From Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Cairo, Illinois, the newspaper headlines of January 1937 confirmed everyone’s worst fears, “River Still Rising.” Fueled by torrential rains, the Ohio River and it tributaries ravaged towns and cities along their banks. With a death toll of more than 350 people, an estimated 1,000,000 individuals left homeless and damages set at $500,000,000, this disaster ranks as one of the worst in Ohio River history.
This January, the Library commemorates the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Flood with an exhibit and related programs while collecting oral histories and providing assistance and resources for conducting your own research.
“1937 Flood: River Still Rising” Exhibit at the Main Library
This moving exhibit, on view in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room from January 14-April 26, uses historical records, newspapers, letters, diaries, maps and photograph to vividly document the local impact of one of the twentieth century’s great disasters .
“Flood Remembrance Day” at the Main Library
Experience Cincinnati’s worst natural disaster through a series of programs at the Main Library on Saturday, January 28
11:00 a.m. Cincinnati’s Great Disaster: The 1937 Flood
Presented by Betty Ann Smiddy, recipient of the outstanding achievement award in local history from the Ohio Historical Society and the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office. Ms. Smiddy received a key to the city in recognition of her volunteer activities and was also named a “Woman of the Year” by the Cincinnati Enquirer. Royalties from her book Cincinnati’s Great Disasters have been donated to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Foundation.
Noon. Tour of “1937 Flood: River Still Rising” Exhibit
Tour will take place in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room.
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Scrapbooking the Flood
Adults: Have a scrapbook from the 1937 flood? Bring it to the Main Library to be scanned and added to the Library’s 1937 Flood website. Join others in room 3A to share memories or stories.
Teens: The TeenSpot will provide scrapbook tools, supplies, and reproductions of flood images. Teens are invited to bring photos, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, and other mementos from their lives to create scrapbook pages that tell their unique story. They can also take a self-guided scavenger hunt to find little-known facts about the flood.
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Share Your Flood Photos
Bring personal flood photographs to be scanned and added to the Library’s 1937 Flood website during Flood Remembrance Day. (No newspaper photos, please) Drop off photographs in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room and attend a program or view the exhibit while your pictures are scanned. Photographs will be returned the same day. Please contact Katrina Marshall at 513-369-4592 with any questions.
Oral Histories of the 1937 Flood
During the month of January, the Library is collecting oral histories about the 1937 flood. If you experienced the flood first hand, contact Brian Powers at (513) 369-6907 to schedule a 5 to 10 minute video interview and obtain parking information. The interview will be posted on the Library’s website. Please note, the Library will also conduct walk-in interviews on Saturday, January 28 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in the Nolan Room, 3rd floor. No appointment is required.