The Don Heinrich Tolzmann German-Americana Collection

By:  Kevin Rigsbee, ARB and History Department Intern

Tolzmann German Americana Turnfest PostcardThe University of Cincinnati Archives and Rare Books Library recently received the papers of Don Heinrich Tolzmann, a retired Senior Librarian at UC and the former director of German-American Studies.  He has served as president of the Society for German-American Studies and during his tenure of office, he helped commemorate the 1983 German-American Tricentennial to mark the establishment of the first German-American settlement at Germantown, Pennsylvania Tolzmann also led the 1987 campaign to establish October 6th as German-American Day in the United States.  He has also served on the boards of international and national organizations, including the Deutsches Auswandererhaus in Bremerhaven and the Friends of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. and he is currently president of the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati,

Dr. Tolzmann created the German-Americana Collection (also known as the Fick Collection because the initial bulk of the collection came from the library of noted Cincinnati educator and poet H.H. Fick) when he was on the University of Cincinnati Libraries faculty and built it into a world-renowned resource for research and teaching. This extensive collection contains materials from the nineteenth century to the present day, and ranges from periodicals and newspapers to personal letters, census records, and spelling books and almanacs. Continue reading The Don Heinrich Tolzmann German-Americana Collection

AP Trust Recap

By:  Eira Tansey

University of Maryland mascot
University of Maryland’s mascot in front of the McKeldin Library

Preservation has always been central to the mission of research libraries, which are charged with preserving knowledge, in all its forms, for use. Digital material faces different preservation challenges than analog materials. Rapid changes in file formats, software and hardware mean that digital content created according to today’s best standards risks being unusable or degraded in the future.

At the University of Cincinnati Libraries, we have significant born-digital and digitized content. Much of this can be found in Scholar@UC, UCL Digital Collections, and Luna. Digital preservation refers to the various preservation measures undertaken to ensure long-term use and access of digital materials for enduring sustainable preservation. Archivists and librarians must make many key digital preservation decisions, such as whether to migrate old file formats to new ones, determining how and where to store files, and scheduling file integrity checks. Digital preservation is more than just backups, but storing extra copies of content is a critical component of a digital preservation strategy. To mitigate against complete loss, it is important to store extra copies in different locations. According to the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, increasingly enhanced levels of digital preservation emphasize greater geographic distribution of copies. Continue reading AP Trust Recap

Revealing the Cincinnati Irish

By:  Kevin Grace

Mollie Gilmartin Death CertificateIn 1866, dozens of Cincinnatians, many of them veterans of the Civil War, helped launch an unsuccessful Irish invasion of Canada.  After capture by British and Canadian forces, these Cincinnati Irish were repatriated and they came home.  In 1894, a young Irish immigrant by the name of Mary “Mollie” Gilmartin, living in Cincinnati’s West End, was killed by a man who had stalked her from County Sligo.  Mollie was buried without a grave marker and then forgotten for almost a century.  In 1908, a little girl from the Avondale neighborhood wrote her Christmas letter to Santa Claus.  Elainae, the six-year-old of a wealthy family asked for a doll and for an Irish maid.  And in the 1920s, Ireland’s political leader Éamon de Valera came to Cincinnati to raise money for his emerging independent country.  The Cincinnati Irish had deep pockets with an abiding connection to their heritage.  These are all fairly disparate stories that touch upon just one of the ethnic groups that shaped Cincinnati then, but what meaning is to be found in them now?  How are commonalities with other groups, other eras, and other places discovered and studied? Continue reading Revealing the Cincinnati Irish

Environmental Records and Regulation

By:  Eira Tansey

Burning Barge on the Ohio River
Strode, William, “Burning Barge on the Ohio River”, 1972, Environmental Protection Agency: DOCUMERICA. Image source: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/543983

The relationship between local, state, and federal environmental protection has always been complicated – both by accident and by design. When the earliest environmental protections began, they typically started at the local and state levels, often following some kind of environmental disaster – and thus, environmental protections developed unevenly. By the time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970, the decentralization of environmental policy was deliberately embedded in the original organization of the agency: much of EPA’s enforcement and regulatory duties are delegated to state environmental agencies.

Water issues have been roiling the Midwest, with significant attention paid to the Flint lead crisis and the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Ohio’s water issues may not be in the headlines as much, but the risks are worth paying attention to. Ohio is often described as a “water-rich” state with Lake Erie to the north, and the Ohio River to the south. Although we may be water-rich, this water is often quite contaminated. The Ohio River is consistently ranked as the most polluted river in the United States, and UC researchers have conducted studies of pollutants from Ohio River-sourced drinking water supplies connected with past manufacture of Teflon. Both Lake Erie and the Ohio River routinely experience harmful algae blooms, which are often connected to runoff from agricultural activities – and much harder to regulate. In addition, Cincinnati is under a federal consent decree due to the overflow from infrastructure deficiencies with the local sewer system.  Continue reading Environmental Records and Regulation

Caring for Cincinnati’s Children: The Cincinnati House of Refuge and Beyond

The Cinicnnati House of Refuge in 1856
The House of Refuge from the 1856 Annual Report of the House of Refuge

Last year, I wrote a short history of the Cincinnati House of Refuge for a website that is currently under development by some UC Librarians which will make the data from ARB’s digitized Cincinnati House of Refuge records more easily searchable.   While conducting research on the history of the House of Refuge, I became intrigued with how Cincinnati dealt with children whose parents for one reason or another were unable to care for them in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The Cincinnati House of Refuge was designed as a facility for juvenile delinquents, but over time it also came to house children who had nowhere else to go.  This fall I am beginning a research quest to piece together why this happened, and when and what alternatives to the House of Refuge were established.  I will be writing a series of blog posts on what I find.  This first one, though, will provide some background on Cincinnati’s House of Refuge. Continue reading Caring for Cincinnati’s Children: The Cincinnati House of Refuge and Beyond

Breaking in a New Stage

By: Sydney Vollmer, B.S., Marketing ‘17

Otto M. Budig Theater StageLast week, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company said hello to their new home at the Otto M. Budig Theater with performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was fortunate enough to be invited to their Media Night on September 7, when I got a first look at the space and the show.

The Theater

Located at 1195 Elm Street, the new theater features a modern style of architecture one might not expect for a company boasting Shakespeare’s name.  There is a large lobby area for everyone to gather before the show and during intermission and it is Otto M. Budig theater lobbypeppered with Shakespeare quotes and play titles everywhere you turn, from the steps to the seating. I personally am a fan of the bathroom sinks which read, “A little water clears us of this deed” – a direct quote from Lady Macbeth. When you go to a performance, see how many you can find!  Upstairs, an open room is used for classes and meetings for various presentations. During Media Night, Jeremy Dubin, Director of Creative Education, gave an informative presentation on the costuming and set design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Continue reading Breaking in a New Stage

An Environmental Legacy

By:  Eira Tansey

Bob MarshallOver the last couple years, I’ve been exploring the relationship between record keeping, archives, and environmental policy. Right now, I’m shifting my research gears towards the role of recordkeeping practices in the formulation and enforcement of environmental policy.

To understand how we’ve arrived at today’s environmental problems and policies, it’s helpful to go back to the past and look at one of the most influential periods of federal action on natural resource protection. During Roosevelt’s New Deal, major environmental protection projects were undertaken, as well as the introduction of a major federal regulatory state. The Civilian Conservation Corps employed thousands of young men to build trails and buildings still in use today, as well as undertaking environmental restoration projects such as reforestation. While most of today’s major federal environmental laws have their roots in the 1970s, the legal foundation for federal action to be taken on issues that no state can resolve on its own can be traced back to many New Deal-era regulations. Continue reading An Environmental Legacy

The Mystery and Emotion of “Blue”

By: Kevin Grace

The Three PrincessesIt is a color that has both negative and positive connotations, is symbolic of mysticism, social rank, both high and low emotions, and of serenity and wisdom.  Blue is a color that is a signifier of both Hell and purity, of luxury and dignity.  There are as many interpretations of what “blue” symbolizes as there are cultures in the world.

And the symbolism of the color is the rationale behind an online exhibit created by Archives & Rare Books Library.  Intended to highlight the spectrum of rare books in the collections, the selections show the cultural diversity over the ages of this particular color.   Nineteen volumes are represented in the exhibit, with several examples from each of illustrations and bindings, ranging from a 15th century illuminated book of hours to early Qur’ans and Persian poetry.  There are botanicals, fairy tales, Art Deco bindings, Asian drawing Ms. No. 20manuals, pochoir pattern books, and Turkish ebru marbled paper.  Each indicates a specific use of blue that depends on religion, technology, or geographical heritage. Continue reading The Mystery and Emotion of “Blue”

Stratford-upon-Avon: “A Town Synonymous with William Shakespeare”

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Ah, summer. A time for frolicking on the beaches, zipping swiftly through busy cities with bright lights, tolerating that toddler kicking your seat on the plane just because it means you’re finally getting to spend some time away from work, and appreciating the Bard? It’s true. Shakespeare’s home, Stratford-upon-Avon, has been relying on tourism to bolster its economy since 1769.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Source: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Continue reading Stratford-upon-Avon: “A Town Synonymous with William Shakespeare”

County Cork: A County Unchanged by History

By:  Savannah Gulick, Archives & Rare Books Library student assistant
County Cork, Ireland, Scilly Walk

County Cork, Ireland lies in the southwest region of the country and contains many historically famous cities and buildings, such as Cobh (formerly Queenstown) where the Titanic last docked before its disastrous maiden voyage Smith's History of County Corkin 1912, and Cork City itself, the second largest city Ireland.   In terms of its beauty and traditions, this particular county has not changed very much over the centuries, though like the rest of Ireland, has seen economic hills and valleys as well as its own take on revolution and patriotism in the island.  In Charles Smith’s two-volume 1774 work in the Archives & Rare Books Library, The Ancient and Present State of The County and City of Cork, the author discusses the vast history of County Cork up to his own time in the 18th century.  He explains all aspects of Irish history in Cork, ranging from wars to flora and fauna with maps and photos to illustrate what he is discussing.  The volumes are part of the growing body of Irish literature in ARB and are consulted frequently by students and scholars interested in urban development, the history of cities, and the general history of Ireland.  Smith’s work also includes maps and engravings of Cork City and the surrounding countryside. Continue reading County Cork: A County Unchanged by History