Exhibits & Collections
The Shaker Historical Society has many collections that it researches, documents, preserves, and shares with the public. Most objects relate to the Shakers of North Union—their clothing, inventions, and tools—but there is a growing collection related to Shaker Village and the development of Shaker Heights as a community.
We are actively collecting and welcome donations that would help us tell the Shaker Heights story! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are looking for information or materials about a Shaker Heights person, place, or topic, please fill out our Research Request form. If you would like a high-resolution image of an object in our collection, please fill out our Image Reproduction Request form.
Why are the Shaker Historical Society and Shaker Heights Public Library Local History collections separate?
We get asked this question a lot! The main difference is that the SHS collection is focused on objects while the SHPL collection is focused on paper and archival materials, although the lines have been blurred over the years.
The Shaker Historical Society was founded in 1947 to preserve the legacy of the North Union Shaker community. Because of this, the majority of our collection is Shaker-related artifacts, including furniture, farming equipment, clothing/textiles, and household appliances. The museum moved locations several times before settling permanently in the Myers Mansion, our current home, in 1969. Galleries dedicated to Warrensville Township and the Van Sweringen brothers were established in the early 1970s, and our collecting focus expanded accordingly. Although our collections are mostly artifacts, Elizabeth Nord, founding trustee and curator from 1956-1972, collected many paper records that formed the basis of our library and archives.
Did you know SHS helped start the Local History department at the library? As stated on the department's website, the Shaker Historical Society teamed up with Shaker Library, the City of Shaker Heights, Shaker Heights City Schools, and interested citizens in 1994 to form The Inter-Institutional History Committee, which began developing the Local History Project. The Local History department serves as a the primary repository for papers and archival material from the Shaker Library, the City, local schools, and community groups. Since many housing records were held by the City, this is why they are at SHPL and not SHS! The library also has less room for physical objects, so donors are sometimes referred to SHS.
Of course there is some overlap in our collections in both scope and specific content. For example, SHPL holds the Shaker Heights Fire Department's records (paper), but SHS holds their fire helmets, badges, and scrapbooks (objects). SHPL holds some photocopies of records from our collections (e.g. Warrensville West Cemetery records collected by Elizabeth Nord), and we hold some housing records donated by individual donors. And we both hold a lot of maps!
We are aware this can be confusing! Executive Director Brianna Treleven and Local History Librarian Meghan Hays have teamed up to address this issue. Our goal is to share a database that would allow researchers and citizens to search both collections at once. At this point, merging the Local History department and SHS is neither feasible nor desired. Questions or comments? Email email@example.com
Shaker's Attic: A History of Community Giving
November 7, 2020 - February 27, 2021 (First Floor)
It’s not uncommon for historical societies to become "community attics” after decades of donations from residents and organizations. Like attics, many objects go into storage and rarely come out. Shaker’s Attic: A History of Community Giving is curated by our Junior Board Member Hazel Smith and highlights treasures from the museum’s collection, donated by active Shaker residents, that are not on view yet hold significant historical value.