Curators’ Talks Celebrate African American History and Ohio Presidents

Curators’ talks for the month of February recognize the achievements of African American Ohioans and our 8 Ohio Presidents.

February 1
Robert Duncanson: The Best Landscape Painter in the West

Join curator Emily Lang as she discusses the life of prominent Hudson River School painter Robert Duncanson. Born to freed slaves in 1821, Duncanson built his career in Cincinnati. Quickly rising to fame, he was one of the finest landscape painters in country during the mid-1800s. Hear about his struggles and triumphs during his thirty year career and see examples of his artwork Ohio Historical Society fine arts collection.

Ruins of Carthage by Robert Duncanson.

Ruins of Carthage by Robert Duncanson.

February 8
The Mills Brothers

A musical and visual survey of the Mills Brothers, the popular African-American jazz and pop singing group that hailed from Piqua, Ohio. Listen to a selection of their hit recordings and examine archival materials from the Society’s collections, including original recordings such as 78s, 45s and LPs, photographs, letters and ephemera. Learn about one of the most popular and ground-breaking American singing groups of the 20th Century.

February 15
Before They Were President

In honor of President’s Day join Lisa Wood, visual resources curator, to see a selection of photographs picturing Ohio’s eight Presidents in their early years.

February 22
Eagles on their Buttons: African American Service in the Civil War and World War I

Join manuscript curator and military historian John Haas to learn more about Ohio’s African American soldiers. From the 5th United States Colored Troops of the Civil War to the 9th Battalion of the Ohio National Guard in World War I, African American Ohioans have bravely served.

Photograph shows members of the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment recruited in Ohio during the Civil War. The regiment was formed in 1863, and was subsequently designated as the 5th Regiment, United States Colored Troops. The photograph was taken in Delaware, Ohio, on Sandusky Street near the Ft. Delaware Hotel.

Photograph shows members of the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the first African American regiment recruited in Ohio during the Civil War. The regiment was formed in 1863, and was subsequently designated as the 5th Regiment, United States Colored Troops. The photograph was taken in Delaware, Ohio, on Sandusky Street near the Ft. Delaware Hotel.

The curators talks are part of a busy schedule of activities at the History Center in February. Check out our full calendar of Black History Month programs.

If you go:

Day and Time: Saturdays in February at 12:30 PM

Location: Ohio History Center at I-71 and 17th Ave.

Cost: Free with museum admission

Posted in Civil War, collections, Curators, Current News, Military History | Leave a comment

Look for the Adena Pot and the Clinton League Memory Book

The Ohio Historical Society staff has had a wonderful opportunity to assist and support our colleagues at WOSU Public Media in their ongoing project to preserve and celebrate the history of historic neighborhoods in Columbus. The eighth documentary in the Columbus Neighborhoods series, Clintonville, was screened at Studio 35 on Thursday, January 23. It will premier Sunday, January 26.

Fragments from a large, thick grit-tempered ceramic vessel that have been glued together. Most of the base is missing and has been restored with foam material. The complete pot was egg-shaped with a flat rim. There are two lug handles that are broken.

Adenda Ceramic Vessel


While you are watching, look for two important pieces from the Society’s archaeology and manuscript collections. Archaeology curators Bill Pickard and Linda Pansing, along with their colleague Dr. Jules Angel from Ohio State University, shared the story of how mounds built by the Adena Culture were discovered in Clintonville when the Dominion Land Company began building homes in the 1950s. The artifacts, including a great deal of pottery, are curated at the Ohio Historical Society. This particular pot (call number A 3336/000093) has been reconstructed and is currently on display in the exhibit Following in Ancient Footsteps at the Ohio History Center.

Clinton League Memory Book in storage at the Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library.

Clinton League Memory Book in storage at the Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library.


From the manuscript collections a memory book carefully compiled by the ladies of the Clinton League is also featured. Originally known as the Clinton Child Welfare League, the group was founded in 1912 to promote child welfare and later general welfare in Columbus, Ohio. Included in the scrapbook are many photographs that show even in the early 1900s the Clintonville neighborhood was a farm community and more like living in the country, than a city or suburb. For long term preservation the memory book has been microfilmed and is available in the Research Room of the Archives/Library. In addition to the Memory Book there are also Clinton League records (call number MSS 557) documenting the history of the organization from 1912-1988. This collection includes meeting minutes, treasurer’s ledgers, correspondence, and other memorabilia.

Pop some popcorn, keep your eye out for the Society’s collections and watch Columbus Neighborhoods: Clintonville on Sunday, January 26. If you live in the neighborhood, you might spot yourself.

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Posted in archaeology, collections, Curators, Current News, Manuscript Collections | Leave a comment

“I Found a Photograph Marked Baker Art Gallery”

In the decades they were in business the Baker Art Gallery produced innumerable family portraits, commercial images, and photographs of prominent people. Patrons are more likely to contact us to ask about Baker photographs than any other photography studio represented in the Ohio Historical Society’s collections.

Exterior photograph of Baker Art Gallery, on the corner of State and High Streets, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1905.

Exterior photograph of Baker Art Gallery, on the corner of State and High Streets, Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1905.

Baker Art Gallery was the most prominent photography studio in Columbus, Ohio for over eighty years.  The studio was founded by Lorenzo Marvin Baker.  He began his photography career in the 1860s.  His studio was located in different locations on High Street in downtown Columbus.  In 1886 the studio became known as Baker’s Art Gallery or Baker Art Gallery and his son Duane joined the business.  Four generations of the Baker family operated the studio until 1955.  After the studio closed Mrs. Lorenzo P. Baker donated a large collection of negatives and photographs from the studio to the Ohio Historical Society.

Portrait of Ohio Governor and U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes by the Baker Art Gallery.

Portrait of Ohio Governor and U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes by the Baker Art Gallery.

The studio’s specialty was portrait photography.  Located near the Ohio Statehouse, they took photographs of most Ohio legislators and state officials in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Many celebrities and dignitaries also had their portraits taken at Baker’s, including sharpshooter Annie Oakley and U.S. Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding.

Baker was also known for sentimental studies and photographs documenting the Columbus area.  The sentimental studies were often idealized views of family life or dramatic scenes.  These were widely published in magazines and reproduced for customers to purchase for decor.  You can see more examples of Baker Art Gallery photography in our digital library, Ohio Memory.  Type ‘Baker Art Gallery’ in the search box to retrieve Baker images. Have you ever found a photograph marked Baker Art Gallery?

Sentimental scene photographed by the Baker Art Gallery.

Sentimental scene photographed by the Baker Art Gallery.

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

Posted in collections, Curators, Photograph Collections | 7 Comments

Your Tax Return Can Make History!

Annie Oakley Tax Check Off Advertisement

Donate to Ohio History on your Ohio tax return and help support history projects in local communities that invest in Ohio’s economy.
The funds generated through the Ohio History “Tax Check-Off” are made available through a competitive matching grants program, the History Fund. The History Fund supports the preservation and sharing of Ohio’s heritage by supporting local projects, programs, and events related to Ohio’s history.

Small donations make a BIG difference
For just $8, you can help repair a roof, preserve rare color film footage, or stage a historical reenactment.

The Ohio History Tax Check-Off needs your support now
Why? The upcoming tax season is especially important. The Ohio General Assembly recently established a new threshold for tax check-off programs. The Ohio Historical Society needs to generate at least $150,000 each year or the Ohio History Tax Check-Off, and the History Fund grants program it supports, could be jeopardized.

It’s easy to donate to Ohio History on your tax return
Look for “Ohio Historical Society” on your Ohio tax return and designate a dollar amount. That’s it! Your tax-deductible donation goes to support history projects in local Ohio communities.

Other ways to support the History Fund Grant Program
Your Ohio tax return is just one way you can support history projects in your local community. You can also give directly to the Ohio Historical Society and designate your gift to the “History Fund.” Click here for more information.

Help promote the Ohio History Tax Check-Off
To be a part of the Ohio History Tax Check-Off campaign and to access free promotional materials, go to:ohiohistory.org/makehistorycampaign.


Ohio History Tax Check-Off
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ohio History Tax Check-Off?
The Ohio History Tax Check-Off is way for Ohioans to contribute to state and local history projects by “checking off” a donation on the state personal income tax form. Donations are tax deductible.

How is the money from the Tax Check-Off used?
Donations from the Ohio History Tax Check-Off are used to fund local history projects throughout Ohio through the History Fund grant program.

The History Fund was created to support the preservation and sharing of Ohio’s heritage by funding local, regional, and statewide projects, programs, and events related to the broad sweep of the state’s history. Funded from Ohio tax returns, it is a competitive matching grants program that requires grant recipients to have a matching funding source. The Ohio Historical Society administers the program and cannot apply for a grant. For more information about the History Fund grant program and how to apply, visit ohiohistory.org/historyfund.

What projects have been funded through the Ohio History Tax Check-Off?

The funds from the Ohio History Tax Check-Off go into the History Fund Grant program. In its first year in operation, 11 History Fund Grants were given out to organizations throughout Ohio. Click here to read about the recipients and their funded projects.

How was the Ohio History Tax Check-Off created?
The Ohio History Tax Check-Off was created in the state’s two-year budget that was signed into law by Gov. John R. Kasich on June 30, 2011. The legislation allowing for the change in state tax forms was initially brought to the General Assembly by former State Rep. Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent) in 2005. State Rep. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) reintroduced it in early 2011 before it was enacted in the state budget. 

Who is eligible to apply for a History Fund grant?
Local historical societies, public libraries, genealogical societies, university archives and special collections, historic preservation groups, archeological societies, county records management offices, and incorporated “friends” groups of any of the above. The Ohio Historical Society is not eligible for a grant. Click here for more information about applying for a grant.

How can I find out more information?

We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions. Please contact the Local History Office at localhistory@ohiohistory.org or (614) 297-2340/(800) 858-6878.

Posted in Current News, Donate, Programs, Support OHS | Leave a comment

New Faces

Faces of Appalachia Exhibit

Exhibit Extended

Faces of Appalachia, an exhibit featuring the work of traveling Ohio photographer Albert J. Ewing (1870–1934), went on display at the Ohio History Center in 2013. Recently extended through June 1, the exhibit now features a fresh selection of Ewing’s glass-plate negatives. Taken between 1896 and 1912, they are being exhibited for the first time ever.

The new group of 122 glass-plate negatives from the Ohio Historical Society’s Albert J. Ewing Collection went on display in the third floor lobby of the Ohio History Center in Columbus last week, where you can see them through June 1, 2014. Another part of the Ewing exhibit, also on display through June 1, is in the Spotlight Gallery on the first floor of the Ohio History Center museum.

Traveled Rural Southeast Ohio and Northern West Virginia


Ewing lived in Lowell, Ohio, a community north of Marietta on the Muskingum River. He traveled rural areas of southeast Ohio and northern West Virginia to take photographs between 1896 and 1912. Many are portraits taken on site, sometimes using improvised backdrops.

Displayed on light boxes so you can see the images, Ewing’s glass-plate negatives are part of a collection of more than 4,000 that arrived at the Ohio History Center in 1982 still packed in the boxes in which he had bought his undeveloped plates, with very little information about the people and places they picture.

“While planning the exhibit we had many questions to try to answer,” says Ohio Historical Society Visual Resources Curator Lisa Wood.

“We examined Ewing’s negatives for clues and consulted a variety of sources like census records, city directories and vintage newspapers to piece together his life and career,” Wood says. “However, we still had unanswered questions about Albert and his family.

“For example, negatives signed ‘Ewing Brothers’ and photographs of him with his younger brother, Frank, gave us reason to believe that Frank joined Albert in the photography business. Albert was a traveling photographer, so there was a lot of work involved in transporting, setting up and repacking his equipment. A second pair of hands would have been welcome. However, Albert also had two older brothers, Thomas and Elbridge, so we weren’t sure whether Frank was the brother in ‘Ewing Brothers.”

Relatives Share Information

Unidentified woman photographed by Albert Ewing with a mountain landscape, circa 1896-1912.

Unidentified woman photographed by Albert Ewing with a mountain landscape, circa 1896-1912.


Since Faces of Appalachia opened, several Ewing family members — grandchildren of one of Albert Ewing’s sisters — have contacted the Ohio Historical Society, Wood says.

“They were able to support much of the information we had uncovered during our research. Though there were four brothers in the Ewing family, they strongly believe that uncle Frank is the brother in ‘Ewing Brothers,’” she says.

“They weren’t sure how Albert Ewing chose photography as a career and they don’t know why he left the photography business after about 1910, either,” Wood says. “Introduction of the Kodak Brownie camera in 1900 and other changes in technology that made amateur photography easier for more people, together with the taxing physical labor of moving his big wooden camera and other equipment may have led him to change careers.”

Museum Visitors Help Identify Photographs


“Since the exhibit opened, we’ve also been contacted by people who recognize places pictured in the photographs,” Wood adds.

“Before the exhibit opened, we wondered whether visitors might recognize anyone in the photos and help us identify them. So far, they’ve identified locations on the Ohio River and the newspaper office in Ritchie County, W. Va., but not individual people. Like Albert, we know little about most of the people he photographed. If we’re lucky, their names are written on the edge of the glass plate negatives, but most of them remain unknown.”

See the New Negatives

Photograph of two unidentified men with a banjo by Albert Ewing, circa 1896-1912.

Photograph of two unidentified men with a banjo by Albert Ewing, circa 1896-1912.


Wood says that the new negatives now on display feature themes of family, community and work and play as well as the material culture and physical landscape of Appalachia in the early 1900s.

“We are very excited to share more of this unique collection,” she says. “In 2013 we learned so much more about Albert Ewing and his life and work than we knew before the exhibit opened. Who knows what may come to light when more people see the exhibit in 2014?”

In addition to the negatives, the exhibit includes approximately 75 prints made from negatives in the Ewing collection that document the everyday lives of people in the region; an interactive 1890s photography studio with props and period-style clothing where you can create your own old-time photographs using your cell phone or camera; and a storyboard where you can search through photos mounted on magnetic sheets then post them on a board and create your own stories and captions.

Ohio History Center Museum Hours and Admission

See Faces of Appalachia: Photographs by Albert J. Ewing at the Ohio History Center in Columbus through June 1, 2014. While at the Ohio History Center, also see 1950s: Building the American DreamTransformation and permanent exhibits on Ohio history, natural history and archaeology.

The Ohio History Center museum is open five days a week: Wednesdays–Saturdays 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sundays noon–5 p.m. Ohio History Center museum admission is $10/adult; $9/senior (age 60+); $5/youth (ages 6-12); and Free/child (age 5 and under). Ohio Historical Society members enjoy free admission. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Questions about visiting the Ohio History Center or the Ewing exhibit? Call800.686.6124.

Explore More
Explore the Ohio Historical Society’s Albert J. Ewing Collection online at www.ohiohistory.org/ewing.

Posted in collections, Current News, Exhibits, Photograph Collections | Leave a comment

Archives Preservation and Digitization Grants Opportunity

The Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board (OHRAB) announces the availability of grants between $500 and $2,000 to archival institutions to fund projects to preserve and/or provide access to Ohio’s historical records. Proposals must be received by February 28, 2014. Awards will be announced March 21, and projects must be completed by December 31, 2014.

Full details on the grant are on OHRAB’s website but some highlights include:

• Eligible institutions may be public or private.

• Any size institution may apply, but preference will be given to institutions with permanently valuable archival materials of 500 cubic feet or fewer.

• Eligible projects include those involving physical access, arrangement, and description; preservation (including storage materials); and making catalog descriptions of records or digital images of records available on line.

• Eligible expenses include supplies and storage materials, technical equipment, and contracted services.

Funding is made available by a Federal regrant opportunity from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

If you have questions or require a hard copy of the application package, please contact Judith G. Cetina, Ph.D., County Archivist, 2905 Franklin Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44113; 216-443-7262; jcetina@cuyahogacounty.us.

The Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board is the central body for historical records planning in the state. Board members are appointed by the governor and represent Ohio’s public and private archives, records offices, and research institutions.  Administrative responsibility for the board rests with the Ohio Historical Society’s Museum and Library Services Division. The board also acts as the state-level review body for grants submitted to the NHPRC, in accordance with that commission’s guidelines.

Posted in collections, Digitization, State Archives | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Kahiki Supper Club

The Kahiki Supper Club was one of the best known restaurants in Columbus.  Open from 1961 to 2000 , it was located on East Broad Street.  Thirteen years after its closure, many still hold fond memories of the restaurant.

Glass from the Kahiki Supper Club from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society (catalog number H 88221).

Glass from the Kahiki Supper Club from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society (catalog number H 88221).


After World War II, soldiers returned to the United States with stories and pictures from the South Pacific. This experience, in addition to a general increase in consumer spending, spurred Tiki culture, a “romanticized mix of Polynesian and Pacific Rim food and tropical décor.”[1] By the time Hawaii became a state in 1959, Tiki culture was in full swing. Luaus became a popular theme for parties in the suburbs and tropical themed drinks, like Mai Tais and Pina Coladas, made their way onto many restaurant menus across the country. Restaurants with Tiki themes began to open during the 1950s, holding hundreds of people. The Tiki theme extended beyond drinks and food; the Tiki themed grocery store, Trader’s Joe opened its doors in 1958. As one Tiki historian has noted, “the Tiki culture provided an outlet for having fun in an otherwise conservative society.”[2] The largest Tiki themed restaurant in the country would soon open its doors in Columbus.
Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club, a tiki themed restaurant formerly in Columbus, Ohio.

Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club, a tiki themed restaurant formerly in Columbus, Ohio.


Originally it was a Tiki bar known as The Grass Shack, but a fire in 1959 led owners Bill Sapp and Lee Henry to conceive of building the largest Polynesian restaurant in the continental United States to be called the Kahiki Supper Club. The restaurant, designed by Columbus architect Coburn Morgan was built in 1960 at the reported cost of $1 million dollars. The building could hold over  500 guests, waterfalls, tanks of fish, live birds, large drums, and an iconic monkey fountain known as “George”; at the center of the building was a giant stone Moai fireplace. For most visitors though, the main draw was the variety of exotic drinks. The restaurant featured three bars and served drinks in over 30 different cups, goblets, and bowls. Visitors and celebrities came to the Kahiki from across the country; the first Columbus Asian Festival was planned in the basement of the Kahiki.  In 1988, Michael Tsao bought out his partner and started a frozen food company next door to the restaurant.

As Tiki culture went out of fashion by the 1970s, many Tiki bars and restaurants fell by the wayside. In 1997, the Kahiki was put on the National Registrar of Historic Places. Sadly, the Kahiki closed its doors in 2000 and was demolished afterwards; the giant stone Moai fireplace was removed by a giant crane before the building was demolished. The Kahiki brand continues to thrive today selling frozen Polynesian food in grocery stores across the country. There has been a renewed interest in Tiki culture across the country. Fans of the restaurant in Columbus can still visit George at the recently opened Grass Skirt Tiki Room.

Drink Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club formerly in Columbus, Ohio.

Drink Menu from the Kahiki Supper Club formerly in Columbus, Ohio.


Tiki God Mask from the Kahiki Supper Club recently acquired by the Ohio Historical Society.

Tiki God Mask from the Kahiki Supper Club recently acquired by the Ohio Historical Society.


The Ohio Historical Society has some objects in its collection from the Kahiki including a dining and drink menu from 1999 exhibiting the food and drink the Kahiki was serving at the time of its closure, a Tiki god ceramic cup which once held one of the infamous cocktail drinks, and, our most recent acquisition, a wooden Tiki god mask that was once on the walls of the restaurant.  While the restaurant is long gone, its legacy lives on in Ohio and across the country today.

Sources:

Kirsten, Sven A. The Book of Tiki: the Cult of Polynesian Pop in Fifties America. Köln: Taschen, 2000.

Rodgers, Rick, and Heather Maclean. The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook. New York: Running Press, 2012.

Whitaker, Jan. “Ohio + Tahiti = Kahiki.” Restauranting Through History. http://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.com/2013/05/28/ohio-tahiti-kahiki/ (accessed December 6, 2013).

[1] Rodgers, Rick, and Heather Maclean. The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook. New York: Running Press, 2012.

[2] Kirsten, Sven A. The Book of Tiki: the Cult of Polynesian Pop in Fifties America. Köln: Taschen, 2000.

Emily Lang, History Curator

Posted in collections | 2 Comments