The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County.

Fun times between the World Wars 1920-1939
  • Presidential candidate Warren G. Harding desired, in 1920, a return to the pre-World War I lifestyle or a “Return to Normalcy.” Soldiers came home from war to Wood County with a desire to succeed, to relax, and to enjoy life. Advancements in technology created opportunities of fun for people living in this rural community.
  • This mini-exhibit opens in the 2nd floor gallery space on February 1, 2018 at The Wood County Historical Center.
  • Post your leisure images on social media and tag us #WoodCountyLeisure
  • EVENTS & LEISURE TIME PROMOTIONS: Monthly Tea Series | Blue Star Museum | Best of Living History | Wood County Living History | German-American Day | Holiday Gala Fundraiser | Gift Shop

OVER THERE! Send Word: The Wood County Boys are Coming!

World War I, 1914-1918
  • Partake in hands-on activities and immerse yourself in audio, video, and visuals from WWI. You will also see many artifacts from the Historical Society collection as well as items on loan from members of the community including uniforms, medals, photos, trunks, weapons, and posters to illustrate this event of global significance.
  • Post your pix from the WWI Trench or Victory Garden and tag us #WWIWoodCounty
"OVER THERE" wins the 2017 Ohio Local History Alliance award for outstanding contribution to the field of local history in Ohio. [see FaceBook]


This exhibit was made possible thanks to: The National World War I Museum and Memorial, The North Baltimore Historical Society, Albert Bowe American Legion Post No. 338, Bradner, Ohio, Lybarger – Grimm Legion Post No. 441, Tontogany, Ohio, American Legion Post No. 45, Bowling Green, Ohio, The Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies, Dick Martin in honor of Lester Martin, Theodore G. Jenkins in honor of Theodore Jenkins, Pat Pogue in honor of Jack Raney, Elizabeth Stowe in honor of Raymond K. Stowe, Jim Rogers in honor of John E. Wilford, Dick Conrad in honor of Shirley C. Kunkler, Jane Westerhaus in honor of Frank Westerhaus, Roger Mazzarella, Larry Nader, Jon Klever, Shirley Garner in honor of Frank E. Fretter & Charles Fortlander, Ruth Hentges, Gordon Lumber, Bowling Green, Kelly Ann Managan, BGSU Department of Theater and Film, HOT Graphics, Northwood, OH, Abby Bender, Graphic Designer, Aaron's Lease to Own, Bowling Green, The Department of Theatre & Film at BGSU in honor of Chair, Steven E. Boone
Sponsored by the Bowling Green Convention & Visitors Bureau


  • This introduction to our County Infirmary ties this institution to social welfare in Wood County from 1869-1971. The Infirmary was one aspect of relief, and this exhibit examines other relief given and the role of the Ohio Board of Charities.

A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH: Societal Response to Disease

This exhibit is inside the Pestilence House

  • This building served as living quarters for men with communicable diseases such as scarlet fever and influenza, keeping them separated from other Infirmary residents. It was remodeled in 2012 with structural improvements. Inside, visitors will see an Iron Lung and other items reminiscent of early medical history.
  • “A Clean Bill Of Health: Societal Response To Communicable Disease” defines types of diseases that have affected people all over the globe and illustrates a number of social programs that grew as a result including sanitary reform, urban planning, bath culture, nursing, pharmaceuticals, education, and public health organizations.

CHASING THE WHITE RABBIT: An Historical Look at American Mental Illness inside the Lunatic Asylum

  • The Lunatic Asylum, on the site of the former County Infirmary, once was a haven for the mentally ill. Today, a poignant exhibit outlines the development of mental health practices and social stigmas. To compliment this exhibit and structure, the Wood County Historical Society works closely with local mental health agencies and academics to provide education and outreach.


  • The original Infirmary Ice House, built of materials from the old county jail, still stands on the site, but now it keeps cool an exhibit about its history. Before the days of electric refrigeration, the Ice House served as a receptacle for ice blocks harvested from the nearby ponds, which preserved the meat and canned goods used to feed the Infirmary residents.

Poor Farms of Ohio

A photography exhibit opening February 1, 2019
  • “HOME” can be interpreted in many different ways, but “home” is more than a place, it’s a feeling.
  • 2019 marks the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the opening of the Wood County Poor Farm, now the Wood County Historical Center & Museum. To commemorate this anniversary, the Museum is collaborating with Jeffrey Hall, a Senior Lecturer in photography at Bowling Green State University, to create an exhibit about the “home” of the less fortunate - 120 photographs documenting the remnants of 88 poor farm sites in the state of Ohio.
  • June 16 - August 11, 2019: Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives
  • The museum will also host a traveling exhibit from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ touring program, NEH on the Road, titled “Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives,” June 16 – August 11, 2019. Riis was a Danish-born American photographer who documented the daily lives of New York’s poor immigrants and laborers in, as Mark Twain put it, “The Gilded Age” of the early 20th century in contrast to the growing wealth of millionaires such as Carnegie and Rockefeller.
  • Post and find images on social media: #WoodCountyPoorFarms #OhioPoorFarms

Traveling Exhibits

If you would like to borrow a traveling exhibit, please contact the Museum at 419.352.0967


  • Built as a companion piece to the Smithsonian's Between Fences exhibit, this local exhibit looks at fences and boundaries, both physical and figurative, at the Wood County Infirmary. In the forefront is the Brandeberry Wall that surrounds the grounds still today, as well as the perceived fences between Infirmary residents and the community.
  • Wood Co Fences on Flickr Gallery
  • YouTube mini-documentary video about historic boundaries at the Infirmary and in Wood County. Produced by Michelle Carlisle, Defiance College. As seen on DCTV Channel 5, Defiance, Ohio.
  • This exhibit was developed as a partner to BETWEEN FENCES from Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.


  • Which Bowling Green tailor provided lumber to the city’s booming glass industry and downtown businesses? Which community-minded women were instrumental in the development of Bowling Green’s first Library and Hospital? Why would a professor eat makeshift tomato soup from ketchup and hot water, and then leave his entire estate to the University to benefit future students? These four people, among 17 others, left their mark on the City of Bowling Green, and are now remembered in the Oak Grove Cemetery Living History Exhibit.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.The Oak Grove Cemetery Book, published by the Genealogical Society, is now available.
  • Also see Wood County Living History Day in August at Oak Grove Cemetery


  • The first Wood County Fair was held in 1851 in a grove of trees on Wooster Street (near the present City Building), but has grown into a week-long tradition of music, animals, exhibits, rides, and food. This exhibit traces the history of the many Wood County Fairs, including its demise in 1927 and its revival in the 1950s.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.


  • From dependent to dependable, the Wood County Children's Home served youth in need from 1908 to 1959. The original home, as well as the stately institution, both which are still visible in Bowling Green today, are a testament to the County's duty to social welfare. Watched over for many years by superintendent Nellie Repass, the children that resided in the home share their stories. Whether unruly or unfortunate, the Children's Home helped many families stay strong.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.


  • Nine Infirmary residents are showcased in this exhibit, which debuted at the 2004 Wood County Fair. A joint effort of the Wood County Historical Society and the Wood County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, each panel explains the myriad of reasons that would necessitate people to become an Infirmary resident. Disabilities, the Depression, and a series of misfortunes may have brought them here, but you may be surprised at the dynamics that followed.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.


  • The foods of Northwest Ohio may not seem particularly interesting at first, but a closer look reveals a deep-rooted history of German ancestry, Mexican influence, and pioneer struggles. This exhibit was funded by a Partnership for Community Action grant as a dual project between the Wood County Historical Society and the foodways studies of Dr. Lucy Long, department of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.
  • This local exhibit was developed as a companion piece to the Smithsonian's KEY INGREDIENTS: AMERICA BY FOOD exhibit.
  • More about Ohio Foodways and the Center for Food and Culture.


  • Formally known as the PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY, the Grange was founded by Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley in 1867. Organized as a "farm-friendly fraternity," the Grange offered social and community rewards to benefit rural life. Today, the Grange is still active across the United States, with 33 Granges in Wood County, Ohio. Under the direction of Floyd LeGalley, Ralph Seiler, and Ralph Brandeberry, the Grange Building at the Wood County Fairgrounds still honors agricultural pride in Northwest Ohio.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.


  • This exhibit showcases century farms in Wood County - properties that have remained in one family for over 100 years. Assistance provided by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Photos, paintings, drawings, and memorabilia of Wood County barns brought a personal touch to this landmark accomplishment.
  • This exhibit was done as a partnership between the Wood County Genealogical Society and the Wood County Historical Society.