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.

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.


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.

  1. The library is freely available for public use, although research appointments are required. Appointments for visiting the library are required in order to best serve your needs. To make an appointment, email collections@shakerhistory.org or call (216) 921-1201.

  2. Upon entering, sign in with a member of the staff.

  3. Library and archives materials must be consulted in the assigned work area in the museum and may not be removed from the area at any time. No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in the work area.

  4. No more than three items will be available to you at a time.

  5. Please do not re-shelve books or archival documents.

  6. Please maintain the existing arrangement of the material within folders and boxes. If anything appears to be misfiled, the researcher should not attempt to correct it but call it to the attention of museum staff.

  7. Only pencils may be used for note taking. No pens, inks, erasable inks, or post-it notes may be used. Tracing from or writing on collection material is not permitted. Laptops, tablets, and mobile phones may be used, but they are not supplied by the museum.

  8. A limited number of copies can be made for free by museum staff. The Shaker Historical Society may decline a request for duplication because the materials are oversize, too fragile, or fall outside the “fair use” standard. All duplication requests, including photocopies, must be approved by museum staff. A fee will be charged for high-volume photocopy requests and high resolution images.

  9. Digital copies of any library or archival document are prohibited without prior written permission. The Shaker Historical Society can produce digital images of documents with 7-10 days notice with an appropriate fee depending upon the nature of its use. Museum staff may decline a request for duplication because the materials are oversize, too fragile, or fall outside the “fair use” standard.

  10. Photographs must be for personal research use only. Patrons interested in acquiring high resolution images for publication should ask staff about options. Personal cameras and cell phones may be used. No use of flatbed scanners, laptop cameras, tabletop tripods, camera bags, flash, lights, copy stand, extension cords, audio or video recording equipment is permitted.

  11. Photographs taken in the archives may not be donated or sold to another repository or exhibited. Prior written permission from Shaker Historical Society staff is required to publish or post on the internet photographs taken in the archives. SHS reserves the right to deny your request to publish photographs or post photographs online.

  12. All high-resolution and personal images published or shared with permission from SHS staff must be credited “Shaker Historical Society, Shaker Heights, OH”.

  13. The researcher is responsible for complying with copyright law and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Shaker Historical Society, its officers and employees, from and against all claims demands, costs, and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the researcher’s use of collection materials or reference photographs.

  14. The library accepts gifts of books and other materials in accordance with our collection policy and The Shaker Historical Society’s mission.

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.

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

Please submit our Research Request form. 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.

  • Applicants will be notified after the first free 15 minutes of staff research to assess the acquired research and determine if additional time is needed.

  • If additional time is needed, there is a nonrefundable $25.00 deposit that covers the first hour of research. Additional research is $25.00 an hour. Our fees help to defray the costs of maintenance, care of materials, and staff time.

  • Staff will not begin research until the nonrefundable deposit is submitted. All remaining research fees must be paid upon completion of research. We accept cash, checks, credit cards, and PayPal.

  • SHS members receive a 10-40% discount depending on membership level, and museum personnel receive a 50% discount.

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 days in advance if possible.

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

  • The Shaker Historical Society charges $75 per image for a single use. These funds help us care for our collection.

  • For high quality prints, we charge $25 to scan each image + cost to print and ship (if applicable).

  • The credit line should read as follows: “Shaker Historical Society, Shaker Heights, OH”. We do not necessarily hold copyright for all of the images in our permanent and archival collections, so you accept these images knowing that responsibility to obtain permission rests with you.

  • If images from our collection are published in a print or digital publication, we request a copy of that publication be mailed/emailed to our museum. Likewise, we would like to be informed of any websites that use images we have provided to you.

  • SHS members receive a 10-40% discount depending on membership level.

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:

Digital Resources

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.