“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Those are the final lines in Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are dead, victims of their own passion and the enmity between the Capulets and the Montagues. Though their story is set in Renaissance Verona, it could be a tale told in any culture around the world in any era of humankind. For all the literary genius of William Shakespeare, scholars have long known that many of his plays were re-workings of stories he heard and historical accounts he read during his lifetime. Whether it was for Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Othello, or others, Shakespeare adapted these accounts for his stage in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that now have been performed countless times for more than 400 years, and over those centuries his own words have been adapted time and again. To see King Lear presented in England or Ireland is not the same as seeing it performed in South Africa or India or China. And of course, to see it once in England or America is not the same as seeing it once again on what might be the same stage in the same year. William Shakespeare’s plays are paragons of beautiful language, infinite interpretation, and above all, compelling stories.
I recently finished taking a complete inventory on Benjamin Gettler’s papers. It’s been really interesting unpacking folders from such an ambitious and involved person. The collection largely stems from his involvement in various organizations from 1960-2003, notably the Cincinnati Transit Company, S.O.R.T.A./Metro, American Controlled Industries (ACI), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the University of Cincinnati. There is also a large collection of political correspondence with letters dating as far back as 1959 (with Robert F. Kennedy), through 2012.
The bulk of the time spent so far has been going through each item in Mr. Gettler’s correspondence, which contains approximately 1000 items. Every piece has been examined for a sender, recipient, date, subject, and format. That was a lot of reading! It’s been interesting to read Mr. Gettler’s interests come through in his political correspondence, as well as seeing the often-contentious battles regarding S.O.R.T.A.’s operations. I must admit, it’s been hard to stop examining the documents and start writing about them. Continue reading Benjamin Gettler papers – Update on Progress
By: Alex Temple, Benjamin Gettler Papers Project Archivist
I’m currently working through Benjamin Gettler’s political work, and have just finished the first of six folders on his political correspondence. So far I’ve identified 150 items, representing approximately 30 years of his work, views, correspondence, and recognition. Largely, Gettler placed his energy into the Republican party, notably towards the Reagan/Bush campaigns. His campaign aid for politicians earned him various accolades, such as an honorary address to the House of Representatives from Representative Brad Wenstrup; invitations to Inaugural Balls for Ohio Governor Bob Taft and President Ronald Reagan, and an invitation to visit the White House in 1982.
One of the collecting areas of the Rare Books Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library is early travel and exploration. Though this area of the holdings ranges from the 16th century to the 20th, many of the travel accounts are illustrated volumes from the 19th century. During the Peninsular War (1808-1813) that was fought between Napoleon and Spain against Great Britain and Portugal for the control of the Iberian Peninsula, the English watercolorist and civil secretary of 1st Viscount Exmouth Edward Pellew, Edward Hawke Locker, recorded his tour of Spain through watercolors and etchings. Following his appointment as civil commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, Locker proceeded to publish his account in Views of Spain (1824).
Locker, the youngest son of Captain William Locker, was born on October 9, 1777 in Kent. He entered the military following an education at Eton in 1795 at the naval pay office. From that point forward, he would secure a series of promotions until his retirement as civil commissioner in 1844 when he suffered a mental breakdown. Remembered as a man of varied talents, Locker was a skilled artist and a smooth conversationalist, and, was a fellow of the Royal Society. His pictorial tour of Spain is just one of his many illustrated works documenting his travels abroad. The British Empire and travel literature in the 19th century often go hand in hand as many of Britain’s skilled officers were sent on foreign tours and often documented their exotic travels (see account of India: http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/liblog/2018/05/art-and-empire-in-nineteenth-century-india/). Continue reading Edward Locker’s 19th Century Views of Spain
Come hear about Ohio’s digital newspaper project and learn how to freely access historic newspapers from around the country.
When: Thursday July 26 from 11:00am-12:30pm
Where: Archives and Rare Books Library, Seminar Room 814
Did you know that 90 Ohio newspapers including foreign language papers have been digitized and are now part of the Library of Congress’ free newspaper database Chronicling America? Learn how to access the over 13 million pages of historic newspapers from 47 states and territories covering 1789-1963 on Chronicling America. Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, and Bronwyn Benson, Quality Control Technician, from the Ohio History Connection will demonstrate basic and advanced search strategies and how to work with your results to find information about local, state, national and international events, people, places and culture. They will also provide a brief overview newspaper digitization process and an update on the digitization of Ohio’s foreign language newspapers.
Treasures from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections including items from the German Americana collection that complement the digitized newspapers will be available for viewing before and after the presentation.
For the past several months, work has continued on processing the Benjamin Gettler Papers donated to the Archives & Rare Books Library. Gettler was a notable lawyer, businessman, and civic activist in Cincinnati, an international philanthropist, and a former member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees. I’ve been fascinated by the amount of public transit-related history in this collection. An often over-looked part of urban history is transportation infrastructure. Public transportation records can tell us not only where people lived, worked, and played, but also the routes taken and who the routes served. They can also provide insight into how, where, or why neighborhoods changed over time.
Cincinnati’s public transportation, as we recognize it today, really began in 1873 when several horse-drawn tram systems merged to form the Cincinnati Consolidated Railway Company. Nearly a decade later, it was renamed the Cincinnati Street Railway Company (Gettler, 2012). It remained the Cincinnati Street Railway Company until 1952, after the company had fully transitioned from rail to rubber-tire service, becoming the Cincinnati Transit Company.
Gettler himself was a prominent figure in Cincinnati’s transit history, as his involvement started slightly before the switch from streetcars to buses and through the sale of the Cincinnati Transit Company to the City of Cincinnati, forming the South Ohio Regional Transit Association (S.O.R.T.A.), and finally serving on the S.O.R.T.A. board beginning in 2003. A good deal of the collection in the Benjamin Gettler Papers comes from his involvement in public transportation, including items such as meeting minutes from the board of directors. One in particular which I found exciting to study was the meeting minutes from the board of directors from 1952 to 1954. Continue reading The Benjamin Gettler Papers: An Introduction to Cincinnati’s New Public Transit
For several months from July of 2017 to April of this year, each day on the Archives & Rare Books Library’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati/, featured an architectural element of Blegen Library, from printer’s marks to the original floor tiles and terrazzo walls. In the way the cultural heritage of the building was presented with its sculptures and carvings representing the history of the book and the legacy of education, every detail was explored with a capsule account of its meaning and importance. The figures in the bas reliefs of “Ex Occidente Lux” and “Ex Orientale Lux” were freshly discovered. The bronze symbols of knowledge over the front door were explained. The human stories behind the plaster and bronze printers marks were revealed. Continue reading The Cycle of Knowledge and Do Unto Others: The Ouroboros of Blegen Library
In my previous blogs, I have explored the history of Cincinnati’s House of Refuge and the records of the institution that are still available. Throughout my journey, I have been struck by the number of homeless children and children without adequate homes who were placed in this juvenile detention facility. One of the questions that I have been exploring is why these children were placed in the House of Refuge and not in another institution. My first thought was that there must not have been anywhere for these children to go, but a search for orphanages and other institutions in 19th Century Cincinnati has revealed that there actually were institutions that cared for children who had been abandoned, neglected, or whose parents were simply unable to care for them. So why were children who were not juvenile delinquents living in the House of Refuge? It seems that one reason may have been because there was not a standardized or centralized way of dealing with neglected, abused or homeless children in the city.
Services for children in need in 19th century Cincinnati were controlled by different entities and the placement of children was often influenced by religion, ethnicity, and race. Orphanages in Cincinnati were almost exclusively privately run and they were often affiliated with a particular religion. Some took in children who were homeless or children who the administrators felt were not adequately cared for by their parents, but other institutions only accepted orphans whose parents were either both deceased or whose parents were contributing members. In addition, only a few institutions in 19th century Cincinnati, including the House of Refuge, accepted African American children. A closer look at a few of these early Cincinnati orphanages shows how their services differed and overlapped. Continue reading The Cincinnati House of Refuge and Asylums for Children in 19th century Cincinnati
On September 20, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, General William Haines Lytle of Cincinnati was shot and killed by a Confederate sniper’s bullet in the Battle of Chickamauga. A few days later, his body was carried back to his hometown. Lytle’s funeral was held at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati and the thousands of mourners followed his casket in the cortege to Spring Grove Cemetery, miles away from the church. The slow procession took up most of the day, the general’s body not arriving at Spring Grove until dusk. Sometime later, his grave marker – a broken column – would dominate the landscape of the garden cemetery.
William Lytle was more than another officer killed in battle. He was a literary man, a soldier-poet whose verse in antebellum America was popular in both the North and the South, and whose lines reflected his experiences on the battlefield. They showed a view of the bloody vista typical of the Romantic era and they embodied his view of duty as well, in his eyes, a terrible beauty of death and destruction. Lytle was a part of the Romantic tradition in his poetry, incorporating his classical education as a boy with his notions of heroism and duty in life. This is an excerpt from a poem he wrote in 1840 as a fourteen-year-old, “The Soldier’s Death”: Continue reading “I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying!”: A Cincinnati College Soldier-Poet’s Embrace of the Battlefield
Travel literature in 19th-century India was closely linked to the British empire. Behind every picture was an army. This is especially true of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ramus Forrest’s illustrated book, A Picturesque Tour Along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna, In India, (SpecCol RB Oversize DS408 .F65) published in 1824.