Does the Magic 8 Ball have a UC connection? Signs Point to Yes.

By Janice Schulz

At the Archives & Rare Books Library we frequently get requests asking us to verify that a certain individual attended UC or one of its predecessor schools. Recently a call came in asking us to substantiate a claim found on the internet that Abe Bookman, creator of the Magic 8 Ball, was a graduate of the Ohio Mechanics Institute (OMI). Generally this is an easy task – we simply look in alumni directories, yearbooks or commencement brochures for the person – but Abe proved to be a bit more elusive than most. With no attendance dates to go by, we started pouring through all of the resources we have for OMI using his birth date and the Magic 8 Ball’s introduction as guides, but to no avail. After further research, the reason for his elusiveness began to become clearer – at some point around 1936, we believe he Anglicized his surname from Buchmann to Bookman. He seemed to use both names until around 1955, eventually dropping Buchmann and exclusively using Bookman. That research also uncovered some interesting details about his life. Continue reading Does the Magic 8 Ball have a UC connection? Signs Point to Yes.

The Estimable Mr. Hoffner

By Kevin Grace

Mick and MackStudents with Mick and MackThe University of Cincinnati community is well-schooled in the story of its lions, Mick and Mack, perhaps ad nauseam. Here in the Archives & Rare Books Library, the subject is a frequent one: we relate to the inquirer how they stand as sentinels in front of McMicken Hall, once facing each other but now facing away (Mick is on the left, Mack on the right), how occasionally lipstick marks will be found on them, and that they supposedly roar whenever a virgin walks by.  The fact that they have never roared should not trouble the demure – non-roaring lions are a hoary tale on many campuses.  And, that Mick and Mack took up their posts in 1904 when UC was a municipal university and city officials needed to find an appropriate home for them.  And, that the lions are copies of larger versions in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy (not Kentucky).  And, that even one of those “originals” was a copy of ancient Roman statue.

But what of the lions’ owner and the university’s benefactor, Jacob Hoffner?  Who the heck was he and what was he doing with marble lions?  We’ve always known a bit about him, that he was a Cincinnati real estate man and business speculator who enjoyed traveling in Europe.  He maintained a nice little estate in Northside and decorated his gardens with a variety of statuary, some of which he had copied from what he saw abroad.  Hence, the lions.  Hoffner died in 1894 at the age of 96, leaving everything for the use of his wife, Maria.  On her death in 1904, following a part of Jacob’s will, his statuary was donated to the city.  And that was that. Continue reading The Estimable Mr. Hoffner

Our Bearcat Image Library is Growing Again!

By Janice Schulz

Two new images have been added to our Bearcat exhibit. The photographs, taken by ARB Student Assistant Lauren Fink, depict the Bearcat making a stand around campus. The first is one of two statues guarding the Clifton Avenue entrance to McMicken Hall. Just find Mick and Mack and look up to see these fellows dutifully scanning the horizon. The second is a large inflatable bearcat currently holding ground in the UC Bookstore. He stands confidently and proudly welcoming customers to the Bookstore’s upper level.

Continue reading Our Bearcat Image Library is Growing Again!

Ohio Archives Month: Buckeyes in the Civil War

By Kevin Grace

Ohio Archives Month PosterEvery year, October is designated as Ohio Archives Month, and for 2011 the theme is “Buckeyes in the Civil War.”  The Archives & Rare Books Library joined several other Ohio repositories in contributing an image to this year’s poster.  Our image is of Cincinnatian John R. Hunt, who served as an Adjutant in the war.  His brother, Samuel T. Hunt, was a Cincinnati jurist who helped form the University of Cincinnati in 1870 and served as one of the early board members.

For more information on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Ohio and across the nation, please go to ARB’s website and its special Civil War commemorative page:  On that page, we have linked to our full-text digitized issue of the 1863 Colored Citizen, one of the few issues in existence, as well as links to Civil War books, images, and letters.  For further information on the Archives & Rare Books Library and its holdings, please call 513.556.1959, email, or visit the website at

T. M. Berry Project: The New Horizon

Cover of New Horizon

By Laura Laugle

Now that the physical processing of the Berry collection is complete and I’ve begun arranging materials, I’ve come across some items which, when I processed them months and months ago, I was too ignorant of their context to fully appreciate. Chief among those items are three copies of The New Horizon. I had no idea when I pulled out the rusty staples, pried off the bits of rapidly disintegrating paperclips and filed them temporarily (read: labeled with a removable sticky note) as “Misc. Copies of New Horizon” how incredibly important these school papers really are. Continue reading T. M. Berry Project: The New Horizon

College of Music Historical Collection in ARB

By Lauren Fink

Cover of Concert Program, 1901In the Archives and Rare Books Library, we recently processed a collection containing historical records of the College of Music of Cincinnati. This collection spans 1878-1967 and contains commencement bulletins, programs, student rosters, and minutes of executive, financial, and stockholder’s committee meetings. Illustrating the historical and biographical nature of this collection, the 1926 commencement bulletin entitled “College Comments,” contains articles on the College’s faculty, graduating students, clubs, and ensembles. Further, meeting minutes provide details of all of the College’s major educational and financial concerns and Minutes of the Finance Committee, 1896decisions, such as how to create more space for radio labs or the necessity of hiring certain faculty for certain departments. The minutes also contain outlines of correspondence between the College and the Conservatory of Music on having a connection with each other. To view the contents of this new collection, see the finding aid online ( Continue reading College of Music Historical Collection in ARB

Taft the Party Animal

By Kevin Grace

Statue of William Howard TaftIs there a Taft fashion cult lurking about campus?  This morning saw the William Howard Taft statue outside the College of Law decked out like he was going to a Jimmy Buffet concert.  Replete with hula skirt, tee shirt, shades, and beanie, Big Bill definitely looked like he was ready for an end-of-summer blowout.

The Taft statue was erected on the east side of the law school in 1992.  Sculpted by William T. Moore III, the statue shows Taft in his judicial robes and clasping a law book in his hand.  A graduate of Woodward High School, Yale, and the Cincinnati Law School, William Howard Taft served as dean of his law alma mater from 1896 to 1900.  The Cincinnati Law School was the last remnant of the original Cincinnati College founded in 1819.  As dean, Taft assisted with the 1897 merger of his school with the Law Department of the University of Cincinnati and served as dean of the combined programs, called the College of Law.  Continue reading Taft the Party Animal

A Life in Music and Education: The Eleanor M. Allen Papers

By Lauren Fink

The Archives and Rare Books Library recently processed a collection containing artifacts of and relating to Eleanor Moore Allen.

Eleanor Allen, originally from Linneas, Missouri, was a student at the Cincinnati College of Music in the 1930s.  She was also a staff singer at WLW Radio in Cincinnati and a record producer at the Victor Record Division of RCA in New York City. In the 1950s, Allen returned to the College-Conservatory of Music, working as an administrator, Dean of Women, and Director of the Preparatory Department. She was a member of the Alumni Board of Governors and the Mu Phi Epsilon Professional Music Sorority. After retirement from CCM in 1980, Allen worked as an assistant to David McLain, Cincinnati Ballet’s artistic director, for four years.  She died in 2003 at the age of 93. Continue reading A Life in Music and Education: The Eleanor M. Allen Papers

Another Alma Mater Moment

By Kevin Grace

Following up on the 1935 postcard of the last days of UC’s original building in last week’s ARB blogs, here are a couple more ephemeral treasures.  In this age of various tobacco prohibitions in our culture, we’re a bit surprised when we chance upon the reminders of commonplace tobacco use from a century ago.  For most of its history, the UC community treated smoking as just another part of campus life.  In our not-so-distant past there were “butt huts” scattered around campus where smokers could stand sheltered from the rain and snow, but certainly not from the cold and gloom. Continue reading Another Alma Mater Moment