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

Welcome to the ARB Intern for 2012-2013

By Kevin Grace

Molly Gullett is a fourth year History major at the University of Cincinnati and is the Archives & Rare Books Library intern for the 2012-2013 academic year.   Each year, ARB selects an intern to work on one specific project from its collections.  The intern must be an undergraduate of junior or senior standing or a graduate student, and must have taken courses relevant to the project.  Other qualifications include the earning of academic credit within the intern’s major field of study.  The project includes complete processing of a collection, the preparing of an Encoded Archival Description finding aid, and the design and preparation of a web exhibit that highlights the collection.  The project will be completed by the end of spring semester of 2013.

Continue reading Welcome to the ARB Intern for 2012-2013

Cincinnati Subway and Street Images Digitization Project

By:  Kevin Grace

Today’s image from the project is certainly an intriguing one: when the Rapid Transit Commission in Cincinnati went ahead with their intent to turn the Miami-Erie Canal route into a subway system, they hired a photographer to document every step of the project.  His images detailing the particular day, time, and street location of the subway construction in the 1920s form the bulk of our digitization endeavor.  He captured extraordinary exterior views of the canal bed being widened and deepened as tunnels were built, showing the streets and buildings along the route that is now Central Parkway in Cincinnati.  However, the construction also led to these buildings being damaged – cracks in ceilings, walls, and foundations in private homes and businesses, for which the owners were submitting claims for repairs and restitution.

Photographer for City Engineer

Continue reading Cincinnati Subway and Street Images Digitization Project

Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Grant Underway

By Angela Vanderbilt

Digital Archivist, Cincinnati City Engineer Digitization Project

Angela VanderbiltAs the month of October begins, so too begins a new project for the Archives and Rare Books Library – digitizing and making available on the web the collection of negatives and prints documenting Cincinnati’s early 20th century subway development and street improvement program. New projects often require new hands to help facilitate, and it is my pleasure to join this project as Digital Archivist, marking my own beginning as I strike out on a new project in a new city. Continue reading Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Grant Underway

Richardson's rocks: DAAP-designed Cincinnati memorial in Burnet Woods turns 40

UC Magazine recently published a story celebrating the Richardson Stones in Burnett Woods.  Read the story below or to view the original story, go to  You can also find a collection on the Richardson Stones at the Archives and Rare Books Library.  The finding aid is available on the OhioLINK Finding Aid Repository.

Richardson Stones
UC architecture faculty and students who integrated H.H. Richardson and his works into their ongoing studies completed this memorial in Burnet Woods Park in 1972. photo/Jay Yocis

Former UC architectural history professor Bill Rudd shares the story behind the student-led construction of the Burnet Woods memorial to famed architect H.H. Richardson’s Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Building. Henry Hobson Richardson is highly regarded, along with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, as one of “the recognized trinity of American architecture.” The style he popularized is named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque.

Among the last buildings Richardson designed was the one-time Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce building on 4th Street. That building, dedicated in 1889, would stand among the most significant public structures in the region — along with works like the Suspension Bridge, the Carew Tower, City Hall, Music Hall and Union Terminal — had it not been destroyed by fire a century ago, in 1911. The memorial was completed in 1972.

Continue reading Richardson's rocks: DAAP-designed Cincinnati memorial in Burnet Woods turns 40

The Sleep Cycle Comes to an End

By Lauren Fink, ARB Intern, 2011-2012

As the school year comes to a close today so does my internship at the Archives & Rare Books Library.  Throughout my internship I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and have truly come to appreciate the role the Archives & Rare Books Library plays in documenting Cincinnati’s history.  Not originally from this town, through processing the Nelson and Florence Hoffman Cincinnati Post Card Collection and The Gaylord Oscar Shepherd Collection of Strobridge Lithography Company Calendar Cards, I was able learn about Cincinnati’s rich past and all of the events and people that gave rise to the present culture of the city.

Strobridge Calendar Card August 1896Postcard showing Cincinnati Art MuseumPostcard Showing Cincinnati's Coney IslandStrobridge Calendar Card for July 1902

Continue reading The Sleep Cycle Comes to an End

Cincinnati Ballet at 50

In 2013, the Cincinnati Ballet will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.  This renowned local ballet company has long and enduring ties to the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Cincinnati holds records of the Cincinnati Ballet and David McLain, one of its earliest directors.  The Archives and Rare Books Library will be working with the Cincinnati Ballet over the next year as they celebrate this important milestone.

As part of the celebration, the ballet is looking to collect more material related to its history including items that might be held by former dancers, former staff, long-time ballet fans and sponsors, and any members of the public.  The ballet will be hosting an Ice Cream Social on Sunday July 29th from 2:00-4:00 at their location at 1555 Central Parkway as a way for individuals to share any treasures they hold related to the ballet and their memories of the ballet.  Click on the announcement to the right for more information on this event. Continue reading Cincinnati Ballet at 50