Toledo’s Attic grew out of a desire to have an online museum dedicated to the history of Toledo and Northwest Ohio in the twentieth century, particularly the area’s rich industrial history. While the Maumee Valley Historical Society is recognized as the premier source for information on the eighteenth and nineteenth century history of the region, it was felt little had been done to promote the history of the recent past.
The project began in 1995 with the creation of a steering committee dedicated to promoting recent local history. This committee, through a series of discussions with local history and archival specialists, came to the conclusion that a free standing museum dedicated to Toledo’s industrial, social, governmental, and cultural history was beyond the realm of possibility given funding limitations. Instead, the steering committee centered its efforts on creating a virtual museum that would feature exhibits made available via the then-new medium of the World Wide Web.
Dr. Timothy Messer-Kruse, then of the University of Toledo Department of History, began the task of developing the web site with funding provided by the Ohio Humanities Council, the Miniger Foundation, and the Stranahan Foundation. The site was envisioned as a way to display historical photographs, documents, and artifacts with text that would link the items together as full-fledged topical exhibits. The site was officially launched in 1999, and was hosted by the University of Toledo Department of History through funding provided by the university and grants administered by the Maumee Valley Historical Society and the Miniger Foundation. During its existence, the site has been the subject of television and print news coverage due to the unique nature of its exhibits and delivery medium.
By 2003, Dr. Messer-Kruse was no longer able to supervise the web site and the steering committee began looking for alternatives to host the site and manage the context. In 2004, WGTE-TV generously agreed to develop and support a new site for Toledo’s Attic, with the staff of the University of Toledo’s Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections assuming the role of managing the content.
Today, Toledo’s Attic continues to build upon past successes. Thanks to the dedication of the staff who operate it, Toledo’s Attic has become a useful and necessary tool for educating citizens about Toledo's and Northwest Ohio’s rich twentieth-century history in the twenty-first century.