A Very Shakespeare Summer

By Sydney Vollmer

Shakespeare in the ParkCongrats to all the Bearcats who graduated and to those who celebrated surviving another semester! Now that it’s summer time, you might be looking for some fun things to do.  I can tell you about one that’s right in your backyard…well, park.  Once again the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will offer their free Shakespeare in the Park summer series.  It opens July 14th and runs through September 4th. Each year Cincinnati Shakes prepares two shows for their various performances at parks around the city and Hamilton County.  This year’s shows are Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor.  Past years included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing.  The official schedule hasn’t been posted yet, but it will be coming soon!  You can check their website for updates. Continue reading

Shakespeare and Cincinnati’s Dramatic Festival

By: Sydney M. Vollmer, ARB Intern

In the spring of 1883, Cincinnati held its first Dramatic Festival at Music Hall, performing for a consecutive six days.  The show had a lineup of performances of all sorts of dramatic works, with many of them holding Shakespearian titles.   The festival was such a big deal that even the Chicago Tribune sent someone over to see what it was all about but unfortunately, the Tribune was less than impressed with Cincinnati’s efforts, claiming that the largeness of Music Hall drowned out the performances of almost all the actors.  However, the critics did have some kind words for the orchestra as well as the performances of Hamlet and Julius Caesar. Apparently, these were the only two plays that were “great” enough to be worthy of performance while simultaneously using the space effectively. It certainly helped that in the role of Hamlet was the famous thespian James E. Murdoch.

Dramatic Festival Continue reading

Donald and Marian Spencer: Lives of Love and Social Justice

By:  Sam Whittaker, History Department Intern

Donald and Marian SpencerThe Archives and Rare Books Library recently received a new collection of papers from Marian and Donald Spencer.  For over fifty years, the Spencers fought for educational equity and equal rights with organizations such as the NAACP, the U.S. Commission on Human Rights Ohio Board, and the Cincinnati Board of Education. While processing the papers of Marian and Donald Spencer, I learned a vast amount about their groundbreaking electoral campaigns, keynote speeches, court cases, and community boards. However, I also came to know them as people. Donald and Marian Spencer met while they were both students at the University of Cincinnati, married in 1940, and raised two boys. They spent a great deal of their nearly 70 years of marriage in Cincinnati fighting for social justice and equality in the community. Continue reading

Enchanting Fairy Tales Dressed in Powder and Crinoline

By:  Sydney Vollmer

12 Princesses in the WoodsOver the next few months, the Archives & Rare Books Library will open another of our exhibit websites that introduces our extensive collection of fairy tales and folklore for research and teaching.  There are many volumes to sift through, but one I recently pulled caught my eye.  In Powder and Crinoline doesn’t contain any stories with which I was familiar, but when I paged through it, I was more than a little pleasantly surprised.

This collection of stories retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was first published in 1912 by Hodder and Stoughton.  “Q” was a Cornish writer who was well known for his fiction and anthologies, particularly for his Oxford collection of English poetry in 1900.  In the preface to Powder and Crinoline, he speaks of his first impression of the work: Continue reading

My Deepest Apologies for the Three Bears

By: Sydney Vollmer

The Three BearsIn our present time, it seems stories are constantly being changed or redone to make them more applicable to our lifestyle.  This certainly isn’t an entirely new phenomenon in the course of literature, but the frequency seems to be picking up.  Like any other content, fairytales are not excluded in this world of remakes, but how much are we allowed to change things?  How does it impact the future generations who are learning these stories for the first time? Continue reading

Jacob Here, Jacob There. Jacob Out, Jacobin

By: Sydney Vollmer

JacobinsA few weeks ago, Kevin walks into my office and tells me that word on the street is people want me to write about the Jacobins.  After reading about the difference between Jacobites and the Jacobean Era, some people wanted to know if Jacobins had anything to do with either one of those. It all has to do with the recent donation of over 500 rare books on the Jacobites in Britain, providing a little context on what we have in the Archives & Rare Books Library and who all these Jackos or Jamesies are. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes with UC’s Digital Archivist: Finding the Needle in the Haystack

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

A constant challenge for digital archivists is identifying potentially sensitive material within born-digital archives. This content may be information that fits a known pattern (for example, a 3-2-4 number that likely indicates the presence of a social security number), or sensitive keywords that indicate the presence of a larger body of sensitive information (for example, the keywords “evaluation” and “candidate” in close proximity to each other may indicate the presence of an evaluation form for a possible job applicant).

Digital archivists use a number of tools to screen for potentially sensitive information. When this information is found, depending on the type of information, institutional policy, legal restrictions, and ethical issues, archivists may redact the information, destroy it, or limit access to it (either by user, or according to a certain period of time). Continue reading

Julia Marlowe – A Cincinnati Girl Learns To Be Juliet

By: Sydney Vollmer

Julia MarloweOn August 17, 1866, Sarah Frances “Fanny” Frost was born in Caldbeck, England to John and Sarah Frost.  As Julia Marlowe, she died at age 84 in New York City’s Plaza Hotel.  Between those two events, she discovered passion, love (multiple times), and fame.

The future Shakespearean actress was born into a relatively normal family.  She had four siblings, three sisters and a brother and her parents owned a general store while also working in the trades of needlework and boot making.  Her father sometimes got drunk and her mother always got frustrated with him.  At the age of 5, though, all of that “normalcy” changed for Marlowe.  It was the year that her father whisked the family away to America.  Plenty of people were immigrating to America during the 1870s, but Marlowe’s father did so to stay out of trouble.  During an impromptu horse race between her father—where he was most likely drunk— and one of their neighbors, Mr. Frost allegedly took out his competitor’s eye with his whip.  Knowing that he would surely face prosecution if he stayed, he immediately took his wife and children to America.  Once arrived, they first settled in Kansas, but soon moved to Portsmouth, Ohio with the new surname “Brough,” which was the maiden name of Julia’s mother.  Later on, the family would find out that the competitor had been playing a cruel joke and there had not been any reason to leave so urgently. Continue reading

The Taming of the Rude

By: Sydney Vollmer

You know by now that 2016 the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and that the Archives & Rare Books Library is celebrating it in a big way by highlighting their Shakespeare holdings.  BUT it’s also Women’s Week at the University of Cincinnati!  Surprisingly, the two have something in common, but we’ll get to that.  For the next few days, the topic of feminism will be spread gender equal opportunity or representationacross Main Street all the way from TUC to the Rec Center.  Women’s Week is a nice enough concept.  I believe in strong females, and I certainly consider myself worthy of any opportunity a man is given.  There’s always that stigma about feminism though…a stigma that being feminist means triumphing over men.  And that’s where my problem lies both with feminism and with Women’s Week because last night, I saw a picture of a girl on Main Street holding a chalkboard that referred to boys as stupid.  My definition of feminism has a lot more to do with mutual respect and a celebration of differences rather than drawing a line between the two sexes and saying one is better than the other.

Taming of the Shrew title page

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Behind the Scenes with UC’s Digital Archivist: Making Sense of It All

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

When archivists first make contact with a large group of records, they often perform some form of appraisal. You might think of appraisal as being the calling card of the much-loved PBS television show Antiques Roadshow, in which average people realize that Great Aunt Milly’s painting is a valued masterpiece – or a total dud.

Unlike appraisers, when archivists appraise something they generally aren’t assigning a monetary value, but seeking to articulate the value of the records and the information they contain. The Society of American Archivists defines (http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms/a/appraisal#.V2hA1jXERmM)  appraisal as:

  1. ~ 1. The process of identifying materials offered to an archives that have sufficient value to be accessioned. – 2. The process of determining the length of time records should be retained, based on legal requirements and on their current and potential usefulness. – 3. The process of determining the market value of an item; monetary appraisal.

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