Wayne County Public Library Genealogy and Local History Department

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Written by Bonnie Knox and Robin Biddle

Joseph Marconi was a visionary whose foresight, faith in others, and purpose of direction made the Genealogy Department of the Wayne County Public Library not only a reality, but one which has garnered the reputation of being one of the best genealogy departments in Ohio. When the Wooster-Wayne Chapter of the DAR sought a project in celebration of their 50th anniversary in 1953, Mary Merritt, Wooster Librarian, suggested the donation of a bookcase to house the gifted seven book historical DAR collection within the library. In October of 1967 they found a home in the Reference area on the mezzanine. In 1985, just thirty years ago, Joseph Marconi, then Director of the library, instilled the idea and nurtured the formation of a permanent Genealogy room by obtaining an authorization budget of $15,000, and the lower level of the main library was renovated to this end. He then oversaw its success by the addition of staff member, Bonnie (Wipert) Knox, a "go to" person responsible for the inner workings of the department and educating the public through outreach, later including a column in the Daily Record "Ask Genie", among other projects, all of which generated much interest followed with yet more growth, necessitating the addition of staff member Christina Walton. Always ready to assist the public, she remains quick to offer her research skills to the public. With the impending retirement of Bonnie Knox, Deborah Kitko was offered and accepted the position as Head of the Genealogy and Local History department, overseeing and contributing to its continued success. In June 2007, under the directorship of Greg Lubelski, with the opening of the new library at 220 W. Liberty St., the genealogy collection was moved onto the second floor where it currently flourishes. From its humble beginnings, it has expanded to an active, viable department with state of the art equipment, knowledgeable staff and a massive collection of books and historical materials, vital records, newspapers, and family, local and general histories. The success of the department has relied heavily upon the involvement and support of its many volunteers and interaction with the community.


When selecting books for our collection, we consider a variety of places that our settlers and residents came from. These include several states and many counties adjacent to and near Wayne County and in Southeastern Ohio. Migration usually follows well established routes, such as US-30, US-250, SR-3, SR-83, I-76 and I-77.

  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Gallery, 2014

We moved into our new library located at 220 W. Liberty St., Wooster, OH in June 2007. These photos capture what our department looked like 7 years after opening.

Newspaper Articles

  • January 29, 1985: "'Cleveland Connection' Should Improve Wayne Library Services" by Bob Gorman, The Daily Record, p. A13
  • April 6, 1985: "A New Look At The Library" by Bob Gorman, The Daily Record, p. C1
  • March 19, 1986: "Tracing Your Family Tree" by Barbara Moore, The Bargain Hunter, p. unknown