Environmental Records and Regulation

By:  Eira Tansey

Burning Barge on the Ohio River
Strode, William, “Burning Barge on the Ohio River”, 1972, Environmental Protection Agency: DOCUMERICA. Image source: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/543983

The relationship between local, state, and federal environmental protection has always been complicated – both by accident and by design. When the earliest environmental protections began, they typically started at the local and state levels, often following some kind of environmental disaster – and thus, environmental protections developed unevenly. By the time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970, the decentralization of environmental policy was deliberately embedded in the original organization of the agency: much of EPA’s enforcement and regulatory duties are delegated to state environmental agencies.

Water issues have been roiling the Midwest, with significant attention paid to the Flint lead crisis and the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Ohio’s water issues may not be in the headlines as much, but the risks are worth paying attention to. Ohio is often described as a “water-rich” state with Lake Erie to the north, and the Ohio River to the south. Although we may be water-rich, this water is often quite contaminated. The Ohio River is consistently ranked as the most polluted river in the United States, and UC researchers have conducted studies of pollutants from Ohio River-sourced drinking water supplies connected with past manufacture of Teflon. Both Lake Erie and the Ohio River routinely experience harmful algae blooms, which are often connected to runoff from agricultural activities – and much harder to regulate. In addition, Cincinnati is under a federal consent decree due to the overflow from infrastructure deficiencies with the local sewer system.  Continue reading Environmental Records and Regulation

Donald and Marian Spencer: Lives of Love and Social Justice

By:  Sam Whittaker, History Department Intern

Donald and Marian SpencerThe Archives and Rare Books Library recently received a new collection of papers from Marian and Donald Spencer.  For over fifty years, the Spencers fought for educational equity and equal rights with organizations such as the NAACP, the U.S. Commission on Human Rights Ohio Board, and the Cincinnati Board of Education. While processing the papers of Marian and Donald Spencer, I learned a vast amount about their groundbreaking electoral campaigns, keynote speeches, court cases, and community boards. However, I also came to know them as people. Donald and Marian Spencer met while they were both students at the University of Cincinnati, married in 1940, and raised two boys. They spent a great deal of their nearly 70 years of marriage in Cincinnati fighting for social justice and equality in the community. Continue reading Donald and Marian Spencer: Lives of Love and Social Justice

In Memoriam: Edgar Slotkin, Ardent Friend of the Archives & Rare Books Library

Edgar SlotkinOn June 21st, the Archives & Rare Books Library lost a friend. Edgar Slotkin, professor emeritus of English, died at the age of 72. Edgar was a remarkable folklorist and Celtic scholar, but most of all he was a man generous of his time and knowledge. At his retirement in 2011, he donated his local folklore collection to us and it became the Southwest Ohio Folklore Archive. Additionally, several years ago Edgar worked with Jerry Newman, our Associate Dean for Collections at the time, to acquire and catalog two wonderful rare book collections of Irish and Welsh literature. Of the former, much of it is from the early 20th c. Celtic Revival period in Ireland and represents a physically fragile gathering of books that might otherwise have been lost. Edgar Slotkin was a kind and learned man, and someone who is greatly missed.

Adventures in Tutus

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Student Worker

I have never been to a ballet in my life. Why? Simply put: everyone in my family (excluding one aunt) has told me it’s boring and weird.  Indeed, I have let the opinions of others shape my own experiences (or lack thereof). I was perfectly happy never thinking to attend a ballet…until I started working at the Archives and Rare Books Library.

As the student worker here, part of my role includes sorting, inventorying, and processing collections so they can be properly stored in the archives for future research. The project I am currently working on is sorting everything that was recently given to us by Cincinnati Ballet Company (CBC).

We hold the collections of CBC that were acquired before I was hired, so the material I’m working on is a recent addition to the archive.  From what I hear, the last round was much more manageable. Below, you can see some pictures of the room where I am working. This is the collection AFTER a preliminary sorting. I’ve probably spent about 12 hours in there over the past few weeks and I’ve even had help and supervision. Even if it doesn’t look like it, this is progress!

Continue reading Adventures in Tutus

Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By:  Kevin Grace

BagpiperOn Tuesday, March 17, the world will recognize St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish and Irish descendants with various celebrations and events, but this weekend will feature the many parades devoted to the day.  Dublin, New York, Savannah, Chicago, Sydney, Butte, New Orleans, and, Cincinnati all have community parades, and studying how these parades are historically manifested reveals a great deal about urban culture – the elements of religion, ethnicity, enfranchisement, inclusion, social mores, and political influence.  The day was first celebrated in America in Boston in 1737. Continue reading Cincinnati’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade

40 Years of The Nutcracker in Cincinnati

The holidays in Cincinnati bring many traditions to mind.  You can go see the Duke Energy train display at the Cincinnati Museum Center (formerly the CG&E train display and previously located downtown), and you surely do not want to miss the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo.  One tradition in particular, though, is celebrating a big anniversary.  2014 marks the 40th year for Cincinnati Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.  For many Cincinnatians, a trip to see The Nutcracker at Music Hall is their first experience with the ballet, and for others it might be their only experience.

Panorama of the stage at Music Hall
Continue reading 40 Years of The Nutcracker in Cincinnati

CHRC Collections at ARB Recall Cincinnati’s Own Civil Unrest

By:  Nate McGee, CHRC Intern and UC PhD candidate

CHRC Thank You Letter
A thank you card from a student at Aiken High School following a CHRC outreach visit to the school.

Amid a renewed discussion regarding the relationship between minority urban residents and local police, it’s important to think about how our own community dealt with similar issues in the not too distant past.  The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission (CHRC) Collection currently being processed in the Archives and Rare Books Library shows the myriad ways the city and various organizations affiliated with city hall attempted to deal with issues not unlike those currently experienced in Ferguson, Missouri, Staten Island, New York, and in the national news discussion.

Continue reading CHRC Collections at ARB Recall Cincinnati’s Own Civil Unrest