Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

May 06

Social Thinker and Advocate for the Working Class: M. Thomas Tchou

Posted on May 6, 2021 at 2:37 PM by Melissa Dalton

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), and we would like to celebrate by highlight a couple of Greene County residents who made an impact on our region, and even globally. The first person we would like to highlight is M. Thomas Tchou (Fig 1). Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet, University of Iowa Libraries, 1940 (JPG)

Fig 1. Lecturer Pamphlet (courtesy of the University of Iowa Libraries,

Montchen Thomas Tchou was born in China in 1895. A descendent of Chinese philosopher and Confucian scholar, Chu His, Tchou became a Chinese classics master by the age of twelve. In 1908, Tchou enrolled at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, earning bachelor degrees in mechanical and civil engineering, and naval architecture. While a student, Tchou met his future wife, Jean Brown.

After earning his degrees in 1916, he and his wife, Jean, returned to China, where they began a family. They had one child, Raymond, who was born in China in 1924.

Tchou served as the private secretary to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Army, and established the Officer’s Moral Endeavor Association (which was the forerunner to the New Life Movement in China). Tchou’s public service continued, and he served three years as the director of the Department of Labor and the chief representative of China at the International Labor Conferences in Geneva. During this time, he dedicated time to drafting China’s housing, factory, and child labor laws and plans.

Tchou traveled Europe and the United States, and became well-versed in politics (Fig 2). In addition to his native Chinese language, Tchou was fluent in English, French, and German. It likely isn’t surprising that Tchou was considered one of the leading social thinkers of the time – a passionate advocate for social legislation, education (especially for labor workers/working class), and improving the housing and education systems. Something else we found interesting is that he was praised as one of the foremost painters in China.

Fig 2. 1929 Passenger List for Olympic Ship (JPG) Fig 2. 1929 Passenger list for Olympic Ship bound for New York (

Tchou’s work as a social thinker and eloquent speaker gained him great notoriety. There are newspaper articles from all over the United States highlighting his lectures and praising his work (Fig 3). Fig 3. Chinese Native Speaks Monday on Rotary Institute Program, Xenia Gazette, 28 Oct 1939 (PNG) Fig 3. Waterproof Rotary News, Tensas Gazette, 17 Nov 1950 (JPG)Fig 3. Alumni Speaker Leader in China, Wilmington News-Journal, 8 Jun 1939 (JPG)

Fig 3. Articles from newspapers regarding Tchou lectures, 1939, 1950 (

He taught at universities throughout the United States, and lectured extensively. In 1946, Tchou began teaching at Oberlin College (Fig 4), and in 1952, he and his family moved to Yellow Springs. We know little as to why the family moved here, but they remained in the region. His son, Raymond, attended Antioch College, and earned a BA in electrical engineering. In 1959, Raymond married Janet Pattee in Yellow Springs (Fig 5). Fig 4. 1946 Manifest for S.S. General M. C. Meigs (JPG)

Fig 4. Ship Manifest for S. S. General M. C. Meigs, 1946 (

Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu and Janet Pattee, 1959 (JPG) Fig 5. Marriage Record for Raymond Chu & Janet Pattee (Greene County Archives)

Montchen Thomas Tchou died on December 25, 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of 70 (Fig 6). His body was returned to Yellow Springs, and he was buried in Glen Forest Cemetery next to his wife, Jean. Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou, Willoughby News Herald, 27 Dec 1965 (PNG)Fig 6. Gravestone for M. Thomas and Jean (Brown) Tchou (JPG)

Fig 6. Obituary for M. Thomas Tchou ( / Tchou headstone at Glen Forest Cemetery (

M. Thomas Tchou was an exceptional man who worked diligently for equality and social measures that would better the lives of his fellow citizens. Today we are honored to recognize him as a Greene County resident.

Until Next Time.


Greene County Archives

University of Iowa Libraries

Apr 30

Preserving and Safeguarding Personal Collections

Posted on April 30, 2021 at 10:44 AM by Melissa Dalton

This month has been quite full of archival and records awareness initiatives! This week, we celebrated Preservation Week, and tomorrow is MayDay. As such, these are great opportunities to think about the importance of preservation of your personal and professional records and materials.

Here are some astounding numbers to help illustrate why preservation is important. A 2005 comprehensive study conducted by Heritage Preservation concluded that 4.8 billion items are held in U.S. institutions. There are countless other items held in personal collections, be it photographs, letters, manuscripts, maps, textiles, books, and film, just to name a few. Of the 4.8 billion items, 630 million are at risk due to improper care (or lack of care). Additionally, 2.6 billion items are not protected by disaster preparedness plans. And, mind you, these estimates are from 2005, making them 16 years old. These numbers also do not fully appreciate digital objects, which experience growth exponentially.
Records from the Greene County Archives collections (JPG)

You might be asking, what can I do now? All it takes is one thing, and there is nothing too small. Maybe you read about best practices and implement some into your current strategies. A great resource is the “Saving Your Stuff” sheet provided by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). These quick tips can guide you in protecting various media and materials, from audio, books, film, textiles, photos, and more! Even if it’s just relocating the materials to a more stable storage environment, it can make a huge difference in the life of the object.

Tomorrow is MayDay, so this also is a great time to consider disaster preparedness. Many think disaster preparedness only applies to our institutions and organizations, but it is important to think about personal collections, too! Are your collections stored in a safe location? If you had a water leak or flooding, are they at risk of damage? What about a fire? Considering all the possible scenarios can help you create a plan that will safeguard your personal collections from disaster.

MayDay logo from SAA (JPG)

Today we encourage you to do one thing to safeguard and preserve your personal collections. Check out the ALA website for webinars, tips, and other resources to guide you. And, if you have any questions, we are here to help!

Until Next Time!


ALA. (2021). About preservation week.

ALA. (2015). Saving your stuff.

SAA. (2021). MayDay: Saving our archives.

Apr 22

Volunteer Appreciation!

Posted on April 22, 2021 at 3:58 PM by Melissa Dalton

On Tuesday, we celebrated Volunteer Appreciation Day. Unfortunately, we haven’t had our volunteers in the office for well over a year now, but we still want to take the time this week to show our appreciation for all they have done for us over the years.

2021 Volunteer Week Resolution

Our volunteers have been great, and have completed so many great projects over the years. They’ve scanned slides, created indexes and inventories, prepared files for imaging, processed probate files, rehoused records, removed various fasteners, helped with exhibits and special events… They do so much for us, and help us with tasks that sometimes get pushed to the backburner due to lack of time. We have been so fortunate to have such great and loyal volunteers!

After the shutdown, though, we were looking for ways to keep our volunteers active. But, we had to find projects they could do remotely, and it required us to think outside of the box. Over the last few years, we’ve been adding images of our records to Flickr as a way to provide more access. However, with the shutdown, we had time to upload even more records, but not enough time to get descriptions and tags added. We realized that this was a project our volunteers could do from home!

2021 Staff Photo for Volunteer Week

Over the summer, we held a virtual training session on how to add tags to Flickr. This allowed those volunteers interested in participating an opportunity to see the platform in real-time, and they could review the various record series and find one that interested them to work on. Since that time, they’ve collectively put in almost 400 volunteer hours on this virtual project!

Unfortunately, we do not have recent photos of all our volunteers, but we would like to say thank you to all of them – Karen Furcon, Kathy Haller, Sharon Wilson, Katia Clod-Svensson, Elizabeth Govan, David Pidgeon, and Andy Wood. Each of these individuals has volunteered for us, and we are so lucky to have them! We are really looking forward to the time we can have you all back in the office! Fingers crossed it isn’t too much longer!

Until Next Time!