An Introduction to the Road Trip Series

Apr 29, 2012

Published in 1940, the first Ohio Guide introduced travelers to Ohio’s roadways. The Ohio Humanities Council has given that travel standard a 21st century spin with The New Ohio Guide. We’ll take you on some of those tours during our weekly Road Trip! series.

In the 1930s unemployment was the highest this nation has seen. Among the unemployed were writers and editors. The first Ohio Guide was part of President Roosevelt's Federal Writer's Program to create jobs during the depression. Travel guides were written for most of the states as part of the American Guide Series. The project started in August 1935. The state director in Ohio was Harlan Hatcher. He wrote about the project, "The Writer's Project in Ohio employs 132 people, in all capacities, including typists, research workers, writers and editors."

They went to work collecting and writing material that would become The Ohio Guide. The 649 page book that was created talks what life was like in "the barometer state."

Hatcher wrote, "We have around seven million people in Ohio now. They live in every imaginable kind of community. They are sprawled all over big, amorphous Cleveland….They live in more little towns and villages than the people of any other state… old canal villages and National Road towns."

The Federal Writer's Project succeeded in creating jobs and also in highlighting a sense of national cultural achievement. The American Guide series, of which The Ohio Guide was a part, was intended as a 'panoramic portrait of the nation."

Our New Ohio Guide puts a 21 century spin on that earlier work. The Ohio Humanities Council has asked radio producers around the state to recreate some of the tours as audio tours; downloadable MP3s that travelers can get for free from the web, pop in the car, and go - to explore Ohio.

Each week this travel season, we will take on you on a part of a tour. So sit back, listen and be an armchair traveler for the Road Trip radio series. From the mounds built by ancient civilizations, to the pathways to freedom forged by slaves and abolitionists, to the aviation pioneers who took mankind’s dreams in the skies, Ohio’s story is an inspiring one that we’ll share with you.

Downloadable tours are available at SeeOhioFirst.org