Ohio Digital Newspapers & Chronicling America Presentation in ARB on Thursday July 26

Come hear about Ohio’s digital newspaper project and learn how to freely access historic newspapers from around the country.

When:  Thursday July 26 from 11:00am-12:30pm

Where:  Archives and Rare Books Library, Seminar Room 814

Westliche Blatter mastheadDid you know that 90 Ohio newspapers including foreign language papers have been digitized and are now part of the Library of Congress’ free newspaper database Chronicling America?  Learn how to access the over 13 million pages of historic newspapers from 47 states and territories covering 1789-1963 on Chronicling America.  Jenni Salamon, Coordinator for the Ohio Digital Newspaper Program, and Bronwyn Benson, Quality Control Technician, from the Ohio History Connection will demonstrate basic and advanced search strategies and how to work with your results to find information about local, state, national and international events, people, places and culture. They will also provide a brief overview newspaper digitization process and an update on the digitization of Ohio’s foreign language newspapers.

The Colored Citizen mastheadTreasures from the Archives and Rare Books Library collections including items from the German Americana collection that complement the digitized newspapers will be available for viewing before and after the presentation.

Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

By:  Alia Levar Wegner

Travel literature in 19th-century India was closely linked to the British empire. Behind every picture was an army. This is especially true of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ramus Forrest’s illustrated book, A Picturesque Tour Along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna, In India, (SpecCol RB Oversize DS408 .F65) published in 1824.

Picturesque Tour Title Page
Title page of A picturesque tour along the rivers Ganges and Jumna, in India. (Spec Coll RB Oversize DS408 .F65)

Continue reading Art and Empire in Nineteenth-Century India

Exploring Tagalog Grammar

By:  Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern

The University of Cincinnati’s Archives & Rare Books Library holds a rare first edition of Sebastián de Totanes’s Tagalog grammar, Arte de la lengua tagala y manual tagalog para la administración de los Santos Sacramentos.  Printed entirely on rice paper and bound in vellum, this book served as a Tagalog language primer for Spanish missionaries.

Tagalog Grammar Cover and Title Page

Left:  Vellum cover of Arte de la lengua tagala (PL6053 .T7 1745),  Right: Title page

Continue reading Exploring Tagalog Grammar

In Times Like These

By:  Kevin Grace

Puppets from Ridley Walker PlayOne of the most in-the-news phrases of this past year has been “fake news.”  Every political point of view has employed it to the point where the first reactions among readers and listeners to current events has a question in mind, “Is this real information?”  And in times of political or social stress, there is a mounting trepidation over who controls information, or, who preserves it.  Librarians are often in the forefront of acquiring information, protecting it from those who would alter or destroy it, and preserving it for now and for the future.  The sources of information, of knowledge, continue to grow exponentially and in our rapidly changing technological world, much of it disappears.  As websites continue to grow – and to disappear through political exigencies – the expertise of librarians and archivists are called upon, a recent example of which is illustrated in a science article on web discovery and preservation: https://apps.sciencefriday.com/data/librarians.html. Continue reading In Times Like These

Rare Book Occasional – Scroll of Esther

By: Alia Levar Wegner, ARB Intern, 2017-2018

The inaugural post of the new Rare Book Occasional looks at the Archives and Rare Books Library’s two manuscript copies of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther). Produced sometime in the 18th- and 19th centuries, these parchment scrolls illustrate the ritual importance of scroll reading in Judaism.

The Book of Esther holds a prominent position in the Jewish faith, as it is one of the Five Megillot, or five scrolls that mark particular festival or fast days in the Jewish calendar. This important Biblical book recounts Esther’s role in securing the salvation of the Persian Jews, and its recitation marks a day of joyous celebration for Jewish people. Esther scrolls are traditionally read twice during the festival of Purim, once in the morning and again in the evening.

Scroll of EstherScroll of Esther opened

Top:  Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), before treatment,  Bottom: Scroll open to the names of Haman’s sons (Esther 9:7,9). Photos: Jessica Ebert

The materiality of the Scroll of Esther forms an important part of its religious significance. Early rabbinical writers composed rules regulating its production and public recitation. According to rabbinic tradition, the ceremonial Scroll of Esther can only be handwritten on parchment with ink using the square Hebrew script. Esther scrolls are also distinguished by their arrangement on a single dowel. These rabbinical prescriptions continued to influence the scroll’s material construction in more contemporary times, as illustrated by the Archives and Rare Books Library’s 18th– and late 19th-century Esther scrolls. In accordance with tradition, these scrolls are handwritten on vellum in the traditional script.

Featured here are images of one of the Library’s Esther scrolls that recently underwent conservation to repair small tears and damage to the parchment (Ms. no. 22). The scroll was rehoused on two dowels to enable the manuscript to be safely viewed.

Additional information about the conservation process can be found here.

Scroll of Esther

Scroll of Esther (Ms. no. 22), after treatment. Photo: Jessica Ebert

For more information on this and other items at the Archives and Rare Books Library, visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library, call us at 513.556.1959, email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, view our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati.

Scottish Ghoulies

By:  Kevin Grace

 

  Infernal Gods, who rule the shades below,

Chaos and Phlegethon, ye realms of woe,

Grant what I have heard I may to light expose

Secrets which earth, and night, and hell inclose.

North Berkwick Witches tried before King James

The verse comes from an 18th century book in the Archives & Rare Books Library that purports to document true accounts of the supernatural, most of them from the Scottish highlands.  Of course, every country and culture has its own ghosts and witches, and Scotland has a wonderfully rich heritage of “long-leggedy beasties.”  Which notion, of course, points to the spookiest of goodnight prayers, the Scots’ traditional plea for safety in their beds:

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night

Good Lord, deliver us!

Title page - The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland SeersThis small poetic digression aside, our book of spectres and succubi came from the press of Robert Taylor of Berwick-on-Tweed.  Berwick was one of those towns caught between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England during the frequent border wars, but finally became a part of England in 1482.  Located in Northumberland, it is the northernmost town in England, but centuries later it still maintains a strong Scottish identity.  Taylor was active as a printer in Scotland and England from 1717-1779, and is credited with setting up the first printing press in Berwick in 1753.  In 1775, he published The History of Witches, Ghosts, and Highland Seers: Containing Many Wonderful Well-Attested Relations of Supernatural Appearances, Not Published Before in Any Similar Collection Designed for the Conviction of the Unbeliever, and the Amusement of the Curious.

One wonders a bit about that “Not Published Before…” statement in regard to Taylor.  Copyright was still a fluid concept in some English courts, and Taylor sometimes stood accused of pilfering from fellow printers.  Ten years after History of Witches was printed, Taylor would lose a lawsuit brought Berwick early pressagainst him by another printer on his publishing of a poetry book, The Seasons by James Thomson.  Nevertheless, the full weighty title gives weight to the content.  These were ghost stories intended to frighten the reader.  And, to put the fear of God in the souls and minds of non-believers who, in the words of Taylor, say such tales “are the invention of enthusiasm, and a crazy disordered imagination.”  There are 86 stories in his gathering, several of them from the Continent and many of them accounts of witches, of “second sight,” and of appearances by apparitions.  There are titles such as “The Daemon of Glenluce, in Galloway, in Scotland” and “The Dream of Lauchlan McKinnon.”

The tradition of witchcraft and ghosts in Berwick was a very long one.  In 1590, there were notorious witch trials in North Berwick that lasted for more than two years and involved more than 70 accused people.  According to the trials, the witches held their covens on Auld Kirk Green near the harbor.  Taken to the Old Tollbooth in Edinburgh and tortured, many of the accused were forced to confessed to consorting with the Devil.  The trials became quite famous and William Shakespeare even adapted some of the supposed “rituals” brought out in court for his play Macbeth.

Apparition to King James

Robert Clark Collection book plateAll in all, Taylor printed a lovely little book!  The copy in the Archives & Rare Books Library (call number SpecCol RB BF1411.H4 1775) is from the Robert Clarke Collection, the first collection of books that formed the University of Cincinnati Libraries and it has been nicely rebound in red cloth.  Taylor finished his preface to the book with this statement: “Let the aetheists, if there are any, the deists, free-thinkers, and infidel rakes read it and tremble.”

And we conclude here with another little verse:

 

Say, can you laugh indignant at the schemes

Of magick terrours, visionary dreams,

Portentous wonders, witching imps of Hell,

The nightly goblin and enchanting spell?

 

Happy Halloween!

The Archives & Rare Books Library’s Current Desiderata

By:  Kevin Grace

Gulliver's Travels, illustration by RackhamAs we are continually building the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library in our areas of strength and making them more accessible for teaching and research, we know there are vital monographs or documents we would always like to acquire.  In some cases, our rare book budget will accommodate some special items, but when it comes to archival materials – and many rare books – we depend on the kindness of friends and strangers.  Our most current desiderata outlines some of the books and papers we are seeking, everything from documenting everyday lives in our German Americana Collection through cookbooks and organizational archives to rare books that strengthen our Shakespeare collection and our illustrated myth and legend holdings.  And of course, we always welcome Mick and Mackthe records of University of Cincinnati student organizations.

William ShakespeareThe items we list as desired acquisitions are primary resources in areas that are heavily used not only by UC students and faculty but by global scholars and the general public as well.  To view the list, go to http://libraries.uc.edu/arb/collections/desiderata.html and to learn more about the collections of the Archives & Rare Books Library and how to effectively use them in the classroom, in research, or in publications, call us at 513.556.1959, email ARB at archives@ucmail.uc.edu, have a look at our website at http://libraries.uc.edu/arb.html, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ArchivesRareBooksLibraryUniversityOfCincinnati, or visit us on the 8th floor of Blegen Library.

 

 

A Closer Look At An Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By:  Savannah Gulick, ARB Student Assistant

Huck Finn Cover PageIn my Honors seminar, “The Culture of Books and Reading,” we were asked to choose a rare book from the holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library to analyze and write about, and the book I chose was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (a personal favorite of mine).  Our first task was to analyze the physical features of our chosen books. Prior to this class, I really never cared to thoroughly look over a book; rather, I would just dive right in to the story. It truly is surprising how much you can learn from just examining a book. What I found about my book, just by looking, was that it is a limited edition (only 1500 copies produced), published in 1942 by The Limited Editions Club.  The book is hardcover and bound in a typical library buckram that is colored mustard yellow.  Considering it was issued in 1942, the printing is very clean and still in good condition on sturdy, white pages.  This limited edition contains 45 illustrations done by the Americana artist Thomas Hart Benton and they’re beautiful, fitting right in with the theme of Twain’s novel.  Overall, the book contains 396 pages and is still in good condition. Continue reading A Closer Look At An Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Breaking in a New Stage

By: Sydney Vollmer, B.S., Marketing ‘17

Otto M. Budig Theater StageLast week, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company said hello to their new home at the Otto M. Budig Theater with performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was fortunate enough to be invited to their Media Night on September 7, when I got a first look at the space and the show.

The Theater

Located at 1195 Elm Street, the new theater features a modern style of architecture one might not expect for a company boasting Shakespeare’s name.  There is a large lobby area for everyone to gather before the show and during intermission and it is Otto M. Budig theater lobbypeppered with Shakespeare quotes and play titles everywhere you turn, from the steps to the seating. I personally am a fan of the bathroom sinks which read, “A little water clears us of this deed” – a direct quote from Lady Macbeth. When you go to a performance, see how many you can find!  Upstairs, an open room is used for classes and meetings for various presentations. During Media Night, Jeremy Dubin, Director of Creative Education, gave an informative presentation on the costuming and set design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Continue reading Breaking in a New Stage

The Mystery and Emotion of “Blue”

By: Kevin Grace

The Three PrincessesIt is a color that has both negative and positive connotations, is symbolic of mysticism, social rank, both high and low emotions, and of serenity and wisdom.  Blue is a color that is a signifier of both Hell and purity, of luxury and dignity.  There are as many interpretations of what “blue” symbolizes as there are cultures in the world.

And the symbolism of the color is the rationale behind an online exhibit created by Archives & Rare Books Library.  Intended to highlight the spectrum of rare books in the collections, the selections show the cultural diversity over the ages of this particular color.   Nineteen volumes are represented in the exhibit, with several examples from each of illustrations and bindings, ranging from a 15th century illuminated book of hours to early Qur’ans and Persian poetry.  There are botanicals, fairy tales, Art Deco bindings, Asian drawing Ms. No. 20manuals, pochoir pattern books, and Turkish ebru marbled paper.  Each indicates a specific use of blue that depends on religion, technology, or geographical heritage. Continue reading The Mystery and Emotion of “Blue”