Great Read on the Importance of Music Archives

Special thanks to a colleague for bringing this article that was published on the National Public Radio blog The Record to my attention.

Holding Music History in Your Hands: Why Archives Matter

If you don’t read the whole article, the final quote from Andy Leach, director of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives, beautifully explains not just the value of music archives, but of all archives:

“Because music is something that plays such a major role in the everyday lives of so many of us, it’s one of those rare subjects that is both worthy of academic study and that almost every ordinary person cares about,” Leach continued. “So, that gives us an opportunity here … to promote the idea that these unique and rare materials are here for everyone to use, both to expand their knowledge and from which to gain pleasure. And that’s a good lesson to learn about the importance of archives in general.”

The Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library also collects different genres of music created by Ohioans. We look for materials that are rare and in good physical condition.
Examples of folk, jazz and popular music found in our collections includes records by the Mills Brothers, Rosemary Clooney, Mamie Smith, Roy Rogers, DEVO and an extensive collection of folk music recorded by dulcimer player and musicologist Anne Grimes. We also have recordings of the popular WLW radio show “Moon River” that aired in the 1940s. The Society faces similar financial challenges to the repositories discussed in the article. Funds to maintain equipment to play sound recordings and to make digitized copies of recording for access are limited.

What are your favorite music memories?

Are there musicians or musical groups from Ohio that the Society should consider for our collections?

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

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If you like the collections blog…

…check out Picture This, a blog from the Library of Congress Prints Photographs Division.

An excellent piece that was posted in honor of Veteran’s Day, The Last Men of the Revolution features photographs of the last known American survivors of the Revolutionary War.

L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources

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Saving the Colors

The Ohio Historical Society has an ongoing project to conserve Civil War battle flags carried by Ohio regiments. On October 22, 2013 curators Cliff Eckle and Cameron Wood retrieved the conserved flags of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the 121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry from Textile Preservation Associates (TPA) in Ranson, West Virginia. These two flags are among more than 20 Civil War flags that have been conserved. Funds to conserve the 23rd Ohio were generously donated by the Army of the Ohio, the Army Historical Foundation, Jeane H. Candido and an anonymous donor. Conservation of the 121st Ohio flag was made possible by a gift from the Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company.

Regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry when it was delivered to the conservator.

Regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry when it was delivered to the conservator.


The 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry is often called the regiment of presidents. Rutherford B. Hayes (President 1877-1880) commanded the regiment and William McKinley (President 1897-1901) served in the regiment originally as an enlisted man and later as an officer.
Reverse side of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry flag after glue and nylon backing was removed.

Reverse side of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry flag after glue and nylon backing was removed.


The painstaking conservation process took the conservators at TPA a year to complete. In their lab, they placed the flags flat in a large de-ionized water bath to removed the glue and nylon backing that was applied in a previous preservation effort in the 1960s. The conservators must monitor this process closely. If they leave the flags in the water too long some of the images and characters that are painted on the flags could wash away.

The flags are removed from the water with a very fine mesh. They are allowed to dry naturally atop a large rack to allow the air to reach both the top and the bottom. This allows the drying process to be more uniform and therefore less stressful to the flag.

Conservators then enclose the flag within two layers of a thin, polyester fabric known as stabiltex. All the sewing must be done by hand. They sew carefully around every edge. In this way the flag has more support and minimizes having to sew through the flag itself. The stabiltex is a sheer fabric and almost disappears, allowing an unimpeded view of both sides of the flag.

Regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry after the conservators encapsulated the flag in stabiltex.

Regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry after the conservators encapsulated the flag in stabiltex.


So they can be displayed, conservators mount and frame the encapsulated flags. When in storage, the encapsulated flags can be removed from the frames and stored flat. Curators and researchers will be able to examine both sides of the flags without causing the flags further damage.
Completely conserved regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in its new frame and ready to display.

Completely conserved regimental colors of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in its new frame and ready to display.


For more information about the Save the Flags Campaign, contact Cliff Eckle, Curator of History at 614-298-2053 or ceckle@ohiohistory.org. To make a donation to the flag conservation project, contact Paulene Wilson at 614-297-2322 at pwilson@ ohiohistory.org.

To see digitized photographs of the Ohio Battle Flag Collection online, click here to see the online exhibit Fight for the Colors. A selection of the conserved Civil War flags are also part of the exhibit Follow the Flag that is currently free with admission at the Ohio History Center.

Cliff Eckle, Curator of History

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Homemade Halloween

Mickey Mouse costume made by Myrtle Woodward of Columbus.

Mickey Mouse costume made by Myrtle Woodward of Columbus.


The Ohio Historical Society collects objects related to holiday celebrations in Ohio, including my favorite holiday, Halloween. Long before Disneyland was created, this Mickey Mouse costume (catalog number H 60985) was created by Myrtle Woodward, a Columbus woman, for her grandson Tom. Tom wanted to be Mickey for Halloween, but a store bought costume of Mickey was not possible. Made with sateen and cheesecloth, this costume, consisting of a shirt, pants, Mickey Mouse head, and tail, was carefully sewn by Woodward. The head was constructed using wire, cheesecloth, fabric, and a marker; the costume took days to make because of the intricate details. Tom attended Miss Simon’s dancing school every Friday with his sister at the YWCA; he wore this costume to the school’s annual Halloween Party in 1936.

Hand made Mickey Mouse mask constructed of cheese cloth, fabric and marker.

Hand made Mickey Mouse mask constructed of wire, cheese cloth, fabric and marker.


Halloween gained popularity as a public celebration in the United States in the early 1900s. The first recorded instance of Trick or Treating occurred in Chicago in 1920. It was during the 1930s that the first mass produced Halloween costumes started appearing on department store shelves. These mass produced costumes originally included traditional Halloween figures such as witches, ghosts, and goblins, but soon branched into popular children’s icons. By the 1950s, Mickey Mouse was once again gaining in popularity, thanks to the Mickey Mouse Club television program, and became a popular mass produced Halloween costume. Mickey continues to be a popular costume choice today.

Did you or a family member ever make a Halloween costume? Did you ever dress as Mickey Mouse?

Photograph of children in a variety of Halloween costumes in the 1940s, including a Mickey Mouse. Photograph is from the Ohio Guide Collection, State Archives Series 1039 AV.

Photograph of children in a variety of Halloween costumes in the 1940s, including a Mickey Mouse. Photograph is from the Ohio Guide Collection, State Archives Series 1039 AV.

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Join Our Collections Staff for Talks and Tours

Thinking of visiting the Ohio History Center?

Free with admission are informal talks and tours by our curators on a variety of timely topics.

Where: Museum Floor of the Ohio History Center

When:Saturdays at 2 PM

November 2
Soldiers Letters

In honor of Veterans Day, manuscripts curator and military historian John Haas will share letters written by Ohio soldiers from the War of 1812 through the Korean War.

November 9
See the Lustron House Built in Minutes
OHS Lustron House
Join history curator Cameron Wood to see a time lapse video of the building of the Lustron House that is currently the centerpiece of OHS’s new exhibit 1950s: Building the American Dream. Cameron Wood and a team of volunteers reconstructed the house over several months in 2012, and now you can see the whole process in 12 minutes.

November 16
Transformation: Changing Role of Women

Join history curator Emily Lang for a tour of the new exhibit, Transformation, to find out how the objects in the exhibit illustrate the changing roles of women throughout history.

November 23
1950’s Recipes: Jell-O Salad to Green Bean Casserole

The beginning of an era of packaged, processed and frozen foods resulted in some very strange concoctions like lime Jell-O® with green pimento olives, celery, and tuna, but many of these classic recipes were passed down through the generations and are still made today. Join OHS staff member Carla Zikursh for this presentation and bring your favorite 1950’s recipes and food memories to share!

November 30
Follow the Flag
Ohio Civil War Flag
Join Cliff Eckle, lead curator for the Follow the Flag exhibit to learn more about Ohio’s Civil War battle flags. Find out how many flags we have, how they are stored and conserved.

December 7
Remember December 7th!

On December 7, 1941 the Empire attacked the U.S. fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it, “A day which will live in infamy…” Join manuscripts curator and military historian John Haas to see items from our collections that pertain to that infamous day.

December 14
Santa Claus in the Archives

Yes Ohio, there is a Santa Claus…in our Archives. Join Reference Archivist Tutti Jackson for a look at popular images of Santa Claus from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society.

December 28
Christmas at Lazarus
Lazarus Christmas Decorations
Join Liz Plummer, research services manager, for a stroll down High Street in 1965 and enjoy the Lazarus Christmas window displays. We’ll enter the department store to enjoy the Christmas decorations and chat with Santa Claus.

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We Are Architecturally Significant

The Ohio Historical Society inhabits one of Columbus’ most architecturally significant buildings and are proud to have another currently on display.

The American Association of Architects Columbus has a assembled a list of 64 Columbus buildings in 4 categories. With online voting participants can select their favorite buildings in a contest dubbed the ArChallenge. In the Mid-20th Century category are two buildings close to the hearts of Ohio Historical Society staff, volunteers, and members: the Ohio History Center and the Lustron House.

The Ohio Historical Center, which opened in 1970, is a prime example of a style of architecture known as brutalism.

The Ohio Historical Center, which opened in 1970, is a prime example of a style of architecture known as brutalism.


The Ohio History Center is the Society’s headquarters at 800 E. 17th Ave. Since it opened in 1970 the Center has captured the interest of visitors and caught the eye of people driving by on Interstate 71. A prime example of brutalist architecture, the building itself has become an artifact to be preserved. Updates and changes to the building are in keeping with it’s architectural character.

Exterior view of a Lustron house, a pre-fabricated, porcelain-enameled steel house that was manufactured in Columbus, Ohio.

Exterior view of a Lustron house, a pre-fabricated, porcelain-enameled steel house that was manufactured in Columbus, Ohio.

Lustron houses were built in Columbus between 1948 and 1951. Constructed of porcelain-enameled steel, they were meant to be erected quickly and help fill the high demand for residential housing after World War II. At around 1,000 square feet, the houses were small by contemporary standards. A Lustron house is the center piece of the new exhibit 1950s: Building the American Dream.

Hopefully voting will inspire you to visit!

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A Brief History of the Society of Separatists of Zoar

In honor of German American Heritage Month, we would like to share a brief history of Zoar, Ohio, a small village that was founded by a group of German separatists.

Founding
The Society of Separatists of Zoar was founded in 1817 by a group of German separatists in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. They migrated to Ohio from the state of Wurttenburg in southwest Germany near Switzerland. The leader of the group was Joseph Michael Baumeler (Anglicized Bimeler). Approximately 300 people followed him from Germany. They arrived in Philadelphia where they received assistance from Quakers. Bimeler purchased 5,500 acres on the Tuscarawas River for $16,500.

Birds eye view of Zoar.

Birds eye view of Zoar.


Government
In 1819 the Zoarites organized a communal society that was run by three elected trustees. All adult men and women voted for the trustees and signed a pact to follow their rules and renounce ownership of land and possessions. In 1833 they were incorporated by the State of Ohio as the Society of Separatists at Zoar. New members were allowed to join; members did choose to leave and occasionally members were expelled. Their system of government and communal ownership of their property and belongings operated with few changes until the Society was dissolved in 1898.

Religion
Joseph Bimeler led religious services until his death in 1853. The services were simple, consisting of a “discourse,” silent prayer and many hymns. Zoarites believed people should have a direct relationship with God and eschewed ceremony. The garden in center of the village held religious meaning. They practiced pacifism, but 14 men did leave the village to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Attendance at religious services dwindled in the late 1800s.

Zoar Meeting House

Zoar Meeting House


Daily Life in Zoar
Celibacy was practiced from 1822-1829 because the labor of all adult members was needed to establish their village. To pay for their land, the Zoarites contracted with the State of Ohio to build 7 miles of the Ohio and Erie Canal that was on their property. By 1834 the village had a store, hotel, warehouse, grain mill, saw mills, flour mill, blast furnace, and wool and linen manufacturing. Crops included wheat, corn and other grains. Livestock included cattle, sheep and horses. The Society sold excess products to their neighbors and employed non-members in many of its businesses.

After 1829 children over 3 were housed in nurseries and cared for communally. This allowed more adults to work in Zoar’s fields and mills. This practice did not continue after 1860. The Zoarites operated their own school which taught in both German and English until 1884.

Men and women of Zoar working in their communally owned feeds.

Men and women of Zoar working in their communally owned feeds.


The canal brought visitors to town and in 1882 the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad came directly to the village. Tourism provided income as the Society’s other businesses stagnated, but exposure to the outside world increased dissatisfaction among the members with life in Zoar.

Dissolution
In 1898 the remaining members of the Society of Separatists elected to end their communal ownership of businesses and property in Zoar. Assets were divided among the members or sold with all members receiving a sum of cash and piece of property. Public buildings, such as the town hall, school and meeting house, became the property of the incorporated village. The end of communal living also brought an end to the Zoarite religion. After dissolution services in the meeting house were presided over by a German speaking minister and the meeting house became a German Reformed Church.

Photograph of the garden in  Zoar, Ohio taken in the 1960s after the garden and garden house were restored. Many of the German-style structures built by the Zoarites have been restored and are open to the public as Zoar Village State Memorial, operated by the Ohio Historical Society and the Zoar Community Association.

Photograph of the garden in Zoar, Ohio taken in the 1960s after the garden and garden house were restored. Many of the German-style structures built by the Zoarites have been restored and are open to the public as Zoar Village State Memorial, operated by the Ohio Historical Society and the Zoar Community Association.


Zoar in the Twentieth Century
In the 1920s Zoar residents restored the garden and protested moving the town out of a flood plain. Instead the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a flood wall around the town. In 1941 the Number One House, once occupied by Joseph Bimeler and the Zoar trustees, and the Garden House became a state memorial. Eventually many more former Separatist buildings became state owned. Private individuals and the Zoar Community Association have also worked to restore buildings.

Were the Zoarites Unique?
They shared similarities, like pacifism and communal living, with groups like the Shakers and other German separatists groups who founded communities in the United States. Their religion was unique because it was inspired by the teachings of Joseph Bimeler. The longevity of their communal system, from 1817-1898, is impressive and the village as a place where people live and work today lives on. The Village is jointly operated by the Ohio Historical Society and Zoar Community Association. Click here for more information about visiting.

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