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 The Children of Lir: Ireland’s Sweethearts

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 King Richard III: A Hunch about his Costume

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

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 Costuming a King

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 Kay Nielsen: Life Undrawn

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 Enchanting Fairy Tales Dressed in Powder and Crinoline

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 My Deepest Apologies for the Three Bears

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 Jacob Here, Jacob There. Jacob Out, Jacobin

Julia Marlowe – A Cincinnati Girl Learns To Be Juliet

By: Sydney Vollmer

Julia MarloweOn August 17, 1866, Sarah Frances “Fanny” Frost was born in Caldbeck, England to John and Sarah Frost.  As Julia Marlowe, she died at age 84 in New York City’s Plaza Hotel.  Between those two events, she discovered passion, love (multiple times), and fame.

The future Shakespearean actress was born into a relatively normal family.  She had four siblings, three sisters and a brother and her parents owned a general store while also working in the trades of needlework and boot making.  Her father sometimes got drunk and her mother always got frustrated with him.  At the age of 5, though, all of that “normalcy” changed for Marlowe.  It was the year that her father whisked the family away to America.  Plenty of people were immigrating to America during the 1870s, but Marlowe’s father did so to stay out of trouble.  During an impromptu horse race between her father—where he was most likely drunk— and one of their neighbors, Mr. Frost allegedly took out his competitor’s eye with his whip.  Knowing that he would surely face prosecution if he stayed, he immediately took his wife and children to America.  Once arrived, they first settled in Kansas, but soon moved to Portsmouth, Ohio with the new surname “Brough,” which was the maiden name of Julia’s mother.  Later on, the family would find out that the competitor had been playing a cruel joke and there had not been any reason to leave so urgently. Continue reading Julia Marlowe – A Cincinnati Girl Learns To Be Juliet