Poetry Month and ARB-Phillis Wheatley's Poetry

By:  Kevin Grace

anthropodermic binding     Last week we had the pleasure of hosting an English Department lecture by visiting University of Texas professor John Rumrich on John Milton’s poetry, who spoke on the sometimes very literal connection between a physical book and an author.  In the case of Milton, Professor Rumrich related the poet’s work to the curious custom that developed in the 18th century of binding books in human skin.  And, in preparation for his remarks, Rumrich examined the Archives & Rare Books Library’s anthropodermic binding.

An odd volume in our holdings for over half a century, this binding encloses the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, an 18th century African American poet.  Though there is no indication at all that the binding has a connection to the poet in any way, and really is an altogether other topic for discussion, it did call our attention to the Wheatley body of work, appropriate enough for a month devoted to poetry. Continue reading

On John Milton and "Reading Blood"

By:  Kevin Grace

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.

John MiltonMilton (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 Department of English and Comparative Literature sends this information for a lecture this Friday at 1:00 pm in 814 Blegen, the Schott Seminar Room in the Archives & Rare Books Library: Continue reading

National Poetry Month and ARB

By:  Kevin Grace

Poem Illustration of TrumpeterBecause April is celebrated as National Poetry Month, over the next few weeks the Archives & Rare Books Library will blog about some of its significant holdings in the Rare Books Collection.  Perhaps the best subject with which to begin is ARB’s outstanding collection of 18th century poetical pamphlets.  Eighteenth-century literature is one of the hallmarks of the rare books holdings, encompassing drama, poetry, fiction, philosophy, theology, travel, history, and geography.  And the core of this area is what we have traditionally called the Anonymous Poetical Pamphlet Collection.

Poem Illustration Continue reading

Culture of Books and Reading Students Deposit A Ghost Story in the Archives

By:  Kevin Grace

Recently returned from a study tour to Edinburgh, Scotland over spring break, the students in the University Honors Program seminar “The Culture of Books and Reading” added one of their assignments to the ARB website – a story entitled “The Sin-Eaters Ghost.”  A group project written by each student contributing a page, the story is just one of the assignments for this course in which the traditional and emerging reading habits and the heritage of books are explored in cultures around the world.

Edinburgh Skyline

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ARB's Final Lunchtime Lecture for 2013-2014

By:  Kevin Grace

McCay Little NemoThe Archives & Rare Books Library will hold its final “50 Minutes-1 Book” presentation of the academic year on Thursday, April 17, at 12 noon in 814 Blegen Library.  Greg Hand, associate vice president for Government Relations and University Communications, will talk about Winsor McCay, a recognized pioneer of American comic strips.   McCay’s genius as an artist, cartoonist and animator has been hailed by Maurice Sendak and celebrated by a “Google Doodle.” His “Little Nemo In Slumberland” is recognized as the pinnacle of comic strip art and his “Gertie The Dinosaur” was unsurpassed until the Golden Age of Walt Disney and Chuck Jones. It is little known that McCay spent 13 years in Cincinnati. Continue reading

Spring 2014 Issue of Records Quarterly Now Available

 By Eira Tansey

Spring 2014 Records QuarterlyThe Spring 2014 edition of Records Quarterly, a newsletter of the University of Cincinnati Records Management Program, is now available on the records management website.  Articles in this issue include:

Introduction from UC’s New Records Manager — Meet Eira Tansey, graduate of UC, and the new Digital Archivist/Records Manager

Retention Schedule Revisions — If it’s been a while since your office revised its retention schedule, here’s what to expect during the process

Disposal Certificates — How and why to fill out disposal certificates when you dispose of records

 You will also find announcements for the spring shredding event sponsored by the Office of Information Security, “Records in the News,” current events in legislation that could affect record keeping, and recent records transfers to the University Archives.

The next Introduction to Records Management workshop will take place on May 8 at 10am in Blegen Library, 8th floor. Anyone from the university community may attend, please RSVP by sending an email to eira.tansey@uc.edu

Records Quarterly is distributed electronically via the Records Management website and the Records Management listserv.

A Heart-Shaped Book for Lovers

By Mark Palkovic, CCM Library

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day this Friday, the CCM Library and the Archives and Rare Books Library present an item from the Rare Books Collection, Le Chansonnier Cordiforme, or Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu. The original manuscript dates from the 1470s and is owned by the Bibliothèque de France (Ms. Occ. Rothschild 2973). The UC Libraries’ copy is a facsimile of the original, bound in red velvet and created by Vicent García Editores of Valencia, Spain in 2007.

Open book

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Celebrating Black History Month-Cincinnati's Ted Berry

By:  Kevin Grace

Theodore BerryWith a grant awarded by the National Archives and Records Administration a few years ago, we were able to process our Theodore M. Berry Papers, a collection of nearly 200 boxes that documented the life and career of Ted Berry, UC alum, first African-American mayor of Cincinnati, and a national figure in the Civil Rights Movement.  Communities around the nation are celebrating Black History Month in February, and on Tuesday The Ledger-Independent in Berry Backers FlyerMaysville, Kentucky ran a very nice article about Berry, based in large part on the website that was created for the grant project.  Written for the newspaper by Marla Toncray, the article was picked up by Dawn Fuller in UC’s Public Information office.

We invite you to have a look at the article at http://maysville-online.com/news/local/theodore-m-berry-rise-from-poverty-to-politics/article_867ef0e1-2ebe-5c1c-91c1-ed3a399a37f4.html.  To learn more about ARB’s holdings, please go to http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/index.html, call us at 513.556.1959, or email us at archives@ucmail.uc.edu.

ARB Jawbone Makes the Pages of Cincinnati Magazine

By:  Kevin Grace

Cincinnati MagazineThey 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!

Raymond Walters

Raymond Walters

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

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