley, the Tuscarora in the northeastern section of that valley, and the Mingo occupied the east.

In the mid-1700s, the French and the English began their long struggle for possession of the region. The English victory was followed by the battles of the American Revolution; the native inhabitants of Ohio were tragically involved in both of these wars. When the bloodshed was over between the two European factions, the contest for the land began in earnest between white and native. By the end of the Revolutionary War, still unwilling to give up their domain, the natives struggled to maintain their lands for twelve long years. In the summer of 1794, at the battle at Fallen Timbers, Anthony Wayne and his well-trained troops totally defeated the Native Americans of Ohio. The following year, in August of 1795, a treaty was negotiated—the final step in taking away native homelands. The last group of Native Americans left northwestern Ohio in 1833.

See Stewart Rafert, “American-Indian Genealogical Research in the Midwest: Resources and Perspectives,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 76 (September 1988): 212-24. See also Wisconsin—Native American Records.

Other Ethnic Groups

The introductory section of this chapter identified some of the various ethnic groups that settled in Ohio. Western Reserve Historical Society is notable in its collection of materials on the ethnic immigrants to Ohio. Two helpful sources are:

  • Maxwell, Fay. Irish Refugee Tract Abstract Data and History of Irish Acadians. Columbus, Ohio: Maxwell Publications, ca. 1974.
  • Smith, Clifford Neal. Early Nineteenth Century German Settlers in Ohio, Kentucky and Other States. McNeal, Ariz.: Westland Publications, 1984.
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