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Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR)

The Judge Ben C. Green Law Library Special Collection #3

Scope and Content

A collection of various internal and external records (minutes, correspondence, customer files, financial and technical reports, etc.) documenting the history of the Ohio State Bar Association's (OSBA) non-profit subsidiary, the Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR) Corporation, and its automated legal research system that subsequently evolved into LEXIS-NEXIS.

As noted below, some parts of the collection are more robust than others. Plans include digitization of selected series and files for optimal access to researchers.

Trustee meetings (M Series) are among the most complete of the archive (1967-1983) and document the history of the organization and its online legal research service from OBAR's formation as a non-profit affiliate of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), to contracting with Data Corporation for database development, through Mead Corporation's subsequent acquisition of Data Corporation. Materials include OBAR Reports to the Fellows of the Ohio State Bar (annual reports) filed accordingly with the meeting date they were reported in. However, for ease of access, the Annual Reports are duplicated and collectively maintained in Operational Series Files (O17).

Correspondence (C Series) informs on all OBAR matters (contractual agreements, database information, public terminal issues, public relations, sales and marketing, meetings, etc.). In-coming and out-going communications are integrated and arranged chronologically.

Operations (O Series) contain a variety of administrative materials covering general OBAR operations, including policies and contracts, organizational documents and internal employer files. Original organizational documents include OBAR's Appointment of Agent (O10), and Vendors License (O12). Of interest is the Service Mark Application with the OBAR logo (O11) of a reel to reel magnetic tape, a version of which was represented on early Lexis brochures.


Fiscal Records (F Series) are limited in scope, containing only random years of many financial reports. However, Bond Holder Reports (F4) and Bond Series files (F5-F7) convey fairly well the debenture bond structure that provided initial funding for OBAR), and Audit Reports F3) are informative as well.

Database material (D Series) is organized into two groups: market surveys and reports, and technical material. Reports cover a variety of topics and include market surveys, database evaluation, etc. The A. D. Little Survey (D1) indicated sufficient Ohio market support to warrant Mead's investment in computer research. Technical information is interesting for a variety of reasons - "Computer Message Reports" (D14, D15) illustrate the development of command terms, "User Guides II" (D21) files document drafting stages of a particular user guide, System Change Orders (D12) and Program Progress Reports (D13) illustrate technical development stages of OBAR I. Interesting as well is the occasional photo illustrating modifications in user equipment as the database developed.

Promotions and Outreach (P Series) material includes advertisements, photos, articles and presentations on OBAR. Articles by key OBAR personnel (e.g., William Harrington) are quite informative on the organization's history, database development, and technical detail. Included in this series is a reprint of a law review article purporting to be the "first instance of actual use of machine research in a law review article" (P3), carried out via the "Horty" system at the University of Pittsburgh's Health Law Center. An early innovator in the field of computer assisted research, Horty's system served as an inspiration and model for the early OBAR system.

Subscriber (S Series) information includes a variety of subscriber information (agreements, irregularity reports, correspondence). Of particular interest are the Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey (S76 - S78) files. SSD attorneys William F. Preston and Richard M. McGonigal were actively involved in all aspects of the OBAR organization; the firm may have been OBAR's first subscriber. Inquiry files (general requests for information) document the wide range of interest, local to international, in OBAR. Inquiry files are organized by Ohio inquiries, out of state inquiries, and out of country inquires; files therein are arranged chronologically.

External Meetings (Series N) include ephemera of conferences OBAR and/or Mead Data Central staff attended to promote and/or demonstrate the database.