History of the Philomathic Society of Cincinnati College

By Leah Wickett

ARB and Ohio Valley History Intern

Cincinnati College, 1819

Founded in 1819, Cincinnati College was home to two literary societies, the Philomathic Society and the Erophoebic Society (which had a bit of a rivalry between them).[1] Students of the College formed the Philomathic Society prior to the opening of the College, on January 18, 1818.[2] The Society’s aim was “for mutual literary improvement” and its first members were John Hough James, Junius James, George Mackey Wilson, Lemuel D. Howells, Robert T. Lytle, and Edward L. Drake.[3] Soon after its creation, the student members created a separate branch of the Philomathic Society for elected members consisting of William Henry Harrison, Thomas Peirce, Daniel Drake, Benjamin Drake, Peyton Short Symmes, as well as “other gentlemen, well known at that day… interested in literary affairs.”[4] On April 3, 1821, Daniel Drake invited the members of the Philomathic Society to join the public commencement of the Medical College being held the following day at Cincinnati College’s Chapel.[5] In the early part of 1821, the Society created a semi-monthly paper called The Olio, which featured local literature and was “the first effort on the part of a literary society, in the West, for development of poetic ability.”[6] The publication contained historical essays, articles, poetry, and the occasional “humorous essay.”[7] The Olio, published and edited by John H. Wood and Samuel S. Brooks, ended after just one year of publication.[8] Continue reading

Exciting News from the Archives and Rare Books Library!

The Archives and Rare Books Library is proud to announce our partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center. The Museum Center just announced their Shakespeare exhibit, which ARB is helping them prepare! Opening August 25th, the exhibit will be centered on Shakespeare’s First Folio (published 1623). The Folio is generously being lent to CMC by the Folger Shakespeare Library, which toured the work throughout the U.S. just last year. The exhibit will explore Shakespeare through time—how his works have adapted, what’s influenced new interpretations, and how appreciation of his work has evolved. There will be a focus on how Cincinnati has interacted with Shakespeare over time. Continue reading

The Children of Lir: Ireland’s Sweethearts

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

It’s that time of year again. Winter is *hopefully* leaving and making room for spring.  March brings a lot to look forward to, especially for the Irish-American community.  Every year since 1991, the president has declared March to be National Irish Heritage Month.  But what does Irish heritage mean?  One University Honors class is on a mission to find the answer to that question.  It turns out that “to be Irish” means a lot more than having red hair, drinking beer, and being one with a short temper.  Led by professor Kevin Grace, along with Debbie Brawn of University Honors, 20 students will travel to Ireland over spring break to get an in-depth look at the country from where so many Americans emigrated.  The weeks leading up to the study tour were filled with readings of Irish-American literature, such as Angela’s Ashes and Irish America: Coming Into Clover, as well as the viewing of films and many discussions about what Irish heritage means. Continue reading

Inside a Costumer’s Mind: 12 Questions with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Resident Costume Designer, Amanda McGee

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Almost one year ago, Jeremy Dubin, Artistic Associate with at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, was kind enough to answer some questions we at the ARB had about the company. After writing our last blog on the costume designs in King Lear, we decided we were curious about what goes on in the mind of a costume designer. So, we went back to the CSC. Resident Costume Designer, Amanda McGee, answered everything we wanted to know. Below is the full copy of the interview with images.  

Amanda McGee

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King Richard III: A Hunch about his Costume

Sydney Vollmer, Archives & Rare Books Library Intern

For those faithful followers who have not been keeping up with local theater, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s next production will be Richard III, running February 17th through March 11th. Their website (http://www.cincyshakes.com/) says of the show:

Shakespeare’s game of thrones enters its endgame as the history cycle’s final chapter takes the stage. The ruthless, remorseless and relentless Richard Plantagenet has his eyes set on the throne of England, and he makes the happy earth his hell as he carves a bloody swath through all that stands in his way. The History Cycle comes to its thrilling conclusion with the story of England’s most murderous monarch, Richard III. Paired with the production of Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses, Part 2, this theatrical event is not to be missed! Continue reading

BAE: Bureau of American Ethnology (not the Danish word for “poop” or an abbreviation of “babe”)

By: Colleen O’Brien, ARB Student Assistant

The acronym BAE does not refer to a common slang term amongst young folks or even to the Danish word for “poop.” Rather, in this instance it is a term which means Bureau of American Ethnology.

How did the Bureau of American Ethnology come to be and why is it important?

In 1879, as the discipline of anthropology was taking hold in universities across America, Congress established an agency called the Bureau of Ethnology.  There is some controversy over the exact purpose for which this department was founded, but one explanation is that the Department of the Interior needed to transfer archives and other materials to the Smithsonian Institution because the two entities were set to merge shortly thereafter.  Thus Congress decided to create a department to ease this change. The second reason, on the other hand, states the Bureau of Ethnology was established as a purely research division of the Smithsonian. Regardless, John Wesley Powell, the Bureau’s key founder, believed it should be used to promote anthropological research in the Americas.   In fact, in 1897, the Bureau of Ethnology changed its name to Bureau of American Ethnology in order to limit geographic interests. Continue reading

Costuming a King

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Since the beginning of theater, costumes have played a crucial role to the understanding and enjoyment of the stories.  Over time, they have developed both in design and technique.  It was the Greeks who first invented costumes, using them to differentiate between characters of different class.  They were often ornate, with patterns and masks.   Romans continued the tradition of costuming, but no major changes were made for hundreds of years.  By the time Shakespeare came about, costuming had evolved so that actors would don whatever their character would wear in real life. Continue reading

What Is the Ohio Electronic Records Committee?

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

Public-sector archivists, records managers, and other information professionals across the country share similar challenges: electronic records are getting more complex, public institution budgets are leaner (and sometimes cut to the bone), and citizen’s interest in access to public records grows. In Ohio, we are addressing some of these challenges through the Ohio Electronic Records Committee (OhioERC). Continue reading

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

By Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager

The transition from paper-based workflows to electronic records-based workflows has been one of the most profound ways in which work has changed over the last several decades. The “paperless revolution” has created many unanticipated challenges, but perhaps one of the more underrated ones is how it has affected institutional archives. Continue reading

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