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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.