"Thirsty and Ye Gave Me Drink"-The Henry Probasco Fountains = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

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.

Main Street
After Tyler Davidson passed away in 1865, Henry Probasco sold the hardware business to former partner, William Lowry, in 1866. The building would have been located on the east (right) side of Main Street between Second and Third Streets, in the vicinity of the images above (Left: March 2, 1927; Right: July 8, 1927.
Streets along Riverfront
In the early history of Cincinnati, several streets were platted running parallel with the Ohio River, but which no longer exist. These were Pearl Street, Water Street, Front Street and Second Street. These have been replaced with Fort Washington Way, I-71, as well as museums, major league sports arenas and other businesses and attractions along the riverfront. (Left: March 2, 1927; Right: October 10, 1941)

Continue reading "Thirsty and Ye Gave Me Drink"-The Henry Probasco Fountains = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

Cead Slan, or, A Farewell to Archives Month

One of the great poets of the ages has died.  Nobel Prize-winning Irishman Seamus Heaney passed way on Friday in Dublin at the age of 74:     http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/kenny-leads-tributes-to-keeper-of-language-seamus-heaney-1.1510607.  It was less than a year ago that Heaney came to Cincinnati to speak at the Mercantile Library for the 2012 Niehoff Lecture Series, and we ran this blog at that time:

October 30, 2012

By Kevin Grace

-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 Program for Heaney lecturetheme 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

Union Terminal: A Struggle for Success

By:  Tyler Morrison, ARB Student Assistant

Construction, December 1931
December 1931

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

Check Out These Library Exhibits

clifton

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.

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Discovering the Queen City

By:  Tyler Morrison, ARB Student Assistant

The Queen CityWhile 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.

Continue reading Discovering the Queen City

Civil War Exemptions

By:  Janice Schulz

Exemption for Caption Anderson
An exemption for physical disability

The Archives and Rare Books Library’s collection of Hamilton County Civil War Exemptions is now available in digital format on the UC Libraries’ Digital Resource Commons. The collection consists of 102 documents dated from August-October, 1862, that can be searched, viewed, downloaded and printed. The documents in this collection were created as proof of exemption status under the Militia Act of 1862, which resulted in the first attempt to conscript Union soldiers in the Civil War. This collection represents a very small window in time during the long years of the Civil War, but it marks an important turning point in how the Union built its army.

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Photographic Collections and Archive Repositories: A Balancing Act = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

The University of Cincinnati’s Archives and Rare Books Library (ARB) maintains numerous collections containing records of historic value for research and scholarly use. These materials are comprised of a variety formats, including printed documents, university records, sound recordings, and photographic prints and negatives.

One of these collections is the Ohio Network collection, comprised of historic local government and public records. The City of Cincinnati Engineer Records is part of this collection, and contains records produced by the engineer’s office from 1851 through 1957, including those of the Rapid Transit Commission for the subway and Central Parkway construction, as well as other street improvements carried out by the city within the same timeframe. And among these records are the negatives and photographic prints that are currently being digitized and that will be made available online via the ARB and Digital Collections web sites.

Nitrate Negatives
Nitrate negatives contained within City of Cincinnati Engineer Records collection

Continue reading Photographic Collections and Archive Repositories: A Balancing Act = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

From Potter's Field to Union Terminal: The History of Lincoln Park = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

By: Angela Vanderbilt

In my June 25 blog, “Ezzard Charles Drive: The Making of a Parkway,” I described how over time, many of the streets and locations captured in the Subway and Street Improvements images no longer exist, or have been altered in name or appearance, as they have been adapted for new uses. The area discussed in that blog is currently the site of the Cincinnati Museum Center, which occupies the former Union Terminal. Most residents of Cincinnati are familiar with the most current use of this building as well as its original purpose, a major railroad terminal by which passengers and freight from all over the United States passed through the Queen City. However, this area served two other purposes prior to the building of the terminal station, the first of which may surprise you. Continue reading From Potter's Field to Union Terminal: The History of Lincoln Park = Adventures in the Subway and Street Improvements Digitization Project

A Look at Doing Time in Cincinnati: The Workhouse Jail Registers

By Janice Schulz

Researchers know that life events tend to leave some amazingly informative paper trails and that sometimes you can find good things in seemingly bad places. For some individuals, a prison sentence was a significant, formative life event, and the paper trails that prison stays provide can tell some interesting stories. The Cincinnati Workhouse, which operated from 1869-1985, tried to take those prison sentences and turn them into more positive experiences for inmates and society through rehabilitation, emphasis on moral ideals, and hard work. As part of our Ohio Network of Local Government Records collection, the Archives and Rare Books library holds jail registers from the Cincinnati Workhouse for the years 1877-1945.

Postcard showing workhouse
The Cincinnati Workhouse in an idyllic, undated postcard from ARB’s Nelson and Florence Hoffmann Cincinnati Postcard Collection

On March 9, 1866, the Ohio General Assembly passed an act authorizing any Ohio city exceeding 100,000 in population to erect and maintain a workhouse. A workhouse was a new concept in the field of criminal justice, responding to the emerging idea that crime was related to societal and moral issues, and providing not only punishment, but rehabilitation as well. A workhouse aimed to rehabilitate by stressing moral values, providing inmates with something productive to do, and possibly introducing them to a new trade. Additionally, they were seen to be more cost-effective than traditional jails, as inmate labor contributed to the institution’s operations and provided outside income. Continue reading A Look at Doing Time in Cincinnati: The Workhouse Jail Registers

David Blackburn: A Performer and Teacher is Remembered at UC

By:  Suzanne Maggard

Blackburn in Serenade
Blackburn in Serenade with Alyce Taylor (standing), and Colleen Giesting

On June 15, 2013, David Blackburn passed away and the Cincinnati dance community lost a beloved teacher and friend.  Blackburn served as a professor of dance at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music for over 30 years and played a vital role in the history of the Cincinnati Ballet as a dancer and then as Assistant Artistic Director.

Continue reading David Blackburn: A Performer and Teacher is Remembered at UC