They are the fruit of our archival world, those strange objects, quirky provenance discoveries, and odd functions that lend surprise to the workday. For example, while attending a conference just last week, I was working one afternoon in a research library to delve into a few early documents related to our UC holdings. Taking a break and wandering down a dark hallway, I saw a partially-opened door, poked my head in, and saw two shrunken heads in bell jars. Not what I was looking for, but certainly more interesting than what I had been reading!
So it wasn’t unexpected at all when I returned home and saw that the Archives & Rare Books Library’s own anatomical oddity is in the public eye, something we’ve anticipated for the past several weeks. In its January issue, Cincinnati Magazine has a feature called “Artifact,” for which they used the jawbone of a mule from our Stephen Foster Collection. Having the mandible in the collection isn’t as bizarre as it might seem. The Foster materials were compiled by former UC president Raymond Walters during his tenure from 1932 to 1955. Walters was a Foster scholar of sorts and acquired the collection as part of his research, eventually donating it to the Libraries. There are the typical items in the Foster material that you would expect, such as sheet music, songbooks, images, and recordings. And the jawbone fits right in with these items because it is actually a musical instrument, used for percussion in the antebellum minstrel shows that traveled up and down the Ohio River, stopping in towns like Cincinnati to perform their songs and dances. A stick would be used to rasp up and down the teeth to provide the rhythm. But how and when Walters acquired the bone is a mystery. Continue reading ARB Jawbone Makes the Pages of Cincinnati Magazine
In the Archives and Rare Books Library, we receive all sorts of questions related to the university’s history. Some are simple to answer, but others can take hours of research and can require digging through many old files and records. In the Fall of 2013, Steven R. Howe, a professor in UC’s Psychology Department, contacted us regarding his research on the history of the Fellows of the Graduate School. His goal was to enhance the website for the Fellows of the Graduate School by creating a list of former fellows. Since no comprehensive list existed, ARB staff helped Howe locate Board of Trustees minutes, course catalogs, faculty directories, and biographical files on individual faculty members. His research resulted in a spreadsheet that lists all the Fellows of the Graduate School along with some biographical information on each of the fellows. This list, along with some other information resulting from his research, is now available on the Archives and Rare Books Library website: http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/archives/collections/fellows_graduate_school.html Continue reading Complete list of Fellows of the Graduate School Now Available Online
In the October issue that just hit the newsstands, Cincinnati Magazine has an illustrated article called “The City’s History in 50 Objects.” The magazine’s editors, writers, and fact-checkers began this endeavor several months ago, calling upon libraries and archives, museums and individuals, to submit ideas for items that help tell the story of the city’s heritage.
Of the dozens of suggestions they received, the editors decided upon one of the items in the holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library: our freshman beanie from the turn of the 20th century. The provenance of our beanie is unknown; it’s just one of those things that eventually end up in the University Archives, but brings an interesting bit of history (rather like our life-size cutout of former UC president Nancy Zimpher that now stands guard in our Rare Books Room!). Continue reading ARB Makes the "History" Pages of Cincinnati Magazine!
The primary task of the Rapid Transit Commission and the 1917 Bauer Bill (Senate Bill 264, which authorized the formation of a commission for the design and construction of a rapid transit system) was not the construction of the subway alone, but the construction of Central Parkway, the “grand boulevard” that was to replace the Miami & Erie Canal. The Commission was also tasked with the secondary subway project to ensure that the Parkway was built, since the one could not commence before the other was underway, a means of ensuring the success of both.
When it was first proposed in a 1907 report, written by landscape architect George Kessler regarding the development of a city park system for Cincinnati, Central Parkway was meant to rival Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue and the grand boulevards of Europe, to be landscaped and lined by stately brownstones and mansions. Accented by decorative lampposts, fountains, trees and shrubbery, the new boulevard was to provide a park-like atmosphere for Cincinnatians, with sidewalks to stroll and benches on which to relax and enjoy the scenery of the Parkway as it wound its way north from Walnut Street in the downtown business district to Lundlow Avenue in the residential neighborhood of Clifton.
Woodward (“Woodie”) Garber’s designs for Christ Church Episcopal Church in Glendale, Ohio are now available for viewing at Archives and Rare Books Library of the University of Cincinnati. There is a specification notebook of the addition to the church, as well as numerous blueprints that cover every aspect of the building from the temperature control wiring to chapel windows and even the layout of trees on the grounds.
Garber (1913-1994) assisted in the design of Christ Church Epsicopal Chapel in 1959. He added the All Saints Chapel which produced space for 100 people along with classrooms and offices. This new addition connected the main church and the parish house by a glass corridor with an entrance colloquially known as the “Whale’s Mouth.” Continue reading Woodie Garber Blueprints Now Available
A prominent figure in early Cincinnati history, Henry Probasco was both businessman and philanthropist, committing his time to numerous Cincinnati organizations and societies, accumulating a large personal library of rare books and manuscripts, as well as an extensive collection of prints and paintings, both rivaling the finest in the country, and dedicating two elaborate fountains to the citizens of Cincinnati in the late 1800s.
Henry Probasco, along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Tyler Davidson, managed one of the most successful hardware companies in Cincinnati in the 1800’s – Tyler Davidson & Company. Probasco joined the business in 1835 as a clerk, and in 1840 was made a partner. The same year, he married Davidson’s half-sister, Julia. Together with Davidson, Probasco succeeded in expanding the business quickly, and by 1846, Tyler Davidson & Company was the largest hardware store in Cincinnati. In 1851, at Probasco’s suggestion, the partners built a new, multi-level structure on the site of the original store at 140-142 Main Street, between Second and Third Streets, and within three years, their sales quadrupled. Pearl Street, Water Street and Front Street were also located in this area, and ran parallel with Second Street to the north and the river to the south. The hardware store, Second, Front, Water, and Pearl Streets no longer exist; all have been replaced with I-71, Fort Washington Way, the Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium, among other attractions along the riverfront.
-Not your colloquial Irish farewell, mind you, because that would have us skipping out when it is our turn to buy a round of drinks, and you just know we would never do that! Rather, a farewell to Archives Month in Ohio and its 2012 theme of “Ethnic Peoples of Ohio.” In southwest Ohio, the focus has been on Irish heritage and the Celtic contribution to our culture. From businessmen and women and Civil War soldiers to civic leaders and politicians, to writers and artists, Cincinnati and this corner of the state have been greatly enriched by the Irish.
In addressing this theme in October, we were very fortunate that it coincidentally embraced the annual Niehoff Lecture at the Mercantile Library, presented by Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney. It could have been happenstance, of course, but more likely cinnuint, or destiny to youse guys. On Saturday evening, October 20, Heaney spoke before an enthralled audience at the Westin Hotel as part of a lecture series that has helped mark the Mercantile as the center for literary life in Cincinnati. Continue reading Cead Slan, or, A Farewell to Archives Month
Here at Archives and Rare Books Library, we have the Progress Photographs of the construction of Union Terminal that were organized by the Cincinnati Union Terminal Company. The Engineer of Construction was George P. Stowitts. The photographs show views of the different phases of construction from the beginning to the end of the project. These albums are available for viewing upon request. Cincinnati Union Terminal was one of the last great train stations built. It was a significant development in the history of Cincinnati transportation and has become an icon of the city. The building project started in August 1929 and was completed on March 31, 1933. Having 94 miles of track, Union Terminal cost $41 million to build. It was built to accommodate 216 trains per day for 17,000 passengers daily. Passenger train services ceased in 1972 and started up again in 1991 when Amtrak took over train operations at the station. Continue reading Union Terminal: A Struggle for Success
Three new exhibits have been installed in Blegen and Langsam Libraries that feature UC Libraries’ collections.
Blegen 4th Floor Lobby: The exhibit “Clifton” showcases the magazine that, according to its editor Cliff Radel, was known for “Purposefully taking a sideways look at the University and the community [that] will undoubtedly be discomforting to a great number of people who operate with fixed principles. Good.” The exhibit was created by communications design student Alixandria Wolfe, a senior DAAP student, and Melissa Cox Norris, director of library communications Learn more about Clifton magazine online via an exhibit from the Archives and Rare Books Library.
While the rare book holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library contain everything ranging from cuneiform and papyrus to Renaissance manuscripts and modern first editions, like every other institution, we also focus on particular genres. Among these specialties are the history of the book; 18th century British literature; the Arts & Crafts Movement; Charles Dickens; Irish literature; and early travel and exploration. And because we are in Cincinnati and UC is such an integral part of the city, of course we have many rare and important Cincinnati imprints ranging from the early days of the city’s founding to books published only recently. Included in the many books on Cincinnati is The Queen City: A Hand-Book of Cincinnati. Because the book dates back more than one hundred years, it has been restored so that it remains in a useable condition and its value as a part of local history is preserved.