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 collections@shakerhistory.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 director@shakerhistory.org


Current Exhibits

A Suburban Oasis: The Story of Lower Lake

June 5 - September 5, 2021 (First Floor)

There is little evidence of the North Union Shaker sect that once occupied what is now Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights, but their impact on the region lives on through Lower Shaker Lake. Dammed by the Shakers in 1836, this man-made lake powered mills and sustained the North Union community in the 19th century. In the 20th century, it saw thrilling regattas of the Shaker Lakes Canoe Club, faced destruction by the proposed Clark-Lee Freeway, and became an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area. Lower Lake, often taken center stage throughout Shaker Heights history, remains a reminder of our past and a treasure for our future.

View the exhibit online!

Juneteenth Quilt Show — African American Quilt and Doll Guild

June 19 - September 12, 2021 (Lissauer Gallery - Second Floor)

In commemoration of Juneteenth, the Shaker Historical Society is featuring the the work of the African American Quilt and Doll Guild with a quilt show in the Jack & Linda Lissauer Gallery.

Learn more about this exhibition here or view the exhibit online!


Upcoming Exhibits



COVID-19 COLLECTING PROJECT

This pandemic is an unprecedented experience for most living Americans. The Shaker Historical Society is working to preserve the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of everyday Shaker Heights residents during this unique time for future use as a resource to help communities, medical institutions, researchers, and policymakers respond to future pandemics.

Who Can Participate: Anyone living, working, or visiting Shaker Heights.

What We Are Collecting: We are currently asking for digital donations of the items listed below. If you’d like to donate something that’s not on this list, or if you have physical items you’d like to donate, please contact Brianna Treleven at director@shakerhistory.org.

Photographs:

  • Images documenting how COVID-19 has affected you or your community. This might include pandemic-related signs, deserted spaces, local businesses, people observing (or not observing) social-distancing guidelines, once-ordinary activities and events that are different now, health care, grocery-store shelves, how you and your family are surviving quarantine, e-learning and other activities that have gone virtual, etc.

  • Please do not put yourself at risk in order to take a photograph. Always adhere to CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others from possible infection.

  • Use these formats: .JPG, .PNG, or .TIF.

Audio or video recordings:

  • Record yourself, or yourself and others, talking about how COVID-19 has affected your life.

  • Please keep recordings under 25 minutes.

  • Not sure what to talk about? For a list of possible questions, click here.

  • Use these formats: .MP3, .MP4, .WAV, .MOV.

Journal entires:

  • Write about how COVID-19 has affected your life.

  • No length requirement

  • Not sure what to write about? For a list of prompt suggestions, click here.

  • Use these formats: .DOCX, .ODT, .TXT, .PDF.