Subway and Street Improvements Project Digitization Taking Shape

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

Digitally preserving eighty-year-old negatives and prints for online access requires clear guidelines and close attention to detail to ensure all information contained in the photographic records is captured. Such a project also requires careful organization of the physical collection so that all assets may be accounted for through each stage of the project. Finally, close inspection of the digital rendering is necessary to ensure the highest quality of scanned images is obtained and preserved for future use.

Due to the unstable nature of the negatives, safe handling of the physical material is a priority both during the organization phase of the project at the Archives & Rare Books Library, as well as during the scanning phase at Robin Imaging Services. Proper handling will not only protect the physical condition of the negatives and prints, but of those handling them, as well! While organizing the collection, I wear cotton gloves to avoid contact with the negatives and a filtered mask to avoid breathing in any fumes that the negatives may be putting off as they deteriorate. I also use a metal spatula to lift and separate each individual negative. This allows me to create an itemized list of each asset in a spreadsheet, which will be used to generate the metadata that is required to build the online collections. It will also give us a final tally on total number of negatives and prints contained in the collection. Continue reading Subway and Street Improvements Project Digitization Taking Shape

Silver Linings and Early Birds: Weather Lore in the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

By:  Molly Gullett

The ability to predict and foresee oncoming weather has long fascinated humans. Before advanced Doppler technology and the ability to capture satellite images, weather prediction methods were passed through generations by way of proverbs and superstitions. The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection features such lore and shows the interesting ways that it continues to be cycled because of its (sometimes surprising) accuracy.

Almanac from 1818Jennifer L. Collins’ contribution to the folklore collection has a wide range of weather lore from Southeastern Indiana farmers who depend on the proverbs’ precision even in contemporary times. Even before almanacs became popular, easy to remember lines were most effective for passing the tradition of weather lore. A fairly common proverb of Southern Ohio is “Red sky at night, sailors delight, Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” This lore can be traced back at least to biblical times where it is paraphrased in Matthew 16:3 “And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring” (King James Bible). Continue reading Silver Linings and Early Birds: Weather Lore in the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

Cincinnati Ballet at 50-Preparing for a Celebration

Salome
Colleen Giesting in Salome

By Suzanne Maggard

The Archives and Rare Books Library has been working with Cincinnati Ballet to prepare for their 50th anniversary season which begins in 2013.  As part of the celebration, David Lyman, the dance writer for The Cincinnati Enquirer, is working on a book about the ballet.  Lyman was contracted to write the book by the Cincinnati firm, Allegori, who, in turn, has a contract for the book with Cincinnati Ballet.  Lyman has been doing research on the ballet using Cincinnati Ballet records and the David McLain and David Blackburn Collection held in the Archives and Rare Books Library.  Photos and slides from these records are currently being scanned for use in the book which will be released in 2013.  Although the images in this blog post are not necessarily ones chosen for the book, they are a sampling of the some of the images in the collections.

Continue reading Cincinnati Ballet at 50-Preparing for a Celebration

Cead Slan, or, A Farewell to Archives Month

By Kevin Grace

-Not your colloquial Irish farewell, mind you, because that would have us skipping out when it is our turn to buy a round of drinks, and you just know we would never do that!  Rather, a farewell to Archives Month in Ohio and its 2012 Program for Heaney lecturetheme of “Ethnic Peoples of Ohio.”  In southwest Ohio, the focus has been on Irish heritage and the Celtic contribution to our culture.  From businessmen and women and Civil War soldiers to civic leaders and politicians, to writers and artists, Cincinnati and this corner of the state have been greatly enriched by the Irish.

In addressing this theme in October, we were very fortunate that it coincidentally embraced the annual Niehoff Lecture at the Mercantile Library, presented by Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.  It could have been happenstance, of course, but more likely cinnuint, or destiny to youse guys.  On Saturday evening, October 20, Heaney spoke before an enthralled audience at the Westin Hotel as part of a lecture series that has helped mark the Mercantile as the center for literary life in Cincinnati. Continue reading Cead Slan, or, A Farewell to Archives Month

Local Lore: Haunted Buildings of Clifton

By:  Molly Gullett

Arlin's LogoAs Halloween approaches, many of us are preparing to celebrate the holiday, from trick-or-treating to haunted house tours.  October is a month filled with a sense of the uncanny, and the Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection has many local examples from several research papers dealing with all things mysterious and ghoulish.

All communities have their collective legends and mysteries, and Clifton is no exception. Elise Maynard’s paper in the collection titled The Arlin’s Ghost in a Community Context features first-hand accounts from Arlin’s bartenders on the supernatural legends housed within this Ludlow Avenue bar. For years among the staff, there have been legends passed down about spirits that inhabit the building. The oral legends that passed down were brought to action when several bartenders and a few patrons conducted a séance in the basement. Continue reading Local Lore: Haunted Buildings of Clifton

The Subway and Street Improvement Photograph Grant Project- Images of Progress

By: Angela Vanderbilt

The first delivery of scans depicting the 1920s subway construction project has arrived. These scans were made from a set of highly sensitive nitrate-based negatives, which are being digitized first due to their state of deterioration. A variety of factors have contributed to this deterioration, including the physical composition (an unstable silver nitrate emulsion held on a celluloid surface), age (many are from the 1920s-1930s), and environment (negatives had been stored in a location with dramatically fluctuating temperature and humidity levels prior to being stored at UC’s ARB repository), so it’s important to have them scanned as soon as possible. For safety reasons, the nitrate negatives will be destroyed once scanning is completed and image files are approved. Following the nitrate scanning, acetate-based negatives will be scanned. These negatives are also deteriorating due to similar factors but do not pose safety issues like the nitrate negatives, apart from their offensive vinegar smell…Following the negatives, the collection of prints will be sent for scanning. When completed, we will have over 8000 digital images of the subway and street improvements projects, images portraying Cincinnati from the 1920s through the 1950s, with over half produced as positive images from negatives.

Industrial Scene

Men walking along subway route Continue reading The Subway and Street Improvement Photograph Grant Project- Images of Progress

Irish Cincinnati-Mike Mullen and Ward Politics

By:  Kevin Grace

As the election season draws to a close over the next couple of weeks, it seems appropriate to consider the story of Mike Mullen, perhaps corrupt in the eyes of muckraking journalists, but certainly beloved among his own kind – and isn’t that always the case when it comes to urban politics? A jaded opinion, you say?  Maybe, I respond, but certainly one that is backed by the boisterous heritage of American city life.  And, so in the spirit of Archives Month in Ohio and the democratic system of government, here we go… Continue reading Irish Cincinnati-Mike Mullen and Ward Politics

Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

By Molly Gullett

Mabel H. Singing Telegram Company
Mabel H. Singing Telegram Company

The Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library’s Urban Studies Collection, is made up of several hundred small research projects of written and illustrated folklore that have been collected since the early 1970s by the students of professor emeritus Edgar Slotkin. In my efforts to make sense of such a wide variety of topics as I begin this year-long internship, I began sorting the papers into categories. In all, fifteen separate genres were discovered, among them proverbs, stories, jokes, children’s games, local festivals, the uncanny, bathroom stall graffiti, and food lore. Continue reading Southwest Ohio Folklore Collection

Stealing St. Patrick: Another Moment in Archives Month and the Cincinnati Irish

 By Kevin Grace

St. Patrick's Day ParadeIt has its roots in the fact that, historically, German and Irish Catholic congregants were often at odds in Cincinnati.  On Mt. Adams, where both Irish and German working-class families lived, there were two Catholic churches, Church of the Holy Cross for the Irish, Immaculata Church for the Germans.  Holy Cross parish was established in 1873 to serve the Irish immigrants on the hill and Immaculata was dedicated in 1860, fulfilling a promise made to God by a fearful and distraught Archbishop John Baptist Purcell when he crossed the Atlantic on stormy, tossing seas.  With a German congregation, Immaculata was part of Purcell’s adroit handling of the ethnic differences in the 19th century  Cincinnati archdiocese. Continue reading Stealing St. Patrick: Another Moment in Archives Month and the Cincinnati Irish