Final ARB "50 Minute" Talk of the Academic Year is Set

By:  Kevin Grace

Music Hall LadiesOur 2014-2015 “50 Minutes” series wraps up this month with a fascinating look at Cincinnati’s “Frail Sisterhood”: Nineteenth-Century Prostitutes of the Queen City

Throughout Cincinnati’s first 100 years, prostitution was common and leading prostitutes and madams were well known. Although labeled the “Frail Sisterhood,” these “Women of the Town” were anything but frail, carving out a transgressive community run by women, providing resources and services unavailable in the male-dominated society of the time.

Ladies of the TownAt noon on Thursday, April 16, Greg Hand will provide an overview of Cincinnati’s Victorian demimonde, highlighting some of the city’s most notorious brothels and introducing some of the colorful and infamous characters.  Hand retired in 2014 as associate vice president for public relations at the University of Cincinnati. He was a reporter and editor for several weekly newspapers in Cincinnati and has co-authored three books on UC history. He currently operates the “Cincinnati Curiosities” blog at handeaux.tumblr.com

Please join us for what promises to be a wonderfully unusual Cincinnati experience.  Bring your lunch, bring your friends!

 

Adventures in Tutus

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Student Worker

I have never been to a ballet in my life. Why? Simply put: everyone in my family (excluding one aunt) has told me it’s boring and weird.  Indeed, I have let the opinions of others shape my own experiences (or lack thereof). I was perfectly happy never thinking to attend a ballet…until I started working at the Archives and Rare Books Library.

As the student worker here, part of my role includes sorting, inventorying, and processing collections so they can be properly stored in the archives for future research. The project I am currently working on is sorting everything that was recently given to us by Cincinnati Ballet Company (CBC).

We hold the collections of CBC that were acquired before I was hired, so the material I’m working on is a recent addition to the archive.  From what I hear, the last round was much more manageable. Below, you can see some pictures of the room where I am working. This is the collection AFTER a preliminary sorting. I’ve probably spent about 12 hours in there over the past few weeks and I’ve even had help and supervision. Even if it doesn’t look like it, this is progress!

Continue reading Adventures in Tutus

Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By:  Kevin Grace

BagpiperOn Tuesday, March 17, the world will recognize St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish and Irish descendants with various celebrations and events, but this weekend will feature the many parades devoted to the day.  Dublin, New York, Savannah, Chicago, Sydney, Butte, New Orleans, and, Cincinnati all have community parades, and studying how these parades are historically manifested reveals a great deal about urban culture – the elements of religion, ethnicity, enfranchisement, inclusion, social mores, and political influence.  The day was first celebrated in America in Boston in 1737. Continue reading Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

An Irish Journalist in the Queen City: Lafcadio Hearn and the Cincinnati Demi-Monde

By Kevin Grace

From the Cincinnati winter of 1874, over 140 years ago:

 It is in all times a rugged road to the Place of Nameless Graves – a road running over rolling ground, where vehicles rock from side to side like ships in a gale and groan in all their timbers. “Rattle his bones over the stones, He’s only a pauper whom nobody owns.”  Hundreds of paupers’ bones are rattled over that road every year: the Undertaker always sending out three or four at a time in a covered wagon, with frightfully stiff springs.  And as the dismal vehicle rolls along the coffins rattle and bump one against the other fearfully from side to side, and bump horribly against the thinly-lined walls of those long and ghastly boxes.

Hearn

This article, “Golgotha, A Pilgrimage to Potter’s Field”, was written for the Cincinnati Enquirer on November 29 that year by an odd, bulging- eyed Irishman by the name of Lafcadio Hearn.  Hearn, who would chronicle the lowlifes, ghosts, and murderers of Cincinnati for several years before moving on to New Orleans, eventually settled in Japan where even today he is revered as a major literary figure.  He made his journalistic mark in Cincinnati because he explored the alleys and tenements and riverside settlements that housed the city’s worst and most colorful citizens.  He explored the lives of criminals and addicts, of mediums and flim-flam men, and of those who dealt with the underbelly of Cincinnati society.  And he did it by letting them tell their stories, by involving himself in his own reporting, by writing in the authentic dialect of the storytellers, and by thrilling his readers nearly every day with a world in which they seldom visited. Continue reading An Irish Journalist in the Queen City: Lafcadio Hearn and the Cincinnati Demi-Monde

Faustian Ghosts and Redemptive Masculinity in an American Baseball Story

By:  Kevin Grace

PitcherThere’s too much snow, too much cold, and too many gray skies, so we need to refresh ourselves a bit.  After all, the Reds are in spring training out in Arizona, and Opening Day is just a month away!  So let’s talk baseball and a little Cincinnati baseball story published 130 years ago.

In 1885, a quirky little tale was published in a Cincinnati humor tabloid called Sam the Scaramouch (SpecCol RB F499.C5 S16).  The anonymously-written story is entitled “O’Toole’s Ghost” and its plot centers around a young immigrant by the name of Mickey McGonigle who dreams of becoming the best baseball player ever seen.  Late one night, he is visited by the ghost of a deceased pitcher by the name of Barney O’Toole, who offers to fulfill this dream on one small condition: never argue with the umpire.  McGonigle accepts the offer, and for a brief time he is indeed the greatest player in the land.  But during one game, he forgets that agreed upon condition with the ghost, violates it, and sees his prowess quickly and publically stripped away.  He spends the rest of his days consumed with regret and humiliation. Continue reading Faustian Ghosts and Redemptive Masculinity in an American Baseball Story

Next Up for the "50 Minutes" Talk – Rod Serling

By:  Kevin Grace

This 50 Minute Talk has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for Fall 2015.

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call … The Twilight Zone.

Burgess Meredith in The Twilight ZoneIt is one of the most famous television intros in history, Rod Serling’s doorway into fantasy and science fiction that opened each episode of his iconic series.  Born in Syracuse, New York, educated at Antioch College, and beginning his writing career in Cincinnati first at WLW and then at WKRC, Serling’s sober demeanor and bizarre imagination later gave rise to a generation of twisting tales and thought-provoking storylines in The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Please join us on Wednesday, March 11, at noon in 814 Blegen as we look at Serling’s Cincinnati years and his close connection to the College of Music (pre-merger with the Conservatory of Music and later addition to the University of Cincinnati as CCM).  We will also view one of Serling’s classic episodes, Time Enough at Last, featuring Burgess Meredith as a book-loving man who finally realizes his dream of being able to read as much as and whenever he wants, only to fall victim to a tragic twist of fate.

50 Minutes March 2015

 

40 Years of The Nutcracker in Cincinnati

The holidays in Cincinnati bring many traditions to mind.  You can go see the Duke Energy train display at the Cincinnati Museum Center (formerly the CG&E train display and previously located downtown), and you surely do not want to miss the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.  One tradition in particular, though, is celebrating a big anniversary.  2014 marks the 40th year for Cincinnati Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.  For many Cincinnatians, a trip to see The Nutcracker at Music Hall is their first experience with the ballet, and for others it might be their only experience.

Panorama of the stage at Music Hall
Continue reading 40 Years of The Nutcracker in Cincinnati

CHRC Collections at ARB Recall Cincinnati’s Own Civil Unrest

By:  Nate McGee, CHRC Intern and UC PhD candidate

CHRC Thank You Letter
A thank you card from a student at Aiken High School following a CHRC outreach visit to the school.

Amid a renewed discussion regarding the relationship between minority urban residents and local police, it’s important to think about how our own community dealt with similar issues in the not too distant past.  The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) Collection currently being processed in the Archives and Rare Books Library shows the myriad ways the city and various organizations affiliated with city hall attempted to deal with issues not unlike those currently experienced in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and in the national news discussion.

Continue reading CHRC Collections at ARB Recall Cincinnati’s Own Civil Unrest

Another Addition to Our Documentation of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music's Heritage

By Kevin Grace

Last week we wrote about the wonderful donation of an exterior wall plaque from the Conservatory of Music when it was located in the old Shillito mansion on Highland and Oak Streets.  No sooner than that blog post run that we received a package from another person with a connection to the school.

ccm-ladies

Florence Lemke of Tucson passed along some memorabilia that had belonged to her late aunt, Rita Moore.  Moore was a Conservatory student in the early 1920s and had a classmate by the name of Minnie Leah Nobles.  Mrs. Lemke sent us the 1921 Senior Annual, which her aunt had obtained from Nobles, along with a class photo.  In the picture, Nobles is the tallest woman in the back row and Moore is in the back row as well, third from the right.  It’s a wonderful image not only in how it depicts coed fashion at the time, but in its look at the Conservatory entrance as well. Continue reading Another Addition to Our Documentation of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music's Heritage

UC Bicentennial Publishing Plans Gearing Up

By:  Kevin Grace

Football playersIn 2019, the University of Cincinnati will celebrate its 200th birthday, and for the past two years the UC Bicentennial Commission has undertaken a number of initiatives to celebrate and commemorate this momentous event.  One aspect of the bicentennial endeavors is directed by the Spirit of History Committee.  Chaired by longtime UC benefactor and former member of the Board of Trustees, Buck Niehoff, the committee’s plans are for two complementary publications.

taft with brothers_2The first publication is a scholarly history of the university by David Stradling, professor of history.  Dr. Stradling will focus on UC’s relationship to the city of Cincinnati throughout its history.  The second volume, edited by Greg Hand, will be a collection of diverse essays that begin with a facet of University of Cincinnati history and expand it to where it has relevance and meaning to any reader, not just those who are connected to UC in some way.  To that end, Hand is soliciting ideas for essays and invites anyone to submit a proposal by linking to this web page:    http://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/Bicentennial/docs/6034-Spirit-of-History-Essay-form.pdf.   The form provides details on the style the essays will take.  It can also be printed out and mailed to potential authors. Continue reading UC Bicentennial Publishing Plans Gearing Up