An Irish Journalist in the Queen City: Lafcadio Hearn and the Cincinnati Demi-Monde

By Kevin Grace

From the Cincinnati winter of 1874, over 140 years ago:

 It is in all times a rugged road to the Place of Nameless Graves – a road running over rolling ground, where vehicles rock from side to side like ships in a gale and groan in all their timbers. “Rattle his bones over the stones, He’s only a pauper whom nobody owns.”  Hundreds of paupers’ bones are rattled over that road every year: the Undertaker always sending out three or four at a time in a covered wagon, with frightfully stiff springs.  And as the dismal vehicle rolls along the coffins rattle and bump one against the other fearfully from side to side, and bump horribly against the thinly-lined walls of those long and ghastly boxes.

Hearn

This article, “Golgotha, A Pilgrimage to Potter’s Field”, was written for the Cincinnati Enquirer on November 29 that year by an odd, bulging- eyed Irishman by the name of Lafcadio Hearn.  Hearn, who would chronicle the lowlifes, ghosts, and murderers of Cincinnati for several years before moving on to New Orleans, eventually settled in Japan where even today he is revered as a major literary figure.  He made his journalistic mark in Cincinnati because he explored the alleys and tenements and riverside settlements that housed the city’s worst and most colorful citizens.  He explored the lives of criminals and addicts, of mediums and flim-flam men, and of those who dealt with the underbelly of Cincinnati society.  And he did it by letting them tell their stories, by involving himself in his own reporting, by writing in the authentic dialect of the storytellers, and by thrilling his readers nearly every day with a world in which they seldom visited. Continue reading An Irish Journalist in the Queen City: Lafcadio Hearn and the Cincinnati Demi-Monde

Faustian Ghosts and Redemptive Masculinity in an American Baseball Story

By:  Kevin Grace

PitcherThere’s too much snow, too much cold, and too many gray skies, so we need to refresh ourselves a bit.  After all, the Reds are in spring training out in Arizona, and Opening Day is just a month away!  So let’s talk baseball and a little Cincinnati baseball story published 130 years ago.

In 1885, a quirky little tale was published in a Cincinnati humor tabloid called Sam the Scaramouch (SpecCol RB F499.C5 S16).  The anonymously-written story is entitled “O’Toole’s Ghost” and its plot centers around a young immigrant by the name of Mickey McGonigle who dreams of becoming the best baseball player ever seen.  Late one night, he is visited by the ghost of a deceased pitcher by the name of Barney O’Toole, who offers to fulfill this dream on one small condition: never argue with the umpire.  McGonigle accepts the offer, and for a brief time he is indeed the greatest player in the land.  But during one game, he forgets that agreed upon condition with the ghost, violates it, and sees his prowess quickly and publically stripped away.  He spends the rest of his days consumed with regret and humiliation. Continue reading Faustian Ghosts and Redemptive Masculinity in an American Baseball Story

Deaf and Dumb or The Orphan Protected: A Dublin Play in the Archives & Rare Books Library

By Sydney Vollmer, ARB student assistant

Tile Page for Deaf and DumbHere at the Archives and are Books library, we have a vast collection of 18th and 19th c. plays and I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to read a play from our Irish subset of these holdings. Though we have numerous titles which grabbed my attention, I came across one that I couldn’t ignore: Deaf and Dumb, translated by Thomas Holcroft and published in Dublin in 1801.

The title struck my interest because last summer, I began watching a TV show called Switched at Birth. One of the main characters in the show is Deaf, so there is a lot of sign language as well as the juxtaposition between the hearing and deaf worlds. Before watching the show, the obstacles Deaf people face and the idea of Deaf culture had never occurred to me. Continue reading Deaf and Dumb or The Orphan Protected: A Dublin Play in the Archives & Rare Books Library

Joseph Alsop Papers in ARB – Part 2 – Joe Alsop's Greek Bronze Age Archive at the University of Cincinnati

Below is the second in a series of blogs in which Jack Davis discusses Joseph Alsop and his papers in ARB.  It was originally published on From the Archivist’s Notebook, a blog of Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan, head of the archives at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.  

By:  Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati 

fromthesilentearthSearching library catalogues and online archival finding aids sometimes produces unexpected consequences. As I wrote in Part I of this two-part post, Joseph Alsop’s principal archive is curated in the Library of Congress. The University of Cincinnati Archives and Rare Book Library, however, contains five boxes of manuscripts of From the Silent Earth and relevant correspondence between Alsop and the eminent scholars Emmett Bennett, Carl Blegen, Maurice Bowra, John Caskey, Sterling Dow, and Leonard Palmer. While writing From the Silent Earth: A Political Columnist Reports on the Greek Bronze Age (1964), Alsop solicited advice from these distinguished Aegean prehistorians and Classical philologists, all of whom were supportive of his efforts. Jack Caskey, for example, replied to an initial letter of inquiry: “I’m particularly interested in absorbing your political analysis. It sounds neither foolish nor pretentious to me in your brief summary.”

In Part I, I explored how it was that one of Washington’s foremost political analysts of the Cold War era (and for two decades a trustee of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens) came to write a book about the Greek Bronze Age. In Part II, I describe the contents of the archive in Cincinnati, discuss its academic significance, and consider what light it sheds on Alsop’s research methods. Continue reading Joseph Alsop Papers in ARB – Part 2 – Joe Alsop's Greek Bronze Age Archive at the University of Cincinnati

Joseph Alsop Papers rediscovered in ARB – Part I – Joe Alsop Reports on the Greek Bronze Age

Professor Jack Davis of UC’s Classics Department is a regular visitor to the Archives and Rare Books Library.  Recently he has been examining the Joseph Alsop papers, which contain a manuscript copy of Alsop’s book, From the Silent Earth, a Report on the Greek Bronze Age and correspondence about the manuscript.  Below is the first of a series of blogs in which Jack Davis discusses Joseph Alsop and the collection in ARB.  It was originally published on From the Archivist’s Notebook, a blog of Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan, head of the archives at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.  

By:  Jack Davis, Carl W. Blegen Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Cincinnati 

Several months ago Louis Menand’s New Yorker review (Nov. 10, 2014) of Gregg Herken’s The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington kindled my interest in Joseph W. Alsop (1910-1989), influential journalist, syndicated newspaper columnist, and trustee (1965-1985) of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. A bit of archival sleuthing at the University of Cincinnati (see below) led to the discovery that on Saturday, December 14, 1963, Alsop had summoned an A-list of Classical archaeologists and art historians to dine with him and his wife, Susan Mary, in their Georgetown, Washington, D.C., home — a strange flock for this longtime Washington insider to host.

On the cover, Joseph and Stewart Alsop (photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

Continue reading Joseph Alsop Papers rediscovered in ARB – Part I – Joe Alsop Reports on the Greek Bronze Age

ARB's "50 Minute Talk" in January

Fresh back from the holidays, the 50 Minute Talk series in the Archives & Rare Books Library will kick off 2015 with a presentation by Eira Tansey on Lois Lowry’s classic dystopian novel, The Giver on Thursday January 8. Later in the month, UC professor Bob Miller will talk about the World War II years at the University of Cincinnati.  Please join us for these informal noon get-togethers.  Bring your lunch, invite a friend, and enjoy some good conversation and opinions.

50 Minutes Talk - January 2015

 

The Universality of Sherlock Holmes

By:  Iman Said, ARB Intern 2014-2015

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle statue

This week, we’ll take a quick break from historical photos and talk about the impact that literature can have on society.

Last March, I had the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of a seminar here at UC. Edinburgh is the very first city to be established as an UNESCO City of Literature. Incredible authors began their careers in Edinburgh, from Sir Walter Scott to J.K. Rowling. Simply walking the streets of Newtown was enough to see the impact that literature has had on the culture of the city.

For me, the most significant author to start in Edinburgh is the incredible Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose legendary consulting detective is a household name all over the world. Sherlock Holmes and his faithful compatriot, Dr. John Watson, got their start in two novels, A Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four. Neither of the novels had very much success, so Doyle decided to change tactics and began to write a series of short stories that ran every month in The Strand Magazine. The first story, “A Scandal in Bohemia” was published in July 1891 and was an instant success, guaranteeing the success of Doyle and the success of the magazine. Today, the stories have been translated into numerous languages and adapted into tens of television programs, radio shows, and movies. Statues of the great detective can be found in Edinburgh, the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as in Japan and Switzerland. Continue reading The Universality of Sherlock Holmes

St. Mark and the Lion

On the Archives & Rare Books website, we try to keep it fresh by putting up new images from time to time, especially our banner pictures.  All of them are taken from our various holdings and we often get queries about what they are exactly, what collections they’re from, what era they represent, and the like.  Lately, we’ve received several about our banner image of St. Mark.  The painting of the gospel writer is from our book of hours, what we call the Limoges Book of Hours, but is listed in UCLID as Ms. No. 37.

St. MarkCreated ca. 1475 in a monastic workshop in Limoges, France, this book of hours is written on vellum and bound in velvet.  There are exquisite illuminated pages throughout the volume illustrating events like the Conception and the Resurrection.  As with all books of hours from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, the volume contains the prayers read at the designated times of day, along with a list of saints and feast days important to the region in which the book was made.  Additionally, most books of hours contain the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  And this is where St. Mark comes in.  Continue reading St. Mark and the Lion

ARB’s " 50 Minute Talk" in October Features Edgar Allan Poe

By:  Kevin Grace

Last year around Halloween, the Archives & Rare Books Library’s “50 Minutes” program featured Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, looking at the book’s heritage through illustrated editions as well as viewing the novel in terms of the history of science.  It was all part of a rare books tribute to Halloween and iconic fright.

So this year, we’ll continue the tradition of classic scary stuff by discussing Edgar Allan Poe’s dark poem, “The Raven.”  How Poe and his poem have been portrayed in pop culture and American literature will be presented, along with some Poe titles from the Rare Books Collection.  And since it is all in good fun, what would a Poe program be without plenty of Halloween candy and a few door prizes?

Please join us on Friday, October 17, at noon in 814 Blegen Library.  Bring your friends, bring your lunch, bring an appetite for the awful.  Throughout October, we’ll also be posting several blogs on this master of the macabre.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…”

50 Minutes October 2014

RESCHEDULED – ARB’s "50 Minutes" Lunchtime Series Returns for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

By:  Kevin Grace

This presentation has been rescheduled for TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25.  The series of monthly talks in the Archives & Rare Books Library will return this fall  for its fifth year.  Each month at noon, ARB holds a casual presentation in 814 Blegen Library with a focus on its collections, local heritage, or book history.  In the past, we’ve hosted talks ranging from the Depression-era Cincinnati WPA guide to the smallest book in the world, from Frankenstein to a book bound in human skin, from William Blake to John Milton; and from Don Quixote to the Arabian Nights.  Our presentation originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 27 has been rescheduled for Tuesday November 25.  This presentation will be about rare books and coffee, looking at how coffee production, trade, heritage, and lore have been portrayed by ethnographers, historians, and explorers.

Please join us for this 50 Minutes-One Book talk.  Bring your lunch and your conversation, and of course, coffee will be served!  Other upcoming presentations include the first female graduate of UC back in 1878; Irish poetry during the Great War, the Easter Rising, and the Irish Civil War; UC during World War II; the Hellfire clubs of the 18th century; and fairy tale and fantasy illustrators.  We are also open to any ideas or presenters for these talks.

50 Minutes November