Shakespeare and Cincinnati’s Dramatic Festival

By: Sydney M. Vollmer, ARB Intern

In the spring of 1883, Cincinnati held its first Dramatic Festival at Music Hall, performing for a consecutive six days.  The show had a lineup of performances of all sorts of dramatic works, with many of them holding Shakespearian titles.   The festival was such a big deal that even the Chicago Tribune sent someone over to see what it was all about but unfortunately, the Tribune was less than impressed with Cincinnati’s efforts, claiming that the largeness of Music Hall drowned out the performances of almost all the actors.  However, the critics did have some kind words for the orchestra as well as the performances of Hamlet and Julius Caesar. Apparently, these were the only two plays that were “great” enough to be worthy of performance while simultaneously using the space effectively. It certainly helped that in the role of Hamlet was the famous thespian James E. Murdoch.

Dramatic Festival Continue reading

The Children of Lir: Ireland’s Sweethearts

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

It’s that time of year again. Winter is *hopefully* leaving and making room for spring.  March brings a lot to look forward to, especially for the Irish-American community.  Every year since 1991, the president has declared March to be National Irish Heritage Month.  But what does Irish heritage mean?  One University Honors class is on a mission to find the answer to that question.  It turns out that “to be Irish” means a lot more than having red hair, drinking beer, and being one with a short temper.  Led by professor Kevin Grace, along with Debbie Brawn of University Honors, 20 students will travel to Ireland over spring break to get an in-depth look at the country from where so many Americans emigrated.  The weeks leading up to the study tour were filled with readings of Irish-American literature, such as Angela’s Ashes and Irish America: Coming Into Clover, as well as the viewing of films and many discussions about what Irish heritage means. Continue reading

King Richard III: A Hunch about his Costume

Sydney Vollmer, Archives & Rare Books Library Intern

For those faithful followers who have not been keeping up with local theater, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s next production will be Richard III, running February 17th through March 11th. Their website (http://www.cincyshakes.com/) says of the show:

Shakespeare’s game of thrones enters its endgame as the history cycle’s final chapter takes the stage. The ruthless, remorseless and relentless Richard Plantagenet has his eyes set on the throne of England, and he makes the happy earth his hell as he carves a bloody swath through all that stands in his way. The History Cycle comes to its thrilling conclusion with the story of England’s most murderous monarch, Richard III. Paired with the production of Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses, Part 2, this theatrical event is not to be missed! Continue reading

BAE: Bureau of American Ethnology (not the Danish word for “poop” or an abbreviation of “babe”)

By: Colleen O’Brien, ARB Student Assistant

The acronym BAE does not refer to a common slang term amongst young folks or even to the Danish word for “poop.” Rather, in this instance it is a term which means Bureau of American Ethnology.

How did the Bureau of American Ethnology come to be and why is it important?

In 1879, as the discipline of anthropology was taking hold in universities across America, Congress established an agency called the Bureau of Ethnology.  There is some controversy over the exact purpose for which this department was founded, but one explanation is that the Department of the Interior needed to transfer archives and other materials to the Smithsonian Institution because the two entities were set to merge shortly thereafter.  Thus Congress decided to create a department to ease this change. The second reason, on the other hand, states the Bureau of Ethnology was established as a purely research division of the Smithsonian. Regardless, John Wesley Powell, the Bureau’s key founder, believed it should be used to promote anthropological research in the Americas.   In fact, in 1897, the Bureau of Ethnology changed its name to Bureau of American Ethnology in order to limit geographic interests. Continue reading

Costuming a King

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Since the beginning of theater, costumes have played a crucial role to the understanding and enjoyment of the stories.  Over time, they have developed both in design and technique.  It was the Greeks who first invented costumes, using them to differentiate between characters of different class.  They were often ornate, with patterns and masks.   Romans continued the tradition of costuming, but no major changes were made for hundreds of years.  By the time Shakespeare came about, costuming had evolved so that actors would don whatever their character would wear in real life. Continue reading

Kay Nielsen: Life Undrawn

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Kay Nielsen

As mentioned in a previous blog post on the fairy tales in the Archives & Rare Books Library, this blog is about the illustrator of In Powder and Crinoline and many other tales, Kay (pronounced “Kigh”) Nielsen.

Born on March 12, 1886 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kay was the son of two actors.  His father, Martinus Nielsen, directed the Dagmarteater and his mother, Oda, was highly praised for her work both in the Dagmarteater and the Royal Danish Theater.  Despite his parents’ high standing in the theatre community, Nielsen found his passion in a different art form.  He studied in Paris from 1904-1911 at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi and after he received his education, he moved to England for five years.  It was during that time he received his first commissioned work as an illustrator.

Rosanie The Man Who Never Laughed Felicia Continue reading

Enchanting Fairy Tales Dressed in Powder and Crinoline

By:  Sydney Vollmer

12 Princesses in the WoodsOver the next few months, the Archives & Rare Books Library will open another of our exhibit websites that introduces our extensive collection of fairy tales and folklore for research and teaching.  There are many volumes to sift through, but one I recently pulled caught my eye.  In Powder and Crinoline doesn’t contain any stories with which I was familiar, but when I paged through it, I was more than a little pleasantly surprised.

This collection of stories retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was first published in 1912 by Hodder and Stoughton.  “Q” was a Cornish writer who was well known for his fiction and anthologies, particularly for his Oxford collection of English poetry in 1900.  In the preface to Powder and Crinoline, he speaks of his first impression of the work: Continue reading

My Deepest Apologies for the Three Bears

By: Sydney Vollmer

The Three BearsIn our present time, it seems stories are constantly being changed or redone to make them more applicable to our lifestyle.  This certainly isn’t an entirely new phenomenon in the course of literature, but the frequency seems to be picking up.  Like any other content, fairytales are not excluded in this world of remakes, but how much are we allowed to change things?  How does it impact the future generations who are learning these stories for the first time? Continue reading

Jacob Here, Jacob There. Jacob Out, Jacobin

By: Sydney Vollmer

JacobinsA few weeks ago, Kevin walks into my office and tells me that word on the street is people want me to write about the Jacobins.  After reading about the difference between Jacobites and the Jacobean Era, some people wanted to know if Jacobins had anything to do with either one of those. It all has to do with the recent donation of over 500 rare books on the Jacobites in Britain, providing a little context on what we have in the Archives & Rare Books Library and who all these Jackos or Jamesies are. Continue reading

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