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About this collection

The mission of Massillon Memory is to provide free online access to scanned images and transcriptions of significant materials from the history of Massillon, Ohio. It is primarily comprised of the Thomas and Charity Rotch papers from the Massillon Public Library's Rotch-Wales collection. Additional materials will be added as time and resources permit.


About the Rotch-Wales collection of historic documents


The Rotch-Wales collection at the Massillon Public Library offers a unique and detailed view of life in 19th century America. These primary sources offer unparalleled first-person accounts of the economic, political, religious and social factors that drew settlers from the relative comforts of New England to the early northeast Ohio frontier.


The collection contains personal and business correspondence, diaries, documents, accounts, ledgers, and daybooks of Thomas Rotch (1767-1823), Charity Rotch (1766-1824), Arvine Wales (1785-1854) and Arvine Chafee Wales (1827-1882).


Thomas Rotch was active in the whaling and shipping industry in Nantucket and New Bedford, MA, between 1790 and 1801; in farming, sheep-raising, and woolen manufacturing in Hartford, CT, between 1801 and 1811; and in the laying out and settling of the town of Kendal (now Massillon), OH, and the establishment of farming, sheep-raising, and manufacturing there between 1811 and 1823.


Charity Rotch, Thomas's wife of 33 years, was Rotch's economic partner at Kendal. Her extensive correspondence with female kin in New Englad suggests that she organized her work life and directed her energies toward productive labor. As respected members of the Society of Friends, Charity and Thomas Rotch attended the signing of the Treaty of St. Mary's (Ohio) in 1818 between Native Americans and the United States government. As Quaker delegates to the signing, the Rotches were charged with ascertaining that the Native Americans were fairly treated by the government. Dead within a year of her husband, Charity Rotch is buried in the Quaker Cemetery on Seneca Street in Massillon, a simple stone with the initials "C.R." marking her grave.


Arvine Wales worked for Thomas Rotch in Hartford and also made the move to Ohio from Connecticut in 1811. Wales acted as foreman at Kendal, became executor of the Rotch estate, and with his descendents occupied the Rotch homestead Spring Hill until 1973.


For fifty years, Mrs. Irene McLain Wales, the last of the family to reside at Spring Hill, collected old manuscripts stored in various locations on the former Rotch property. She read each document and began to sort them. In 1963, Mrs. Wales transferred the collection to the Massillon Public Library where librarian Ethel Conrad (1923-1996) spent the next 28 years repairing, archiving and indexing approximately 15,000 documents.


For more information about the bicentennial of Kendal in 2012 including excerpts from Charity Rotch's travel journal from exactly two hundred years to the day, follow at the Kendal Companion.


Background of the digitization effort


In 2000, several hundred Rotch documents were digitized as part of the Ohio Memory Project. Between 2001 and 2004, the Massillon Public Library scanned and transcribed an additional eight hundred documents for online access. In 2005, the library created a custom portal, Massillon Memory, which included the Rotch documents, the Massillon Business and Industry database and an index of obituaries from various local newspapers.


NEH funding


In 2010, the National Endowment for the Humanities recognized the significance and value of the Rotch-Wales collection digitization project. Through the "We the People" initiative, the NEH granted funding to the Massillon Public Library for digitization, transcription and cataloging. With this support, the remainder of the Rotch documents were digitized and made publicly accessible by the Ohio Historical Society.


About We The People


We The People is an NEH program designed to encourage and enhance the teaching, study and understanding of American history, culture and democratic principles.


Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


For more information concerning the Rotch-Wales collection, please consult the finding aid.


Archivist, Rotch Wales Papers 
Massillon Public Library
208 Lincoln Way East 
Massillon , Ohio 44646 
Phone: 330-832-9831 ext. 328 

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