On the south parapet of Blegen Library are carved these words from John Milton’s Areopagitica written in 1644:
For books are not absolutely dead things
But do contain a potencie of life in them
To be as active as those whose progeny they are.
Milton (1608-1674) is one of the greatest poets and essayists in the English language. The quote, which is part of his work condemning censorship and pleading for free speech, is part of the architectural design in the library, which opened as the University of Cincinnati’s Main Library in 1930. Intended to inspire students and scholars, they are words meant both to establish the primacy of books and the written word in human culture and to draw the reader within the building to explore, to learn, to consider, and to share knowledge.
The Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions and the Cecil Striker Society for the History of Medicine will host the Cecil Striker Society Annual Lecture Thursday, April 10.
The evening will include a reception from 4-5 p.m with an exhibit on John Shaw Billings in the Lucas Room. At 5 p.m., Dale Smith, PhD, will present, “John Shaw Billings and the Medical College of Ohio: Shaping Twentieth Century Medicine,” in Kresge Auditorium.
They are the fruit of our archival world, those strange objects, quirky provenance discoveries, and odd functions that lend surprise to the workday. For example, while attending a conference just last week, I was working one afternoon in a research library to delve into a few early documents related to our UC holdings. Taking a break and wandering down a dark hallway, I saw a partially-opened door, poked my head in, and saw two shrunken heads in bell jars. Not what I was looking for, but certainly more interesting than what I had been reading!
So it wasn’t unexpected at all when I returned home and saw that the Archives & Rare Books Library’s own anatomical oddity is in the public eye, something we’ve anticipated for the past several weeks. In its January issue, Cincinnati Magazine has a feature called “Artifact,” for which they used the jawbone of a mule from our Stephen Foster Collection. Having the mandible in the collection isn’t as bizarre as it might seem. The Foster materials were compiled by former UC president Raymond Walters during his tenure from 1932 to 1955. Walters was a Foster scholar of sorts and acquired the collection as part of his research, eventually donating it to the Libraries. There are the typical items in the Foster material that you would expect, such as sheet music, songbooks, images, and recordings. And the jawbone fits right in with these items because it is actually a musical instrument, used for percussion in the antebellum minstrel shows that traveled up and down the Ohio River, stopping in towns like Cincinnati to perform their songs and dances. A stick would be used to rasp up and down the teeth to provide the rhythm. But how and when Walters acquired the bone is a mystery. Continue reading ARB Jawbone Makes the Pages of Cincinnati Magazine
In the Archives and Rare Books Library, we receive all sorts of questions related to the university’s history. Some are simple to answer, but others can take hours of research and can require digging through many old files and records. In the Fall of 2013, Steven R. Howe, a professor in UC’s Psychology Department, contacted us regarding his research on the history of the Fellows of the Graduate School. His goal was to enhance the website for the Fellows of the Graduate School by creating a list of former fellows. Since no comprehensive list existed, ARB staff helped Howe locate Board of Trustees minutes, course catalogs, faculty directories, and biographical files on individual faculty members. His research resulted in a spreadsheet that lists all the Fellows of the Graduate School along with some biographical information on each of the fellows. This list, along with some other information resulting from his research, is now available on the Archives and Rare Books Library website: http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/archives/collections/fellows_graduate_school.html Continue reading Complete list of Fellows of the Graduate School Now Available Online
In the October issue that just hit the newsstands, Cincinnati Magazine has an illustrated article called “The City’s History in 50 Objects.” The magazine’s editors, writers, and fact-checkers began this endeavor several months ago, calling upon libraries and archives, museums and individuals, to submit ideas for items that help tell the story of the city’s heritage.
Of the dozens of suggestions they received, the editors decided upon one of the items in the holdings of the Archives & Rare Books Library: our freshman beanie from the turn of the 20th century. The provenance of our beanie is unknown; it’s just one of those things that eventually end up in the University Archives, but brings an interesting bit of history (rather like our life-size cutout of former UC president Nancy Zimpher that now stands guard in our Rare Books Room!). Continue reading ARB Makes the "History" Pages of Cincinnati Magazine!
Woodward (“Woodie”) Garber’s designs for Christ Church Episcopal Church in Glendale, Ohio are now available for viewing at Archives and Rare Books Library of the University of Cincinnati. There is a specification notebook of the addition to the church, as well as numerous blueprints that cover every aspect of the building from the temperature control wiring to chapel windows and even the layout of trees on the grounds.
Garber (1913-1994) assisted in the design of Christ Church Epsicopal Chapel in 1959. He added the All Saints Chapel which produced space for 100 people along with classrooms and offices. This new addition connected the main church and the parish house by a glass corridor with an entrance colloquially known as the “Whale’s Mouth.” Continue reading Woodie Garber Blueprints Now Available
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.
Gregory H. Williams became the University of Cincinnati’s 27th president when he took office in September 2009. Among more than 100 applicants for the position, he was selected in part because of his outstanding work in transforming the City College of New York, where he served as president before joining the UC. Williams received national acclaim for his book, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black (New York, NY: Dutton, 1995). Over a decade later, he still received feedback from his readers while serving as the president here at UC. The memoir was his way of telling the world about struggling with poverty and acceptance during his youth and dealing with his biracial identity in Muncie, Indiana at a time when segregation was still highly overt in the United States. The book also brought to life other family issues such as alcoholism and abandonment. Throughout his account, he told the story of a normal childhood that spiraled into one of torment, welfare, and segregation, and then how he made the best of it. Williams became the star quarterback of his high school’s football team, excelled in college to earn four degrees, and worked his way up in higher education system until he became president of College City of New York from 2001-2009 and then president of the University of Cincinnati from 2009 to 2012. Continue reading President Williams Speeches Are Now Available in the University Archives
Oh, the things you can find when you go to an auction. Even the typical items that you find for sale, such as books, sometimes contain a surprise for the unsuspecting buyer. That’s exactly what happened to Linda Sheets of Jonesboro, Indiana when she bought a box lot of books and discovered a University of Cincinnati tuition receipt dated October 1, 1917. The strip of paper has yellowed with age, and fortunately Ms. Sheets realized it might have historical value for UC, and was kind enough to share her discovery with the Archives and Rare Books Library.
Jordon Alcott, the student from the 1917-1918 academic year, probably thought that $63.50 in tuition for one semester here at the university was expensive. That total comes from a $5 library fee, $50 for tuition to the College of Liberal Arts, a $ 1 registration fee, $2.50 fine to use the gymnasium, and a $5 contingency fee.