Resiliency in Venezuela: A Brief Look at the Willpower of a Country and its People throughout History

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Map of VenezuelaWith one glance at the current news in Venezuela, horror ensues as you witness the atrocities that Venezuelans are enduring on a daily basis. Corrupt politicians, hyperinflation, big oil, blackouts and a lack of access to food, water, and other necessities are just the beginning. In one of my Spanish courses, our professor had us pull newspaper articles about the conflict and one particular article still comes to mind: “In Venezuela, Cooking With Firewood as Currency Collapses” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/02/world/americas/venezuela-nicholas-maduro-inflation-economic-collapse.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FVenezuela). Black markets are thriving and charging obscene amounts for items like propane gas, eggs and sugar, which in turn leads to people relying on firewood for heat and food. In this century, it is hard to fathom how quickly a country can collapse and what that means for the citizens. However, the stark reality is that countries can fall in a week if enough corruption, unrest, and poor distribution of wealth exists. Continue reading Resiliency in Venezuela: A Brief Look at the Willpower of a Country and its People throughout History

Under the Tent of the Sky: A Collection of Poems About Animals Large & Small

By: McKenna Corey, ARB 2018-2019 NEH Intern

Under the Tent of the Sky Title PageThe Historical Textbooks Collection at the ARB contains texts that cover a myriad of subjects: history, science, civic studies, music, writing, mathematics, and more. As I browse the collection, as a literary fanatic, I tend to gravitate towards the literary texts. As I was sorting some books this week, I came across the most endearing poetry collection for children that I wanted to share.

The anthology is titled Under the Tent of the Sky, and it includes poetry that focuses on the animal kingdom. The volume was published in 1937. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of my favorite poets were included in the volume, including William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and even William Shakespeare. It was amazing to me that such prominent poets were included in a collection for children, and I was inspired to flip through the volume. Continue reading Under the Tent of the Sky: A Collection of Poems About Animals Large & Small

Simon Lord Lovat

By: McKenna Corey, ARB 2018-2019 NEH Intern

Lord LovatSimon Lord Lovat (a title of Scottish reverence) was known in his time as “the Fox,” and for good reason. He was well-known to be sly and duplicitous.Within the context of the Jacobite uprisings, he played a special role. After his execution, it was apparent that it was up to interpretation whether he was a traitor or, as he would call himself, “a patriot.

Born into the clan Fraser to Thomas and Sybilla in Scotland, Simon Lord Lovat was a brilliant student in his younger years. After graduating with a Master of Arts in 1695, Simon’s life was full of uncertainty. After the loss of his older brother in his younger years, Simon was declared the heir to his father, Thomas. The Lord Lovat at this time was Hugh Fraser, though his leadership skills weren’t excellent, and it was for this reason that Simon knew that he had to assure that his father would gain the title of Lord Lovat. To do this, he decided to create an army. Continue reading Simon Lord Lovat

Benjamin Gettler and the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees

By:  Alex Temple, Benjamin Gettler Papers Project Archivist

I’ve mentioned before that Benjamin Gettler served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Cincinnati, but I haven’t really talked about how he got there or what that means.  In short, the Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University of Cincinnati.  There are 11 members total, who are recommended by the Ohio State Senate and appointed by the Governor of Ohio.  Among other responsibilities, they select and appoint the university president, set the university budget, and grant all degrees from the university.  The trustees set the framework for students’ experience at the University of Cincinnati, as they also are responsible for setting the tuition and approving university rules, curricula, and programs.  Gettler himself was key to the creation of the Judaic Studies Department.

Gettler was first recommended as a trustee to Governor George Voinovich by legislator Stanley Aronoff in October of 1992.  Aronoff lauded Gettler’s commitment to the Republican Party (Voinovich was a Republican governor) and business prowess, but it wasn’t until November of 1993 after a second recommendation from Bob Taft, that Voinovich would finally appoint Gettler.  Taft’s recommendation better highlighted Gettler’s qualifications as both a University of Cincinnati alumnus and significant donor.  Taft also praised his experience in law, finance, community service, and business in addition to his supportive activities with the Republican Party in local, state, and national issues.  He also put his own reputation on the line by making the recommendation out of personal familiarity with Gettler. Continue reading Benjamin Gettler and the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees

James Handaysd Pekins – An Early Advocate for the House of Refuge

Portrait James H. PerkinsBefore the House of Refuge opened in 1850, there was no institution serving juvenile criminal offenders in Cincinnati.  Juvenile offenders were housed with adults in the Hamilton County jail.  In the late 1830s, a movement began in Cincinnati to reform the penitentiary system and a man named James Handaysd Perkins took part in this movement.  Although Perkins did not live long enough to see it, he had an important role in the start of the juvenile criminal justice system and social services in Cincinnati.

Perkins was born in Boston and moved to Cincinnati as a young man in 1832.  He came from a well-to-do family and was a talented writer and speaker, but he seemed to struggle to find his place in life.  He suffered from some health problems and also possibly from some mental health issues.[i]  He arrived in Cincinnati in search of a quieter life and with hopes of purchasing land for a farm, but instead he quickly became an up and coming member of society.  He began studying law under his friend, Timothy Walker, and joined a group of affluent New Englanders already living in Cincinnati.  Perkins even met his wife, Sarah Elliot of Connecticut through his social circles.  Even though life seemed to be going well for him, Perkins quickly became disillusioned with the law and attempted a variety of different careers from farming to establishing a milling and tool manufacturing business. Continue reading James Handaysd Pekins – An Early Advocate for the House of Refuge

Flora McDonald: A Heroine of the Jacobites

By McKenna Corey, ARB InternHandwritten text that says Flora McDonald

A Heroine of the Jacobites

“Had it not been that her prudence and energies were called forth by the important and critical part which she was instrumental in achieving, she might have lived and died unknown to the world.”

-Alexander Macgregor, The Life of Flora Macdonald

Portrait of Flora MacDonaldIn every piece of history, there is a powerful woman, sometimes hidden or obscured from the record, that made all of the difference. This is true of the Jacobite movement as well, and though there are many incredible women that contributed to the movement, today’s post will focus on an incredibly special one. Flora Macdonald, with her bravery and commitment, saved a man’s life. What is even more incredible is that she not only saved a man’s life, but one that is integral to Scottish history.

I realized when I stumbled upon this portrait in the Virginius C. Hall Jacobite Collection, what struck me first was the poise and grace with which Flora poses. I was so enamored with the portrait that I decided to look into its subject, and after some research within the collection, I realized how important to the history of the Jacobite movements she really was. Continue reading Flora McDonald: A Heroine of the Jacobites

The Wonderful World of Miniature Books

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Five minature books from the Archives and Rare Books Library collectionsToday at work, while I was thinking about what topic I might want to write my blog post about, I helped Sue Reller look for a miniature book that members of Cincinnati Book Arts Society visiting the Archives & Rare Books Library wanted to see. From taking Kevin Grace’s honors seminar on the Culture of Books & Reading I had learned that ARB owns the smallest book in the world – only legible by using a magnifying glass!!!  But I never realized the entire collection of miniatures that the library owned is around 250 books. Needless to say, I was inspired by the number and the fact that not many people know the archives houses such a large collection of them or that miniature books existed – a world of its own! The attention to detail in all the books astounds me, from the beautifully marbled end papers to exquisite drawings and illustrated covers. Continue reading The Wonderful World of Miniature Books

The Surviving Legacies of Early Spain or Influences in Early Spanish History

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library Student Assistant

Roman Aqueduct in SegoviaAs a Spanish and International Affairs major, travel, global politics, and reading have always been of interest to me. Fortunately, our Archives & Rare Books Library contains an extensive collection on early exploration and travel accounts.  Just having recently returned from Spain, I want to focus this blog on a few of the Spanish-centered accounts.  For most people, Spanish history is often minimized to a few events: Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas and the dictatorship under Franco. Because of this, I want to highlight other important centuries of Spanish history while pulling some  illustrations and details from our various books.

Spanish history is full of wars amongst powerful nations (Roman, Moorish), famous people (Seneca, Trajan), and important discoveries (antiseptics, modern surgery). Owning Spain was important to trading, resource extraction, and crucial routes A door in the Alcazar Cathedralbetween Europe and Africa. One such empire that realized the value of Spain and would hold power of the area for centuries was Rome. To this day, the Roman impact on Spain is still evident: Segovian Aqueduct as illustrated in Edward Locker’s Views of Spain (1824) continues to provide water; Roman law; Christianity; the Romance language of Spanish;  and the prevalence of olive oil and wine in the cuisine.

Following Roman rule, the Moors from North Africa arrived and claimed land in the southern peninsula. From the architecture to the language, and even the agriculture, the Moors shaped a significant part of Spain’s history much like Rome. The exquisite palace, Alcazar of Seville, remains one of the greatest and most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture. The same architectural style can also be seen in the Great Mosque of Cordoba. S. P. Scott’s Through Spain: A Narrative of Travel and Adventure in the Peninsula (1886) highlights the impressive beauty of the Alcazar and the Mosque.

the Great Mosque of CordobaDuring the Middle Ages, both types of architecture (Roman and Moorish) alongside newer styles from the ruling Hapsburgs or Bourbons would create iconic cathedrals, palaces, and public buildings. One example of this mixture of architectural styles is the La Seo Cathedral in Zaragoza. Although it is hard to see in the stone etching of the cathedral from Locker’s Views of Spain (1824), the structure contains a Romanesque apse, a Baroque tower, Mudejar exterior walls, and a Gothic altarpiece. The conglomeration of multiple styles illustrates the diverse and rich history of Spain and highlights the acceptance of cultural differences that was evident throughout much of the nation’s history – minus a few dark periods, of course.

Zaragoza CathedralFor more information about early exploration of Spain or other travel accounts, visit the Archives & Rare Books Library on the 8th floor of Blegen Library.  We are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 am-5:00 pm.  You can also call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, visit us on the web at. http://www.libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, or have a look at our Facebook page,  https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

The Kennedy Letter

By: Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

I’ve been lost in the archives, and finally found my way out!  I’ve actually been taking some time to look at the collection as a whole, and have been eager to get back into looking at some of the contents at a closer level.  One piece which caught my attention early on was a letter from none other than Robert F. Kennedy, from 1957.  I’ve been excited to dig into this and learn more about the people in the letter and circumstances surrounding it.

Letter from Robert F. Kennedy to Benjamin Gettler regarding the Hoffa case

Continue reading The Kennedy Letter

The Bizarre Valentine Postcards of R.F. Outcault

By:  Kevin Grace

Postcard showing little boy crying and dogs looking onThe children are either drawn as freckle-faced street urchins or as the clean-smocked offspring of the hoity-toity.  The animals – a parrot, typically dogs – look on quizzically or crack wise.  And the occasion being Valentine’s Day, the messages are about the lovelorn and the hopeful.  These are the early 20th century postcards drawn by Richard Felton Outcault, a pioneer of the modern newspaper comic strip who gave America such literary figures as Buster Brown and The Yellow Kid.   And advertising being Richard Felton Outcaultwhat it was (and is), Buster and the Kid gave us books, shoes, coin banks, calendars, clocks, pencils, puzzles, and all manner of geegaws, selling the country on the all-American pastime of buying stuff.

But the postcards deviated from the overall merchandising a bit, although Outcault’s newspaper employers and their agents certainly generated a lot of them.  The holiday cards were something a little different, a reflection of the artist’s own attitudes to his comic Postcard showing girl kissing boy with the words, "O! Will I be your Valentine?creations.  R.F. Outcault was born in 1863, hailing from Lancaster, Ohio.  He came to Cincinnati in 1878 to attend the McMicken School of Design – which is now the Cincinnati Art Academy, though the University of Cincinnati certainly traces part of its heritage as well to the McMicken school, so in effect Outcault is a UC alumnus.  He graduated in 1881 and began his employment as a painter of bucolic scenes in the massive safes constructed by the Hall Safe and Lock Company.  Growing in local reputation, Outcault managed to land a job with the 1888 centennial industrial exposition in Cincinnati, one of the many local product fairs held in the 19th century, and which were begun as an outlet of the Ohio Mechanics Institute, founded in Child asking for a Valentine with parrot looking on1828 and now part of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.  At the exposition he painted scenes for Thomas Edison’s electric light displays, parlaying that into a career on the east coast with trade magazines.  Incidentally, while Edison was a telegraph operator in 1860s Cincinnati, he frequented the OMI library for his reading pleasure.

By 1894, Outcault was drawing cartoons for newspapers and magazines, particularly the New Postcard with the words "This is February 14" showing a girl and a dogYork World, the New York Journal, Judge, and the New York Herald.  It was during this time that he created his first famous character of his “Hogan’s Alley” cartoon, the Yellow Kid.  By 1902, R.F. introduced his famous Buster Brown and his faithful terrier, Tige.  And, his personal style of using panels and dialogue balloons became a standard in cartooning.

A boy in uniform giving a girl a Valentine's cardBut those strange Valentine cards?  They are unlike the sweet and lovey-dovey kids’ valentines of the late 20th century.  Instead, there is an edge to Outcault’s art, a bit of an insult here and there, and more rejection than true love.  In a way, they are an outgrowth of the so-called “Vinegar Valentines” of Victorian America.  Vinegar valentines Postcard with a girl and boy and the words "I adore you"were sarcastic and insulting, greetings designed to reject the offers of true love.  Competing with true romantic valentines, these little missives of misanthropy usually were sent anonymously to those one disliked, be they flirtatious bachelors or suffragists.   Outcault’s cards resemble them in a natural progression, one supposes, from invective to just strange little takes on the whole idea of Valentine’s Day.

Postcard with the words, "I'm thinking, thinking all the time. Of my heart's best love, my valentine." Showing young man and dogFor R.F. Outcault, his valentine postcards were done in his typical style and represent another aspect of what was a long and productive cartooning career.  Retiring from the hubbub of daily newspaper work, he spent the last decade of his life quietly painting and died in 1928.