In 1917, the noted journalist and philologist H.L. Mencken published an article in the New York Evening Mail concerning the history of the bathtub in the United States. According to the Baltimore writer, known as much for his satire and acerbic wit as he was for his political reporting, Cincinnati was home to this tub. Mencken asserted that America’s first bathtub was introduced on December 20, 1842 by Adam Thompson who lived, in all places, Cincinnati, Ohio. Made of mahogany and lined with lead, the vessel was introduced by Thompson to his guests at a Christmas party, described how it worked, and invited the partygoers to take a dip. Four of them took him up on his offer, and the next day the invention was widely reported in the press. Continue reading Cincinnati’s Bathtub Hoax and a Missing Giant Tub
They are the fruit of our archival world, those strange objects, quirky provenance discoveries, and odd functions that lend surprise to the workday. For example, while attending a conference just last week, I was working one afternoon in a research library to delve into a few early documents related to our UC holdings. Taking a break and wandering down a dark hallway, I saw a partially-opened door, poked my head in, and saw two shrunken heads in bell jars. Not what I was looking for, but certainly more interesting than what I had been reading!
So it wasn’t unexpected at all when I returned home and saw that the Archives & Rare Books Library’s own anatomical oddity is in the public eye, something we’ve anticipated for the past several weeks. In its January issue, Cincinnati Magazine has a feature called “Artifact,” for which they used the jawbone of a mule from our Stephen Foster Collection. Having the mandible in the collection isn’t as bizarre as it might seem. The Foster materials were compiled by former UC president Raymond Walters during his tenure from 1932 to 1955. Walters was a Foster scholar of sorts and acquired the collection as part of his research, eventually donating it to the Libraries. There are the typical items in the Foster material that you would expect, such as sheet music, songbooks, images, and recordings. And the jawbone fits right in with these items because it is actually a musical instrument, used for percussion in the antebellum minstrel shows that traveled up and down the Ohio River, stopping in towns like Cincinnati to perform their songs and dances. A stick would be used to rasp up and down the teeth to provide the rhythm. But how and when Walters acquired the bone is a mystery. Continue reading ARB Jawbone Makes the Pages of Cincinnati Magazine
In the Archives and Rare Books Library, we receive all sorts of questions related to the university’s history. Some are simple to answer, but others can take hours of research and can require digging through many old files and records. In the Fall of 2013, Steven R. Howe, a professor in UC’s Psychology Department, contacted us regarding his research on the history of the Fellows of the Graduate School. His goal was to enhance the website for the Fellows of the Graduate School by creating a list of former fellows. Since no comprehensive list existed, ARB staff helped Howe locate Board of Trustees minutes, course catalogs, faculty directories, and biographical files on individual faculty members. His research resulted in a spreadsheet that lists all the Fellows of the Graduate School along with some biographical information on each of the fellows. This list, along with some other information resulting from his research, is now available on the Archives and Rare Books Library website: http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/archives/collections/fellows_graduate_school.html Continue reading Complete list of Fellows of the Graduate School Now Available Online
Three new exhibits have been installed in Blegen and Langsam Libraries that feature UC Libraries’ collections.
Blegen 4th Floor Lobby: The exhibit “Clifton” showcases the magazine that, according to its editor Cliff Radel, was known for “Purposefully taking a sideways look at the University and the community [that] will undoubtedly be discomforting to a great number of people who operate with fixed principles. Good.” The exhibit was created by communications design student Alixandria Wolfe, a senior DAAP student, and Melissa Cox Norris, director of library communications Learn more about Clifton magazine online via an exhibit from the Archives and Rare Books Library.
Gregory H. Williams became the University of Cincinnati’s 27th president when he took office in September 2009. Among more than 100 applicants for the position, he was selected in part because of his outstanding work in transforming the City College of New York, where he served as president before joining the UC. Williams received national acclaim for his book, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black (New York, NY: Dutton, 1995). Over a decade later, he still received feedback from his readers while serving as the president here at UC. The memoir was his way of telling the world about struggling with poverty and acceptance during his youth and dealing with his biracial identity in Muncie, Indiana at a time when segregation was still highly overt in the United States. The book also brought to life other family issues such as alcoholism and abandonment. Throughout his account, he told the story of a normal childhood that spiraled into one of torment, welfare, and segregation, and then how he made the best of it. Williams became the star quarterback of his high school’s football team, excelled in college to earn four degrees, and worked his way up in higher education system until he became president of College City of New York from 2001-2009 and then president of the University of Cincinnati from 2009 to 2012. Continue reading President Williams Speeches Are Now Available in the University Archives
Oh, the things you can find when you go to an auction. Even the typical items that you find for sale, such as books, sometimes contain a surprise for the unsuspecting buyer. That’s exactly what happened to Linda Sheets of Jonesboro, Indiana when she bought a box lot of books and discovered a University of Cincinnati tuition receipt dated October 1, 1917. The strip of paper has yellowed with age, and fortunately Ms. Sheets realized it might have historical value for UC, and was kind enough to share her discovery with the Archives and Rare Books Library.
Jordon Alcott, the student from the 1917-1918 academic year, probably thought that $63.50 in tuition for one semester here at the university was expensive. That total comes from a $5 library fee, $50 for tuition to the College of Liberal Arts, a $ 1 registration fee, $2.50 fine to use the gymnasium, and a $5 contingency fee.
The Archives and Rare Books Library has made available a collection of records from University Communications covering the University’s conversion to semesters in 2012. The collection concentrates on the comprehensive communication plan developed to educate students and other stakeholders about the conversion and includes communication plans, planning documents, research, publications, and clippings. Also included are some promotional items such as t-shirts, protective hats, and sandwich boards declaring that the world will END – not really, just convert to semesters – in 2012.
Thanks to a generous donation from Anthony Graybosch, The Archives and Rare Books Library now has in its holdings a collection of philosophy books from Van Meter Ames’ private library. Van Meter Ames was a faculty member in the UC philosophy department, beginning in 1925, and served as its head from 1959 until 1966 when he retired. Many of the books in this collection have Ames’ annotations, notes, and article clippings in them, as well as correspondence between Ames and fellow philosophers or friends. Continue reading Philosophical "Ames" of the Archives and Rare Books Library
A new Records Update is now available on the Records Management Program website. Records Update is released periodically to convey timely information between publications of Records Quarterly. This issue offers “Records in the News” stories found in the media and legislative action taken in March and April.
As reported in the Spring 2013 Records Quarterly article, “Public Records: Your Rights and Responsibilities,” Ohio’s public records laws are dynamic and are continually being tested in Ohio’s courtrooms. Ohio courts decided seven public records cases in March and April and there are currently six open cases in front of the Supreme Court of Ohio. In a case close to home, on April 24 the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that lease terms and rents between Findlay Market private management company The Corporation for Findlay Market and its tenants are trade secrets and are not open to disclosure under the public records act. In 2010, Kevin P. Luken requested copies of lease agreements from The Corporation for Findlay Market and ultimately from the City of Cincinnati. While he received the agreements, terms and rents were redacted from the released documents and cited as trade secrets. Luken initated a mandamus action against the parties, which resulted in the recent decision.
The Findlay Market decision and more are available through this issue of Records Update.
Public Records: Your Rights and Responsibilities – Learn what your responsibilities are as a UC employee when it comes to Ohio public records laws and your rights as a citizen to obtain government records.
Social Media and the Ohio Electronic Records Committee – See how the Ohio Electronic Records Committee is studying social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook for their capability to create records and how that translates to UC’s social media activity.
When do I Dispose of Records? – Discover the answer to this oft-asked question with the help of some handy charts that make it easier for you to time your records disposition.
You will also find announcements for the spring shredding event sponsored by the Office of Information Security, “Records in the News,” current events in legislation that could affect recordkeeping, and recent gifts to the University Archives.
Records Quarterly is distributed electronically via the Records Management website.