University-Area Planning in the Gettler Papers

By: Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist, Archives & Rare Books Library

Martin Luther King Jr. and Vine Street IntersectionOne of the most notable parts of Benjamin Gettler’s life and work is his time spent on the Board of Trustees at the University of Cincinnati.  He was appointed by Governor George Voinovich in 1993 and elected to chairman of the board in 2000, from which he retired in 2002.  While sorting through the records related to his tenure, I was really struck by the massive amount of thought and work that not only goes into shaping the experience for UC students, but also into the surrounding community.

Among the various campus-life projects represented in the collection, one that is very interesting is the long-term plan to improve the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Jefferson Avenue, and Vine Street.  At that time, Uptown (Avondale, Clifton, Clifton Martin Luther King and Vine Street IntersectionHeights, Corryville, Fairview, Mt. Auburn, and University Heights) accounted for 10% of the city’s population and 14% of the city’s employment, which together provided for over 46,000 workers commuting into or out of Uptown daily.  In addition to the university itself, the hospitals, and the Environmental Protection Agency complex, the immediate area saw the construction of a new office complex, the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, and a UC conference center, including a Marriott hotel.  I found the moving pieces, stakeholder interests, and politics concerning an area approximately 100,000 sq. ft. very intriguing. Continue reading University-Area Planning in the Gettler Papers

Found! House of Refuge Records at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

House of Refuge Main EntranceAs anyone who has done historical research can tell you, locating old records is not always easy.  Sometimes records simply were not kept.  Other times, they were destroyed by fire, water damage, or pests.  The House of Refuge records at UC is one collection in which the records are incomplete.  The collection consists of five volumes and include inmate registers, employee registers, and a financial ledger.  There are two volumes of inmate registers in the collection, which cover the years 1869-1882 and 1891-1902.  Missing from the collection at UC are the years 1850-1869, 1883-1890, and 1902-1912.

This fall while conducting some general research related to the House of Refuge, I started searching local libraries for items connected to the history of the House of Refuge.  Through a simple catalog search, I discovered that the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCH) had three volumes of House of Refuge records! Even more exciting was how well these records complimented the collections at UC.  Although registers at the University of Cincinnati list the name of the children who were admitted to the House of Refuge, their offense (or reason for being sent to the House of Refuge), and some general family information, there really is not much detail on the specifics of each child’s case or information on what happened to them after they left the House of Refuge.  The records at PLCH do provide specific information on inmates’ family history, offense, and the details of their release from the House of Refuge. Continue reading Found! House of Refuge Records at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

In Times Like These

By:  Kevin Grace

Puppets from Ridley Walker PlayOne of the most in-the-news phrases of this past year has been “fake news.”  Every political point of view has employed it to the point where the first reactions among readers and listeners to current events has a question in mind, “Is this real information?”  And in times of political or social stress, there is a mounting trepidation over who controls information, or, who preserves it.  Librarians are often in the forefront of acquiring information, protecting it from those who would alter or destroy it, and preserving it for now and for the future.  The sources of information, of knowledge, continue to grow exponentially and in our rapidly changing technological world, much of it disappears.  As websites continue to grow – and to disappear through political exigencies – the expertise of librarians and archivists are called upon, a recent example of which is illustrated in a science article on web discovery and preservation: https://apps.sciencefriday.com/data/librarians.html. Continue reading In Times Like These

The Benjamin Gettler Papers Project

By: Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

Alex TempleHi, my name is Alex Temple, and I’m the Project Archivist who will be letting the life and work of Benjamin Gettler out of the box, so to speak.  While I am unpacking and learning, I will be using this blog to share with you some of the interesting footprints* left behind by Mr. Gettler throughout his accomplished life of service and business achievement.  To round it out, I will also be sharing with you my process and experiences with the project.

These “footprints” are currently stored in six boxes.  It is my job to sort through these boxes and arrange their contents in a way that best represents the life of Ben Gettler, and to describe the contents and arrangement to make his life easy for you to access and discover for yourself.  There will be detailed finding aid created, along with a web exhibit and select digitization of important documents.

Gettler papers boxesTo put another way, Mr. Gettler wore many shoes in his life while leaving these footprints, and I’ll be determining their style and occasion.  I will also be rehousing the collection to ensure that these records of his life will be preserved for long-term care, so with some luck we just might meet a cobbler on the way!

In his life, Benjamin Gettler worked as a lawyer, served on the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees, and was deeply involved in Cincinnati public transportation, the Jewish community, and local, state, national, and international politics and philanthropies.  What are the contributions of Ben Gettler that you are interested in? Throughout this project, your thoughts are always welcome and encouraged!

To learn more about the holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library and its ongoing projects, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, visit our web page at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, or follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

 

*Visible Footprints is the autobiography of Benjamin Gettler, co-written with Michael G. Rapp and published in 2012.

Rare Book Occasional – Scroll of Esther

By: Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern, 2017-2018

The inaugural post of the new Rare Book Occasional looks at the Archives and Rare Books Library’s two manuscript copies of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). Produced sometime in the 18th- and 19th centuries, these parchment scrolls illustrate the ritual importance of scroll reading in Judaism.

The Book of Esther holds a prominent position in the Jewish faith, as it is one of the Five Megillot, or five scrolls that mark particular festival or fast days in the Jewish calendar. This important Biblical book recounts Esther’s role in securing the salvation of the Persian Jews, and its recitation marks a day of joyous celebration for Jewish people. Esther scrolls are traditionally read twice during the festival of Purim, once in the morning and again in the evening.

Scroll of EstherScroll of Esther opened

Top:  Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), before treatment,  Bottom: Scroll open to the names of Haman’s sons (Esther 9:7,9). Photos: Jessica Ebert

The materiality of the Scroll of Esther forms an important part of its religious significance. Early rabbinical writers composed rules regulating its production and public recitation. According to rabbinic tradition, the ceremonial Scroll of Esther can only be handwritten on parchment with ink using the square Hebrew script. Esther scrolls are also distinguished by their arrangement on a single dowel. These rabbinical prescriptions continued to influence the scroll’s material construction in more contemporary times, as illustrated by the Archives and Rare Books Library’s 18th– and late 19th-century Esther scrolls. In accordance with tradition, these scrolls are handwritten on vellum in the traditional script.

Featured here are images of one of the Library’s Esther scrolls that recently underwent conservation to repair small tears and damage to the parchment (Ms. no. 22). The scroll was rehoused on two dowels to enable the manuscript to be safely viewed.

Additional information about the conservation process can be found here.

Scroll of Esther

Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), after treatment. Photo: Jessica Ebert

For more information on this and other items at the Archives and Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

Don Heinrich Tolzmann Collection Now Available for Research

By: Kevin Rigsby, ARB Intern, Fall Semester 2017

AbendschuleThe University of Cincinnati Archives and Rare Books Library announces the opening of the Don Heinrich Tolzmann German-Americana Collection.  This collection contains a wealth of material from the German-American community in the United States, especially from Germans in the Greater Cincinnati area.  Of particular note are several sets of German almanacs from the early 20th century, papers and photographs from prominent German-American organizations such as the Turners, and histories and biographies written by or about influential figures in the German-American community.  There are also German-language newspapers from the beginning to the end of the 20th century, along with histories of several German religious institutions from the Cincinnati area.  This collection provides a valuable resource for students and scholars researching the history of German-American culture, and we extend our great appreciation to Dr. Tolzmann for his important donation.

The online exhibit for this collection showcases some highlights from this collection and provides a glimpse of the materials it holds.  The exhibit can be found on the Archives & Rare Books Library website at http://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/exhibits/tolzmann-ga/.  And in looking at this exhibit, be sure to view other collections of German-Americana at https://libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/german-americana.html, including the “Gut Heil! The 1909 Cincinnati German Turnfest and Urban Sport” exhibit and the “Sacred Spaces of Greater Cincinnati and the German Influence” exhibit.  To learn more about the German Americana Collection, which is one of the top collections in the world of its type, or the other collections in the Archives & Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

Scottish Ghoulies

By:  Kevin Grace

 

  Infernal Gods, who rule the shades below,

Chaos and Phlegethon, ye realms of woe,

Grant what I have heard I may to light expose

Secrets which earth, and night, and hell inclose.

North Berkwick Witches tried before King James

The verse comes from an 18th century book in the Archives & Rare Books Library that purports to document true accounts of the supernatural, most of them from the Scottish highlands.  Of course, every country and culture has its own ghosts and witches, and Scotland has a wonderfully rich heritage of “long-leggedy beasties.”  Which notion, of course, points to the spookiest of goodnight prayers, the Scots’ traditional plea for safety in their beds:

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night

Good Lord, deliver us!

Title page - The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland SeersThis small poetic digression aside, our book of spectres and succubi came from the press of Robert Taylor of Berwick-on-Tweed.  Berwick was one of those towns caught between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England during the frequent border wars, but finally became a part of England in 1482.  Located in Northumberland, it is the northernmost town in England, but centuries later it still maintains a strong Scottish identity.  Taylor was active as a printer in Scotland and England from 1717-1779, and is credited with setting up the first printing press in Berwick in 1753.  In 1775, he published The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland Seers: Containing Many Wonderful Well-Attested Relations of Supernatural Appearances, Not Published Before in Any Similar Collection Designed for the Conviction of the Unbeliever, and the Amusement of the Curious.

One wonders a bit about that “Not Published Before…” statement in regard to Taylor.  Copyright was still a fluid concept in some English courts, and Taylor sometimes stood accused of pilfering from fellow printers.  Ten years after History of Witches was printed, Taylor would lose a lawsuit brought Berwick early pressagainst him by another printer on his publishing of a poetry book, The Seasons by James Thomson.  Nevertheless, the full weighty title gives weight to the content.  These were ghost stories intended to frighten the reader.  And, to put the fear of God in the souls and minds of non-believers who, in the words of Taylor, say such tales “are the invention of enthusiasm, and a crazy disordered imagination.”  There are 86 stories in his gathering, several of them from the Continent and many of them accounts of witches, of “second sight,” and of appearances by apparitions.  There are titles such as “The Daemon of Glenluce, in Galloway, in Scotland” and “The Dream of Lauchlan McKinnon.”

The tradition of witchcraft and ghosts in Berwick was a very long one.  In 1590, there were notorious witch trials in North Berwick that lasted for more than two years and involved more than 70 accused people.  According to the trials, the witches held their covens on Auld Kirk Green near the harbor.  Taken to the Old Tollbooth in Edinburgh and tortured, many of the accused were forced to confessed to consorting with the Devil.  The trials became quite famous and William Shakespeare even adapted some of the supposed “rituals” brought out in court for his play Macbeth.

Apparition to King James

Robert Clark Collection book plateAll in all, Taylor printed a lovely little book!  The copy in the Archives & Rare Books Library (call number SpecCol RB BF1411.H4 1775) is from the Robert Clarke Collection, the first collection of books that formed the University of Cincinnati Libraries and it has been nicely rebound in red cloth.  Taylor finished his preface to the book with this statement: “Let the aetheists, if there are any, the deists, free-thinkers, and infidel rakes read it and tremble.”

And we conclude here with another little verse:

 

Say, can you laugh indignant at the schemes

Of magick terrours, visionary dreams,

Portentous wonders, witching imps of Hell,

The nightly goblin and enchanting spell?

 

Happy Halloween!

The Archives & Rare Books Library’s Current Desiderata

By:  Kevin Grace

Gulliver's Travels, illustration by RackhamAs we are continually building the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library in our areas of strength and making them more accessible for teaching and research, we know there are vital monographs or documents we would always like to acquire.  In some cases, our rare book budget will accommodate some special items, but when it comes to archival materials – and many rare books – we depend on the kindness of friends and strangers.  Our most current desiderata outlines some of the books and papers we are seeking, everything from documenting everyday lives in our German Americana Collection through cookbooks and organizational archives to rare books that strengthen our Shakespeare collection and our illustrated myth and legend holdings.  And of course, we always welcome Mick and Mackthe records of University of Cincinnati student organizations.

William ShakespeareThe items we list as desired acquisitions are primary resources in areas that are heavily used not only by UC students and faculty but by global scholars and the general public as well.  To view the list, go to http://libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/desiderata.html and to learn more about the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library and how to effectively use them in the classroom, in research, or in publications, call us at 513.556.1959, email ARB at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, have a look at our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati, or visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library.

 

 

A Closer Look At An Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By:  Savannah Gulick, ARB Student Assistant

Huck Finn Cover PageIn my Honors seminar, “The Culture of Books and Reading,” we were asked to choose a rare book from the holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library to analyze and write about, and the book I chose was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (a personal favorite of mine).  Our first task was to analyze the physical features of our chosen books. Prior to this class, I really never cared to thoroughly look over a book; rather, I would just dive right in to the story. It truly is surprising how much you can learn from just examining a book. What I found about my book, just by looking, was that it is a limited edition (only 1500 copies produced), published in 1942 by The Limited Editions Club.  The book is hardcover and bound in a typical library buckram that is colored mustard yellow.  Considering it was issued in 1942, the printing is very clean and still in good condition on sturdy, white pages.  This limited edition contains 45 illustrations done by the Americana artist Thomas Hart Benton and they’re beautiful, fitting right in with the theme of Twain’s novel.  Overall, the book contains 396 pages and is still in good condition. Continue reading A Closer Look At An Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Developing Future Access to Cincinnati’s Third Protestant Memorial Church Collection

By:  Alia Wegner, ARB 2017-2018 Intern

Third German Protestant Church
The Third German Protestant Church located at 829 Walnut Street, photo taken in the 1920s.

One of my internship projects this year is developing a digitization plan for the Cincinnati German Third Protestant Memorial Church Collection (Accession number GA-09-03).  Acquired a decade ago, the Third German Protestant Memorial Church was formerly known as the Third German Protestant Memorial Church of Cincinnati, the German and Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church, and the North German Lutheran Church.   This collection spans 1814 to 1982 and includes records of births, marriages, deaths, confirmations, along with financial records and a few photographs.  For the most part, it has been used by family historians but once it is digitized and available as a global resource, the records can be used by urban historians, religious scholars, ethnicity and immigration researchers, and many others, as well as providing excellent primary resources in teaching.

The collection forms an important part of the University of Cincinnati’s German-Americana holdings but poses some challenges for digitization. The TPMC collection is composed primarily of handwritten German documents that need to be transcribed as well as scanned.  Since transcribing foreign language documents adds an additional layer of processing, it is important to get a clear sense of the extent and composition of the collection. One of my first tasks in this project was creating a collection overview. Continue reading Developing Future Access to Cincinnati’s Third Protestant Memorial Church Collection