Elizabeth Nord Library & Archives

Elizabeth Nord was the Shaker Historical Society's first director and curator. Mrs. Herman Nord was tireless in her mission to preserve, protect, and to promote the legacy of the Shakers of North Union. She was instrumental in forming the Society and in preventing the construction of the Clark Freeway, which would have destroyed the Shaker Lakes. The Society's Elizabeth Nord Library and Archives was dedicated to her memory on September 15, 1987.

The library is open to researchers by appointment only. Admission is free.

The library contains books related to the Shakers of North Union, utopian societies, the development of Shaker Heights, and Cleveland. The archives contain vertical files about Warrensville Township, the Shakers, and Shaker Heights. We are actively collecting material that aligns with our collections policy and organizational mission.

Some of the special collections include our Map Collection, Stereoview Collection, and the James A. Toman Photograph Collection, which features the Shaker Rapid and other interurban trains.

We are happy to do initial research at no charge, but if your inquiry will take us more than 15 minutes to address or search in our archives, we charge $25 an hour. Read more about research and image reproduction requests below.

Please direct general inquiries and research appointment requests to collections@shakerhistory.org.

Digital Resources


Library Policies & Procedures

The Elizabeth Nord Library collects, preserves, conserves, interprets, and exhibits books and archival materials related to the Shaker sect, Shaker Heights, Warrensville Township, and the surrounding area. Please note that on-site research requests may be declined at this time due to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions. 

I'm looking for information about my house.

The Shaker Heights Public Library's Local History department is who to talk to! They hold many City records and blueprints and share an excellent guide to researching your Shaker home. You can also refer to the Shaker Heights Building Card Database for building information and/or microfilm number. If you are looking for blueprints or original plans of your house, contact SHPL at localhistory@shakerlibrary.org!

Although the Shaker Historical Society does not have many housing records, we are happy to search our archives for material related to your house. Please submit a request through our Research Request form that includes your address and any relevant information, such as previous owners or a former address if the street and/or house number changed.

I'm looking for information about the Shakers, Warrensville Township, and/or Shaker Heights.

Please submit our Research Request form to schedule an onsite research appointment or to request a Shaker Historical Society staff member complete research on your behalf. All research requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and are time dependent on staff availability. Once you submit this form, a staff member will contact you to confirm your request and to give you an estimated time frame.

I would like a copy of an image from your collection for commercial, academic, and personal purposes.

Please submit our Image Reproduction Request form. The Shaker Historical Society can provide high-resolution images for commercial, academic, and personal purposes. All image reproduction requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and are time dependent on staff availability. If you are on a deadline, please submit requests 10-14 business days in advance if possible.

All image fees must be paid before images and/or prints are sent.

Do you have finding aids and inventories available online?

We are actively working to inventory and create findings aids for our archival materials. These are the finding aids currently available:

Why is the Shaker Historical Society collection separate from the Shaker Heights Public Library Local History collection?

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 collections@shakerhistory.org.