The Benjamin Gettler Papers: An Introduction to Cincinnati’s New Public Transit

By:  Alex Temple, Gettler Project Archivist

Book on the Cincinnati Transit CompanyFor the past several months, work has continued on processing the Benjamin Gettler Papers donated to the Archives & Rare Books Library.  Gettler was a notable lawyer, businessman, and civic activist in Cincinnati, an international philanthropist, and a former member of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees.  I’ve been fascinated by the amount of public transit-related history in this collection.  An often over-looked part of urban history is transportation infrastructure.  Public transportation records can tell us not only where people lived, worked, and played, but also the routes taken and who the routes served.  They can also provide insight into how, where, or why neighborhoods changed over time.

Cincinnati’s public transportation, as we recognize it today, really began in 1873 when several horse-drawn tram systems merged to form the Cincinnati Consolidated Railway Company.  Nearly a decade later, it was renamed the Cincinnati Street Railway Company (Gettler, 2012).  It remained the Cincinnati Street Railway Company until 1952, after the company had fully transitioned from rail to rubber-tire service, becoming the Cincinnati Transit Company.

Gettler himself was a prominent figure in Cincinnati’s transit history, as his involvement started slightly before the switch from streetcars to buses and through the sale of the Cincinnati Transit Company to the City of Cincinnati, forming the South Ohio Regional Transit Association (S.O.R.T.A.), and finally serving on the S.O.R.T.A. board beginning in 2003.  A good deal of the collection in the Benjamin Gettler Papers comes from his involvement in public transportation, including items such as meeting minutes from the board of directors.  One in particular which I found exciting to study was the meeting minutes from the board of directors from 1952 to 1954. Continue reading The Benjamin Gettler Papers: An Introduction to Cincinnati’s New Public Transit

The Cincinnati House of Refuge and Asylums for Children in 19th century Cincinnati

The Children's Home of Cincinnati, 1093
The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, 1903

In my previous blogs, I have explored the history of Cincinnati’s House of Refuge and the records of the institution that are still available.  Throughout my journey, I have been struck by the number of homeless children and children without adequate homes who were placed in this juvenile detention facility.  One of the questions that I have been exploring is why these children were placed in the House of Refuge and not in another institution.    My first thought was that there must not have been anywhere for these children to go, but a search for orphanages and other institutions in 19th Century Cincinnati has revealed that there actually were institutions that cared for children who had been abandoned, neglected, or whose parents were simply unable to care for them.  So why were children who were not juvenile delinquents living in the House of Refuge?  It seems that one reason may have been because there was not a standardized or centralized way of dealing with neglected, abused or homeless children in the city.[1]

Services for children in need in 19th century Cincinnati were controlled by different entities and the placement of children was often influenced by religion, ethnicity, and race.  Orphanages in Cincinnati were almost exclusively privately run and they were often affiliated with a particular religion.  Some took in children who were homeless or children who the administrators felt were not adequately cared for by their parents, but other institutions only accepted orphans whose parents were either both deceased or whose parents were contributing members.  In addition, only a few institutions in 19th century Cincinnati, including the House of Refuge, accepted African American children.  A closer look at a few of these early Cincinnati orphanages shows how their services differed and overlapped. Continue reading The Cincinnati House of Refuge and Asylums for Children in 19th century Cincinnati

“I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying!”: A Cincinnati College Soldier-Poet’s Embrace of the Battlefield

By:  Kevin Grace

William LytleOn September 20, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, General William Haines Lytle of Cincinnati was shot and killed by a Confederate sniper’s bullet in the Battle of Chickamauga.  A few days later, his body was carried back to his hometown.  Lytle’s funeral was held at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati and the thousands of mourners followed his casket in the cortege to Spring Grove Cemetery, miles away from the church.  The slow procession took up most of the day, the general’s body not arriving at Spring Grove until dusk.  Sometime later, his grave marker – a broken column – would dominate the landscape of the garden cemetery.

William Lytle was more than another officer killed in battle.  He was a literary man, a soldier-poet whose verse in antebellum America was popular in both the North and the South, and whose lines reflected his experiences on the battlefield.  They showed a view of the bloody vista typical of the Romantic era and they embodied his view of duty as well, in his eyes, a terrible beauty of death and destruction.  Lytle was a part of the Romantic tradition in his poetry, incorporating his classical education as a boy with his notions of heroism and duty in life.  This is an excerpt from a poem he wrote in 1840 as a fourteen-year-old, “The Soldier’s Death”: Continue reading “I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying!”: A Cincinnati College Soldier-Poet’s Embrace of the Battlefield

May 3 Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture to Highlight Pediatrics in Cincinnati

cchmc

The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions and the Cecil Striker Society for the History of Medicine will host the 9th Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture from 5-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, in the Kresge Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 231 Albert Sabin Way.

michael farrell
Michael Farrell, MD

This year’s lecture, titled “Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Impacting the Health of Children in Our Community and the World: The Past, Present and Future,” will focus on the contributions and historical relevance of pediatrics in the Cincinnati region with a primary focus on Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (Children’s Hospital).

Michael Farrell, MD, and Bea Katz, PhD, will serve as co-lecturers for the event. Dr. Farrell is currently professor of pediatrics in the College of Medicine. He served as director of the Pediatric Residency Program until 2001 and chief of staff at Children’s Hospital until 2015. His major interests are general pediatrics, the history of medicine and gastroenterology/nutrition. Bea Katz, editor of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (2008) by Arcadia Publishing, has chronicled the history of Children’s Hospital for 30 years, first as a writer in the hospital’s Marketing and Communications Department and later, post-retirement, as an independent author and researcher.

bea katz
Bea Katz, PhD

The evening will include the talk and audience Q&A from 5-6:30 p.m. Immediately following will be a reception from 6:30-7:30 p.m. outside the Winkler Center. In addition, an exhibit highlighting the pediatric history of Cincinnati will be on display in the Stanley J. Lucas, MD, Board Room.

The Cecil Striker Lecture is free and open to the public, but RSVP’s are requested by April 27 to (513) 558-5120 or chhp@uc.edu. Continue reading May 3 Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture to Highlight Pediatrics in Cincinnati

Save the Date: Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture May 3

The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions and the Cecil Striker Society for the History of Medicine will host the 9th Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture on Thurs., May 3, 2018.

Michael Farrell
Michael Farrell

This year’s lecture will focus on the contributions and historical relevance of Pediatrics in the Cincinnati region with a primary focus on The Children’s Hospital.  Michael Farrell, M.D. and Bea Katz, Ph.D. will serve as our co-lecturers for the event. Dr. Farrell is currently Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He was Director of the Pediatric Residency Programs until 2001 and Chief of Staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center until 2015. His major interests are general pediatrics, the history of medicine and gastroenterology/nutrition. Bea Katz, Ph.D., the editor of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (2008) by Arcadia Publishing, has chronicled the history of Children’s Hospital for 30 years, first as a writer in the hospital’s Marketing and Communications Department and later, post-retirement, as an independent author and researcher.

Their lecture is entitled Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Impacting the Health of Children in Our Community and the World: The Past, Present and Future and will be held from 5:00-6:30pm in Kresge Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 231 Albert Sabin Way. A reception will immediately follow the lecture from 6:30-7:30pm held outside of the Lucas Boardroom; with an accompanying exhibit inside of the Lucas Boardroom highlighting the pediatric history of Cincinnati.

bea katz
Bea Katz

Originally formed in 1976, the initial purpose of the Society was to promote and perpetuate an interest in the history of medicine and all related disciplines in the health care field. Currently, the lecture helps to engage the local community in topics related to the history of medicine; brings people together who have a common interest in the history of medicine; and fosters positive attention to the Winkler Center through publicity and scholarly activities.

__________________________

The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions gratefully recognizes the generosity and foresight of the following individuals and organizations who have provided significant support to establish the Cecil Striker Lecture Endowment Fund.  This endowment fund is a vital permanent resource to strengthen the annual lecture program.

Presenting Sponsor

Dr. and Mrs. Carl Fischer

Dr. and Mrs. Theodore W. Striker

Dr. John E. Bossert

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center


Supporting Sponsor

UC Health

Additional support provided by Dr. and Mrs. Michael K. Farrell and Cecil L. Striker, PhD.

To discuss a gift to the Winkler Center, contact Christa A. Bernardo, Director of Development, at (513) 556-0055 or christa.bernardo@uc.edu.

Indian Clubs and German-American Health Promotion

By:  Kevin Grace

Women with Indian ClubsOn a hot June day in 1909, thousands of people gathered at the Carthage Fairgrounds just beyond the city limits of Cincinnati.  There on the nubby dusty infield of the racetrack, groups of women clad in long dresses divided themselves into squads of threes and fours and faced the spectators.  In each hand they held an “Indian club,” a standard piece of gymnasium equipment at the time, and as the crowd watched, the women began a series of intricate, graceful movements, swinging the clubs up from their sides and around their bodies, crisscrossing the clubs in patterns that emphasized coordination and discipline.  The demonstration was just one of several exhibits of mass exercises at the quadrennial Turnfest that was hosted by the Cincinnati Turners organizations that year, a fitting location as the American Turner movement was founded by German immigrants in Cincinnati in 1848.

The festival attracted Turner athletes from around the country and around the world, all journeying to Cincinnati as they had to other cities in past years to exhibit the Turner philosophical ideals of physical and mental fitness, and civic responsibility.  In the days before the ladies’ exercise with Indian clubs, students in the city’s schools demonstrated the skills they had learned in physical education classes, a mainstay of the public school academic program in Cincinnati.  The proper uses of parallel bars, wands and rings, and the pommel horse were performed in front of school officials and Turner judges.  It was a program already several decades old, begun in earnest after the Civil War when secondary and primary teachers learned the techniques of physical fitness and health promotion under the leadership of Turner instructors. Continue reading Indian Clubs and German-American Health Promotion

Bloodsport for the Undergrads

By: Kevin Grace

On December 3, 1907, an angry father wrote to the Board of Directors at the University of Cincinnati:

Gentlemen:

     Enclosed you find a doctor bill for treatment of a fractured nose, rendered to my son Armin C. Arend, who was hurt in a flag rush on the 30th of October; the rush being aided and supported by the officials of the University of Cincinnati.  I hope your Honorable Body doesn’t expect that I have to pay this bill since I, as well as my son, am opposed to flag rushes.  Please take this matter into your hands, & judge for yourself who should pay this bill.  Remember, that I paid tuition for this day, which is not given as a holiday in the School Calendar of the University of Cincinnati.

     It is hard enough for me as a workingman to pay tuition let alone such foolish unnecessary expenses.

                                                         Yours Respectfully,

Julius Arend
3318 Bonaparte Avenue, City

The bill in question, for $5.00, was referred to the Board’s Law Committee, which quickly denied the father’s claim.    As no further word was heard from Mr. Arend, presumably he chalked up the medical bill to an educational expense, like young Armin’s textbooks, but literally, a lesson in the “school of hard knocks.”

Because that is what “flag rush” was during the Progressive Era, a bloodsport of occasional broken noses, broken arms, concussions, and countless contusions and abrasions.   A variation on games we know as “capture the flag” and “red rover,” flag rush was a heightened example of these, and was popular on college and university campuses around the country.

Flag Rush at UC

Continue reading Bloodsport for the Undergrads

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

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.

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.