Xenia Tornado, 40 Years Ago Today

40 years ago today, an F5 tornado hit the city of Xenia and surrounding areas in an event that forever changed the local community. The tornado was part of a super outbreak that killed 315 people over a 2 day period when 148 tornadoes were reported across 13 states. Locally, 35 people lost their lives, 300 homes were lost, and seven schools destroyed. Wilberforce and in particular Central State University were hard hit as well, where the campus was nearly destroyed when the tornado touched down again after passing through Xenia.

In the tornado’s aftermath, the entire region responded to aid the devastated communities, and a huge relief effort was undertaken by the WSU community. Wright State served as a central drop off point for community donations. Food, money, and clothing were collected and delivered in a long line of vans to the affected areas. The Student Caucus served as a clearinghouse agency to coordinate the relief efforts. Relief fund tables were set up all across campus, and students went door to door in every building to collect donations. A student workforce was maintained to help clear debris and provide security.  WSU dorms were provided as shelters for displaced victims. University buses were provided for transportation for Central State students, while library, laboratory and other facilities were provided to students as CSU worked towards recovery.

All told over $1 billion in damage was caused by the disaster. A memorial service will be held at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday at the Greene County courthouse in Xenia. In commemoration we have posted a small sample of photographs from the university’s relief effort.

The above photographs are from the University Archive. You may also be interested in reading about Wright State University’s relief efforts for the tornado victims in that week’s issue of The Guardian, April 8, 1974, on CORE Scholar.

You can see additional Xenia tornado photos on this blog post from our Dayton Daily News Archive blog, as well as in an exhibit of original Xenia tornado photographs from the DDN Archive in our reading room.

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New Exhibit: Xenia Tornado

The F5 tornado that struck nearby Xenia, Ohio, on April 3, 1974, was without a doubt one of the worst natural disasters in Miami Valley history. This coming April 3 marks 40 years since that devastating day.

In commemoration, we are exhibiting a selection of original photographs of the Xenia tornado’s destruction in our reading room. We have chosen 40 photographs out of the more than 100 photos on this subject, from our Dayton Daily News Archive.

2014-04-01 TornadoSign2

Look for these signs in the Dunbar Library elevators, welcoming you to the exhibit!

The exhibit consists of three silver cases just inside the entrance to our reading room, which is located on the fourth floor of Dunbar Library. The photo below shows the contents of the center case. (The case is shown open for photography purposes only; it will be closed when you visit.)


2014-04-01 Xenia tornado exhibit photo 1

One of three cases of original photographs of Xenia tornado damage from the Dayton Daily News Archive. (Case open for photography purposes only; will be closed when you visit. Sorry!)

The exhibit also includes a copy of the book Tornado: A Special Report by the Journal Herald, Dayton, Ohio. (shown in the photo above). This book includes many additional photographs and historical accounts. If you would like to look at the book, please let us know; we have a second copy that will be readily available outside of the exhibit case.

This exhibit will be available in our reading room during our open hours from now through the end of Spring Semester. We hope you’ll stop by, view the photos, and take a few minutes to reflect on what that day was like for our community (whether you are remembering or imagining).

If you aren’t able to visit us to see the original photos we have on display, you can see a sampling of Xenia tornado photos on this blog post from our Dayton Daily News Archive blog. You can also see photos and learn about Wright State University’s relief efforts for tornado victims in tomorrow’s 40th anniversary blog post or in that week’s issue of The Guardian, April 8, 1974, on CORE Scholar.

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New and Updated Collections Available for Research

We have new materials available for research! (Click on the links to view the updated PDF finding aids.)

The following new collections were recently arranged and described and are now available for research:

  • Ray Must Collection (MS-469)
  • Miami Valley Atomic Energy Show Collection (MS-484)
  • William Peters Aviation Photograph Collection (MS-485)
  • One issue of the Niles Weekly Register dated April 9, 1814 (SC-291)
  • Roz Young manuscript (SC-292)
SC-291 Niles' Weekly Register (1814), front page

SC-291 Niles’ Weekly Register (1814), front page

Additional materials were recently processed into the following existing collections, so you might want to take another look at them:

  • Ivonette Wright Miller Papers (MS-216)
  • American Society of Aviation Artists (MS-279)

New and improved finding aids are now available for:

  • James F. Overholser Papers (MS-5): New item-level descriptions.
  • First Regular Baptist Church Records (MS-81).
  • Everett Neukom Papers (MS-90).
  • Clair Wilbur Welty Papers (MS-196).
  • Neal V. Loving Collection (MS-282).
  • Inland Children’s Chorus Collection (MS-432).
  • Dayton Daily News Archive (MS-458): An item-level listing is now available for Series VII: Library.

And there’s much more where that came from! You can browse all our collection guides online anytime!


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