In 1931, Toledo, Ohio and Toledo Spain forged the world's first sister-city relationship. While Toledo may have been named after the former capital of Spain, Toledo, on December 1, 1837, the latter responded with gifts of swords and other items in 1876. Toledo's steel industry had produced the finest of swords in Western Europe. Although twin cities had existed prior to that, however smaller on a geographic scale, the concept of the sister city went beyond symbolic gestures--it tied communities of the two Toledos culturally, economically, diplomatically, and to some extent politically. 1956 ushered a new interest in the Eisenhower administration to foster sister cities through the Sister Cities International program, and in the 1980s, Toledo has joined this movement by forging a relationship with Qinhuangdao--Toledo's Chinese counterpart in the glass industry. The expansion of the sister cities into Central Europe (Germany, Hungary, and Poland), Middle East (Lebanon), and Asia (India, Japan, and Pakistan), it has presented an opportunity for diverse Toledo communities to reestablish diplomatic ties with communities in their countries of origin.
This virtual exhibition aims to take the sister-city a little further by shifting the focus towards the cultural and intellectual dimensions in the relationships of participating communities. It brings together digitized cultural heritage materials from libraries, museums, and archives in Toledo's sister cities. Some were possible through direct linking to such collections with generous assistance from librarians, archivists, and museum curators in the sister cities. Elsewhere, images from Pinterest and links to local libraries were as far as this exhibition could go, realizing that not all municipalities and their community libraries may have the interest, means, and personnel to prepare digital heritage collections.
NOTE: Sister city relationships continuously evolve and end. This exhibit has focused on the relationships around 2015, and is not following the current Toledo Sister City arrangements. Current information on the sister cities information is available at http://www.toledosistercities.org/