Posts related to the archives and rare books category

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.

The recordkeeping of energy infrastructure

Natural gas pipeline capacity out of Ohio

When people think of the energy industry, they often picture heavy industrial equipment – pipelines criss-crossing prairies, oil rigs along coastlines, or earthmovers pushing mountaintop overburden into valleys below. But what about the invisible equipment? How do we visualize the caverns that store nuclear energy production waste? How do we know where the underground  piping is that connects us to the grid? How can we tell when there are wells nearby?

We cannot see invisible infrastructure, and even visible infrastructure blends into the background of our daily lives. But we can see the outlines of all infrastructure by inspecting the records associated with it. Some recordkeeping associated with the energy industry’s infrastructure is available to the public – permits that must be filed with state and federal agencies, for example. Other recordkeeping conducted for internal corporate administration is considered private business information. Some business information may be shared with the public if an energy company is a public company, but other forms of information may be proprietary.

One of the fastest growing sectors of domestic energy production is hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, better known as fracking. Ohio is located in a major shale formation and is the 7th largest producer of natural gas. According to the Energy Information Agency, “[t]he Utica Shale has contributed to the rapid increase in natural gas production in Ohio, which was almost 19 times greater in 2016 than 2011.” Ohio’s neighbors of West Virginia and Pennsylvania are part of the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations, and also rank highly for natural gas production (Pennsylvania is the #2 domestic producer, West Virginia is #8).

Most oil and gas activities are regulated at the state-level, and therefore different states have varying regulations around fracking. As a result, the impacts from fracking are experienced differently depending on where you live. Since there is a different regulatory landscape from state to state, this means that the information and records concerning fracking vary across state lines. To put it another way, this means that the public has different levels of information about fracking depending on where it’s carried out.

An illuminating example can be found with disclosure of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing. Many states use the registry FracFocus for chemical disclosure. However, a recent study of FracFocus showed that 92% of submitted chemical disclosures for wells “withheld at least one ingredient record” by classifying it as a trade secret, confidential or proprietary business information (Konschnik and Dayalu, 2016, p. 508).

This issue will almost certainly continue to be of regional importance for both industry and concerned citizens. Ohio and Pennsylvania increased their production of natural gas more than any other states between 2015-2016, and the Energy Information Agency “projects that natural gas production will increase in both 2017 and 2018 as natural gas prices rise.” As the federal government and many states continue to embrace domestic fossil-fuel production over renewable energy, this is a topic that deserves our attention.

UC Libraries Closed for Thanksgiving Holiday

  • thanks imageUC Libraries will be closed Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24 for Thanksgiving, with the exception of the Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library, which will be open Friday, November 24 from noon – 5:00pm. Regular library hours will resume Saturday, November 25.

This closing includes the Langsam Library 4th floor space, which will close Wednesday, November 22 at 6pm and re-open Saturday, November 25 at 10am.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2017 GIS Day Celebration

 GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems and is a powerful technology for data analysis, visualization and interpretation to understand spatial patterns and trends.

 

Sponsored by A&S Department of Geography & GIS and UC Libraries –

You are invited to the 2017 GIS Day Celebration November 15, 2017

in the beautiful Nippert Stadium West Pavilion North Lounge.

The event is free and open to all.

Event Program:

11 – 12 pm  Professional talk

  “GIS in Local Governments – A Decision Making Framework”

– Raj Chundur (Cincinnati Area GIS Administrator)

12 – 1 pm   Lunch

1   – 2 pm   Academic talk

  “Crowd-sourcing the Smart City: Big Geosocial Media Data, Ethics and

Urban Governance”

– Dr. Zook (University of Kentucky)

 

Raj Chundur is the CAGIS Administrator for the City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS)

Matthew Zook PhD is Professor of Economic Geography at University of Kentucky. His research focuses on how the geoweb is produced (particularly the practices surrounding user-generated data) in order to better understand where, when, and by whom geo-coded content is being created.  He is a well published researcher and a contributor to the research blog FloatingSheep.

Questions? E-mail Amy Koshoffer, science informationist, at ASKGIS@UC.EDU for more information.

Flyer – GISDAY_2017_1

Beginning Nov. 12 UC I.D. Required to Enter Blegen after 5pm

blegen hoursBeginning Sunday, Nov. 12, a valid UC I.D. is required to enter Blegen Library, home of the Archives and Rare Books Library, John Miller Burnam Classics Library, the Albino Gorno Memorial Music (CCM) Library and the Classics Department, after 5pm.

Public Access: doors to 400 level will be unlocked:

Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm

Saturday: 10am-5pm

Sunday: 1pm-5pm

UC Community Access: doors to the 400 level will be locked and accessible with a UC I.D:

Monday-Thursday: 7:30am-11pm

Friday: 7:30am-6pm

Saturday: 9:30am-6pm

Sunday: 12:30pm-11pm

Individual library hours vary, so check each libraries hours online at https://www.libraries.uc.edu/about/hours.html

 

What’s in the water?

Ohio River headwaters in Pittsburgh
Formation of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh by the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Photograph taken by Eira Tansey, October 2017.

What’s in the water?

Ohio’s status as a “water-rich state” has meant that it has long been a flashpoint for concerns over how to ensure protection of our water resources, particularly as Ohio’s waterways have played a significant part in regional industry. One of the most famous images of the environmental movement was Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River catching on fire in 1969 – it was not the first time, as it had caught on fire several times before, going back to the mid-1800s. If you want to learn more about the political atmosphere of Cleveland during this event, UC history professor (and friend of the Archives and Rare Books Library) David Stradling has written a book about it.

One of the landmark federal laws that was placed under authority of the newly established EPA was the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act actually traced its origins to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, and was the result of many amendments to the 1948 law. The Clean Water Act requires significant recordkeeping and information systems in order to support implementation of the law. Much of the Clean Water Act’s powers are delegated to state environmental protection agencies (for example, Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency, or Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection). One of the major parts of the Clean Water Act is a permitting system known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES system “regulates discharges of pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, sewer collection systems, and stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities.”

As a system of bureaucratic recordkeeping, the NPDES system reveals much about how we have attempted to take hard-to-quantify aspects of our environment, and pack it down into standardized documentation about human impact.

For example, reviewing a recent draft permit for a wastewater facility in the greater Cincinnati area, this permit will last for five years. It requires the wastewater facility to self-report sampling levels of their discharges to one of the tributaries of the Ohio River. Sampling must take place Monday through Friday but the time of day doesn’t have to be reported, and the permit holder must retain records for three years. One can imagine arguing for modifying any of these recordkeeping requirements upwards or downwards, based on your orientation towards deregulation or to environmental protection.

Recordkeeping is not a neutral act. What is reported and recorded reflects information necessary for regulatory fulfillment. Choices about recordkeeping – what to record, when to record it, who should record it, how often to record it, where to store it, and public vs proprietary access, reflect competing values attached to environmental information.

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.