Smithsonian Affiliates Conference 2014

The National Gallery.

One of the best parts of being a museum professional is the chance to travel. In June, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2014 Smithsonian Affiliates Conference in Washington DC.

What are the Smithsonian Affiliates? The mission of Smithsonian Affiliations is to share these resources with Americans in their own communities by developing collaborative partnerships with museums, cultural and educational organizations. With over 200 Affiliates, it is

One of the social media sessions.

One of the social media sessions held during the conference.

one of the largest cultural organizations in the country. The annual meeting brings together dozens of these organizations for a three day conference. The Ohio History Connection became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2012.

As part of the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting with several curators at the National Museum of American History to discuss their experiences and work on potential collaborations in the future. The conference hosted several sessions including one about social media and museums. As part of this session, we were asked to live tweet our exploration through the National Museum of Natural History; to check out photos, search the hashtag #SAConf14

Every year, the Smithsonian hosts the Folklife festival celebrating two different cultures on the National Mall. This year's festivities focused on Kenya and China and featured music, dance, food, and cultural demonstrations.

Every year, the Smithsonian hosts the Folklife festival celebrating two different cultures on the National Mall. This year’s festivities focused on Kenya and China and featured music, dance, food, and cultural demonstrations.

Why is professional development essential to museums? It gives us a chance to make connections and to come up with creative solutions to issues many museums are facing. In one session, attendees collaborated to create a list of why museums matter both financially and culturally. The organizers plan on using this list to advocate for museums to members of Congress.

In addition, conferences give museum professionals a chance to learn from each other. I got to explore new exhibits including Beyond Bollywood at the National Museum of Natural History and  Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 at the National Museum of American History, learning how curators are making these topics accessible to the public. The highlight of my trip was a behind the scenes tour of the National Museum of American History’s pop culture collection. I learned how curators and collection staff are

How do you preserve iconic American objects? Here, the boxers featured in the Rocky movies are carefully kept in an archival cabinet in a temperature controlled facility.

How do you preserve iconic American objects? Here, the boxers featured in the Rocky movies are carefully kept in an archival cabinet in a temperature controlled facility.

working to preserve some of the nation’s most iconic pieces using new techniques and methods. I even got to see the original Kermit the frog puppet created by Jim Henson!

As we face challenges with collections, I will use the invaluable information I learned from this conference to help us preserve Ohio history.

Have you been to any of the Smithsonian museums recently?

Emily Lang, History Curator

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Countdown to the Moon Landing: 1 Week

The 45th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing is almost here! This week’s object is a Venezuelan commemorative stamp (H 72652.002). The stamp is still intact on the original paper. The stamp features the three American astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – above the surface of the moon, which has the Lunar Landing ModuleH72652_002
Eagle on it as well as Armstrong and Aldrin. The stamp reads “Vuelo Apollo 11” (Flight Apollo 11) across the front, “aereo” (plane) above the stamp value, and “Venezuela” at the bottom. The paper depicts the Command Module Columbia orbiting the moon. “Republica de Venezuela” (Republic of Venezuela) is written across the top with the Venezuelan coat of arms printed in the lower left corner. The lower right corner provides the governmental department from which the stamp originated: “Ministerio de Hacienda/ Direccion de la Renta Interna” (Treasury/ Direction of the Internal Revenue).

Moon landing stamps were a popular way to commemorate the event the world over. Some of other moon landing stamps in the Ohio History Connection include stamps from Yemen and the United States. The Yemeni stamp set (H 72655) has six colored stamps, one of each astronaut by themselves and one of each man with his family. The United US Stamp ImageStates stamp (H 72553.001) shows Armstrong descending the Eagle’s ladder to take the first step on the moon. It is attached to paper with astronauts’ names and the event; it even features a section for those who bought the document to sign their names, stating that they “Witnessed Man’s First Step on the Surface of the Moon.” Two postmarks are also stamped on this commemorative sheet – one for the day of the moon landing and one for the day this sheet was first issued in 1969.

The Eagle landed on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Take a moment to celebrate the 45th Anniversary on Sunday and check back here next week to see what the last moon landing object will be.

Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern

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A prestidigitator could not do better with your soiled shirts!


An advertisement for Excelsior Laundry in Akron, Ohio (Akron Daily Democrat, June 10, 1899, Image 5, col. 4).

What is a prestidigitator you ask?  An illusionist or magician!  When is that last time you can think of someone using the word prestidigitator in normal conversation?  No one calls David Copperfield a prestidigitator, and I don’t blame them.  Calling him a magician is much easier.

It’s strange how words can change meaning over time and how some words stop being used entirely.  Believe it or not, vocabulary can be a major road block when doing research in historical newspapers and other historical documents because it can be so different.   We actually have a term that we use to describe these vocabulary differences: “historic vocabulary”.  We use this phrase to describe words and phrases that were used by the people living during those times.  Our vocabulary is like a living organism that grows, changes, and dies.  Some words that we use today were never heard of 100 or even 50 years ago and vice versa.  The change in vocabulary can be caused by several factors.  Much like today’s technology, a newer, better, version of a word could be created thereby rendering the old word obsolete, such as the word “betwixt” (between).


In 1918, New Berlin, Ohio, became North Canton, Ohio, due to anti-German sentiment (El Paso Herald, February 11, 1918, Image 1, col. 2).

Geographical locations, like city and country names, are also example of how vocabulary can change and make it difficult for researchers to find a particular location.  Try locating the town of New Berlin, Ohio, on a map.  You will be looking for a while because that town no longer exists with that name.  It is currently called North Canton and is located in Stark County.  The village of New Berlin was founded in 1831 and was inhabited by mostly Germans immigrants.  With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, it became very unpopular to be associated with anything German (sauerkraut was even re-named “liberty cabbage” in several restaurants).  In 1918, the citizens of New Berlin decided to re-name the village North Canton, abandoning the original name.  So if you are looking for information about North Canton in the newspapers prior in 1918, you actually need to look for New Berlin.

A word can also change what it means based on new inventions.  Take the word “computer” for example.  We use it in today’s language to describe the everyday machines that we use today for our Internet browsing needs, work, and just about anything else you can think of.  Our definition of what a computer is did not come into existence until the 1940s.  Prior to that, a “computer” was simply referring to a person who performed calculations or one who computes.


An example of how the word “computer” was used in the 19th century. These calculations were made by a person, not a machine! (Logan Ohio Democrat, July 23, 1887, Image 3, col. 7)

If you would like to learn more about historical vocabulary or see how it can affect your search results, click here to view one of the Ohio History Connection’s Chronicling America Search Strategy Videos available through YouTube!  This short video will show you to use historical vocabulary on Chronicling America, the Library of Congress’s free digital newspaper database.  There are over 250,000 pages of Ohio’s historic newspapers available on the website, with more to come.  Also be sure to visit Ohio Memory to view over 150,000 pages from historic newspapers like the Ohio State Journal and Ohio Statesman.  What sort of obsolete words can you discover in the pages of old?

The Chronicling America Search Strategy Videos  was developed by the Ohio History Connection with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio. Please visit the Ohio Digital Newspaper Portal for more information.

Chronicling America is brought to you by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congress and state projects to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers published between 1836 and 1922.  National Endowment for the Humanities awards support state projects to select and digitize historically significant titles that are aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress at Chronicling America. As part of the project, the Ohio History Connection contributed over 200,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2012 and will contribute an additional 100,000 pages by the end of August 2014.  For more information about this project and resources for searching Chronicling America, please visit the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio Project Wiki or Ohio Digital Newspaper Program Website.

Kevin Latta, Government Records Archivist

Posted in collections, Digital Projects, Digitization, Newspapers, Ohio Memory, Research Tips, Research Tools | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Vote for Your Favorite Finalist

Voting is on for the I Found It In the Archives contest!


We have three fascinating stories about amazing things that researchers have discovered in the Ohio History Connection Archives/ Library.

Click here to select your favorite entry.

Feel free to spread the word and encourage people you know to vote!

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I Found It In the Archives Finalist: Deborah M. Tracy

Genealogy Rule #1: The best ‘finds’ are the ones you were not looking for.

Deborah M. Tracy
When I located the birth certificate at Ohio History Connection for Charles Haddock, my maternal great-grandfather, I discovered that his father’s name was Jasper Haddock, an ancestor previously unknown to my family. Then, in OHC’s newspaper microfilm archive, I found Jasper’s obituary in the 3/15/1905 Barnesville (Ohio) Whetstone, which mentioned that Jasper was a Civil War veteran!

Jasper’s military records revealed that he was one of the Ohioans who served in the heralded 55th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, the unit consisting of the overflow of African-American recruits for the legendary 54th, featured in the 1989 movie, Glory. Jasper was wounded, 11/30/1864, in the Battle of Honey Hill, SC, a bloody engagement in which the 55th lost 1/3 of their soldiers in one afternoon.

After the war, Jasper returned home to Captina (aka Guinea /Flatrock), a settlement of freed slaves near Barnesville. Jasper died in 1905, and was buried at Captina A.M.E. Cemetery, a long-forgotten African-American cemetery not easily found on maps.

Undaunted, my husband, 95-year-old Mother and I traveled to the former site of Captina, in search of the cemetery, not knowing what we might find. On a dirt-and-gravel road, we managed to locate the cemetery. Many headstones were missing or broken. The A.M.E. church that once stood nearby was gone. And, we found no headstone for Jasper Haddock.

Disappointed, we briefly stopped in Barnesville to find the now-vacant Bethel A.M.E. church that my mother remembered attending as a child. As we stood in front of the church, a stranger greeted us with a friendly ‘Hello’. We told him we had just returned from an obscure cemetery outside of town, in search of a distant ancestor. He said, “You mean Captina Cemetery?”, and then asked, “What’s the person’s name?” When we told him ‘Haddock’, he just smiled and explained that he (Hiram Bowen) just happened to be the volunteer caretaker of that cemetery.

What were the odds?

Hiram then stunned us by stating that he could get a granite headstone for Jasper at no cost to us, if we sent him his military records. We were amazed. And 6 months later, Hiram called to let us know the headstone had been placed!

We rushed to Captina to see the new headstone and to perform an impromptu dedication ceremony. The resulting video is now on YouTube for all to see.

Deborah M. Tracy


Posted in Civil War, Military History, Newspapers, Research, Vital Records | 1 Comment

I Found It In the Archives Finalist: Kory de Oliveira

Kory de Oliveira
My paternal grandma loved to share detailed stories of her childhood in Nelsonville, Ohio, and her paternal grandmother, Jane Hemsley Bateman. She described how she could escape the struggles of life during the Depression and a house full of siblings when she crossed the street to her Grandma Bateman’s house. They were close. My grandma knew that Grandma Bateman had been raised by her aunt and uncle, although Grandma never really knew why that was. With my curiosity piqued, I needed to explore Jane Hemsley Bateman’s past and why she may not have divulged many details about her own childhood. I wanted to do that for my grandma.

Jane Hemsley was born in County Durham, England, to a coal mining family. Jane, her parents, paternal grandmother, and father’s sister’s family crossed the pond when she was very young and landed in Meigs County, Ohio, by 1870 . She lost her mother and grandmother shortly thereafter. Ten years later Jane was living with her aunt, but her father, Robert Hemsley, was to be found elsewhere- the Ohio Penitentiary . Grandma was thoroughly amused by this revelation and I knew I had to get acquainted with some skeletons in the closet. I spent several hours in the Microfilm Room at the Ohio History Connection scanning for Robert’s admission entry to the Pen, hoping it would contain a description of his physical characteristics, and possibly something more. No such luck. With a whole decade of prisoner entries to sift through I eventually had to throw in the towel and leave it for another day.

After a few more years of fervent online research, I learned that Robert Hemsley was decreed a 2nd degree murder conviction in February 1874 for fatally stabbing his neighbor (during a drunken brawl) who had had “illegal relations” with his new wife . Armed with a more precise timeline, I ventured back to the OHC Microfilm Room and discovered that Robert’s April 1874 Ohio Penitentiary admission entry included a physical description! There was my skeleton: my 3rd great-grandfather was a 5 feet 4½ inch “hard drinker” with grey eyes and a heavy brow, a thick nose and short mouth, thin brown hair, teeth that were in poor condition, and a defective right middle finger, but yet was somehow stout and well built. Several scars on his face and arms were noted, presumably from a tough life of coal mining and drunken brawls. Sadly, it was too late to relay those details to Grandma but I’m sure she would be thoroughly amused.

Kory de Oliveira



“Canadian Passenger Lists,” digital images, ( accessed 15 March 2014), manifest, S. S. Belgian, October 1865, penned p. 1, line 31, Anne Hemsley, age 2. Jane was listed by her middle name on the passenger list.

1870 U. S. census, Meigs County, Ohio, population schedule, Syracuse Post Office, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 167, family 198, Robert Hemsley; NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1242.

1880 U. S. census, Columbus, Ohio, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 40, p. 72 (penned), block 72, inmate 17, Ohio Penitentiary; NARA microfilm publication number T9, roll 1017. For dwelling and family, block and inmate have been substituted, respectively.

Robert Hemsley, “Neighboring Counties, Meigs,” The Athens (Ohio) Messenger, 25 January 1883, p. 1, col. 5; digital images, ( accessed 15 March 2014), The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio).

Robert Hemsley, Register of Convicts no. 9872, admission 3 Apr 1874, pp. 36-39 (penned), Ohio Penitentiary, Columbus, Ohio; Ohio History Connection Archives, Columbus, Ohio, microfilm role uncited, accessed 4 Apr 2014.

Posted in Incarceration Records, Newspapers, Research | Leave a comment

I Found It in the Archives Finalist: Marty Davis Cottrill

Touching the Past

Marty Davis Cottrill
While researching my Beers ancestors who had helped establish North Columbus, I found a book about the Bull Family, who had lived near David and Elizabeth Schlegel Beers. The book featured sketches of several circuit riders who had served the congregation of Clinton Chapel, where my ancestors attended. (The book was Early Clintonville and Grove City and the Bull and Smith Families, by Nancy J. Pendleton, 1997.)

One circuit rider, Uriah Heath, reportedly served Clinton Chapel in 1838-39 and again 1848. I knew my ancestors Solomon (David’s son) and Eliza Pennington Beers had joined a Sunday school class there in 1839. The Pendleton book indicated that Uriah Heath knew the Bull family well. Did he know my Beers ancestors, too? The book also reported that Uriah Heath kept a diary—and that this diary was at the Ohio Historical Society Archives!

I set aside an afternoon to visit the OHS Archives, hoping the diary was still available. What would it be like, I wondered, to hold this volume that was 160 years old? Before I knew it, the archivist delivered the old book to me at one of the tables set aside for viewing such works. I put on the gloves I was given and turned the pages carefully, intent on finding a date that brought Uriah Heath into contact with my ancestors. The information I had for Solomon’s wife Eliza Pennington Beers showed that she had died at age 38 in 1848, possibly of cholera. (It was a hard life; three of her five children preceded her in death.)

I scanned the pages for July 1848, the month that Eliza had died—and was rewarded with Uriah Heath’s handwritten account of his visit to the Beers family the day after Eliza had died:

“July 21 1848 . . . Mrs. Beers was lying dead, having departed at ten o’clock last night. The family feel desolate and much afflicted. May the dispensation of the Providence of God be sanctified to the good of the survivors.”

I was mesmerized by this journal entry by a caring person who had seen and talked with the family of Solomon and Eliza Beers. I spent two hours with that diary and deeply appreciate the chance to “touch” my ancestors’ lives through the words of the pastor who visited them at a crucial time. Thank you, OHS Archives!

Marty Davis Cottrill


Posted in collections, Manuscript Collections, Research | 3 Comments